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negative energy

Hello everybody, welcome to episode 190 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. Today's question is on handling negative energy as an empath.

I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino reminding you before we begin that if you have a question you would like help with on the show, we welcome you to email it to us at advice AT oldpodcast.com

Listen to Greg narrate this post on avoiding negative energy as an empath in Episode 190 of the podcast Optimal Living Advice.

Really nice to have all of you here today as, all of a sudden, the 200 episode landmark is now in sight. Time flies when you’re having fun, friends. We’ve got a great question on tap for you today. We all want to maintain good energy in our lives, but how can we do so when we spend 12 hours a day in an environment that is, almost by definition, the complete antithesis of good energy? We’re going to explore that today and see if we can help our asker wade through her long hours worked at a state correctional facility to maintain the good energy that she craves. Here’s what she’s got for us…

QUESTION: “Energy! For an introvert/empath, this is a normal struggle. However, I am an Administrator at a state correctional facility, which is filled with negative, entitled energy vampires. I’d love an episode on how to protect your energy and set and keep boundaries. I have to tell you, I work up to 12 hours a day and come home completely mentally exhausted. During the week I do not have time or mental space to listen to long podcasts. Cell phones, CDs and personal websites are not allowed while at work, so it is nearly impossible to combat negative energy throughout the day.

How Do You Create Positive Energy in a Negative Setting?

Ok, thank you for sending this in. This is an interesting question and one I’m not prepared to answer in the way most people might expect me to, if I had to guess.

Maybe I’m just feeling a little extra snippy today, but I feel as though there are some inconvenient truths laced in this question; truths that you’ll have to confront if you want to harvest more positive energy.

The big one that kind of overshadows all of this is as that you don’t maintain genuinely good energy by being overly protective of it and keeping all bad energy out. If you do that, you’re trying to live in a bubble, which may be cozy, but also runs a risk of being extremely limiting.

You know the old saying, “You need to spend money to make money”? The same is true of energy. You need to participate in its constant flow in order to ultimately make your situation better.

Right now, I worry that you’re feeding into this cycle of negative energy for yourself – perpetuating it – based on how you describe your situation and its characters.

Environment is important for one’s energy, and your environment is certainly a challenging one, but you have to hold yourself responsible for this, as we should all hold ourselves responsible for changing anything in our lives that we don’t want, whether we directly caused it or not. It’d likely do you a lot of good to acknowledge that you’re there by choice, and that if you don’t choose to change your work environment by getting another job, you sign up for this lifestyle day after day.

Therefore, you also sign up for its after-effects and are responsible if you fall victim to them.

Listen to Dr. Miller's thoughts on building resilience and a positive mindset on Episode 1946 of the podcast Optimal Living Daily.

Working With The Situation

And I’m not saying you necessarily are falling victim to them or dodging responsibility. After all, you came here and are looking for help to improve your situation, which is marvelous.

What I am saying is that if you’re going to empower yourself to overcome this negative energy, it’ll be crucial to not consider yourself as someone who’s constantly being punished without asking for it or without a way out.

Instead, start regarding yourself as someone who has dug themselves into a hole and now needs to dig out of it. There’s no shame in this; we’ve all done it plenty of times. But if you won’t change your situation, you have to work with it.

Dealing with “Negative Energy Vampires”

For you, this means looking at these “negative, entitled energy vampires” in a new way. This shouldn’t be hard for you if you are indeed an empath.

Listen to Ira's thoughts on mindfulness and compassion on Episode 1666 of the podcast Optimal Living Daily.

Consider the circumstances and the mental commentary that many of them are facing. I’ll list some off, and I want you to know that this list is coming from someone who generally believes most crimes should come with longer sentences and/or harsher punishments:

  • They’re away from all their loved ones. Some will never have their freedom again.
  • They wonder if people are forgetting about them or being disloyal to them. They’re either wrongfully accused or feel as though they committed their crimes because they had to for one reason or another.
  • Some might think they’re being taken advantage of by an unfair system. They have no privacy – not even the bathroom or shower is sacred. Building on that, they have absolutely no sense of safety and security, constantly on alert to defend themselves which is extraordinarily stressful even if it becomes baseline stress over time.
  • They might wonder if they’ve screwed up their chance at life. They don’t know if they’ll ever get a job again or be viewed with the same respect.
  • Will they ever be forgiven?
  • They’ve got the same food, clothes and routine on repeat.
  • They’ve got misunderstood traumas that have likely fueled their crimes or their ability to see clearly why they shouldn’t have committed them.

And the list goes on and on and on.

You could see how this collection would make it extremely difficult for these people to escape a spiral of negative energy. And they’re actually living it. You’re just overseeing it.

Empath and Negative Energy: Conclusion

Listen to Dr. Miller's thoughts on coping with negative emotions on Episode 1418 of the podcast Optimal Living Daily.

Obviously all of this would be hard to be exposed to for 12 hours a day, and that’s on top of whatever other stressors you might have in your life. No one’s downgrading your own struggle.

But I would think that by stepping into their shoes as an empath, you’d find an opportunity to level with them, listen to them (without feeling entitled yourself for them to always be receptive and treat you kindly), and bring harmony to this job by letting them teach you how extreme the consequences of negative energy can actually get.

I know this is all draining and I know it’s hard to work against a constant wave of negativity, but try to see this as a microcosm of all lessons learned in life. You get better when you deal with and confront adversity, right?

The same rule applies with negative energy within a state correctional facility. You’re exposed to a ton of challenge. You can focus on how detrimental and unfair it feels, or you can use it and learn from it to improve your own energy.

Until you embrace this, you’re not doing everything you can to build good energy in your life. And if you’re not willing to do everything you can and are instead demanding your surroundings to get better, that feels to me like the a little bit more entitlement than you’d probably care to have.

Thank you everyone for being here today, everyone. As we talked about today and many times before, it’s important to extract lessons from everything and not be selective with our circumstances.

If we seek to become one with the world around us and solve problems we feel are serious enough to rid ourselves of for life, we need to go through, not around the challenges. This concept is a huge umbrella covering every area of life – energy included. I believe our asker today has a fantastic opportunity to tap into the hardships of her environment by deliberately making the choice to engage with them and make efforts to step out of the cycle – inevitably helping herself and perhaps others struggling within her environment.

Time to wrap it up, though. Thank you again, asker, for a great question. I wish you luck and I hope you’ll all stop in again on Friday for our next installment of OLA where we’ll look to help another person out. I’ll see you all there.

Listen to Greg narrate this post on avoiding negative energy as an empath in Episode 190 of the podcast Optimal Living Advice.

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Greg Audino

Greg Audino is a Rhode Island-born certified life coach, actor, and graduate of Goucher College. He is the host of the mental health podcast Optimal Living Advice and narrates dating, marriage, and parenting content over at Optimal Relationships Daily.
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