A Deficit of Renewal

January 21, 2017

Everywhere I look, in my life and in others’ lives, I see a renewal deficit. It’s the only thing I can think of to call it. 

We work jobs we don’t enjoy, and it depletes us. Or we are overworked at jobs we do enjoy, which depletes us just the same. We maintain relationships out of a sense of responsibility. We put urgent day-to-day tasks and responsibilities ahead of the important. We run around scratching the nervous itch of our endless Productivity Complexes. We neglect ourselves.

And then we find ourselves depleted. We’ve taken so much out of our metaphorical banks that we’re in a deficit. 

When we do have time for renewal, we often fail to make good choices. Many times we know we’re doing that, but still do it out of habit. I just did that this morning, with the voice in my head pointing it out to me the whole time, yet I didn’t stop myself. Other times we might not even realize, but are duped by faux-renewal opportunities, like pulling out our phones and plugging into a world that feels like it will be a quick fix but just depletes us further. 

All of this attention to other responsibilities, to other people, to the gods of productivity and achievement, and to the demons of faux-renewal leaves us depleted. Nothing good comes from being depleted. 

It often seems like a painful irony… all of this living our lives for other people and for responsibilities outside of ourselves, all of this go go go do do do, all of this giving of ourselves to things outside of ourselves, and we end up in a depleted state which frankly only makes us more selfish. After all, we have very little left to give when we’re in a deficit. 

Everything in life that has achieved a state of balance has done so through adequate renewal. If the scale tips too far in one direction, something must be added to tip it in the other direction. When energy is depleted, it is recharged. It’s a natural law.

Pay attention to that sense of balance in yourself. Notice what truly renews you and make time for it. Nourish your body, your mind, your spirit. Make the difficult choices to pay yourself first with plenty of renewal. It may seem to some other people like it is selfishness. But they just don’t get it, or don’t get it yet. It may even feel to you as though you’re being selfish by doing this. In time that feeling will fade and this will just feel like wise action, or good health, or plain old common sense.

We all have a far greater capacity to give, to be present, to handle what comes at us with poise and grace than we do when we’ve run ourselves down with too much productivity, unselfishness, achievement, and so forth. There aren’t any true medals for that anyway. Does anyone on their death bed care about those kinds of medals when they look back over their lives? Maybe some, but usually not the people I most admire.

The bottom line is that you’re a far better person when you’re renewed. And everyone and everything benefits, not just you. You know this already. So make the choice. And I’ll do my best to join you.