Life has a way of teaching us the same lesson until we finally demonstrate competence. The universal lesson of now seems to be Tend Your Bandwidth.
Our bandwidth is both a precious and limited resource, deserving of recognition, honor, and guarding against wasteful expenditure. Where we spend our time, what we give our attention, with whom we share our energy -- it all matters a great deal, particularly in this time when so many, many, MANY things are vying loudly for more.
Recognizing and naming the capacity limits of our bandwidth is a critical first step. This allows us to step into choice about our values, our integrity, our purpose, and ultimately, our “spending habits.”
I know. It can appear almost impossible to do, especially when everything is labelled URGENT and a whole lot of things feel emergent. The last 18 months have both sensitized and primed our systems, leaving us struggling to differentiate between a problem to solve and emergency response. Given all we have and are experiencing and witnessing, the lines may feel blurry for awhile.
However understandable it may be, overspending isn’t without consequence.
I’ve come to believe that tending our bandwidth is not only necessary, but a true act of integrity. We cannot respond to every need. We cannot pour from an empty cup. And if we “overspend” on things that aren’t critical, we may ultimately find ourselves with no capacity in the moments we are most needed.
This begs some important questions: What are you doing to tend your bandwidth? Where do you need to adjust? What choices will you make to protect this resource? What choices are you making to restore capacity?
The questions are meant to be both reflective and personal, and an honest rumbling can help reveal not only who we are and what we truly value, but remind us of how we want to show up for each other, and what it means to stand in our integrity.
Importantly, the answers can help us preserve our bandwidth for the people and issues that matter most.
No. You're not irreparably broken or sick or the only one. You're simply at capacity. The cognitive overload is real, and it shows up in all kinds of ways, looking like all kinds of things. Phone a friend who will tell you the truth: we're all feeling it.
Yes. We really are *still* here.
Extend all the grace you can, beginning with yourself.
Breathe. Too many of us are walking around holding our breath. The fastest route to downregulating our nervous system is 4:8 breathing: 4 count in, 8 count out. Repeat. (I just did, three times, as I wrote this. It helps.)
Get outside and play. Laugh. Send inappropriate memes. (I ardently believe sweary memes to be a legit love-language. Someone please write that chapter of the book).
Hydrate. Yes, still. Always.
Connect with someone who loves you.
And protect your bandwidth. No one will do it for you.
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