One of this year’s biggest health & wellness trends is all about learning how to protect your energy and heart from toxic people (or even just toxic situations). As a highly empathic person, I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out how to do just that. Keep reading to learn what works for me!
Why Do You Need to Protect Your Energy?
I’m a positive “glass half full” type, so I genuinely believe that there are far more good people than bad in the world. But just like it only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch, it only takes one negative person to suck the joy out of a room filled with positive upbeat people.
So, no matter how much I believe that people are inherently good, I’m not naïve enough to leave myself wide open without at least taking some measures to protect myself from so-called energy vampires.
Let me just quickly clarify something. If you’re worried that this is just another new-age type post about energy healing, crystals, and so on, I promise it’s not. I have nothing against those things at all, and I think they can work very well for some people. I want to give you something a bit more universal that doesn’t rely on any specific type of spirituality. Consider this a practical guide to protecting your energy!
How to Protect Your Energy from Toxic People & Situations
Aristotle once said, “The energy of the mind is the essence of life.” If your energy is your very life essence, then it’s definitely something you don’t want to leave vulnerable! Before you can keep it safe, though, you need to know what (or who) to protect it against.
Learn how to identify energy vampires
I don’t really love the term “energy vampire,” because it just feels so dark and purpose-driven (and not in a good way). The vast majority of people that leach your energy aren’t actually trying to do it. They may just be in a rough place and can’t really help it.
You know how when you’re driving on the highway, if you get behind a really big truck it can actually save you gas? You’re not stealing anything from them, but you’re using their energy to help boost your own. Someone like that isn’t an energy vampire, in my opinion.
Now, if you followed the truck to a diner and siphoned their gas out of their tank while they were inside, THAT would be a good example of a vampire. If you couldn’t siphon it, so instead you puncture their gas tank so they can’t have it either, well, you’re in a whole new league that would put Dracula to shame!
In other words, someone who uses your positive energy to help boost theirs and bring a little more joy into your life without harming your own joy isn’t someone that you need to protect yourself against.
On the other hand, someone who either steals your energy or tries to destroy it when they can’t have it IS definitely someone worth shielding yourself against. Now, let’s talk about how.
Set clear boundaries
Setting crystal-clear boundaries is one of the best ways to protect your energy. We’re talking quartz crystal clear, not obsidian clear. See, I found a way to work crystals into the conversation after all! 😀
I can’t really tell you exactly how to set boundaries, as only you know what you can handle. For me, I consciously decide to limit my time around super negative and nasty people. I can’t avoid them entirely, but I can at least steer clear of them in my daily life.
When I do need to spend time around such people, I decide ahead of time just how much I’m willing to give of myself. If I feel like someone is trying to drag me down or sap my energy, I politely excuse myself from their company.
I also set more tangible boundaries, or “rules of engagement,” if you will. For example, I have a loved one with vastly different political ideologies than my own. When I spend time with her, I have one very clear rule: NO talking about politics, period. If it comes up, I remind her of our agreement. She respects my boundaries, and I respect hers.
So, right now (or after you’re done reading this post), sit down and really think about the boundaries that you feel you need. Write them down if you must. Then consciously decide to stick to them, and let others around you know of any that they need to be aware of.
Avoid unnecessary drama and fake people
There are two really great quotes that I love for this section. I’ll start with the one by Mitta Xinindlu, as it’s more general: “Always beware of the people you allow in your energy space. Some might contaminate your energy to a point of no return.”
The second one from Christy Ann Martine speaks specifically to those who have suffered through something traumatic and are working on restoring their own energy. It goes, “If you’ve been through trauma you don’t need more drama, so surround yourself with those who bring you peace.”
In both cases, though, these quotes remind us that if we surround ourselves with toxic or fake people, we’ll eventually become toxic or fake ourselves. Likewise, if we lean into drama, we’ll eventually fall smack-dab in the middle of it.
Life is full of drama, so you can’t avoid it entirely. This is where your boundaries come into play. When someone tries to draw you in, tell them that you feel for them, but you don’t want to get involved. Then stick to your boundaries and stay out of it.
Know when to keep your mind shut
Chinonye J. Chidolue once said, “In a world as ours filled with so much noise and hate, what suffers the most is our minds. Know when to keep your mind shut!”
I don’t know if the world is filled with hate. That’s kind of a pessimistic way of looking at things. But I do think that the hateful among us are loud…and getting louder by the day. While I think that it’s important to have an open mind in general, sometimes you really do need to just shut it and lock it down tight.
Remember two things. First, you don’t owe anyone an explanation for how you think and feel. Today’s world constantly screams at us to not just explain ourselves but prove why we believe something.
You could say that you enjoy avocados and at least one person will demand to know why. Then when you share your reasons, they’ll demand evidence. Then when you give them evidence, they’ll tell you it’s wrong and come back with their “own research.”
It’s a no-win cycle. So just step out of it. Don’t be afraid to say, “My reasons are my own and I’m not open to discussing them with you. I owe you no explanations.” Repeat it over and over until they get it if you have to.
Don’t be afraid to say no…
As Mateo Sol says, “An energy vampire can never ‘steal’ energy from us unless we consciously or unconsciously permit them to.” Learning how to say no is one of the most important things you can do to protect your energy.
For highly empathic people or just plain people-pleasers, though, it’s also one of the hardest things to do. I have a friend who literally has anxiety attacks when she tries to tell someone no. At the same time, she says “yes” so often that she has anxiety attacks because she can’t get everything done that she promised she’d do!
If you’re the same way, let people know that you’re actively working on setting better boundaries and not taking on more than you can handle. Be open and honest. Tell them that you’ll need to say “no,” even though in your heart you want to say “yes.”
Most people in your life will absolutely understand. Some may even help you stick to your goal by reminding you that it’s okay to tell them you can’t do something. Those are the best friends to have in your corner, by the way!
Those that don’t understand or try to take more than you can give are definitely energy vampires. Consider whether you want them in your life at all. If you can’t stay away from them entirely, go back to step one and set clearer boundaries.
…But also don’t be afraid to say yes sometimes
Protecting your energy isn’t just about keeping so-called vamps from stealing it. It’s also about nurturing it! Sometimes, the best way to do that is to say “yes” to someone who needs your help.
First, you’ll feel good about giving back to others and about sharing your energy to make someone else’s life just a little easier. Plus, it’s just good karma (if you believe in that). Even if you don’t believe in karma, it makes sense that if you fill the world with positivity, you’ll at least help mitigate the effects of negativity.
Above all, trust your gut!
The single most important thing you can do to protect your energy? Trust your gut more often! When it comes to people and situations, it’s right more often than it’s wrong. There are actually a few fascinating studies proving it, too!
A 2012 study done by the American Friends of Tel Aviv University found that “when forced to choose between two options based on instinct alone, the participants made the right call up to 90 percent of the time.”
That study backed up another one from 2008 done by the University of Leeds, which found that intuition is both very real and often very trustworthy. Professor Gerard Hodgkinson, one of the researchers, wrote, “People usually experience true intuition when they are under severe time pressure or in a situation of information overload or acute danger, where conscious analysis of the situation may be difficult or impossible.”
So, if your gut is telling you that someone is trying to siphon or sabotage your energy, trust it. Take measures to protect yourself. Set those boundaries. Say no. Close your mind to them. Step away from the drama. If possible, excuse yourself entirely from their presence.
You alone are responsible for our own energy
I’ll leave you with one last quote that I think really sums this up. “Yes, the people around us can be insensitive, narcissistic, toxic, and sometimes even abusive, but it is up to us to take that energy on or let it flow through us. No one is responsible for taking away our happiness but us.” ― Aletheia Luna
This goes along with what Mateo Sol said. No one can steal your energy without your permission. Don’t give them that permission. Above all else, never let them drag you down to their level. Misery loves company, but there’s no rule that says that company has to be yours.