Where has my energy gone?

It’s 5:00 pm and you feel completely drained. The prospect of going home and facing household chores, children, or spouse exhausts you even more. You wish you could just sleep for a week. Waking up each morning you dread the day, wondering how you can cope. Or, as much as you’d like to enroll in that college course, get an exercise routine going, or take up a hobby, you don’t think you have enough energy to spare.

Any of this sound familiar? If so, there’s a good chance that the balance in your energy bank account is alarmingly low. As you practice the visual experiment below, you will probably be surprised to discover how your vital force leaks away in ways that you haven’t even imagined. Over the past few months one of my repeating themes is that we lose masses of vital energy on a daily basis on things that we hadn’t even thought were draining us. While some things may be obvious, like over-working and bad eating habits — our energy reserves are also enormously affected by fearful thoughts, worry, negative mental scenarios, judgments, self-criticism and emotional outbursts. Having such visual proof of the after-affects of such negativity might be the impetus to take greater responsibility for what goes on in our heads!

Living on $100 a day

At a workshop I attended in Orlando with Caroline Myss (author of the best-seller, Anatomy of a Spirit) several years back, she introduced a metaphor to describe the fluctuations of our “energy banks”: Imagine that every morning we start out the day with a fresh $100 deposit. She joked that many of us, by the time we get to work, after rushing through our morning chores and fighting traffic, are probably starting out the work day with half of that already gone!

That gave me the inspiration to adapt a visual exercise illustrating this concept. This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, A Year of Positive Habits.

The Game of Life

This is a 3 day commitment. You could probably observe this in one day, but I think it will have more impact if you repeat it for several days. I find that it works best at work.

MATERIALS NEEDED: 2 coffee cups (these can be mugs or disposable styrofoam) and 20 coffee stirrers.

PREMISE: Let’s suppose that each coffee stirrer represents an increment of $5.00energy dollars or energy points. You need to be accountable and honest with yourself on this!

INSTRUCTIONS: On the first day, put both cups side by side on your desk. You can even label them “A” and “B”. Put all of the stirrers in cup A. Each time you “catch” yourself in the following behaviors, thoughts ,feelings or attitudes, take one of those stirrers and put it in the other cup.

  • Frustration
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Negative scenarios
  • Outburts
  • Worry
  • Feeling self-righteous
  • Victimized
  • Judgmental

Even as you come in to work, think about how you handled the drive there and make sure to remove a stirrer or two, if you had those reactions on the way. Word to the wise: The above attitudes and feelings are so much a part of our “normal” thinking process that you might not even be aware when they are happening!

You can take one back from B and put it in A if you have done any of the following activities any time in the day:

  • Meditation (15 minutes or more)
  • Journaling (15 minutes or more)
  • Exercise (20 minutes or more)
  • The 5 Breath (see last newsletter)
  • Gratitude Journal
  • Drink 8 glasses of water or herb tea
  • Eat 5 servings of vegetable

At the end of the work day, evaluate where you stand with those stirrers. What’s your energy balance looking like? Remember, what you have left is what you have to go home and do life with. Be aware when you get home of how many stirrers you would have to sacrifice to Cup B by the time you are ready to go to bed.

After three days, you are likely to be much more aware of how your mind is thanking you! Negative thoughts are so insidious that we are often not conscious that we are having them. Being unconscious about how our energy gets leaked away is a subtle form of self-sabotage. I’d love to hear from you about your experiment.

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