As my energy dropped to a low, so did my emotions. It was an all too familiar place and I resented being “back here”, again. That last word feeling like I’m kicking myself or life or both. With the tears more energy drained away.
In that moment it felt as though all hard won progress slipped away from me. “I give it everything I’ve got to take three steps forward and just as I feel like I’m getting traction I slide two steps back in two seconds flat.”
In that moment I felt powerless. I didn’t like that much, so, understandably, I focused on the problem to figure out how I could fix it. Tending to the problem seems like a good approach, but I have found that sometimes, especially when I’m at my worst, focusing on the problem doesn’t help and can even make things worse.
In my resistance to what is I amplified the problem. Like using a camera to zoom in on what you don’t want. What you focus on, expands. Zooming in too far makes the problem seem bigger. Zoom in far enough and you feel so wrapped up in the problem you have no more attention left to figure out a solution.
When all of my attention is absorbed by the problem,
I’m not available for the solution.
The solution becomes available when I zoom out. By zooming out I mean enlarging my perspective to see the bigger picture.
Think of it like watching the stocks go up and down. (Not my hobby either, but humor me a second) Sometimes there seems to be a significant drop and fearing it will drop further the more nervous investors will want to sell and get the flock out. Wise ones look at the big picture and they see that occasional small drops aside, the trend is actually moving upwards.
When I zoom in on the problem I feel overwhelmed by the seeming lack of progress. Dropping in energy without a good explanation (or even with one) feels like I am fighting a losing battle sometimes. In my frustration I’m mentally digging my heels in. I want to get out, but don’t have the luxury of selling my stocks.
“I’m giving it all I’ve got and I’m still feeling like this.” An understandable reaction, but not helpful.
Then I remembered to zoom out and change my perspective. Yes, I may be more tired than yesterday. And yes, I thought I was gaining momentum and it’s disappointing to drop in energy like this, but it is also true that I am doing much better than I did a month ago and better still than two months ago.
I’ve been through an intense burnout and it takes a while to come back from that. Two months ago I was having a meltdown several times a week and I suffered from anxiety. My calendar was filled with crossed out items, leaving me feeling lonely and disconnected.
A month ago I started to have fewer meltdowns. Anxiety became a thing of the past. I was able to connect more to other people. I could have coffee with a friend again, or craft things again.
These days I am doing better still. My mood is better and steadier. My meltdowns are few and far between and much less intense. I even went to the movies with a friend this week. I went out to dinner with friends for the first time in years before that. That is major progress!
There are so many variables at play that energy always goes up and down a little from day to day. That is natural. I had been taking score too often and failed to take this into account. Like measuring sea levels without considering the tides.
I was so focused on the intensity of the moment that I had forgotten about this. The overwhelming exhaustion triggered all too familiar feelings of powerlessness, transporting me back to how I felt months ago. That made it more overwhelming than the situation warranted. I forgot to include the improvements I have made or take into account that energy always ebbs and flows.
In other words: I lost perspective.
Zooming out helped me to see a much rosier and more accurate outlook. From that enhanced perspective I could see the bigger picture and was able to see the solution.
The solution was to refocus on what IS working.
Zoom in on what I CAN do.
Because not only does focusing on the problem make me blind to the solution, it also makes me blind to all the other things that ARE working in my life.
Focusing on what is working sparks gratitude which helps to be at ease with where I am, replacing resistance with acceptance. From that place of acceptance I no longer feel like a victim of circumstance and I am empowered to start moving in the direction I want. Gratitude and empowerment helped me change the tide.
I hope to expand on each of these in future posts. Today I just wanted to share how, by simply changing perspective, I could shift from an emotional meltdown to feeling calm and empowered.
Before, this meltdown would’ve thrown me. Now, I went from meltdown to empowerment in under an hour. Next time I feel my energy slip I may be able to say to myself: “I’m ebbing, that’s all.” Yet should I forget I’m sure I will find my way to a different perspective.
Now, I’d love to hear from you. Can you relate? Is there perhaps a situation right now that could improve by looking at the bigger picture? How do you help yourself to feel better? I hope you’ll consider leaving a comment below.