In Part I of our message on Energy, we focused on the types of positive energy that can help sustain our efforts to reap an abundant harvest in the important areas of life. Things that do not have a “Finish Line” like family relationships, our health and well-being, and the legacy we leave behind. We also described the reality that we do not have an unlimited capacity of energy, so we need to ensure we maximize the positive and minimize the amount of negative energy in our lives. Today’s message is about negative energy and how we can minimize its impact in our lives.
There are some common sources of negative and unproductive energy that we need to address as we continue to build and strengthen our character. It would be a bit disingenuous for any of us to say we do not deal with negative or unproductive energy from time to time. Today, we are going to shine some light on a few problem areas, in the hope that we can more effectively deal with them.
Below are a few common sources of negative and unproductive energy.
Worry: Many of us struggle with worry in a number of areas. We worry about our family, work, finances, war, etc. Many of these things are big and important. Also, we probably worry about the not so big and important things like how we compare to others in our personal and professional lives. Worry can be a significant source of negative energy in our lives. Sustaining high levels of worry is unhealthy and needs to be addressed.
The best path to minimizing worry in our lives is to focus our efforts on controlling what we can control and begin to take action. If we are worried about a close relationship, just sitting there and worrying about it is not an effective choice. Begin by making a modest plan and start working the plan. Even if the relationship is too damaged to speak directly with the other person, we can still make steady progress simply beginning to think and journal about the struggle. Eventually, we will build up the courage to take the next step. We can effectively replace the negative energy around worry when we take a positive step towards addressing the concern. We don’t need to take big, bold steps; small steps in the right direction are all we need to put some positive energy into a difficult situation. In addition, history is a great teacher, if we are willing to learn. The vast majority of things we worry about never happen.
Anger-Bitterness-Resentment: I could break these three apart, but they have a tendency to travel together. We typically hold onto these negative feelings when someone did something to us or said something to us that we felt was unkind, unjustified, or was the truth we were just not ready to accept. In addition, sometimes we become envious of someone else and these three negative feelings follow on the heels of envy pretty consistently. Although we may be pretty good at rationalizing our way into these feelings, the reality is that they result in an unhealthy level of negative energy and need to be addressed.
Below are three ways we can minimize the negative energy around the feelings of anger-bitterness-resentment. As with most things, the easy, low risk path often returns the smallest rewards. The more difficult, high risk path most often returns the greatest reward. We all have our own tolerance for balancing risk and reward and the choice is ours alone to make.
(1) Ignore: “Shake it off” or let it roll off you like “water off a duck’s back.” This is the easiest path to take and like most easy things, returns the smallest reward in terms of minimizing negative energy. However, it is a good step in the right direction.
(2) Forgiveness: This is where things get tougher. Genuinely giving up our perceived right to “get even” and hurt someone back can provided us with a solid boost of positive energy as we clear the issue from our plate of activity. Eliminating the negative energy around the grind of “getting even” or stewing over the misdeed through forgiveness, can free up a tremendous amount of capacity for positive energy to replace the void. Forgiveness involves a little more risk, more effort, and returns a potentially bigger reward.
(3) Grace: This is the most difficult of all steps. Basically, grace is going out of our way to be kind, considerate, and a blessing to someone who we feel hurt us. This takes a great deal of effort and it more often than not, produces the greatest rewards. Demonstrating grace is the biggest game changing step to take any relationship in a positive direction. It has an exponential effect on the amount of positive energy within an individual and an equally significant impact on reducing or eliminating negative energy when we have been hurt. Demonstrating grace is not for the weak or faint of heart and the rewards, measured over the long journey of life, are unmatched in building healthy, strong relationships.
Lost: Most of us lose our way from time to time. Whether we are on the highway towards a new vacation spot or on the proverbial “highway of life,” we get lost. In both situations, we spend a great deal of unproductive energy wandering around when we could be more productive with our energy if we took some time to figured out where we are and where we need to go.
There are a few simple, but often underutilized steps to minimize this unproductive energy drain and free up capacity for more positive energy.
On “the street” searching for a destination: (1) Ask for directions much sooner than we have in the past (2) Instead of yelling at our travel companion, we should ask for their help. They bring a different perspective from their seat and at this point, a different viewpoint may help (3) When in doubt, upgrade the software on your GPS.
On the “highway of life” searching for a destination: Spend some quality time figuring out where you really want to go, make a plan, and then make decisions to start heading in that direction. Spending the time upfront is critical, but so few people actually do it. Einstein is quoted as having said that if he had one hour to save the world he would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution. We should use a similar construct as we determine our life’s destination. Where do we want to go…spend some time thinking about it. Then buckle-up and head on down the road in that direction.
As we take steps to maximize the amount of positive energy and minimize the negative energy, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® to achieve our goals and strengthen our relationships.