This is about you and how you can manage your energy. It sounds super woo-woo, but it’s not intended to. It’s intended to help you make conscious decisions about the way you feel and how you choose to take in information and manage it. As an energy coach, typically if I was coaching, I would be talking to you about what it is that you’re dealing with right now. It’s very different from therapy, coaching is more action oriented.
I coached someone this morning about when it might be a good time for them to go visit their parents in light of the virus. That’s something a lot of people are struggling with. What are the conditions that would be optimum for visiting your parents? That’s just an example – we would go through all the issues, roadblocks, feelings and you would decide on a plan that works best for you. That’s how coaching works.
But today, I want to talk to you about energy.
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The goal of energy awareness is increased consciousness.
Many of you have already said, oh, my gosh, there she goes. But the thing is, it’s really important. Consciousness just means you’re mindful and you are aware of the decisions you’re making at any point in time. If you have energy awareness as well, you’re able to then decide how you want to react: negatively or positively. You can manage how you feel about things.
I had a friend last week who made a mistake at work and when I talked to her, she was beating herself up over this mistake. Finally I said, “You just need to accept the mistake. It happened. The world isn’t going to end. You’re not a bad person. You didn’t intend to make that mistake. But beating yourself up is just dragging you down. There is no point to sit in that kind of muck right now.”
Embrace the mistake. Own it and move on.
That’s the idea of being mindful, know what’s going on in your head. Being aware of your energy allows you to shift it so that you will do better and feel better. Imagine the power of that kind of self-awareness. It will make a huge difference in the days to come. It also can make a huge difference on the people that you know and love.
The Butterfly Effect
This physics concept broadly says what happens in one place can affect something somewhere else. The real concept is more complicated. For our purposes, the notion is that what you take has an effect on others – case in point, social distancing. We stay home, we flatten the curve, more people survive. This works the same with energy.
When you make that phone call, face time, whatever it is to check on the people you love. That energy matters. That’s a connection. You can shift the energy of somebody who’s feeling lonely or down. You could shift their energy to being more positive and having a more positive outlook. It sounds trite and I don’t mean to sound trite. But what I’m saying is what you put out there can affect other people. That’s the most important part here.
If you are aware of your energy and you’re paying attention to it and being mindful, managing your energy can deliver a sense of well-being. This is so important in managing your body’s response to stress, your body’s response to sickness and being isolated.
Two kinds of energy – catabolic and anabolic.
Catabolic energy is typically unproductive and anabolic energy is typically productive. They work together in flux. They move through us throughout the day. And sometimes the unproductive energy really does have a productive purpose.
Imagine being at the bottom of a cave, at the bottom of a hole. All you can see is the light at the top and the walls surrounding you that are nearly impossible to scale. In fact, it feels impossible. You might feel helpless. You might feel like a victim; like there’s just no way out of this deep, deep hole. That is how catabolic energy feels. You can also experience it as anger or rage or the need to fight.
If you do feel the fight, it’s the bad kind of fight; a win lose kind of fight like you want to kill them or you want to get even. They’re going to pay. Those are the kind of thought you might have. These are the kind of thoughts you have if you’re exhibiting really catabolic energy. And it’s the kind of energy you’re much more likely to have in a stressful situation. Like if your sheltering from a virus that we don’t know when will end.
The idea of being cut off from the people we care about, being cut off from our patterns and behaviors; from shopping and eating the kind of foods that we love, that can really create some catabolic energy. You’re at the bottom of a deep, deep pit. The bad news is, if you’re at the bottom of the pit, it’s really hard to know what your options are because it feels like your choices are limited.
Now imagine you climbed out of that hole and you’re up on top.
Now you can see the possibilities. You can tell what the weather is going to be because you just don’t see sky but you see the horizon, in all directions. You can see where other people are that could help you if you lost. You would know where to get help. As you can see, you’ve gotten yourself out of that unproductive energy. It’s a metaphor, but it’s a really powerful one because not only does this help you, but this metaphor can help you empathize when you want to help others.
If you can imagine and have the empathy to understand somebody in a catabolic state; stuck in a pit. Imagine your ability to empathize and to provide productive support knowing that they can’t see the possibilities and you rattling them off is not helpful. By the way, just being there with them in that place of being stuck is ok for right now. What you’ll eventually want to do is move them to where they start to fight and then ideally move them to anabolic energy. But you can’t just command them to be there with you.
Anabolic energy is the productive kind of energy.
If you can imagine, there’s this crossover point where you go from wanting to fight someone to letting go of the fight and moving to a place of almost productive complacency. It’s a kind of anabolic energy that we use a lot to cope in life. It’s the energy that allows you to deal with going to the store and getting the kids to school or attending another meeting at work.
You don’t love it, but you don’t hate it. You get it. It’s important. It’s the thing you’re supposed to be doing. It’s a complacent level of energy that is still productive. You might get down a little and dip into catabolic energy, but typically, you can use it to bounce back up. This is the go-along-to-get-along kind of energy. In coaching, this is the first of four levels of anabolic energy.
As you move up the energy ladder, you move from calm to inspired.
The higher you go, the more you are able to detach from judgment, detach from the here and now and start thinking about what is possible. Now be warned, if you’re really high in your energy and you talk to somebody who’s really low and catabolic, they might hurt you. That’s not a good way to share your energy. Instead, calibrate your energy to meet other people where they are and then work together to lift out.
Think about your anabolic energy. Think about the things that happen when you’re in the flow, when you feel really good, when you feel helpful. Help being helpful is very anabolic. Being willing to brainstorm and think of new ideas is very anabolic. Being able to detach from the here and now and think about “what if”, is incredibly anabolic. These are the kind of things that will motivate you and inspire you.
Even if we’re stuck at home or our world is somewhat limited, ideally, with anabolic energy, the possibilities are endless. And that’s basically the highest level of anabolic energy. It means you’re able to come into the situation, whatever it might be. Let go of all the parameters or rules, judgments, all the things that typically constrain how we think about something.
Let go of those things and just think, what if.
This is a common coaching practice where we listen to our clients talk and they have all the rules about why something can happen. My partner is not interested. My kids don’t want to play or the car is not working. We don’t have the money. Those are all constraints that can limit your ideas. In coaching, we work with you to let go of those constraints.
And that’s what I’m suggesting here. Let go of all the constraints and all your limiting beliefs. Think about what might be the perfect situation or what you could have if you could have everything you wanted? What would that require? Some of these constraints that you’re currently saddling yourself with may fall away.
I coach the other person this morning was talking about safe ways to get out of the house with the kids. OK, now is not the time to get out of the house. And yet maybe there’s still a way – maybe a car trip. You’d have to pack your food, ok. That way you don’t have any contamination vectors. You’re going to tell the kids the rules are you’re not getting the car. But you could go see some things you haven’t seen before, especially with fewer people. The trick here is to let go of some of the constraints – like don’t leave your home, don’t spread the virus. Oh, and please don’t get in a car accident. But new ideas come when you let go of the rules so you can find a way to meet the need that you may not have thought of before.
That’s the idea of anabolic energy. And that’s why it delivers endless possibilities as long as you’re willing to let go of rules that are holding you back. Or more importantly, the beliefs that you have that are holding you back. This is a big win for me because I feel like the power of energy coaching is helping you have the skills to help others. And I’ve talked about this on my other podcast before. There’s a great example I us and I made a video about it! Here it is.
What’s your idea or tell me more works.
By asking and listening, you just shifted the energy. You didn’t go catabolic, which was maybe your gut reaction at first to resist. And you’ve uncovered more information that’s going to make you both happier.
The outcome to any struggle isn’t limited to one.
We tend to limit ourselves right up front. Instead, let your thoughts go. Catabolic energy can be very productive that way, much like that wave in an ocean that tumbles and tumbles. Sometimes you’re on top. Sometimes you’re down below. Sometimes you’re in the green room when you get to just surf your way to heaven. Just know that energy moves all the time. But the more you are mindful and can be aware of how you’re feeling or how someone else is feeling, the more effective you’ll be at having more life satisfaction – for you and those you care about.