One of the biggest ways we burn up our mental, emotional, and physical energy during the day is by either spending too much of it on things that aren’t that important or by treating everything as if it has equal importance.
We see so many things as if they are on fire. They scream for our attention, and so often we give it to them. And when we chase after all of these fires, all we do is get burned.
Instead, try to look at each one as if you are an outside, distant observer. Be neutral toward them, even disinterested. Consider them like a scientist would a piece of data or a test subject.
Then ask yourself, “Do I really need to care about this?”
Often the answer is no, especially not right now. If letting it go makes you nervous, ask yourself, “Can I just note it and let it pass on by for now?” Most of the time you can. Make whatever it is earn your attention rather than giving your attention to it by default.
If you either decide you do care about it or if you just can’t let it go, then ask yourself, “Is there anything I can do about this right now?”
I’ve found myself constantly worrying about bills, work projects, all the things the kids have been dealing with, and a whole laundry list of other to-dos. One or another of these worries gets stuck in my brain, and I roll it around in there as if it were a marble between my fingers. I have often refused to stop and put it down.
Now I try to ask myself whether I can do anything about that worry at that moment. For example, I’m concerned about paying down our credit card debts this month. What can I do about that right now? Do I need to wait to get paid first? Do we need to cut back somewhere else for a couple of weeks to be able to afford the payment?
If I have to wait to get paid, there’s nothing I can do about our debt until that happens. So what’s the point in worrying about it? If we need to cut back for a couple of weeks, I can think about one or two areas we can trim and write those down. But worrying about that whole process of debt repayment isn’t something that’s going to solve it right now at this exact moment.
A better question for all of this, however, might be, “What’s the next doable thing that would actually help?”
It’s a proactive question. Instead of chasing fires and worries, take some control over all this. Try forgetting everything clamoring for your attention, just for even a brief moment. Then you get to ask and decide what you should care about and do next.
The point is to save yourself stress, fear, anxiety, and time and instead be freer to be intentional about what you think about and do. It won’t happen overnight, so practice and keep practicing.
You can’t do everything. You can’t fix everything. You can’t solve all your problems right now. But you can free up your mind and emotions and do the next thing you can do, and then the next, and so on until you see real change in how you feel about your day.