If we want to be happy, have happy children, and happy relationships, it is very important that we learn how our bucket got so holey, and what we need to do to repair it.
Let’s start at the beginning.
It’s been said that we spend the first years of our lives getting disconnected from our mothers, and other primary care givers, and then the rest of our lives trying to get reconnected.
As infants, life is good. We have a wonderful bonding or sense of “oneness” with our mother or primary caregiver. But it isn’t long before we want to be more autonomous and begin exploring the world beyond our mother’s arms. So we begin the difficult task of separating from our primary caregivers.
As a one year old, when the world gets too big or scary, we run back to our mother or primary care givers and hold up our bucket so they can fill it back up with unconditional love; or “good stuff” made up of 9A’s+4.
Of course, because of the holes in our bucket, the unconditional love runs out almost as fast as we can get it filled. But the good news is whenever we get a fill-up of “good stuff” in our emotional bucket, a very magical thing happened… “one” of the holes in our bucket mends which allow us, as two or three year olds, to spend more time exploring our world between fill-ups.
Unfortunately, the magic worked in reverse too. When ever we are ignored, abandoned, criticized, put down, made invisible, rejected, shamed, made to feel guilty or inadequate, humiliated, physically or emotionally punished, or “wounded” in any way, “ten” new holes appear in our bucket!
In other words, the negative input we get throughout life is always “ten time more powerful” than the positive “good stuff”.
Stated simply, if we are lucky enough to get enough unconditional love or “good stuff” in the form of the 9A’s in those first three or four “separation” years i.e..
- Authentication (the sense that we are a real person and matter)
and +4’s in the form of:
- Emotional and physical holding
and very few negatives, the next seventeen years, adulthood, and beyond, probably go fairly easily. Autonomy and self-reliance comes easily, and we usually feel good about ourselves.
However, if we don’t get enough 9A’s+4, or get too many negatives, the increasing number of holes in our bucket makes our life quite painful.
It is common to feel needy and clingy, and struggle with low self-esteem; to not feel good about ourselves but not know why. Because our hunger for unconditional love keeps us very dependent on others, we are not able to be very autonomous.
The ten to one ratio; plugging one hole with unconditional love and creating 10 new holes with negative input, continues until the day we recognize we are a unique, separate, autonomous “self”…. the insight that there is only one “me” in the whole world! This psychological birthing of a “self” happens to most of us around the age of seven. Our inner-child psyche slides quietly into our unconscious.
From that day on, the unconditional 9A’s +4, as wonderful as they are, are no longer able to mend the holes in our emotional bucket as efficiently as they did in the first three or four years.
The unconditional 9A’s +4 we get from the outside world are still helpful, but now it takes significantly more “good stuff” to mend each hole in our bucket than it did in the past. Unfortunately, every negative input still has the power to create ten new holes in our bucket.
Because most of us are unaware that our emotional bucket has holes in it, that allow the few 9A’s + 4 we receive from others to quickly leak out, we are destined to spend much of our lives looking for things of the world to fill our empty emotional bucket….food, money, prestige, friends, spouses, careers, and possessions.
The never-ending hunger to fill the emptiness in our bucket continues to grow, and our relationships with others are often filled with demands, drama, and conflict.
And then one day when the pain is bad enough, we decide we’ve had enough!
On that day, when the pain of where we are becomes more than the fear of where we have to travel, we begin to awaken; we find the courage to begin looking inside for the sources of our unhappiness.
As we grow in self-awareness, another magical thing happens… as “we” begin to change, the world around us begins to change.
For the first time we understand that achieving happiness really “is” an inside job.
We learn how to start loving ourselves; especially the child inside of us that never got enough unconditional “good stuff” to mend the holes in his or her emotional bucket.
Our ability to offer compassion and unconditional “good stuff” to those around us; our children, our friends, and the strangers we meet every day begins to grow. Offering 9A’s+4 to people who need unconditional love, so they too can find the strength to begin mending their own emotional buckets, becomes almost effortless.
Our awakened need to offer healing to a broken world creates within our hearts an enlightened authentic spirituality…an unconditional, compassionate, never ending supply of 9A’s +4 for others.
Happiness is no longer an issue; our bucket carries enough for everyone.