Ever encountered an energy thief? I can, as I write this, think of two people in my life who can with just a look sap me of energy and drain away every last little happy vibe. I don’t know where it comes from but perhaps it’s again all back to this need we all probably have: see me, see me! Some wish to be acknowledged, appreciated, validated. I’m trying to live my life according to a whole bunch of new principles and perspectives, and one of them is “never assume bad intent“. This means I am making a concerted effort to stop for a moment and not go with my initial reaction when the reaction is negative. I.e. when I feel irritated, offended or even angry. My intention is to pause for a moment and ascertain if my reaction is indeed valid due to another’s crappy action, or if it’s an exaggerated or even faulty response mechanism that engages and fires because there is something in me that’s off somehow. If I land at the conclusion that the action itself is crappy and my reaction to it is sound, I want to see if I can understand where it’s come from because I just don’t believe there are many people who are just inherently shitty. Gosh, talk about over analysing stuff, but I’m in that sort of mood this week. And yes, I am irritable, possibly due to hormones. Hah! It kind of frightens me to think what I might be like when I hit the menopause and they kick in for real, I’ll be delightful I’m sure.
For all my flaws and shortcomings, I think anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I’m a pretty positive person. My default setting seems to be sunny. Thank God. They’d possibly also say I’m sensitive. I mean, you could probably quite easily, with minimum effort make me either feel really low or exuberantly high. Boom. Case in point: if my bosses are sour faced and quiet I immediately feel a bit ill and assume they hate me, but if they are smiley and chatty it’s enough to make me feel appreciated and accomplished. Both reactions in me that are utterly disproportionate to the actions themselves. But I know this – my emotional antenna is WAY too finely tuned and I can plunge into both inexplicable joy and sorrow for others as well as myself. Exhausting, as I’m sure you can imagine. Another thing I am working on but generally accept to be part of who I am, but being aware of it does help. We’re all different and whereas some people are more sensitive to, say, physical pain or bright lights or strong flavours or whatever it might be, it just happens to be the case that I get the feels very easily. It does also mean that whenever there’s an energy thief around, I go down faster than a fat kid on a see-saw.
One of the two energy thieves I could think of just now that I’m writing this is Vera. I’m naming her that because she was drinking an aleo vera drink just earlier with the motivation it might make her less tired. I like Vera a lot, she is super duper sweet, but I don’t think she has EVER responded to my “how are you?” with anything other than a sad grimace and a so-so hand gesture. OK, I can’t say I’m a bundle of boundless joy this week and we all have our ups and downs – of bloody course we do, it’s LIFE! – but Vera’s glass is not even half full, it’s never had anything in it, the fucking glass is empty. Worse than that, it’s broken and she has severely cut her mouth as a result. Her tongue is almost completely severed and she is bleeding to death. That’s the state of Vera’s glass.
I don’t know where it comes from in Vera’s case. It’s not that she is spoilt and just won’t appreciate what she has, because she has worked her arse off her whole life and has built up an impressive life from nothing. She’s had nothing handed to her and her work ethic would put any of us to shame. Especially me, unfocused and lazy bugger that I am. Vera’s life I’m sure many would envy. Due to aforementioned hard work, she has now placed herself in a very nice position for the future, having laid solid foundations not only for her baby daughter but also for any further “at least one more” children she and her partner may have. At a glance, she’s got it made. And yet she never has a good day, never seems to be really happy about anything. Of course, I’m sure people could look at me and say the same things – list a bunch of stuff off the cuff and conclude I have nothing to complain about. I have a happy and healthy kid and a loving husband, and we live in a home where we are warm and safe, never worrying about putting food on the table. I’m sure for many people someone else could just take a brief look in through the window and not see any reason why we might complain, and of course there is always more to everything than first meets the eye. I just think some of us are wired the way Vera seems to be and focus on the downers more than the uppers, even when the uppers are right up in our faces. I don’t want this to slip into a discussion about depression, which is something different altogether and comes for you regardless of whether you’re a prince or a pauper. Depression doesn’t give a shit about reasons to be happy or sad, it’s nothing to do with that. Well – I don’t know enough about depression to embark on anything further, so let’s leave it there. This post is about energy thieves and a negative outlook on life, and what I’ve diagnosed Vera with is a piss poor, negative, broken glass attitude.
If I compliment her on her hair, she complains that she found a grey hair and if I say her dress really suits her she’ll complain she gained a few pounds. If I tell her that her daughter is so lovely, Vera will immediately point out how she kept her up all night. If I comment that it must be such a great feeling knowing she’s nearly paid off her mortgage she sighs and recounts how she feels like an old lady due to working. Actually, the way she put it was like this: “oh, I probably won’t get to enjoy it, my body is worn out, it will be too old too soon“. Vera is in her early 30s and is a waitress. Yes, she is on her feet all day and yes, she carries stuff around more than an office worker, but REALLY?
Unless she has some awful, devilish side to her I’ve never seen, this just can’t come from a bad place. Perhaps she needs reassurance that she has done well. Like we all do sometimes, perhaps she wants and needs a pat on the back for having worked so hard? I’ve tried to say to her that it’s impressive to have done what she’s done but it only results in that wistful look and an exasperated sigh over how life is so tough. I don’t want to take any of that away from her, I don’t want to minimise how she feels because her experience is her experience and it’s not up to me to validate or approve it. It just makes me feel so TIRED. So it’s back to me. Me, me, me. I soak up her words and her vibes and magnify them within myself to the point where I am massively affected by them and allow them to adjust my own outlook from happy to sad. Because I do feel sad any time I’ve had a chat with Vera. I’m left feeling a little exhausted, actually.
Then take Olive, named here due to her olive skin that I envy enormously, who may have what many of us would refer to as ‘It All’ but whose young son has a rare form of cancer and has spent more days at hospital than he has at home. Olive can absolutely talk of the heartbreak and absolute nightmare they endure on pretty much a daily basis, but she just doesn’t sweat the small stuff. If I compliment her on her dress she’ll light up and do a twirl and comment on either where she got it or how she bought one in a different colour too because she loves the material. If we talk about grey hair she’ll giggle about something or make a joke and somehow I walk away not with fewer grey hairs but certainly much less worried about any of them. In fact I walk away quite liking the grey hairs I have after discussing them with Olive. Olive has that effect and it’s the very opposite to Vera.
Funny, isn’t it? Goes to show how life and our experiences are a direct result of our thoughts and attitude. I believe that 100%. OK, so we can’t THINK away cancer or the like, but we can always, every time and without exception choose our approach and reactions or at least do something about those. I think if Vera had Olive’s attitude, she’d bounce up each morning and feel gratitude. With Vera’s attitude I reckon Olive would have just given up. Or dragged the whole world down with her. It’s one of the first things about doing the 12 steps really, as far as I’m concerned, or anything at all that we decide to do: having hope. Without hope and a belief that it’ll all come good, where do we get the energy to even try or begin? When I speak with Vera I get the impression that she feels hopeless, that she’s just doing all of this but it’s all pretty pointless and she’ll never have any reward. Well, her body is getting too old too soon, remember? Then Olive, who seems to approach each day with a sense of purpose and hope. World’s apart.
Again, I don’t know what it is that makes Vera so negative about life or so prone to immediately focus on the downsides even in the face of something really positive, but I do know that as usual there is only one thing I can control: myself. I’m not sure how to though, because I’m not going to cut Vera off or stop talking to her. As I mentioned, she is actually a super lovely person. I need to somehow not let it grate on me or get me down when she focuses on the negatives in situations. But how?
Do you know an energy thief who also happens to be someone you either can’t or won’t cut off? How do you manage your reaction to them? Is there a clever way of being immune to their negativity?
In other news, it’s the battle of the neutrals this afternoon – Sweden vs Switzerland in the World Cup. I try to tell myself I don’t care that much, but I do. And then England vs Colombia. The English fans are always really cocky and it’s all football’s coming home, but who knows, they might be right as long as they don’t underestimate Colombia…
Today I’m not going to drink.