Do you have moment’s where you feel like you have an IV sticking out of your arm, but instead of it giving you fluids it is sucking you dry of ”get up and go?”
There is a chance that your lack of pep isn’t due to the food you eat, or the amount of sleep you get.
I am not saying it couldn’t be those things (because it can), instead I am suggesting that there may be a larger player in the game than those two things alone.
Everything is energy.
The food you eat is composed of calories, and calories are potential energy. Resting gives your body a chance to refuel. “Fuel” is energy. I mean, if you think about it the sun is energy. It provides heat (not to mention happiness), both of those things are energy.
To quote Einstein, “Energy can not be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.”
Let’s explore this quote from two different perspectives, first continuing with the idea that everything is energy. So if the everything is energy, than what we receive is energy, and what we give away is energy.
The key is that energy moves, it flows, it comes in and it goes. When you give a smile or a hug you are passing on energy to another. Receive a smile or a hug - you receive that energy. But energy doesn’t always come in such lovely and obvious forms. Energy can be your time, devotion, or even thoughts. We can intentionally be giving our “time and attention” to something but forget that if we do this all the time, the energy flow is always going outward (kind of like that reverse IV attached).
If you step back and take a moment to reflect, you will see that you give a lot of yourself each and every day. You get the kids ready for school, you cook meals, you provide your skills and expertise at work, you wash the clothes, and you also hold loving space for those that need your support. Then there are the areas of your life that you don't even realize you give your energy to: an hour here on Facebook and hour there reading email. A few minutes here as you take on the difficult life of your office mate and a few minutes there as you put away your 12 pair of socks (who needs so many socks!!!… me apparently, even tho I am often found barefoot).
See, this is part of the mystery of energy. We can’t always see it, but we can always feel it…even if we don’t directly recognize what is going on.
We often say yes to things that we want to say no to. We say yes to a presentation (that’s during a week we hoped to take some time off). Perhaps you say yes to going out to dinner with your sister when you really want to stay home take a bath or yes to picking up a friend from the airport on a weeknight at 11pm when you usually go to bed before 10. Oh, and yes to letting your in-laws stay at your house (when all they do is complain about everything while they are there) and yes to hiking in the near freezing rain when all you have are flip flops to wear… :-) You get my point.
"Yes" is the magic answer to keeping things good. You say yes to make sure everyone is taken care of. Everyone that is, but you.
How do boundaries come into play? I think this is best described by making up a story.
When it comes to boundaries, let’s look at it from the very standard term of land boundaries. Let’s say you have this large plot of land. On that land you have a flourish garden of fruits and vegetables with a cozy cottage. Fragrant flowers, buzzing bees, song birds, and a few chickens. A large grass lawn that you layout on in the evening reading or occasionally spin cartwheels on.
One day you wake up to find that someone has pitched a tent on your lawn. It turns out this young man needs a place to live until his family moves to town (he is relocating and hasn’t found a home for his family yet). Of course you want to help so you tell him he may stay until he finds a new place to live. So he stays. At first you enjoy his presence. You have some company to talk to in the evening on the lawn and it feels good to help someone out when they need it.
And he continues to stay.
He eats the food from your garden, he uses your bathroom (because he doesn’t want to relieve himself on your plants) and he has started sleeping on your couch because he is lonely sleeping outside in his tent.
Finally, his family arrives, and they too move onto your land. Now all of them (mother and three children) eat your food, use your bathroom, and litter your lawn with toys and tents.
One day you come home from work to find these once strangers (that you had brought into your life with good will and compassion) standing in the kitchen, fridge open and barren asking, "What you are serving for dinner?"… They are starving!
You look at the empty fridge. You see your cluttered yard and ravaged garden and realize, nothing. You no longer have anything to give.
That’s us without boundaries.
Maybe it is a little dramatic, but it is absolutely true. We can not give more than what we have. We can not give unless we receive. To have enough energy to both give to others and personally thrive we must create boundaries.
Those boundaries should not only exist in our physical environment, but in our relationships, communication, actions, and thoughts.
So… what if we are laying on the floor, looking like a raisin, withering away as the reverse IV is sucking us dry? How can we possibly flip the switch and allow those precious fluids to run back into our bodies?
There are two things that must to be done: build a nice picket fence, with a locking gate (that only you have the key for) AND allow other’s to give to you what you need.
I know, so much easier said than done. That’s why we start small. Perhaps it is just one person in your life, say an office mate, that you want to create clearer boundaries with. This person has a life that seems difficult. They often come to you and share their frustrations and disappointments. Last week their kitchen sink was leaking and this week their live-in boyfriend doesn’t want to help pay a plumber to fix the leak. Yes (you care). There is your yes. It isn’t saying yes to listening to her unfortunate play of events, it isn’t yes to trying to help her change her situation. The yes is that you care…. but not at the expense of your personal energy. This relationship drains you. You walk away depleted each time you interact. You have been giving, giving, giving…. and well, she obviously isn’t sharing energy in return.
So how do you set boundaries? How do you take care of yourself and not crush someone else as a result? It’s tricky, not doubt, but you’ve got compassion on your side. Talk to them the way you would hope someone you love would talk to you. Honest, direct, and not about them. Let them know you care and it must be hard to go through such a difficult time. Then tell them that you need to be more focused on your work. You don’t have to go into details as to why. At this point you have stated your compassion and your truth. What she does with it is up to her, it is no longer your’s to worry about.
Or perhaps you can start with a friend. One that will appreciate your honesty. Someone that will understand that by you setting your boundaries you are indirectly giving them permission to do the same.
The second part of replenishing the energy stores is to receive. Let the love in for goodness sake!! Someone compliments you on your new haircut. Take it with a grin of gratitude. Your husband thanks you for cooking dinner…breath that goodness in! For whatever reason we think that if we take a compliment it might just go to our head! The truth is, those complements come from someone else heart and they are directed at your own. It’s a gesture of love. Let the love in.
That's the stuff that will fill us up so that we can continue to give of ourselves in the ways the we desire.
I think this is enough to consider for one week. Next week we will look at the other perspective of energy when relating to this quote:
“Energy can not be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.”
I would love to hear from you. What is one relationship, one action, or one thought that you can create more boundaries around? Tell me one thing that you look forward to saying "No” to. That’s your homework: in the next week when you find yourself wanting to say "yes", consider...Do you really want to say yes? And if you don’t, then say no. You’ve just set yourself a new boundary.