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Stop Wasting Your Emotional Energy Committing These 3 Common Pitfalls

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I’ve racked my brain for years on how to cause life to happen, as opposed to just letting it unfold. My successes have varied all the way from run-of-the-mill fulfillment to complete emotional turmoil. However, in recent past, I’ve come across a few critical distinctions to salvaging precious energy while making life work—most notably with the people in.

If you look at the human condition, we weren’t trained to care for others. With the primary function of the brain set in survival mode, it’s not natural for us to be around others. Yet, it’s essentially impossible to live a fulfilling life on one’s own.

As I’ve gone through the trials and tribulations of friendships, relationships and business partnerships, there are several scenarios that pop up consistently. Human nature is to handle it a certain way yet it often results in a severe loss of power or freedom in the interaction or relationship.

Here are three common communication pitfalls that by avoiding, can save you copious amounts of energy to direct towards more important things in life:

1. Taking Requests Personally

If you think about it, life is an ongoing series of conversational requests. Making friends, getting a job, and getting married are all instances where a question is involved prior to the life event happening or not.

What’s important to look at, is how we make these requests and how we handle the outcome. It’s very natural to focus on the desired outcome when making the request however, it clearly deters the conviction behind the request. By remaining on the field and dialed in on what you’re committed to, there’s no attachment to the result—putting the other party at ease and free to choose yes or no.

Moreover, should they say no to your request, you are able to take it for what it is. They’re saying no to the request, not to you. There’s no need to identify or associate with it because what you’re committed to supersedes all. It’s just yes or no — that’s it. If the answer fulfills on your commitment, great. If not, you go back to work. End of story.

“Even a dead fish can go with the flow.” – Jim Hightower

2. Taking Feedback Personally

One of life’s certainties is you’re going to receive unwanted feedback. How you handle this forgone truth however, makes all the difference. Because we pride ourselves on our beliefs, many people automatically associate feedback as an attack.

We think that someone giving us feedback is code for “you’re not good enough,” “you don’t belong,” or “you’re going to end up alone.” This type of neuro-association obviously doesn’t lead to very healthy responses, typically ending in communication breakdowns.

A great way to overcome this default response is to flip the lense. Instead of viewing feedback as a personal attack, we see it as coaching. Very successful people view everyone in their life as a coach—someone invested in the improvement of a particular person.

By viewing everyone who provides feedback—no matter how much we don’t appreciate its delivery—we view others as people taking on leadership roles in our lives. When someone volunteers to lead something, they’re taking responsibility for those they are leading. Great leaders don’t create followers—they create more leaders.

3. Listening To Our Internal Judgment

It’s crazy to think just how often we take ourselves out of the game of life by simply staying in our head and listening to the ongoing judgment being recited. That inner dialogue is no genius. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

The only way we can create change in life is through action. Action doesn’t happen by thinking or feeling. They may be a prerequisite to a certain degree, but you can’t think your way into a promotion or a new relationship. You have to stay in the game.

By acknowledging our judgment as unhelpful dodging of responsibility instead of a roadmap to situational success, we can remain present and distinguish the best ways to move the conversation forward. The default of the mind is not forward momentum. We must cause positive results.

“Either you run the day or the day runs you.” – Jim Rohn

Bringing It All Together

Life wouldn’t be life without the challenging moments, however, we often make things harder than they have to be. We allow our view of things to dictate how we treat others in varying situations.

By understanding the alternative views we can try on during times we typically break down, we can preserve energy better spent elsewhere—on making a difference for other people. The energy you save from not taking requests or feedback personally and quieting your internal judgment will light you up as much as the alternative typically brings you down.

The extra energy you walk around with will be impossible to ignore, and everyone will want to know where they can get it for themselves. Leave the door wide open for you to be a leader for your community and facilitate a better future of human interaction with the people that matter most to you.

How do you maintain your emotional energy at a steady level? Let us know your tips in the comments below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

Dan Whalen is a franchise operator with College Hunks Hauling Junk & Moving, personal development writer, and NLP master practitioner. He has a background in business management and team leadership spanning nearly a decade, and has a deeply-rooted passion for helping people experience fulfilling lives. You can find him on Twitter at @DanielJWhalen.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. AK

    Jul 4, 2018 at 4:05 pm

    TOO MUCH GOOD !!!

  2. Timothy Mills Jr

    Jun 1, 2018 at 11:34 am

    Thank you very much for the article, Dan. I really enjoyed it. I certainly can relate to all three pitfalls you mention, however, I find that for today, number one: taking requests personally, especially resonated with me. I am busier than I have ever been in my entire life between grad school, running a business, building a home with my girlfriend and our puppy (another one coming) and two cats, and everything else we have going on. In all of that craziness of our day-to-day lives, I really struggle saying no to people’s requests of sharing personal time together. I really just want to take the few opportunities I have to relax and recharge. But I feel terrible saying no, like I’m saying no to the person rather than the request. Any advice on how to separate the two when responding to requests? Thanks!

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3 Simple Hacks That Can Recharge Your Willpower and Help You Perform Better at Work

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How many times did you wake up feeling like you could conquer the world? You set ambitious goals for the day, you put on your best attire and walked out the door with a big smile on your face but eventually, life took over. Traffic, emails, work, family, and everything else you have around slowly but steadily started to drain your energy and made you feel exhausted.

You run out of battery, and the only solution that seemed viable was to rely on more caffeine. When that stopped working, all the temptations around you started to look much more appealing, and that sense of drive and commitment you had before slowly faded away. This is you running out of willpower.

Willpower: what is it? Why is it limited?

The American Psychology Association describes willpower as “the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.” In the book “The Willpower Instinct”, Dr. Kelly McGonigal, explains how every person’s willpower is limited, and slowly depletes throughout the day. The more “willpower challenges” you face, the quicker your reserve drains. Dr. McGonigal divided the different types of willpower challenges you might encounter in three categories:

  • I will: We face this type of challenge whenever we should do something, but we simply don’t feel like getting it done right now.
  • I won’t: We face this challenge when we try to resist temptation, or we try to keep cool in stressful situations.
  • I want: This is a particular type of challenge where we keep track of our long term goals, dreams, and desires. In this instance, we feel like we should take action right now to come one step closer to the goal. 

It’s easy to recognize it when you face a willpower challenge because you literally “feel it in your body.” Imagine being really hungry and walking in front of a bakery. The sight and the smell of pastries quickly triggers an “I won’t” type of challenge, and it takes a severe amount of effort and energy to walk away.

Every time you manage to win one of those challenges, a little bit of your willpower reserve gets used. The more challenges you face daily, the harder it will be to stay true to your goals.

Can you train or recharge your willpower?

A growing body of research suggests that willpower should be considered a muscle. To strengthen it, you should exercise it regularly, but you should not overwork it. Therefore, we shouldn’t try to “be good” at all times. Instead, we should learn how to relax and recharge our willpower.

The general advice on how to improve willpower involves sleep, proper nutrition, and regular exercise. This broad and general recommendation is often not downright applicable by most, because it consists of changing various daily habits. Luckily, three very effective hacks have been discovered, that have an immediate effect on our willpower and take just a few minutes to apply.

Here are the 3 ways to refill your willpower reserves:

1. Focused breathing

Breathing, when done correctly, can stimulate the release of calming hormones while reducing the release of stress hormones like cortisol and catecholamines. To make this effective, you should deeply and slowly inhale through the nose for at least five seconds. Fill your belly with air first, then your chest, and when there’s no more space for air, still try to do tiny inhalations through the nose.

You should feel a pulling sensation around your neck and trapezius muscles. Once your lungs are full, try to hold the breath for five seconds, then slowly exhale through the mouth for at least five seconds. If you repeat this process ten to twenty times, you should feel dramatically more relaxed. Use this method several times a day, especially when you’re experiencing high levels of stress or anxiety.

2. Reward yourself when you accomplish a micro goal

According to a recent study, frequent instant rewards can boost motivation, and therefore, willpower. Creating your own reward system can help you to accomplish your to-do list, and also resist temptations. Since every individual has different tastes, you should come up with creative ideas about the small and frequent rewards you will give yourself upon winning any willpower challenge.

You can see this hack in practice in Apps like the popular Duolinguo, where after completing each lesson you get presented with a chance to open a treasure chest. This rewarding system seems to keep the users much more likely to keep learning new lessons.

3. Taking cold showers

Your body has an autonomic response to cold water. Getting into a cold shower is a difficult (but minor) willpower challenge on its own. As I previously mentioned, winning a willpower challenge strengthens your willpower muscle. Having a morning cold shower, on top of having multiple health benefits, will set you up for a positive winning streak of further challenges.

High performance is the sum of many small habits. Successful people don’t have an unlimited reserve of willpower, but they do have a set of daily rituals that made them succeed. These three hacks are some of the most effective techniques to develop willpower, but some of them may not fit every individual. You should try to find the perfect mix of daily practices that best fits your lifestyle and likes, so that you can strengthen your willpower muscle and perform better at work.

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