In my last post, I shared how to evaluate the “energizers” and “drainers” in your life and at work. You know, the activities, tasks, settings, and situations as well as the interactions and the people who either leave you better than you’d otherwise be — or feeling like a limp dishrag that’s been wrung out one too many times.
I think most of us can relate.
The question here is basically “Where, when, and with whom do you regularly experience energy replenishment versus energy leakage?”
It’s vital to pay attention to the answers here, particularly if you lead a busy life filled with responsibilities and obligations. It’s also valuable information if you want to be sure to have the energy, including social energy — when and where you need it and want it.
In this post, I go a step further and share a secret that has been one of my go-to energy conservation techniques for more than 20 years. When I’ve actually been strong enough to implement this secret, it has paid off handsomely. For example, it prevents me from engaging with and getting “sucked in” by people who have track records for hijacking conversations or being negative, arrogant, rude, needy, dramatic, self-absorbed, or gossipy. In addition, this secret has also helped me say a gracious but firm “no thank you” to all kinds of invitations and requests that I’m fairly sure will waste my energy, not to mention my time.
“Well, what IS this secret?” you may be pleading.
It’s the practice of setting and upholding Boundaries. And not just any boundaries, but Boundaries with a capital “B.”
Boundaries are what you use as protection when you want to avoid or minimize exposure to someone or something that consistently consumes you in a negative way. But in order to use Boundaries effectively, you first have to recognize when, where, and with whom the Boundary is needed. (Hence, my last post.)
As I write this, I can think of several people who I have nothing against personally and for whom I wish nothing but blessings. However, these folks have, on a number of occasions, left me thoroughly depleted. One person in particular has been popping into my life very regularly these days. She seems to be showing up everywhere. When this began happening a few months ago, I graciously asked God, “What exactly are you trying to teach me here?” I’m only exaggerating a little when I say I received a firm answer in a booming biblical voice. “Boundaries, Patti, Boundaries!!!!”
God does not kid around. And I have been obedient. My Boundaries are in place and solid as granite.
What happens when I get careless and let my Boundaries down? I find myself feeling less than energetic, creative, and ambitious. And I’m certainly not at my social best. That’s just not what I stand for. So can you see how important this whole Boundaries business is for me. And I bet it can be your solution to needless social exhaustion as well.
One more note: I want to emphasize that having and sticking to your Boundaries is not an excuse to be rude or mean. It’s perfectly okay to say a pleasant “Hello” or “Good morning” to someone on your Boundary List and then disengage or continue to walk on by. It’s also within the bounds of good etiquette to exit an unpleasant or draining conversation quickly using words such as “Please forgive me…” or “You’ll have to excuse me…” Above all, it’s totally fine to stay true and firm to the Boundaries you’ve erected. After all, you’ve put them up for a good reason.
At this point, I’m curious:
- Where in your life, career, social circle, or everyday routine could you use some firm, but gracious Boundaries?
- Who or what are your time- and energy-wasters?
- What time and energy could you get back and enjoy or put to better use as a result?
Related to this, if you find yourself struggling with people and conversations that regularly drain, bore, or rattle you or make your life or work unpleasant and tiring, I invite you to check out the last section of my new book More Than Just Talk. It’s called “Dealing with Drainers & Downers.” Within these useful and sometimes even humorous pages, I offer a practical range of strategies and tips that will help you avoid, manage, or exit interactions with the D&D’s in your life, wherever you encounter them. Come to think of it, the entire book is loaded with ideas for making your conversations better. This could automatically lift your spirits and give you the energy boosts you need to live a more enjoyable, successful, productive, healthy, and vibrant life. Who doesn’t want that?
You can find my books on Amazon and through other online book retailers or at BookPeople in Austin. Why not grab a copy for yourself and a few for friends and family? Gift-giving season is right around the corner.