“Energy” seems to be a catch-all term for all sorts of things.
These days, you’ll probably think of fuel first – prices of oil and gas have been skyrocketing and are a hot topic. There’s also the much harder to define personal energy. People may say they lack energy to work out or do what they love. Overall, this second type of energy seems mostly physical and is related to tiredness and sleep cycles as well.
A third kind of energy comes from us and the people around us. This energy can either drain us – when we’re around people who are unsupportive or toxic, or even just on a different wavelength – or nourish us. When we’re in the presence of a good friend, we instantly relax and feel well. In contrast, some people’s energy sets our teeth on edge as soon as they enter a room.
It’s this third type of energy I’m writing about today. It comes in different shapes and forms, and in order for us to thrive, we need 3 types of energy on a regular basis.
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Nourish your soul
Before I detail the types of energy though, I’d like to talk about the beautiful-sounding concept of nourishing your soul. It’s a frequently used term but also a kind of catch-all, which makes it hard to grasp and define. Allow me to try.
Physical nourishment is easy to define. Mostly people talk about food when they’re talking about physical nourishment. Exercise does fall into this category as well. Of course, our bodies, souls, minds, and spirits aren’t really separate but all part of, well, us, and so nourishing your body will also nourish your soul to an extent.
However, it’s worth keeping in mind that it works both ways. When the soul is nourished, the body benefits too (just as afflictions of the psyche can at times manifest in physical illness).
Nourishment for the soul is anything that makes you feel good, cosy, safe, understood, seen, heard, cared for, and comfortable. Looking at this list, you probably realise that there’s more than one way of soul nourishing, and that you probably need different kinds in order to cover all your needs. I’ve identified three of them.
3 types of soul-nourishing energy
Why 3 different kinds, though? Why do I insist on these different types of energy so much? You’d be forgiven for thinking that any kind of soul nourishment is good, but there’s a danger in that.
Our society feeds us many narratives, and some of them are highly toxic. One example is the belief that all we need for our happiness is the love of one romantic partner. It has given rise to narcissistic abuse going unchecked (because people find it romantic when someone wants their partner all to themselves, isolating them) and all sorts of unhealthy patterns developing.
So, no, having the nourishment of one other person doesn’t cut it. Neither does being on your own all the time and only relying on your solo energy. Are we clear on that? Good. Because I honestly can’t emphasise it enough.
Nourish your soul #1: Solo energy
No, not Han Solo – I’m talking about your own, undiluted energy. This is the energy you feel when you’re on your own, either at home or out in nature.
Why is “undiluted” so important? It’s important because there are things in your life which require your authentic self. Much as another’s input can be valuable at times, this same input is misplaced when it comes to things like:
- The ability to tune into your intuition
- Creative work
- Pursuing passions (at least, some of them)
Nourish your soul #2: Group energy
If you’re an introvert or a highly sensitive extrovert (such as myself), you’ll probably wince now. Hear me out. A group setting doesn’t have to be a mass event or a class with 200 participants. It can be an evening with three or four good friends or a small crafting group.
It will probably still require you to recharge afterwards, but the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. Humans are, as we’re fond of saying, social animals. There’s something about the merged energy of a group that can be incredibly nourishing.
Synergy means that the combined energy of the group is more than its individual parts added up. There’s something new that happens only when a group comes together. This could take the form of inspiration, new ideas, or simply learning from each other. It’s an energy that takes you out of your own head, and that’s incredibly healthy.
The important part is that you pick two things well: the kind of group and the amount of exposure. Look after your needs and don’t overdo it, and when you’re with your group of choice, gently lean into the energy.
Nourish your soul #3: 1-on-1 energy
Group synergy is incredible for generating new ideas and inspiration and taking you out of yourself. In contrast, being with one other person can deepen your understanding of yourself and get your further than you’d ever manage to go on your own.
The other person could be a close friend or a partner, a teammate or indeed a coach. The important part is that you trust this person. If you do, then their energy can touch yours in ways that no group setting could ever accomplish.
When I work with my coach, I feel doors opening that I never would have even found on my own. The same happens when I work with my clients. There is a depth in 1-on-1 settings that is quite unmatched by anything else.
Sadly, this has led to a culture where 1-on-1 is valued over almost everything else, and as I mentioned above, this can be highly toxic. Be certain to vary the types of human energy in your life, and make sure you get enough of all three kinds to create a balanced life and a great basis for happiness, pursuing your passion, and any goals you’ve set yourself.
I often challenge people to tally up the hours they spend on work, sleep, family, social media, and of course their passions each week. It can be quite an eye-opener.
However, it’s really a little more complicated than that. Time spent doesn’t mean you’re engaged with what you’re doing, as every daydreaming child in school could tell you. In fact, where you spend your attention and therefore your energy, is what truly matters.
Your mission today is to make sure your energy is in the places that are best for you.
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Task 1: Where’s your attention?
I already mentioned the daydreaming student, but it’s really not just children. How many of us have sat in a meeting, miles away and doodling whilst pretending to listen?
Further examples of this may be:
- You’re at work, but on social media or planning the shopping for your dinner.
- Perhaps you’re pursuing your passion but your thoughts are with a relationship problem.
- You’re in love and whatever it is you do, you only think of the one you’re in love with.
None of these examples are meant to be “negative”, by the way, they’re complely normal. Simply notice how often your attention is not with what you’re doing.
Task 2: From time and attention to priority
The first task served to show that you’re already spending your attention not necessarily on what you do, but what’s important at this time, but you’re doing this subconsciously. Task 2 is to use this mechanism on purpose.
On average, there’s room for 3 or 4 priorities in a life. Say, yourself, your relationship, your children and your passion. I challenge you to spend your attention there.
I’m not suggesting to daydream your days away at the office. What I’m saying is that you shouldn’t live and breathe and get emotionally entangled in things that aren’t a priority. Also, make both time and spend attention/energy on the things that matter to you – without feeling guilty.