Plugging Emotional Energy Leaks

Besides the obvious things that use up our energy each day -- work, family duties, daily chores -- there are more subtle elements that sap your physical vitality as well as your potential for living well. Call them "psychic energy leaks."

These are self-defeating behaviors like guilt or worry that rob us not only of physical energy, but drain our spirits as well. You may be so used to them that you're not even aware of how they force you to row against the tide --but patching those leaks can help you experience smooth sailing!

LIVING IN THE PAST OR THE FUTURE: If you dwell on the great life you had in college or are waiting for your "real life" to start after you've lost weight/gotten married/gotten a better job, you're throwing away your most important energy resource: the Now. The past is gone, the future isn't here yet, but in the present moment, you have power. Don't throw it away!

HOLDING A GRUDGE: Carrying around the invisible excess baggage of grudges is as exhausting as lugging around a complete set of Samsonite all day. Many people would rather "be right" than have peace within themselves or with the person that hurt them. The irony is that holding a grudge only takes away from your life. Who are you still mad at? Give it up already -- forgive, forget and move on.

WORRY: "The fearful die a thousand deaths, the brave only one." Words to live by. When we worry, we tend to imagine consequences that are far worse than what happens in reality. Thus we are literally "making it up," agonizing over complete fiction! Is this any way to spend your time? And since our brains work like a computer, acting on the information fed it, it's likely that obsessing over something may create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Why not feed your brain the information that says, no matter what curves life throws us, we are equipped to handle them and will do so if and when they come along. Then start living in the here and now!

GUILT: Guilt is a man-made emotional response that, in effect, tells society that even if you do something "bad," feeling guilty about it shows you're still a "good" person. This kind of complicated manipulation is exhausting, plus beating yourself up over something that's locked in the past won't change the outcome. A healthier response is to admit that we will make mistakes, but rather than feel bad about them, identify them, learn from them and go from there.

LACK OF FORGIVENESS: Studies show that the act of forgiveness has a powerful beneficial affect on the person doing the forgiving. In fact, letting go of old anger and hurts has often helped resolve seemingly unrelated issues like addictions and depression. Admittedly however, forgiveness is tough -- remember how we'd rather be "right" than have peace? Keep in mind that "forgiveness" doesn't mean you're condoning their actions or letting them off the hook: it means acknowledging that they did what they could at the time with what they knew or understood.

You don't have to call or write every person you want to forgive --simply picture them in your minds and when you feel that old sense of hurt or anger rearing its ugly head, say to yourself, "I forgive you and release you" and send positive thoughts their way. When you forgive (and this includes forgiving yourself) you're the big winner, freeing yourself up to live a healthier, happier, more productive life!

Source: Personal Transformation, Jan. 1997