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Name Your Drain

Energy drains.  They are everywhere, and if left unchecked, can suck the life right out of…  well…  Your life.

Energy drains, sometimes also known as tolerations, are things that either take energy to tolerate or are energy investments with little or no return.  They can be things, situations, or people.  Often we don’t even realize it’s happening, but if we pay attention to ourselves, we can learn to notice the signs of fatigue and stress, and take steps to correct it.

The symptoms of an energy drain can show up physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. It can create anxiety, moodiness, restlessness, and overall have negative impacts on your health and life in general. For those of us with ADHD, energy drains can severely add to our symptoms.  Studies have shown that chronic stress and fatigue lead to a lowered immune system and increased risk of infectious diseases and mental health issues.   If you’re feeling overwhelmed in areas of your life, or need to add more calm, searching out these energy drains is a great place to start.

Name That Drain:

First, list out on a sticky note pad your energy drainers, giving each of them a name.  Put one drainer on each sheet and stick them to the wall or the table.  These drainers could be situations, people, things, or a combination.  Piles of paperwork on your desk, that squeaky door hinge that needs to be oiled, the atmosphere in the office at work, the wait at the airport, angry people or maybe your mother-in-law.  It could even be more internal things like:  Negative self talk, Poor money management, consistently running late, issues with procrastination or feelings of low self worth.  Hopefully you get the idea.  Energy drains can be different for everyone, and there is no right or wrong answer on your list.

If you really want to hit this head on, keep listing ideas until you can’t think of any more.  If you want to take this on in smaller bites, maybe start with six to ten drainers at the beginning and add more at a later time.

Now separate your ideas into three categories.

Things I can’t change or control:

Things I can have an impact on, but can’t control:

Things I can change and control:

Next, prioritize your energy drainers in each category.  Do it however is easiest for you to work with them.  The bigger drains at the top of the list, or maybe the other way around so you can work from the bottom of the list going up.

Things I can change and control:

These are the things you are 100% responsible for creating or for letting happen.  Staying up to late at night on Facebook, reading blogs, or watching one more episode of the Baywatch rerun, or maybe impulsive spending, poor time management, or other unhealthy activities.  These are the habits you have that don’t serve you well.  These repeated behaviors may be causing you to be out of integrity with yourself, which in turn has a negative effect on your self-perception and self-esteem.

These drainers are going to require you to make a choice to change or stop the bad habits.  Now that you have a name for each of them, you can start taking them on.  Start creating an action plan for each item to deal with the energy drain.  Write the plan down so you can go back to it.  Track your progress and reassess your action plan if necessary.  Talk to someone you can trust about your plan to ask for support and to create accountability.

Things I Can Have An Impact On, But Can’t Control

This could be that person you know or have to work with that is always in a bad mood, over critical, or just has poor boundaries.   You can’t make that person change who they are or what they do.  However, you can have an impact on the situation by trying to set up boundaries on what you will tolerate from that person.   Possibly taking your break at a little different time to avoid that person if necessary.

Write out your plan for dealing with that situation.  Assess the impacts your making to be sure how you’re dealing with the item is not more draining then it was originally.  Identifying for yourself what your personal standards and boundaries are will be helpful in situations like this.

Things I Can’t Change or Control:

You have two basic choices here.  Except it or avoid it.  Getting worked up over things you can’t control or change is a waste of your energy.  IE: Yelling at the boarding agent at the airport because the plane is delayed for bad weather isn’t going to bump up the take off time.  You’re going to get just as far slamming your head into a brick wall.  By accepting the fact that you have no power here, releases you of feeling powerless.  In a situation like this one, take the time to be grateful for some time to not have to do anything.  Start reading the book you’ve wanted to read or catch up on some phone calls.  Don’t waste your time fighting an unwinnable battle.

The choice of avoiding, means removing that item, situation, or person from your life.  Sometimes this is necessary when there is no changing it and there is no way you can tolerate it for whatever reason.  This also is a way of setting personal standards and boundaries.  As you start recognizing and naming more and more of your energy drains, you may be surprised by the list of items that you remove from your life.

Life, being ever fluid, is in constant change.  Thus, energy drainers will come and go throughout.   Take time now and then to name your drain and decide what action to take to lessen it’s impact.  Some energy drainers offer a good balance with a return.  You may volunteer for an organization that requires a physical energy drain, but reenergizes you emotionally and spiritually.  The return for the investment balances or increases your energy.   As you begin to remove or change energy drainers in your life, you will be pleasantly surprised at the new abundance of energy to help you manage other drains.  Be mindful of your body and mind for signs of energy draining.  Keep  the life… Well…  In your life.

Reference:
School of Coaching Mastery: Personal Development “Your Holonic Self
ADD Coach Academy:  Personal transformation Edition 3 “Barriers and Tolerations
Tim Ursiny, Phd “The Confidence Plan, How to build a stronger you” Chapter 4.2 “Defuelers And Refuelers” – Sourcebooks, Inc 2005

 

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