Could these treatable problems be dragging you down?
We look to the horizon and it seems arduous. We look around us and we see the glass half empty more than half full. We look to the past and we feel a nostalgia for a time that seemed better than today …
Listlessness and a lack of positive vision are symptoms of discouragement.
Sometimes it’s because of physical or psychological problems (hyperthyroidism, anemia, exhaustion due to stress, insomnia, depression …). If you identify with any of these, it’s best to visit a doctor to find out what is going on in your body and to find a remedy.
But other times, there’s nothing apparently wrong and yet you feel certain you are “not yourself.”
We have to take into account that the passage of time changes us, and as the years go by we will not be able to reach the same things (although that does not have to stop us from reaching more valuable objectives). But if our physical and psychological health evaluations tell us everything is fine, it would be worthwhile to look for other reasons why our engines might not be running at full capacity. Maybe there’s something making us lose our energy, some crack or fissure draining us of strength.
The Dalai Lama wrote about the 10 “energy thieves.” Why not take a look at his list and see if any of these could be at work in your own life?
1. Toxic people
“Let go of people who only come to share complaints, problems, disastrous stories, fear, and judgment of others. If someone is looking for a trashcan to throw their garbage, try not to let it be your mind.”
There are more than 7 billion people in the world. Why do I have to settle for having someone at my side who makes me a worse person? When we say “toxic people,” we are referring to bad friendships that poison our family atmosphere, that sow discord at work and in other relationships. Get them out of your life and protect others from that bad influence.
“Pay your bills on time. At the same time, charge the people who owe you or decide to let it go if it’s impossible to collect from them.”
Living in justice is restful and brings peace. Insofar as it is possible for you, meet your pending obligations right away. And not only that, you can go further and be proactive in getting them to give back what they owe you.
If you want to be even more virtuous, do something generous and pardon the debt. You will see how turning the page gives wings to your spirit. But when you have a debt hanging on your shoulders (and not only a financial one), it weighs on your conscience and makes it harder for you to make decisions.
3. Not keeping your promises
“If you have not done what you said you would do, ask yourself why you are resisting. You always have the right to change your mind, to excuse yourself, to compensate, to renegotiate, and to offer another alternative to an unfulfilled promise, although you should not make a habit of it. The easiest way to avoid not fulfilling a promise you don’t want to keep is to say NO from the start.”
To get rid of this thief, it’s best for us to make a list of the promises we made. Whatever their size. It’s not about checking them now in order to get rid of them all, but about ranking them by importance: some are for a lifetime, while others are good intentions that led us to promise the moon when we were carried away by a feeling of generosity.
Well, we have to be a bit humble and recognize what we can really do, and cross off the promises we can’t keep. If not, we will find ourselves in the same fix a year from now (only even more worried for not having kept those promises).
4. Not paying attention to your interests
“Insofar as you can, eliminate and delegate tasks you prefer not to do, and dedicate your time to doing what you do enjoy.”
We have to interpret this piece of advice prudently — it doesn’t mean we can just be irresponsible. It’s about giving protagonist to people who can do certain things better than us, of knowing how to delegate, and of establishing a hierarchy of values to decide what comes first and what comes second.
5. Not resting and acting at the proper times
“Give yourself permission to rest if you are in a moment when you need it, and give yourself permission to act if you are in a moment of opportunity.”
You have surely had the opportunity to see this point for yourself. The body is our life’s tool, an essential element for doing what we propose to do. We have to treat it well.
Can you imagine how a Formula 1 mechanic acts? Well, that has to be us: vigilant, attentive in order to sound the alert if there is a system failure. We don’t have to go to the extreme of being hypochondriacs or exaggerated fears or whims. But we do have to rest, sleep when it’s time to sleep, take walks, get out, change what we’re doing, go on vacation …
“Throw out, pick up, and organize. Nothing takes more energy away than a disordered space full of things from the past that you no longer need.”
After the organizing craze that Marie Kondo brought to us, it’s clear that we benefit from establishing material and spiritual order: a hierarchy of values, priorities in action, harmony in the materials we use… The old masters said it well: keep order and order will keep you.
There is nothing better for a bad memory than leaving things in their proper place all the time, right? The fastest way to keep a place in order is never to let it get out of order.
7. Not taking care of your health
“Give priority to your health. If your body’s machinery is not working at full capacity, you can’t do much. Take a few breaks.”
In general, take yourself seriously. Don’t think that you’re a better person for driving your body into the ground. Your body is a first-order environmental good. Sacrifice must always be proportionate.
8. Difficult situations
“Face the toxic situations you’re tolerating, from rescuing a friend or a family member to tolerating the negative actions of your spouse or a group. Take the necessary action.”
When we are talk about difficult situations, we are referring to situations that we should never have allowed, because they are unjust or they are wrong in themselves. Channel that by turning to people around you, if you can’t change things by yourself. Get out of the spiral of violence or negativity. Look for advice and take steps to change the panorama.
9. Not accepting
“Accept. It’s not resignation, but nothing will make you lose more energy than resisting and fighting against a situation that you can’t change.”
Sometimes we can be worried about something that can change one day. But when we are facing something that we can’t change, we need a different attitude. We just have to live with it. Don’t face the wave head on; try to surf it. It’s not easy, nor can it be solved in a few days, but you can overcome it: grieving the death of a loved one, a loss, a failure …
10. Not forgiving
“Forgive. Let go of a situation that is causing you pain. You can always choose to leave the pain of the memory.”
You will know the measure of your love. Forgiveness demands a change in the heart a will to want to change myself. If you don’t forgive, you are the one who loses because your heart will harbor the rancor, the wound. Forgiving is the most healing act that exists. Only great souls know how to forgive from the bottom of the heart. And that is truly an art.
This article was originally published in the Spanish edition of Aleteia and has been translated and/or adapted here for English speaking readers.