You only get a thimble

Your energy is a limited resource. Think of it as a thimble that only gets refilled when you take care of yourself and minimize drama in your life.

When I was a little girl, my older sister, who was 7 years older, watched the soap opera General Hospital. Guess who else watched General Hospital? Good guess.

I’m not sure if it was my youngest personality, or my natural penchant for drama, but I was hooked! Luke and Laura. The Quartermaines. Holly and Robert. Robert and Anna. I mean, there was a character named Robert Scorpio. Who gets paid to think this stuff up? Where do I get that job?

The problem was, by watching soap operas, I developed this idea that drama was necessary. I needed to have a dramatic life. I looked forward to drama. I wanted to know all of the things going on with everyone. I loved it when there was boy/girl drama. The more melodramatic, the better.

I was blessed with an extraordinary amount of energy (what I would give to get some of it back now). With that energy came the desire to do more and more. Funny thing about more and more: It creates more and more drama. A lot of it melodramatic.

Then, as what happens when life is going in the right direction, I got older. I got tired. I had a full-time job. Then I had 3 kids. Then I was building a business. There’s a lot of drama in building a business, let me promise you. There’s also a lot of drama when you’re raising 3 children. I don’t just mean the clean-up vomit from the ceiling kind of drama. I mean the, how do you negotiate with your partner on the best way to manage raising these children?

Your energy is a limited resource

I realized my energy was limited. In fact, so limited, that if I spent time on manufactured drama, I wouldn’t have the energy to deal with the drama that life is so good at manufacturing—all on its own.

My energy is encompassed in a thimble. If I’m lucky, and I get enough sleep, and take care of myself, that thimble gets filled up every day. But it also gets depleted throughout the day. If you only had a thimble of water, would you drink it every second? Or would you sip it slowly, to make it last?

I have 2 teenage daughters, and trust me, there’s a lot of drama in this house. Sometimes I get caught up in it. I also realize that if I get exhausted by every dramatic moment, I won’t have any energy left in my thimble to deal with my husband, friends, business, or my direct reports, or my clients, or myself. I won’t be able to exercise or plan meals that nourish my body in the healthiest way.

When you begin to think of your energy inside of one tiny thimble, you start to make smart choices on how to spend it. I’m not saying there isn’t a dramatic moment now and then. But pulling as much drama as possible out of situations is the better way to go. It’s the healthiest way to go.

That’s why psychologists tell you to stay away from emotional vampires. They suck all of the energy out of your thimble. You don’t get any to tend to you own needs.

Watch your thimble

I recently had to tell someone I’m close to something difficult. Everyone told me to pick up the phone and call. But I didn’t want to call. I knew speaking in person, and making a bigger deal of it, would make that situation more dramatic than it had to be. Some may say that I chickened out. But to me, the thimble was already low. I couldn’t risk depleting it even more.

Try thinking of your energy as a thimble. You’ll be surprised how your behavior changes at work, at home—and most importantly, with yourself.

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