The Conservation Myth

Energy isn't saved and stored for later, it's available to be used right now. 

The biggest limit to our capacity is our own perception, our own perceived need to conserve, and the resistance that follows. 

These statements go against much of how I have thought and behaved for much of my life, but I'm finding them to be true. They fly in the face of a line of thinking that I like to call the myth of conservation. 

The myth of conservation is deeply embedded in our culture, and though in decline, easily permeates my own psyche as well. Thoughts such as, "Don't work too hard," or "I'm tired now, so what I need to do is sleep instead of going for a run." Though vast and varied in it's presentation, the myth of conservation in human energy will generally sound something along these lines. I have been especially present to this myth, this impulse, and I will tell you that the stories it creates never seem to pan out. I end up doing less, while having less energy and zest for life. That's not how I want to be. I want to live a full, abundant life with energy and power, and I want the same for you.

Here are three key aspects of The Myth of Conservation:

1) It often arises out of the context of a big commitment or goal. Your internal self-protection and resistance mechanism sounds the alarm when you feel threatened, and goals can create those same feelings. Committing to running everyday immediately can bring up stories such as, "I can't do it," or, "but I'll be too tired for work." Shrinking back from a big commitment or goal can feel wise, feel like you're taking care of yourself, but most of the time, you probably aren't.

2) Internal resistance is the biggest clue that pseudo-conservation is at work. I wish I could say I'm a stranger to this, but I'm not. I have found that one of the best indicators I have monitoring my return to this behavior is resistance. I begin to resist my obligations and circumstances, try to pass the buck and mail it in on my projects. For many, the obligation they are resisting is their work. They come to work only to coast through the tedious/boring/uncomfortable/etc. workday and are implicitly saving their energy for the projects and passions that actually matter to them. With an attitude of resistance to what is outside yourself, everything automatically becomes more bleak and challenging. For myself, when this is the case, I shrink back from thinking about others and instead think about myself.  Ironically, it can take more energy to resist effort than by simply meeting the needs around you.

3) While I try to justify listening to that voice, I always end up kicking myself when I do. Thinking small and playing small leave me being and feeling small, and that feels pretty terrible. When I resist my own commitment or goal, I have to sit with my lack of integrity. There is no joy in cutting corners, and whatever feeling or imagined pressure leads me to believe I am better off taking it easy tends to stick around even after the deed is done. Sure, there are times where I am better off for having slept in, but it's usually because I stayed up too late. I'm surprised at myself for how much time has been lived within the confines of this myth because it is almost never enjoyable. 

Thankfully, the more you are clued-in to the tendency toward conservation, the more you can live beyond it. Being fully present to the moments and opportunities in your day will leave you well-equipped to handle them. Like a hybrid car, returning energy isn't just about "turning off and charging your batteries," but finding means of rejuvenation through differing types of activity. Rather than skipping a run, pair a run with a time of deep stretching and you will feel far more energized and rejuvenated than you would have otherwise.

You are capable of far more than your shrinking-thinking would have you believe. Instead of resisting to conserve a limited supply of energy, tap in to an overflowing abundance that is available to you right now.