Over the past week, I have found myself out of sorts, at times. I’ve been impatient, moody and even bitchy (Please excuse my language. It’s the best word to describe how I’ve behaved during some moments this past week).
I wasn’t able to identify the source of my shifts in mood. So, I resorted to a strategy that I frequently utilize with the clients I serve in my therapy practice.
I asked myself:
Chevonna, what do you need?
When my client’s present with an imbalance, I challenge them to consider what specific needs in their life are unmet.
This question is partially based upon some tenets from Gary Chapman’s life affirming 5 Love Language model and Love Cup theory. Let me paraphrase my understanding of Mr. Chapman’s theories:
There are 5 primary love languages that people utilize to communicate and receive love. If an individual communicates love to you in your identified language, it will fill your love cup. However, if they fail to communicate love in the way that you need it communicated, your love cup may remain empty, thereby impacting your relationship, mood and resulting actions.
(For a detailed description of the 5 Love Languages, please visit www.5lovelanguages.com or purchase The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman).
Back to my moodiness… My cup was empty, but I didn’t feel like I was lacking any expressions of love from my spouse, which is what Mr. Chapman’s theory usually references.
As I pondered my question again,
Chevonna, What do you need?
I came to the realizations that I have more than one love cup! My love cup from my husband was full, but something was still missing.
Before I introduce my formula for fulfillment, I must emphasize that this is my personalized and individualized fulfillment plan. Please feel free to take pieces of what works for me to develop your own formula, but I am not attempting to impose my beliefs on anyone else.
I considered, What does it take for me to be my best? I surmised that I have 3 categories of needs: (1) a Spiritual Cup, (2) an Interpersonal Cup and (3) a Personal Cup.
There are specific behaviors required for me to feel that the love in those perspective cups is full. I needed to identify those steps, assess whether I had been doing them and take appropriate action.
1. Spiritual Cup – Agape Love
My faith is my primary source of strength. As a Christian, my spiritual cup consists of a connection with a Holy Trinity (God, Jesus and Holy Spirit). For others, including many of my friends, family and colleagues, spirituality may look different. Your differing view doesn’t change my love or respect for you. I honor you and it’s important that I authentically share what works for me.
Ways that I fill my Spiritual Cup:
Attending church or fellowship (for others, this could be going to mass, a mosque, group meditation, connection with nature, etc.). Consider the ways that you connect with others that are like-minded in their spiritual beliefs.
Prayer and Meditation
Scripture or Devotional Reading
Listening to Christian Music
2. Interpersonal Cup – Love from Family and Friends
My relationships are vital to my existence. The village, that feeds my soul, consists of my husband, children, extended family and my sister/friends. I am blessed with a large maternal, paternal and in-law family. Also, sister/friends is what I call my sisterhood of vibrant women that fiercely have my back. For others, this may include a much smaller group of people. It could also primarily consist of your pets.
How I love on my village and expressions of love that I receive from them:
Dates and quality time with my husband
Family Fun with my children
Seeing my husband and children happy
Attending family gatherings
Consideration and appreciation communicated or shown to me by my loved ones
Conversations with my sister/friends
3. Personal Cup – Self Love
I am a Christian, wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend and WOMAN. The woman in me needs to be nurtured.
Ways that I nurture the WOMAN in me:
Travel – I value new experiences
Exercise – this enhances my confidence and boosts my energy
Pampering – pedicures, massages, shopping
Music – listening to a great song or singing and dancing along
Reading – I could get completely lost in a great book
Rest/Relaxation – listening to waves at the beach, a great afternoon nap
A Clean House - Not necessarily done by me
Candles and Flowers – These are a sure way to my heart
Professional development and growth
When I lack balance in my life amongst these 3 Cups, it is clear to those around me. I even tend to lose my smile :-(
Today, I assessed the ways that I have been prioritizing my days. I definitely recognized areas that were lacking, because social media is not on any of those lists, but it has consumed quite a bit of my time!
Now, I must adjust accordingly. I have taken some actions towards achieving balance and can already feel the positive impact.
1. What do you need today? What are your unique cups and how do you fill them?
2. Do you believe it was appropriate for me to place my Personal Cup last on the list? I struggled with whether it should have been #2 or #3. I’d love to hear your feedback.