One of my clients recently had an appointment at the DMV. She arrived there only to find out that they messed up her appointment, and it would be 60 days before she could get another one.
But instead of letting it ruin her day, she asked herself a brilliant question: “How much of my precious energy do I want to spend being pissed off about this when I know I have other things I really want to focus on today?”
In that moment, she acknowledged her frustration and disappointment and chose to let it go. She was able to channel her energy toward working on a project that was very meaningful to her.
Sometimes, we treat our energy like it is an unlimited resource. But, the fact is, we only have so much energy to use on any given day, and we need to be thoughtful about how we spend it. Try to think of energy as currency — if you are on a budget, you are going to be much more conscientious about how you spend your money.
Energy works much the same way. If we expend a tremendous amount of energy being anxious about whether our boss thinks we’re good at our job, we don’t have as much to give to doing our best work. Or, if we spend a lot of energy being really pissed off about someone who wronged us, we have little left to invest in relationships with people we value.
But how do we determine what is worth spending our energy on? I find it helpful to put it through the filter of the two C’s: consequences and control.
- Consider the outcome or consequence of putting your energy toward a particular thought or action and whether it will really yield something worthwhile.
- Also, think about how much control you actually have over a given the situation. So many of the things we expend endless worry or frustration on are actually things we do not have the power to change.
So next time you notice you’re spending a lot of your energy on feelings of anxiety, anger, fear, fantasizing, sadness, etc., take a moment to pause and assess if that is how you want to expend the limited amount of energy you have.
Ask yourself, “What are the potential consequences of spending my energy this way, and how much control do I actually have over this situation?”
If you determine it to be a worthwhile use of energy, then go on right ahead. However, if you decide it is not worth spending the energy, then acknowledge your suffering or discomfort in the situation but re-direct to something that you believe would be a better use of your energy in that moment.
You may have to re-direct yourself several times, but eventually, your focus will shift.