Sometimes we feel without energy. We do not want to talk to anyone, we do not want to hear anything, and we do not desire to watch or read anything. The general feeling is that we have become a shell. No one is inside. As if we had posted a sign: “Out on vacation.” Who cannot recall coming out of bed after a good illness and feeling she had no strength to deal with anything, leave her alone. Usually, the lack of energy comes after dealing with difficult issues or diseases. But recently, I feel that way at the close of every day. Not to mention how fast the days fly!
It’s not as if I worked for hours, or built buildings or engaged in tiring physical work. There is no justification for this lack of time and energy and me looking for some quiet. I concluded that there are “time and energy wasters” who sneak on us without our being aware of them. The things that create stress are not genuinely related to my interests. It depends on what’s happening around me. The biggest energy eaters are devastating and sad events that produce pressure — for instance, the news about an entire family that was killed in a car crash. I bear no connection to the family, and I do not know anyone who knows her either. But, right away, a sense of distress rises, overwhelms me and settles in the depths of my consciousness.
Other issues that disrupt our lives and require us to relate to and “sips” our energy and time are mishaps and errands. If your computer doe doesn’t turn on, or the printer not printing, you should go looking for the appropriate technician. Then you have to explain the problem, carry the machine, find parking. All of this causes stress, which drains our energy much more than the physical power carrying of the computer. The same goes for the so-called “errands.” For instance, when you need to speak to a communications company representative to improve your Internet reception. The waiting time that you listen to an annoying recording or music that repeats itself creates the feeling that you don’t matter! As soon as you become a subscriber, a resident of a city, a resident of a country (choose for yourself, Darling) you are no longer counted and your time is no longer appreciated. This feeling and the need to be attentive to perform the “task” consumes a lot of energy.
There are also people who steal our energy. You only said howdy to a neighbor, and he immediately asks about the water pressure. And even before you had a chance to answer, he goes on to tell you about his son, who found an excellent water engineer. He works in Hi-Tech and has three kids. His wife is a lawyer, so she sent a letter, and the engineer came and advised. The plumber, which is the best in the world, came and repaired and now it is possible to wash all the children in the bath, and it does not take hours and the water are not spilling around. This whole account is narrated in one breath, and you become a captive audience – nodding in the right place and expressing feelings: admiration, sharing sorrow, etc., and feeling how your time and energy flow away.
Coaches tell about the philosophy professor who came one day to the classroom and placed an empty jar in front of his students. He filled the jar with large stones and asked his students if the jar was full. The students responded that the jar was full. He added some small stones to the jar and shook it, to mix within the spaces of the large stones. Again, he asked his students if the jar was now full. The students replied, again, positively. The lecturer poured into the jar sand which filled the cracks. Once again, he asked his students if the jar was full. This time one student responded that he thinks that the jar is full, but from previous experience, it probably is not. And indeed, the lecturer poured some water into the jar.
The lecturer explained to his students that the jar represents a person’s lifetime. The large stones represent the important projects or events in our lives, such as the family we have and the time we spend with it, our health and our social relations. If we take out the little stones, the sand, and the water, we will still have a very satisfying life. The small stones represent somewhat less relevant things in our lives that we can survive without, nevertheless they are still important evant as our work, our home, hobbies and subjects that are of interest to us. These things shift and are not essential for our well being. Sand and water represent small things that waste time, such as watching television or using other technologies.
Then, the professor asked his students what did they take from the “experiment?” They replied that it seems that they have much more time than they believed. The professor responded that this was not the outcome of the experiment. The experiment showed us that if we didn’t put the large stones in the jar first, we would not be able to put them in at all. In other words, we must first identify the things that are vital and important to us and attend to them as they might be overlooked by our engagement with the sand and the water of our life.
The people that I see as energy-eaters are sometimes our close friends and family. We feel that it is inappropriate to tell them that we are busy with “the large stones.” For instance, people who love drama, therefore, are attached to the news day and night and have to make sure that I too hear the latest news; Out of concern for me, of course. The people who “like” to help, pushing their nose into things that are none of their business, and you are busy pushing their good intentions away. In the end, they are insulted and complain later that they have been taken advantage of and everyone is ungrateful to them. And there are those who “like” to suffer, but only when others know about it. They do not sit alone in the dark, (as the Polish Moms do, Darling) but bother to complain and tell about their difficult situation, in their opinion. For instance, a good friend who wails for hours and days about a father/ husband/ son who doesn’t handle their lives according to her criteria. And so, I feel compelled to help, advise, try to share my knowledge and even offer help. But she does not listen at all. She just wanted to make me feel guilty as I have no troubles, and by the way, receive some empathy.
The trick for preserving energy and time lies in the tiny word “NO!” The word which is so hated by both, children and adults alike, as no one likes to get a negative answer. When we ask a question, we usually desire a positive reply. Of course! Otherwise, we would not ask. For example, can I eat some ice cream? We want to eat ice cream, and a negative answer is not what we want to hear. But the NO word is vital for our mental health, for using our limited time and energy. It is appropriate to say, “not now” and disregard the text that just came in. Not now, I’ll get back to you! Setting the boundaries between unavailability and getting lost in the sand and water is the key!
The last word: “If I am not for myself, who am I? And when I am for myself, what am I? And if not now, when? “Tractate Avot, 1, 13 – When I’m unengaged!