I know a few things about being physically tired. When I was Ironman training I was out of energy at the end of every day, thanks to the relentless workouts. Though that didn’t really compare to having two kids under two and a full time job – that’s a special kind of exhaustion. And I bet you know how it feels to be just plain spent at the end of a long day. Physical energy is a finite resource, which is why I LOVE naps.
But what about emotional energy? Do you ever come home from work after a busy, conflict-ridden day and find that you have no patience or energy for your family? That you aren’t even listening to your kids because you’re on a mental hamster wheel thinking about something your boss said? Or you snap at your spouse for asking an outrageous question like ‘how was your day?’
That’s because we also have limited amounts of emotional energy. What is that? It’s the energy we use up on relationships, feelings, frustrations, and all the stuff that rolls around in our heads (and wakes us up at 2am). Unfortunately, there tend to be a lot of demands on our emotional energy, but most of us aren’t that careful about how we spend it.
I recently heard the quote ‘Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.’ The feelings of resentment, anger and frustration that we carry around with us about so many people and things drain our energy, and accomplishes nothing. For me, being Thoughtfully Fit is about making different choices about what we do with these feelings. It’s about being quicker to let go of them, or handle the situation, rather than just feeling angry but doing nothing (other than complain to our friends).
Here’s the thing – you are going to get angry, and that’s okay! But the key is to try not to let it suck the life out of you.
Your Thoughtfully Fit core (pause–think–act) can help you get to the root of the issue by pausing to think about what, exactly, has you so mad. Once you figure that out, it’s a little easier to make a plan of action for getting over it. Does that always mean you have to have some touchy feely heart to heart with someone? NOPE! You might just decide that you are going to let it go. Or at least the pause will help you access a calmer course of action.
Interestingly, in the past couple of years, I have found that the crazier my life is (and it has been crazy), the easier this can be! Why is that? Because I have been so overwhelmed that I literally had no extra energy for things that didn’t matter. However, now that things are calming down, I am trying to channel that into a continued behavior.
Here’s why I think this is so important: if we want to make space in our lives for more of what we love, we need energy to spend on those things. We also owe it to those we love to protect our energy and save some of our best selves for them. And if we waste it all on unreliable coworkers and gossipy neighbors, there just isn’t enough to go around.
So, the next time you are getting ready for a good old-fashioned hissy fit, I invite you to pause and think, “Is this the best use of my energy?” And if not, maybe act by choosing to let it go! Save your energy for something better.
Be sure to check out next week’s post where we’ll give you some tricks to stop using up your emotional energy on things that don’t serve you.