How To Protect Your Energy From Negative People

Yeah, life sucks sometimes, but some people seem hell-bent on focusing on the bad stuff and completely sh*tting all over the good. We all feel a bit pessimistic sometimes, and that’s fine, but when someone is a Debbie Downer 24/7, it starts to wear you down. You can’t control other people’s emotions, but you can control your own, and you have to protect your energy. Here’s how to stay zen even in the midst of madness.

  1. Set boundaries like a boss. Some people truly are mental and emotional leeches and will suck you dry if you let them. If you don’t want to be affected by other people’s negativity, you have to set boundaries. It’s okay to say that you find certain behaviors unacceptable and that you don’t want people who exhibit them in your life. If you find that you’re beginning to feel drained, constantly cranky, or downright depressed by someone’s presence, the anwer’s quite clear: Cut them out.
  2. Cultivate self-awareness. Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in work, our social lives, or even our phones that we end up completely losing touch with our inner monologue. A big way to protect your energy is by prioritizing self-awareness. When you find yourself slipping into negative patterns or thought processes, ask yourself why that is and whether it might be down to a situation you’re in or a person you’ve been spending time with. The more aware you are, the more power you have to change.
  3. Choose your tribe wisely. You are who you surround yourself with, and if you’re constantly hanging around with someone who’s totally miserable, it’s going to start rubbing off on you. It doesn’t matter if the Negative Nancy in your life has been your friend since second grade and she’s now dating your cousin — she’s gotta go. You don’t have to be pulled down by someone who isn’t interested in rising up.
  4. Embrace the art of digital detoxing. Negative emotions come to us from all different directions, but social media is a biggie. Scrolling Instagram or TikTok for hours and seeing loads of people with lives that are more glamorous, exciting, or whatever than your own is bound to make you feel like crap about your daily existence. That’s when a detox comes in handy. Put down your phone (or better yet, turn it off) and step away. Get out in the world and do something that makes you feel alive and happy. You’ll soon realize how little anything on the internet actually matters.
  5. Make self-care your BFF. At this point, self-care is an overused buzzword, but that doesn’t mean the practice itself isn’t worthwhile. It’s important to form habits and practices in your daily life that refill your cup, so to speak, and keep your equilibrium balanced. What that looks like differs based on the person, but the result is the same: You protect your energy. This is especially important if you’re forced to spend time with negative people at work, school, or even in your own family that you can’t get away from.
  6. Practice active listening to diffuse the drama. Here’s the thing: Sometimes people just want to be heard. When they’re complaining or raging, they’re not necessarily looking for a tangible solution to a problem — they just want someone to listen to them, to commiserate, and then they’ll be fine. Find a way to empathize with people like this and you’d be surprised at how quickly their drama dissipates. That’s a win for both of you!
  7. Find your safe space. Having a personal sanctuary where you can recharge is crucial. For many of us, this is our homes, even if it’s just a room in them, where you can close the door, be alone with your own thoughts, and just unwind. When you take time to nurture your relationship with yourself, it’s much easier to shake off the negativity and that you come up against in your daily life and protect your good energy.
  8. Channel your inner superhero and try energy shielding. This sounds silly, but bear with me. Imagine that you exude an aura that’s thick as steel. Whenever anything negative comes towards it, the shield bounces it back out into the atmosphere and keeps it from coming anywhere near you. You start to feel like a Marvel character with how easily you’re able to deflect people’s bullsh*t!
  9. Learn how to disengage. Sometimes there’s no amount of proactivity on your part that can undo the effects of negative people in your life. In those circumstances, drastic action is needed — and by drastic action I mean completely icing these people out. While this isn’t always possible — if it’s your boss, for instance, you may need to go look for another job — when it is, it’s the best possible thing you can do to preserve your own good vibes and not lose your damn mind.
Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill