Filling the Empty Place

"If we worry too much about ourselves, we won't have time for others." 
Mother Theresa

February. It's the time of year when winter seems to stretch on and on. It's the time of year when we're all feeling a little isolated, a little stir crazy, and--if your emails are any indication--a little desperate.

This is the time of year when those of us who feel relatively fulfilled during the rest of the year, suddenly come up empty. We find a bare place inside, like an open door that allows a whisper to come sneaking through. "Is this all there is?" it wants to know.

The question is haunting. But the answer is simple. The biggest trick is to remember it when we need it.

Turn it out
I should put a sticky note on my forehead just for times when I start asking myself those tired questions:
Am I happy? How happy am I? Am I miserable? How miserable am I? Am I tired? Am I sad?

That sticky note would have one simple directive: To think about someone other than myself.
The instant I start feeling tired and sad, it's my cue to do something completely new. To take all that energy that I've been turning in on myself and turn it out into the world.
It can make you sick

"My needs. My wants. My suffering. It's enough to make you sick. In fact, it does make you sick," Gregg Krech writes in his online article "When it comes to Attention: 'I' Am the Enemy." Krech cites scientific studies that attribute depression, anxiety, and alcohol abuse on self-focused attention.

"We find our calling, our bliss, our purposes, by giving up on ourselves," Krech writes. "Our surrender becomes our salvation."
And he certainly wasn't the first to say it. Some of us base our religious faith on that very concept.

It's something we all know, deep down. If you had to name the times when you've felt the most alive in this world, what would you say? For me, each of these times share only one thing in common. They have absolutely nothing to do with me. Late at night, wiping tears from someone else's face. Holding someone else's shaky hand. Head bowed, deep in prayer for someone else's town.

It's also something that's easy to forget. The more we agonize over own happiness or unhappiness, the more we turn inward. The more pre-occupied we become with our own me-ness. The more miserable we become.

Certainly, there is therapy in humility; solace in service. All at once we become enmeshed with something much greater than ourselves. We renew our sense of purpose. We tap into a sense of connectedness that offers infinite healing and comfort.

Tap the "Therapy of Service"
It's terribly easy to tap into that kind of connectedness. There exists so much need in the world. It's everywhere. 

I've published specific ways we can all reach out to ease some of that suffering in the "Soul-Care" volume of Momscape's Daily Soul Snacks.
And we can weave the "Therapy of Service" into every our every intention, our every goal.
If you've hit a plateau with one of your personal goals, make it bigger. Ask yourself: How will the achievement of this goal affect someone else? Widen your focus…and your mission.

Whenever your strength and energy starts to sag, change your perspective, from one of "I" to one of "us." By doing so, you create a subtle shift in intention: "I don't have the energy for a daily workout" becomes "I want to take care of myself so I can be more a more balanced and mindful parent."

It works to empower your professional life, too. "I don't want to go to work" becomes "I want to share my gifts with everyone I come in contact with." Simply start focusing on how your business helps other people. When service and love replaces money as your prime motivator, you may just find that things start falling into place.
Mothers have a remarkable and instinctive capacity for compassion, empathy, and unconditional love. And we can use those traits and values to empower us to feel better, to fill that empty place once and for all.