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It’s not personal. It’s a pandemic.

Sometimes we just can’t handle one more thing…and that small slight becomes the cup-toppling splash.

A very smart young woman who works with children shared a something she uses to help her young students understand and navigate their feelings when they go into a meltdown. 

It’s not that Jimmy took your toy, or that you got blue when you wanted purple, it’s that as we go through our day, and as we face challenges, our patience cups fill up. Sometimes in big downpours and sometimes in small drops, but if you’re almost at the top, the smallest challenge will be enough for your cup to overflow and topple.

This doesn’t change for adults. 

Have you noticed when you’re stressed about something, a small inconvenience such as someone standing too close to you without a mask, someone merging before their rightful turn in line, or being interrupted when you finally have a minute to yourself can send you completely around the bend?

It’s not that these things aren’t annoying, but are they deserving of the response you’re giving? Probably not.

They are simply that last cup-toppling splash. 

With the pandemic, all of our cups are starting out pretty full to begin with. We are communally worried, scared, and frustrated. It’s really not taking too much to topple anyone’s cup these days. 

The usual suspects—meditation, exercise, open dialogue with the people in your life—will all help your cup stay at a steady place. But that’s not what this article is about. 

It’s about realizing that the animus, and discord we see and feel around us might not really just be about the issues at hand. Instead, it’s actually about all the built-up stress and anxiety which have been pre-filling everyone else’s cup just, as it has yours. 

So, when someone snaps at you, you witness someone having a kindergarten meltdown because the barista messed up their order, or you yourself start to fly off the handle…take a beat. Give that person, whether it’s yourself, a stranger, or a friend, the grace of understanding that their cup has just toppled over. 


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Betsy Rosenfeld Vargas
Betsy Rosenfeld Vargas
Betsy Rosenfeld Vargas is a certified Fearless Living Life Coach. Raised in Los Angeles, she attended Marlborough School and was the President of Cuisine à Roulettes at St. Vincent Meals on Wheels. She holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MA from USC.

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