Are You Pouring from an Empty Cup?

 In Blog
Are you pouring from an empty cup?

You’ve probably seen the saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” I recently saw it again on my Facebook feed.  Even though it appears with regularity, whenever I see it, it always hits me hard. 

There is so much going on in our world and our lives.  It can be difficult to move through our days easily and with grace. 

Connected 24/7

Between our smartphones or Apple watches or Fitbits, we are connected 24/7.  If you have one of these devices, have you tried living without it for a day?  Do you notice that you have a compulsion to check it just to make sure you aren’t missing something? 

If you answered yes, it is likely that you don’t get any complete relaxation time.  Something is always drawing your attention.

Busier than ever

Add to that the enormous energy that our sheer busyness requires: we are busier and busier than ever, and more and more exhausted, too. 

For example:  

 — If you’re a parent, you may be driving your kids everywhere to all their after-school or summer activities. Or you may have ever-increasing work responsibilities, and are expected to put in more hours. 

— If you own your own business, there is always something that isn’t completed or could take your attention and time. 

— Even if you’re retired, you may find yourself filling every available minute with activity – and feeling sad, like something’s wrong, or even vaguely guilty when you don’t. 

And then there are the everyday activities of cooking, cleaning, and maintenance for your home, whether you rent or own. When you add social activities (and social media!) on top of this, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day.

 Busy-ness as a badge of honor

Do you notice, however, that even as you complain about exhaustion, having too much to do, etc., there’s at least some part of you that thinks that being this busy is a good thing?  Unfortunately, busy-ness is a badge of honor in Western culture, especially in the US where I live. Workaholism is actually celebrated (and often expected). 

The corollary is also true. When you take time off for self-care, for fun, or just to rest and get recharged, there is this niggling voice in your head shaming you for it.  “You’re lazy,” it might say. Or “You have x, y, and z things to do, and you don’t have time to rest right now.” At least those are some of the voices I hear, which is why that Facebook post about the empty cup hit a tender nerve. 

The Cost of Glorifying Busy-ness

Glorifying busyness is a recipe for depletion, exhaustion, and eventually dis-ease.  It is all too easy to ditch any kind of self-care when busyness is the top priority.  

I can’t count the number of times one of my clients says that self-care is selfish or tells me they feel guilty for the simple act of taking care of some basic needs like self-nurture, rest, and play. 


When was the last time you took real time for yourself – without guilt or shame or self-judgment?  Did you allow yourself to truly come back to center – to recharge, to fill yourself up? 

If you can’t remember the last time — or it was quite a while ago — I encourage you to take some time off to just be. It’s as necessary as breathing.  

If you don’t get it regularly, over time, you will become depleted, exhausted – and eventually move into dis-ease of some kind.  And that is especially true for those of us who are in helping professions, or are naturally helpers.

Filling your cup

This is one of the reasons I created the Spiritual Transformation Group, a group that meets monthly for nine months for both nourishment and deep healing. It is an opportunity for you to step out of your normal daily schedule, and acquire the tools that will help you release any hindrances to achieving your life’s purpose.

It fills a need I see in my clients and students for a regular time of rest, and deep focus on clearing out those things getting in the way of being completely and fully all we can be.  Paradoxically, overwork is one of those things. 

In the next few days you will see an invitation for the next group, which will start in early September.  If you need to fill your cup, this group will nurture and nourish you. 

 In the meantime, inner stillness and connection – regular times to just be – are crucial to well-being and wholeness and full health.  My appeal to you is to find some time just for renewal and self-care and self-nurture regularly – if possible, each day! Even 5 minutes can make a huge difference in your resiliency throughout the day.  If you have specific practices that work for you, I would love to hear about them.  Please comment in the space below.  And please let me know what you notice if you are taking regular time(s) for inner stillness and connection each day. 

With love and gratitude,


PS:  If you crave a monthly respite in your schedule, where you can fill your own cup, be on the look-out for the invitation that’s coming.  If you like here is a sneak peek.

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