Vital energy-draining habits may stand in your way to a more spiritual lifestyle and higher levels of wellbeing.
Why are we so prone to overlook and drop our bad habits, though?
Because we have a cultural bias towards doing and adding things when we want to achieve something, more is the mantra of a capitalist society. Hence we are used to expansion.
Dropping Vital Energy-Draining Habits Naturally Maximizes Your Wellbeing
Generally, adding ways to increase your vital energy is useful. But if you keep your vital-energy draining habits at the same time, the outcome may not be satisfactory. Because you keep depleting your energy levels.
A Thought Analogy from Marketing for Dropping Bad Habits
What is evident to every first term, marketing junior quickly goes unnoticed in our own life.
An underlying assumption for every marketing strategy is the so-called value proposition of an offering. A value proposition consists of a mix of benefits at a specific price, which determines how potential customers perceive an offer in the marketplace.
Fewer benefits at a higher price, for example, is not a favorable proposition. A premium position would typically be more benefits at a higher price. In turn, offering the same amount of benefits at a lower price is what people will call a deal.
Then there is a combination that is not viable in the economy but makes a lot of sense in our lives: More benefits for a lower price. Adding to your life by subtracting is what happens when you drop a terrible, energy-draining habit. You decrease the energy you use (cost), which increases overall wellbeing (benefits).
What Theology and the Via Negativa Can Teach us About Vital Energy
Apophatic theology or negative theology is the approach that we cannot express what God is. Still, we can describe what God is not.
In philosophy, this principle became known as the Via Negativa, the path of reduction and exclusion. The Roman writer and poet Ennius expressed the via negativa aptly as ‘Nimium boni est, cui nihil est mali.’ – ‘The good is mostly in the absence of the bad.’
Now the Via Negativa applied to vital energy-draining habits: We cannot precisely pinpoint the positive effect of anything we add to our lifestyle to increase vital energy. But we can say with clarity that abstaining from alcohol, for example, has a hugely positive effect on our wellbeing.
We know what is wrong with more clarity than what is right. And the more we subtract, the more confident we become.
So before we rush to add new habits to our lives, it would be wise to eliminate current ones that drain our energy.
Five Common Vital Energy-Draining Habits
1. Eating Too Much
Nutritious food is a marvelous and delightful way to gain vital energy. At the same time, overeating is among the most prominent vital energy-draining habits. If you eat more than the body needs, you burden it with unnecessary digestion, which is in an energy-intensive process. If you put on too much weight, you attach permanent energy thieve to yourself. And depending on your levels of obesity, you make yourself susceptible to chronic diseases.
Many of us are obsessed with our diets, superfoods, and supplements. As a result, we are prone to have a bias towards adding too much food to our system. The reason being that we want to make sure we get all the nutrients required according to various health recommendations. And then there is, of course, binge eating.
At the same time, we tend to forget about elimination, which is equally crucial for our health and energy levels.
The best way to avoid overeating is to eat a bit less during meals.
Now, if that were so easy, we wouldn’t have an obesity epidemic and a multi-billion Dollar weight reduction industry in the world.
Here are a few simple ideas that work surprisingly well:
Drink a glass of water before a meal to pre-fill your stomach.
‘Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.’ This well-known saying expresses a smart approach to nutrition. Reducing your food intake during the day helps to manage your energy well in line with the natural biorhythm. At the same time, you get used to eating less and allow your body time and space for complete digestion and elimination at night.
Leave out meals altogether. Play with intermittent fasting to give your body phases for the complete elimination of food in the digestive tract. Intermittent fasting is an excellent way to rejuvenate and drastically increase your levels of vital energy.
2. Emotional Leeches
Humans are social animals, and we, therefore, feel the need to be with other people. To a more or lesser degree depending on how extrovert or introvert we are. But we all need human connection.
‘Emotional leeches’ are the people who deplete your vital energy with their negative talk and behavior.
Perhaps they put you down, involve you into gossip and arguments, or exhaust you by centering around themselves only without establishing any balance in a conversation.
Just ask yourself, how do you feel after spending time with somebody. Are you uplifted, in balance, or somewhat drained? If the latter, chances are you are dealing with an emotional parasite. They are usually easy to spot.
Avoid emotional leeches or limit your time with them. You are not obligated to change other people or solve their problems. Your task is to keep yourself clean and healthy, so you can be a positive addition to humanity by not causing any trouble to others. (Yes, this is the Via Negativa)
3. Continuous Stress
Healthy stress is right for your body as it thoroughly exercises your system. You grow stronger and more robust when putting your body under pressure with a good work-out.
Chronic stress due to an imbalanced lifestyle, overwhelming workload, and lack of rest are very different. This kind of constant pressure unduly taxes the nervous system, is heavily vital-energy draining, and will eventually make you sick.
Chronic stress must be converted into positive pressure or eliminated.
Meditation and self-hypnosis are excellent ways to create that additional space in your mind so you can adapt your lifestyle to be more balanced and become better at conserving your energy.
Feeling occasional disagreements with people is common. But regularly arguing is a vital-energy draining habit creating unnecessary disharmony that we better avoid.
The underlying reason for persistent arguing is that we commonly overidentify with our opinions. We quite literally become our opinions and then defend them with tooth and nail.
Defending your ego is a waste of energy. Likewise, it is a waste of energy, trying to change other people’s opinions. Agree to disagree, cherish the multitude of views, and be more humble about one’s conviction. They might well change in time or be proven wrong by new insights.
5. Negative Emotions as Vital Energy-Draining Habits
Emotions are part of the human experience and give us essential prompts for change and action in our lives. However, there are three emotions in particular that massively drain vital energy. And these emotions are especially energy consuming if they persist for any continued amount of time.
These harmful emotions are fear, anger, and depression. Each of these fears is complex, and they often come entangled with each other.
Fear will hold us back from personal growth and prevent reaching our authentic goals.
Anger allows others to have power over us and eventually directs its destructive force at ourselves.
Depression is a severe lack of flow and completely immobilizes us as a persona.
Watch out for more on how to deal with fear, anger, and depression on this website.
Walking the Via Negativa for the Benefit of Your Vital Energy
Next time you make plans, put the Via Negativa principle to work for you. Don’t ask, what are you going to do? Instead, ask, what are you going to avoid?
And then, enjoy the additional space in your life and see your vital energy increase from your authentic personality because you will be better aligned internally and externally.
Nicholas Nassim Taleb tells in his excellent book ‘Antifragile: Things that gain from disorder’ of an incident when the pope asked Michelangelo about the secret of his genius. And the pope especially wanted to know how he had carved the statue of David, a masterpiece in its league. Michelangelo’s answer was, ‘It’s simple. I just remove everything that is not David.’