I know of several people who are notorious for driving to the point of running out of gas. Just the other night one of these friends dropped by to visit. After leaving, they came back to ask if we had a gas can with any fuel in it; they had run out of gas once again. How often however in our own lives do we find ourselves running out of gas emotionally, spiritually, or physically? We work hard, running around without paying attention to the low fuel indicators our bodies are warning us of to the point that we find ourselves on empty.
I routinely coach people who have this habit of running themselves out of gas and I have to admit I used to function that way myself. I remember times growing up when I drove myself to the point of exhaustion, usually ending up sick and unable to function for days or even weeks. Years ago, I nearly ruined my health and had a host of unexplained medical issues all due to stress and exhaustion. Why do we keep doing this to ourselves? I routinely remind people that ‘working yourself to death’ is a real threat and I’m sure you’ve known others who have done precisely that – to the point of death itself. It’s a vicious cycle we put ourselves in with very serious consequences.
Taking care of yourself (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually) is not selfish; you cannot give to others what you don’t personally possess. When your tank is empty, you’re going nowhere fast. What’s worse is that when you recover, you often find yourself feeling guilty for having fallen down and leaving loved ones, family, friends, and co-workers to pick up the slack. Often, you end up back in the cycle working even harder to make up for the lost time only to drain the tank once again and the process repeats itself. Breaking this cycle isn’t easy once it’s ingrained in how you function, but it is a habit that must be broken.
Taking “me” time is a very loving and selfless act. It enables you to keep the tank full enough and ready to serve those around you. There will always be times when deadlines loom and you have to burn more fuel than you’re putting in, but stopping even in the midst of all that activity to keep the tank from going completely empty will enable you to sustain the pace long enough to fill back up later. When I find myself in a time crunch, I’ve learned that sticking to my habits of meditation, reflective reading, and a certain amount of downtime, is where I find reservoirs of creativity and additional energy. Sometimes it’s just enough to get me to my destination, but it ensures a safe arrival. And I’ve had to periodically use the reserve tank to get me across the finish line, but I’ve learned to use that tank sparingly.
If you’ve ever run out of gas on the road, you know the sense of panic that begins to set in as you watch the needle move closer to the point of empty. Several years ago on a road trip, that is precisely what happened to me and it seemed the more I watched the needle the faster it dropped. When we know our bodies are running low on fuel and the next fuel stop is nowhere in sight, we panic. Panic drains the little fuel we have faster as we burn precious energy worrying about reaching our destination. More times than not, it could have been prevented by simply remembering to get off the highway long enough to fuel up. But in our rush to arrive, we convince ourselves we’ll have enough to get there. And when we find ourselves by the side of the road on empty, we ultimately end up arriving late, the very thing we were hoping to avoid. The logic we used to arrive quickly falls apart and we end up missing the deadline because we’re stranded on the shoulder with no gas. It all sounds illogical in retrospect, but we do it time and again.
So if you find yourself routinely on an empty tank or pushing the envelope it’s time to break the cycle. Remember to keep enough fuel in the tank not only for those you serve, but more importantly for yourself. The few moments ‘wasted’ pulling off the road to gas up will likely ensure you not only arrive on time, but you’ll be more relaxed and ready to go again because you won’t be suffering from the anxiety and panic of pushing your limits. Having enough in your tank to sustain yourself is a great act of love, so remember to fill up on a regular basis.
I believe in the transformative power of human connection to elevate joy, restore balance, and support inner healing as you seek your highest purpose. My purpose in life is to be a guide, to share the wisdom of the Universe I’ve been gifted with, and to see others succeed. Nothing brings me greater joy than to see others step into their purpose in a vibrant and highly energetic way.
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