Our Empty Fuel Tanks Are Not Fine

Buckle up earthlings. Buckle up because in case you haven’t noticed, we’ve got a problem on our hands. A problem of the most undesirable impact and size.

It’s bigger than, “I swear I put the car in reverse.” Bigger than, “How was I supposed to know those were alcohol swabs, not baby eye wipes?!” It’s even bigger than the time you cleaned the fish bowl and realized Bubbles had mysteriously vanished…down the drain you’d left open.

Yep. Chew on that.

So what is this problem, you ask?

Well, my friends, we’re looking at an energy crisis. Not of the oil or dying sun kind. (Well, maybe, but that’s for a different day.) No, this crisis involves our inner energy. Our human battery. Our earthling fuel tank.

Yes. You know this crisis. We know this crisis.

It’s here, and it’s not going away on its own.

Stop. Breathe. Resume.

For far too long, we’ve been living on fumes.

A lifetime of doing it all. Being it all. Saying yes to it all and then adding some more just for funsies.

Years of plugging in battery vampires. Passing by rest. Replacing hunting for nourishment with consuming what just happens to float by.

We know something is off, but “Hey, we’ve been fine so far, right?”

So, we keep going. In fact, we cling to an almost twisted sense of pride in cheating the “low fuel” light.

Maybe we keep going out of excitement and power. Maybe we’re asleep at the wheel. Maybe we’re lulled into autopilot by the sweet song of denial.

It doesn’t really matter. Because, my friends, our Icarus moment looms.

I feel it. You feel it. It’s here. Waiting. Clad in lead. Sitting on our chest.

We don’t want to be Icarus. For real. No one wants to be the dude that beelines for a gigantic sphere of gas burning at 27 million degrees Fahrenheit. We are smart and often quite sane. Such characteristics do not lend themselves to sun kissing. Nope. Not us.

So, why are we still sitting here instead of redirecting our flight pattern?

Um. Good question.

I’m not completely sure I know the answer, but I have some learnings and ideas. And today, I’m putting a chunk of the blame on a pernicious little jerk. A four-letter-F-word that brings disgrace upon the noble family of four-letter-F-words.

  • “I know I’m running on empty, but I’ll be fine. I’ll make it.”
  • “I’ll be fine…I just need to get through the next few weeks…months…years.”
  • “This is just how life is. I need to accept it and be fine.”
  • “Fine. I’ll stay the course because I have to. I don’t really have a choice.”

FINE. It’s the absolute worst. A symbol of disempowerment and denial. A term we use to resist change.

To love ourselves halfway.

No. Stop. I’m not OK with this.

I refuse to love us halfway.

Now, I’m not going to yell. But I am going to strongly word hug us.

Being exhausted, tired, and stuck is not fine.

Feeling constantly demoralized because our batteries lack juice for the people and things that matter is not fine.

Harboring resentment towards the people and things we give our energy to is not fine.

The self-judgement bubbling up through this crisis is not fine.

This crisis is not fine.

Melted wings and drowning aren’t fine.

WE ARE NOT FINE.

And we are not going to be fine until we choose to flap our little wings right into a new direction. Because if we don’t, things are going to get real apocalyptic, real fast.

So, where do we start?

Our starting point depends on where we are in our self-awareness and growth. For me, I like to start at the beginning.

“What affects our energy? What adds energy, and what takes it away?”

Go ahead. Make a list. I’ll wait.

Done? OK

“What else? Anything here resonate?”

    • Sleep, diet, and exercise
    • What we consume with our senses
    • Positive or negative information, feelings, or human interactions
    • The amount of “doing” we are doing
    • Holding information in our heads. To-do lists, ideas, tolerations, running narratives about the past or future…all of it
    • Our surroundings (sunlight, amount of nature, space clutter, amount of stimulation)
    • Breathing (or failing to breathe)
    • Acute and chronic stress
    • Body position (open versus closed positions)
    • Alignment (or misalignment) of our body, thoughts, actions, words, and spirit
    • Play
    • Being “in flow”

Done? OK.

“Anything else?”

I’m really not trying to be a pain, but it’s important to ask ourselves this question a few times. This is because I’ve found we must go wide and deep to grasp completely our energy givers and takers. We have to see the entire map beyond the players we all know and talk about.

For example, coaching energizes me. (I swear sparks sometime shoot out of my heart.) Getting new books and planners, with their clean, crisp pages of promise, energizes me. Nature energizes me. Coloring. The smell of roses and absinthe. Lots of stuff.

You know what eats my energy? The news and nasty social media threads. Loud noises and big box stores. Empty calories and cell phone games. Inertia. Doing math in my head. Trying to keep anything in my head that belongs on paper. The colors orange, yellow, and red when presented together.

Whatever. It doesn’t matter what your list looks like. This is a judgment free zone. What matters is awareness. Awareness is key.

So, we start with a whisper of awareness. And then we grab it. We build upon it. Bit by bit, we expand it. Whisper to wind.

How do we build?

For me, building starts with reflecting on what I call my energy map — a sort of diagram showing what goes in and out with some where and how sketched in, too. (You can call it whatever makes sense to you.)

  • What do I know about my energy right now?
  • What am I giving my energy to? What am I not giving my energy to?
  • What is draining my energy? Do I need this in my life?
  • What am I doing to recharge my energy? What am I not doing to recharge my energy?
  • What is giving me energy?
  • What energy source am I not tapping into?

This reflection takes some time, but it’s worth it because as we ponder and explore, we build. Whisper to wind, we create a breeze.

Boom. The breeze. The breeze allows us to change course. All we must do is use it. We have wind, and our next step is to capture it by shifting our wings: this is our anti-Icarus move.

We can’t dive into using our awareness today. Let’s get the breeze going first. But, to keep you thinking, I’ll end with a few questions.

  • What do you want your energy map to look like?
  • How can you use your awareness to move towards this vision?
    • What changes or growth will make the biggest impact on your energy map?
    • What might you let go of? What might you add?
    • What habits can help you or get in your way?
    • What boundaries do you want to set?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to comment!

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