18. Energetic Boundaries

energetic boundaries

Ever feel like you just don’t have the energy for things, but don’t feel like you can say no? Are you burning yourself out? Without setting boundaries we aren’t able to fully show up for ourselves and the people we love.

Mary talks with Chrysta today all about how Chrysta has learned to set energetic boundaries for herself. And how she decides what she has the capacity for and what she does not have the capacity for on a given day. Listen in to hear how this has helped Chrysta and how she knows that her energy bandwidth changes each day.

Main Episode Takeaways

  • We can’t operate at 100% every single day
  • Ideas for how to communicate your energy boundaries
  • You are the expert of your own bandwidth
  • Learn the “Spoon Theory”
  • We get to choose how we spend our energy

Want to learn more about boundaries?

– Boundaries quiz HERE
Take my Boundaries 101 Course
– Do you want to overcome your hurdles of people pleasing? Book a free call with Mary!


Mary: Hey, let’s talk boundaries. I’m here with Chrysta. Thanks so much for coming. Chrysta. Chrysta: Thank you so much for having me Mary Brown Boundaries, coach.

Mary: Thanks. How you doing today Chrysta?

Chrysta: I am doing pretty good. Thank you. How about you?

Mary: Awesome. Are you ready to talk about boundaries? Chrysta: Let’s talk about some boundaries.

Mary: That’s my favorite thing to talk about. Let’s talk about like boundaries with resources. I remember one time where we were having just a natural conversation and you said to me something to the effect of protecting your energetic boundaries. So I think you said something like, you know, I don’t really have the bandwidth for this. And I remember thinking, wow, I was impressed that you were protecting your energy that way in a boundary, and that that’s not the way that a lot of us think. And I would love for you to explain a little bit more.

Chrysta: Yeah, I would love to tell you what that means for me. I think a lot about the different resourcing that we have and how well-resourced I am as an individual on any given day, and that really impacts what I am able to do and how I’m able to show up, how fully I’m able to show up and what that looks like. And so, you know, those resources like time and money are the ones that we hear people reference the most as the resources we have available to us. But energy is another one. You know, my, what is my capacity today to actually show up fully with the people in my lives, for myself? What does that look like? And, and some of it is energy level, but I feel like for me it’s more than that. It’s like, what am I actually capable of today? Because I’m not capable of operating at a hundred percent of my total abilities every single day. You know, some days I’m at 50% of my potential. Some days I’m at 80, some days I am at a hundred. But that really varies from day to day. And so being able to recognize not just am I high energy or low energy today, but like what am I actually capable of showing up, at what level today? What does that look like for me? And you know, if I am in a place where I’m feeling less resourced for whatever reason, sometimes because there’s something going on, or maybe because I’m experiencing a health issue or something like that, or there’s a lot of external stress, or maybe going through some kind of life transition or any of those factors can impact my ability to fully show up and what I’m capable of. And so that is what I really consider that idea of like my energetic boundaries and my capacity or what I might say like, this is my bandwidth that I have today. I have the bandwidth to show up, you know, for, in this way, for this much. But that’s about it.

Mary: I love that. I love that. Thank you for teaching me that. Tell me a little bit more about when you say something like I don’t have the bandwidth for that. Maybe in the context of we’re divvying up responsibilities or making a plan for something. I believe that’s what the context was when I heard you say that before how is that usually received?

Chrysta: You know, I actually feel like, and this may be indicative of the people that I choose to spend my time with and have in my life, but it’s usually very well received. I feel like it’s, even if maybe someone hasn’t heard of it, put that way before people get what that is. Like, they get those moments where they’re being asked to do something or there’s something else on their list and they’re just like, I don’t, I don’t know that I can right now. Like maybe usually I can, or tomorrow I can, or earlier in the day I could have, but right now I, I don’t have the energy to show up for that request.

Mary: Mm-hmm. Yes. And I’ve heard it before, like you mentioned, that people say, I don’t have time to do that. Like that feels like more common, something that I would hear, but I think when we say I don’t have time, it kind of opens up an argument about, well, what’s on your calendar, right? And it’s almost like you need somebody else to agree or confirm that you don’t have time to make that commitment. But when you say, I don’t have the bandwidth, like I don’t have the energy to be able to do that. There’s no negotiations, there’s no arguing that, which I think is why it felt so powerful to me. I was like, oh one, I appreciate that she is checking in with herself before she commits to something that she may not be able to follow through with. Right? And how cool is it that she’s got that pulse on her capacity and, I’m so impressed with the language around it, and it’s not like we’re gonna try to talk you into something, right? It’s like, oh, okay. She doesn’t have the bandwidth to commit to that. And so now we move on and we kind of figure out is somebody else gonna do it or is this something we’re not gonna do, or what’s gonna happen next? Right? It’s like very solution focused.

Chrysta: And what came to mind for me as you were talking is, I don’t know if any of your listeners have heard this, but I imagine that they have this idea of we all have the same 24 hours. Like I roll internally every time someone says that, we all have the same 24 hours, it’s about how you use it. But we don’t all have the same resourcing within those 24 hours. We don’t all have the same capacity within those 24 hours. And so this idea that like time is what really matters, and that if we cared enough or we were disciplined enough or diligent enough that we could do all of these things that we want to do, plus all of these other things that other people want us to do, like, I’m like, that’s where I say, no, I disagree with that. Because we might all have 24 hours in our day, but we don’t all have the same capacity within those 24 hours.

Mary: Yes, yes. Well, what I like about it is that it empowers the individual to be the expert on what they’re capable of and what their resources are and what they are willing to commit to and not willing to commit to. And that’s one of my messages is that you get to decide, right? Like you get to decide and you can communicate it in a way that feels respectful and kind, and that you are the expert, right? Of your own life and your own willingness and, and your own commitments. And so if you say to me, I don’t have the bandwidth for that, of course you are the expert on your own bandwidth. I don’t right. I love that, that idea that like, you are the one who gets to decide. I don’t get to decide if you have enough bandwidth to take on an extra commitment. That would be so ridiculous of me. Right?

Chrysta: And I, and I wanna say too, I love that you accept that so beautifully and I don’t really know that everyone would or does. Even if I’m talking about my energetic capacity. I don’t know that that’s necessarily always really well understood. I mean, I’m thinking back to Spoon Theory. Have you heard of it?

Mary: Yes. Mm-hmm.

Chrysta: Yeah. So, you know, it’s this idea that oftentimes people who are under-resourced chronically, like they might live with illness like a physical illness or chronic pain or something like that, you know, it’s that if a typical person received 10 spoons every day. Somebody who lives with a chronic illness or chronic pain, or someone who has some kind of disability or something like that, you know, I might only have five or six spoons given to me each day. So every task or activity that I engage in, I’m using my spoons. And so I’m gonna run outta spoons you know, faster than someone who gets 10 spoons a day. You know, they’re gonna have a greater capacity than I’m gonna have. So it kind of comes back to that too. And I, I think spoon theory is really commonly talked about in communities where people are you know, they’re having a disability or dealing with chronic pain or something like that. But in the greater world, I don’t know that it’s there. And I, and I feel like part of what the idea of Spoon Theory came from was this idea that someone from the outside looking in at a person who may have a limited capacity on a regular basis and being like, well, you’re just lazy, you’re just not trying, you’re just not working hard enough. And, and so, you know, I think this idea of spoon theory was born from being able to say like, no, this is actually, I have a limited capacity, so I’m gonna kick ass within my capacity that I do have, like personally me, I’m gonna kick ass. Within the capacity that I do have. And I think I do kick ass. But I also, me being at my best requires me to recognize that like my capacity might be different than someone else’s, and nobody benefits from me judging myself for that, nobody benefits from me judging myself for that or trying to pretend like my capacity is different than it is because, let me tell you what, I spent 10 years writing a work-life balance blog. That’s kind of how I got into this whole personal development world, was writing this work-life balance block because I kept burning myself out to the point that I was having all of these health issues, like one after another, after another, after another. And I realized I had to get a handle on it. And that really was a big part of how I did it. How I got a handle on it was to recognize that like it doesn’t matter what someone else can do. It doesn’t matter what I can do on my best day. It doesn’t matter what I wish I could do. All I can do is work within my actual capacity. And if I try to push that envelope too much my body will come in and force me to stop.

And it has happened many times over that my body, my health, has come in and said, you know, listen, I’ve tried to give you little hints. You have to manage this better and you’re not listening, so now you’re gonna be, you know, on your butt recovering from surgery or, you know, whatever the thing is. And so it’s become essential for me to have energetic boundaries, to recognize my own capacity, and to communicate that to others, because that’s literally the only way that I can function in the world, and it’s the only way that I even have a chance of like really thriving and having a, a happy, fulfilling life.

Mary: Yes. I love this. I love that. So I guess I would also say that even listeners who don’t have limitations to their capacity, right? Say maybe they are a 10 spoon a day person, right? You still get to decide.

Chrysta: Yes.

Mary: Like you still get to decide how you want to spend your energy, what your bandwidth is and how you wanna use it, right? So I understand like where that comes from and how you got to that understanding and I appreciate that so much. And I think for all the listeners out there, it’s okay to sometimes decide you don’t have the bandwidth for something , right? And it can be done from a place of love and it can be done with kindness. And you don’t have to explain it to anybody. You don’t, it’s not up for debate. You just get to decide how you wanna spend whatever amount of bandwidth that you have.

Chrysta: And what’s important to you too, right? Like I love what you’re saying because you’re right. Even if someone doesn’t have a limited capacity, I still firmly believe, and this is something I work with my clients as a career coach, you know, often is this idea of like, there’s always gonna be a lot of people who want you to do things and sometimes you even want to do things for others, you know, for a variety of reasons. But at the end of the day, you really have to decide what is most important to me and let me focus most of my energies there, let me focus most of my attention on the things that are most important to me personally. Even if there’s other things that I would enjoy, is that gonna have the same impact, the same reward that I wanna have?

And if it’s not, then those might be things that I decide not to do. And especially if it’s something that I really don’t wanna do. If it’s something that is not aligned at all for me and it’s not gonna be fun and it’s not gonna be impactful, definitely no to those things. But yeah, that decision piece is so important because it’s like, it allows me to say like, what matters to me, and it’s okay for me to focus on the things that matter most to me and to say, of the capacity that I do have, I choose to spend it in these ways because that’s what creates a meaningful and joyful life for me.

Mary: Yes, absolutely. I so agree with that, and when we’re able to focus our time and our energy and our attention and our intention on the things that are in alignment with our values and that matter most to us, it’s so empowering.

Chrysta: And inspiring to others.
Mary: Yes. Yes. Well, thanks for being that inspiration for me. I appreciate it. All right. Any last thoughts as we wrap up here, Chrysta.

Chrysta: I just want to remind all of your listeners that something that you said, you know, already here, Mary, which is that we get to decide for ourselves and that we don’t owe other people an explanation for however we decide to live our lives. That, you know, we’re the only ones we have to answer to ourselves.

Mary: Awesome. Thanks so much. I appreciate you being here, Chrysta. Chrysta: Thank you.