The Tank Conundrum

Runnin on EmptyI have a problem. I’m an introvert (Myers-Briggs has confirmed it) and I love people.  This creates interesting dilemmas in my life.

During trainings we use a video featuring Wayne Cordiero, a pastor in Hawaii, who talks about filling and draining your emotional tanks.  He says the tank represents our emotional capacity and stability—when the emotional tanks are full, we function optimally.  When the level in the tanks recedes—literally when we are drained—we can function for a while, but eventually we reach burn out–the stage where we have nothing left to give and very little left to live.  It’s a powerful reminder to keep our tanks full.

One of the exercises we do with this video is to make a list of the things that fill our tanks—that help us function joyfully and well.  Then we make a second list of the things that drain our tanks—that zap our energy and our joy.  Parts of my list are easy.  I need time to reflect in a quiet place where I can think and journal and stare into space.  Good coffee goes a long way towards keeping the tank full.  Regular communication with my nearest and dearest gives me joy.  Large bodies of water, particularly the ocean, soothe my soul indescribably.  Those are some of the big fillers.  As for the drainers—clutter, crowds, disappointment, bad coffee, and constant noise drain me faster than a cheetah on amphetamines can overtake a wounded gazelle.

There’s one item that would make bot lists; that’s people.  I love being around people.  I’ve lived in numerous places and have made abiding friends from those places who now live in a multitude of other places.  This weekend is one of those rare times when many of the people I love from all over the world will be in one place with me.  On the one hand, I’m in friend ecstasy.  My tank is filled to overflowing with hugs and news and time with these loved ones.  On the other hand, I’m on the verge of being peopled out.

See?  I have a problem.  I’m not worried though.  I know these are days I will treasure.  This week will be filled with catching up and hugs and tears and laughter.  If I’m wise, I’ll get to bed early.  I’ll skip a session or two to find a quiet cafe and a cup of good, strong coffee and spend some time journaling or staring off into space while I savor the quiet.  I just have to make sure I fill the tank with more than one type of fuel as a steady stream of care and energy exit it.

photo courtesy of Daino_16

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