4 steps to refill your emotional container in your relationships — We cannot give what we don’t have

How healthy boundaries is a win-win-win situation

Money, career, past traumas, social life, sex, parenting… the list of things that can cause stress in our lives can be endless.Of course it is not about these things, but our stories attached to them. Nevertheless, we all seem to get hit on the stomach by a few of these negative stories from time to time. We all feel the resistance, fear, doubt, confusion, stress and not-knowing-what-to-do-ness quite frequently. It is part of the conditioning we are introduced in our society and a part of the natural course of our ability to deal with life.

The thing is that, when these moments hit and we feel down and overwhelmed, very rarely it is time for dealing with our spouse’s emotions, conflicts in our family or any other thing we thing we think we have to do. Because, all of this can be easily made of a escape mechanism to push us away from what truly matters: our emotional container.

However, most of the time we end up facing these haves, and during an indecisive conflict in our minds on: “to do or not to do?” we end up giving ourselves too much of what we can handle. And I am not going to be naive about it, sometimes in the world we live today our emotions need to be held on stand-by for a second or a few minutes in order for us to deal with other issues.

But we can easily feel drained if we give too much of our energy to things/people outside ourselves. If our emotional container is already less than full — because of our own fears and doubts with our lives — imagine how low level it would get to try to re-fill other`s containers.

You can’t actually be fully present and helpful for others with worry thoughts running on the back of your head and tension in your body. Even if you try, you will probably get reactive by other`s problems or feel frustrated and tired by simply trying to listen to them.

You can’t give what you don’t have. It is our restless inability to accept this that makes us so miserable in our relationships. Toxic behaviors can start happening if both sides don`t take full responsibility for their emotional container, such as blaming one another, emotional manipulation, guilt tripping, “score keeping”, shaming, etc.

Here are some simple steps to help you deal with these situations with presence and groundness.

1. Clear communication

It is of best interest for both of us to realize when we are passing through some emotional lows and to clearly communicate what is happening with others around us. And by clear I mean making it about you:

“I am feeling ______ because of my______ and I need_______”

All this is not to make it easier for others to take care of our emotions, but to clearly indicate that we are not able to give them probably anything they would want from us. It is a gift card in advance saying “I need to take care of myself first, and if you truly want I would love some support/help to meet my needs”

2. Give yourself your best gifts

This is an opportunity for you to deal with such emotions, for you to stop everything and take a valuable time with yourself. It is a time to express emotions, to listen to your thoughts and stories and see the underlying fear behind them. To FEEL through your needs by getting out of your rational head and into your heart-full empathetic self and fill your container little by little again.

For me, sometimes when it starts to get really heavy it really helps to talk with my inner child. Just by imagining that there’s a part of me that is in fear and have some unmet needs, he comes to me and knock into my thoughts trying to call attention to his worries. Instead of ignoring or beating the child up, I can try to give him the gift of addressing his needs and seeing what happens. (just like with real children, we also need to watch out to not spoil “them”)

Worry will probably keep coming back with it`s own repetitive stories, but remember that all shall pass and this moment right here, right now is the most important one there is. To take care of your emotional turmoil and address your needs is to make a win situation not only for you, but for the whole world — again, you cannot give to the world what you don`t have. It is for everyone`s best interest for us to give our full-filling selves than to give us poorly.

3. Establish clear boundaries

The next step is about creating clear boundaries when we feel our essential energies being used for other means than to nourish ourselves. It is important to be able to say “no” when people want your support — even if it is about little things, maybe even especially about those, since you may think “it would not hurt to do that for them”, but it can turn out to have the same toxic compensations mentioned before.

Saying “no” is saying “YES” for yourself, it is saying “YES” for interdependence, for responsibility, for self-love and nourishment, for your core values and for the relationship.

4. Take it easy

This is not about BEATING your fears and emotional turmoil, it is about coping with them and giving yourself some love and appreciation. Don`t make it a goal to “overcome this until this time” or to be completely healed. Our imperfections are the perfect part of the process and usually when we don`t worry that much about the end result, our heavy emotions/thoughts dissolve way faster.

More letting it go than holding it tightly and trying to fix it.

You see, it is because in a relationship we have 3 entities, you, me and the relationship (in this picture, US).

As soon as any of the parties that complement the relationship (you and/or me) feels emotionally empty, these parties get to take care their own container by trying to fill them up again. Because, if any of them try to give either to each other or to the relationship(US) whilst empty, now the whole of the relationship suffers.

If you cannot give to the relationship, don’t force it; it will be poorly given. Of course each other can always support one another, but never take care of/take hold of each other’s needs. Otherwise, it will always have some imbalance with some of the entities.


Clearly communicate what you are passing through with others, this will make it easier for them to not take anything personally. Take a good quality time with yourself by assessing your fears, addressing your needs and expressing all your self-love in any way you feel like to, remember that it may take a while to feel “replenished”, that is also why is important to set healthy boundaries and communicate when you are or are not feeling fulfilled. Don’t make it a goal to beat, but a process to enjoy — your flaws makes you perfect anyways :)

Take care.

If any of this resonated with you and you want some help to cultivate fulfilment in your relationships,

Send me a message on Facebook and let’s schedule a FREE coaching call 😉