Five Things That Might Be Draining Your Soul
The movie “Hocus Pocus” is a household favorite for many families to watch during this spooky season. However, I must admit, it scared the pants off me as a child. The idea that middle-aged witches could return from the dead haunted my dreams for years.
Then to have your parents get put under a spell that makes them dance until they die?!?
The scariest part of this movie, to me, was the way these sorceresses would drain the essence out of a person. I have thankfully outgrown my fear of these quirky witches, but the idea of my soul being slowly depleted still sends shivers down my spine.
Writing doesn’t take a lot of physical energy, but it’s pretty difficult to solve plot holes when you’re having a hard time keeping your eyelids open. How are you supposed to create new worlds and compelling characters from an empty cup?
This goes for many other things in life, such as raising littles or negotiating business deals. This life is difficult enough without walking around with a half-empty soul.
So, if you are feeling a little fatigued lately, mentally or emotionally, it might be time to take an inventory of your heart. Below I share five things that might be draining your soul and how you might be able to make minor changes to refill these pieces of your life.
1.) Saying yes to helping others first thing in the morning.
Research shows that when employees come into work and, first thing in the morning, are bombarded by co-workers asking for help with tasks, it can fill them with an instant sense of dread and overwhelm. These two feelings are sure to drain your soul.
After reading this study, I have to wonder if this doesn’t pertain to people outside the office as well. Such as, when we wake up in the morning to the instant demands of our family or when we open our social media, texts, or emails, as soon as we open our eyes and are barraged by messages and comments asking for our attention. Do we not risk feeling the same sense of dread and overwhelm?
If you are waking to the feeling of resentment or dread every morning, perhaps you can find ways of prioritizing an activity that helps to fill your cup before having to pour out for others. Or to offer to help others later in the day after you have had time to attend to a few of your own needs.
If you are tempted to say yes right away, you can pause and ask for a moment to assess this task, and acknowledge that you have a choice. Then make a rational decision based on your ability, energy levels, moral compass, or priorities. Anything that helps you see you are not being forced into this task.
Just giving yourself those few moments to make this distinction in your heart between choice and obligation could make all the difference in the way you view the rest of your day.
Our ability to help others is a muscle. If yours is being fatigued, address the most important tasks you need to do for the loved ones in your life, start there and let some of the others go.
Is there a way you might be able to come up with a system for prioritizing important soul-filling activities before agreeing to the needs of everyone else around you? Might this help to fill your cup before trying to pour out of it?
2.) Ruminating on Negative Thoughts
Jon Acuff likes to call these negative thoughts "Sound Tracks," and he discusses the effects these thoughts can have on our daily lives in his book by the same title. In it, he gives some amazing solutions with a healthy dose of humor. I highly recommend it if you tend to struggle with this.
Acuff suggests imagining your thoughts like a radio station. You can turn down the dial on these negative thoughts and change the station to tune into more productive thoughts. He provides great tools to help you make this shift, like creating a new anthem for your life or gaining evidence against these negative intruders.
Nothing drains you faster than the negative thoughts replaying in your head again and again and again. So, if you struggle in this area, please go pick up this book immediately!
3.) A Mess
I know, I know, I know. Like so many other writers, I used to love to defend this one. So many of us live for our messy desks and notebooks strewn about the house. For a long time, I lived in chaos. I was the spokesperson for the "if it’s where I can see it, then I won’t lose it" logic.
But more and more studies show that the messes around us are overwhelming our brains, and I’m beginning to see this as truth.
As my schedule becomes more demanding and I have more tasks beckoning for my attention, I have observed the mess around me is now taking away from my vital necessity to focus.
I noticed it most strongly when we went away to a rental home for the weekend. In this new space, there was no longer a bookshelf that needed organizing, crowded counters that needed cleaning, a garage that needed purging, or drawers that needed decluttering. For those few days, a physical release took over my body. I was able to write more freely and think more clearly.
Since then, I have been working on giving my home this same feeling. Might you be able to tidy up your space to allow your mind the freedom to focus on it's most important tasks at hand?
Oh boy, can I attest to this one! I am a major recovering perfectionist. It used to be that if I couldn't be good at something immediately, I would quit. Or I would throw fits. I would lie, cheat, and steal to look good at the said thing I was decidedly bad at. Thankfully that is no longer the case. I am now blissfully in love with making mistakes and doing things messy.
Attempting to be perfect is not only exhausting, but it is also outrageously disheartening because you will never ever, ever, ever be perfect! It is perfectly impossible. The only thing you can be perfect at is being imperfect. Am I making my point perfectly yet?!?
If you are shooting for perfection, you will constantly feel like a failure! If that is not draining to your soul, then I don’t know what is.
Allow yourself to make mistakes and then keep moving forward anyways. You learn so much more, you feel so much better, and according to this study, it even gives you more energy!
5.) Your Social Calendar
Do you need more time with people or less? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? This will depend on your own personal social makeup. But how much time you spend with others can play a significant role in whether your soul is feeling filled or depleted.
This will look different for everyone. Some people love to be surrounded by large crowds, while others love one-on-one time. Still, others need absolute silence and alone time to be replenished. It is worth it to know how spending time with others affects your energy levels.
And then give yourself permission to schedule more time with your people. Or to say no thank you to social events that suddenly mount larger and larger each week.
So now I ask, what are some things that might be draining your soul? I doubt they are as obvious as the witches in Hocus Pocus, but they could be just as deadly. The enemy is always looking to diminish you, to leave you feeling empty, like you have nothing left to give. But you can break the spell and ask the one in control of all the supernatural to bring you back to life.