Sunday, December 16, 2018

Time vs. Energy

I have realized something essential, Invisible Audience. It is not so much about the time I spend at a given task. It is about the energy that task requires.

We’ve all had it to some degree – putting off that 5 minute phone call because it feels like such a big deal; dreading to talk to that one person because it feels like they suck all the life out of you. It’s become amazingly clear how that works for me, especially in work settings. It was probably safer and a bit easier for me to make this realization there, first. I realized that the thought of fulfilling some clients’ requests made me want to drag my feet so hard that I could barely function. I would do anything except their task, putting it off for days even if it only took me an hour to complete. This past couple weeks, this realization has completely solidified. I found myself dragging my feet on a lot of things, not because I didn’t have time in the day, but because I didn’t have energy for that time. 

I went to an amazing retreat this summer for empaths, people like me who feel other peoples’ feelings and are hyper sensitive to what is going on around them. In a room full of others like me, I realized that the amount of alone time I need is perfectly natural; that I am sensitive to things that don’t affect others; that I need more recovery time than many people do. What am I recovering from? Well, it depends on the day, but mostly I’m recovering from interacting with people. Even when I enjoy it; even when I sign up for it – I need downtime to come back to center.

The more these pieces click into place, the more I realize how important it is for me to only take on work that requires a proportionate amount of time and energy. If I take on too many tasks that drag down my ability to function because they sap my energy, I end up shaky, sick and overwhelmed. On the other hand, if I work with people/clients and on projects that don’t have me stewing over them when I’m not working on them, or dreading the time it will take to work on them, I have a lot more energy to spare.

Maybe this is a simple thing that you already knew about and understood, Invisible Audience, but it’s a fairly new concept for me. I still struggle with the idea that it’s ok to say no to someone, especially for something that can sound as nebulous or woo-woo as “sorry, your energy is really bringing me down.”

In all seriousness, though, I say no a lot now that I know this, and ultimately it’s led me to better clients and the ability to take on more work for better pay.

In this process, I’ve discovered that there’s a pattern of the kinds of people who sap my energy:

  • ·   They have an idea and expect me to follow through on it for them
  • ·   They ask for the rules to be broken for them and ignore the reasons those parameters are there in the first place
  • ·   They expect that I should be available to them at any time of day or night or weekend, and that their emergencies should be mine, too
  • ·   They expect me to know what they need without explanation or direction and don’t seem to give any thought to how or why I might do something differently, seeing it as wrong instead of different

As I write this list, Invisible Audience, I have discovered something: these people who sap my strength lack boundaries. That very large word that has taken me so long to understand – let alone embrace – has become absolutely necessary to my existence.  And suddenly I see with a lot more clarity that when those boundaries are not honored – or my gut tells me that they won’t be honored – I lose the energy I need to do the work.

I can remember telling someone once that I merely wished for a romantic partner who would not sap my strength.

“Oh no, Morgan,” this person said. “You don’t just want someone who won’t take energy from you. You want someone who gives energy to you.”

Is that possible, Invisible Audience? I don’t know. But I do know that over time it’s becoming easier to see where I can keep ahold of myself – and trusting what I’m feeling is the best place to start.

Love and energetic kisses

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