Have you ever spent the day with a well meaning friend, only to leave completely exhausted? In contrast, the exact same day can be spent with someone different, and this person injects you with energy that can last for days?
The scientific community will no doubt roll their eyes at this blog post. In fact I am in the ‘eye-rolling’ camp quite often myself. I despise assumptions and instead prefer to assume I don’t know until facts are presented to me. However, there is one exception, and that is the undeniable effect others have on us.
As humans we are highly susceptible to tiny shifts in conversational content, vocal tone, facial expressions and body language. On a subconscious level, our brains are processing huge amounts of information and making assumptions that can help move us toward a pleasurable outcome and away from pain.
This information is then processed and decisions are made (either consciously or subconsciously). “Should I still be friends with this person? Should I limit my time with them? Should I tell them openly about how they make me feel?” Very often we have a deep intuition that spending time with this person is detrimental to our wellbeing, but more often than not we override our common sense and instead we seek to be “supportive”.
If you are one of those patient friends that are there for others no matter what, it’s important to be aware of the impact this decision can have on you. Apart from feeling lower in energy, more stressed and even more pessimistic, the long term effects of spending time with energy vampires are that this tendency might rub off on you. One of my favourite quotes from Tony Robbins is: “Who you spend time with is who you become.”
Here are a few simple questions to ask yourself if any ‘energy vampire’ traits have rubbed off on you:
If you answered yes to these questions it might be time for you to take massive action! Here are a few steps that you can take to help you become someone that isn’t an energy vampire:
If you are an energy vampire there is a strong chance you talk about yourself and your ideas more than asking questions about others. You also haven’t got the faintest clue what makes your friends happy. So ask these questions and then make an effort to do what brings them joy.
It’s very difficult to feel grateful and feel low at the same time. The very nature of gratitude is that you bring your mind into a place that sees just how blessed you are and how great life really is. When people ask how you are, don’t fake a “good” or dump on them all your problems. Instead be honest and open about what you’re grateful for today.
Smiling (even fake smiling) has been scientifically proven to release happy hormones. The British Council stated, “When our smiling muscles contract, they fire a signal back to the brain, stimulating our reward system, and further increasing our level of happy hormones, or endorphins. In short, when our brain feels happy, we smile; when we smile, our brain feels happier”.
It’s also contagious. The more you smile at others the more they want to smile back. If you want to be someone that brings others energy up, there is nothing as uplifting as making them smile
Again this is a great one for getting happy hormones pumping. It also gets your posture muscles to work when you are standing or sitting. Slouching immediately creates the physiology of feeling low and negative. Learn to use your body to create a metal shift.
Recently, a study came out in the Journal of Business and Psychology showing that bosses who don’t take the time to exercise are more stressed and lash out at their employees, compared with bosses who make time for fitness.
Ray Dalio is one of the greatest financial investors of all time, and one of the only people to predict the 2008 financial crisis. He is an absolute legend, not only for his financial knowledge but also because of the principles he build his success on. One of these is that people should be radically open minded about feedback from others. The ego hates being told where it must improve, and energy vampires will rarely invite this level of honesty. Therefore it’s important to be someone who loves to hear where they should improve.
It’s difficult to be in a bad mood about your life if you’re surrounded by people that have and are suffering more than you. This is why it’s great to do volunteering in a local elderly home, homeless shelter, orphanage or animal rescue centre. Doing more for others actually gives you energy and allows you to see just how fortunate you already are.
To summarise, I love this quote by Thomas Watson Jr.: “Really big people are, above everything else, courteous, considerate and generous — not just to some people in some circumstances — but to everyone all the time.” The idea that someone can effect your energy, isn’t yet a concept rooted firmly in science, but it is rooted in experience. Be mindful of the experiences you allow into your world, and be mindful of how you effect the experience of others.