Part Four Thoughts
Energy and Boundaries
At the beginning of Wayne Muller's chapter A Broken Heart he talked about his deep struggle with the amount of energy (or lack thereof) after being sick. It was his severe limitation that brought him into a deeper awareness of how much value is held within the energy we have to give to others. This chapter brought so much freedom to an area of my life that has been hard to articulate, until now. I too struggle greatly with energy output and energy exchange. So much so that if I have too many social obligations or engagements back to back...I almost always get sick. It has been like this for over 10 something years, but only recently have I started noticing and connecting the dots. For Wayne, his limitation came from an unfortunate illness. For me, it has taken some time to understand and even admit but I believe it is just how I am made. I am sensitive to life, constantly taking in, observing, and feeling at levels deeper than I even know how to articulate. So, looking at it from a bird's eye view, it makes sense why I am the way I am. It is hard to explain to close loved ones that want to spend time together, or business partners who need to meet, or other sweet mommas who want to have a play date or a friend that is hurting. The reality that I can really only commit to at most one thing a week is hard and often misunderstood. Most days I would mourn the feeling of not being able to “give” enough. The reality is whether you are highly sensitive to life, have limitations, or if you are blessed with the ability to give of yourself abundantly with little side effects, there will always be limits, there will always be a point where you have to lovingly choose how to take care of your precious energy so that you can show up best for others around you.
This is where boundaries come in to play. It took me a long time to learn how boundaries are not selfish, they are loving. I love that Wayne included his section about boundaries into section four of this book. Continuing the thought from above, I have had to facilitate hard (but good) conversations with people I love about what I need most to be the best me I can be, which involves a lot of time to myself. More than most, which is not easy for someone to understand who may not be created the same, but it is a boundary I have to honor in order to be the most loving version of myself and give good quality energy to the things and people who matter most. When I am honoring my boundaries and being aware of my energy output, I feel freer and at ease, I feel like I am giving “enough.” The moment I don’t….that all goes out of the window.
Healthy boundaries, no matter how you have been created, are needed for each one of us to cultivate the type of life that makes room for silence, that makes room for stillness, that makes room for listening. Often what we find in the center of our stillness, once we have quieted the world around us and fought past the discomfort of our own self reaching for “more” is, in fact, a moment of enough. We all of a sudden see life differently. We hear the sound of our children and are moved to tears out of gratitude. We feel the warmth of the fire, and know that on this day all that we have is enough. All that we have given is enough.
As Wayne teaches, it is hard to get to that point when we are functioning on the world's timeline though, that is why it is essential to create a life, to create boundaries so that each day you step outside of the timeline of the “every day” and step in to this life that waits for you. One full of beauty and joy.
“Have I loved well? Have I lived deeply and fully? Did I waste precious time distracted by too many unimportant things? Did I attend carefully to my loved ones, my work, my community? Have I left a legacy of kindness? Has my life in some way brought benefit to others?”
“Living and loving well require us to make difficult choices each day of our lives. The heart-opening unconditional love we seek requires our hearts best time and attention. Love, friendship, children, kindness, good and fruitful work- all these things need time, accompanied by our full, unhurried, undistracted attention. Because the sheer number of hours in a day is limited, we must choose where, when, and with whom we will share whatever brief time and attention we have.” pg. 152
“We cannot control what will happen to the seeds we sow, the words we speak, the actions we take. We can only be as honorable, truthful, and compassionate as we are able. The moment we try to control what does or does not happen, we are left in a lingering state of insufficiency, wondering what more we could, should, have done, to make it all turn out right. Once we fall into self-judgment and doubt, we work harder and harder to become more and more perfect – and we feel less and less satisfied we have done enough. Our work is on ourselves, to be clearly certain we have listened, seen, felt in ourselves what, at this moment, is required. Then, forces far greater than ourselves will have their way with whatever we plant, build, grow, or create. This, then, is our work. To do what we can and have mercy.” pg. 186
“I only surround myself with life-giving people.” pg. 198
Questions to think about?
When is the last time you ended your day and thought to yourself, today was enough? No anxiety, no stress, no worry of what didn’t get finished or what still needs to happen.
How often do you set aside time to be still?
What does your still time look like?
Are you easily swayed by the pull of this world to fill your every waking moment?
Where does the majority of your energy go right now?
Do you ever feel depleted of your own energy? Does it make you feel like nothing is ever enough?
What type of boundaries do you have in place?
What type of boundaries could you implement to protect yourself and your energy?
What is most at stake if you don't take the necessary steps to find stillness during the day, or set your boundaries?
If you have children, what type of legacy are you wanting to leave?
How do you want your children to remember you?
At this point in the book, what is “enough” to you? How is this applying to your life?