I like gas tanks.
They help me convey a concept I have about life.
Let me explain.
I have noticed that loads of people run on a quarter tank of gas, meaning they experience life between a quarter tank and empty. A small range, considering what is possible.
Are you one of those?
Check in with yourself:
Where in life do you run on a quarter tank and hit the bottom regularly?
Where are you just surviving in your life – physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually?
How does it play out for you?
Are you experiencing exhaustion, overwhelm, irritation, inability to focus, lack of rest and sleep, worry, depression and/or anger?
You can see how interlinked these aspects are: hit the bottom on one and it can easy grab onto another one. If I don’t get enough rest, I cannot focus, I get overwhelmed and feel depressed, angry or irritated. In short, all aspects of my being: emotional, mental and perhaps even spiritual, will be affected when I am sleep deprived over a period of time.
Hitting the empty place in your gas tank shifts you into survival mode. The car can’t drive without gas and for a short – or longer period – you become focused on the gas tank, watching it and looking for a gas station to refill. I am sure we all have been in the situation where we literally ran out of gas or came so close that we had sweaty palms by the time we rolled up to the gas pump. Not fun!
In life, it’s much the same. We can become are so habituated to being in the nearly empty state that we are in survival mode all the time and don’t even fully notice. We are looking for things to relieve the emptiness, the exhaustion and the constant pressure. Our actions become more reflexive and automatic, focused on short-term relief. Often these actions are not sustaining and nourishing our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health.
You can see how easy it is to get caught in the ‘quarter tank to empty’ cycle.
Just for fun, imagine yourself in a place where you can operate between half and quarter tank and eventually move yourself to operating between a full and ¾ tank. Do you notice a sense of relief, just contemplating this possibility?
How would your life be different if you could live there, all the time?
Big breath in and let go…
Two things need to happen: You have to put more gas in the tank and make sure there are no leaks.
By putting in more gas, I am referring to activities and interactions that nourish and fill you. This can be a challenge if you are in survival mode as your attention is focused outside of yourself for most of the time, scanning and checking what has to be done to keep life moving forward. You may think you do not have the time or energy to do something just for you, to stop and savour, to look and enjoy, to rest and to connect with your body, to play and be creative. And that is exactly where you need to go in order to fill up your tank.
Secondly, it’s important to check the walls of your gas tank, which represent your personal boundaries. How contained are you? If you are constantly leaking your energy and attention, it is difficult to hold the supportive, nourishing energy you may be creating.
The main energy drains are the result of over-giving and getting entangled with other people and situations as the result of not stating a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
What is more challenging for you?
Nourishing yourself or maintaining good boundaries?
We all have our unique combinations of these two aspects.
Awareness is the first step to shift and change.
Here is a fun and easy little practice to support you:
If you do have a car, begin by filling up your car right to the top and then refill before you get to half-empty. Use it as a metaphor for your life. Play with it. Notice how it feels internally to know you always have enough gas in your tank.
Do this for a month or two – or forever.
Keep running on full and live it up!