Welcome to another episode of Ascend and Transcend. I'm your coach, Elizabeth Pearson, and today we are gonna be exploring drains and fills, and I mean those as they apply to your energy level. Where are you right now? Are you totally dry? Is that tank of love and joy running on fumes—and has it been for a while? Where do you feel relatively full?
Today we're gonna explore what your current level is and how to bring it up if it's a little bit too low.
I've got a question for all the listeners: Are you driving around listening to this podcast, frantically checking things off your to-do list? Maybe you're going to Costco or Target or getting the oil changed in your car. Maybe you're listening to this while you're walking a dog or pushing a child—something that you're kind of writing chalking up as me time, even though it really isn't because you're still desperately trying to be productive. Well, I've got news for you.
Even if you're wearing yesterday's stinky yoga pants, have oily roots, are surviving on coffee and wine, and always feeling like you're playing catch-up that doesn't mean that you have to put off your spiritual growth or bail on your dreams or take a backseat to your career or solely survive to feed your family and serve your family. I don't know about you, but I've been contemplating lately when did shit get so outta hand that so many people lost focus on what they wanted—what you wanted?
Maybe it's ever since you became a mom or started a business, got a promotion you thought you wanted, married a workaholic, or let your close relationships with your ride or die girlfriend's fizzle. But making yourself a priority is hard and may even feel downright selfish sometimes. (And if you're a mom, that's a whole nother basket of crazy hot mess.)
And that gives us this unlimited pile of excuses as to why we can't do something or shouldn't do something. Because we need to wait until: until our kids are out of diapers, until they're out of high school, off to college, or out of our basement, until our partner isn't so busy at work that they can help more and be more supportive to us like the partner they vowed to be. Maybe it's until we've shown our boss that we throw ourselves or our kid into traffic, solely to prove our worth.
But the thing is, in all of us, there still lives that little voice whispering—actually loudly begging us—to tune back into ourselves and find our true purpose. We know this voice exists because every once in a while we hear the whisper, and we begin to hunt for a scrap of spiritual guidance through self-help books, blogs, master classes, retreats, and Oprah reruns.
Instead of ignoring it yet again, it's time to give that voice the same amount of attention that you give your screaming, tantrum-loving (sometimes asshole) children, employees, boss, or better half.
If you're not familiar with me I am kind of a spiritual junkie. I've spent the last nine years devouring every type of spiritual quest, manifest-a-better-life-right-now book that Amazon has ever published. I've attended lots of retreats. I love me some Miraval. I've gone there, I think, seven times. I meditate. I've traveled all around the world, and I've really literally manifested every single thing in my life. The good and the bad.
And the one thing that I found to be true is that our real purpose goes well beyond wiping asses and putting out fires. It's all about fulfilling our unique greatness and purpose. And we can't do that with an empty tank. We can't do that with no energy. We can't do that when we're surviving on fumes. And I know what you're thinking. “Well, I'm not like you.” Me? I was one of those lucky bitches who's been blessed to be able to go to Miraval a few times a year, and I've been able to embark on life-altering transformations and spiritual awakenings that came from those retreats. But for most moms, I get it. That shit isn't happening. We've got mouths to feed, businesses to run, relationships to keep intact, and the never ending pile of laundry.
We need to be okay when we mess that stuff up, though. When we decide to choose ourselves over all of those other obligations and realize that me-time is what we're sorely missing in overpacked technology, connection-obsessed, competitive world. That is the only thing that's gonna bring us this true unshakeable happiness. And though we're busy, it's critical to hone in on our purpose beyond being everything to everyone else, doing everything for everyone else, and taking and taking pride in being martyrs by sacrificing ourselves for our careers, friends, and families.
I don’t know about you. I was a martyr for a lot of years, and I never got a trophy. I never got acknowledged for it. Most of the time, people just took and took and took, and then that was what became expected of me. But I can tell you, that bullshit is for the birds. Don't do that, ladies.
It's time to reclaim your spirit, the one that has been suffocated by responsibility and really kind of embrace the mess of our life: the puke in the kids' beds at night, the sleepless nights, the endless to-do list. That mess is what creates the good stuff. And we have to learn how to make the most of it and transform it into energy to fill our cups.
We don't have to lose ourselves in the chaos of motherhood, and being a partner, and being an overly dedicated employee or leader. We have purpose beyond keeping little humans alive and checking off our to-do list. It's time to wake up, reconnect with who you're meant to be, and do what makes you happy. You can still be a good mom, wife, or boss AND focus on you at the same time.
One way that you can look and see “how much am I sacrificing of myself for all of these other things” is to make a list.
I like to actually draw out one of those old-timey water tanks that you used to see in towns. Where I live I don't see those anymore, but I saw them a lot in the Midwest, and I always thought they were pretty. They always had the town name painted on them. Where I used to live in Elmhurst, they had Elmhurst written real big on it. And I would always look at that water tank, and I would think, “God, I wonder how much is in there.” And I kind of loved that it was there just in case of emergency. What were we gonna do? We were gonna run out of water and then we were gonna use this? Maybe there was going to be some big fire someday? I don't know. I don't know what the fuck it was there for, but oddly, it was kind of comforting to see it there.
I want you to visualize your energy as one of these large tanks. Get a piece of paper, maybe draw a little tank on it, and then see: Where are the leaks? Where are the energy drains? Some might be a little pinhole drains, and some might be actual gushers or faucets: a hole has been blown through this thing and it's losing water by the second. Write out specifically, almost maybe in order of how big the drain is, what those are.
An example of a gusher drain would be a sick family member. Maybe somebody is really struggling with chronic illness, maybe your whole family has fucking COVID and you're in lockdown, something like that. That is a pretty huge drain. That is something that is there and there's not necessarily anything that you can do right now to stop it.
There's also little pinhole drains, which is like, “Oh, I've got a trunk full of Target returns I need to make, and it bugs me that it's still there and it's this little to-do.”
And then there's all sorts of things in the middle, right? Medium-sized drains. These could be projects at work that maybe are leading to a little bit of burnout for you. Maybe your boss has really high expectations for you, but hasn't provided the resources that you need to actually get the project done within the budget and deliver it on the deadline that's expected.
List out all of these things. These are all drains. Another drain would be hating your body: if you feel like you've gained weight or you don't look the way you did before, or whatever it may be. I mean, God, women can talk about how much they hate the way they look for days. Write all of those down. Those are all energy drains. Those are all mental bandwidth that's going towards something that you can't necessarily control in this minute. (We're gonna talk about actually identifying which ones you can control towards the end.)
The next thing to do is make a list of all of your fills. So imagine a fireman's hose going in on the top of this water tank. What is filling that tank with energy and love? Maybe it's your walks, maybe it's Peloton. I mean, people are loving loving on Peloton. Maybe that 20 minute ride is a huge fill for you. How much is going in? A lot, or is it trickling in? Maybe you've had a terrible day with one of your kids and then they give you an unbelievable smile.
My sweet daughter, Vivian, she gives me these wonderful snuggles at the end of the day. Once I get her wrestled into her bed at night and convince her that it's time to sleep, she always asks me to snuggle a little bit. And even though I'm exhausted and all I wanna do is go downstairs and eat dinner and talk with my husband, I, 99% of the time, lay there with Vivian, and I just snuggle with her. And I swear to God, I listen to her ramble. This six year old talking about her day absolutely fills my tank all the way to the tippy top some nights. And some nights I'm exhausted and I just shut the door and I say, “I'll see you in the morning. You can tell me then,” because maybe the fill would be sitting on the couch with Ryan, eating a bar of chocolate. That would actually be a better fill for that night. But regardless, there are different levels of fills.
But the goal of this exercise is to look at all of those drains. What are those things that are just draining your tank? And if you don’t find that your fills are offsetting, at minimum, the amount of drains that are happening, then we've got a big problem. Because at the end of the day, you're gonna be empty. If your fills can't keep up with your drains, you're gonna be empty.
Then you need to go back and evaluate: Are any of these drains ones that I can plug up? Maybe the body shame. That's one we could let go of. And you can do that in all sorts of ways. I think affirmations are very powerful. I think exploring EFT tapping. (You can Google it.) There's a wonderful app called Tapping Solutions that has all sorts of ways that you can kind of rewire your subconscious brain. A lot of that is around shame and self-doubt, imposter syndrome, fear, anxiety. There is a tapping playlist for any one of your ailments.
I also think it's really good to let go of mom guilt. At the end of the day, you're doing amazing. And if you're listening to a podcast about self-care and self-development, I find it almost impossible that you're a shitty parent. Because if you're researching and trying to better your life, then you're also trying to better your family and your children's lives. So let's just let that go. Maybe even ask your kids, “How am I doing?” Chances are they're gonna say, “You're doing fucking amazing.” So we can just let go of all of that parental guilt.
I think another thing that we can let go of, which is typically a drain, is super high expectations that our employers might have of us—or in my case, my clients. Maybe they have super high expectations of you, and you feel like it's somewhat unjust. Maybe they're not paying you to have that level of involvement or to produce what they want you to produce. I think that's a conversation that you can have with them. You can reevaluate what your responsibilities are. You can ask for more resources, but that really should be a drain that you focus on plugging up.
And then some of the other drains… If you're sick, somebody in your family's sick, maybe you have an ailing parent, maybe you just suffered a loss: Those are drains that will probably heal over time, but in the moment, there's nothing that you can do to plug those, so then you need to shift your focus towards ramping up your fills.
At the end of the day, if you do this exercise and you really kind of look at where your fill line is—I think it's great to actually draw a physical line on your little illustrative tank that you wrote—have that up as a reminder. Tape it to your desk. Put it on your mirror in your bathroom when you get ready in the morning.
I think it's really fun to add in when you get a new fill. I get new fills all the time. When I read amazing books, or when somebody says something to me that maybe they didn't think would resonate with me, and I hear it and I'm like, “Ugh, that's an angel sign,” or “Ugh, that's a message from the universe,” or something like that. For them, it was just an off the cuff comment that they made, but for me, it really put me into alignment with my soul and made me feel really supported by something on the non-physical plane. Those are all fills.
I think if you can shift your focus towards filling the tank, at the end of the day, you can handle a lot of drains. You'll be able to still stay afloat.
That's my message for this week, just me and you talking. This is something that I do with clients, and I think it can be really helpful to sit down and really create a visual of what it is you're doing and what that's costing you. What is it costing us to be martyrs? What is it costing us to live to serve others?
It's costing us everything. It's costing us this magical experience that I think, when we were in the other plane, we begged to come down here and do. I think we wanted to be in these bodies and we wanted to experience all of this. And when we're distracted and when we're living for somebody else and somebody else's priorities, we miss all of those beautiful experiences.
Thanks so much for spending a little bit of time with me. Hopefully if you're frantically running errands or pushing a child, you can complete that task, and then carve out an additional 15 or 20 minutes to meditate or tap or walk or stand barefoot in the grass and have that count as your self-care and your me-time this week.