In the bottom layer of your bucket are your “beliefs”. These are the bedrock values and beliefs you hold about yourself and your world. For example, your faith and your connection to God would fit here. Your sense of well-being, self-esteem and work ethic would be some of your beliefs.
Also, your beliefs may include your status in your family and with your friends. Are you accepted, important, and appreciated or do you believe you are rejected or unimportant?r beliefs may include your status in your family and with your friends. Are you accepted, important, and appreciated or do you believe you are rejected or unimportant?
The next layer of the bucket is the emotions layer, how you feel about yourself and your life. Are you happy, sad, frustrated, encouraged, overwhelmed, angry or exuberant…? Some people try to ignore their feelings, while others are overly ruled by them.
On the top of the bucket is the layer of behaviors. Every day we choose to exhibit behaviors that are either good or not so good toward ourselves and others. For example, showing kindness, working hard, being critical or lashing out in anger are all behaviors we can choose.
Can you see how your beliefs and emotions affect each other? Your beliefs tend to define you and affect the other parts of the bucket. If you struggle with depression or anxiety, it may be based on your beliefs about yourself. Or, you may feel insecure (emotion) because you are uncertain where you stand with your parent (belief).
At the same time, how you behave toward others is often driven by your beliefs and emotions. If someone has been rejected frequently and wonders if something is wrong with him (belief), he may feel insecure (feeling) and show that insecurity by being very controlling (behavior).
The upward progression is how your beliefs can affect your emotions which affect your behaviors. Notice the downward progression also: how you behave can affect how you feel which can influence what you believe about yourself.
For example, if you volunteer to serve at the soup kitchen (behavior), not only will you perform a valuable service but you may leave feeling blessed or happy (emotions) about your experience. These feelings can lead you to feel good about yourself, that you are important and significant (beliefs).
Refilling Your Bucket
Now that we’ve examined the three layers and how they influence one another, let’s look at how to make changes to your bucket. It’s a process of dumping out the old, negative stuff in the bucket and refilling it with good, healthy things.
Do you know someone who is overly controlling? Your friend may believe himself to be inadequate (wrong thinking/beliefs) and may feel insecure (wrong feelings), so he tries to control people and circumstances (wrong behavior) to compensate for the inadequacies. As a friend, you could encourage him to not be so controlling, but he probably won’t be able to change his behavior unless he corrects his underlying feelings and beliefs about himself.
That’s why it is so important to fill your bucket with healthy thinking in our minds and dump the “stinking thinking” from your bucket. God’s Word is invaluable to not only correct our wrong behaviors but also to fill us with good thoughts about who we really are. If your friend would understand and embrace the fact that he is totally loved and accepted by God, he could feel more secure and would no longer need to control everything. He could rest in the knowledge that God will care for him and help him every moment of every day.
In addition to God’s Word, you can refill your bucket through good advice from trusted friends, authors, pastors or Christian counselors. I hope you’ll join me in “refilling the bucket” today.
Next week: What Do You Pour in your Partner’s Bucket?
Dr. Tom Zimmerman directs Life Changers Counseling, counsels couples and individuals, and is the author of Radical Relationships. See his website for more information about his counseling services in Scottsdale.