I walked into the room and felt a wave of negativity that was so strong I had to fight the urge to take two steps backward.
I felt tense and on edge as I greeted my new patient and asked, “Hi Marcy, how can I help you?”
Her voice was cold and controlled as she issued this order, “You can fix me, that’s what you can do. I’ve been to see two other therapists who were incompetent. I’ve been in pain for over a year and I’m sick of this. Let’s skip the chit-chat and get on to the part where you do your job and make me better.”
I noticed my heart beating faster and my breaths were shallow. I felt a little light headed, as well. I wanted to run and hide.
I found myself in this type of situation several times a month in my previous career as a physical therapist. Early on, I had no skills to manage these interactions and I would feel depleted, tired and emotionally worn out when they were over.
How to Combat Negativity
I didn’t have a label for it at the time, I needed to learn how to combat negativity because I was getting drained by the “personal energy” of these types of patients.
We don’t often stop to think about it, but we all have a personal energy that we emit and radiate to those around us.
In physics, energy is defined as a property of objects that can be transferred to other objects. An example of one type of energy is body heat. If someone is sitting or standing close to you, you can feel the heat radiating from them, and it’s transferred to you.
Our personal energy is a combination of our beliefs, words and actions, which come together to form the “vibe” or overall feeling that gets relayed to those around us. Like body heat, our personal energy is something that can be felt by others.
Creative and highly empathetic people tend to be more sensitive to the energy of others. I have been told many times, as have most of my clients, that the way to handle this sensitivity is to “toughen up”. Often times, this sensitivity is judged as a negative thing (both by the person who is sensitive and by others who don’t have this issue.)
Toughening up and getting rid of the energetic sensitivity is not the answer.
Rather than eliminating our energetic sensitivity, we need to learn how to protect and manage it so we’re not overwhelmed by the personal energy of others.
While you may not be able to physically get away from someone who is negative, there are ways to protect yourself and your energy.
(An important note here: if negativity and energy drain are a significant part of your work or home life, and not just an occasional thing, then I strongly encourage you to consider making bigger changes to create a more supportive environment for yourself.)
The strategy I use, and that I teach my clients, is a tool called The Energy Bubble.
The energy bubble is an invisible protective layer that you put on at the beginning of each day.
Your intention as you put on this bubble is that it will be a protective layer that allows positive and restorative energy to pass through to you during the day while blocking any energy that feels toxic or threatening.
Specifically what this bubble gives you is a buffer zone of time and space.
You will still be aware of negative energy, but the bubble will block some of the intensity of the energy and allow you to process your own reactions from a toxic encounter on your own time and in your own way without feeling like you have to react in the moment.
(This can be especially helpful if you are introverted as the combined drain of negative energy as well as the pressure to respond to it in the moment can be overwhelming.)
Here’s how you put it on:
- Sit quietly, preferably in a space where you are alone.
- Say out loud or silently in your head: “I am putting on my energy bubble. This bubble is going on from my feet, over my legs and hips, over my abdomen and chest, and all the way over my shoulders, neck and head. This bubble will protect me from any negative energy. It will allow any positive energy to pass through to me. It will allow me the space and protection I need to process anything that feels upsetting to me without having to share these feelings in public. It will stay on throughout the day until I take it off.”
At the end of the day, here’s how you take it off:
- Sit in a quiet place and say: “I am taking my bubble off now. Any negative energy that was blocked by the bubble is now being taken away. I allow myself to notice any thoughts or feelings that come up about any events that happened during the day.”
- Next, allow yourself to watch the thoughts that come up just as you would watch subtitles go across a TV screen. Try not to judge your thoughts or change them, simply watch them as they come up and then drift away.
- If you had something particularly challenging happen during the day, give yourself the time to process this by either talking with a friend or writing in your journal. Sometimes, simply saying the words “that was really hard” can be all of the acknowledgement that we need to process a rough time and move on.
The Energy Bubble is a simple and powerful tool to help you maintain your creativity and empathy without being taken down by the negative energy of others.
If you know someone who can use this, would you please pass this on to them?