Yesterday, I introduced the notion of energy management rather than time management to create our glamorous lives. We created a list of things we are tolerating that are sapping our energy from us. Today, I want to focus on another energy zapper: Negative thoughts and emotions. More specifically, we will be looking at the negative emotions we invite into our minds without even thinking about how it is polluting our energy level.
There is a strong body of research that shows a strong correlation between thoughts, emotions, and our energy levels. We often think of it as the mind-body connection. When we are feeling upbeat, we feel like we have enough energy to conquer the world. When we are feeling blue, all we want to do is sleep (and, yes, wanting to sleep all of the time is a symptom of depression although insomnia is also a symptom).
So, if there is a strong correlation between thoughts and energy, why would we want to pollute our minds with negative energy? Because we do it without thinking about it. And people are making money off of polluting our minds. A major source of this pollution is the Internet. The next time you are on Facebook or a news site, notice how many links are “click baits.” The headlines are designed to arouse an emotion in you so that you will click through to the next screen so that they can make money either directly or indirectly. Notice how many of those click baiting links tap into your sense of outrage even before you read the article, leading to confirmation bias. Then, if you’re feeling adventurous, wade into the comments section where people’s outrage has free reign. Unfortunately, more often than not, they express their outrage without reading the article. And all of that polarization leads to frustration and, *bam*, we’ve allowed ourselves to be a toxic waste site which leads to a reduction in energy. And worse, we often ruminate for hours on end and kvetch to our friends and loved ones about it, letting that energy-draining pollution have a deeper impact. Before you know it, your thoughts are a Super Fund Site and you wonder why you are feeling exhausted when all you were doing was sitting and reading.
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Another source of thought pollution is entertainment. If there is any doubt in your mind about how lurid and shocking modern entertainment is, just compare it to entertainment from the 1960s and 1970s. Adam-12 and Dragnet, both considered to show what policing is really like, are very different in how they show crime than the many iterations of Law & Order or other modern police procedurals. Many so-called “reality” TV shows are edited to elicit positive or negative emotions about the characters or participants. Even modern documentaries often have “movie trailer voice-overs” that are designed to elicit some sort of emotion from you. I’m not saying all entertainment is negative. But, become aware of how you feel after watching or listening to it. Do you feel uplifted or polluted?
Finally, as women, we have a tendency to let negative people take up space in our thoughts without paying rent. We get home from an encounter with the negative person and retell the event to our significant others. That is, of course, after having told all of our girlfriends about it, expressing frustration on social media (complete with blow-by-blow details), and have eating an entire chocolate cake when we intended to only have “just a bite.” In life, we can’t always avoid negative people. But we can create a symbolic eggshell around us so that their negativity is unable to take up residence in our thoughts.
Many years ago, The Mister and I gave up watching television except through online streaming (we have a Roku player hooked up to the TV). Most days I don’t watch anything at all but we do try to watch a classic “picture show” on Saturday nights. But I really had to have a conversation with myself about a month or so ago regarding my Internet habits and how I was letting my mind be polluted by click baiting and comments. For now, I’ve made a conscious choice to primarily get my news from printed sources so that I can get in depth coverage instead of sound-bite-read-in-30-seconds coverage followed by foaming-at-the-mouth comments. The difference is palpable. I don’t feel like my emotions are constantly under attack anymore by people seeking to make money off of eliciting an emotional response from me.
Your next challenge in creating a glamorous life is becoming mindful of who is really controlling your thoughts. Are you letting your energy be sapped by allowing your thoughts to be polluted?