Activities we usually name as time wasters are too much TV viewing, daydreaming, or anything that isn’t a productive use of minutes and hours. Here are a few more to consider.
Gossip. What’s the point, really? Conveying needed information to the appropriate person or people is useful, but negative gossip is a misuse of time and energy; and as Gandhi said, a form of violence. Each of us does the best we believe we can to make our way through our lives and challenges even if others don’t see it that way. Unless you must tell someone something they really need to know, speak about others’ accomplishments, strengths, courage, kindnesses, and generosity. This lifts your energy and the energy of those you speak with. Manage your damage (and damnage).
Criticism. Constructive critiquing can be useful; criticism is usually just a way to vent about something we haven’t addressed in our lives or ourselves. It often reveals more about us than what or who we criticize. If you feel the need to criticize, ask where or how you feel restricted then change it so you feel better. One way to manage this habit is to consider the possibility that people are mirrors. If triggered by another person’s behavior or action, ask in what way this reflects something within you. It may appear somewhat differently or in a lesser degree in your life, but you can see it and address it. I find that when I observe behaviors in others and feel compassion, it means I’ve dealt with similar issues and appreciate what their experience might be like for them. [This works for seeing the good in others, as well.]
This also reminds me of something Wayne Dyer shared with an audience during one of his PBS specials. He recounted working with a client who went on and on about his conflicted relationship with his mother rather than address what he could do in his own regard. Wayne finally told the client to go get his mother. The client asked why. Wayne said, “Go get her and bring her here. I’ll talk to her, and you’ll get better.”
Repetitive dwelling on what others do or did. Unless your motivation is to understand or appreciate something, you can use up a lot of time (and energy) re-running an imaginary film or recording about what someone did or said. If what happened doesn’t directly impact you in a way that requires your current attention, wish them well and get on with creating the life you wish to experience. If it does directly impact you in the now, handle it then let it go. If a re-run attempts to play once you’ve taken care of it, remind yourself, “I’m grateful my memory cells work, but I’ve already managed that.”
Worry. You’ve probably heard that most of what we worry about never happens; and the things that happen, we usually aren’t given time to worry about. If you can shift something to make a situation better, do so. If you’re not sure what to do, pause until you are. If you’re unable to shift something at the outer level, shift it at the inner level by looking at it differently and focusing on what you wish to expand. Another way to shift this is to ask, “Am I dealing with this right now, where I am?” If you’re watching a movie (or supposed to be) and worrying about something else, watch the movie or get up and do something to shift what your concern is.
Choose your conversation topics. I went for a haircut several days after my father’s funeral. The hairdresser and I were enjoying our conversation. She asked if I’d had a good Fourth of July. It so happened that July 4 was the day after we laid my father to rest. I made a choice to answer yes rather than shift the energy we were sharing. There was truth in my answer: I was with my family and it was good to be with them.
Do something that makes you feel better. For some people, this includes prayer or meditation. For others, it’s exercise, a relaxing bath, or even a nap. Maybe soothing music or a funny movie will do the trick. A walk in the park or around the neighborhood may be just the thing; or a visit with a friend (but don’t have a pity party). The better you feel, the better the events and people you attract into your life are.
We all have moments when we are out of alignment, and we feel bad. You are not obligated to hang onto feeling this way, even when it seems logical. Yes, you may need to vent or cry or express your feelings, which are all healthy things to do; but you don’t have to stay in that place any longer than necessary. Nor do you need to use up your moments in the less productive and ultimately harmful expressions listed above.
What you focus your strongest feelings on, you experience more of. This isn’t just a Law of Attraction premise: revisiting negative thoughts and emotions with no intention to move forward isn’t much different than repeatedly hitting your head with a hammer.
One last suggestion is to allow that if you currently do any or all of the bolded items, it’s likely they’re learned (and well practiced) behaviors. The ones that create negative feelings have “remedies” listed that are ideals to strive for. Realistically, you’ll do them again; but perhaps when you find yourself practicing any one of them that doesn’t lead you to feel the way you desire to feel, you’ll remember that there is another way, and shift what’s going on. It’s about choice to self-empower as you go, not about never doing any of them again. Perfection is a painful illusion. Choice is a powerful tool.