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By July 8, 2011December 9th, 2014Claudia's Corner

We can’t see it, but we can sure feel it!

Negative energy.

There are several ways in which we can protect ourselves from the effects of being around people who emit this type of energy: we can simply steer clear of them…we can wear a clove of garlic underneath our shirts…we can meditate before we know we are going to be with them, surrounding ourselves with that universal “white light” as a protective measure…we can bless the divine in them and offer an affirmation for joy and positive energy in their lives.
We can also become engulfed in the turmoil they carry with them.

But what good does that do them or us? When we are vulnerable, either because we are tired or have not properly fed or exercised ourselves, we are more susceptible to being dragged down by a negative person.
Studies show that most of the time, energy emanating from a positive, happy person can actually change the energy in a room full of fifty people; positive energy is that strong! There are, however, some folks who can drag a happy person down to their unhappy level, albeit unconsciously.
Emotion is contagious.

In his book The Tipping Point, author Malcolm Gladwell writes that “Emotion goes inside-out. Emotional contagion, though, suggests that the opposite is also true. If I can make you smile, I can make you happy. If I can make you frown, I can make you sad. Emotion, in this sense, goes outside-in.”
Some of us are very good at expressing our emotions and feelings. This makes us much more emotionally ‘contagious’ than those who are not good at this expression. Psychologists call good expressers “senders.” They would, in medical terms, be called carriers. There is a second group of people who are very susceptible to these senders or carriers.
Howard Friedman, a psychologist at the University of California, Riverside, developed the Affective Communication Test, which measures the ability to send emotion, to be contagious. In tests Friedman conducted with those who scored well on the test and those who didn’t, he found that low-scorers ended up – in just a few minutes, without a word being spoken – picking up on the moods of the high-scorers. Gladwell writes, “If the charismatic person started out depressed, and the inexpressive person started out happy, by the end of the two minutes the inexpressive person was depressed as well. But it didn’t work the other way. Only the charismatic person could infect the other people in the room with his or her emotions.”
Emotion can progess much like a disease!

How, then, do we protect ourselves from the disease of negative energy? Obviously, be a charismatic person…be a carrier, a “sender.” But what if charisma is not our forte?
I think we serve ourselves well if we are in tune with who we are and what our core values are. Someone firmly rooted in their sense of self is not easily swayed from what grounds them. Additionally, if we know where our emotional weak links are, we are better able to protect those weak areas while we work to build a better foundation upon which to stand. I have written before about Rick Hanson’s book, Budda’s Brain. As the book jacket reads, “Buddha’s Brain draws on the latest research to show how to stimulate and strengthen your brain for more fulfilling relationships, a deeper spiritual life, and a greater sense of inner confidence and worth. You’ll learn how to activate the brain states of calm, joy, and compassion instead of worry, sorrow, and anger.” All the better to withstand the negative energy around you.
Practically, understand that you are allowed to set boundaries; people are only allowed the access you give them. Being a loving, caring person does not mean that you are required to let anyone walk over or through you in order to have their needs met. Do not invite negative energy in by being too accessible to those who have it. You are ‘a people’, too!

Know that it is perfectly okay for you to have a good day when even those closest to you are not. I came to realize one of my most freeing life lessons when my daughter was in high school: it was alright for me to be happy even when she was miserable. One morning, she left for school almost in tears from something unresolved in her social life from the night before. I was so very wrapped up in her (no boundaries) that I worried for her, about her and was miserable for the both of us all day. When she came home from school, she was fine…just fine…and I had made myself a pathetic wreck of a person all day.
As always, I come back to cultivating a sense of humor about life. Delicious ironies abound. Perhaps this is divine intelligence having a good time…God enjoying a joke like the rest of us!
There are many things in life that are serious, but taking oneself too seriously is pomposity. Allowing a person with negative energy to take over your emotional life is taking things way too seriously. Lighten up and laugh!
Know who you are. Have boundaries in place. Choose happiness. Change your brain, if called for. Avoid, affirm, meditate, or pray, but leave the garlic for that relaxing, home cooked meal you are planning!