Choose to Fill Your Cup First

Plant in a cup aesthetic

By: Cordelia Bloom

Before jumping right into the article, please enjoy this microfiction insert: 

It was finally Wednesday! Every week, Ollie and Amanda shared a ritual: an hourly-(and sometimes two)-FaceTime-wine date. How else are best friends supposed to stay intimately connected through long distance?

Ollie couldn’t wait, she found herself agitative, upset, and frankly, just couldn’t wait to pick up a full glass of wine for tonight’s call. As she sat down with her full and bulbous wine glass, her phone rang. She squealed, “Oh, my goodness! It’s finally Wednesday, Girl! Let me tell you—” 

Her friend intervened frantically, “No, let me tell you! What an insane week! I can’t deal with these people anymore, like—”

They both laughed at each other’s interruptions, then took a big sigh, which was followed by a deep gulp. Ollie continued, “I just don’t have it in me anymore, Amanda. I’m exhausted,” she vented, “Who made up the rules on setting high expectations on me? Seriously, I’ve come to the point where I can’t make a decision—what to make for dinner, what to wear, weekend plans, or anything. By always focusing on what everybody needs, and staying ahead of it, I just…” 

And she grunted, “I can’t do it anymore! Why do I have to make all the decisions? I mean, right?” Then she garbled down most of the wine, and topped off with some more.

“Girl, I know exactly what you mean! It’s infuriating!” Amanda quickly responded, as she took an overextended sip of her wine herself and continued, “It’s ridiculous! What about what we want? Nobody seems to bother to ask what a nice day for us would consist of. Like, does nobody else think like this?”

“I’m wiped out, Amanda, I’m at a zero. And also, do you feel like there’s just not enough time in the day? During the weekdays, I can’t even grab a book before ten o’clock at night! There’s no time for me to literally like, take care of myself,” Ollie said, weepy, while taking another prolonged sip off her wine glass. 

“We have to make ourselves a priority. No more of this nonsense! From now on, we come first. You start reading more again, and I’ll start meditating again. Those two things really ground us! Remember when we used to do them every day? They centered us,” Amanda said inspiringly, while also taking another sip. 

“You know what they say?” Ollie pondered, “You cannot pour from an empty cup.”

They opened their eyes wide at each other, and bursted into laughter. They realized they had just shared the same epiphany. Amanda added, “I wouldn’t ever trade these quality moments with you!”

“Me neither! I always feel lighter after our calls. I look forward to every Wednesday, on top of our daily obsessive text messaging. I love you!” Ollie expressed giggly. 

“Same here! I love you, too! Cheers to tonight’s venting session and to putting ourselves first,” Amanda said as she raised her glass closer to the phone screen. Ollie raised hers as well and added, “Cheers! Tomorrow is a new day.”

You Cannot Pour From an Empty Cup

How many times have we felt like Amanda and Ollie? Overwhelmed, without any energy to spare, and left with little spirit to take care of ourselves? What does it really mean to fill up our own cups?

Nowadays, this expression can often be easily misconstrued for being selfish, self-obsessed, or even insensitive. But that’s not at all what we’re trying to understand and, much less, accomplish here; it’s the entire opposite. If we’re not careful, and all we tend to do is deliver other’s expectations, what will we do when suddenly we’re confronted with the inability to do so again—and we find ourselves stuck at a standstill?

Filling up our cups can have multiple meanings. One of the best ways to explain—it’s the focus, or the approach we each try to find, in order to live a more creative [and fulfilling] life, while harnessing ingenuous energy and ultimately, fly back into our centers. This is how Vanessa Carnevale from HuffPost defines it, and I couldn’t agree more (2015)! The more relaxed and centered we are, the easier it is to produce and not only for us, but for others too.

Prioritizing Self-Care 

It’s vital to recognize that we should certainly self-prioritize. We cannot be expected to show up for anyone or anything (like for our careers, friends, families, or communities), unless we check-in with ourselves (our true center) first. A thing we’re in control of is setting up our own mental well-being at the top of our daily to-do list. The possibilities are endless when it comes to how best each of us can unwind, recharge, or reset. Feel free to browse through the following list and mark which ones speak louder:

  • Value your physical health (spend time outdoors, eat healthy, get enough sleep).
  • Find stillness by laying under a tree or invigorate your imagination by reading a book.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Reorganize a space (out with the old!).
  • Talk about it, express yourself, and feel better (like Ollie and Amanda mentioned above).
  • Block time for yourself and literally put it on the calendar (another one on the books for Ollie and Amanda!).
  • Stop comparing yourself to others and speak kindly to yourself.
  • Explore mindful living (keep calm, be grateful, and present).
  • Take time to have fun! Get rid of the guilt.
  • Set boundaries: Learn to say “no” while keeping a balance with responsibilities and expectations.

We need to make self-care part of our daily routine. Who wouldn’t want to have their cups filled every day? We need to learn how to make it non-negotiable. Veronica Joce from The Intelligent Change Magazine (n.d.) explains that taking care of ourselves is an indispensable part of unleashing our full potential. Self-care is not something we step away from work for, and then feel guilty for “wasting” the time to do so, it is how we are investing in ourselves to become our most valuable asset. It uplifts our mental well-being and it fills our cup. One of the strongest tools to help us continue to make it all happen is the art of expressive writing.

Boosting Our Quality of Life

Isn’t that the biggest twist for us all? Expressive writing is one of the most accurate and effective ways in therapy for mental health. It’s rather quick and simple, and it’s been used since the 1980s.

Expressive writing is an intimate process, where we’re encouraged to write about our feelings and our deepest thoughts about rather difficult or highly emotional-related circumstances that have impacted or affected our life. The trick is to write for 20 minutes nonstop, without worrying about spelling or grammar. 

If this is a bit too intimidating to start with, don’t fret! Another powerful tool to use is to practice gratitude writing; also known as a gratitude journal. Not only does it encourage a healthy, creative habit, but it also rewires negative mindsets! It’s a fantastic way to reflect on the present, since we’d take the time to pause to write about what we’re grateful for. This small act of appreciation can make the most insignificant days seem all the more meaningful when we reflect back. 

Let yourself be curious and discover what is the best approach for you! Journal with The Love Story by clicking the link below, and share how you would start self-prioritizing today. How do you plan on filling up your own cup? What’s the best strategy to recenter yourself?

Begin Journaling Here


Carnevale, V. (2015, October 1). A guide to filling your creative cup and harnessing your creative energy. Huffpost.

Joce, V. (n.d.). How to make yourself and your mental well-being a priority. Intelligent Chance.

Mendelson, W.B., & Ma, L. (2020, November 8). How expressive writing works. Psychology Today.

Takieddine, N. S. (2018, August 23). Boosting your mental health with expressive writing. GoodTherapy.

Team Zoella. (2020, January 10). 12 ways to make yourself a priority. Zoella.

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