88 Emotionally Stupid Things You’re Wasting Your Precious Time On

by Melissa Karnaze

How much time are you going to waste today on people, things, or activities that emotionally drain you?

It’s actually easier to spend your precious time on the emotionally draining — than to work on emotionally-enriching endeavors.


Because you’ve been conditioned (by yourself and others) to avoid “negative” feelings, thoughts, and experiences.

You’re taught that the negative is “bad.” When in fact, trying to avoid the negative at all costs, is what’s bad for you.

Time you can’t afford to waste

Here are 88 emotionally stupid things you don’t have to waste your precious time on today:

  1. Turning to the news — for what you “need to know” about your world
  2. Watching other people’s drama play out on drama or reality TV — instead of dealing with your own drama, or allowing yourself to admit that yes, even you have personal problems
  3. Consuming pop or mainstream music — without paying attention to the lyrics or underlying messages
  4. Paying money to be “entertained” — when you’re really just bored, desensitized, numb, apathetic, or too lazy to do something that’s not only enertaining, but also enriching
  5. Laughing off your problems — instead of actually facing them
  6. Using sarcasm to mask how you feel
  7. Viewing your social life in terms of quantity of friends (and/or lovers)– rather than quality, or intimacy
  8. Hanging around people who don’t appreciate or respect you — because you think it’s even worse to be alone
  9. Interacting with phony people — instead of getting closer to authentic individuals you can truly connect with
  10. Expecting other people to care about how you’re feeling — without good reason
  11. Expecting other people not to care about how you’re feeling — without good reason
  12. Trusting people too easily — because you’re too afraid of getting hurt
  13. Not trusting people enough — because you’re too afraid of getting hurt
  14. Trusting the legal system to uphold “justice,” the armed services to uphold “safety,” the medical system to uphold “health,” or the education system to uphold “truth” — without actually defining those terms
  15. Buying into euphemisms like “democracy,” “equality,” “freedom,” “free will,” “good” and “evil” — without being critical of your own constructs of such terms
  16. Believing anything anyone tells you — without using your own discernment
  17. Equating spiritual practice with emotional health — especially if it’s mainstream
  18. Believing that spirituality is somehow more evolved than religion — when it’s just a new kind of religion
  19. Using the Law of Attraction — to get exactly what you (think you) want
  20. Believing that anything good, spiritual, or otherwise worth sharing should be free — just because you personally don’t want to pay for it
  21. Trying to convince yourself or others that money is evil — as doing so means you have an unhealthy relationship with money
  22. Equating money with wealth — when what you really want is time
  23. Seeking happiness — for hedonistic reasons
  24. Seeking happiness — for “spiritual” reasons
  25. Equating happiness with the absence of ego — without even understanding “what” ego “is”
  26. Trying to kill, subdue, hypnotize or put to sleep your ego — which is fruitless, because you can’t get rid of your subconscious
  27. Trying to kill your emotions — when you can’t do so without harming yourself
  28. Trying to change or control your emotions — as control is only ever an illusion
  29. Trying to prevent yourself from experiencing any negative emotions — instead of figuring out why you experience them in the first place
  30. Trying to get rid of negative thoughts — instead of focusing on how best to respond to them
  31. Trying to stay positive — at the expense of being realistic
  32. Attempting to manage your anger — instead of working with it
  33. Refraining from taking something personally — for fear of getting angry
  34. Lying to yourself about how pissed off you are at someone — and then being passive aggressive toward them by “being late” to an engagement or “forgetting” something important
  35. Trying to “cool off” your anger — instead of mindfully following the flames
  36. Becoming bitter and resentful — instead of getting angry
  37. Not expressing your anger at all — not even in total privacy
  38. Not using a journal to express yourself — for fear of what you might write
  39. Allowing others to use you as their venting ground — instead of setting boundaries
  40. Getting annoyed by other people’s vents on Facebook and social media — instead of unplugging
  41. Using Facebook and social media to vent — instead of actually confronting people or responding to adversity
  42. Talking negatively about yourself — in public or in private
  43. Hanging around people who just want to shut you up — in a “nice” way of course
  44. Not speaking up for yourself — for fear of not appearing “nice”
  45. Harboring self-critical beliefs — without evaluating the usefulness of those beliefs
  46. Measuring your worth by someone else’s standards — instead of accepting yourself unconditionally
  47. Striving for “perfection” — without defining “perfection”
  48. Waiting for that “perfect” mate to sweep you off your feet — instead of spending that time and energy loving your partner for life: yourself
  49. Waiting for permission to pursue your passions and actualize your dreams — instead of giving yourself permission
  50. Habitually abandoning your own goals — to rush to someone’s aid (or rather, try to save someone who doesn’t want to be saved)
  51. Blaming yourself whenever others you know are in pain — instead of maintaining healthy boundaries
  52. Thinking that someone else holds the keys to your happiness
  53. Making excuses for being in a codependent relationship — instead of ending it the healthy way
  54. Viewing others’ thoughts and emotions as being more valid than yours — or viewing your thoughts and emotions as being more valid than others’
  55. Allowing empathy to get the best of you — instead of accounting for its dark side
  56. Trying not to feel “too much” — because you think it makes you weak
  57. Thinking that personal development is all love and light
  58. Using self-help to “improve your life” — when actually using it to avoid living your life
  59. Ever giving up on yourself — even for a moment
  60. Viewing adversity as “bad” — instead of a catalyst for growth
  61. Telling someone they’re bad (for hurting you) — instead of telling them how they hurt you
  62. Wondering if you should or shouldn’t be feeling a certain way — instead of figuring out precisely why you feel a certain way
  63. Secretly feeling jealous or envious of others — instead of experiencing your jealously or envy, and then getting on with your life
  64. Avoiding fear — instead of embracing it
  65. Avoiding how you feel — because you think that you always have to act on all of your emotions
  66. Choosing blame instead of response ability
  67. Striving to be “responsible” — without noting all the social baggage that goes along with the term
  68. Blaming your actions on your gender, age, ethnicity, etc. — without acknowledging your ability to make choices
  69. Buying into gender stereotypes — without actually understanding why they exist
  70. Trying to forgive someone for hurting you — instead of dealing with the problem so that you can protect yourself from getting hurt again
  71. Ignoring a problem — in hopes that it will go away
  72. Ignoring a broken heart — instead of tending to it
  73. Withholding your love for fear of getting hurt (the only way to love is to risk getting hurt)
  74. Believing that love is all you need — the mere feeling is never “enough”
  75. Ruminating over the past — instead of learning from it
  76. Worrying about the future — instead of preparing for it
  77. Procrastinating — instead of facing what you’re really feeling
  78. Ignoring the “other side” of a story — for fear of what you’ll learn
  79. Debating the existence of God, the purpose of the universe, the meaning of life, or some other existential issue — for the sake of converting others
  80. Trying win an argument
  81. Emotionally investing in people who invalidate and deflect you — left and right
  82. Telling other people what they “should” think — without knowing if they’re interested in what you think
  83. Letting anyone else tell you how you should think
  84. Trying to prove to others that you’re not “wrong” — when what you need to do is convince yourself
  85. Trying to prove to others that you’re not “wrong” — when what you need to do is protect yourself
  86. Telling yourself that you’re too old, young, this, or that for your opinion to matter — or believing anyone else who says so
  87. Unnecessarily defending yourself — to people who don’t matter
  88. Trying to gain acceptance and approval

Of course, the caveat

Until you’re convinced you’re wasting your time on any of the above — you’ll continue wasting it.

In many cases, you have to waste enough time to know that it’s a waste. Then you can stop wasting time because you know the costs of doing so.

(However, you don’t always have to learn the hard way.)

What do you think?

Can you think of any other activities that aren’t on the list above?

Feel free to share below.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Craig November 1, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Hi Melissa – Great post. A few of these got me thinking:

Over the last few years, I’ve dabbled in meditation. I’ve seen some great benefits, but never kept up a regular practice until recently, when I’ve been practicing 8-12 hours of hatha yoga (focusing on strengthening the will) per week, from which I feel as though I’ve seen astounding benefits:

I’ve felt more in tune with my emotions, both positive and negative, and as a result, I’ve been able to work through a lot of them and benefit as a result.

I’ve been practicing seriously for just under a year, and when I really focus on making it a priority, I experience significantly more mental clarity and overall a sense of well being than I have in the past.

However, I find that I sometimes in both my conversations and my thoughts some might say I sound as though I believe meditation/yoga is some kind of religion or key to “happiness”. However, while I don’t feel as though it’s the same as grasping at other certain other “salvations”, I wonder if it’s just another blind spot.

The rules from your list that got me thinking were:

17. Equating spiritual practice with emotional health

Although even if meditation is merely a spiritual practice, it’s the benefits I gain as a result that I see as increased emotional health.

24. Seeking happiness — for “spiritual” reasons

This one I might just not understand—I seek happiness or well-being for it’s own sake. I do the yoga because it’s a tool on the path to that end.

Curious to hear your thoughts.

Melissa Karnaze November 1, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Hi Craig,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Spiritual practice can facilitate emotional health, which is why #17 speaks to how spiritual practice doesn’t automatically facilitate emotional health.

We all want to be happy, but *seeking* happiness, whether to be more enlightened, evolved, or “spiritual,” can actually backfire. It ties in with dissociation and avoidance. Since we can’t control what happens to us in life, we can either accept/respond to the “bad” or try to avoid or bypass it “in order to be happy.” If the “seeking” becomes dysfunctional, it actually makes us less happy in the end.

However, I find that I sometimes in both my conversations and my thoughts some might say I sound as though I believe meditation/yoga is some kind of religion or key to “happiness”. However, while I don’t feel as though it’s the same as grasping at other certain other “salvations”, I wonder if it’s just another blind spot.

I think the key to picking out blind spots is being able to recognize if a practice leads you to dissociate from unpleasant experience or avoid experiencing negative emotions, as dissociation and avoidance aren’t good for emotional health. We can use almost any normally-healthy activity to do this, which is why mindfulness is important.

Tara October 24, 2013 at 1:17 am

This is possibly one of the most intelligent posts I have ever read on being self aware. Very inspiring, well done. If only they taught this in schools, I think the world would be a better place.

Jacqueline Meador December 29, 2013 at 9:47 am

This is absolutely awesome.

Ceida December 7, 2014 at 1:56 pm

I think, I love you :D
Somewhere around, you gimme the vibe of reading Ayn Rand.
Hoping to read a zillion more things from your perspective.

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