A love note to the exhausted

published2 months ago
3 min read

I sent this photo to my friend this week, to show her that my coffee mug is the size of my head. I love handmade ceramic mugs and have some, like this one, that hold 16 ounces and others that hold only 8. They've become a kind of physical and emotional barometer.

If you've had some 16 ounce days, you know what I'm talking about.

Sometimes we've got insomnia, or we're exhausted because our aging parents need a lot from us, or our children are struggling, or work is demanding -- and often it's not just one of these things but all the things at once.

At these times, we feel depleted. We can fill our coffee mug, but filling our own tank feels far away. An impossible dream.

And so, we don't even think about how to help ourselves, even a little.

But we don't need to fill our tank in order to make our lives a little better.

Sometimes our car's gas tank is on empty, and we have a 100 mile trip to make. If we put $5 of gas in the tank, we are definitely not going to make it the 100 miles.

But sometimes we really can put $5 of gas in the car, and it can get us to the next gas station. And if we keep stopping and adding $5 of gas to the car, it can, over time, help us get where we need to go.

Thinking about "adding $5 to my tank" rather than "filling my tank," can lead us to creatively find small things that will make our lives better.

Maybe we can download an audiobook we love and listen to it while waiting for our dad’s prescription at the pharmacy. And maybe that time waiting becomes more pleasurable.

Maybe we can buy some of that overpriced sparkling water so while we’re helping our child figure out if they want to stay in college, we are drinking something that feels a little special.

Maybe on our way to the car, to pick up the library books for Mom, we can take five minutes to tend to our garden or to snip some flowers off the bush and put them in a vase on our dining room table.

We can remember that even when it’s not enough to fill our tank, even when we’re exhausted, we can still look for small ways to help ourselves, to see ourselves, to increase our pleasure in the world.

And if we do enough of them in a day, we might find that our tank becomes fuller than we expected. ❤️

It's usually not obvious that increasing our pleasure a little bit will actually help, because our brains often default to All or Nothing thinking. We think if we can't fill our tank, we might as well not do anything. Our brains are not always helpful, so we have to find ways to think around them, or to ignore them completely. This is the topic of this week's podcast episode,

Episode #59: How to stop your brain from being an a**hole

For this episode, I clicked the "explicit" button so I can swear. I had to, to tell you this:

Sometimes your brain is an a**hole. (Look, I've been a teacher for so long that I can't stop myself from putting in the asterisks, even for my own emails!)

Realizing this has changed so much for me, so I have to share.

In this episode:

🎯 Why your brain can be an a**hole -- and why it's not a problem

🎯 How to use everything you've learned from toddlers to manage your mind

🎯 How to know whether your a**hole brain has the wheel, or whether your adult brain is driving the car

🎯 How embracing your toddler brain actually leads to greater self-compassion and love

Love, Rachel

P.S. You may have noticed that I used to send the love note every Saturday and this summer it comes Saturday or Sunday. I call this "flexible consistency" and it's the key to so much. I'm consistent in sending the love note every week but flexible in letting myself send it any time over the weekend. Flexible consistency is how I've been an exerciser for the last 17 years. Some days I let myself exercise for only 5 minutes, but I keep up the habit. If there's a habit you've been trying to be consistent with, see if adding flexibility helps.

I love having you in my world

website: coachingwithrachel.com

FB: facebook.com/rachelbaumcoaching

IG: @rachelbaumcoaching

email: rachel@coachingwithrachel.com

love notes: lovenotes.coachingwithrachel.com

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Rachel Baum

I'm a life coach, college professor, and former president of the Overthinkers Club. I also host the Making Midlife Magic podcast. I love helping middle aged people dream again and create lives they love.

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