True wellness is about much more than simply the foods we’re eating. Or not eating.
Much of wellness also consists of identifying and overcoming stress triggers. Many of the daily stressors we face come to us in for the form of “energy drains.” That is, situations—and people—that force us into a state of fight or flight (sympathetic) nervous system response, leaving us feeling depleted and weakened both physically and emotionally.
In both the short and long term, this can lead to immune dysregulation, nutrient deficiencies, blood pressure issues (and resultant heart or kidney problems), erratic blood sugar (dysglycemia), and hormonal imbalances. It’s so important to learn to recognize, work through, and overcome any energy drains to break these cycles.
Inevitably, we’re all faced with difficult situations in life. Too often, we view these circumstances as outside of our control, but in my work with clients, I’ve seen how we can reclaim our own personal power, no matter what arises in life.
Instead of feeling small and victimized, we can feel successful and purposeful.
Here’s how to stop energy drains from affecting you:
1. Put a voice to it
That which goes unsaid festers. For example, someone is acting out in coercive, passive aggressive, and catty ways in your relationship. It’s common to internalize these issues instead of speaking out against them. When you internalize, it can lead to continued ill health and symptoms: your blood pressure begins to rise, your heart beats faster, your adrenal glands release cortisol and adrenaline, your muscles tense, you start to sweat and lose minerals, and so on.
But when you speak up, people are forced to recognize the ways their behavior has been unfitting, unhelpful, and inappropriate. Hopefully, it forces them to think before they act given that you’re no longer allowing them to get away with it.
If we never put a voice to what’s draining our energy, it will just keep happening—nothing will change. Only when we speak and use the energy from our fifth chakra (our expressive chakra, where the thyroid lives) can we affect change and make our lives more functional and healthy—as well as help others and the world.
Not everyone possesses the same level of emotional intelligence. What is obvious to you as inappropriate may not be obvious to someone else. Once we speak out against the drains, we (again, hopefully) force others to examine the things they have been acting out.
Maybe they’ll change and maybe they won’t, but no matter—putting a voice to the source of the drain will affirm your experiences, prevent you from quietly enduring it any longer, and perhaps shift others’ consciousness so that they can make a change for the better.
2. Identify the tactics and patterns
People who drain energy from others (“energy vampires,” as Dr. Christiane Northrup calls them) do this for a few reasons. First, they fear loss of control and loss of power or position. They also do this because perhaps they’re not aware they’re doing these things, or because they get off on others’ pain and hardships.
Feel good peptides (bonded amino acids) are released in the bodies of people who have trained themselves to thrive on and enjoy someone else’s pain, so they literally get a chemical “high” from you—and this cycle can be difficult for them to break because it feels so good.
Without recognizing the tactics people who drain our energy use, we’ll keep repeating these situations because they have no incentive to break the pattern (remember, they feel good doing this).
For example, your supervisor won’t communicate her needs or expectations clearly but then punishes you when you don’t do what she secretly wanted. So you’re always in the “wrong” and worry when you’ll face serious repercussions at your job. Or there’s an unspoken understanding between you and your spouse that their needs come first and only after you’ve met them, can you do anything for yourself. Either way, you’ll end up stressed and burnt out.
If the pattern is unspoken expectations, break this cycle by asking for and getting clear information about what these people need or expect from you. They may try to deflect and avoid the conversation, but the conversation needs to happen nonetheless.
Or, if the pattern is lack of reciprocation in relationships, make sure you begin communicating what you need so you aren’t walked all over—and if your needs continue to not be reciprocated, you’re able to make the tough but necessary decision to stay or go. You’ll see it’s not about you but rather about this person who may not be capable of changing their tactics.
3. To become empowered, recognize the lesson
I believe that no matter one’s spiritual or religious beliefs, we can use the difficult circumstances in our lives as guides and teachers. This doesn’t mean every bad thing happens for a reason, but it can mean that no matter what has happened, we can work through it to become empowered versus feeling frustrated, angry, disappointed, sad, or victimized by it the rest of our lives. It’s a way to reclaim ourselves despite the pain.
With clients in Energy Reading sessions, I like to point out patterns and lessons that I see they’re being presented with to help break the cycles. The exact circumstances will differ but the themes are usually the same: you aren’t appreciated and feel resentful or overworked as a result; you get punished for not doing what others want; you get quieted often and talked over, and so on.
Recognizing the themes that accompany the energy drains helps us to break the cycle because we no longer wander through life waiting for the next “bad” thing to happen—the next shoe to drop. Instead, we can take a step back and see the larger spider web, if you will, and detach ourselves instead of getting caught up in it.
4. Enforce your boundaries
You deserve a happy, healthy life, bottom line.
Anything or anyone that infringes on this should be examined and ultimately worked through. If others don’t want to work through such issues with you, or if there’s no way to improve the overall environment in a situation, you have to begin standing up for yourself—because no one else will.
We try to give people the benefit of the doubt, expect they’ll do the right thing, and even hope someone will come to our rescue. In many cases, though, this isn’t realistic. The only one who can save you from the energy drains is yourself. This may not be fair, but it’s necessary.
This will require you to stand up for what you believe is right. This may mean you need to cut ties with commitments that no longer fulfill you, or choose a new career path, or have a serious talk with the people closest to you. Many women have been subdued and talked out of this essential skill, but it’s necessary to relearn it and begin enforcing it.
Whatever it is, remember: you can do it, and if not now, when? What you resist persists.
You absolutely can overcome energy drains, or simply learn to detach rather than being caught off guard by the next one. Once you do, you’ll reclaim an essential part of you that has likely long been tucked away and your physical health will begin to improve—dramatically—for the better.