What fills your soul/gives you energy?
I love asking this question when I do speaking engagements, it’s normally a question my audiences haven’t heard or thought of before. I can’t take credit for the saying as someone posed the question to me many years ago, but it was very thought provoking. There are many things that we do in our life out of necessity or because we think it is the right thing to do. Think about what you do in your daily life, your list might look something like this:
- Take care of family –fix meals, get kids to/from school, get kids to/from activities, get kids up/put kids to bed
- Make money – go to job(s)
- Volunteer/Serve on committees–support and participate in activities for a school, your church, community, etc
- Take care of the house—clean, pay bills, scheduled or perform maintenance duties (cleaning/replacing/fixing), yardwork
- Down time—reading, watching TV, exercising
Where on this list is something that gives you energy? Or better yet what fills your soul? A lot of these activities take energy from you, it doesn’t give it back. It’s up to each of us to figure out how to get the charge we need. If you are always giving energy out and not taking it back in, you’re less likely to be your best self and less likely to give your full self, because your desperate for the recharge you may not realize you need.
We do a lot of things because we have to: work, for example, we have to have money coming in to pay the bills and keep food on the table. We
also do things that we think we should: serve on committees, for example, because it seems like the right thing to do.
I was guilty of giving my energy away pretty freely until it became obvious that I wasn’t doing myself any favors. I was miserable most of the time and craved down time—time where I could tune out. I was encouraged to seek quiet time and not down time to really figure out what I was missing. Do you know what the difference is between down time and quiet time?
Down time—tuning out. Reading, watching TV, surfing the Internet. Any activity that doesn’t require you to think.
Quite time-tuning in. Allowing yourself to listen to what is going on inside. Recommended in a quiet environment, when your child is sleeping and you have no other obligations to meet (spouse, work or otherwise).
I had mastered down time early in time, quiet time was a new concept for me. Some people make daily time for quiet time through meditation
or yoga. I found quiet time came more easily for me if I just went outside on my back porch by myself when my child was napping. During the quiet times I would ask myself, “what do you need?” and “what are you missing?” It wasn’t easy at first, sometimes my mind would wonder back to the duties at hand, but after practicing at focusing on the questions, it would come to me. I started to better understand what I was lacking and what I needed. I was starting to figure out what “feeds my soul.”
I started to reflect on where I was spending my time and what I needed to remove from my plate. Committees were one area that begged, “why am I doing this?” I served out my terms on the various committees and politely stated I wouldn’t be able to serve on any future ones (at least for the foreseeable future). I also started to realize what I craved: community with my girlfriends, something that had waned since having children; pursuing outside interests from my daily job; connecting and communicating with my husband—discussing anything other than the kids, work or house. These activities fill my soul and give me energy. This is a dynamic list for me, so I know it will grow and morph as I continue to ask myself these questions “what do I need?” and “what am I missing?”
During a recent speaking engagement I was asking my audience how they were taking care of themselves. A couple of folks had gotten some time away from the baby—all of their children were very young, so that made sense—in the form of doing something they enjoyed earlier, like playing a sport, having dinner, or watching a movie. One man in the group shared that he had taken back up with the soccer league he had been in earlier. He said while he really enjoyed it, he felt guilty. You could see the look on his wife’s face—I had given my husband that face before, it was the look of “of course, I’m going to let you go play soccer, because I want to be supportive of you, but can’t you see I’m dying over here and desperately want you to give me a break?” I think many of us have been there. I encouraged the group to look at what was shared. The husband enjoyed playing soccer, and there were probably a couple of reasons why: it provided an opportunity for him to exert physical energy, it provided an opportunity for him to have community (play with friends) and it may have provided him a break (be it from the baby, work, etc). Who can fault anyone for wanting to do any of those things, they all sound pretty healthy and needed to me. In fact, it sounds like a lot of these things could and should give him energy. On the flip side, the wife needs to listen to her own cues. Many women struggle with feeling they might appear selfish if they try to get their needs met. In my opinion, there is nothing selfish about it. It might be hard to figure out what you need, but it ultimately ends up being good for everyone—you, partner and child.
Don’t underestimate the need for balance. Just because soccer, or whatever the activity may be, gives someone energy doesn’t mean that they need to play multiple times a week at the expense of their partner’s well being. Negotiation will be key. Find a balance that allows both of you to get the charge you need.
Find time to answer the questions: “what do I need?” and “what am I missing?” Share with your partner what you uncover.
Do you have any creative ways you’ve found quiet time? How are your reenergizing yourself?