golden bubble

How to Protect Your Energy When the World is Falling Apart Around You

Hi!

Wow. Lots of emotions out there right now, huh? I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to manage all of these feelings without totally imploding and while keeping a sense of peace and calm around me. I figured out a few things that help me in the management of my own energy, and that’s what I’m sharing here today. Oh, and there are references to Hocus Pocus and Harry Potter, and I make laser noises at one point, so it’s a fun ride.

First, some background.

The Curse of the Ambiverted Empath

I work full-time in a restaurant, in a role that’s highly focused on first impressions and the guest experience.

Aside from the service of food and beverage, a “soft skill” of mine is the management of everyone else’s energy and expectations. From guests to colleagues, my job includes creating and amplifying positive experiences while simultaneously preventing and/or diffusing negative ones.

As an ambivert-y empathic-type, this can be simultaneously invigorating while also having the potential to be totally overwhelming. The energy of the room can fuel me (yay! Humans are beautiful and nuanced and complex!) just as much as it can overstimulate me (hello, I can feel all of your feelings and whoaaaaa that’s too many feelings).

A colleague suggested at one point that I find a way to manage my own energy so as not to let the energy of literally every other person throw me off my game.

I explained this to my own health coach (spoiler alert: she’s now a super bad ass shaman) at the time.

First of all, I have to acknowledge how much I appreciate her validation of my existence as a highly-sensitive human who genuinely cares about the well-being of her coworkers and the experience of her guests.

I am! I do!

Her approach wasn’t to change me by encouraging me to dull that shine or to close that openness.

I know that this open-heart of mine is one of my super powers.

She did too. So the question became, how do I channel that energy and keep a calm and open heart in the process?

She, magical shamanananan that she is, equipped me with my very own Golden Bubble.

Hocus Pocus

This, a sparkly beautiful ball of gold light I could wrap around me and protect me from the energy of everything around me. I could see energy and interact with energy, but I didn’t have to let it in my field.

So, I employed that Golden Bubble during every shift. I still do. It’s one of my favorite tools. I don’t even have to close my eyes (probably a good thing, being in a restaurant and all)!

I just imagine my magic sparkly fingers conjuring up a Golden Bubble big enough to protect my lil’ frame, and it follows me around. I can see and read your energy, but I don’t have to absorb it. I can deflect it!

Pew pew pew!

Pew! Pew!

But also, real life.

The Golden Bubble, as it turns out, is incredibly useful in every day life just as much as it is in restaurant life.

Sometimes (this week amirite?), The World seems to be going to absolute shit all around us. Some days are hard. Some weeks are excruciating. Our hearts are breaking. Our endurance is tested.

But! I am here to tell you that you — yes, you! — also have the power to tap into your own Golden Bubble. You have the power, nay, the responsibility!, to protect your energy as we go all Order of the Phoenix on this bish.

I’m not saying we ignore or numb the pain, or that we don’t take a stand or that we look the other way from injustice or oppression. Not at all. But in the spirit of “secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others,” we have each got to be in a place of our own stability as we prepare to take this on.

I, personally, find myself very easily derailed (spiritually, mentally, emotionally) when I let myself fall down the various rabbit holes of talking points and whatabouts.

But I find myself empowered, vocal, strong, resilient!, when I have a Golden Bubble in place, when I can ground my own energy in truth, love, compassion, and kindness.

So, beyond the really useful visual aid of existing in a beautiful gold ball of light (it’s nice here), here are 5 actual, tangible ways you can protect your energy when the world is going to literal shit.

1. Know what grounds you and do it daily.

For me, this is meditation.

Yoga helps. Amplifies it. A good strong workout helps. Journaling helps. Laying off the wine helps (ugh, I know, literal buzzkill).

But what I can come back to every single day in any moment ever, is a meditation practice. This connects me to my Self, the Consciousness, God, the Goddess, the Universe, whatever you want to call her. This connects me to the knowledge that there’s no reason why we can’t fight injustice, we can’t oppose oppression, we can’t call out bigotry, no reason in the whole Universe that we can’t do this and also do it with some fucking love, man.

2. Stay hydrated.

Seriously! When we’re dehydrated, we are tired, groggy, unfocused, and exhausted. Staying hydrated keeps our minds sharp, our bodies functioning, our digestion digesting, and our energy up. We’re gonna need it to smash the patriarchy. Hydration! For feminism! And human rights! And common decency!

3. Have a pressure-release plan.

What do you do when you can’t STAND it any longer? When you’re so angry or so frustrated or so exhausted? Is it cardio? Church? Whiskey (not recommended long-term, but I do understand the effectiveness of it).

Have an escape plan, one that allows you to get that energy OUT without amplifying it. Hike, run, crush some weights at the gym, call a friend or family member and vent or cry.

Find or create an outlet.

4. Know your limits. AND HONOR THEM.

Only then can you really start to push them.

For me, this is knowing when to walk away from an argument that’s going nowhere. When we’re not listening to each other anymore and everyone’s just arming themselves with the next talking point or “fact check” post, it’s over. Walk away.

Know when you’re not going to “win” (spoiler alert: there is no winning) an argument, and re-focus your energy. These conversations can go in circles forever. You will not change their mind. Say your piece, keep your peace, and let it go.

Put your energy elsewhere.

5. Put your energy somewhere.

Put it FORWARD. It is dizzying to waste your time in futile arguments, but it is productive to put that energy into doing something for the positive good, for the forward movement.

For some of us, that’s being very,very vocal.

Dropping knowledge bombs on the Twitterverse because you have the platform to do so and your perspective and experience and hot take on it all really does influence people and contribute to actual dialogue and/or calling out the bullshit.

For others, it’s money. Donations. Like, “I’m not sure what I can do alone, but here’s this organization that is strong and has momentum and here take my money!”

Pick your cause(s) and throw your money at them HARD (if you can).

For me? Right now. It’s being visible.

I’ve sat on the sidelines for a real long time, and I have watched the world around me argue and fight and have largely stayed out of it for fear of ruffling feathers.

:::ruffles feathers:::

As it turns out, I’d rather be uncomfortable and standing for something than uncomfortable and complicit.

“To remain neutral is to side with the oppressor.”

For me, it’s not about winning an argument or being able to Politifact-check the most talking points. It’s being in a position where I simply speak up.

For me, visibility is about clarifying my own thoughts and words and then saying those things out loud, proudly, even in (especially in) sight of people who will disagree. It’s about working really, really hard to do these things in love, compassion, kindness, and patience.

Wrap it up, D.

So, to recap: five actual, tangible ways to protect your energy as you bravely, confidently stand up for what you believe in (whether that’s human rights or food label transparency or whether or not a hot dog is a sandwich (no) or the dress is blue or gold (both) or it’s Laurel or Yanni (Yanni)):

    1. Know what grounds you and do it daily.
    2. Stay hydrated.
    3. Have a pressure release plan.
    4. Know your limits.
    5. Push those limits.

No, go forth and smash! I like to think of my Golden Bubble as a sort of Sonic the Hedgehog force.

What’s your Golden Bubble? What do you do to stay sane amid chaos?

I needed that workout to be terrible.

I didn’t realize it when I walked in, but I needed that workout to suck. I needed it to be absolutely terrible.

I needed moments that I hated, moments in which I was uncomfortable, moments where I wanted to quit.

I mean, I didn’t want that. I wasn’t thinking that when I walked in after my cute little morning routine of writing, meditating, and positive affirmations. A little nagging voice of self-doubt and big fears started to surface, and I wrote and wrote, and mediated a little, and positively affirmed my way through it, with little luck.

I walked to class reciting the same positive affirmations over and over, even if I didn’t quite believe them yet.

I walked in feeling okayyyyy. Not better, but not worse. The coach outlined the format of the upcoming workout. Ok, I thought. No biggie.

Until we got through the first segment and I wanted to die.

Until we rowed for the first time and I couldn’t feel my legs, and then we had to go up and do more running.

Until we finished running and then did squats and then did more rowing and then more running and more burpees (death to burpees) — and WAIT.

Oh my god, did I do a real, actual, not-on-my-knees push-up for the first time? and the second time? and the third? Am I doing push-ups?! OMG.

And then the rowing and the running and all of the things all over again and I hated all of it. None of it gave me that runners’ high, none of it made me feel like I was strong or capable. Not until the very end when I literally just thought, THANK GOD that is over. I’m over it. I’m done. I want to go home.

I needed that to suck.

I needed to straight. up. hate my workout today to remember that it is okay that things are hard sometimes. It’s okay for a challenge to lose its luster, for hard work to be hard work. It’s ok, because we can do hard things.

The workout was absolutely the hardest yet for me, since I started attending classes at Orange Theory back in January. From one circuit to the next, over and over, pushing limits.

Usually, even in the toughest tests of my physical endurance, I can find something to push to, something to hold on to, and something to keep me going. I can laugh even though I’m exhausted. I can remind myself that this will pass, that I’ll be done soon, that I’m building muscle, losing fat, strengthening my mental and physical endurance, getting better. I can push myself with confidence.

Today didn’t feel like that. Today was just straight up fucking hard, and I had a real hard time admitting that. I’m doing good things for myself and my health, I should be happy about that, right? And then the inner negotiations begin:

I am choosing to be here. I chose this. I’m here because I decided to do this.

But I don’t want to be. I want to be done. I want it to be over. I don’t like this. I don’t want to be doing this.

It was somewhere on the rower that at this point in my life, in this week, I realized I needed this to be hard. My morning was hard, there were fears and doubts and stress. I needed the workout to be hard. I needed to remind myself that it is okay to struggle, it’s okay to be uncomfortable, and it’s okay to get frustrated. Because even in the middle of all of it, I knew it would end eventually. And I knew I’d do it (even if it meant not feeling my legs for days after).

I needed the reminder that it is OKAY that things are hard sometimes, because we can do hard things. They won’t always be, they will pass, and I do have, within me, the ability to push through it. I have the endurance it takes, I have the resilience, and I have the perspective. I have the strength. It’s tough, it’s terrible in the moment sometimes, but it won’t feel that way forever. In fact, it won’t feel that way for much longer. I can get through it (so can you).

I came out of that class feeling the same way I do after a yoga class that decided to focus a lot of hip openers. Emotionally open. Emotionally wrecked. Feeeeeeeelingsy. I thought I might cry, but not really for any specific reason other than something had been unlocked inside me.

It’s okay to struggle, because hey, guess what? I did make it through that class. I did run when I thought I couldn’t any more. I kept rowing when I thought my legs were going to give out. I even did a few push-ups (real ones!) for the FIRST TIME probably ever in my whole life.

I didn’t need it to be terrible because I wanted to punish myself; I needed it to be terrible so I could remember that it’s okay that somethings are terrible.

Later that day, feeling at least a little encouraged, I — for some reason, I don’t know why — I pictured myself going though my day like a character in an 8-bit video game. I was walking along this linear course, dodging, jumping over, and zapping little bugs coming at me. It’s how I pictured handling the rest of my day. Some strategy and foresight would come in handy, but overall, it just came down to being decisive in the moment. And an inner monologue that comes with sound effects.

Pew, pew. Pew, pew, pew.

A little love for the OTF

*I joined Orange Theory Fitness here in Portland back in January. I can’t speak highly enough about how much I enjoy the community, the classes, the coaches, and the results I’ve seen since. I can’t speak strongly enough about how much my life, my health, my wellness, and my emotional stability of improved since I started (coupled with some one-on-one wellness coaching I’ve committed to as well). To avoid the Kool-Aid talk here, I’ll continue to reference this as my gym or my workout and leave the lingo back in the classes, but if anyone wants to talk to me about it or has questions or just wants to talk about it with me, I will always always always be excited to talk about OTF. (As a note, I’ve lost 15 pounds since January, that I attribute largely to my commitment to OTF as well as some significant dietary changes.)