"I gave her my heart but she wanted my soul." -Bob Dylan
We've all been there: you just left a gathering and feel like you need to take a long nap, maybe even put an icepack on your head. You feel reactive and in a negative head space. You can't pinpoint exactly why, especially because this get-together sounded like an easy and fun evening. I mean, four different kinds of hummus were there! You recount the conversation that you got sucked into for two hours and begin to wonder if it has any connection to how you're feeling now.
YES-- of course it does! You just experienced an Energy Drain. An energy drain is exactly what it sounds like: your energy has been drained. Imagine that your energy is a full glass of water. It will hopefully maintain the same level throughout the day, but can decrease if you missed a work deadline, or increase after hearing really great news. Your energy level changes. When you start to mentally spiral, you knows ways to pull yourself out of that negative headspace (read my blog: Using Anchors to Halt Negative Thoughts) and you know that taking a walk immediately after work helps to calm you. You know ways to fill yourself back up. When you're around negative talk and experiences, that level drops. If you encounter someone who doesn't have a full glass of water to start with, it's safe to say that they're dehydrated. Their cup is empty and instead of creating ways to fill themselves back up, they'll pull from you. In these instances, you'll be left empty every time.
How to tell if someone is an energy drain:
1. While in their presence, you can feel physically tired. You could start yawning, or even feel a headache coming on.
2. You might have the post-conversation-negative-attitude-hangover. Your presently good mood took a turn to the dark side and you're not sure why. *cough energy drain cough*
3. You can respond to this person on auto-pilot or it wouldn't change the conversation if you walked away. You're merely standing there to absorb whatever topic they're choosing to ramble about.
4. When seeing this person your first instinct is to look for an Exit and whisper expletives under your breath.
5. In a group setting, the focus is always on this person and it feels like the air was sucked out of the room. People try to pawn off this person on other people. "Here, talk to Glenn, I think he also despises the Postal Service..."
Ultimately, do you feel better or worse when in someone's company? How do you feel afterwards? This is a great barometer for judging how someone's energy impacts you. We're all having unspoken conversations with each, our energy is conversing. That's the reason why you can get an immediate, instinctual response to a person you just met. "I really like her" or "Something just felt off." You're picking up on the person's energy without forming an opinion based on their life decisions, political beliefs or general attitude. Your gut instinct (or energy gauge) is giving you information and insight immediately. Pay attention. Opinions can always be changed, but rarely would your gut instinct lead you astray. How many times have you talked yourself out of your initial gut instinct only to say, "I don't know why I didn't listen to my gut." Consider that a lesson to be learned, as many times as needed, until you really understand that trusting yourself is the key to everything.
HOW TO RECLAIM YOUR ENERGY:
Awareness is always the best line of defense around energy drains. Start with yourself and noticing the cues of how you feel during/after an interaction with The Drain. When you realize the way you're impacted by that person, you have a choice to make.
1. Shorten conversations or spend less time in their company.
Sound obvious? This is the easiest solution. "Oh no, I'm losing cell service!" she said to The Drain while in the Apple Store. Decline an invite that you're dreading and not obligated to attend. We all have commitments that we truly can't skip out on, but rarely do those occasions outweigh normal plans. Remember, friends are people you're choosing to have in your life. If not being in their presence is the best part of the friendship, it's time to rethink some things.
2. React differently to them.
Divert the Drain! If you always engage in the negative talk purely for the sake of conversation, randomly offer a new topic into the conversation. Steer the conversation in a different direction. If Linda from Accounting is always bitching about the same menial work drama everyday, but the only bright spot in her life is her adorable granddaughter, then you mention that kid each time she begins a rant. You'll unconsciously be a positive impact and she'll equate seeing you with talking about her granddaughter. Plus, who doesn't love hearing about an adorable kid?
3. Be honest.
Who's the main person that you've been thinking of while reading this? How close of a relationship do you have? If the person in your life who's the Drain is one of your top 3-5 core companions, being honest might be your best approach. If your husband/mother/best friend/girlfriend's energy is imploding their end of the relationship, you have a right to speak up. If the relationship is a drag and you're not doing anything to change it, you're consenting to the decay. It depends on how badly you want the relationship to change. Each person reacts differently and knowing how to make someone hear you is a skill of the Gods, but if the relationship is worth growing a change has to happen.
For the non-core companions (co-workers, acquaintances, extended family), use your judgment. Honesty isn't always the answer, dodging them is perfectly acceptable. "I haven't seen Linda from Accounting in a week!" said Glenn from the darkened coat closet. Do what works best for you.
Have you experienced an Energy Drain before? What was your response? Comment below, I'd love to hear your experience. (Feel free to change any name to something outlandish, get creative!)
meet the author: Kara Laudenslager
Hello, I'm Kara! I'm an Energy Healing Practitioner, Transformational Coach, Massage Therapist and unapologetic tree hugger. I believe that getting to know ourselves is our greatest gift and responsibility in this life. Create the life you want by first knowing who is doing the creating.
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