Like I’ve mentioned before, I’ve spent a lot of time developing theories about myself and the rest of humanity. Maybe it’s a writer thing, I don’t know, but I find it helpful to be able to understand those around me. Gives me an idea of what I need to do to take care of myself a little better, and how to communicate effectively with the important people in my life. Of course, I’m going to be talking about another one of those theories today, and I hope it’ll help you learn some things about yourself as well.
I grew up with video games – in particular, JRPGs like Final Fantasy. I use them for a lot of different metaphors in my life, but I’m pretty sure anyone, regardless of gaming history, will be able to understand what I’m trying to say with this.
Start off by imagining that you’re a video game character, alright? Obviously, this means that you have a hit point bar. To keep it simple, every morning when you wake up, your hit points generally reset to 100. By the end of the day, depending on what you did with your time, they’re often depleted, right?
Let me give you an example timeline from my own life
- Start the morning off with 100
- Go to work for an eight hour shift. Have difficult customers. Hit points at 80
- Made plans with friends after. Hit points 60
- Have to help out with dinner. Hit points 50
- Have to go straight to bed because I have an early morning. Hit points 40
- Wake up the next day early with no chance of recuperating. Hit points start up at 80.
Sort of get it? Everything you do will do one of three things to your hit point bar: deplete it, keep it even, or build it back up. In which case, it becomes a matter of learning which activities fall into which category.
If you’re still a little confused, the hit point scale is more a way to measure your emotional energy levels than anything else. As people, we understand physical exhaustion well, but do very little to study up on emotional well being.
In my own life, I figured out that socializing really takes it out of me. I enjoy it, yes, but depending on the person I’m seeing, it can either drain me a small amount, or completely. I know that waking up early means that I’ll probably start my morning off with less than 100. Spending time alone writing, drinking tea, or playing video games helps me recharge and bring my hit points back up. I also know that it takes me much longer to regain points than it does to deplete them, so I have to be very careful to make sure that I’m not overbooking myself, and that I take an adequate amount of time to recharge.
However, my point is not to talk about me. Take a moment to think about your own hit point bar. What things ‘do damage’ to you? What activities can you do that can ‘heal’ you? Not that I have the answers to anything, but whether you want to think about things in terms of hit points or otherwise, I think this is important to keep in mind, especially if you’re someone like me who struggles with anxiety and depression. Another thing you could do is look at your day like colours, for example. I usually equate moods with different shades. However you want to swing it, I’ve found that thinking about myself in terms of a health bar really helped sme to figure myself out, and start removing things from my life that do nothing but drain me.
Making things a bit more complicated, there’s also the horrible option of being ‘poisoned.’ If I work too much without recharging, or the lower my hit points get, the faster they deplete. Early mornings without a chance to settle into the day, for example, act as a sort of poison for me, making me more open and vulnerable to take damage. On the flip side, spending time dressing myself up all fancy gives me a second line of defense, and helps keep my hit points up. Just like in video games, I consider these to be ‘status ailments:’ variables you can or can’t control that effect the rate in which your emotional energy drops or increases. Identifying which things impact you is another good way to ensure that you’re planning your days and weeks properly. For example, if I have an early morning, I’ll combat it by wearing something I think is really cute, in order to balance things out a little.
This week, I challenge you to really stop and pay attention to your energy levels and what effects them. Maybe you’ll be able to learn something new about yourself.