Most of us link energy with the state of our physical bodies. That’s perhaps because there’s an entire billion dollar industry that claims to look after our physical selves (while buffering its coffers).
But despite the power shakes and gym memberships, many of us continue to feel drained. We feel tired, lethargic, and unenergized much of the time. We lack the focus we once had. And life does not seem as fulfilling as we’d wanted it to be.
I myself lived in that state of depletion for many years. There was a time in my life when I could feel the energy drain on an almost daily basis. I assumed it was because of my sedentary lifestyle, and set about working on it. I joined the gym (even though I’m not a gym person by any stretch of the imagination!), changed much of my diet (yes, more of those bean sprouts and spirulina shakes) and worked on a sleep schedule that took me to bed even before my kids sometimes.
I won’t say it was futile. It certainly helped me somewhat – but that feeling of energy being drained stayed. The focus didn’t return (except on focusing which new healthy diet to try). And the feeling of fulfillment was far from emerging.
And so I spent many months trying to get to the bottom of it. And here’s what the research showed me.
The Many Levels of Energy
Energy is not simply physical. In fact, it is the sum total of many forms of energy that live within us. But most of us don’t know that. We become obsessive in looking after our physical selves. But what about our emotional, mental, and spiritual selves?
The research of Dr. Jim Loehr at the Human Performance Institute shows that each of these four areas build on each other, with physical energy at the bottom and spiritual energy at the top, much like a pyramid. So while physical energy is definitely critical – try being patient when you haven’t slept for a couple of nights – we also have to nurture, and safeguard our emotional energy (which is the next level).
Enter Low Self-Worth
This is not easy when we have low self-worth. The constant negativity of self-doubt “do you think you can really do this?”, “I honestly don’t think you should try”and of self-criticism, “you’ll mess up”, “you’ll make a fool of yourself”, are enough to hijack our minds and consume us from within.
That’s the energy drain I felt – and it was far more evident when I was stressing about the past – or the future. And when this happens on a regular basis – a background inner voice that sucks us constantly – it can feel like we’re running on empty, despite the power shakes. Trust me on this!
The Downward Spiral
But it doesn’t end there. There’s less energy that’s left for mental consumption. We find it difficult to focus on important things, and distract ourselves with low energy pursuits – and there are ample of those in our day and age thanks to social media. Which leaves even less for spiritual pursuits, such as living on purpose and working towards our deeply desired dreams.
End result? Energy drain, lack of focus, unfulfilled lives. That’s what many of us struggle with. And even though we often don’t make the connection, it results from low self-worth, and the constant emotional drain of potential negative outcomes.
The Worry Wart Center
It’s true that as women we’re wired to worry about what can go wrong. There’s a little area of our brains called the anterior cingulate cortex (aka the worry wart center) – and one of its primary roles is error detection. And this area is larger in women than in men.
No wonder we can get caught up in past mistakes, and future disasters. And when we don’t believe in our capabilities, or place our entire self-worth on the opinions of others, we allow it to run amok and bring us down. Some of us even succumb to numbing behaviors to deal with the pain of low self-worth and self-directed negativity. That’s what addictions and eating disorders are all about.
The Way Out
We may be wired a certain way – but we’re definitely not victim to our wiring. When we find ourselves deep in catastrophization, we can take a page from those who trust in their abilities and ask ourselves the following 2 questions:
“What can go right?”
For a brain that’s engulfed in what can go wrong, this question shifts the focus and brings in hope and optimism.
“What will I do when things go wrong?”
This question bursts the bubble of fear, and helps us realize that even when things go wrong, hope is still intact.
Asking these questions is like nurturing the seeds of self-worth. Ask them regularly, and you’ll see a difference in the energy with which you show up in life.