How often do you think things like “I’ve got things coming out my ears, that cuppa will just have to wait”
Or “I just don’t have time to call my best friend today”
What about “I would die for a nice long soak in the bath”
or “I wish I had more time to spend with my husband”.
We all have those things that stop us from doing things for us. At any given time I could give you a list of at least ten things that I need to get done before I stop and relax. If I’m being really honest, writing this is one of them.
Well, I’m here to dish out some #realtalk. Those “optional” things you want to do, that your body is probably craving and your heart and head are crying out for – they are not optional, they are absolutely vital.
You can’t pour out of an empty cup.
So how did I learn this lesson? The hard way of course. Late last year I was carrying the mother load and managing far more than my mind or body had the capacity for. I was working, studying, planning our wedding and travelling between two living arrangements, and doing none of them well. Eventually, I ended up having to bow out of pretty much everything, because my body just threw her hypothetical hands in the air (even though there are actual hands) and said enough is enough. I ended up on my bum in bed with chronic fatigue, a common result of your body going to hard for too long. No social life, no energy to make my fiance dinner, no capacity to visit family or go to work. It was absolutely no kind of life.
Now I get it, this may sound like an extreme case and you’re probably thinking Ri, I won’t get that bad, and maybe you won’t. But hey that’s what I thought too and invincible as we may think we may be, my story is far more common than you’d realise. But I promise you, if you don’t stop voluntarily to fill up, you’re body will stop for you.
When I was working through this stuff and struggling to understand how I’d ended up here, my psychologist introduced me this beautiful metaphor:
The Story: There was a philosophy professor who was giving a lecture. In front of him he had a big glass jar. He started off by filling up the jar with the big rocks and when they reached the rim of the jar he held it up to the students and asked them if the jar was full. They all agreed, there was no more room to put the rocks in, it was full.
Is it full? He then picked up a tub of small pebbles and poured these in jar so that they filled the space around the big rocks. “Is the jar full now?” he asked. The group of students all looked at each other and agreed that the jar was now completely full.
Is it really full? The professor then picked up another container, this time it had sand in it. He poured the sand in between the pebbles and the rocks and once again he held up the jar to his class and asked if it was full. Once again the students agreed that the jar was full.
“Are you sure it’s full?” he asked. He finally picked up a bottle of water and tipped the water into the jar until it filled up all the remaining space. The students laughed.
Filling up your Life – The jar represents your life. The rocks are the important things that have real value – your family, your partner, your health, your children – things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter – like your job, house, car, clothes and so forth. The sand is everything else – the small stuff.
Make room for what’s important. If you fill the jar up first with the sand, you won’t have space for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Take the time to date your partner, spend time with the girls, have a hot bath, take the kids out for ice cream. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, do the washing and put the bin out, BUT, you MUST take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter.
Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.
How beautiful is it when we look at self-care as our rocks, we can suddenly see that, if we don’t put them in first then we can’t put them in at all and our life ends up being, well, a jar of gritty sand (and lets be honest, no one likes sand).
I hope this has been helpful in illustrating the importance of not seeing maintaining our health, our relationships and our happiness as optional enjoyment but as vital cup fillers.
I’m so excited to dive into part two when I begin to talk about how you can make self-care part of your norm. If you don’t want to miss it sure to pop your email on our VIP list and we’ll let you know as soon as it’s ready!
Don’t forget to let us know what you think in the comments below and if you’re over on the ‘gram, be sure to come say hi at @mrsprigg!