Anna Hunt writes:
With empathy - the ability to recognise and feel other people’s emotions - comes the disadvantage of also absorbing the suffering and negativity of the others around you. When this occurs, your ability to function at your best can be significantly impacted. Even a person who is not so empathic can be affected energetically when around negative or dramatic people.
Absorbing other people’s negative energy can be just as toxic on a person as ingesting unhealthy food, and perhaps even more noticeably draining. Thus, learning how to stop this from happening can be a valuable skill. Here are five methods that you can use so you absorb less negative energy from others around you.
1) Be Selective About the People You Allow into Your Life
You have to come to terms (with the fact that) that not everyone will like you, and you don’t have to become friends with everyone that you meet. You do not need to pressure yourself into befriending everyone you meet - either at work, though existing friends, or via your kids. Of course you want to be polite, but trust your intuition when meeting new people, and don’t ever feel like you need to spend time with people just because you’ve come to know them by association.
Furthermore, if you find yourself often needing to vent about a person, have a friend that is consistently negative about life, or feel like someone in your life is regularly taking advantage of you or is unkind to you, then perhaps it is time to create some distance. Some friendships or relationships are just not good for you, and you have to be able to accept that. Once you do, you can let go of the friends and acquaintances who dump their negativity on you.
Learning to let go and saying “no” to people who do not deserve your time and attention allows you more time for the ones that do, including your family and YOURSELF.
2) Don’t Try Please Everyone
We all have only so many hours in one day, so be selective about who receives your time. Don’t waste it on people who don’t seem to care about you, give you a hard time, or are overly critical of you. Just as you won’t like certain individuals, there will be some that don’t like you or do not treat you kindly.
Focus on developing relationships that seem to thrive naturally, versus working on getting people to like you who naturally don’t gravitate to you. The latter will not only leave you drained, they will probably affect how you perceive yourself.
3) Beware of Energy Vampires
As already mentioned, you may have existing friends that are always negative about life - but consider that some people can be even more toxic. These types could be dubbed “energy vampires” because they suck you dry of all positive energy and leave you with all their negativity. That is what keeps them going.
Beware of energy vampires who always use negative words and dump negative emotions onto you. Notice which “friends” use pessimistic language or treat you like a soundboard for their negative feelings. You are likely absorbing all of their negativity every time you see them.
This doesn’t mean stop being there for a friend in need, but pay attention to the ones that take advantage of a kind ear or are inclined to always use negative language. Let them know how you feel about all the pessimism. If these “friends” don’t understand that they are draining you, then perhaps they are not really your friends.
4) Be Responsible for Yourself
You are the only person that has control over how you feel. In any situation, you have the choice of how you react and what you do. Some say it takes years of training to control your feelings, but it all starts with awareness, which you can practice right now.
Taking responsibility for yourself means that you have to start becoming aware of how you feel when certain people are around you. And then do not afraid to take action. If you spend time with someone who makes you feel bad or leaves you drained, (then) it is time to create some distance between you and that person.
Don’t be a victim - because you have the power of how you experience life. You will absorb more goodness and less negativity if you really reflect on how people, places, and situations make you feel, and then take action to change what does not serve you.
5) Spend Time Alone
For some reason the Western society has come to denigrate personal characteristics such as introversion, shyness, timidity, etc. However, time alone - and the personal discovery that happens during this time - can be quite healing and regenerating.
For some, solitude is quite difficult - as it is a time when a person starts to really look at what’s happening with their own self. Yet it is necessary - if you are to cultivate the awareness you need - to identify when you absorb negative energy, and who in your life is an energy vampire.
Remember simple tools such as breathing slowly, quiet meditation, reading a good book, and spending time in nature. They are all available to you so that you can enjoy solitude. Use these tools when you are ready to take action to rid yourself of unwanted energetic toxicity, and reinforce yourself for yet another day.