See if this sounds familiar –
At the end of most days, you’re tired. You feel drained, and your energy is depleted.
And at the end of most weeks, you feel exhausted – you really need some time to regroup and recuperate.
Am I right? Does that sound like your life?
(This article is part of our Create Energy and Passion in Your Health, Life, and Marriage series. You can find all of the articles here.)
Many women describe their life that way. Because the reality is that life tends to use up as much energy as we give it, and then starts looking for more.
Fortunately, most of life’s energy suckers – the day-to-day stuff – are like a battery-powered hand-held vacuum – they’ll suck up some crumbs, but they aren’t going to pull the leaves off your houseplants or suck the fibers right out of your carpet.
But, some energy suckers are like a high-powered industrial vacuum – they’ll suck up all of your houseplants and a roomful of carpet – and anything else that gets in their way.
For the past few weeks, we’ve been talking about creating energy in your life, using exercise, food, and self-care. Then last week I asked you, “What lights your fire? What is it that energizes you, even when you’re bone-weary tired?”
(I hope you identified at least one thing that lights your fire. If you did, I’d love for you to leave a comment and let me know what it is.)
This week I’m asking you to consider the flip-side question – “What’s sucking up your energy? What’s the thing or person that’s draining you and leaving you stressed and exhausted all the time?”
What sort of thing or person am I talking about?
- The job that takes everything you have to give, and gives you little or nothing in return.
- The family member who turns every interaction into something negative
- The “friend” who you now realize is a genuinely toxic person.
- The church or community volunteer job that stopped bringing you joy a long time ago.
- The clutter or chaos that fills your home
- The schedule of activities for your children that consumes all of your evenings and many of your weekend
- The problem in your marriage that you just can’t resolve
- And other similar things that demand too much of your time, health, strength, or peace of mind.
If you aren’t dealing with one of these things or people, wonderful. Just be aware of them and don’t let any of them worm their way into your life.
But if you are dealing with one or more of them, you probably feel like many women I know. You may feel like Anne who, in addition to working a full-time job, spends all of her free time shuttling her three children to soccer practices, games, and tournaments, and who feels like she’s finally reached the end of her rope.
Or Lisa, who spends almost as much time trying to help her alcoholic friend as she does caring for her own family, and who feels like she’s no longer really caring for anyone – including herself.
More than likely, you’re facing an entirely different situation, but you know the feeling, the tension, and the pressure that Anne and Lisa – and millions of women like them – are experiencing.
The question then becomes – how can you stop that situation or person from sucking up all of your energy?
The answer to that question can range from something fairly simple (maybe as simple as saying “no” to some of the things you’ve been doing) to something very complicated (maybe involving counseling or another kind of professional help).
More than likely, it will fall somewhere in between – meaning that it will take some thought and effort on your part to address it and stop it from draining so much of your energy.
If you’re feeling worn out and need to get control of one or more energy suckers in your life, ask yourself these 3 questions.
1. What’s sucking up my energy? This may seem too basic, but you have to identify it and call it by name. So take some time to figure it out and name it. Say it out loud, write it down, or tell it to your spouse or a friend – someone you trust.
Don’t let yourself get by with a general answer to this question (“I’m just too busy”), but really drill down and identify the specific thing or person that’s really sucking up your energy.
2. What can I change? Some problems that drain your energy aren’t going to end any time soon. If your husband is deployed, your mother just had surgery, or your child has a chronic illness, you can’t change those situations (at least in the short term).
But, if your three children are in 14 extracurricular activities, you hate your job, or someone’s taking advantage of you – well, those are things you can change.
So really think about your situation and honestly assess what you can and can’t change. You may have something (or more than one thing) that falls into both categories. That’s fine – just decide which ones you can change and which ones you probably cannot.
3. What can I do? Based on what you learned from question #2, start figuring out how you can reduce the affects of the major energy sucker(s) in your life.
If it’s something you can’t change right now, like deployment or illness, look for ways to reduce the amount of energy it takes from you. How can you share the burden? Who can you ask to help? What can you do to refuel and restore some of the energy that’s being depleted?
If it’s something you can change, start figuring out what changes you can make. This may involve talking with your husband and coming up with a strategy together. It may involve having some difficult conversations, first with yourself and then with someone else whose needs you can no longer prioritize.
It may involve setting your priorities, and then beginning to align your activities with your priorities. It may involve setting boundaries around your time, space, and energy.
And it may involve starting to say “no,” “no more,” and “not now.”
Am I suggesting that you should never prioritize another person’s interests or do things you don’t want to do. No, not at all. But I am suggesting that you may need to decide and be intentional about how you spend your time and use your God-given gifts, talents, and energy.
If you sense that something or someone is sucking too much energy out of your life on a regular basis, work through these 3 questions this week and make a plan for reining that thing or person in and reclaiming some of your energy.
I’d love to know what you learn and what you decide. Leave a comment or email me at gc @ calmhealthysexy.com and let me know.
[In addition to the articles linked above, here are some resources that can help you get control of the things that are sucking up too much energy in your life:
What do You Mean by ‘Boundaries?’ – article by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend
“No” is a Complete Sentence: How to Use It and Stick to It – article by Henry Cloud
Boundaries: When to Say Yes and How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life – book by Henry Cloud and John Townsend]