Ep 1: The Bucket
We lose our power when we believe that others can fill or take from our emotional buckets. We know that we are “agents to act and not to be acted upon” and as such we can learn to take responsibility for our own buckets.
Hello and welcome my friends! Isn’t that music fun? It’s kinda catchy. So excited to be here today. I tell you what, this was a bit of a process in the making so now that we’re here – woohoo! Just so excited!
I love podcasts. I listen to them all the time and generally when I’m in my car taking my family here and there for all the many things we do, it’s fun to pop one on and listen together. I really wanted a podcast for LDS parents and teens and when I went hunting there wasn’t any to be found! Seriously, if you type in LDS parents and teens NOTHING, nada will pop up – okay, I take that back – until NOW, but before there wasn’t anything for us to listen to together and that’s really what I wanted.
It reminded me of something Toni Morrison once said that,
“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
That’s what I decided to do. There’s a few podcasts out there that I just love but it wasn’t enough and it wasn’t something my teens could relate to or want to listen to so I decided that if I wanted a podcast for parents and teens to connect and hear great LDS life coaching tools then I needed to be the one to pioneer it. So fun, right?
Really glad you’re on this journey with me! I trained with Brooke Castillo over at the Life Coach School. I work primarily with parents and teens. I love my job. I love what I do and all the many, many people I get to work with. It’s amazing. They’re amazing. These tools I’m going to share with you are amazing.
Before we start I just want to say a quick word, this podcast isn’t really a podcast for PARENTING teens but FOR parents AND teens. I believe that we need to work on ourselves first, ourselves meaning parents working on themselves and teens, working on themselves so you both can become more of who you know you can be and who you want to be. I help you do that work on yourself and by so doing the relationship changes in beautiful ways. It goes from “me needing to “fix” you and you wanting to “fix” me and instead I’m just going to learn how to work on myself and then I just get to show up and love you as my teen, to discipline out of love and not from a needy or scarcity standpoint – and similarly, with the teen to work on themselves and then show up from a loving stand point and not needing their parents to be anything other than who they are. I’m telling you, it’s just an amazing place when you work from this way.
There will be a lot of tools given that you BOTH can learn from, benefit from and still be able to rock your relationship together. It’s so fun.
Okay, lets dive in! Today I want to talk about BUCKETS! I was meandering through Barnes and Nobel, one of my favorite stores and came across a children’s book called, the Bucket Filler. I’m sure you’ve seen it or have heard about it. It’s a concept that’s generally taught in younger elementary grades. The idea is basically this:
when you do something nice or say nice things for other people you “fill their bucket” and likewise when you’re being unkind, you’re then taking things away from their buckets. They ask questions like, “Are you a bucket filler? Or a bucket taker?” While I do understand the concept behind these ideas as a way to teach kids to think about others and to serve others, I find that it’s inaccurate and thinking this way can have a huge negative impact on our lives, our family, and the goal of trying to create, love at home.
The problem with this idea, the idea that other people fill or take away from our buckets, our emotional buckets, we assume that they have the ability to hurt or offended us or that we have to wait for them to do something for us to feel good. We have to wait and HOPE that they will indeed fill our buckets. We also are powerless to having our buckets drained or altered when someone doesn’t act the way we think they should.
This line of thinking is contrary to what we know about our agency, “We are agents to ACT and NOT to be ACTED upon.” – David A. Bednar
We have our agency, our ability to choose whether to let anyone anywhere near our buckets – this includes filling them or taking from them.
Let me give you an example: I had this friend once that said something really rude to me. We were sitting in our math class and our tables were set up in a square so there were four desks all facing inward towards each other and my friend sat across from me which was great until she said this rude thing – and this was back in High school so I can’t even remember what the exact words were I just remember being so bothered by them and everyday I’d come back to class and have to sit across from her, face to face and I just stewed in my feelings, feeling justified that she was wrong and needed to fix it. She needed to apologize. But the problem was that I was miserable. I didn’t look forward to going to class- In all honesty I can’t say I ever looked forward to math class but this just made it even worse.
I felt that she had done something wrong to me, she had taken from my bucket and I couldn’t feel better until she fixed it. Are you starting to see the problem?
This is especially tough when it’s in own family. Whether that’s extended family or within the walls of your own home between siblings or even parents and kids or teens. You take on the thought that there can’t be love at home until the other person does something, until they fix it, until they change. You can’t feel better until they “fill your bucket” again and this is a problem.
This is assuming the role that we’re able to be “acted upon” as Elder Bednar said – The truth is though, we are agents to act – we get to decide – we get to protect our emotional buckets and I’ll share more in a moment.
Think for a moment: Have you ever experienced a time when someone has said something nice, complimented you and it really didn’t hold much weight because deep down you didn’t believe it?
I like to sing. I’ve always liked to sing but I used to be really hard on myself especially after I sang in church or any performance. I’d pick apart everything and think about how I messed it all up or whatnot and I’d dread seeing people after the meeting because I knew they’d come up and say something nice and I just didn’t want to hear it because I knew they were just saying it to be nice or out of pity is what I thought.
So even though they said kind things – complimented me – if we believed the concept of being a bucket filler then it should have filled my emotional bucket, right? Their kind words and gestures should have made me feel better and happy – but they didn’t because I didn’t believe them. I used my agency to decide what I wanted in my bucket and at that time it wasn’t that!
Can you relate? Is there a time when someone said something nice to you and you chose not to believe it? You chose not to add it to your bucket. They couldn’t add it – they don’t have access to it – you fill it.
Likewise, have you ever had someone say or do something negative and you chose not to let it bother you? When my nephew was really little, like two maybe, he wanted to do something, I can’t remember what it was but my dad, his grandfather or Papa as the grandkids call him told him no. He was so upset at being told no that he looked up and said, “papa, you mean.” and we all kind of laughed because it was so cute -I’m still laughing because it was so cute.
Now, IF others can take away from our buckets by saying negative things to us then why was it so cute hearing him call my dad, mean? It didn’t hold any negative weight because deep down my dad knew he wasn’t being mean, he was in fact being loving and keeping the two year olds best interest in mind.
Now, what about someone else calling you mean, someone close to you. When they say something that we don’t agree with or that we feel was unwarranted we feel hurt, offended, angry even and it’s easy to think that “they” hurt us. They said words and now I’m hurt. But we’re missing a key component in that – and that’s our agency.
They said words, we CHOSE what to make those words mean, and we chose to be offended, hurt, or angry. Are you starting to see? Stay with me, there’s more.
So, I teach that we are responsible for our own buckets; that it’s not other’s responsibility or “job” to fill our emotional buckets.
When we do this, when we wait for others to do something for us, we’re postponing our happiness until they feel like doing something for us…and what if they NEVER want to do anything for us? What if they never apologize? What if they never compliment you or say exactly what you want them to say? What happens then?
Like, I need you to compliment me on how I well I cleaned my room for me to feel good about my room. Or dinner, I cooked dinner for you and I need you to thank me for me to feel good and appreciated about making dinner. When we think this we’re assigning others to be in charge or our emotional buckets and really, most people aren’t good at managing their own buckets why do we think they’ll be able to take care of ours too?
Thinking in terms of others having access to our buckets isn’t helping us to have love at home. It’s a recipe for disaster. If someone does something that I don’t like aka taking something out of my bucket, I’m then powerless to feel how I want to feel until they apologize or rectify their behavior. Again…what if they NEVER apologize? What if they never change? Am I to be powerless indefinitely?
No, absolutely not. You get to feel however you want NOW. How you feel is NOT contingent upon other’s actions, words, or intents. This is GREAT NEWS! Really, really great! Each day you’re in charge of your own bucket. Each day you get to decide how “full” your bucket is and if it stays full all day because it has NOTHING to do with the other person. This is especially great news because we can’t predict how others are going to show up each day. We can’t predict if they’ll be kind or if they’ll be negative. I would never want to give my emotional power away because it’s too important to me and how I show up in the world.
This is one of the greatest blessings of our agency. That we get to choose how we’ll feel. We get to choose what we want to do with our buckets.
Think about this: too often we show up NEEDING others to be a certain way or say certain things because of how we think it’ll make us feel. I had a teen client once that was really hurt and offended because her friend supposedly started an ugly rumor about her. She was bothered by this deeply for weeks and was just really uncomfortable the whole time because she was consumed by the “wrongness” of it. She felt like she could feel better or have peace until justice was served. She needed her friend to fix it, to pay for it, to apologize, to change in someway because then she could feel better. But in the meantime she was just in a state of misery.
It wasn’t until she learned and really practiced applying this concept that her friend CAN’T hurt her. She can’t take from her bucket. Ultimately it is HER choice what she wants to believe about the circumstance and she gets to choose how she wants to feel –
I will say, she didn’t choose happy in this instance. I don’t think I would have either. I wouldn’t want to be happy that my friend said unkind things about me but there’s a BIG difference from ME choosing to feel unhappy and recognizing that I’M choosing to be unhappy vs SHE made me unhappy.
The difference is that SHE can’t make me anything. I’m an agent to act and not to be acted upon and the best news is that when I’m ready I can UNCHOOSE feeling hurt, I can unchoose feeling miserable. I don’t have to WAIT for her to change anything. The ball is in my court.
We always want to own and take responsibility for our own emotional buckets. When your sibling does something you don’t like – just remember, THEY didn’t hurt you – THEY didn’t make you angry – You’re choosing to be angry, your choosing how you interpret the circumstance and when you’re ready you don’t have to wait for them to change anything about themselves for you to feel better.
When my kids ask for something and I tell them no, for whatever reason – they can choose how they want to feel about that. They can choose to feel angry that they didn’t get what they thought they wanted. I can choose to feel annoyed that they’re angry. But we all take ownership of our buckets. They’re allowed to feel angry if that’s what they choose. They’re not allowed to be destructive or other things like that but they can always feel however they choose to feel. Likewise, when I’m annoyed I recognize that I’m choosing to feel annoyed. They don’t have to change anything because when I’m done feeling annoyed I know that I can feel better. I keep my emotional bucket close to me and teach my kids to do the same.
There’s so much freedom when you can operate from this place. There isn’t any extra pressure placed on you as a parent to make sure you’re not hurting or offending anyone or pressure on your kids to act a certain way so you can feel good.
How many times have you thought, oh I can’t do that because I’ll hurt their feelings. Or don’t say that because that’ll hurt their feelings.
I just want to make it clear again – you can’t hurt their feelings – they can’t hurt yours.
This is NOT to say that we just go around saying and doing whatever it is we feel like without care, compassion, or love. We want to always act from a place of kindness, generosity, charity, and love.
If I need to have a conversation and say something that I think they might interpret a certain way and choose hurt or offense I can adjust accordingly. I can still say what I need to say but I can do it from a place of genuine love for them and for me. I can be mindful in my delivery of what I need to say.
Just like we’re too afraid to say no sometimes because we think we’ll hurt their feelings. Remember, you can’t. You’re not that powerful. But it doesn’t mean that you say no in an abrasive manner – maybe you choose to say it gently but honestly. I think you’re fabulous but I just can’t do that. Then however they choose to interpret that is their choice. It’s their agency.
You have your bucket to take care of and I have mine and when we take ownership and responsibility for our own buckets we get to come together and just enjoy one another from a place of authenticity and realness instead of holding back, not sharing, acting different because we’re in fear that we might say or do something offensive. That’s not the best place to operate from and it’s certainly not fun.
So let me give you something you can do to prepare yourself and your bucket ahead of time. Before you head into the day and this world with lots of people and lots of personalities.
Your bucket is your emotional bucket – how you feel. So decide ahead of time, before you go out of your room, before you leave the comfort of your warm bed, decide how you want to feel today. People don’t realize this but you absolutely CAN feel how you WANT to feel. I’m going to share lots more about this in the next episode but you can absolutely choose how you want to feel. So ask yourself that question.
If you can pick from all the feelings in the world what would you want to feel?
Happy, Joyful, Loving, abundant, creative, confident, energetic? I ask my kids this often and my youngest said, crazy. I said you want to feel crazy? He said, yep. I wanna feel crazy oh, and silly.
Okay…this is going to be a fun day. If you’re choosing crazing then I better choose patient.
Now this sets up your whole day. It takes so much of the mental drama out of the picture and reactive behaviors out too because you’ve decided how you’re going to channel your thoughts – how you’ll interpret the day’s circumstances.
So during the day when someone, family or friend or anyone says something that I don’t like or that I don’t agree with, I’ve already decided AHEAD of time that I want to feel …oh, let’s I’ve decided to be CALM. So now I don’t have to REACT, I can just pause and ask myself, “What would CALM look like here?” Maybe calm looks like walking away. Maybe it looks like responding (notice, not reacting). Maybe calm looks like asking questions.
What calm doesn’t look like is storming away. It doesn’t look like snapping back or getting heated. It doesn’t look like being defensive or being offended. I’ve already chose ahead of time that I’m not going to be offended, I’ve chosen to be CALM.
Elder Bednar admonished all of us to, “choose NOT to be offended.” It IS a choice. We don’t have to choose that. He says,
“You and I cannot control the intentions or behavior of other people. However, we do determine how we will act. Please remember that you and I are agents endowed with moral agency, and we can choose not to be offended.”
The words and actions of others are circumstances, meaning, we can’t control them, what they say or do and they’re also completely neutral. They don’t mean ANYTHING until you interpret them.
So why choose to interpret them in a negative light? Why choose to interpret them as something that is going to hold you back and keep you stuck?
Choosing calm doesn’t mean I just suck it up and take it, or that I give up feeling completely. It means that I’m intentional in what I’m going to use my agency for. I’m choosing to be calm and that means that I’m not going to react.
It’s the opposite of sucking it up and taking it. It’s purposeful living and it requires more energy and thought work but it is the higher road. It is the path that we’re designed to take – maybe not calm for you but intentional feelings, the act of deciding ahead of time.
No one can take anything from your bucket. You decide what you’ll take out as a result of how you interpret the situation.
Why not decide that you’ll always fill your own bucket. If you want to be happy – there’s a way. What thoughts generate happy for you? This is much more than just thinking general happy thoughts. It’s asking yourself questions like, what does happy look like in this moment? What would happy think? What would happy do right now?
If we go back to the example of that friend that chose to say those things, you can ask yourself – how can I create happy in this moment? What thoughts generate happy? How would happy think?
Maybe it’s thoughts like, “I’m so glad they’re not in charge of my bucket.”
“I have agency and I don’t believe those things because I know I’m amazing.”
“I really like me and I love that I decide how I feel always. Happy feels good.”
So let’s talk about you and being able to fill your own bucket since now we know that it’s not other people’s job to fill my bucket and that they truly can’t fill my bucket. So how do you fill your own bucket?
You fill it by saying, thinking, feeling, and doing kind and thoughtful things for you. You do it by developing confidence in yourself so that you’re not swayed by the actions and words of others – you can know that you rock without other people giving you permission to think you are – you feel good because you know you are.
Thinking kind things about you is not prideful, this is self-care and it’s necessary for you to show up as your best self. For you to keep and maintain a full bucket in an unpredictable world.
Andre Gide said, “loving yourself isn’t vanity. It is sanity.”
You can’t show up as your best self when your bucket is too light because there’s hardly anything in it. You show up as your best self when it’s full, when you can be confident in yourself, and really like who you are and your reasons for doing what you’re doing.
It’s a process, it’ll take practice but it’s so worth it and so necessary.
Every time you refrain from saying something negative to yourself and instead say something kind, you add another drop.
Every time you practice pausing and checking in with yourself and then responding and not reacting you add another drop.
Every time you wanted to yell at someone and you didn’t out of love, you add another drop.
Every time you honor a commitment to yourself – you tell yourself that you’re going to do something and you do it, you add another drop.
Every time you notice and appreciate something good about you, you add another drop.
Every time you encourage and love yourself instead of shaming and demeaning yourself, you add another drop.
Every time you give and serve and help others, you add another drop.
Every time you’re patient with yourself because you’re learning, you’re human, you add another drop.
Drop by drop, thought after thought, choice after choice our buckets are filled and our confidence grows.
Genuinely confident people are great people to be around. They’re so fun. They show up without emotionally NEEDING anything from you and are just there to love and lift.
Learn to love yourself so that you don’t NEED anything from others. You don’t NEED them to praise you, to compliment you, to do anything for you for you to feel a certain way. You come already having a full bucket, knowing just how precious of a child of God that you are.
Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying don’t compliment or serve others – YES, do that… a lot! Receiving compliments and kind gestures is awesome. Keep sharing that goodness in the world! But we want to learn how to not NEED it from others for you to feel a certain way, or you might be waiting a long time.
So the trick is to learn to love yourself and fill your own bucket and when you do this – you create more love for you in your life – you get to choose to feel that love and just imagine how much better you show up in the world? How much better you show up in your family? Imagine how different the whole family dynamic would be if everyone learned to take care of their own buckets. What a beautiful place.
We’ll talk lots more on this concept through the podcast because it is such an important one. But for today, remember that no one can fill or take from your bucket. That’s your divine right and divine gift!
Thanks for listening everyone.
Have a great week!