In order to do our best work in this world, the work that we are meant to do, we must be at our best—fully charged and ready to be engaged with our future. And yet, there are so many things that wear at us. Things that drag us down, that exhaust us mentally and psychically, that drain our very spirit until we are too spent to handle one more thing. Those life-sappers are different for each one of us, depending on our unique personalities.
For example, I have a friend who, at the end of a party we’ve held for our friends which required lots of time, energy and attention, is totally charged up after the last guest has gone. He’s ready to dive into the clean-up, talk about the evening, go down to his studio and start another project. He couldn’t possibly get to sleep until he unwinds, which is a process that, for him, takes several hours. Me? I don’t want to speak another word to another living being for at least several hours. I want to be a vegetable, or at least a slow-moving snail. I want to clear the clutter somewhat and then maybe read for a few minutes, and quickly drop off to sleep. I’ll deal with all the rest in the morning after I’ve recharged. We are affected in exact opposite ways to the same happy event.
I love being with people. I feel happy and content when I’ve spent the day with friends. But I need to be alone to recharge my batteries. And I need regular and sizable doses of aloneness in order to function well. If I don’t get it, I get cranky and impatient and negative.
My artist friend does his best work alone, often in the middle of the night. But he needs regular doses of social interaction to keep him sane. If he doesn’t force himself to take a break from his work and hang out with friends, his creative juices dry up and he becomes frustrated in his work.
My best friend needs one-on-one time with a confidant to recharge. She likes being in a group, but doesn’t get renewed from it. She needs someone to be her sounding board and to listen to her talk about what’s going on in her life. If she doesn’t get it, she begins to doubt her own judgment and self-worth. We get together regularly to craft and talk, or just go to lunch and talk. As we part, she so often says to me, “This is just what I needed!” At first, I didn’t get it and thought she was just being polite, but now I realize that for her, it is just what she needs to get back to the challenges of her life.
Have you given thought to what you need to recharge your batteries? Do you ever find yourself feeling sad or inadequate because you don’t enjoy things in the same way as your spouse or other friends enjoy them? Have you said, “What’s wrong with me? Everyone else is having a great time!” Do other people charge you up or drain you? Does solving a complicated problem make you feel like diving into the next one, or crawling into bed and pulling the covers over your head? Does dealing with emotional family issues make you feel warm and loving or like moving to a remote island where no-one can find you?
Comparing ourselves to others is often useless. After all, we are all unique. We will never fit a standard pattern, because there is no such thing for human beings. You will have to identify and articulate what you need in order to recharge. You will have to stand up for your right to take care of yourself. Only after you’ve done that, will you be able to get back to the work you need to be doing in this world.
I suggest you take the time to think about when you felt so charged-up that you could take on the world. What made you feel that way? When you identify that, the next step is to make sure that you give yourself regular doses of it. You may need to sleep. You may need to talk. You may be one of those people who need to clean the house. Listening to music or escaping in a book may be your thing. You may find renewal in meditation or attending church. Whatever you need, it’s all valid, and it’s all good. Just make sure you have enough of it on a regular basis. Be intentional about discovering what you need to do to recharge. And…don’t apologize to anyone for it.
I remember a conversation my house-mate, who works at home, and I were having about how we would be interacting after I was retired and home all day. He said, “I’ll have to make myself scarce from time to time, so you can have the house to yourself.” He recognized that I need some solitary time to recharge, and honored that need verbally. Truth to tell, I had been a little worried about just that and unsure of how to approach it. To hear that he saw that need in me, and validated it verbally, was a precious gift! If you don’t have people in your life that can give you a similar gift, you make sure you give them the gift of telling them what you need!
It’s not being selfish, dear reader, to take time to recharge your inner batteries. In fact, it’s being kind to everyone in your life when you make sure to give yourself regular doses of psychic energy so you can be there for them when they need it. It’s also a very loving thing to do to recognize and honor what others in our life need, and not begrudge their right to get enough of it.