How to Stop Wasting Energy

We spend so much of our energy on things that aren’t actually useful to us. Often times this loss isn’t obvious to us; it’s not like a gas leak in our car that we can see pouring onto the pavement. It’s usually more like a computer constantly running in the background, depleting our resources without us being fully conscious of it. We’re habituated to think and act in certain ways. Even those of us who are committed to consciousness need to constantly ask ourselves who is acting and why.

Here are a few ways many of us waste our energy and tips on how to stop:

1) Gossip/Negativity The sad truth is that gossip is a way for us to feel better about our own lives by needing others’ lives to be worse. On top of the negative energy we’re consuming we’re also wasting countless hours focused on drama. This is common enough in our personal lives, and the media has hopped on board to provide us yet another outlet to waste our minds. We hop from article to article searching for the secret stories from popular people we don’t know and never will. Most of this gossip perpetuates the focus on negativity and triviality in our culture. We’re training our brains for negativity. We’re wasting our time and attention on subjects that bring nothing positive to our lives or our culture. There are so many important, really important things going on in this world, but we’ve chosen to care about trivial matters over the ones that really need our attention.

How to stop wasting energy here Here’s an obvious one: stop partaking in gossip and negativity. A few years ago I decided to simply refuse to click on any link that referred to celebrities. It’s really none of my business who is sleeping with who in this world, and it doesn’t add any value to my life or the lives of anyone else. So I suggest resolving not to click on any online links that relates to gossip. Focus on the bright side. Surround yourself with people who are talking about something meaningful. Remove yourself from any gossip newsletter or forum (The Huffington Post Celebrity section included). If you have a Facebook “friend” who is constantly posting negative things simply unfollow their feed. Remember that you can choose the information you take in and put out. Turn the conversation around. Say something meaningful. Notice how you feel when you gossip. There’s a part of you in there that really doesn’t like it, that knows it feels bad. Learn to listen to that part of yourself.

2) Comparison We are constantly comparing ourselves to others. Constantly. It’s something that’s so engrained in us it’s easy to miss. We’re incessantly measuring ourselves up to other people’s success, beauty, fashion, lifestyle, place in life, and so on. There are two expressions of comparison:

  1. We devalue ourselves. Shit. She’s doing what I want to do and she’s doing it so much better than I ever could and she’s more beautiful than me and speaks so much more eloquently than I ever will. She’s working from Thailand?! Dammit. I want to be working from Thailand. You’re kidding me. That’s her fiance? Her life is perfect. Why don’t I have a fiance yet? I wish my life was more like hers.
  2. We devalue others as a defense mechanism. What’s she’s doing isn’t that cool and when I do it I’ll be doing it so much better and she’s not really as smart as me because she’s not talking about ____ or maybe she is smarter than me but I don’t think she’s prettier than me. She has a funny nose. No, she’s definitely not prettier than me. Plus, she talks like a valley girl. Who can really take her seriously? 

What we’re doing is turning people into objects with success and beauty stats and measuring our lives up to theirs. In doing so, they become a threat to us and, in turn, we’re incapable of seeing their humanity. The amount of energy we waste here is insane and the destruction we create within ourselves and our culture is alarming. Everywhere we look there’s someone to compare ourselves to, and we unconsciously do it at every encounter. We measure ourselves up to everyone, most typically within our peer group, and we tell ourselves story after story about how we need to be something different than who we actually are.

How to stop wasting energy hereStart with paying attention to your thought patterns. Notice the ways in which you compare yourself to others without judgement. Then learn how to accept yourself for who you are as you are right now. No other person can threaten your sense of self by being themselves. In learning to love and accept ourselves for who we are we remove the falsely perceived external threat and competition. We’re then in a space to support the success and joy others attain without feeling it threatens our own. Each living creature on the planet is an expression of this amazing evolutionary process. Some of us are physically similar, some of us have similar desires, but each of us is unique just by being. Each time we try to tweak ourselves to be a little bit more like someone else we’re destroying the inherent beauty within.

3) Money When we avoid opening mail, are late on payments, don’t know where our money is going, and have no clue how much our bills are each month we’re in trouble. These unknowns become a part of our subconscious. Avoidance is a delusion of escape. We can’t actually escape anything. We think we’re avoiding something, but what we’re actually doing is putting it on the back burner and walking away. The energy is still burning away, but nothing is cooking.

How to stop wasting energy hereBecome conscious of all your finances. Create a Mint account. Create a budget. Know where your money is going and how much your bills are each month. Refuse to be a victim to currency. I recently got a parking ticket while I was getting coffee. In Los Angeles the signs can be ridiculous, and as careful as I tried to be I misread a sign and ended up buying a $70 coffee. My mind started spewing all the other ways I could have spent that money, blamed myself for being careless, wished I’d only parked on a different street. I took a deep breath and realized that it was over. The ticket was issued. There was nothing I could do about it but try to be even more careful in the future. I forgave myself for the mistake I made, drove home, walked in the door, and paid the ticket that moment. I let it go. I could have put the payment off for a week or two, left it sitting on my desk, put it on my to-do list, left the back burner on. Instead I chose to let it go by taking care of it and forgiving myself for the mistake.

4) Dieting Dieting has become so commonplace in our culture we hardly bat an eye when a friend mentions she’s on one. Dieting is a get rich quick scheme. There is no quick and easy way to a healthy lifestyle. It’s the on again off again that depletes our energy. We put ourselves on a hamster wheel. We get excited for the next new thing, try it our with gusto for a few weeks, fall off, self deprecate for a few weeks or months, and then start the next new thing. We think things will be different this time. No, they actually won’t. Wanna know why? Because it’s not about the tactic. It’s about you and your relationship to self. Dieting is psychological. To go on a diet means we have tricked ourselves into believing that there is something we can do short term that is going to provide us long term results.

How to stop wasting energy here Firmly decide to never “diet” again and instead choose a diet. A diet is really a habitual way of eating. Eat differently habitually, neverendingly, for good. Make your body move every single day. Find joy in it so you can create sustainable change. Take baby steps until you notice your life is totally different than it was before. And that’s a good thing, by the way. If something is off in your life you typically can’t just fix that one thing. You have to change. Dieting is the desire to continue avoiding the real cause of the problem. Realize that and a big shift will happen.

5) Being Afraid Fear is killing us all. The energy is slowly and quietly draining away until there’s nothing left, until we’re left wondering what the hell happened to our lives. Fear is alive in our biggest moments, in the moments when we need it least. It’s there pushing us to choose what is safe, what’s comfortable, and what ends up creating suffering.

How to stop wasting energy hereAllow yourself to see the truth. Ask yourself in each moment, “Am I afraid?” If so, “What am I afraid of?” The answers are almost always irrational. I just went through a breakup where there was an immense amount of love between the two of us, but the timing was off. I asked myself what I was afraid of, and the answer was losing him. So I dug deeper. Why was I afraid of losing him? Because I was afraid I wouldn’t find that kind of love again. Seeing these truths are liberating. We can realize they are irrational. No one really wants to live in fear. Fear suffocates everyone and everything. Love is freeing and allows for the best part of ourselves to emerge. Once we choose where we want to come from and are willing to see where we are actually coming from our decisions in life become much clearer.

If you decide to stop wasting energy in these areas you will feel dramatic changes. Some may happen immediately and others will take time. But, you’re going to feel free. You’re going to feel space. You’re going to have more time. So spend it where it matters. Enjoy the moment—really be in it. Learn something new; help your brain grow. Give your love and receive it. Make something meaningful. We don’t get to choose how much time we have here, but we can choose how we spend the time we do have.