ENERGETIC AWARENESS BASICS: THE TWO TYPES OF ENERGY
Do you know anyone with a lot of self-generated energy? Have you met people who keep working on a goal or project despite the many setbacks they have faced?
Some elderly adults have more internal energy than twenty-somethings. Some working moms get more done in the few hours they have in the evenings than unemployed people without kids get done in their entire week.
The world is full of inspiring people who regularly sustain a state of inner calm that allows them to face whatever life brings their way.
How come? Energy.
In the previous post introducing energetic awareness, we established that all change requires action, and all action requires energy. We talked about Einstein’s discovery that everything that is material is ultimately energy. So as humans, our brain processes —our thoughts, emotions, and action triggers —are essentially an exchange of energy.
Your thoughts are powerful things because they start the chain reaction of thought→ emotion → action. Everything you do originates in your mind with a thought.
A thought like this one can leave you feeling apathetic and result in you avoiding to work on your problems:
Nothing in my life will ever really change…what’s the point of trying to fix things.
And a thought like this one can leave you feeling hopeful and result in you taking action:
Every problem in life has a solution that either exists or can be invented, so if I’m tired now then I’ll just rest and try again tomorrow.
A thought can make you stressed, and so your body feels tired. Or a thought can make you excited, and suddenly you are infused with a rush of energy.
As you may remember from your high school chemistry class, there are two types of energy at the cellular level: catabolic and anabolic.
Catabolic: Destructive, contracting, resisting energy.
In our bodies, catabolic chemical processes break down complex molecules to simpler ones to release energy. It’s a short term way the body deals with stressors, and it’s associated with cortisol and adrenaline.
Anabolic: Constructive, expanding, fueling energy.
In our bodies, anabolic chemical processes synthesize complex molecules from simpler ones using stored energy. It’s a long-term way the body grows, and it’s associated with endorphins and oxytocin.
Our thoughts, too, are either catabolic or anabolic.
From the examples used above, the thoughts that lead you to feel apathetic or in conflict are catabolic. And the thoughts that leave you feeling content, compassionate, peaceful, or in harmony are some examples of anabolic thoughts.
At this point, your brain may be already jumping to the conclusion that catabolic energy is bad and anabolic energy is good. But, hold that judgment for a second.
Energy is inherently neutral. For example, when you’re in a building that’s on fire, the best energy in that situation is catabolic energy of the stressful kind; it’s what allows your body to jump and run as fast as you can down the stairs even if you haven’t eaten in hours. You have to break down your muscle or fat cells in order to find the energy so quickly. But if you’re constantly in a catabolic state, you burn out and become unhealthy. So it’s appropriate for certain circumstances, but it’s not a long-term sustainable way to be living.
For the majority of the time, anabolic energy is where we need to be to experience fulfillment, productivity, creativity. The greatest advantage of anabolic energy is that it’s sustainable; it’s what builds you up to be able to do more without burning out. Just like your body uses anabolic energy to build muscles that allow you to lift heavier groceries (or, you know, weights…if that’s your thing), your anabolic energy increases your capacity for energy in the long run.
Being aware of the two types of energy is a good place to start in your journey toward energetic awareness as a way to cultivate change.
As always, it’s important to cultivate the habit of translating knowledge into action. To better prepare your mind to better benefit from this and upcoming posts, take a few minutes to answer the following questions:
How will my life likely be impacted in the long-run if I continue operating with my current levels of energy?
What will more energy allow me to do? How will that change who I am as a person?
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