A seminar speaker had a participant lift up a small pitcher of water, representing his capacity in life (energy, time, resources). He was then instructed to begin pouring out the water, a little at a time, into many different glasses, each one representing one of the people in his sphere of influence (who he named) or a task from one of his major responsibilities that was on his to-do list (which he also named).
After a while, the pitcher was empty, but all the glasses still had room for him to pour more into, as if they were clamoring for even more of his time and energy. When the participant was told to pour out more from the empty pitcher, he got the point: he could not pour out any more, which felt like burnout or guilt or failure–UNLESS he was getting replenished himself.
How are you filling yourself up? Do you have social time outside of work, where friends and family pour into you? Do you have a hobby, or scheduled fun-time, to recreate? Do you seek to grow yourself through books/audios/podcasts/training to increase your capacity? And, do you have boundaries that limit your output to correspond with your input and margin?
Think of the empty pitcher, and make a decision to refill yours–so that those around you benefit from your fullness!
So, my wife and I were hiking the other day on an easy trail, when we got to a fork in the trail: either we go up a steep climb (where there was a little evidence of foot traffic) or cross over the creek on rocks and see if the trail continues on the other side.
At the crossroads was a group of people coming over from the other side of the creek. There was a language barrier but they in effect said that there was no trail on that side, and pointed that the steep climb was most likely the way. But they returned instead of making that climb. We ambled up the hill and it got a bit precarious on rocks with unsure footing and no clearly-marked trail. Halfway up, we enjoyed the view, but decided this wasn’t the way. Returning to the crossroads (happy we didn’t get injured–just dirty), we cross the creek and pretty-easily found the trail that the others said had ended.
The lesson? Sometimes we ask the wrong people for advice when we are at the crossroads of decision regarding the path to take for a desired future. They either haven’t been down that path before or don’t have the perseverance to evaluate its merits through wise lenses. They point at a direction that is outside our values or what’s good for us, but don’t walk that journey with us. And, if taking their advice, we struggle–and it can even be dangerous!
Choose the right guides on your life path: coaches, mentors, counselors, elders, wise friends. Their advice might just be the ticket for pushing you in the right direction–on the trail that gets you to beauty and adventure and in-line with what you believe and where you want to end up.
Do you ever just chill when you enter one of those automated car washes? You pay the money, put the car in neutral, and let the machine pull you through the cleaning cycles. The other day, I went to one to get the dirt off my vehicle, but then it became more about having breathing space in my day for a few minutes. I never thought about it being a place of respite from the “weather” of life hitting me all day.
Where in your day do you have quiet to just breathe, think, and reflect? It was amazing how just in those few moments of rinsing, soaping, rinsing, and drying, with huge sponges and mops slapping against my windows, I felt at peace. I added stuff I’d forgotten about to my to-do list. I prayed for a friend who I knew was struggling that day. I re-ordered my priorities for the rest of the afternoon/evening. And then my car was kicked out with an illuminated GO sign–as if to say, “Now you had a break. You are ready to take on the rest of your day. Go, make something happen!”
And I had a sparkling car to do it in.
In whatever relationship you are in, or whatever team you help lead, you have a choice to be a climate-controller. Some passive people are simply thermometers, reflecting the temperature in the room or relationship or team; these are followers–spectators that are not contributing much in the role of influencing others toward more positive outcomes.
Some people are thermostats, actually regulating the temperature in the room or relationship or team so that it’s comfortable for everyone to better thrive. They take the lead as full participants in climate-control. They are seeking to include every person, to affirm/validate every response, to challenge the status quo, to push for better communication lines and more effective systems. And the water level rises.
Check yourself: Are you exhibiting more thermometer or thermostat traits in the hats you wear these days?
“You give away your power when you begin to believe someone else is responsible for your happiness or unhappiness.”
You are a power-broker. I’m not saying you are into power and lording over people and all that. I AM saying that you are a powerful person when it comes right down to it. There is power in what you say to those around you–you can crush someone’s spirit with a tactless comment or flippant phrase that dishonors your loved ones, or you can “em-power” your family and work colleagues with words of affirmation, validation, and hope. You are also powerful when behaving in a way that goes along with your strengths and values.
But you will be power-less if you talk yourself out of your power in your thinking patterns. One of those ways to sabotage yourself is by putting others in the power-position for your own happiness, emotional stability, personal development, and dream-pursuits. Telling yourself “she makes me mad” or “if it weren’t for his doing that…” gives that other person control of your emotions and puts you one-down in that relationship, limiting your power and growth.
Regain the power to be the maturing, responsible adult that you are by making daily decisions to lead the life YOU want to lead, not living out someone else’s script. Then use your power in such a way that influences those around you to bring out their best selves, to spread more love to others, which makes this world a better place.
Ok, not like on drugs! But think with me for a moment: When are you at your best, at your highest high, in your sweet spot, on top of the world with satisfaction and joy?
For me, it’s when I’m getting paid to speak to a receptive audience who wants to learn and grow, and when I’m coaching someone to take their next action step to better themselves and get unstuck. For you, think about who you are with, what are you doing, what is making you feel strong, and why you are feeling the rush.
The reason to undergo this exercise is to put yourself in more environments where this state of “flow” can happen more regularly. Because passion in one area of your life spills over into all the other areas of life, pumping up those around you and feeding your next action steps.
The other side of the coin to “highest high” is being able to identify your “lowest low” scenario. It’s when you hit bottom in personal morale, when the energy is drained from you, and all looks dark for a while. For me, it’s when I’m verbally attacked, especially unjustly.
Not that you want to dwell on those thoughts too much, but it’s good to figure out what eats your lunch so that you can build boundaries against those situations as best as you can, AND have a personal response plan for when it hits you, so that it doesn’t take you down drastically when people are counting on you to be at your best.
Time to get high?
“It is easier to let go if your own life-bucket is full, rather than empty.”
…Because if you are empty emotionally, you hang onto things. You start showing co-dependent tendencies and begin to suffocate people. You hoard stuff and take the last cookie. You display a scarcity mindset. It’s all due to a serious case of dissatisfaction, a drained life.
The solution for having boundaries and staying “on your side of the street” emotionally? Fill ‘er up! Make sure you are intentionally gassing up your tank with people, habits, and things that you know will make your day brighter. Go ahead; make a list of 20 things that make you smile and energize you. It can be sunshine, positive people, jogging, waterfalls, or soft fabrics! Then, put them into your schedule or surround yourself with them more frequently–so that you have no need to dysfunctionally clutch onto what you need to let go of.
You cannot control everything in life nor anyone else. But what you can control is with what you fill up your life-bucket. Got something calendared yet?