A few times during the course of my life I’ve heard the phrase “you don’t fill my cup”. This rather innocuous phrase is an indirect pointer to the way our society has evolved over the last century as we become more and more consumer centric. One of the most dangerous mindsets in the world is the idea that other people owe you something, even when it comes to the relationships you choose to partake in. If there truly is a pandemic in the world, this is it.
The idea of having a cup to be filled makes a certain amount of sense and contains a certain amount of truth. We all have emotional needs that must be filled if we are to find any amount of contentedness or happiness. The metaphor of a cup being filled with the “water” that makes us happy is an easy visual reference that makes it quite clear what both the perceived need is and the method in which many people think we are supposed to find that “water”.
Unfortunately, like many things we tend to be rather selfish when it comes to being philosophical about how human beings work. Most of the time we apply concepts to other people that we can’t or won’t apply to ourselves. The idea of someone “pouring into our cup” implies that the person gives us something that adds to our life in a way that increases our happiness. Unfortunately, we tend to forget that life is far more like Burger King than it is like Denny’s.
You see, when you go to a “sit-down” restaurant like Denny’s, a waiter comes by and brings you a cup and keeps filling it as required to keep you satisfied. You have to do nothing for this to happen; the waiter comes by and fills up your cup. It’s quite simple and, if the waiter is doing their job, you stay very content during the extent of your visit because your expectations are being met. Someone is filling your cup for you and that is what both parties have agreed to.
In reality, though, relationships in life are supposed to be a lot more like Burger King. When you step away from the counter with your cup, there is no waiter there to grab your cup and fill it up for you. You actually have to walk over to the fountain and fill up the cup yourself. You don’t walk into a fast food restaurant with the expectation that someone is going to service you, regardless of the fact that there are employees there performing certain minimal functions. You understand that it’s a fast food joint.
In our spoiled modern times, we tend to expect our relationships to be far more like Denny’s than Burger King. Both parties are expecting the other to service their needs, all the while oblivious to the needs of the other person. Much of the unhappiness in modern relationships comes not from terrible people, but from unreasonable expectations. If we all treated our relationships like a fast food restaurant, I think there would be a lot less discontentedness in the world.
What this overly drawn out metaphor is trying to make clear is that it is up to you to fill your own cup. No one else can do it for you. Rather than expecting someone to wander by and pour into your cup for you, it is your duty and responsibility to pick up your cup and walk over to where the water is and fill it yourself. If you can’t muster the will to that, then you’ll never appreciate a full cup anyway.