Have you ever been using your phone when suddenly it becomes uncharacteristically sluggish? You check the battery, but you’re still good with 23% so you check to see if you have a software update, but everything looks good there, too. Finally, you check to see what apps are open and it all makes sense - you have 32 apps running in the background.
The reason your device is slow is because it’s bogged down. The apps running in the background are taking up valuable bandwidth and impacting performance. Luckily, many of us have learned what to do when the signs of an overloaded device appear. We close the unnecessary apps and, just like that, the device is moving at lightning speeds again.
It turns out that bandwidth issues aren’t just a tech phenomenon. They’re a human one as well. While the impact of a bogged down device is mostly inconvenience, it’s more serious when it comes to human beings. Operating at 50% capacity can leave us feeling numb, depressed, and empty. I call this disempowerment, and it’s something I experienced firsthand just last week.
I woke up Monday morning with a sense of exhaustion and anxiety for seemingly no reason. As I continued throughout my morning routine, it felt like someone had secretly filled my wheelchair tires with lead - everything felt hard. I was distracted and unmotivated. “Maybe I didn’t get enough sleep…”, I wondered.
Later that day, I pulled up to my table to write and couldn’t think of a single creative or inspiring idea. Still not recognizing the clues of disempowerment, I blamed myself for being incompetent and played a video game instead. For 3 days, I just felt “meh”. Not miserable, but certainly not fulfilled or inspired. My frustration reaching capacity, I looked around my normally tidy house to see garbage piled on the kitchen island, the floor unswept and crumby, and a mound of laundry that had been sitting on my dining room table for several days. “WHAT IS GOING ON!?” I thought.
Within moments of investigating my days-long disempowerment, I found the source. It was an issue that I was experiencing with my family that needed to be resolved. It was nothing life-altering, but I was experiencing hurt and anger, and it was consuming all that beautiful horsepower that is usually available for other areas. I picked up the phone, called the individual, and in just a few minutes, everything was complete.
Only seconds after I hung up the phone, I felt it. Freedom. When I went to write, all the ideas were there. I cleaned up my house and put my garbage in its proper place. I even made my bed. I was operating at 5G speeds again. And this is how it goes, dear friends: we are empowered until we are not, and then there is simply something to discover to return to freedom.
You see, I was dealing with all the telltale signs of a human bandwidth issue. My mind felt foggy, I felt totally out of touch with who and what I wanted to be, and I was constantly searching for something to numb and avoid. Classic disempowerment.
I had justified to myself that the family issue was not a big deal and not worth the uncomfortable conversation. In an act of pure denial, I casually pushed around the world at a miserable 50% bandwidth, telling myself, “This is fine”, like the meme of that iconic dog melting in a burning house. And guess what? I really was fine. I still ate. I made it to my appointments. I even moisturized once or twice.
This is a tolerable state of existence for most of us, but I think that is exactly what makes it so dangerous. Disempowerment is an injection of lidocaine to the soul, quietly numbing our insides. Over time, this state becomes a stupor like a still and lifeless swamp. We forget what it is to be joyful, fulfilled, and inspired. Indeed, we begin to believe that such things only exist in fairy tales. We may hear ourselves saying, “This is just life.”
But I don’t think it is “just life“. I believe that we are here on this planet to do much more than endure and survive. I believe that we are here to be unleashed and self-expressed, moved by who we are and what’s possible for our lives. If I leave this life with any level of awareness or time to reflect, I hope I will look back and say, “What a miraculous, unbelievable life I lived.” Not because my life was easy or fun, but because I was empowered, free no matter what was occurring around me.
Living an empowered life is a practice, a skill that can be developed. So, if you notice that your operating speeds seem low, or if you feel that dull state of unease and dissatisfaction, just take a gentle peek at what you’re dealing with. Here are some questions I use:
- Who am I hurt by?
- Am I angry with someone (that someone can be yourself, too)?
- Where am I experiencing fear or anxiety?
- What’s causing stress?
Sometimes, I use the formula, “I feel insert emotional state because insert reason/story.
This small practice is life altering. The sole act of distinguishing a pain point in concise language brings power to deal (or not) with what you have found.
I have no doubt that you have an awe-inspired existence to fulfill upon. If you don’t have that knowledge for yourself, that’s okay. You can borrow mine. You were made for so much more than a life at 50%. By closing one little metaphorical app at a time you’ll slowly begin to notice the lights flickering back on inside of you. You’ll find, to your surprise, that everything you’ve been searching for has been right there waiting for you. It’s you, love. It’s you you’ve been looking for all along.