My energy is something that has helped me become and do so many things and lead a life that is way bigger than I had imagined. Yet, it’s constantly challenged by the world around me and by my own thoughts/moods.
How do you keep your energy at peak level when so many things around you are attempting to pull you down?
The way I perceive the actions of others can at times deplete the levels of mental strength that I have for the day or multiply it, if I let it.
That’s the thing every empath has to grapple with, as you don’t want to let others dictate your mood, but you feel every slight and each mood that walks into to the room. You can find yourself continuously trying to “balance the energies”.
Understanding the energy around me
I’ve learned that setting my intentions for the day/week/month can help put my mind in the right place but it’s a constant battle to keep your energy focused on those intentions as time creeps along.
Instead of insulating yourself, I’ve learned to see other peoples reactions and moods as exactly that, a reflection of what’s happening or happened to them.
Not something that one needs to fix but just be aware that they are in a different headspace, which might be better or worse than where you are. Noticing this doesn’t have to ruin your day or offer them excuses for bad behavior, but taking this into consideration can help you connect.
Paying yourself first
Everyone has their own energy diet. We are all fed by something different.
For some it might be their family, for others its an activity, while sometimes it’s the act of helping. It doesn’t really matter what the “it” is, as long as you can pinpoint that source, it doesn’t harm others and you can go back to it to replenish yourself.
Let’s face it. So much of modern life is simply draining. I think this particular stage of parenting young kids that we’ve been in for the last 9 years can feel like an energy zap, because our littles require so much from us physically, emotionally and mentally. (As my Dad remarked to me during a trip last summer “So you are just in constant lesson mode with these kids?” Pretty much!)
But maybe that’s not your experience. Maybe what drains you is work, family obligations, relationship issues or financial strains. Life is TIRING!
I used to just climb up to each obligation and then collapse at the end of the day, assuming that there was little else that I could do about the mountain of stress that came along that hike.
It wasn’t as if it wasn’t clear that I was depleting myself, but I was so committed to whatever family member, project, team or client I was working on that I just told myself that I’d reset once I get a vacation/long weekend/break. And those would be great, but then the cycle would repeat itself.
The problem with that approach is that there aren’t enough vacations in a year. I had to find other ways to build up my daily resources so that I could kill it at work, then turn around and be the type of mother and partner I wanted to be for my family.
And if there weren’t enough natural moments of fun, connections or activities that focused on me “giving” I started to dehydrate.
After doing this for too many years and juggling a few too many balls, I knew something had to change. Life was only getting busier with MORE. More work, more responsibilities, more travel, and more kids to handle. I started to feel the squeeze to the point where I would often be found “doom scrolling” or “revenge viewing” Netflix, with the hopes of squeezing some personal joy for myself at the end of the day.
I felt like I was paying myself last.
After spending all my energy on work and family there was hardly anything left for myself and I was trying to offer myself the pennies I had left each day. This was an awful way to budget. I knew how to budget my money, but not my time and it was all catching up to me with an energy bankruptcy on its way.
I needed to flip this, but wasn’t sure how until 2020 grounded me.
Being home everyday with no end in sight, I was able to find time that had previously belonged to my commute. And although life was even more hectic, I started a daily practice of working out everyday.
For 30 minutes each day, I was alone, but doing something that benefitted me and me alone. I wasn’t accountable to anyone else during that time. And I was pushing myself to do more, push harder and achieve fitness goals, but it all felt so gratifying to pay myself first.
Now that I was getting that extra boost each morning, I had to focus on protecting that throughout my day.
Protecting your energy bubble
What happens when you leave your “happy place”. Whether that place is your gym workout or occurs when you are working, how do you protect your energy once you leave that environment? It’s not helpful to build up your energy bubble if it can easily be punctured by one comment, look or text.
The best protection skill I’ve found is to understand and plan out what your week or day is going to look like ahead of time. Knowing some of the issues or stressors that you’ll have to deal with, can help you figure out how you’ll be able to handle them and come up with great coping mechanisms ahead of time.
Train commuters seem to be exceptionally great at this. I used to marvel at how everyone was so cordial and inviting at the train station in the suburbs but as the train gradually chugged into the city the faces started to steel themselves preparing for the organized chaos of the city. Then once you were in the city it was “game on”. Neighbors would ignore you as they try to jockey for a prime position out of the gate. Knowing what was ahead, prepared you and protected your energy bubble and your toes from being stepped on!
When people aren’t on your energy wavelength
Although most people will never have the same energy as you do, it can be taxing to be in a friend group or family that is either way above or below where you are energy wise. Everyone is on a very different journey and it’s actually very rare to find people exactly where you are.
I’ve found that during a workplace scenario or brief social interaction, it’s almost expected that everyone is going to be in a different zone. But if your friend group or family tend to be consistently at a lower frequency, it may be time to reevaluate relationships or time spent with people.
The fact is that we are who we hang out with. When other people are buzzing with excitement, ambition and always on the look out for new opportunities, so will you. If you are around people that push you to eat healthier and work out more, you’ll do that too. Our parents were right when they pushed for us to stay away from certain friends or try to hang out with people who were positive influences (yes, I said it Mom and Dad, you were right).
Recognizing everyone’s wavelength and seeing how you feel around that group can help you understand if this group lifts you up or takes you down. It’s not a morality judgement, just an energy judgement.
Knowing that we all have a finite amount of time on this earth, it’s good to be as cognizant of these forces that help us become the people we know we can be or keep us stuck in old versions of ourselves.
When family members are the ones that are bringing the energy to a place you don’t want to go it can’t be much trickier to sever ties or even reduce the amount of time. But very much like that commute to the city, sometimes just knowing that you are about to walk into a bit of chaos can help you steel yourself and protect your peace. Then make sure you schedule time to refill your tank.
What about when you are just met head on with bad energy? You know the kind, it can be subtle, overt or sneaky, but you recognize it almost immediately. This should not be ignored! Of course it’s not the only data point that matters, especially if you are able to pinpoint the cause of this bad energy, but don’t ignore it.
You may not know why someone’s energy is off, it could be for a totally legitimate reason, but part of protecting your own energy is about clocking where other people are coming from and how close you want that energy to you on a consistent basis.
Ever notice how some people are simply a drain on conversations or everyday interactions? Everyone has bad days, but over time dealing with people who are energy drainers or toxic personalities can start to chip away at your own headspace.
I like to use a simple barometer to check in to those interactions:
Am I leaving the conversation feeling like I learned something, had a positive experience or got to know someone deeper? Or was it difficult to engage with that person, feel very negative or even isolating to be around them?
Since some of these things are really subtle, it’s important to keep stay engaged to these feelings and not dismiss something, especially when it becomes a regular occurrence or person in your circle.
Both in business and friendship, energy can boost or tank an experience, so don’t ignore the vibe.
Energy of a different country
Being in a new country, we are often met with customs that are very different from our own, including the fact that some cultures don’t smile at strangers. It’s not like people are trying to be rude, it’s just not customary to smile or wave in many cultures, so many people don’t do it as a norm.
As an Haitian-American I am used to not only smiling at neighbors, but pre-Covid upon meeting I would smile, wave, hug and kiss people hello (on multiple cheeks).
My husband and I spoke about how strange we found this as we struggled to meet new people in Asia without the tried and true smile, nod or verbal acknowledgment. I asked him if this aspect of oversees life changed the way he interacted with people, which I believe it did slightly.
Although this shifted some of the initial interactions, I refused to let that sway my ability or desire to connect. I’m not going to relentlessly smile at stranger that refuses to smile at me (because that would be a bit unnerving, to say the least). But I’m not going to stop being welcoming or smiling either, as that is just my natural state and has led to more positive interactions than negative overall…so far.
Yet, how do you start that conversation with people who aren’t signaling that they are open to talk?
I’ve found that many times you have to just take a chance, rather than counting on the knowing smile. And be ready for some rejection!
Sometimes there are situational circumstances that can pull you together, such as at a kid’s activity, or seeing someone is reading a good book or even in line at a cafe, but every interaction you are taking a chance of rejection. Perhaps the person won’t want to talk. Maybe they will be upset to be disturbed.
You honestly just have to go for it. There is no rule book to connecting with others. Even the most open people may only want to connect for a surface level conversation, while others depending on their headspace, may want to explore a deeper connection.
Growing your energy
So now you have identified, boosted and protected your energy, is that it? How do you cultivate it so that it grows over time instead of depletes? How can you take what you know and use it to build your big life?
Here are my top 5 ways that I set my energy meter each day:
Set the intention — Decide what you want to accomplish each day. It could be to finish a draft, meet someone or take a trip. Just set a plan so you are making life happen and not letting life just happen to you.
Get physical — Your physical body impacts your headspace more than we admit. Time to focus on making yourself healthy. Getting your heart pumping does wonders to your mood, whether it’s a run, walk, sport or yoga. Just move.
Meditate your way into calm — Finding a few minutes of silence in a day that’s nothing but noise is crucial to hearing the most important person in your life. Without it, we’re walking through life without a mirror.
Gratitude every day — Life is complicated, heartbreaking and has tons of frustrations. But living in gratitude can help you appreciate what’s good, simple, delicious, loving and fun.
Create your world — what you focus on, is where you live. Life really is just a string of experiences that cascade and collide in a way that seems at once logical and completely haphazard.
Create the big life you deserve and let the world follow you.