spend your emotional energy wisely

what you start with

Each day, we all start with the same 1,440 minutes, and we make decisions about how to spend each and every one. Each day also brings us a certain allotment of emotional energy. Just like time investment, wise investments of emotional energy are easy to think about, much more difficult to implement. Unlike time, we don’t all start with the same emotional energy. What we start the day with is largely based on health, stress, sleep, and other factors, but it doesn’t vary as much as you may think. 

where you put it

Visualize your day’s emotional energy in liquid form. (Pick a color!) Picture it in a container, filled to the brim. Imagine it slowly evaporating, as time passes. By the end of the day, the container will be empty.

Now, imagine two empty containers, one to the left and one to the right. The one on the left represents the past, and the one to the right is the future. How wise would it be to pour liquid from today’s allotment into the one on the left? Or what if you poured today’s liquid into the container on the right, thinking it will be there tomorrow, only to wake up tomorrow, and find it’s not?

what you end up with

Today’s emotional energy is for today only. It has a shelf life of 24 hours. When we give today’s energy away by pouring over the past or worrying about the future, we have lost energy intended for today. What happens when there’s more day left at the end of the energy? Well, you’re running on empty, and I probably don’t have to tell you that’s not a good thing. If we practice that “give away” pattern day after day, our spirit breaks down, and we lose hope. For today, and for tomorrow.

Now to be clear, it’s wise to make plans for the future, and even the Bible encourages it. When we spend energy today to increase the odds that tomorrow will be healthy and fulfilling, that’s a good thing. Seeds planted today may result in a bountiful harvest in due season. And yes, sometimes we need to spend time untangling the tentacles of the past from our thoughts and actions for today. That, too, is a good emotional energy investment.

It’s when we give energy to the past to keep a painful memory alive, or when we give energy to a future that probably won’t happen, hashing and gnashing over situations and scenarios we can’t control or possibly predict. That’s when your energy is lost on things you can’t control.

Today is all we have, and God has given us enough emotional energy to handle what He already knows is coming our way. With His help we can wisely dispense it, which will do two things-one, serve someone else, and two, bring us satisfaction and fulfillment.

Rev. Greg Griffin is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and Forgiveness Coach in private practice in Marietta, GA. His specialty is relationship repair and rescue- helping partners, spouses, and parents and their adolescents. He’s also the author of Dungeon Times Survival Guide, and Vital Faith.

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