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Protecting Your Energy

“I’m vibing with you.” That was the first clue I revealed to my husband (then boyfriend) that I was connecting with him, and in a good way. I agreed with his opinions and beliefs. He concurred with my thoughts and actions. All was well, because we were vibing.

We aren’t the only ones vibing. Friendships are based on vibes, and office camaraderie is contingent on connecting to meet a goal. There must be some sort of thread to weave people together– that thread is vibes or energy.

News websites frequently post articles regarding practicing self-care according to your level of introversion or extroversion. As a social introvert, I am aware of my threshold of socialization, am selective with whom I socialize, and have activities in place to protect my energy levels. I can become so drained after spending time with people who do not feed into my energy or when I have reached my socialization threshold. My typical methods for recharging include being alone to collect my thoughts, reading a book, writing, listen to music, walking, or napping.

Attribute it to reaching my late twenties or experiencing loss, I now mindfully consider how my energy will be spent each day. While everyday isn’t perfect, I strive to surround myself with holders of positive energy.

The theories of “positive vibes only,” good/positive energy and the law of attraction, have existed for a substantial amount of time. Science even confirms it: the first law of thermodynamics is that energy is not created or destroyed but rather changed from one form to another. Have you ever been in a good mood only to feel a bit dejected after engaging with negative person? Misery, indeed, loves company.

I remember one Tuesday, I was in a pretty good mood; I had a nice morning that included waking up fully rested, enjoying my carpool ride to work with my husband, and enjoying the warm weather. A few hours later, I walked into a team meeting and heard my coworker complain about her weekend: how things didn’t go as planned, the weather affected her activities, and how nothing had worked in her favor. My supervisor then looked at me and asked how my weekend went; her face was frowned as if she was expecting to hear complaints. And guess what…complaints are what she heard. I lamented on how my dog’s vet appointment was disastrous and how stressful and embarrassing it was. What happened to my pretty good mood? Did it all wash away due to hearing someone else detail her not-so-positive weekend?

Perhaps it did. Psychology researchers have classified this as emotional contagion: the natural and automatic tendency to unite emotionally with others. This unification can be expressed via one’s feelings and behaviors (this includes vocalizations, movements and even postures). A simple Google search on emotional contagion will yield numerous articles on eliminating negative energy within the workplace, at home, school, etc.

Don’t think emotional contagion is real? When you’re in a sour mood, how does that affect those around you? Do they come to your aid, singing songs of cheer? Or are they a bit distant from you and even snap back at your foul comments? In my marriage, the effects of emotional contagion are very clear: if one of us is in a sour mood, we both tend to be in a sour mood. Conversely, if one is in a positive mood, the other person is positive as well. It’s the transfer of energy.

Protect Your Energy

Emotional contagion is quite possibly the reason why one Negative Nancy at a party can ruin everyone’s mood, and why the class clown gets everyone in stitches at the most trivial things. My Papa could channel his emotions to those around him without any effort. If he told me he was disappointed in me, I was in tears, feeling guilty over my actions. If he was struggling to tell a joke due to his incessant laughing and crying, your side was hurting by laughing so hard with him…who knows if the joke was even funny. When he sang about the Lord, your spirit was convicted and praising God with him. Now looking back at those memories and emotions, I think Papa was a good protector of his energy and positively affected the energy of others.

So how can I protect my energy? How can I spread positivity to others and fend off negative vibes? Simple: continue to be the social introvert that I am, being selective with whom I engage (those with positive mindsets); continue to identify and practice the activities that feed into my positive energy; continue to positively vibe with others.

Now it’s your turn to evaluate. Are you vibing with someone? Is it positive or negative? What energy are you giving off in the office, at work, at home? What are some ways you recharge your energy?

-KP, the social introvert

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