Caregiver, learning self-management to be better

Learning How to be Self-Managed

Do you have an epic nickname from when you were younger? Mine was Mom. I was the mom of the soccer team, the mom of the friends, I was/am the mom among siblings (to their chagrin), and now the “real” mom to my own kids. I have always gravitated toward the caretaker role so the nickname came naturally. Epic, right?

Super Mom, Caregiver

I learned to embrace the nickname because it meant people trusted me. They knew they could depend on me for whatever they needed. But because of that, it was confusing and frustrating to me from a young age that the people I cared so much for would frequently do so many dumb things and, as a result, lean even more on me. Sometimes, I felt the need to fix things that probably didn’t need fixing (cue the fights with sisters). Sometimes, I felt tired and burned out and would often remove myself from social situations to just avoid having to care for someone else. But in this situation, I’d feel immensely guilty and selfish and would go out of my way to make it up to whomever I let down (according to my own belief, of course).

This was my normal until I became a Life Coach and learned about a self-management tool that we call the Energy Funnel. Basically, the Energy Funnel illustrates that there are six different ways to respond to any situation, some catabolic (limiting) and some anabolic (growing). One of the anabolic or big energy levels is the caregiver. This is a response that is helping, healing, supporting, loving or nurturing others.

Notice, however, that there is no mention of “self” in that description. It can be a wonderful thing to be known as reliable and dependent, to be the trusted one in the group. But it can be exhausting.

This is why being self-managed is so important. Just like with other levels on the Energy Funnel, the benefits are also coupled with liabilities. Sometimes, you can care too much at the risk of forgetting to care for yourself. Sometimes, you can care so much that people will feel like you’re smothering them.

I recently read a fantastic blog on Scary Mommy about being the natural caretaker. Blogger Wendy Wisner wrote, “…I know there is beauty in stepping up to the role of nurturer, of being willing to put your own feelings and needs aside to serve others in your life…But therein lies the rub – and that’s where things can get dangerous. You see, there is dark side to being a natural caretaker. Natural caretakers want to jump in and cure everyone and everything, which is actually impossible. They want to take away everyone else’s problems, sometimes without recognizing that other people’s problems are primarily their own responsibility.”

Take the time to get to know yourself, your strengths and liabilities, so you can know the whole you.

Learning how to be self-managed, to recognize when to reign in the natural tendencies to care and love and heal, is critical to any natural caretaker’s well-being. But this goes for everyone, regardless of how you identify yourself. Learning and understanding that your strengths, when left unchecked, can become a liability is key. As we share in our coaching, your strengths and your energetic response shouldn’t be considered as an on-off switch. It should be more like a dimmer. Slide it up when the situations warrant it; slide it down when it doesn’t. The more aware and mindful you are, the more you will see that one-size-fits-all never works. Instead, know yourself and manage yourself. Just because it comes naturally doesn’t mean the situation you are in needs it.

Wendy closes her blog with some guidance to her natural caretaker readers: “The only way that you can continue to bring that incredible light and love to others – the light and love you’ve been blessed with always – is if you are health[y] and happy. And sometimes that means learning the fine art of saying no, holding your ground, and putting your own needs first.”

Take Action
Take the time to understand your strengths and your liabilities. When you gain greater awareness and clarity around what activates and inspires you, and areas where you don’t feel you shine as bright, you can become a more well-rounded person. And this is the ultimate goal: to become a complete version of yourself. To recognize your strengths and use them, but to also manage them based on what any situation calls for.

Take 10-15 minutes today to ask yourself what your strengths are. Now ask a friend or family member. Do the same for your liabilities. You might find some eye-opening opportunities to make your next moment better.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading It’s Just Another Manic Monday

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The Energy Funnel Explained: Level 6

By Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator 

For those who find themselves in Level 6 energy on the Energy Funnel, they are classified as “The Designer.”

Level 6 energy shows as being totally present, very aware and connected to something larger. People in Level 6 energy are intuitive, non-judgmental, creative, inspiring and productive. They are often described as visionaries and able to make things happen.

Those in Level 6 energy believe that people are who they are – there is no fixing or controlling needed; relationships are to be experienced. They don’t identify or focus on differences, make judgments or make comparisons. Instead, they believe we each bring something unique to the table, and those unique strengths and abilities should be harnessed and used for the greater good. Those in Level 6 energy do not fight with what is; they accept and allow things to happen as they happen. They are unflappable and unaffected by the aggravations, frustrations and irritations of life. They choose to see past these, remaining optimistic and possibility-focused.

What Level 6 Looks Like

You meet a college alumnus at your college reunion. As you critique how your previous classmates have changed, who they used to be and what you didn’t like about them, your college friend simply comments on how good it is to see everyone, hear about their lives and celebrate being together.

Another example: you and your family are traveling to an island for a well-needed vacation. You have been planning it for months and have coordinated schedules with your adult children so the entire family will be together for four days. An unexpected severe storm shuts down the airport, causing two of your kids to miss out on the trip. As others in your family are furious by the storm and the interruption in their vacation, you calmly look to reschedule the trip at another time when the family can all be together, acknowledging that weather can sometimes interrupt plans.

Summary

  • Thought: Clarity
  • Feeling: Connection
  • Action: Inspire
  • Advantages of Level 6 energy: Supports and values everyone and everything without judgment
  • Disadvantages of Level 6 energy: Can be perceived as disconnected and aloof because of detached involvement; a connection to everything and nothing at the same time.

Remember: when you notice that you are in Level 6 energy, you can become aware of what is inspiring this level of energy. You can then decide how to use this level of energy to make greater things happen in your work, life and relationships. This level is about designing, about seeing that all things are possible.

As you become more aware of your emotions, and your understanding of the six levels of energy improves, you’ll see that your energy level is yours to choose. The result is that you can significantly improve your outlook, outcome and experience.

Important Questions from a Coach

  1. What activates Level 6 energy for you?
  2. How is Level 6 energy productive for you?
  3. How is Level 6 energy unproductive for you?
  4. When it is unproductive (even Level 6 energy can be unproductive), how can you move to a more productive energy level?

Are you told you’re disconnected despite your efforts to fully support and connect with everyone? Or, have you started to connect with the possibilities that accompany Level 6 energy and you want more? Schedule a complimentary 15-minute coaching session with Jay to determine if coaching can help you better understand how to use your performance energy well.

 

Consider reading Embrace Your Face.

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The Energy Funnel Explained: Level 5

By Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator

For those who find themselves in Level 5 energy on the Energy Funnel, they are classified as “The Seeker.”

Level 5 energy is characterized by a deeper understanding of their place in the world and purposeful living. It manifests as being self-aware, confident, trusting and opportunity-focused. People in Level 5 energy are productive, insightful, intentional, supportive and strategic. They focus on a win-win mindset and seek out opportunities for everyone to be successful. They easily invent and see possibilities.

Notice that Level 5 energy is powerfully anabolic; you’re not only focusing on others, but on your own happiness and success. This creates a powerful impact on others, especially since those in Level 5 energy approach each situation with care and support.

What Level 5 Looks Like

Imagine you’ve been asked to join a focus group. You are part of team that includes fellow employees from all areas of your organization. The goal of the focus group is to expand ways to improve the customer experience that also improve the employee experience. All ideas are to be considered, as long as they improve things for employees and customers. You propose ideas and focus on building on the ideas of others. You are committed to the goal of improving things and making a difference that matters.

Or, as a parent, you hear your children arguing over a toy they both want to play with. You calmly step in to present an idea that allows both children to have time with the toy in a way that matters to each. Everyone is happy and everyone gets their turn with the toy.

Summary

  • Thought: Acceptance
  • Feeling: Confidence
  • Action: Creation
  • Advantages of Level 5 energy: everything is an opportunity and nothing is perceived as personal
  • Disadvantages of Level 5 energy: take big risks as a result of being too opportunity-focused; easy to disconnect from emotions and relationships by focusing too much on performance and achievement

Remember: when you notice that you are in Level 5 energy, you can become aware of what is inspiring this level of energy. You then have the choice to decide if you’ll continue to approach the situation with Level 5 energy or if you’ll leverage any of the other six levels.

As you become more aware of your emotions, and your understanding of the six levels of energy improves, you’ll see that your energy level is yours to choose. The result is that you can significantly improve your outlook, outcome and experience.

Important Questions from a Coach

  1. What activates Level 5 energy for you?
  2. How is Level 5 energy productive for you?
  3. How is Level 5 energy unproductive for you?
  4. When it is unproductive, how can you move to a more productive energy level?

Do people view your confidence as a turn-off, yet it’s what drives you to success? Schedule a complimentary 15-minute coaching session with Jay to determine if coaching is right for you to leverage your strengths to further develop your greatest self.

 

Continue reading about the next energy level: Level 6.

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The Energy Funnel Explained: Level 4

By Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator

For those who find themselves in Level 4 energy on the Energy Funnel, they are classified as “The Provider.”

Level 4 energy is characterized by helping, responding, healing, fixing, loving and nurturing. This energy level manifests as being ruled by relationships and working to ensure [positive] attention is on others. People in Level 4 energy are often emotional, focused on others and service-minded.

Notice that Level 4 is anabolic; you focus on others with care and support. Notice the energy starts to become more positive and productive, along with opportunities and feelings.

What Level 4 Looks Like

Let’s say you are a devoted mom. You are at all of your kids’ events, you help with projects, you bring forgotten homework to school and you leave notes in their lunches. You constantly change your schedule to accommodate their needs and interests. You don’t do it because you have to, you do it because you care deeply.

Or, you are a very committed and supportive team member. Your team knows that when they ask for your help you always say yes, regardless of how busy you are. Your team knows you are approachable and available, because helping others out is important to you. It matters that others can rely on you.

Summary

  • Thought: Care
  • Feeling: Kindness
  • Action: Support
  • Advantages of Level 4 energy: a focus on self-less service, deep empathy, concern and attention to others
  • Disadvantages of Level 4 energy: disregard self for a focus on others, overly judgmental in your need to assess and fix others

Remember: when you notice you are in Level 4 energy, you can become aware of what is inspiring this level of energy. This awareness, combined with your understanding of the six levels of energy, presents you with the opportunity to choose how you will address the situation.

As you become more aware of your emotions, combined with a deeper understanding of the six levels of energy, you see that your energy level is yours to choose. The result is powerful: you can significantly improve your outlook, outcome and experience.

Important Questions from a Coach

  1. What activates Level 4 energy for you?
  2. How is Level 4 energy productive for you?
  3. How is Level 4 energy unproductive for you?
  4. When it is unproductive, how can you move to a more productive energy level?

Are you known for caring too much? Do you find that you give more to others so that you have little left for yourself? Consider scheduling a complimentary 15-minute coaching session with Jay to determine if coaching can help you include yourself in your level of care to feel happy and engaged in both work and life.

 

Continue reading about the next energy level: Level 5.

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The Energy Funnel Explained: Level 2

By Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator

For those who find themselves in Level 2 energy on the Energy Funnel, they are classified as “The Warrior.”

Level 2 energy is characterized by conflict, judgments and arguing, among a number of other combative emotions. People in Level 2 energy often fight for things to be abundantly clear (i.e. black or white, no gray area), tend to be sarcastic and have a high need to be right. They can be controlling, aggressive and antagonistic.

What Level 2 Looks Like

Let’s say your project is discussed at the weekly team meeting and a few components are highlighted as areas that need work. The team begins to brainstorm ways you can further build out these pieces. You respond with a sarcastic comment and immediately point the finger at someone in the room for not providing you with the information you needed to build those components. This generates a similar response from the person you challenged and an argument ensues.

Or, you are driving on the highway and, to avoid some debris in the road, you swerve into another lane. Though you don’t hit the car in the other lane, you force them to hit their brakes. They then turn on their lights, lean on their horn and speed up to get next to you, cursing and using obscene gestures. They are in Level 2 energy.

Consider the second example. What level of energy are you in and do you want to be in?

Summary

  • Thought: Irritation
  • Feeling: Anger
  • Action: Confrontation
  • Advantages of Level 2 energy: productive by self, achievement happens in difficult situations, can impact/drive change, ensures they are heard
  • Disadvantages of Level 2 energy: results are not sustainable, relationships are challenged, others disconnect and disengage, results in little to no trust or respect

Remember: when you notice you are in Level 2 energy, you can become aware of what is inspiring this level of energy. And this awareness can help you choose how you want to approach the situation or circumstance, whether that’s with Level 2 energy or in any of the other six levels. Many people default to Level 2 energy as part of our instinctual fight or flight reactions. Level 2 energy is fight.

As you become more aware of your emotions and energy, combined with your understanding of the six levels of energy, you see that your energy level is yours to choose.

Awareness is key. The result is you can significantly improve your outlook, outcome and experience.

Important Questions from a Coach

  1. What activates Level 2 energy for you?
  2. How is Level 2 energy productive for you?
  3. How is Level 2 energy unproductive for you?
  4. When it is unproductive, how can you move to a more productive energy level?

Do you find yourself moving through life mostly in Level 1 or Level 2 energy? Schedule a complimentary 15-minute coaching session with Jay to determine if coaching could improve your energetic response.

 

Continue reading about the next energy level: Level 3.

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The Energy Funnel Explained: Level 1

By Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator

For those who find themselves in Level 1 energy on the Energy Funnel, they are classified as “The Victim.” This doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a victim in the traditional definition of the word, but rather you feel like a victim as a result of something, someone or a situation. This could include situations or circumstances in which you have no control.

Level 1 energy is characterized by worry, guilt, fear and self-doubt, among a number of other negative emotions. This energy level manifests as a perceived lack of choice, victim status, low interest or no motivation. People in Level 1 energy often say they feel overwhelmed, hopeless, helpless or emotional, resulting in lethargy and inactivity.

What Level 1 Looks Like

Let’s say you work for a short-tempered manager. This manager isn’t open to new ideas, is critical and always seems to be upset. Working for this manager can create feelings of self-doubt, hopelessness, disengagement and ambivalence. You feel no interest or drive to do great things at work. You just want to get by without incurring your manager’s anger or feeling the effect of his moods. This situation can inspire Level 1 energy.

Another example, you go to Thanksgiving dinner with your family. There are relatives there that you only see once a year because you don’t share much in common. Listening to them or even spending time with them seems to take away all of your energy. You have told yourself you don’t like them so you avoid them as much as possible. You leave the family event feeling drained and exhausted. This situation can inspire Level 1 energy.

Summary of Level 1 energy

  • Thought: Victim
  • Feeling: Indifference
  • Action: Disconnection
  • Advantages of Level 1 energy: self-protection, sympathy from others, non-accountability
  • Disadvantages of Level 1 energy: no engagement, reduced effort, no interest, feeling stuck, unable to create change

Remember: when you notice that you are in Level 1 energy, you can become aware of what is inspiring this level of energy. That awareness, combined with the knowledge that there are 6 levels of energy, gives you the choice to decide what level of energy you will use to approach the situation. Many people default to this level of energy as part of our instinctual fight or flight reactions. Level 1 energy is flight.

As you become more familiar with the 6 levels of energy, and as you become more aware of your emotions and energy, you’ll see that your energy level is yours to choose. The result is powerful: you can significantly improve your outlook, outcome and experience. Awareness is key.

Important Questions from a Coach

  1. What activates Level 1 energy for you?
  2. How is Level 1 energy productive for you?
  3. How is Level 1 energy unproductive for you?
  4. When it is unproductive, how can you move to a more productive energy level?

Are you feeling stuck in Level 1 energy? Schedule a complimentary 15-minute coaching session with Jay to determine if professional coaching is right for you.

 

Continue reading about the next energy level: Level 2.

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The Energy Funnel Explained: Catabolic vs. Anabolic

By Jay Forte

Energy and emotions happen every moment of every day, often without consciously thinking about them.

Energy refers to how you approach the events, situations and circumstances of your life. It shows in your thoughts, feelings and actions and can be at any of the 6 different energy levels at any point in time. This is when most of us instinctively react instead of respond.

This also points to the importance of awareness, something that is critical to successfully discovering and developing your Forte Factor. Without being self-aware, you default to habits – some productive, some unproductive.

Knowing the 6 levels of energy, combined with having greater self-awareness, will empower you to more intentionally choose your responses, ultimately impacting your mental state. This, in turn, can lead to more positive personal and professional results.

Understanding the Levels of Energy

To understand the Energy Funnel, and to become more aware of your own energy level, you must first learn about the two types of energy:

  • Catabolic energy – referred to as diminishing, draining, resisting, contracting or destructive energy. Basically, according to Dr. Bruce Schneider, founder of the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (IPEC) and creator of the Energy Leadership Index, it “acts like a blinder through which you only [have] a limited view of a situation.”

Catabolic language shows as: should, have to, need to, may, hopefully, whatever, not sure, perhaps, maybe, must, always, never.

Levels 1 and 2 on the Energy Funnel are catabolic energy levels.

  • Anabolic energy – referred to as constructive, expanding, healing, augmenting and growing. This type of energy is the source of our greatest progress, success, inspiration and opportunity creation.

Anabolic language includes: want to, choose to, wish to, desire to, intend to, I will, it matters to me, it is important to me, it is critical, urgent, exciting.

Encouraging this language helps you more readily and intentionally tune in to opportunities and tune out limitations.

Levels 3 through 6 on the Energy Funnel are anabolic energy levels.

The Energy Funnel helps you see all 6 levels of energy and reminds you that it is your choice which level of energy you use in the circumstances and situations in work and life. Most of us default into our energetic responses instead of choose them with intention. Awareness of the levels helps you ask yourself, “Is my energy positive, optimistic and opportunity-focused, or negative, pessimistic and critical?”

If you’re unsure where you default on the Energy Funnel, or if you know you’d like to understand how to better use and direct your energy, contact Jay for a free 15-minute coaching session to see if coaching makes sense for you.

 

Continue reading about the Energy Funnel by learning about the different energy levels: Level 1 Energy.

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