If your energy is dragging and you need a boost, here’s my favorite trick: Set some boundaries on your time and attention.
Step away from something that doesn’t feel right for you and put your focus elsewhere. @AWishComeClear (Click to Tweet!)
This can be terrifying in theory, but when you actually do it? What a rush! This practice has the power to increase your energy like you wouldn’t believe.
For example, recently I decided to try an experiment on Facebook, as I’d noticed my mood dropping whenever I signed in. (Since I’ve been dealing with some health issues, being mindful of my energy has become even more important lately.)
Given that I use Facebook for client-based work and also to maintain A Wish Come Clear’s page, quitting entirely wasn’t a good option. But being on social media drained me daily.
For a long time, I didn’t understand the problem. After all, I’d already unfollowed people who posted triggering content or a disproportionate number of “Which Harry Potter character are you?” quizzes.
Eventually I figured out that simply seeing status updates from hundreds of old friends and acquaintances is hard for me. It induces a kind of compassion fatigue.
When I think about how many people I’ve said hello and goodbye to over the course of thirty years, I sometimes choke on the bittersweetness of it all.
As an introvert, signing on to Facebook felt like stepping into a crowded room filled with people who all wanted me to listen closely to what they were saying.
Me being me, I gave it my best shot … but I just do not have the capacity to tune in to hundreds of people at once.
For so long, I judged this truth of mine. Rather than listening to my inner guidance, I told myself to toughen up, because who gets so sensitive about social media?
Well, apparently I do. So I decided to stop fighting my truth and start listening to it.
I decided to stay friends with almost everybody while following almost nobody.
I chose to stay connected while limiting the amount of information coming at me.
Nowadays, my news feed consists of updates from about a dozen friends and a dozen more favorite writers. And oh, how I love the peacefulness and (relative) quiet of it all!
Now that I don’t subject myself to an emotional deluge every day, I feel empowered to connect with people in real life.
As Elizabeth Gilbert wrote in her galvanizing Facebook essay The Alpha Mare, “You can only live with an undefended heart once you know the difference between ‘This is OK for me,’ and ‘This is not OK for me’.”
I could only feel comfortably at ease on Facebook once I discerned what was and wasn’t OK for me. Not for anyone else, just for me.
Of course, I had plenty of internal resistance. My inner “should dictator” made comments such as: “It’s not nice to unfollow people! It’s so mean and ungenerous of you! What would people think if they found out?”
But finally I questioned that voice: “Isn’t it also unkind to overwhelm myself and deny what’s real for me? And isn’t what other people think of me none of my business anyway?”
That inner dialogue reminded me of one of my favorite lines in the Bible, in Matthew chapter 20. You probably haven’t seen it cross-stitched on any samplers or printed on an inspirational poster, but it’s pretty amazing.
Jesus is telling a parable: A landowner hires a bunch of guys to work in his vineyard starting at various times throughout the day, then he goes and pays every worker the same amount regardless of how many hours they worked.
Predictably, the people who have been working all day are pissed off because others have worked less and received the same amount.
(Oh, that indignant feeling that arises when other people get what we perceive to be a better deal!)
The landowner replies to the complaints by saying, “‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for [a set amount]? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you.’”
And then he speaks the line that gives me chills: “’Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money?’”
Of course the landowner has the right to do what he wants with his own money. It belongs to him.
And of course I have the right to do what I want with the “coin” of my own time and attention on Facebook. It belongs to me.
So often we forget about boundaries; we get into other people’s business and let other people get into our business.
We forget to ask ourselves the simple, powerful question: Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my time and my treasures?
Fortunately, the answer is always and ever yes.
This piece first appeared on A Wish Come Clear.
Like Dory from Finding Nemo, Caroline Garnet McGraw has a kind heart, lots of enthusiasm, and a tendency to forget what she knows about the journey home. (Fortunately, writing helps her to remember.) Caroline is the creator of A Wish Come Clear; visit and receive free copies of her three digital books, all designed to bring you back to what matters most. You can follow her Facebook and Twitter.
Image courtesy of Pezibear.
Tags: attention, Boundaries, Caroline Garnet McGraw, compassion fatigue, connect, Connection, deny, Energy, Focus, inner guidance, Introvert, listen, Overwhelm, resistance, social media, Societal standards, Time, Truth