How often do you find yourself in a situation, relationship or an encounter where you just feel exhausted afterwards, and feel that you’ve just given it/them 100% of your energy and you’re just drained?
Probably pretty regularly if we’re being honest. And it might even seem like it’s happening more and more often, right? Been there myself. So what does that mean, and what can we do about it? That’s what I talk about in the above video, but here are the highlights:
1. Did you give 100%?
When you feel like you’ve given 100% of your energy and you have nothing left to give to yourself or anyone or anything else remember this: you didn’t. You didn’t give 100% of your energy. You and everything else in existence now and forever is a manifestation of energy. The Universe is a massive flow of energy. If you are still here to read this, you didn’t give 100% of your energy or you would have ceased to exist.
Further, you are so intimately entwined and connected to everything else in existence that it is hard to believe that you have an allotment of energy just for you to use, and when you use it, it’s gone. If the Universe still exists around you, there is still an abundance of energy running through you.
2. So if there is no lack of energy, what is actually happening?
Resistance. Your fatigue, your feeling of exhaustion and burn out, is a symptom of your resistance to the stressor that you are dealing with. Yes, stressor. See, that problem solving machine in your head, AKA your brain, has evolved to be super good at solving problems. Let’s break it down.
- Problem: something you don’t want to deal with or don’t have the resources to deal with.
- Solving: remove, eliminate, or avoid the problem.
So you are face-to-face with a situation that you either don’t want to deal with or don’t have the resources to solve by removing or eliminating it. So your brain’s next best solution? Avoid it.
Side note: I know that this might sound cruel in some situations. What about us parents that feel completely exhausted by our relationship with our children? Or children who feel drained by the relationship dynamics we have with our parents? Or our significant other, our spouse, who we love unwaveringly but just seems to sap us of our energy. Stick with me here. This still applies!
Our exhaustion stems from our resistance to dealing with some dynamic, some aspect, of the relationship or the situation. We don’t have the resources to resolve or understand it, or we simply don’t want to face it, so our brain interprets it as a stressor, and we plunge into our stress response. If we can’t fix it or solve it, we avoid it. Exhaustion is us being “too tired to deal” anymore, so we check out and avoid dealing.
3. Stress Response!
When faced with a stressor that we don’t have the resources to deal with, our brain triggers the Hypothalamus which recruits the Pituitary Gland and Adrenal System into action. Stress hormones are released, the immune system is depressed, and adrenaline gives us that extra boost to either Fight, Flight/Flee, or Freeze. This is where the physical exhaustion comes from and the negative side effects of ongoing exposure to the stressful situation, such as sickness. Our brain says we can’t cope, so gives us extra resources to fight or get away, and afterwards our bodies feel like crap.
4. How do we fix this?
What if we can’t avoid the relationship? (For example, in the side note above?) Realize three things:
- You are fusing with a negative thought, belief, or feeling that is giving you this idea that you have limited resources and can’t cope. You’re fusing with an idea of a problem. So the first step is to de-fuse from that idea, belief or feeling. Realize that it is just a story, and bring yourself into mindfulness of the present moment, without attachment to past and future stories.
- Once you understand that the exhaustion comes from resistance. Resistance at a point will reduce the energy flow. It doesn’t mean that there isn’t more energy, it means that the abundance of available energy is being restricted, and you feel tired. It’s natural! The key is recognizing that there is resistance, and exploring it. This is shadow work, the manifestations of your lessons. Explore the resistance, understand where it is originating from, and work to resolve the source of the resistance through integration of the experience.
- Expand your awareness to everything in your field of awareness. You’re too focused in on the stressor, and don’t realize how relative and subjective it actually is. Gain distance and a larger perspective and you will see that there is no limit to your resources.
So to recap: No, you didn’t in fact give up 100% of your energy. That doesn’t invalidate your experience or mean you aren’t tired, it just means that you are still alive and can try a new technique! What you’re feeling is natural: it’s what your brain has evolved to do on autopilot. Explore where the resistance is coming from, and engage your mindfulness and awareness to defuse and gain perspective on your resources!