There is one word that, over and over again, seems to come up for me wherever I go. Whether it's with my clients, in workshops, or just someone recounting their day, it's maybe the #1 concept that I hear. And that word, ladies and gentlemen, is energy.
We all refer to it, and in a multitude of ways. From, "I feel so drained from having to work with that person/place," to "She really just lit up the room when she walked in." Energy is something that we're all constantly monitoring and adjusting our lives around and our language has evolved to subtly express these experiences in a way we all immediately understand.
Yesterday, for example, I felt drained. My work schedule has been off the charts and, if I can be totally honest, I had over-booked myself with various professional and personal commitments. I'm all about living in a place of YES, however, sometimes those yes's stack up and, oh boy, your calendar is lit like christmas tree. Mine looked like Rockefeller Center on steroids. Lesson learned.
Still, I had a coaching session. I centered myself, took my time transitioning into a space for us both, and jumped into my call. By the time that call was finished I was bouncing off the walls with a smile that could not quit, and ready to create my day. Why? Because of energy. And energy is more subtle than we've been led to believe. Here's how.
There are two different types of energy we encounter in our lives. They are anabolic energy and catabolic energy. When we understand how these influence us, we can make some dramatic shifts.
Anabolic Energy is energy that is used to build up, be creative, make connection, and get yourself moving. It’s a type of energy that not only gets you out of your own way, but it actually can create opportunity out of what seems like an impossible situation. It’s helpful, healing, expansive, and the more of it you have, the less ego and attachment you’re likely to suffer from. Positive, inspiring people generate this type of energy at full tilt, and they create connections with others, and help you think BIG.
Catabolic Energy is energy that tears things up, pulls you down, and stops you dead in your tracks. It’s overly critical, it’s angry, and it has a lot of reasons of why things can’t be done. It’s full of fear, neediness and aggression, as well as a general lack of caring and lots of playing the victim. Those who instill fear in others, or those who are stopped in their life have a healthy does of this type of energy.
So here's the thing we mostly get wrong about energy: there is no such thing as positive or negative energy.
At any one time, we all have a combination of these energies influencing us. In some catabolic situations, you’ll find yourself feeling like nothing in the world could get you off your couch and out of your pajamas (lethargic inaction), whereas other times you’ll be irritable and picking needless fights over the smallest of things (conflictive action). In some anabolic situations, you’ll find yourself taking responsibility for your actions (stoking the fires of forgiveness), and in others you’ll find yourself inspired to create a non-profit to help the disadvantaged (compassion and non-judgement). There are levels to this and the purer anabolic you’re being, the decidedly less it’s about you and the more it’s about others. Having said that, I should manage your expectations a bit and tell you that it’s impossible to be purely anabolic or catabolic. While we may have our moments touching those places in their entirely, we fully live on the spectrum.
To be able to fully acknowledge your energy levels and then choose where you want to be are the two most powerful things you can do in your life. In that moment earlier, when I was feeling drained and SPENT, I did something that may not make any sense: I gave of myself and spent more energy. In doing so, I made it less about myself, tapped into my inner-values of helping people (which is a key area of where I get energy), and BLAMMO: I'm ready to do five gajillion more coaching calls, vacuum the house, hike the trail down the street, and then channel Julia Child/my inner francophile and make something ridiculously good for dinner
The next time that you're in a similar situation, where your energy is gone and the only thing that makes sense is to collapse on your coach and binge-watch Netflix, answer these questions first:
- Where Are You? Identify how you're feeling and where you want to be, energetically.
- What Are You Bringing to the Table? What are your greatest strengths and inner-most values?
- How Can You Be You? Those strengths and values are connected to what makes any situation meaningful for you. USE THEM. ALL THE TIME. They are like that giant ring of keys the janitor had in High School: It opens up any door you need. Find a way, immediately, to express that strength and/or value. Here's a helpful hint: the more it is about contributing to someone else, the more energy you will find.
The goal here is to be able to recognize where we are and constructively dismantle the catabolic energy that’s blocking us. Because THAT’S what blocks our goals, stops our dreams, and saps our self-worth. Only by removing catabolic blocks can we move up into a more anabolic state and start really kicking ass. Because kicking ass is why we’re all here, right?