Is Your Reservoir Dry?
by Dr. Dale V. Atkins, April 2006
Look At Your Life
Ask yourself these questions: Are you on track? Are you running on empty? Do you feel overwhelmed? Are you spending too much time with people who deplete your personal resources--not to mention your patience? Is it hard for you to say no? If you can answer yes--even begrudgingly--to any of these questions, you may be at a point where itís impossible to give of yourself. This bottom- of-the-barrel feeling lets you know that your reservoir is dry.
You Canít Give Anything To Others If Your Supply Is Empty
I often use the metaphor of a reservoir to help people imagine their own reserves. Is your personal reservoir full to the brim? Half-full or dry? When you get dangerously close to empty, your capacity to give dries up. Always remember that you must have SOMETHING in your reservoir both for those unexpected emergencies when you need to pull yourself together to be there for yourself or others, and for everyday, successful living and coping. If youíre not meeting your own needs, there is no possible way for you to attend to others or give your own life projects the energy and attention they deserve. Your live your life too close to the edge.
Visualize a Full Reservoir
Right now, this minute, relax and, in your mindís eye, imagine a reservoir full of water. Then imagine it empty, but with hordes of people trying to get the water they need. Youíll see panic, fear, anger--and an empty reservoir. Consider what you need to do to refill it so you have what you need to stay full and giving. Then prepare a checklist of activities and attitudes that will help it remain full. When you sense that your reservoir is dropping to scary levels, refer to your list to keep yourself healthy.
You can also soak up these Sanity Savers to avoid dry spells:
1. Breathe - Notice what is happening when your body becomes depleted. Are your breaths shallow, short, restricted? Take deep breaths that are long- lasting. Take moments out of your day to breathe through lifeís challenges and bring calm back into your world.
2. Remove and Refill - Is there something that you can put aside or totally remove from your daily tasks to encourage your replenishing yourself?
3. Donít Keep Up With The Joneses Or Anyone, For That Matter - When you talk to people, are they comparing their busy life with yours? Is there a subtle jealousy regarding who is doing more or has more on his or her plate? Identify those with whom you feel competition and determine how much energy you want to give to that dance. Try sitting on the bench and observe rather than running the "I Want What You Have" race--which nobody ever wins, by the way.
4. Limit Your Time - Are you spending a lot of time with people who deplete your personal resources? If so, do something about it. Determine ways to limit or restructure the time you spend with them so that your experience is enhanced. It sometimes helps to bring along a neutral friend to relieve pressure.
5. Savor Your Time - What would it mean if you said no to people so you could gather your own wits about you and have more time to think or simply be still? When asked to do something that you really donít have the time for or interest in, think of this response: "Sounds great, but this is not the right time for me." Or, "Let me think about it and Iíll get back to you." Do as you say you will, and get back to them. But say what you mean.
6. Keep Your Own Needs High On The List - Always consider the pros and cons when you have to invest time and energy. Turn the ringer off of the phone and sit quietly, even if only for a few minutes. Drink a cup of aromatic herbal tea as you relive a wonderful visit to a park, a great family party, a summer vacation. Play with a pet, attend to houseplants or your garden. Do something that thrills you.
Your reservoir will only be full when you take time to fill it.
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