Why is it so important for us to manage our energy carefully and keep our energy levels up?
I firmly believe that managing, preserving, and maintaining the proper energy levels is the foundation of sustainable personal growth.
For many, it would be impossible to maintain a lifestyle unless you’re very intentional about your energy levels and how to recharge your batteries when necessary.
Keep reading to discover how you can maintain and protect your emotional and physical capacity and live a more fulfilling life. I’ll share a story about the middle school application process for my daughter to illustrate this idea.
Applying for Private Schools
The private school application process is no joke. It’s very complicated, multi-step, and pretty stressful.
One of the steps in this process is for the kids to take a standardized, independent test so the school can see how advanced they are.
When we discovered there was a need for this test, we thought it would be no big deal. We hired a tutor with lessons twice a week for one hour.
Unfortunately, it was much more stressful for our family.
My daughter Dasha is very serious about her schoolwork and is already a perfectionist. Any grade below 100 is not good for her.
We tell her that it’s not about the grades and more about showing up and doing her best, but she still worries.
So, when we introduced this test, she got very worried. A couple weeks into tutoring, she would come home after school every day and lay on the couch crying for an hour worrying about that test.
At first, I felt guilty for putting her through this process. But then I remembered why we were doing it. So she’d be in the right environment throughout middle and high school.
The process was necessary even though it was stressful and tiring. For those of you who are parents or have a job where you interact with people daily, you know how someone else’s negative energy can be very draining.
So, a couple of weeks into tutoring, I was feeling exhausted. I told myself we’d push through this and didn’t need any help. I tried to free up some things on my plate to create more capacity, but I definitely underestimated the entire process.
Running on Empty
One evening, I remember having dinner, and after Dasha left to do something else, I argued with my husband, telling him that he was being unsupportive throughout this process.
For context, he’d just started a new job a few months prior, so he was very busy and running on empty.
Usually, what happens in our relationships is when one parent goes insane, the other one is there to support and balance it off.
But, when both parents are drained, they don’t have enough energy to support each other. And that’s what was happening for us.
We worked through it, and later that night, I realized I was blaming my husband for not supporting me. But in reality, it’s my responsibility to manage my own emotions and energy levels.
Yes, I sometimes rely on my husband to help me through tough times, but I can’t fully rely on him because I have to ensure my needs are met.
This is what emotional intelligence really is. And this is why my daughter was struggling because she’s not mature enough yet to have this skill of emotional intelligence on how to navigate that kind of stress and worry.
It is my job to show her what it’s like to manage your own energy, navigate your own emotional state, and take care of yourself.
Of course, you can ask other people for help, but your primary responsibility is to take care of yourself when needed.
REAL TRIGGERS VS. LOW ENERGY LEVELS
A good test of whether your trigger is real when you’re upset with someone or if you’re just running on empty is to ask yourself if you’d respond differently if your emotional container was full.
In the situation with my husband, my response would definitely be different if I had more energy. I wouldn’t have reacted with anger, stress, and fight mode.
It wasn’t caused by some problem in our marriage. It was simply caused by me feeling drained because of the whole testing experience.
I was throwing those bad emotions at my husband because I was tired.
Anger is a sign that some of our needs aren’t being met.
In my case, that was a clear sign that I needed to recharge my battery quickly, or else nothing good would happen.
Once I realized that, I removed more from my plate, tried to sleep more, and accepted that the next couple of weeks would just be stressful no matter what.
I became more aware of when I was feeling triggered and would do what I could to calm myself and make sure I didn’t put those emotions on my family.
And it worked!
Dasha took her test. Then, there was a week break that greatly improved her mood. No more meltdowns or tantrums, and we went on vacation.
That was her first attempt at the test. Here’s the second part of the story.
Last week, we had her tutoring again, and two things happened.
- Immediately after the tutor left, she had a meltdown and was screaming about losing a part of her braces. It was the same experience all over.
- Elf on the Shelf started that day, and she became adamant about knowing whether it was real or if we were moving it around the house.
Finally, I told her the truth that I was the one moving the Elf on the Shelf every year.
The second meltdown ensued, and she screamed that her childhood was ruined. We tried to explain that the real magic lies in us loving her.
After one hour of crying, she is fine and happy again. But I was completely empty.
After two of those meltdowns in the last 3 to 4 hours and trying to be calm, loving, and supportive, my battery was empty.
Now, it’s dinner time and a time when my husband and I chat about our day.
I remembered my lesson from a few weeks prior and felt anger bubbling up as he talked about his day. So, I decided not to let it ruin my evening and told my husband that I didn’t have the capacity to talk right now and that I needed to go have some alone time to unwind.
He wasn’t happy about it, but he understood.
So, I took about 40 minutes upstairs alone, processing emotions, crying, and feeling myself recharge.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY
I think it is truly our responsibility to manage our energy.
It’s not our responsibility solely to ourselves, but we owe that to our children, our partners, and the people around us.
When we are running on empty, we can’t function properly.
We get angry, frustrated, and tired. So, the best thing we can do in those situations is to take some time to recharge.
Because then you can be yourself again and be present with every experience in your life again.
You can’t be present anywhere when you have no energy. So, the first task every time you feel like you’re running out of resources is to recharge your batteries.
This is how you can continue growing and living and not just existing.
Learn to thrive by learning how to respect and address your needs. Give yourself permission to take some time for yourself when you need it.
We need the capacity to live our lives, to be there for who we love, and to set the example we want to set. This is what creates meaning for us in life and energizes us.
Until next time,