13 – Managing your mental energy

Tune into Episode 13 – Managing your mental energy right here in your browser, find it on your favourite platform (head here for the links) or keep reading for a transcript.

Hi, hello and welcome to this episode of The Rules Are Made Up. 

Before I get going, I do want to give you a brief warning that I’m using the F word in particular a lot in this episode and you’ll see why, or you’ll hear why, but I wanted to give you a warning in case you do have sensitive ears around whether they’re little people or just other adults, so if you’ve got headphones available, I would plug them in or connect them up and then keep listening so you don’t get some weird looks or people picking up words that they may be a bit too young to actually pick up 😊  

Anyway, what I want to talk about today is sort of related to this whole concept of boundaries, but also not really. 

And when I say it’s sort of is and sort of isn’t, what I mean, is that boundaries are a two-way street right. 

There’s boundaries, a lot of the time we set boundaries because it’s a way to tell someone else how we want to interact with them, or where we draw a line. 

Right, that could be in relationships in particular, like me as a coach with my clients, right? I might say, “hey, I’m going to respond to your messages within 24 hours”, right? 

So I’m not going to go and check it right away, I’m not going to be immediately responding. That is a form of a boundary.  

Or not working, saying that, if you don’t check your work emails over the weekend and saying you’re not contactable or you only check them twice a day or something like that, that’s a way of enforcing boundaries with other pieces – other pieces? Other people because it helps you set expectations on what the interaction, what that relationship is like and it gives it a bit of a framework there, right? 

What I’m not going to talk about is how to do a lot of that in this episode it might be a topic, a good topic, probably for another episode. 

But what I want to talk about because it’s come up in a bunch of conversations and in my own life (it kind of feels like it comes up at least once a month), is boundaries as they relate to how we can enforce them with ourselves, right? 

Because often who makes you find once you figure out what they are it’s easier to actually tell someone else than it is for you to enforce it with yourself, right? You are more likely a lot of the time to give in or to actually not respect the boundary that you set in the first place.  

A concept that I’ve used with clients and I use for myself is instead of kind of giving it this whole boundary language, ’cause I like to swear, I use the term fucks right and it’s about how many fucks I have to give every day, every week. 

And it isn’t like this formal way of sitting down each morning going right – “Who am I going to give a factor today?” it kinda is a bit less tangible than that, although you’re welcome to actually do that. 

But it is really more about you having a bit of a think and becoming a bit more intentional with who and what you’re giving airtime in your mind.  

So this could be thinking about what you’ve got on in a particular day, like do you have heaps of work meetings, who are you interacting with? Is that dick from some other department going to be there? 

Right are you going to be at home or are you going to be in the office? There’s going to, like how you approach those situations, you can be a little bit more mindful and intentional about how you do that by thinking about how many fucks you want to give to that meeting. How many fucks do you want to give to that person? How much other stuff do you have happening in that day and is giving all your fucks to that one meeting actually just going to drain you so much that you you’re not going to be able to do much for the rest of the day, right? 

It’s almost in this context, fucks are like a measure of mental energy and you can figure out how many you have available any particular day and then how you want to distribute them across the day and across the people and the situations you might interact with. 

Right, like another example could be that you’ve decided you know you have this big thing at work and you’re going to the gym after work and then you’re meeting up with someone for dinner and you’re driving into work so most of your fucks are going to go to work, to that person and to go into the gym and then this fucking arsehole cuts you off on your morning commute and instead of completely going bonkers and thinking this is the worst thing that’s happening to you, if you’ve already decided you know what actually – work, my friend and my workout are going to get most of my fucks today, I don’t really give that much of a shit If someone cuts me off, does it suck? 

Yes, will I probably honk at them or swear at them? Sure, but I’m not going to let that influence me for the rest of the day, I’m just going to get on with my day if or when that happens (it’s probably usually a when, not an if, right? Some people just shouldn’t be driving… anyway, I could go on a whole rant about driving, but we won’t) 

But do you see where I’m heading with this? It’s, you’re being a little bit more deliberate with your mental energy so that you can be a bit more proactive with how you spend it and who you spend it on, as opposed to just living in that kind of reactive mode all the time. 

Now if you’re someone who suffers from a chronic illness, this concept might sound a bit familiar, and that’s because it is. There’s this theory called Spoon Theory, which was developed by Christine Miserendino (I hope I pronounced that correctly), I’m going to put links to our website in the show notes. 

But what Spoon Theory is, is basically a way to explain how draining living with a chronic illness can be, especially if you’re the person that’s suffering and your friend at the same table has no fucking clue. 

Spoon theory is a very, was developed to be able to explain it to people who don’t, for them to better understand, and so in the context that spoon theory was developed, spoons like think, teaspoons tablespoons any kind of spoon really equate to activities right like showering, getting dressed, making food – daily kind of, your day-to-day stuff. 

And the reason it’s spoons is ’cause the way it happened is Christine and her friend were sitting at a table and basically Christine just grabbed spoons to try and explain that you know for a normal person, for example having a shower in the morning is 1 spoon. It doesn’t take a lot of mental or physical energy, it’s just something that happens right. For someone who might have a kind of a chronic illness, showering takes 4 spoons because of just how draining and how exhausting it can be because of the condition that they’re living with. 

And so that way it’s easy to understand that you know for some people, something you know you don’t really think about what something takes, whereas for other people they have to be a little bit more proactive and intentional with how they spend their energy, and that’s why I really like this concept. I mean I don’t like it in the sense that you know it had to be developed for a reason and that reason sucks, but it is a very helpful concept to use when you think about your day and what you give a fuck about like what you give a shit about and what you don’t. 

Because a lot of us and I’m gonna I’m the first to put my hand up. Because definitely resonate with the term people pleaser still, I’m someone who cares a lot about what other people think. Like even putting this episode out, I’m like half the time, whenever – you know what not just this episode, whenever I record a podcast to be honest, half the time I’m sitting here going “Oh shit I shouldn’t have said that, I made an awkward pause there, oh my God, no one is going to listen to it, this is sounding horrible, I better just start again.” 

And it’s taken me practice to go “you know what? It doesn’t fucking matter. I want to get this episode out. That’s the thing that is the thing I give a fuck about, is that this episode is live. I don’t actually care if it’s imperfect. 

And as much as there is a part of me that wants it to be helpful to other people, I actually don’t care or I care less what you think of it and what you think of the awkward pauses. 

If me talking about concept or tool or anything really, means that it’s helped you, that that’s the shit, right? That’s part of why I do this, that’s why I’m coaching, that’s why I’m studying, that’s why I’m doing all of this – it’s to help you live your life a little bit differently and more compassionately and to be less of a dick to yourself, right? It’s my new little tag phrase. 

So in a way, I think where I was going with this is that in a way I do care what you think about the episodes in this sense, but I want it to be helpful to you, and I want to know when they’re not. 

But at the same time, I can’t sit here in spend my day giving all my fucks to figuring out if you’re going to like a particular episode or if you’re going to send me feedback about it, or if you think I’m a shit coach, or if you think I’m a good coach or whatever, that will drain all my mental energy and I can’t give my fox to anything else when actually after recording this podcast and sorting it out and publishing it and you know doing more things I have to do to get it live, I’ve got time scheduled to work on my any assignment right? So I have to switch from giving a fuck about my podcast to giving a fuck about my uni course so I can pass it. 

And then in between I’ve got to play a little bit with the puppy and feed him, and you know, feed myself probably I haven’t eaten yet today. 

And so do you see, does this sort of maybe help a little bit to understand the entire concept, because you can’t… I guess what I’m trying to say is you don’t have an infinite amount of fucks that you can give to people and situations so you need to be more mindful with who and what you give them to.  

To round out this episode, I know that you know, just telling you to give less fucks or to be more mindful isn’t actually that helpful. 

Right, and I think I said it earlier ’cause I’m looking at my notes that this is a practice, by the way. 

So first of all, you’re not going to be amazing the first time you try this – this is a skill. And like with a lot of skills, this is something you can practice and improve and get better at over time, and it probably also isn’t something that you’ll ever master in the sense that you’re done, like you don’t have to keep working away at it, but it is something that you get better with overtime number one. 

Number two is that I know I jokingly said that this isn’t a formal thing where you sit down each morning to figure out who and what you want to give a fuck on, but if that is actually helpful for you to do that while you drink your morning coffee – please go ahead. 

It may not work for you too though,this is a way of figuring out what works for you, right and how you want to approach this, but the key thing is for you to give it some deliberate airtime in your mind to figure out what do you have on that day, who are you going into acting with? 

Are they going to, you know, are those people or situations going to drain your mental energy? Like my uni study I mentioned is probably going to drain my energy ’cause I have to write a research report. Not something I’ve done before, so this is going to take a bit more energy, right? 

Whereas feeding myself, probably not that much mental energy because I do it every day and it’s you know it’s a fairly automatic process, so it’s just about having a bit more of a deliberate think about who you’re interacting with, what you’re doing, what you’ve got on, and if it helps you to write those things down or to, you know, look at an actual calendar to see what your meetings are or anything like that then do that if that helps you. 

You don’t have to either though, like if you’re someone who’s like calendar, what’s that?  

Just spending a minute in the morning while you’re sipping your coffee going “you know what I’m gonna, I’ve got this, I’m meeting this friend today and while I love her, she’s a bit mmh, you know, sometimes her conversations can be a bit shit then just become aware of that and go “You know what, I’m just gonna, if she goes off on a tangent again, I’m just going to sit and listen and nod. I’m not going to try and argue, right? It’s those kinds of, it’s this kind of thinking that I want you, I want to encourage you to practice a bit more, to just figure out like these are the kind of people that I’m going to I end up in arguments every single time, so actually you know what, I’m just gonna sit and listen or actually you know what I’m actually going to have a shitty hard conversation and tell them how I feel. 

It’s those kinds of, just figuring out how many fucks they’ve consumed in the past and how many more you’re willing to give from now on, ultimately, that’s what I want you to have a think about. 

That’s all I’ve got for you today, so to recap: 

Next time, after you’ve listened this the next day, or even immediately afterwards:  

Have a think about who and what you’re currently giving your folks too, and whether or not you want to redistribute some of those, and how, and what that looks like. 

And if you’re feeling extra geeky, please go and check the show notes and check out the link that I included for a spoon theory, ’cause I think it’s a really fascinating concept  

Other than that, I hope you’re having a fantastic day and a fantastic week whenever you’re listening to this and I’ll chat to you soon. 

Links for you:
More on Spoon Theory
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