I’d love for all of us to stop judging others on what they do and don’t achieve in life, whether they’re ‘normal’ or ill, or whether they’re ‘like us’ or not. Here’s why: we all carry a unique and limited number of ‘spoons’ to use each day. Let me explain.
The Spoon Theory is a genius analogy coined by Christine Miserandino.
The theory is especially relevant to me because I have a gut condition called Chronic Intestinal Pseudo Obstruction. This illness, along with depression, anxiety, a moderate pulmonary stenosis and an underactive thyroid, affects how much I can and can’t do on a daily basis.
The Spoon Theory is a fascinating, simple concept about the limit of physical resources a sick person has. By physical resources, I mean energy stores, muscular strength, the quality of sleep I’m able to get, and bodily malfunctions.
Anyone who sets out to understand the Spoon Theory will benefit from knowing about it, not just those with an illness or those who live with chronically ill people.
Time to read
I’ve shared the above two links, hoping you’ll read them now, before continuing with this post. Even if you consider yourself healthy and ‘normal’, please still look at them.
More than just a body
As well as the physical capacity of a person, the Spoon Theory can also be applied to a person’s mental and emotional reserves. It certainly applies to all three aspects for me, as I struggle daily to maintain homeostasis within my whole being.
In this age when depression is more widely and openly discussed, and there is greater public awareness about mental health issues, I think this is an important point to remember.
Each day, week, month, brings with it a varied amount of spoon supplies. Life is ever changing and for me, there are rarely a reliable number of spoons at my disposal each day.
If I’ve had more sleep, I have more spoons to use. If my body is being less symptomatic, I have greater concentration and more energy. If my son has been well behaved, I have more mental space to be mindful and keep my depression in check (resulting in a lower likelihood of depressive ‘slumps’). This can also apply to people who are quite well.
So many elements in life use up one’s spoon stores – not just illness. Relationship issues, children, work and many other things take away from each person’s supply. Sometimes those ‘other things’ deplete a person’s spoon supply so much that it leaves them with no spoons to use for him- or her- self at the end of a day.
Effects of The Spoon Theory
Maybe, given my medical condition, I aspire to achieve too much, but I’m determined to experience as much as a motivated healthy person in this life. I’m ambitious in spirit but poor physical and mental health has always limited what dreams I can realistically accomplish.
Because of the Spoon Theory, I’m a lot more okay with my limited capacity than I used to be. Discovering the theory brought some freedom into my life. I was able to lower the lofty height of ‘the bar’ I’d always set for myself.
My loved ones have all read about the Spoon Theory and it’s really helped them to manage their expectations of me. This has resulted in a happier, more relaxed Jodie. The funny thing is, when I’m feeling so well supported, I can generally give more back.
Got a spoon?
And that’s why I’d love us to stop judging others based on what they do and don’t achieve in life, whether they’re ‘normal’ or ill, or whether they’re ‘like us’ or not.
Everyone has their own number of spoons. Everyone has their own capacities and weaknesses to face, and strengths to deal with life’s challenges.
Why don’t we start thinking about whether we have a spare spoon we can lend to someone (sick or healthy) who doesn’t have as many as they need?
Being given a spoon is one of the greatest gifts anyone could bestow upon me. Thank you to everyone who has ever given me one of their spoons. I’ll always be grateful.