When I was a senior in high school I was madly in love with my first love to the point that I would have absolutely done anything for him. We were perfect for each other, except his family did not support us dating. He was a different religion than me and that was my first shattering realization that religion really actually has a lot to do with the dynamics and foundation of a relationship. Right before we were supposed to go to college together in Florida, I went to a routine doctor’s appointment and found out I had lost 13 pounds in less than three weeks. As I struggled to find out the culprit of the weight loss, my doctor said, “Honey, give that boy a rose and tell him you will see him down the road when you both are in a place for this relationship. Your health is more important than anything else.” It was in that moment where I realized just how drastically certain issues in our lives that we so desperately fight for every day can absolutely deteriorate us from the inside out. I literally was starving myself by exerting so much energy into trying to stay with him despite the circumstances. Let me tell you something, though, that ‘give them a rose and say goodbye’ moment is so much harder than just simply giving someone the boot. When it comes down to it, the things that are stealing away the energy we could be putting towards more positive experiences are often times the ling we least want to give up. That’s what makes us put absolutely every ounce of our energy into them. They are things we want so badly, we self destruct along the way by not realizing we are trading in ourselves for them.
Recovering from surgery over the past month has completely illuminated the areas where my energy has been disappearing into this year. There’s nothing like literally not being able to exert enough energy to do the day-to-day tasks, such as brushing your teeth, to shed a spotlight on where exactly your energy is going in your life. As I have begun my recovery and felt well enough to work, see friends and take on all of my previous daily activities, I’ve realized just how much some negative people (and things) have been taking all of my energy over the past year when I could have been focusing that energy on positive things.
The tricky things about these experiences that have taken up so much energy is that they do not come with a huge red warning signs that says they are toxic for my life, or not necessarily where I need to be putting my energy. They come as loving people and things I enjoy doing that just create a high-energy situation when melded with my life. That’s what makes it the most hard.
My high school boyfriend and I loved each other more than anything. We were two great people that just fell into circumstances that created a toxic, no-win environment. Those are the hardest types of things to let go of, but you get to a point where you absolutely have to.
During my recovery I’ve had to really shift where my energy is going in order to get where I want to be, and while I have to say goodbye to some things that I was putting so much love and energy towards, I now realize that it’s necessary for me to let go of them in order to gain enough energy to get my health back. After all, without my health, I can’t do much of anything.
Here are some things that I’ve found helpful to refocus my energy:
It’s become clear to me lately that all of us prioritize things everyday, but rarely do we intentionally prioritize. For example, we prioritize work because we stayed at the office until the middle of the night, and deprioritized the church service we were supposed to that night with the family. However, we tell ourselves that our God and family come first, and then our work. What we actually prioritize does not match up with our priorities that we like to tell the world we have. Spend some time keeping track of exactly where your time and thoughts are being spent each day. You’ll be surprised how much energy you are giving to things very low on the priority totem pole. Then spend some time writing down exactly what’s important to you and hang that somewhere in your office and somewhere at home. When you are challenged with how late to stay at work, or whether you should go to that happy hour and miss dinner, revisit that list of priorities and see if where you are putting the bulk amount of your energy is matching up to where your priorities are.
Ask If What You’re Spending Your Energy On Invests In Your Future
I was out with a friend last weekend and I was just so distraught about something it literally took up our entire conversation. He finally stopped me and said, “Hey, Marji, what do you want?” The question completely caught me off guard. I had spent the whole discussion talking about the circumstances and what everyone else involved was demanding of me, that I had yet to step back and really ask the question of what I wanted. When I answered the question, he asked, “Is what you’re talking about now even on the path to what you want?” It wasn’t. Here I was exerting so much energy into an issue that was not even on the roadmap to what I wanted in life, and actually was keeping me from being on the right road.
Align Yourself With the Right People
Just as people and situations can steal our energy, there are some beautiful souls out there who can also give us energy. I am in love with the people from my Wednesday night Bible study. I can be sicker than sick and have had the worst day at work, but when I leave that Bible study I am truly energized and ready to conquer the world. Now when I start to feel my energy depleting, I proactively reach out to people that have brought more love and light into my life, instead of reaching out to those who just want to commiserate the pain with me.
Find Something Even Better To Put Your Energy Into
This is one of the most important steps. We can be determined to refocus our energy and not put so much of it into toxic situations, but if we don’t actually have something in our lives to refocus that energy onto, we will end up struggling having it return to those negative experiences. When you first begin to refocus your energy, be diligent in making sure you are then putting even more energy into what matters to you.
Cut The Cord (Where You Can)
This is the hardest step because it actually requires you admitting that something you are throwing tons of energy into is not worth the price you are paying for it. I guarantee you, though, that cutting the cord will feel like one of the best things in the world once it is completely cut. You will have a gigantic sense of relief wash over you and will suddenly have the energy to do the things that are important to you. It might not seem like it from where you are standing now, but once you make the conscious decision to refocus your energy, your life will feel so much more positive. For some help getting to the ‘cut the cord’ stage, check out this post → How To Let Go When You Are Paralyzed .
Sometimes it’s not as black and white as just cutting the cord from you and the thing that is stealing your energy. Just because you can’t physically separate yourself from the negativity, does not mean that you can’t mentally build a barrier to it. For example, maybe you have a family member who just makes holidays miserable. You can’t really cut them out of the family, but you can refocus how much time you are going to spend thinking about how much this person irritates you at Thanksgiving dinner. A great, proactive way to take back your control is to meditate on a daily basis. Just a few minutes of clearing your mind out helps you have more mind space to stay calm and redirect your thoughts when you get around someone that completely steals your energy. Your energy is yours to give. Don’t give it to people who don’t deserve it. These are some of my favorite meditations to get started → Chopra Center Guided Meditations.
This advice is so much easier to give than to take, but it is so worth the struggle of working through refocusing your energy so you can live a more positive, energy-filled life. Losing my first love was one of the most traumatic things I ever did, but by moving on in my life I was able to experience rich, incredible things because I had more energy to put into other areas. Even now, as I maneuver through where my valuable energy will go, I have to remind myself that there is a bright ball of positive energy on the other side waiting for me wherever I go. You can’t make room for what you need in your life, by holding onto something that is holding you down.
– Marji J. Sherman