If you were to take a dip into the depths of your well—or your soul—what would you find? I think most people would probably admit they are not flowing with energy, abundance, wisdom, and joy.
An overflowing well, so to speak, requires self-care—and I don’t mean the bubble baths and hot tubs in exotic places. I mean true self-care: a healthy lifestyle, doing what you love, meditation, exercise, rejuvenation, kindness, compassion, feeding your creativity, and honoring your boundaries. I mean understanding how much energy you’re expending.
Simply put, it’s filling up your own well before you deplete it, especially on those who don’t deserve it.
For as long as I can remember, I would deplete the depths of my well to nourish those around me—both the deserving and undeserving. The friend who constantly needed something. The friend who overstepped boundaries and never reciprocated. The friend with a self-serving agenda. The ones who gave only if I’d given something first. The energy vampires. I gave them my time, even if it cost me my energy or well being; even if I received nothing in return. I grew up surrounded by strong, selfless individuals. So naturally, I rarely took time for myself without being trampled by feelings of guilt and self-indulgence.
As the years went by, I started to wonder where my energy was going. I wondered why my actions were not reciprocated when I needed them most. So I started to live by a quote that at the time I didn’t even know existed. And you can imagine how much it resonated with me when I stumbled upon it.
“Never give from the depths of your well, but from the overflow.” — Rumi
Selflessness is a coveted virtue. But acts of selfless devotion is not synonymous with a consistent life of every moment dedicated to others’ wishes and needs, with a total disregard for our own well-being.
The relationship you have with yourself reflects upon every other relationship you have. Consistently putting your needs aside for the needs of others can leave you feeling burnt out and, to be honest with you, a little bit shitty at times. If you constantly give yourself away to people, especially those who don’t deserve it, you’ll waste this precious resource and wonder why you don’t have enough energy for the people and things that matter most.
To be clear, I am not advocating selfishness here. Being selfish is about focusing solely on one’s own agenda, interests, personal gains, and superiority without any regard for anyone else’s needs whatsoever. This is a toxic, pathological personality trait.
Self-care is not selfish—as a society, I’m not sure where we got the notion that self-care is anything other than self-respect. We’ve got to turn this thinking around. Self-care is being honest about your needs. It’s being real about how much you can take on. It’s setting aside time for yourself. It’s respecting your own boundaries. We’ve got to turn this thinking around, because at the end of the day, if we don’t nurture our own mind, body, and soul, we won’t have anything left to give to anyone else. Period. Fill yourself up with love, joy, and peace and then give your time and energy to deserving people around you.
When your well reaches an abundant level of care, you will notice:
You are more energized by engaging with people
You are happier overall
Your energy is leading you to a true sense of purpose
The universe starts to align you with like-minded individuals
I’ve come to learn that some of the most important life lessons are about the preservation of what matters—in this case, energy. Your energy is so powerful. Don’t give your words, time, or precious resources away too easily. Recognize that your energy is valuable and spend it on people and things that give you a return on your investment.
We are a society of exhausted and undernourished souls struggling to do our best in the world—sigh. But remember, this is a one-step-at-a-time process. With new habits, you can constantly replenish your well. Slowly, you will find that you’ve built a whole-being practice of self-care. And when you do, your heightened sense of awareness will simply not allow others to interfere with your zen and violate your boundaries.