Our Emotional Battery

blog image iPhone batteryI mentioned to several friends recently that if I were an iPhone, this is what my internal battery would look like. Following the one-two punches of having to say goodbye to our sweet, thirteen year old dog and then a week later coming to grips with the results of the presidential election, I was grateful to fly to LA to celebrate my son’s wedding. Emotional experiences, positive or negative, require us to take withdrawals from our energy reserve tank and I didn’t do a very good job of monitoring where I was with that. Everyone knows what it looks like when we overdraw and it isn’t pretty. We say things to people we care about that we aren’t proud of. We take action that in the short term is somewhat self soothing (eating an entire bag of potato chips is my go-to) but we later regret. We often get sick – I currently have my first cold in over three years.

I am looking at this moment as a restart of sorts, to be more discerning about how I use my precious energy moving forward. I have moved into “power save” mode and am committing to more consistently checking how much gas is in my tank before saying yes to something else. I also decided to cease the incessant monitoring of my social media sites. (That actually was a calming strategy for me in the lead up to the election, and we all saw how smart that was).  And, most importantly, I want to be sure I understand the narrative that is present for me when I find myself in an emotional drain. The way I think about a situation determines if I make a deposit to or withdrawal from my storage chamber.

This intentional choosing of where to focus my attention will no doubt be a process of trial and error. I have some pretty engrained habits and have lost track of how many times I offered to ‘”take care of something” that at first blush looked simple and straightforward, only to find out that it wasn’t as easy as first advertised. I hope to ask more questions and have greater clarity about what kind of emotional commitment something will take. I want to be more honest with myself about my motivations for saying “yes” to a request.

It is my desire to walk the talk about the essential role emotions play in our lives and honor them as ever present and necessary for our survival. I know that I would never consider running 5 miles after not having eaten anything for several days (that is probably a bad example because I wouldn’t do either of those things but you get my drift). Exerting emotional energy is a requirement for living a wholehearted life. I hope to take this time before I switch out of ‘power save’ mode to hone some practices that help me make better decisions about where I spend that energy and how I replenish it.

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