People without chronic conditions like fibro, CFS, and Lyme haven't had the experience of budgeting their energy - and getting by on a very small budget. The spoons are the energy that you have for one day - and not the tasks themselves. If I'm really tired and having malaise, going to a crowded, noisy place might take 3 spoons.
The spoon theory is a way to make people aware that there is only so much energy to go around. Like any other budget, if you spend it one place you don't have it to spend somewhere else. I also found this series of articles interesting - from a Seattle area fibro/fatigue support group:
From the second section on finding your limits, I'll quote this (hope it's OK with the forum rules)
"The Energy Envelope
One way to explore the idea of limits is through the concept of the Energy Envelope. You can think of your situation in terms of three factors: 1) Available energy: the energy you have. It is limited, and is replenished by rest and food; 2) Expended energy: the energy you lose through physical, mental & emotional exertion; and 3) Symptoms: fatigue, brain fog, pain, and so on.
If you expend more energy than you have available, you will intensify your symptoms. This is called living outside the Energy Envelope. This approach commonly leads to the push and crash cycle described above. An alternative is living inside the Energy Envelope. If you keep your expended energy within the limits of your available energy, you can gain some control over your symptoms. If you accept your limits (keeping your activity level within the limit of your available energy), you can reduce symptoms and the severity of relapses, and over time may be able to expand your limits. This is an upward spiral.
The Fifty Percent Solution & the Bowl of Marbles
Let me suggest a couple of ideas you might use if you wanted to apply the concept of the Energy Envelope. The first is called the fifty percent solution. Each day estimate how much you think you can accomplish. Then divide this in two and make it your goal to do this lesser amount. The unexpended energy is a gift of healing you are giving to your body.
The second idea is to imagine your available energy as a bowl of marbles. You have a limited number of marbles to use each day. The number may vary from day to day. Physical activity uses some, but mental and emotional activity do as well. With every activity, you take one or more marbles out of the bowl, remembering that stress is a big marble-user and so lessening stress will preserve your supply of marbles for other uses.
The overall idea in both the fifty percent solution and the bowl of marbles is that the limits imposed by the disease force us to set priorities in order to control our symptoms and bring some stability to our lives. Both techniques are ways you can reframe your situation to give yourself permission to do less as a way to promote healing."
Lyme, anxitey, depression, chronic C. Pnuemoniae
"... expect the unexpected ..." (O. Wilde)
"I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened." (Mark Twain)