considering capacity

Sometimes, we want to do (or think we have to do) more than we can actually take on.

It feels like society’s constantly telling us to do more or to be better, and it’s understandable that we find ourselves discouraged, stuck or even frozen by those expectations.

One of my personal favorite ways to consider capacity is by using Spoon Theory.

If you’ve never heard of Spoon Theory: it was coined by writer and blogger Christine Miserandino in 2003. Originally tied to her chronic illness (lupus), this analogy has since been expanded to describe a wide range of disabilities, mental illnesses and other circumstances that impact an individual’s ability to complete daily tasks and activities.

The idea is this: We start each day with a set number of spoons; each spoon represents a unit of physical and mental energy capacity. What a spoon costs can vary widely from day to day and from condition to condition - which is why those with chronic conditions often have to ration their spoons. (This Washington Post article has a great visual explanation.)

Self-compassion says that it’s okay to consider your capacity, to offer yourself grace. You can find comfort and clarity in exploring what you want and in what amount.

Let’s use Spoon Theory to consider capacity: 

  • Think about your daily capacity. Is there anything in your life that regularly impacts your energy levels, your ability to focus, your sleep, your sexual desire, your emotions or your relationships? With that in mind, let’s move on to a daily exercise. 
  • In the morning, check in with your body and your mind. Let’s say you normally wake up with 12 spoons. How many spoons do you feel like you have?
  • Assess the activities on your to-do list today - how many spoons will each task require? (Bear in mind that sometimes, getting ready in the morning may take one spoon, but on other days, each individual task - getting out of bed, showering, getting dressed, etc. -  can each cost a spoon.)
  • Do you have enough spoons for your to-do list? If not (or if an unexpected thing happens that suddenly drains your spoons), use self-compassion to help you drop some things from the list or make adjustments that help your finite spoons go further. 
  • Setting boundaries with others - loved ones, colleagues and strangers - can be challenging, so you might find it helpful to have a few go-to ways to say no. This can help you make space for what you prioritize, not just what others want.

With practice, exercises like these can start to feel easier, but you might find it helpful to have someone to notice where certain patterns pop up, to encourage you to check in with how something feels in your own body and to help guide you and your body toward recovery.
If you feel like you'd like to receive some support - I’m here for you.

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Irina emits a healing energy that just feels good to be with. Each time we've met, I've relaxed into her presence, openness, authenticity and ability to offer support. She has helped me gain the perspective I needed to be more compassionate and gentle with myself. If you're ready to do the hard work of personal growth, I'd highly recommend partnering with Irina.

- April