Letting Go of the Cycle of Depletion - Christine Kane

Today’s post is by Jennifer Louden. Jen is a best-selling author of six books including The Life Organizer. She has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and is a national magazine columnist and radio show host. With over 875,000 copies of her books in print, she now speaks regularly to ten of thousands of women nationally.  She is most proud of raising an amazing teenage girl.
Sometimes, depletion happens because life happens: you adopt twins, launch a business, your best friend gets cancer, your father dies.

You deal, you get exhausted in the process, then you recover.

But there’s another, far sneakier and deadly, form of depletion I want shine a light on today.

This is the kind of depletion that you perpetuate because you’re afraid if you stop, you’ll be freed up to take action on your heart’s desire.

Only you don’t actually believe you have the goods, the talent, the energy to create your heart’s desire.

So you stay scattered or overcommitted or unfocused and viola! You never actually have to pursue your dream.

This kind of depletion can eat up your years of your life, your health, and even your desire to have a heart’s desire!

What’s especially insidious about this kind of depletion is you are busy. You may even be taking steps toward what you want—only you never seem to get very far because they aren’t quite the focused, bold or committed steps you need to take.

Life becomes a numbed out, depressing, gray grind.

And no amount of rest or massages or vitamins seem to help.

So what does?

Claim It

Start tracking the moments in which you keep the cycle going – when you allow a client session to go long, when you Twitter rather than paint, when you don’t tell anybody about the event you’re putting on.

Claiming is NOT an invitation to pummel yourself. Self-cruelty keeps the cycle going. Instead, see this as essential fact gathering. Facts are the way out of the overdoing / scattered doing fog that drains you. For change to happen, you first have to see the choices you are making. Keep a running log for two weeks.


Make a habit of being fed by and resting in something larger than yourself.

You need not believe in God or a higher power to do this. You did not create the gravity that is holding you to the earth or the oxygen you are breathing. Make a practice of noticing what is supporting you and letting it. Draw on it, breathe it in, rest into it. Experience this with your body rather than your mind.

You are never alone and you are always supported. Start experiencing that truth daily with your body and heart. Let it humble you and dissolve your “I have to do everything alone” story.

Go on Retreat

I’ve seen thousands of people shift the cycle of depletion and sometimes, end it entirely, by going on a retreat. I’ve heard from many more thousands who are too afraid or busy to retreat – too afraid their lives will change if they do, too afraid of being alone with themselves, too afraid of staking a claim to their own sovereignty.

These stories and these fears are far, far more frightening than anything that will ever happen to you on retreat. They’re the dragons you must slay to claim your life. They will never go away until you say, “I don’t believe you and you can’t stop me from venturing into my own heart.”

What More Would Be Possible?

My sweetheart asked me this question one day. “How many more people could you help if you got out of your own way?” I wanted to slug him, and isn’t that always a sign to pay attention? Do a free write for 5 minutes listing all the things that might be possible, the people who might be impacted, if you were rested, filled up and trusting yourself?

Plan your Day the Night Before

When you’re running on fumes, you live in reaction mode. Reaction mode drains you. When you decide how you want to focus your time and attention before your day starts, you lay claim to your right to choose your life. This doesn’t mean you won’t encounter resistance, fail to stick with your plan, or get interrupted. That’s life, not a sign you should quit. Keep your plan simple but specific and do it the night before!

Do the Highest Value Action First

When planning your day, focus on the biggest impact action that will move your dream forward and do that first. Meditating for 20 minutes, writing your novel for 30 minutes, exercising, calling a meeting planner about a speaking gig, reviewing your budget – focus in on what is often the scariest, but most powerful, action.

Wonderful creative soul, the truth is you won’t be able to give birth to your heart’s desire exactly the way you envision. Every creator holds a vision in his or her heart’s eye that is rarely exactly realized. It’s true, you may not have all the talent or smarts and energy you wish you had. You know what? It doesn’t matter. What does matter is you keep moving forward on what you most treasure. What is born and the most importantly, the process of birthing your heart’s desire, contains all the meaning and joy and renewal you crave.

Step out of the cycle of doubt and perfectionism and doing and come play with me!

If not now when?

Love yourself INTO action and OUT OF depletion with Jen Louden and 13 other world famous teachers… without even getting out of your pj’s!

Jennifer’s book, The Woman’s Retreat Book, was featured on Oprah. Now, Jen has created a Valentine’s Day weekend VIRTUAL RETREAT designed to give your creative heart a boost and your mind a rest!

The retreat package includes:

• A copy of “How To Retreat,” an eBook that helps you let go of the fear and shows you how to create the time.
• Gentle ‘Get Ready’ emails – to help you prepare for your self-caring-est weekend ever.
• Exclusive access to a members-only blog, where you will get untold amounts of support and encouragement, PLUS…
• 13 heart-expanding mini-retreats with world-renowned authors and healers.
• Easy-to-download recordings and transcripts of each mini-retreat – so you can come and go as you please.

If you sign up before February 5th, you get a $50 discount! So click here to come retreat with us!

  • Paul

    Too bad we men are not allowed this kindness and honesty with ourselves. If we looked to self-care, we would cease to be men in any way that society could understand.

    Women have the blessing of being able to stand up to their vicious cycles. Men’s vicious cycles keep the world fed, clothed, and defended, even as they create misery, loneliness and despair.

  • carolyn

    Hi Jen, I am soooooo looking forward to the retreat next weekend. One of the messages from last year’s retreat (and last month’s comfort cafe) was naming your dreams. That really scared the bejeebers outta me ’cause I realized I had no idea what, if any, dreams I had or had ever had.

    Sometime in the past couple of weeks though, it began to happen. Suddenly, a dream I had had when I was 12 popped into my mind. A couple of days later something else came up and I said loudly to my inner self, ahh, maybe that’s another dream! And so it’s been. Every couple of days I find another dream. It’s like I’m on a dreamin’ treasure hunt. Every one that I find is a gift.

    And then the big one happened: I realized that I have a dream NOW. The proverbial door has opened. Who knows what’s going to happen next?

    And then I read this post ~
    Your thoughts about planning your day the NIGHT before & not living in a REACTIVE mode have really struck a bell inside of me today. It’s one of those huge monastery bells that dings so loud any body nearby vibrates.

    In-between all the clanging that’s going on here, thanks JEN.

  • Lisa

    Hiya Jennifer! It’s so fun to run into you here! 🙂 Anyhow, once again, you’ve nailed so many things, and I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to the retreat…. Both you and Christine have taught me so much about getting out of my own way, and I can’t tell you how good it’s felt to reach past the resistance, breathe through the fear, and stretch past my own self-proclaimed limitations. Here’s to many more retreats… both virtual and otherwise! Hugs!

  • Jennifer Louden

    oh Andrea, thank you for saying so! And Charlotte, claiming is a huge, and often overlooked, step toward changing!

  • Andrea

    Dear Jennifer, Thank you for all the work you do in this area of support and all the great people you bring together. I have participated and enjoyed many of your past retreats and seminars and you and your guest speakers are inspirational. There is a world of help out there! Thanks for introducing me to some of it.

  • Charlotte Rains Dixon

    I love the idea of “claiming it.” I’ve learned over and over again that simply observing the behavior I want to stop–wasting time, not eating consciously, whatever–is a powerful step toward change. Sometimes it is the only thing I need to do.

  • Jennifer Louden

    Thanks Laura! Addiction to crazy busy is easier than doing what we really want, which is mostly to make the world a better place, express ourselves authentically, and the love the heck out of people. Self-care makes all that more possible, heck, breathing makes it more possible but it frightens our reptile brain so off we do into doing. Hope to hear you at the Virtual Retreat or see you at a live one this year!

  • Laura

    What an insightful post into our addiction to “crazy busy.” You put into words what I have both experienced and observed in so many of my own clients. Now I understand what’s going on beneath the surface of things so much better. My own life has gotten so much better ever since Christine showed me that self care is NOT selfish! Your retreat sounds good, I’m going to read about more closely later today. Take care!

  • Jennifer Louden

    What brilliant comments all around. Reading your wisdom gives me energy and courage. Now, it might be time for a nap! May we each continue to find our way and do it with integrity, love, and joy!

  • Shishi

    This post was a great reminder to me that I need to keep working towards my dreams even though it may seem that it is a slow road. I like your suggestions for getting organized and I plan on starting my ‘free write’ today and take action. Thanks Shishi

  • kathryn magendie

    Never thought of “Depletion” in that way! I think that’s what I did for a long time – the “I don’t deserve to be happy” thing that you don’t realize you are wearing like an old nasty worn out coat – until one day that coat is so heavy, you shuck it off: Freedom! *smiling*

    Lovely article!

  • Helen Ross-Hamilton

    Two weeks ago my coach asked me why I was sabotaging myself (been trying to get going on writing my first e-book – have title, & loads of notes) for about 18 months.
    Your article speaks exactly to what I’m discovering is going on. It’s that old story of “but what if it’s only mediocre”. Two things you’ve said have landed solidly: that it doesn’t matter if I don’t have all the talent and smarts that I wish I had. But to get on with it anyway. And particularly that the *process* of “birthing” is important – I’d completely missed this aspect of the whole thing. Now it occurs to me that I might even (give myself permission to) enjoy the process!

  • Jennifer Louden

    Sue, I bet I still have that letter in my attic! I’m so glad I was able to help.

    Sam, we all need reminders, don’t we… it’s so odd but true. Self-care takes awareness above all.

    Alisha, no more fumes. Do one gentle fill you up action today. Just one. Over at the Comfort Cafe, which is my membership site, we keep learning how to fill back up in small ways. It’s a constant learning but so worth it.

    thanks for your comments!

  • alisha

    Wow, this is so exactly what I needed to read today. We often forget how important self-care is. I have felt like I’ve been running on fumes lately, so I’m taking the time to re-evaluate how I spend my time throughout the day…what thoughts and actions serve me and my goals. Thanks for this post!

  • Sam

    What a wonderful post! I remember a time when I was so depleted, that I just “caved” at work(substitute teacher). Luckily a dear friend,(and guidance counselor) put me in her office and took over my classes for the day. That’s what I call support. I sobbed for a full hour and then fell asleep. I realized that I had not had a vacation in 5 years! I have since learned to stop, and rest. I take time off, I light candles and even sometimes ask my husband to help me take things slowly and quietly. I breathe. And it’s just as you said. I can help more people. Children as well as adults! Your post will serve as a reminder for me to keep taking care of myself. Because I now know that in order to reach out to others I need to take care of me first!

  • Sue Sullivan

    It’s so wonderful to see you here. In the mid-90’s I read your Women’s Comfort Book and wrote you a letter. You wrote back and helped me to see that nurturing myself was one of the most important steps I could take to deal with the challenges I faced in my life. I was in a dire situation at that time and what you wrote helped me climb out and eventually walk into a great life. I appreciate the gifts you’re sharing with us!