Remember how you felt when your kids wouldn’t get off Minecraft, no matter how many times you asked them to? This is a perfect example of catabolic energy. Catabolic energy doesn’t feel great. It may feel like anger or resentment, and it isn’t the healthiest for you. Instead, learn how to shift to a more helpful energy so you can feel happier more often.
Below is the podcast version of this article. The podcast explains things so much better than a blog post. I invite you to listen and also hear some examples and enjoy some laughs! You can subscribe to the Podcast by opening your favorite podcast app and typing “Balanced Working Moms” into the search or click here for a link to the podcast on iTunes.
Is there a Type?
I love the name of this blog post.
This is intriguing because you may not even know what energy is.
You’re thinking right now, energy is something I don’t have. I’ll be happy to just have energy, I don’t care what type it is. Just give it to me!
Trust me, you don’t just want any kind of energy. You want the right TYPE of energy.
The wrong type of energy is not something I recommend. It’s not the healthiest. Let’s explain.
Two Types of Energy
Let’s look at some examples so you can see if you can understand the difference between the two types.
Everyone Loves Raymond
Let’s take the sitcom Everyone Loves Raymond. This show is a good one to use for this blog because the wife, Debra, balances a lot of the same things you may also be juggling.
In case you’re not familiar with it, the show was about a family, Mom, Dad, 3 young kids, and the Dad’s parents lived across the street.
The husband, Raymond, was a nice guy but not overly involved with the family or household. He left a lot on Debra’s shoulders. He didn’t like conflict so he avoided it at all costs.
And his parents weren’t the easiest to deal with. I saw them as nice people but they had lots of boundary issues. Not only would they pop over all the time, but Raymond’s Mom would often say things that weren’t nice to Debra, so it was emotional boundaries that were the most hurtful. And her husband wouldn’t put a stop to it.
It was hard on Debra, she was juggling the house, the kids, the in-laws, with not much help from her husband.
In many of the episodes, she was depleted and exhausted. Exasperated. Angry.
I actually chose this show because I never enjoyed watching it.
Debra’s was such a great actress that her energy was palatable. You could see through the screen how upset she was. She was always exasperated.
If you’ve never watched the show, I hope you can picture what I’m talking about.
A Mom who gets very little support and she’s just “done.”
This type of energy is called Catabolic Energy.
Now let’s look at Schitt’s Creek.
Unlike Everyone Loves Raymond, I couldn’t stop watching this show.
In this show, a wealthy family loses their fortune and get’s stuck living in a run-down motel.
I started watching the show and didn’t realize how popular it was. And I couldn’t stop. I had no idea how I was so addicted.
But part of it was the character, Moira Rose.
Moira used to be a star on a soap opera and she’s reduced to living in a seedy hotel.
What does she do?
She brings her sizable wig collection, distinctive wardrobe, and she makes the best out of the situation.
She joins the town choir. She wears her incredible outfits even though no one in the town would ever wear such a thing.
She didn’t have a fake energy of “let’s pretend to make the best out of this.” You watched the show and felt she was being real. She was her crazy nutty self and she rolled with whatever life dealt her. She could be a little nutty, but she has a zest for life.
This type of energy is called Anabolic.
When I was watching Schitt’s Creek, at the end of the episode I just felt good. It could have been Moira. Though it was probably David because I absolutely loved him. Who knows.
But when I was done watching an episode, I felt happy and joyous.
And then later I found out that this show was ridiculously popular.
And one of the reasons, I think, is because when you were done watching an episode, you were left feeling good. Optimistic even though these poor people were stuck in an awful life situation. You saw them grow and become better people.
Two Types of Energy
As you can see, even if the examples aren’t perfect, there are two types of energy.
1) Catabolic Energy
2) Anabolic Energy
And you can tell from their names which is which.
Catabolic is the type of energy you feel when your kids won’t turn off games to do their homework. Your blood starts boiling. Your sympathetic nervous system gets triggered. You’re angry. Or maybe you feel like a failure of a Mom because you cannot seem to get these kids off game sites. UGH!!
This type of energy is draining. It’s exhausting. It’s why as Moms we feel like we want to keel over and collapse. Because the kids won’t just sit for 15 minutes and finish their homework! They’ll spend 3 hours avoiding it and we know, it’ll only take 15 minutes to do that homework. If they would just focus……
Is It Bad?
Now, you may be thinking that catabolic energy is bad. And it can be. But it can also be good.
Sometimes we need catabolic energy. We need to feel angry so we can make a change. Or if something sad happens in our life, we need to sit in the sadness and not avoid it.
If someone close to us dies, we may NEED to be catabolic energy, for example, so we can heal. It’s okay for something hard to happen and to be in catabolic energy.
There were plenty of examples in Schitt’s Creek where someone was feeling badly and sitting in catabolic energy. There’s nothing wrong with it, in my opinion, as long as it’s temporary.
Long-Term Isn’t Recommended
Most of the time, staying in catabolic energy won’t be where you want to be long-term. It’s considered a destructive energy. It’s often associated with stress.
Catabolic energy makes our body release adrenaline, cortisol, and other hormones related to stress. The exact things needed to turn a nice, gentle, beautiful Mom from the sweet person we know to a Momster.
When you think of a Momster, this is what’s going on. A Mom is screaming and yelling because she’s seriously stressed out.
And these hormones work. They give you energy and help you deal with things in the short term. To deal with work stress. Home stress. Make dinner, etc.
But in the long-term, this can be bad for your health, both mentally and physically. Not to mention your relationship with your kids.
You don’t want to live your life like Debra in our first example where you’re always frustrated and upset. That’s not healthy.
The other type of energy, Anabolic, is healthier in the long term. It’s constructive, healing energy.
When the brain isn’t under stress our brains release chemicals that can optimize our body’s systems.
This means as Mom, you can think. You’re not yelling. You come up with creative solutions. You’re positive and look at the bright side of things.
Not fake positive, either. You genuinely see opportunities where others may see things as negative. You’re helping your family because you want to, not because you’re the Mom and there’s no one else to do it.
This is the energy where things feel easy.
It’s easy to get the kids off to school, yourself to work, the house clean, dinner made, homework done, and the millions of things you do every day.
But when you’re in catabolic energy and resentful, all those things feel like a mountain and you can’t possibly do it.
Catabolic energy is heavy while anabolic is light and joyful.
Shifting Your Energy
I’m guessing your next question to me — but how do I shift?
I’m tired. There’s so much to do. I know I need to be a better place, but HOW?
When I work with my clients one-on-one, I help them at a deep level so they learn to do this on their own. We go through the things that are bothering them and we shift their perspective on things so they see the situation in an anabolic way.
Pretty powerful stuff, isn’t it?
For example, one person I worked with was so stressed about work, she could barely function as a Mom (or a person!). She kept thinking about the different ways people at work were nasty to her. It consumed her. She couldn’t be there for her kids because she was always so upset. Let’s call her Jamie.
BTW, Jamie gave me permission to talk about her in this blog.
So what was Jamie’s solution? How could we change her energy to anabolic?
The way Jamie chose to do this was to level-up her self-care, self-love, and self-compassion.
She was being bombarded by messages at work, telling her she wasn’t good enough. So in her case, what she needed to increase her own levels of self-talk to remind herself that she was good enough. She needed self-compassion to help her feel better when she felt badly. She needed to make these messages much louder than the ones at work telling her otherwise, so she would believe them and not the negative ones.
It’s a Process
Shifting your energy is a process.
It took Jamie many tries to shift her energy till she found a solution that worked for her.
She did many things that didn’t work.
- She tried to rationalize what was going on. She told herself, eh. It’s just work. Who cares. Maybe for someone else, that would have worked, but it didn’t work for Jamie in her circumstance.
- She also cried a lot, complained a lot, all the things we all do when we’re upset. That didn’t help, either.
For her, she had to focus extra on self-love and self-compassion and really up level her self-talk so she was filled with anabolic energy.
All the other things she tried were part of her journey.
When you try something and doesn’t work, you learn from that, too.
Apply This To Your Own Life
Now that you know about catabolic and anabolic energy, think about how you can apply this to your own life.
First, what situations put you in catabolic energy? That’s always step one, to even notice that you’re feeling icky. Perhaps you’re feeling like a victim, angry, or just not in a happy place.
And next, what can you do to change your thoughts so you’re in a more anabolic energy?
How can you take a difficult situation, add a fancy wig to it and a funky outfit that makes you feel great about yourself, and have a good time with it?
I hope this blog post was eye-opening.
If you never thought of energy in this way, you’ll now start noticing.
Hmmm, I have some catabolic energy around making dinner. Isn’t that interesting?
And then when you notice it, that’s when you can start sifting it. You can think of ways to make things more fun, or perhaps give yourself some extra self-care so you won’t be as depleted.
When you change your energy, you change your life. It’s one of the biggest gifts you can give yourself.
Wishing you lots and lots of wonderful anabolic energy,