Ever been on a plane? When the instructors are giving you the safety brief, you might recall the instructions being ‘put your own oxygen mask on before assisting others’. This makes sense. You’re no good at helping others with their masks if your passed out on the floor in an emergency, because you didn’t look after yourself first.

This is an extreme example, but it has the same message as what I would like to get across in this post. And that is, you cannot give your best to others, or be the best you can be, if you are not putting your own needs first. This might sound difficult if you’re in a relationship or if you see yourself being a good friend by putting other’s needs before your own. But I can guarantee you, you’re not much good to them if you’re a big pile of negative energy. And you don’t deserve that, either.

What I’m saying is, you can’t pour from an empty glass. Those days when I’m feeling empty, how can I possibly give to my puppy, Duke, or my partner, Zac or even the students I work with at school? It wouldn’t be fair to them if I have nothing in my glass to give.

I need to fill myself up first and give from the overflow.

How I do that could be extremely different from the next person. But it’s super important to work out what that is so we can be actively doing things that make ourselves feel good on a regular basis so we can be our best.

Otherwise, we’re useless, passed out on a plane floor and not able to help our loved ones put on their oxygen masks.

It’s up to you.

Your happiness relies on you, and only you. It’s too easy to give that responsibility to someone else, because then we can blame others and it’s not our fault when we are feeling negative. But the truth is, only you have the power to control your own thoughts. I can’t go inside your head, find the negative thoughts and replace them. That is up to you, my friend.

I can hear you saying, ‘when people call me names or do things that are nasty to me, of course I am going to be upset.’ And yes, of course you are. But you have a choice whether you give those people the power to upset you or not. You have the choice to imagine you are a solid brick house, and those people are throwing rocks at you by calling you names and whatever else. But you don’t have to answer the door and let them in. You have the choice to let the rocks bounce off your strong brick walls and not give them the power to hurt you. Otherwise, you’re a glass house asking for trouble.

However, we are human, and things happen in our day that bring us down. That is when we need to make the decision to build ourselves back up again and make ourselves feel good. How? Call a friend, go for a walk, play with your dog, colour in, make yourself a hot drink, go for a shot of basketball, read a book or magazine, take a bath, read my blog, listen to your fav song…

It's up to you

It’s not fair to give others the power to make you feel better. That is a lot of responsibility, and also a lot of hard work if you are not looking after yourself, too. So I challenge you to make a list of things that make you feel good. And then start doing them and see how you feel!

Once you start filling up your own glass, you’ll find you have more to give to others and you’ll be a happier and fuller person for it.

Let me paint you another picture…

Ok, I’ve stayed up late watching trashy TV, I’ve over slept in the morning and get up feeling groggy and lazy. I skip breakfast because I’m running late and I’m wearing dirty clothes because I’ve been watching too much Netflix to do any washing. I haven’t exercised in a week (which is like taking a depressant drug that makes me grumpy and distressed), and then I rock up to work and expect to be a good teacher? Wouldn’t have thought so.

I am good at my job when I look after myself. I must take time out of my day to fill up my own glass. Do my students deserve a grumpy and depressed teacher? Nope. And I don’t deserve it, either. That’s why taking care of myself is a priority.

Recognising when I am feeling empty is half the battle. When I become more self-aware and reflect on what I am doing just for me, I can see whether I need to put more effort into empowering myself or not. I’m not being noble and I’m certainly not a hero when I stick around at work when I’m sick. That’s when my body is screaming at me for a rest and for some self-love. I’m setting more of an example to those around me if I’m modelling self-care and self-awareness by pausing to fill myself up, instead of trying to pour from an empty glass!

A tip from me, we can always do with more TLC from ourselves, because lez be honest, who doesn’t like love and attention?

So look after yourselves, ok? Only you can do it. And it’s too big of a job if we ask others to do it for us. We end up empty, frustrated and feeling angry at the world. Take responsibility, empower yourself and fill your own glass by doing things that make you feel good. And only you will know what that is. For me, I like green tea, writing, and getting into bed with a good book or magazine to flick through. And of course, spending time with my beautiful puppy, Duke. And I suppose if I’ve mentioned the dog, I should say that spending time with Zac goes alright, too (love you, Zac).

Note to self: do something you love today.

Dr Seus

What is it that you like doing to fill yourself up?

What can you do today to look after yourself?

Do you give too much responsibility to someone else to fill yourself up? Has this ever led to disappointment? How can you change this today?

Photo credit: Pallascouture instagram

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