Out of the Stew Pot

battery rechargeLast week I talked about how caretakers sometimes get caught in the stew pot, spending so much time taking care of others that they end up burning out. They end up offering themselves rather than offering service. It’s a difficult distinction, but it’s essential to understand. When you’re in the stew pot, you are approaching a loss of ability to care for anyone else. Not sure if that describes you? Check out last week’s list of Red Flags.

One way to get out of the stew pot is to learn how to recharge your batteries.

Yes, I’m mixing metaphors here. What I want to specifically address is how people affect your energy levels. As a caretaker, you are all up in other people’s lives. That’s what makes you a caretaker! So it’s vital to know how other people affect your energy.

The Myers Briggs personality type defines people as Extroverts and Introverts. You probably have an idea of which type you are. What it boils down to is how the outside world affects your energy levels. Extroverts are energized by other people, while Introverts are energized by time alone. I’m an extrovert, which means I can be exhausted, but if I go out to a crowded restaurant or park and interact with a bunch of people, by the time the event is over I’m fully charged up and ready to conquer the world. An Introvert could attend the same event and enjoy it just as much, but at the end would want to get home and rest.

If you’re an introvert, charging your batteries is a matter of creating and defending time alone. This is not selfish.

If you’re an extrovert, you may think you’re fine. After all, being around people is energizing. Well, I’m an extrovert, and I can say that while people energize me, I still need to recharge. When I’m care taking, it’s still emotionally draining. That’s because I’m giving of myself. For years I struggled with this, because I never wanted to be alone. Too much alone time depressed me. Yet being around the people I was taking care of too much irritated me.

What we extroverts need to do is develop our introvert energy.

The Myers Briggs type was never meant to be the end of personality information. It was designed originally to help people learn how to be more balanced. That means that even if you’re an ESFP (like me), you CAN operate as an INTJ. You can learn to develop those personality traits that don’t naturally work for you.

How can you develop introvert energy? First, find something you enjoy doing alone. Reading, crafting, drawing, baking, cooking, gardening, driving, shopping, exercising, hiking, watching TV, people watching at the airport, etc. The key is that it’s an activity you enjoy that doesn’t require anyone else to participate. Now, create time to devote to that activity.

How do you create time? Because that’s the part that extroverts and introverts both need: to create some time alone, away from care-taking responsibilities.

I have an entire hour long series on how to create time, available by signing up here:

However, I know you all. You are pressed for time! So for starters, check out this blog post on the three questions that will reduce your task list. Use these three questions on your to-do list and use the extra time to do something that will recharge your batteries.

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