In a session with a client this morning I was reminded of the difference between SWEET POWER™ and willpower. And how that’s tied immediately to our energy, and which battery we use.
When you’re operating on willpower—which for most people is the majority of the time—you’re using adrenaline as your major power source. This means something has triggered you into being alert. This could be a deadline at work, worry about something or someone, emotional stress, or e.g. a pandemic.
There’s a reason doctors are sounding the alarm bell because > 40% of the population is about to be burned out.
Given the intensity of the past months and all the insecurities, fears and ‘new normals’ that’s not surprising.
It’s not a problem that our body responds with adrenaline to save us from (perceived) danger. The problem lies in never shutting that off.
We’ve become so used on living on adrenaline and counting on that to get us through the day that we deplete ourselves—physically, emotionally, mentally and energetically.
Our body believes we’re in danger so it prioritizes creating adrenaline over everything else! If you’re running from a mountain lion then having the adrenaline to escape or hide is much more important than let’s say regeneration of cells or proper digestion.
But if your body never gets the ‘all clear’ signal then it never knows it’s safe.
I’ve lived most my life on willpower and it took many years, a burnout and tough decisions to get to a place where I can live from flow. Rather than muscling through I choose to pause and listen to my body. To make sure I’m not stuck in overdrive.
Save your adrenaline for emergencies. And remember to shift back from willpower to SWEET POWER™ in time. Your body will thank you for it 😉
And you’ll notice you’ll have more energy, in a more sustainable way.
If you’re not sure whether you’re operating on adrenaline ask yourself whether you’re present in your head or aware of your body. If you have to think about it, you’re in your head 😉
To shift I advise you to pause. Take a moment to relax—truly relax. Sitting down while mentally ticking things off your To Do list does not count 😉
We need your system to slow down. This is a great moment to ground yourself.
The only problem is that once you take a break and your body understands it’s safe—because we’re no longer running around trying to get away from that lion—your adrenaline production will stop. And you’ll feel tired as a result.
This is crucial: it seems as if you weren’t tired before, but that’s only because your adrenaline stopped you from being able to feel how drained you actually were!
That’s how you get burned out. You’re not aware of how exhausted you are because you keep going…
Now that it’s safe to relax and recharge, your body recognizes this is an opportunity to refill the energetic stock, and to catch up on some vital processes like regenerating cells. It finally has the time and safe window (and energy).
Let’s keep your adrenaline supply for emergencies only: mountain lions, deadlines or otherwise. And live the rest of your life on ‘healthy’ energy. The one that doesn’t deplete your entire system.
This is something that’s always been important, but with the current permanent ‘health crisis’ it’s become crucial in order to make sure you get to the end of the month safe and sane.
Remember the difference between willpower and SWEET POWER™ is easy to feel.
When things feel forced and driven, and you’re operating from your mind—chances are you’re using willpower and are banking on adrenaline.
With SWEET POWER™ you’ll feel a sense of flow, an inner calm, a trust and knowing that even when things don’t go according to plan you’ll be okay.
I suffered from burnout at the age of twenty-four. And since then I learned a lot about how to take better care of myself and have more energy.
My upcoming book RADIANT: How to Have All the Energy You Need to Live a Life You Love is great when you want to avoid burnout—or if you are recovering from doing too much.
Photo credit: Kids photo created by standret