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A Short Inventory

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

pot hands sepia


I think it'll be a good idea to begin with a short inventory of how we feel about ourselves right now. The idea is to fill in the blanks with the very first thing that pops into your mind.

  1. I would be __________ if only I was ______________ .
  2. I'd like to _______________, but __________________.
  3. I could have had ______________, but I didn't because I ________________.

Now, take a look at your 3 statements. Is the story you just told about yourself actually true? Do you like that story? Do you want it to be true? How would it feel to be you, how different would your life be, if the stories you told yourself about yourself were better? more fun? kinder? more loving?

What Are You Worth?

Welcome to our next prosperity project! For the next 30 days we will be exploring our worthiness issues. The idea for this project started in the middle of our last project (Plug Those Energy Drains) when I posted this article from the Daily Om on "Worth."

Here's a direct quote from that article. It pretty much sums up what we'll be working on for the next 30 days:

You are born worthy — your worth is intertwined with your very being. Your concept of your own self-worth is thus reinforced by your actions. Each time you endeavor to appreciate yourself, treat yourself kindly, define your personal boundaries, be proactive in seeing that your needs are met, and broaden your horizons, you express your recognition of your innate value.

During those periods when you have lost sight of your worth, you will likely feel mired in depression, insecurity, and a lack of confidence. You’ll pursue a counterfeit worth based on judgment rather than the beauty that resides within. When you feel worthy, however, you will accept yourself without hesitation.

It is your worth as an individual who is simultaneously interconnected with all living beings that allows you to be happy, confident, and motivated. Because your conception of your worth is not based on the fulfillment of expectations, you’ll see your mistakes and failures as just another part of life’s journey.

Sounds good, doesn't it? Ready to get started?

Our Next Project

Friday, June 26, 2009

A number of personal things have intruded on my time this week, and so our project is delayed until Tuesday. What I can tell you is that our next project will be titled, "What Are You Worth?" Yes. We'll be working on our self worth, which is different from self esteem, and more important.

So far, I have collected a short daily meditation, several really good articles, some activities, even some magic spells, and I'm looking forward to some really great "stuff" happening for all of us.

If there is anything that any of you would like to share with me that you think might be great for this specific project, don't hesitate to email me, or leave a comment with ideas, insights, links to websites, recommend books, etc. If you have quotes, that would be great too. While I can't guarantee that I'll use everything, know that I will deeply appreciate anything and everything that comes my way.

Plug Those Energy Drains - Project Overview

Sunday, June 21, 2009

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.”

~Martha Graham

Here is an overview of our project on Plug Those Energy Drains. This post provides links to pertinent aspects of this project for those of you who are interested in exploring it.

If you are curious about the results that we experienced, you can read our feedback and various thoughts here: Putting It All Together. Here is a short list of some of our favorite posts this time around:

If you are curious as to why we chose this particular project, you can read Addressing Our Energy Drains. Not sure if you have any energy drains? You can take the quiz. If you would like to try this project for yourself, you can start on Day One - Plug Those Energy Drains and then continue on through reading and working on each post in order. Or, you can explore the individual posts at random. It might be interesting also, to find one or two posts that really resonate with you, and focus on them for the next 30 days. How you work the project is up to you. There is a complete listing of the day by day links at the bottom of this post.

This is an active blog, and if you post, we will notice and reply.. and give you the benefit of our own experience and our support if it seems pertinent or appropriate. Feel free to post your thoughts, ideas, results, joys and disappointments as you go. Even though we love you, comment spam is deleted when discovered. Anonymous posting is discouraged, but if you have problems with the comment box, feel free to use that option.

We do have a recommended reading list if you are interested in expanding your understanding. I don't know how up to date it is, but there are a lot of really good books listed. Feel free to add titles and authors that you would recommend. We do have quite a collection of quotes, and if you want to, you can visit Way Cool Quotes and find a bunch more.

As promised, here is the complete listing of all the posts for our Plug Those Energy Drains project:

  1. Our Next Project - Addressing Our Energy Drains
  2. Plug Those Energy Drains
    So Here's What I Did
  3. Replenish and Nourish Your Life
    My Grand Idea to Spend More Time Outside, and How ...
  4. What about breakfast?
  5. Coffee Anyone?
  6. Newton's First Law of Motion
  7. Wired?
  8. Take off those shoes!
  9. The Money Drain
  10. Housekeeping
  11. Worth
  12. Well, how's it going so far?
  13. Beware the swamp
  14. Inner Peace
  15. Are You Procrastinating?
  16. Plug Those Energy Drains With Love
    About Yesterday's Exercise
  17. Identify and Eliminate Your Energy Drains
  18. Quiz: What's Draining You?
  19. The Absolute Yes List
  20. Hello Avoidance Boy!
  21. Resistance
  22. A Lightbulb Moment
    Wow! This is Amazing!
  23. An amazingly sucky day!
  24. A Well Oiled Machine
  25. Doing Nothing
  26. Helaine's Top Five Energy Drains
    Keeping Details In Your Head
    Making Assumptions
    Tolerating Friction
    Disorganization
    Taking Care Of Yourself Last
  27. What is holding you back?
  28. The Should List
  29. Hacking Our Way Out of Our Energy Sinkholes
    Disorganization
    Poor Diet and Lack of Exercise
    Problem Contacts
    Squeaky Hinges
    Blog/E-Mail/Facebook Addiction
    Pleasing People
    Focusing on Your Weaknesses
  30. Your Top Ten Energy Drains
  31. Putting It All Together

Putting It All Together

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

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Looks like we've come to the end of the Plug Those Energy Drains project, and now it's time to take a look at what all has unfolded over the last 30 days. For me, personally, this has been one of the biggest projects in terms of life changing events and "aha!" moments. I'm really curious to hear what you all have to say about it. Here are some questions I'd like to know the answers to:

  1. Did you participate in this particular project?
  2. If not, why not?
  3. If so, would you (or do you) recommend the prosperity project to others?
  4. What did you hope to accomplish? And what actually happened?
  5. Did you feel that it was helpful to spend time looking at, and possibly doing something about, the energy drains in your life?
  6. Were there any "aha!" moments?
  7. Did you learn anything new?
  8. What was the most valuable insight you had this time around?
  9. Were you able to actually plug any of your energy drains?
  10. Do you think you will continue to pay attention to the people, places, situations, and things that drain your energy?
  11. Are you also working on the stories that you tell yourself about them?
  12. Would you recommend the practice of plugging energy drains as a prosperity technique?
  13. Would you recommend it as a technique for living a better life?
  14. How has your life improved over the course of this project?
  15. If your life has not improved, do you have any insights as to why that is?
  16. Do you have any insights, thoughts, ideas, or experiences that you'd like to share with the group? Now's the time.

Also, I did want to invite any of those who have websites or blogs, to you send me the links, I'll add you to our "List of Friends" in the sidebar. We do have a few new additions, and if you haven't visited the site recently, it might be fun to check in and visit some of those websites.

Daniel and I have been talking about the next project, and I'll be organizing it, and writing about it soon. I'm hoping to get it up and running by Tuesday of next week. In the mean time, as I wait for answers and feedback to come in, I'll be working to get our current project wrapped up and neatly put to bed.

Your Top Ten Energy Drains

Monday, June 15, 2009

leakingpipe


We're almost to the end of the project, and by now, we should each have an idea of what our biggest energy drains are. I thought it might be helpful, and maybe even fun to make a list, and title it, "My Top Ten Energy Drains."

Once you have your list made, you can choose to either live with them, work around them, or actually do something to eliminate them. Or, (and I like this idea alot) you could look at each item on your list and ask yourself this question:

What would my life look like, how would I feel, who would I be in the world, if I didn't have this situation, person, attitude, etc in my life?

I have this thought that if we could have a vision, or even just a small glimpse of what our lives would be like if we DIDN'T have those energy draining people or situations in our lives, it might be enough to create the subtle internal changes needed to bring about the external results we'd like to see. And I'm even wondering if that alone is all that's needed. Remember Karla and her vision of the mowed yard? (Her comment can be found here.) I'm really curious to see if this will work for me.

Alternatively, you could do as is suggested in the following is an exerpt from The Self Factor, by Duncan Coppock:

Most of us have many things in our lives that we tolerate but which drain us of energy. These include messy cupboards, un-filed paperwork, appliances that don’t work properly, shoddy paintwork and furniture, unfinished projects, poor communication, unanswered emails, unreturned phone calls, overflowing trash baskets unpaid bills, poor boundaries, rudeness, noise pollution, cluttered rooms, living in a neighborhood or doing a job you hate, etc. etc. etc! The list can go on and on. If you really take some time to think about the different areas of your life, it is not uncommon to find scores of energy drains, some minor and some major.

When thinking about this, don’t get caught up in what you “should” want or what “should” be okay with you. Focus on what is true for you and what does or does not work for you. If you are or can be genuinely happy with a situation even when it is not optimum, it does not have to drain you of energy. Energy drains occur when you do mind about something, are frustrated or complain and yet are not doing anything about it. The solution is either to choose to accept it happily or else do what you can to change it.

Start by making a list of ten energy drains at work and ten energy drains at home or in your personal life. Keep the list handy and keep adding to it every time that you notice something. Don’t give yourself a hard time about this. You are simply raising your awareness and telling the truth about what is happening in your life.

Now begin taking action to eliminate items from your list. Where possible, eliminate an item completely. Deal with it to an extent where you can be genuinely happy with how things are and your energy is no longer being drained by frustration and negativity. Depending on your style, you may want to start by eliminating the easiest items on your list, so as to give yourself the experience of success and to build momentum. Alternatively, you may want to tackle some of the biggest energy drains first to really free yourself up. Whatever works best for you. Start today so that you have a more abundant reserve of energy from which to live.

Remember, it's not the things on the list that drain you of energy, it's how you talk to yourself about them. If you can find something positive to say to yourself, it will greatly enhance your ability to take action where action is needed, and it will bring you some peace about those areas of your life that for the moment appear to be beyond your control.

Hacking Our Way Out of Our Energy Sinkholes

Sunday, June 14, 2009

largest_drain_hole01


There does seem to be quite a bit of information on the internet about energy drains. From Lifehacker, we have this nice little post about sinkholes and how to cope with them:

Energy sinkholes are situations that repeatedly drain your energy and stress you out. There are plenty of good reasons to invest your energy, so don’t waste your attention on a sinkhole. Unfortunately, it is often hard to see sinkholes since they rarely cause a drain all at once. Instead they slowly leech away at your lifeforce until your stressed, depressed and apathetic.

The best way to get out of these sinkholes is to get a routine. Having a preplanned method to handle these problems can keep your mind focused on more important things.

Here are the big seven that may be stealing from you right now:

  1. Disorganization
  2. Poor Diet and Lack of Exercise
  3. Problem Contacts
  4. Focusing on Your Weaknesses
  5. Squeaky Hinges
  6. Blog/E-Mail/Facebook Addiction
  7. Pleasing People

Focusing on Your Weaknesses

self-sabotage-boat-main_Full


My definition of a weakness is anything you aren’t interested in becoming skilled at. If you aren’t keen on improving, you can’t build strengths and any talent you do have will degrade. Don’t try to do everything and outsource the tasks that don’t fit within your strengths. Virtual Assistants and freelancers can deliver a much higher quality than you could on your own, and often their fees are less than the cost of your time.

Pleasing People

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Don’t waste your time trying to please the people around you. This isn’t an excuse to be an inconsiderate jerk, but put a high value on your time. Learn to say no to people who don’t show respect for your time. Helping other people is great, but it’s better to focus on serving the greatest good than simply appealing to the whims of your friends and family.

Don’t waste your energies trying to fit others expectations. Set your own dreams, standards and ambitions and make them your highest priority. When you’re nearing your end you’ll likely regret more the sacrifices you made to your individuality than how pleased your parents were of you.

Blog/E-Mail/Facebook Addiction

computer_addicted_01


Information addiction can be a huge drain to your energy. I love using blogs, e-mail and social networking sites to get the latest news and keep in touch. But that love can quickly turn into an obsession if you aren’t careful. Soon you’re like the rat frantically pushing the lever for more cocaine doses as you hit Stumble one… more… time…

My solution was to designate a time for information inflow and keep it restricted to that time. Once per day is all I allow myself to read new RSS feeds, incoming e-mail and Facebook. For other stats and random surfing I limit myself to once per week. The result is more energy and almost no impact on communication.

Squeaky Hinges

Plumber with chubby cheeks


A squeaky hinge is any piece of technology that works, but has irritating side-effects. This could mean a computer that is too slow to run the programs you need. A dishwasher that doesn’t get all the food off. Or an alarm clock that isn’t loud enough.

If the solution to a squeaky hinge is cheap, fix it immediately. The costs will soon outweigh any replacement expenses. If the solution is expensive, write down the total cost and keep track of any wasted time/money due to the problem. Keep track of squeaks will make you aware of what the total cost is, and whether a replacement is warranted.

Problem Contacts

crazypeople


We all have those few customers, clients and friends that cause a disproportionate amount of our stress. I say the best solution is simply to fire them. Cutting down on people who drain your energy can help you focus more productively on the rest. If a transaction is fair, then both parties should have the ability to opt out if it becomes too much of a hassle.

Poor Diet and Lack of Exercise

tired_bear


Exercising isn’t just to look good on the beach. Staying fit keeps your energy levels high. You can be slim and still be drained because you aren’t fit, so don’t use the scale as the measurement. Here are some things you might want to consider to get out of this energy trap:

Make a Routine - Find a gym partner, class or workout time that you can exercise at least 3-4 times per week. I’ve experimented with different amounts and found six days a week works best for me. If you are unsure how to start, just try it for thirty days to see how it goes.

Replace Foods One at a Time - Don’t try to overhaul your eating habits overnight. They’ve been established over years, so they can’t change in a snap. I recommend switching out one unhealthy food type for a month before making more changes. When you take it gradually it is far easier to stick with long-term.

Time Your Meals - The best way to eat would probably be 5-6 smaller meals spread throughout the day. Since this isn’t a reality for most people, a decent alternative is simply to time your meals so your blood sugar levels remain steady throughout the day. This will ensure you aren’t starving for some parts and fatigued from a big meal in others.

Disorganization

organized


Having to constantly find documents, forgetting commitments and appointments puts is a huge sinkhole. The solution out of this is simply to create a system for organizing and routinely tidy it up. You may have implemented a few systems, but here are some areas you might consider giving a clean-up:

  • Computer hard-drive
  • Calendar
  • To-Do Lists
  • Project Task Lists
  • Office/Desk/Home
  • Filing System
  • Closets

The Should List

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Brain_Wash_sm


Today I have been mulling over my "should" list. I was thinking that it runs in the background, almost continuously and might very easily be one of the most overlooked energy drains. It occurred to me that much of the "helpful advice" I've been finding about energy drains sound a lot like even more "shoulds" that I "should" add to my to do list, that I "should" be implementing, and "should" be eliminating and "should" be dealing with... etc. etc.

And I realized that my Should List is a lot like an unnecessary program running in the background on my PC. Here's why: "All sorts of programs run in the background on your PC. Closing unessential ones is sometimes a good idea, because doing so can increase your system's speed and can help keep software installations trouble-free. Identifying which applications are essential and which are not takes some detective work, however."

If your computer is running slowly - here's a link to that article at PC World. If you think your "should" list is depleting your energy and bogging you down, today might be a good day to begin some inner detective work.

One thing that I thought might be important is to have an idea of what the word "should" actually means. I looked it up, and here's a dictionary definition of should. I didn't find it very helpful, so I did a search for the words "should have" and came up with this grammatical explanation. And that's when I realized that it isn't the words themselves, it's the meaning and the intention behind them.

For me, when I say "I should have done the dishes," what I actually mean is, "I'm such a slob, and lazy because I didn't do the dishes yesterday (or the day before, or last week)." It might also mean, "If I was smart, I would have done the dishes," which has an even deeper layer meaning, "I'm stupid because I didn't."

What about you? When you say yourself "I should do the dishes." or "I should mow the grass." What is it that you are really telling yourself? What is the rest of the story? And how does it make you feel when you say "I should" or "I shouldn't" or "I should have"?

What do you think? Should we do something about our should lists?

A Small Delay

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sorry for the delay in posting, my phone has been out of service due to all the rain we've been having here in Missouri so I have been off line. Today, finally the phone is fixed, the dial tone is back, and I'm just flat out too tired after a long (really long) hard (really hard) day at work to do more than put up this quick note.

So - I'm handing it off to you guys today. Any thoughts or ideas about energy drains that you'd like to share? Experiences? Aha moments? Helpful tips or advice? Your input and insight is valuable! We want to hear what you have to say.

What is holding you back?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

In preparation for this project, I did an online search for "energy drains" and found this helpful bit of imagery:

"Imagine a vase being filled with water. Imagine also that the vase has a number of little holes from which water is leaking away. We are all like that vase, receiving energy from different sources. When you are full and overflowing, then you will naturally pour out your surplus energy to nourish others and to make your contribution. However, the unsupportive environments, unmet needs, and negative situations you put up with are the holes that drain your energy. They deplete you and prevent you living your life to the full."

It occured to me, after reading this, that I might be holding on to some of my energy drains because of fear.... fear that I don't really have a contribution to make, fear that I won't or can't live up to my expectations, fear that I might succeed, fear that I might fail. Which got me thinking about that quote by Eleanor Roosevelt: "Do one thing every day that scares you."

So what sounds scary today? I say, let's do it!

Helaine's Top Five Energy Drains

Monday, June 08, 2009

Energy is defined as "having the internal or inherent power or capacity to act, operate or produce an effect." Mental, physical and emotional energy is the fuel that drives your creativity, your thinking and your ability to take action. Energy drains limit your capacity to act and create. They also deplete the inspiration and motivation that is such a crucial part of a complete and balanced life.

The following are the top five sources of energy drains Helaine, at Path of Purpose sees most often in her clients' lives. I've posted each one individually, along with her suggestions for how to eliminate them:

  1. Keeping Details In Your Head, Instead Of In A System
  2. Making Assumptions and Taking Things Personally
  3. Tolerating Friction In Your Environment and Relationships
  4. Disorganization
  5. Taking Care Of Yourself Last

Taking Care Of Yourself Last

It's been drilled into us. Meet everyone's needs before your own. While taking care of our loved ones provides a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment, it also requires precious energy. In worse cases, it can even breed resentment - another huge source of energy drain.

A famous person once said, "Only give from an overflowing cup." Try this on. What if your criteria for giving were based on how full your own cup was? In other words, you can only afford to give when you have an ample supply yourself.

It's YOUR life . . . live it completely!

Disorganization

According to a USA Today report, Americans waste 9 million hours every day looking for misplaced items. Every time you can't find your keys, you waste energy. Each time you have to shuffle through a stack of papers to find an important document you waste energy. Each time you feel like you'd be embarrassed to have a friend drop by, you are depleting your energy account.

The solution is simple. Get organized. Although it may seem a daunting task, what you'll gain in energy and satisfaction is well worth the initial investment. Julie Morgenstern, the organizational goddess, recommends handling it in small chunks. Start with one room at a time. You've got to start somewhere. It's well worth the effort for the feeling of peace and tranquility that an organized space offers.

Tolerating Friction

Here's another big energy drain, tolerating friction in your environment and in your relationships.

The squeaky door. The leaky faucet. The tired paint color on your bedroom walls. By themselves, the energy drain is minor. Add them all up, however, and you have a gaping hole in your energy system. It's time to clean it all up. Make a list of all the things in your home, office or car that you continually notice needing attention. Set aside some time and tick them off your list once and for all.

Likewise, when you tolerate a dysfunctional relationship or have unfinished business with anyone, you're losing energy. Confront the relationship issues you have. Clean up unfinished business. If necessary, get support from someone who can help you negotiate such confrontations skillfully and responsibly. Think of the energy it takes to avoid someone versus the energy you'd gain in the long run having the issue cleared up.

Making Assumptions

Making assumptions and taking things personally are energy drains that tend to affect just about everyone.

Humans are exceptionally good at creating meaning. With every occurrence in our lives or every statement someone makes, we're constantly asking: "what does that mean?" Sometimes meaning helps us to know where we stand, but much of the time the meaning we create is, frankly, an incorrect assumption. How many energy units go down the drain each time you second-guess the meaning of someone's words, actions or inactions?

Think of the last time you spent an hour, a month, a year (or longer) having made the wrong assumption about an interaction with someone. How much energy did it cost you? The next time you find yourself making things up about someone's words or actions, ask them for clarity so you can deal with the truth, and move on.

Keeping Details In Your Head

Keeping details in your head instead of in a system can be a real energy drain.

Your brain, like a computer, only has so much RAM (random access memory). And RAM is mental energy. When you rely on yourself to remember your shopping list, your to-do list and your dentist appointment, it eats away at mental energy you could be using elsewhere to create a greater impact in your life.

It's not that all those tasks aren't important, but what if you had the mental energy to complete that major report, write your book or create a more powerful business strategy?

Think of each item you need to remember as an energy unit. How many energy units do you spend keeping details in your head? Find (or create) and begin using a system to track and remember things for you. Use it daily, and you'll free up more mental energy to accomplish higher leverage projects and tasks.

Doing Nothing

Sunday, June 07, 2009

We all need space -- free from demands, deadlines, expectations and judgments -- to explore who we are and what life is all about. Free time, with absolutely no agenda, is rich with potential. How can we grow if we have no space and freedom to dream?

"Deny children -- or anyone else -- the chance to do ‘nothing,’ and we may be denying them the chance to do ‘something’ -- to find and do any work that is truly important to themselves or to someone else."

~John Holt

WideOpenSpaces_sm


One of the reasons to plug our energy drains is so that we can have the time and the energy to do what it is we want to do with our lives, and to be who we want to be in the world. And it occurred to me that "free time" is just as important as cleaning out a closet or dealing with a difficult situation. So... with that in mind:

What can you do today to free up your time and your energy so that you can have a space of time that IS free from demands, deadlines, expectations, and judgments? Would it be a good day to just drop everything and go for a nice long walk on the beach? (I wish) Or maybe it would feel good to clear your calendar and create a weekend of fun and relaxation. I don't know what works for you, I don't know what's possible for you, and I'm wondering if there isn't something, some small thing that you could finish, rearrange, or clear out that would allow you some space to be free and unencumbered.

And just in case you're not sure what that might look like, you can visit this link. It'll take you to a web page that illustrates exactly what I'm talking about.

What I'm going to do is this:

Next weekend is my own. No blogging, no errands, no to do list, I'm going to find someone to take care of my animals, and I'm going to do absolutely nothing for two days in a row!! No plans, no agenda, no expectations. I was going to say that I would play and have fun... but that's a plan and an expectation. Then I was going to say that I would be "in the moment" listening only to my inner self - and again that's a plan and an expectation. So... No plans for me, no expectations, no agenda. I'm going to have 2 whole days of space and breathing room.

How cool is that? What are you going to do?

A Well Oiled Machine

Friday, June 05, 2009

My sister's life runs like a well oiled machine. It's actually very impressive, especially in comparison to my own life which tends to run more like an old contraption tied together with baling wire and duct tape. What I like about her life is that there is so much breathing room. When I visit her, I don't feel as if I have a thousand things hanging over my head ready to come crashing down on at any moment. It's very restful.

And while my situation will always be different from hers, I do think it would be really cool if my old rust bucket of a life ran more smoothly, and it would be really nice if when I came home I could feel a stronger sense of relaxation and peace. I'm thinking that every one of us would like to have our lives run more smoothly, and that we'd each like to see more serenity in our homes, more harmony in our relationships, and the energy freed up so that we can create and give and be all that we want to be in the world.

When our energy drains are out of control, when they have grown like weeds in a well fertilized garden, when we are knee deep, and they are waist high like an uncut lawn in early summer, they bury us in chaos and disorder, they complicate our lives with dysfunction and disaster. They are the rock that's about to fall, the roof that's about to collapse, the sharply held breath, the restless sleep, and the undercurrent of resentment and despair that doesn't allow us to simply breathe and be. They are the terrible stories we tell ourselves about how we aren't good enough, or smart enough, or deserving enough, or strong enough, or whatever other thing it is that we whisper into our own hearts when things aren't going well, and maybe even when they are.

And guess what - a lot of those things are really easy to take care of. What feels overwhelming and impossible is the idea that we have to do it all at once. But guess what! We don't. One small step at a time, we can take care of the details in our lives. In real time, right here and right now, we can do something. This is why we're doing this particular project - so that we can get into the habit of taking action.

So, here's today's challenge:

Does the boogie man live in your mail box? Unopened mail, stacks of unpaid bills… are they draining your energy? Here's something you can do right now. Grab that stack of bills, pull out one bill (it doesn't matter which one), open it, and yes - actually look at it. Can you pay it?

  • If the answer is yes - WOW Awesome!! Pay it. And I don't mean pay it tomorrow, pay it right now.
  • If you aren’t going to be able to pay it at all this month, it's not the end of the world... believe me... it isn't. So, draw a heart on the envelope, or maybe a happy face, say I love you and I’m sorry, forgive me and thank you and then toss it! Throw that baby away. (Don't worry, you'll get another one next month.)

If today isn't a good day for paying bills because payday is next week, that's fine too. Don't open any bills, open some of that other mail. Open something, read it, and then either sit right down and send a reply, or throw it away.

YEAH! You have done one thing about your energy drain! Super YEAH! If that felt good, maybe you'd like to open another envelope? Pay another bill?

An amazingly sucky day!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

giant_pothole_puddle-02


Have you ever had the experience of making some grand statement, and then having the Master of the Universe chuckle at you as the shit hits the fan? That's what happened to me today. Here I am, rolling along, telling myself all these wonderful stories about the energy drains in my life (read that post here), feeling better about most everything, even smiling at my neighbor's ever more extravagant collection of junk cars and debris... thinking I have at least one of the answers to life's big questions, when BAM!

First thing that happens is I hurt my sister's feelings. I really didn't want to do that, and couldn't figure out how to fix it, and naturally something like that happens when I'm 5 minutes late for work so there's no time to really do anything or say anything to make it better. And I wander into work, trying to reframe my story about how I am an insensitve rude and relentless bitch... not coming up with much... all I could think of was "WOW, I suck!" And that thought was making me tired and cranky... as you can well imagine.

So, I walk into work and show up at the tail end of a huge shit fit, an actual temper tantrum being thrown by the most difficult person at work whom I do actually love and appreciate EXCEPT for when she acts like that. The other person at work (there's only the three of us) is deep into her own unhappy reaction to the screaming and carrying on, and now I'm thinking... "Wow, not only do I suck but you guys do to!!"

Not a great start, not by a long shot. And I'm trying really hard to reframe my story about how I suck and they suck and my life sucks and the dogs suck and everything pretty much sucks, and not coming up with anything at all that sounds true, has a happy ending, or even makes me almost smile. In fact, an amazing amount of self recrimination came into my mind instead, and I could feel myself slipping into that downward spiral of defeatism and depression. It had the makings of a real funk, and I wasn't sure if I'd be able to pull myself out of it or not.

Then, having dumped her bad mood on us, my boss got all cheered up and started talking about how fun it would be if we signed up to be in a 4th of July parade. And my heart just sank. I'd rather have a root canal, walk on glass, or eat dirt. And here I was feeling all this pressure to foster her happy mood by saying "yes when what I really wanted to do was say "no."

Now, after the fact, I realize that this all sounds like a tempest in a teapot, but in the moment there was angst and agony. So I bathed dogs and trudged through my day, all the while trying to ferret out what it was exactly that I was telling Shirley, wondering why I was feeling so much anxiety, and at the same time trying to come up with something different, and better to say to myself. And finally (7 hours later) I decided that:

  • it was an amazingly sucky day,
  • the planets must be in some wierd alignment,
  • I'd feel better about everything once I got home,
  • and best of all that it wasn't me that sucked it was the day.

Then, I decided that I could just say "no" to the parade and let the chips fall where they may.

And so how did the rest of the day go? I'd like to report that I immediately felt my spirits lift, and that the day was just peachy after that, but the truth is that while my energy lifted a little, I did have to keep reminding myself that it was the day that sucked and not me.

And the lesson is?

  1. It's way easier to reframe a story about something that doesn't hold a strong emotional charge.
  2. Changing what you say to yourself can be exceedingly difficult, but if you keep working at it, eventually you'll come up with something.
  3. This too shall pass.
  4. I do not suck and neither do you.

Wow! This is Amazing!

cliffhanger


Up until now, I have been believing what I've been reading about energy drains. And what I've been reading is that "Most of us have many things in our lives that we tolerate but which drain us of energy. These include messy cupboards, un-filed paperwork, appliances that don’t work properly, shoddy paintwork and furniture, unfinished projects, poor communication, unanswered emails, unreturned phone calls, overflowing trash baskets unpaid bills, poor boundaries, rudeness, noise pollution, cluttered rooms, living in a neighborhood or doing a job you hate, etc. etc. etc!"

And here's what suddenly occurred to me. NONE OF THAT IS TRUE!! Not one bit of it. It is not the mess and the unfinished business, nor is it the bills and the relationship issues that drain our energy. It's what we TELL our selves about those things. It's the stories we make up about them, the judgments we hold against ourselves because of them, it's our own inner dialogue that causes our fatigue and our feelings of being defeated and overwhelmed.

So, I started experimenting with telling myself DIFFERENT stories about my "stuff." Better stories, stories that make me smile. And guess what, it worked! As a matter of fact, it's been working really well.

For the last couple of days, I've been seeing my life and the people in it from a completely new perspective, and I can tell you that I have a lot more energy, more enthusiasm, more happiness, and well... I just flat out feel better about life on earth.

Before my big aha! moment, I'd look at my dining room table which is piled high with God only knows what... (Most of that stuff's been there so long I don't even remember what the top of the table looks like.) and I'd sort of shudder, and I'd say to myself, "That looks like shit." Which actually means, "I'm a worthless piece of shit for letting it get that bad." And I'd think to myself that I really SHOULD clean it up, and that I HAVE to get it done, and I BETTER do it soon, and then I'd get really really tired, my shoulders would tense up, and I'd rush on past the table and try not to look at it again for the rest of the day.

After my big aha! moment, I look at that mess on the table and I think... "What an amazingly wonderful mess!" Sometimes, I stop and look at it and I wonder what treasures are hiding there. Then, I think about how one day I'll have the time and the energy to sort through it all, and that will be fun. At which point, I have a smile on my face and I'm off and running... on to the next part of my day.

Before my big aha! moment, I'd look at the melted siding on the back of my trailer, and tell myself stories about how I can't afford to fix it, and it looks terrible, and my whole life is falling apart, and how am I going to ever get it done because I CAN'T do it and I DON'T have the energy and I'm weak and incompetent and totally lacking in resources and gumption, how it's all too much for poor little me, and by the time I was done with myself I'd be scrambling for beer and chips, I'd be tense and tired. My life would suck and I'd be playing free cell and mindlessly surfing the internet for hours just to avoid doing ANYTHING at all.

After my big aha! moment, I looked at the melted siding and thought about how amazing it was that it melted instead of caught on fire, and what a miracle that was. And I thought about all those really nice people who were working their asses off to put the fire out. I wish I could thank them again. And then I thought about how interesting the siding looked... the shapes and the textures that were created as the vinyl melted and shrank. So cool.

And whenever I catch myself in judgment, bad mouthing Shirley, or torturing her in some way because she isn't living up to expectations, or she made a mistake, or I don't know... things aren't going well, I smile to myself and say, "Ah grasshopper..." and then I make an attempt to see without judgment so I can tell myself a story that isn't critical or unkind. I look for a place of acceptance and when I find it, my heart softens, and I remember that I am amazing, and wonderful. And the people around me are amazing and wonderful. And the stuff that I'm looking at is, actually pretty amazing too, maybe even wonderful.

I'd also like to add that I was able to apply the above technique at work... bathing big fat smelly hairy dogs, dogs that freak out and poop in the tub, dogs that bark and bite and slobber, and throw up. I cleaned up a really astonishing pile of vomit the other day. Wow! It was just amazing! And if I can clean up puke and think "Wow! This is amazing!" Then you can look at yourself in the mirror and say, "Wow! What an amazingly wonderful person!" And if you can look at yourself and say that, you can look at your clutter, your bills, your unfinished business, your spouse, your neighbor, your car and say the same thing or maybe even something better.

What do you think? Anyone willing to try it? If you do give it a try, I'd love to hear what your experiences are. And if you totally disagree with me, I'd love to hear about that too.

A Lightbulb Moment

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

I had such an amazing "AHA!" today that I can't even gather my thoughts to write about it properly. This whole thing about energy drains just fell into place for me in such a profound way that I'm not even clear about where to start talking about it.

light-bulb-fish-bowl



I think it must have started with the post on Plug Those Energy Drains With Love. That exercise took me to a place of understanding where some of my energy was going, and got me thinking in terms of questions, quizzes, how to's and what to do's. What I wasn't expecting to run into right away was Avoidance and Resistance. Hitting those two was like hitting a wall.

And I had thought about posting more lists, and some other bits and pieces about fear, and time management, and I don't even know what else. But the whole thought of even writing about, much less DOING something about really getting in there and LOOKING at my issues, or DEALING with the mess I've made of my life put me into such a mood that all I wanted to do was play on the Internet and watch movies.

I tried calling in my Inner Dad so that he could deal with Avoidance Boy, but it turns out he is on vacation in Fiji, and much too busy drinking margaritas and cavorting with the cabana boy (who knew?) to help me out at all.

And that's the way things stood until this morning, when a number of things that have happened recently coincided with a really good conversation with Daniel, and I started to have an "AHA!" and it didn't stop there, it gradually unfolded over the course of the morning until finally by the time I got off work, I really felt that I had THE answer.

So what is it? THE ANSWER? Ahhh... grasshopper...

I'm going to try to have it completed and posted by tomorrow evening. In the mean time, to keep you busy, here's the "yes list" and a post on "resistance."

Resistance

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

resistance


Resistance is making an excuse as to why you can’t possibly take 10 minutes out of your day and do one thing! RESISTANCE is the BIGGEST ENERGY DRAIN OF ALL! IT IS THE ROOT CAUSE, THE MOTHER OF ALL ENERGY DRAINS.

So, consider this: If you don’t have any energy, maybe you have let your resistance rule – maybe you are giving it space, air, and and maybe you are feeding it with a long list of heavy problems you do not want to address.

When you play hide and seek with your problems, you become unable to move – you are a prisoner – you gave all the power to your problem and now you are STUCK!


What you resist persists.
~Maharishi


Today, let's take a little bit of time to find just one small area of resistance and let it go. If you want to be ambitious, and takle something big - go for it - but if the thought of NOT resisting makes you even more tired than the resistance itself, it might be a better idea to go for something small.

The Absolute Yes List


To help you set your personal boundaries and determine your true priorities, create what Lifestyle Makeover expert Cheryl Richardson calls the "Absolute Yes List."

This list is about setting new priorities for yourself, using your time the way you really want. Put your self-care above anything else—say no unless it's an absolute yes. Choose to spend your time and energy on things that bring you joy and make decisions based on what you want instead of what others want. If you don't set boundaries and take care of yourself, your health and well-being are at stake. And, if you are neglecting yourself, you aren't helping your family and others around you.

Ask yourself:

  • What needs your attention at this time in your life? Think in terms of the next 3 months, not the next year.
  • What needs your attention: your marriage, financial, health, your physical and emotional heath? Maybe you need to find a babysitter to care for your child so you can have time for yourself each week.
  • What are the most pressing areas right now? More examples: spiritual well-being, time with friends, school, work, volunteering, finances, household chores, home repair.

Once you've made your list above, pick the top five priorities.

Does your list need to be reordered? Cheryl recommends placing yourself at Number 1 Placing yourself at the top may be hard, but ask yourself, "How am I going to take care of others if I am burnt out?" Remember, this is about you. This Is Your Absolute Yes List.

Daily Reminder: Once your list is complete, print this out this worksheet and place it where you will see it throughout the day—the bathroom mirror, the dashboard of your car, your computer monitor, etc.

Quiz: What's Draining You?

Are you so overwhelmed by everyday life that you don't have the energy to deal with setting new goals for yourself? Do you feel drained? Do you know where you are spending your energy unproductively?

Read the following statements and decide whether your answer is true or false. For every section start with score 0 and for every true answer add 2 points, false answers do not yeild any points. At the end of the quiz, read more about what your score means.

Section 1: Relationships

___ There are people in my life who continuously drain my energy.
___ I have unreturned phone calls, e-mails or letters that need to be handled.
___ I have an unresolved conflict with a family member.
___ I lack quality friendships in my life.
___ I feel a void in my life created by the lack of a romantic partner.
___ There is someone I need to forgive.
___ There is a relationship I need to end.
___ There is a phone call I dread making, and it causes me stress and anxiety.
___ I'm currently involved in a relationship that compromises my values.
___ I miss being part of a loving and supportive community.

Section 2: Environment

___ My car is in need of cleaning and/or repair.
___ My wardrobe needs updating and/or alterations.
___ I'd like to live in a different geographic location.
___ I have appliances that need repair or upgrading.
___ My home is not decorated in a way that nurtures me.
___ My closets and/or basement are cluttered and need to be cleaned.
___ Repairs need to be done around my home or apartment.
___ My home is cluttered and disorganized.
___ I miss having more beauty reflected in my environment.
___ I watch too much television.

Section 3: Body, Mind, Spirit

___ I eat food that's not good for me.
___ Something about my physical appearance bothers me.
___ It's been too long since I've been to the dentist.
___ I do not get the sleep I need to feel fully rested.
___ I'd like to exercise regularly but never seem to find the time.
___ I have a health concern for which I've avoided getting help.
___ I have emotional needs that consistently go unmet.
___ There are books that I'd love to read but never seem to find the time for.
___ I lack personal interests that are intellectually stimulating.
___ I lack a spiritual or religious practice in my life.

Section 4: Work

___ I no longer enjoy my job and have a hard time showing up each day.
___ My work is stressful and leaves me exhausted at the end of the day.
___ My office is disorganized, my desk is a mess, and I have trouble finding what I need.
___ I'm avoiding a confrontation or conflict at work.
___ I tolerate bad behavior from a boss or coworker.
___ I am not computer literate, and it gets in the way of my productivity.
___ I lack the proper office equipment that I need to do my job well.
___ My work does not allow me to express my creativity.
___ I know I need to delegate specific tasks but I am unable to let go of control.
___ I feel overwhelmed with the amount of information that enters my life in the form of mail, books, magazines and e-mail.

Section 5: Money

___ I have tax returns that are not filed or taxes are not paid.
___ I pay my bills late.
___ I spend more than I earn.
___ I don't have a plan for my financial future.
___ My credit rating is not what I'd like it to be.
___ I do not have a regular savings plan.
___ I do not have adequate insurance coverage.
___ My mortgage rate is too high, and I need to refinance.
___ I have debt that needs to be paid off.
___ My will is not up to date.

What your quiz score means...

Your score on each section represents the amount of energy you spend thinking about things you've been putting off and putting up with every day. If you're like most people, you probably scored 14 points in each section.

Now you know what areas of your life drain more energy than the others. Write this score in your journal so that you can keep track of your progress as you eliminate your energy drains and focus more on your Absolute Yes! List.

As you take care of the things that distract you and drain your energy, you'll immediately feel an energy boost!

Hello Avoidance Boy!

Monday, June 01, 2009

avoidance_boy
LOL


I found this character somewhere on the world wide web. Don't remember exactly where, but I know him pretty well! Seems I'm having a heck of a time generating the courage, the time, the energy, the grit, the determination required to actually take a long look at my energy drains. Today's exercise isn't all that hard, it's not about mucking out a toilet, or mowing waist high grass, it's not about paying bills, or dealing with a difficult person... oops! maybe it is about a difficult person - ME!

And I'm realizing that my out of control to do list has more to do with helping me to avoid introspection, and less to do with actually getting stuff done around here. A wise woman I know once wrote,

"The best defense against contemplation is a long list of chores and the fierce drive to beat them down just before collapsing into bed."

~Grace Gibson.


So, that's my story today. I guess I'm going to have to give Inner Dad a call, and ask for some help with Avoidance Boy - looks like he's going to get grounded for sure, maybe even lose his internet privaledges for the rest of the day!

Identify and Eliminate Your Energy Drains

From Oprah.com we have this wonderfully detailed article about how to identify and eliminate your energy drains. It's quite long, so I'm going to divide it up into sections and post each section separately. Here's the first one:

whirlpool


Life coach Cheryl Richardson says that creating your best life has more to do with what you remove from it than what you add to it.

Everything undone, incomplete or unresolved drains your energy. Not being honest with yourself and avoiding conflict drains your energy. Every action you take uses energy, and every action you don't take uses energy.

Identify and Eliminate Your Energy Drains.
If you are feeling overwhelmed and drained, you might have difficulty knowing what areas of your life to work on changing. Most of us are unconscious about how our mental energy is used throughout our daily lives. Becoming conscious of where your energy flows can be very revealing.

Core Questions: Learn what are you avoiding.
Lifestyle expert Cheryl Richardson says there are potentially three big energy drains in your life:

  1. Not believing you have a choice
  2. Not being able to say "no"
  3. Not finding support

Answer the following questions: Are you avoiding or neglecting an area of your life? Why?For example: Cleaning out the basement? Going through your wardrobe? Writing a family member? Look at what you're avoiding in your life and ask yourself why.

Cheryl says there are "cords of energy" connecting you to past, present and future—everything undone or incomplete in your life drains you. What are you worrying about? Trying not to think about? From what areas of your life are the cords pulling? Write these down explore the reasons why.

Identify what areas the cords flow easily to. Which areas of your life please you? Write these down. Finally, ask yourself, "If I eliminated these drains, how would my life change?" Now review your answers. You've taken the first step to recognizing what is draining you in your life.

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