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Escaping the Hamster Wheel: Doing vs. Being

One of my favorite questions to ask my clients and myself is “how full is your bucket?”  This questions stems from the idea that in order to live happier we need to be filling our lives with people and activities that give us energy (aka fill our bucket).  Basically, in a world, where we sometimes get trapped on a hamster wheel, where we are giving to our relationships, our families, and our careers giving to ourselves tends to take a back burner.  So in the spirit of reuniting clients with themselves and engaging in some self-care, when a client comes into my office I often spend some time on what activities they can engage in over the next few weeks that might add to their bucket.

Last week, I was working with a client I had seen a few times before. Her bucket is pretty empty and she is dealing with a lot of loss/conflict and pain currently in her life.  However, she has latched on to the bucket analogy with gusto and has really tried to come up with activities/events/people that fill up her bucket.  Last week she came in to my office exasperated as she expressed her frustration with the bucket concept–she was REALLY trying to add activities that fed her.  She was trying to engage in activities that added to her bucket but she still felt depleted and sad.  I empathized with her frustration and explained that the point of the bucket analogy is to make yourself aware that you need to engage in self care.  However, sometimes self care is DOING something for yourself–engaging in activities that feed your soul or surrounding yourself with people who make you happy.  Sometimes self care is just BEING.  Just being with yourself and giving yourself some space to feel your emotions, giving yourself some love and caring.  Sometimes self care is doing and sometimes self care if being.

I think as humans we are good at the doing, my client expressed that she liked the bucket concept because it meant there was something she could DO to feel better.  Which is true, but what she found and what is also true is sometimes we just need to BE. We just need to give ourselves a break. The point of the bucket analogy is to remind ourselves to put ourselves first and that self care isn’t selfish.  However self care comes in a variety of ways.  For my client she needed to be with herself and allow herself the space to express the sadness and pain in her life.  The concept of filling up her bucket had turned into another way she could run from herself.  It had turn into another to-do,  and had become another thing that kept her trapped on the hamster wheel.

Living Happier is about taking care of yourself and filling yourself back up whether that be by engaging in activities, spending time with people or being with yourself. The point is to get off the hamster wheel of life and giving back to yourself in a loving caring manner.

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