People and Energy Dynamics
There are all kinds of people in the world; it's part of what makes life interesting! It would be pretty dull if we were all the same. There are people you love, people you like, people you can tolerate in small doses, people you don't care for and lots of people you don't even know. Every day we navigate the waters of dealing with people; some courses are easy and straightforward, others are a difficult dance. And in every interaction with someone, there is an exchange of energy at some level, whether it is physical, mental or emotional.
Think about it: when you make plans with someone you like, you look forward to it and are excited and energized thinking about it. When you have to do something with someone that you may not be fond of, you dread it and drag your feet. Whether you're aware of it or not, there is an energy exchange going on that can affect not only your physical energy, but the state of your mind and emotions as well.
Years ago I read a book called The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield, a fictional book about a mans spiritual journey. Some parts of it were kind of hokey (sorry!), but one part in particular really stood out to me: it talked about "control dramas", or to put it simply, the different ways in which people try to get energy from one another. In the book, these control dramas or personalities were laid out in four basic groups. They are:
"The Intimidator" - this type of person gets energy by force or threat. They may yell, be a bully or be violent. The intimidator forces you to pay attention to them and draws your energy from fear and aggression. When dealing with an intimidator, you walk away feeling exhausted and defeated, whereas they feel empowered.
"The Interrogator" - this type of person is also aggressive, but in a completely different way: they question everything you do in order to find fault with it and you. They will question your decisions, your motives and your judgement. This strategy for your energy sucks you in as you feel you have to justify your actions and choices and constantly explain yourself. When dealing with an interrogator, you walk away feeling drained and questioning yourself.
"The Aloof" - this type of person gets energy by being vague and distant, someone you have to drag information out of or chase after. You end up spending more energy trying to pry information or anything out of them; it's a very passive aggressive way to get your energy. They're also the type that will give you the "silent treatment" while you fritter your energy away trying to figure out what's going on.
"The Poor Me" - this type of person also uses a passive aggressive approach to get your energy. They try to make you feel guilty and responsible for them. They like to complain about their life, not to find a solution, but to get attention and sympathy. They steal energy by making you feel that you have to take care of them, or that their problems are somehow your fault.
Not everyone fits into one category neatly or is only one thing; often I find that people will sometimes start with one tactic, and if that isn't working, will switch to another. An example of this is when a "poor me" (or professional victim as I call them) will start off trying to make you feel sorry for them and guilty that you're not doing enough, and when this doesn't work, they switch to being angry and aggressive. Sometimes people do these tactics unconsciously (it's just who they are); other times they do it deliberately. This is especially true of people who know you well, like family, because they really know how to push your buttons to get a certain reaction out of you. You have a choice: you can get sucked in, fight back, resist or choose not to engage at all.
The trick in all this is to try to be aware of these patterns of behaviour, to see them, not only in others but in ourselves. None of us are perfect and we all are products of our past and our upbringing. However, we are not limited to what we were taught by our parents, teachers and family; we can keep growing, learning and changing in new and better ways if we try to be aware of our own patterns of behaviour and our own reactions to others. When we become more observational and less reactionary, we begin to see these patterns and what's really going on. Sometimes the only way to do this when dealing with others is to unplug our emotions from the situation. We can still be friendly, polite, helpful, caring and courteous; just not allow the emotional hooks that are in us to be pulled on by those people seeking to drain us.
Another way of dealing with energy dramas continues on with the idea of being more observational and less reactionary. Be observant of things around you, looking for beauty or things that make you smile everywhere. Do you ever go for a walk in the woods, or even down the street, and been completely observant and in the moment instead of always thinking ahead, of the past or distracted by technology? Most people don't. One of my goals a few years ago was to do this, to actively seek out things that I found beautiful, pretty or neat and to exist more in the moment. When I consciously do this, I'm amazed at all the little things I notice, like a pretty flower, a really nice tree, someone's neat hat. And you know what? These little observances increase my energy all on it's own. It's one of the reasons I love being in nature so much: there's this limitless energy and beauty that's free for the taking if you just become aware of it. Practicing gratitude for what you have also helps keep your energy levels high so that there's no need to try and steal it from someone else.
The older I get, the more I realize that I only have so much energy. Some of it is for work, some of it is for people I love, and if there's any left over, there might be some for me. I love to help people and try to make them feel better, so I tend to give a lot of energy. However, if you're not willing to put in as much energy into it as I am, then I have to reconsider how much, if any, energy I'm going to put into it. Granted, sometimes people are going through a rough time and you need to put more energy into the situation and them. But if you're always an energy vampire, it's simply not healthy for my physical, mental and emotional state to continue to be involved in the situation.
Relationships should be based on a mutual exchange of energy so that all parties benefit and no one feels drained and ill used. Everyone's emotional, physical and mental state of health should be held to be just as important as anyone else's and that we are responsible for our own. If we can do this and constantly uplift each other to help us all to become better people, wouldn't the world be a much better place?