Taken from a David Wilcox song, Broken Cup Syndrome has to do with where you find your own sense of security and self-love. You have a cup inside you that is constantly being filled up through your own as well as others’ validation. This affects your self-esteem and self-worth. The trouble is that the cup has a leak. There is no one-time fill-up.
You require a steady flow to keep the emotional water filling the cup. That validation comes from both yourself and from other people. Or, to quote my more religious students, every day you have to go to the well.
What is the well you go to to keep your cup full?
When the cup stays relatively full, your sense of security and self-worth is okay. If the cup is leaking more out than is coming in, then issues arise. It is here where you see how much of the love you have for yourself comes from within vs. how much of it comes from without.
If the validation you need to keep the cup full comes mostly from within yourself or through your own actions, it’s much easier to keep the cup full. This way, no matter how much the cup leaks, you have a way to refill it from within and you can keep your sense of self-worth and security in a much more stable place.
When this is the case, if other people contribute or don’t contribute, it doesn’t matter. You are able to meet your base level emotional needs on your own. When others do contribute, these actions are a bonus but they aren't required.
Healthy love vs. unhealthy love
This is the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy love. When you are fine on your own and the other person is the icing on the cake that is a healthy spot. When you are in a place where the other person IS the cake, then you are setting yourself up for problems.
When the validation you need to keep your cup full comes mostly from other people, it’s much harder to keep the cup full. When the praise, reassurance, and acts of service given by others is needed for you to feel good about yourself, you can see the issue. If others don’t give you these things or they take them away after having already given them in the past, your self-worth can bob up and down depending on how others treat you or what they say about you.
When your validation is mostly coming from outside yourself, you may find yourself in codependent relationships and may even begin seeking validation in unhealthy ways. How much this need for external validation affects your behavior and your relationships really depends on how great the need is and how able you are to create the validation you need from within.
How much of your own worth comes from within?
Take a moment to see how your own sense of self-worth and security isn’t static. Take a moment to see how it could actually degrade over time if you didn’t do a certain amount of work. List the ways you keep your own sense of self-worth stable and begin to see how if you didn’t maintain certain ways of thinking or even certain behaviors how that would diminish. What is the well you go to to keep your cup full?
If your sense of self-worth is coming mostly from without, more activities are coming. Be sure to start with Week 1 of this daily learning journal. Begin to do the work of loving yourself so you can keep your cup filled from within.
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