You can’t pour from an empty cup


“It’s not selfish to give to yourself as much as you give of yourself”- Suze Orman
Do you know the easiest way to avoid burn out and exhaustion in life? Well, I have the answer for you- stop pouring from an empty cup. Your cup is empty, but you keep pouring. I know you, you are so selfless and you can go extra mile for people. You are someone who gives of yourself everyday. You give and give and you enjoy it, but you are on the verge of burnout.

Being in a ‘selflessness mode’ gives an assumption that you have already taken good care of yourself. If not, then it is not selflessness; it is self-abuse or self-foolishness or probably self-foolhardiness.

There is a thin line between being caring and being careless. Don’t cross it.Are you a teacher, parent, coach, friend, wife, husband or leader? It is only when you are full that you can overflow to others. When you take time to replenish yourself, it allows you to serve others. Stop short-circuiting yourself to grow others.

King Solomon shared an ancient piece of wisdom and caution long time ago when he said: “They made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I neglected.” In which area of your life are you neglecting yourself?

Are you a pastor that impacts the congregation, but have neglected your own family? Are you a teacher that inspires your students, but seldom takes time to impact your own children? Are you a leader that can sacrifice anything for your company, but your family is begging for attention?

Are you a doctor that always arrives on time for emergencies, but your family life is in a coma? Are you a caregiver that cares for others, but you are careless with your own health? Are you the go-to-person that everybody comes to visit to help them fix their problems, but your own life is in dilapidated ruin?

Until you become the most important person in your own life, you will be useless to every other person. Are you the most important person in your life? How often do you make time for yourself? If you are burned out, stressed out or overloaded, what is left to give to others?

Raymond Hull said: “He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away.” How do you ensure that you still give your best in the midst of the insatiable demand of the people around you?

Learn To Say ‘No’ Sometimes
Stop saying ‘yes’ to everybody while you constantly say ‘no’ to yourself. Except you are a Superman, Spiderman or Wonder Woman, you need to understand that you cannot always be there for everybody.

Learning how to say ‘no’ sometimes is a sign of maturity, just as maturity is learning how to say ‘no’ without feeling guilty about it. Simply saying “no” will free up some of your time and the person who asked you would find someone else to help them. Don’t push aside your needs for the needs of others. Don’t be the yes man. If you are constantly saying yes to things, it means you are saying no to you. So, don’t be afraid to say no when you know you want to. Don’t feel obligated to give an immediate response. It is okay to say you will get back to them.

Taking on more responsibilities when you know you need time to yourself is not good. If the people in your life ask you to do something, you can say “no.” And when you do, don’t feel guilty. They may get upset and question you, but they will get over it.

Be Honest About Your Limits
We all have limits, but the problem in life is exceeding our limits in an unhealthy way. Science has taught us that when rubber exceeds its elastic limit, it goes on into an irredeemable point called ‘breaking point.’ You may need to stretch yourself sometimes, but never stretch to a breaking point. It is okay to have boundaries; it is actually really healthy. Believe it or not, healthy boundaries produce healthy relationships and lack of boundaries is an open invitation to abuse. Don’t overwork yourself, over-share yourself with others or exhaust yourself trying to make everyone happy. It is not worth it.

Learn How To Ask For Help
Isaac Newton said: “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” Learning to ask for help is strength and not weakness. There is no shame in needing the assistance of others once in a while, and you would be surprised how ready people are to give it. There is joy in helping others and there can be joy in receiving that help as well.

Invest In Personal Development
You can only help others to grow to the same level that you have attained. I have often said that the greatest hindrance to personal development is personal neglect. Create some non-negotiable rituals to develop yourself. Rituals help us to stay grounded, balanced and calm in an ever-changing and busy world.

Take Time To Rest
You cannot excite others while you are exhausted. Don’t ever violate your time to rest in order to take care of others. Your mind, body, soul and spirit need rest. Learn how to give yourself a break from the drama in the world. If you continually discharge to bless others, then you surely need a time to recharge. Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.

Make ‘Me Time’ A Priority
There are times you need to ‘customise’ for yourself. If your work or relationship is all-encompassing to the point where you have no time to take care of yourself, it is time to move on. I remember a job I got after graduating from school. After years of sacrificing my happiness and even health, for the tasks in front of me, I could safely say that things were not ideal. I should have moved on, but I was afraid to. I was afraid because I was not sure what the future would bring. Now, I know that you are always better off with anything that takes away your happiness and your time for loved ones, yourself and God.

Cut Off From Ungrateful People
Stop giving more of yourself to people that don’t value and appreciate it. No matter what you do for someone that is ungrateful, he or she will never appreciate it. Trying to satisfy an ungrateful person is like continuously pouring water into a basket. Where your absence is not felt, then your presence is irrelevant.

Simplify! Simplify!! Simplify
There is always a simpler and better way of doing what you are presently doing. Stop taking the hard ways to accomplish things for other people or you will always get exhausted. Leonardo da Vinci said: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Cut Off From Negative People
Stay away from negative people. Tom Ziglar said: “Negative people don’t want solutions. Solutions mean they have to work to find something else to be negative about.” Negative people suck serenity, optimism, tranquility and energy out of others.

Speak Positively To Yourself
Your self-talk is incredibly important. When you wake up early in the morning, before having any conversation with others, speak empowering words into your own life. You start your day full when you start it with positive vibes.

Priortise Your Activities
You will run yourself to the ground if you try to do everything all at once. Prioritise the things that are of most importance. Do as much as you can with the time you have and be okay with not being able to do everything. There is always a tomorrow. So, breathe, relax and make a to-do list.Have you ever heard of the age long maxim that you cannot give what you don’t have? Remember to take care of yourself first. You cannot pour from an empty cup.

In this article:
Gbenga Adebambo
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