Energy Vampires

Many of us forget that we have a choice in how we view the world. Imagine how different our experience would be if we believed the world was full of interesting people and lots of opportunity instead of filled with people who are out for themselves. It would feel much different wouldn’t it?

Knee-jerk negativism can be seriously detrimental to your mental and physical health. If you spend time listening to the conversations around you I guarantee you that 99% of them will be fear-focused—fears about what may happen, what’s not working, interpretations of what the actions of others may mean, and reiterations of what isn’t possible. Whether these ideas are accurate or not, we go through exactly the same emotions we would if they were true. Negativity drains us. Literally.

When you’re surrounded by negativity it is difficult, if not impossible, to see opportunities. You’re so conditioned to looking for the bad that you automatically filter out anything that contradicts that idea. It’s not surprising, especially when you look at our influencers in the world, and in particular, the media. It has become increasingly focused on the negative, partly due to the advent of the 24/7 news cycle where bad news draws much higher ratings than good news.

Because there is so much information coming at us and we have so many demands upon our time, we don’t always think about the perspective of those who are providing information—whether they’re newscasters, peers, friends or family—it just seems easier to believe whatever they’re saying. Do so at your peril. (How’s that for drama?)

It takes effort to remain positive and open in the face of relentless negativity. But it can be done. It’s a habit, like any other. The first step is becoming conscious of your environment and the influences you allow into your mind. Consciously challenge them and think about the perspective of the people providing information before you choose what you want to believe.

Are coworkers who constantly focus on what isn’t working trying to justify why they’re not succeeding? Are they looking for reasons not to try different things? Are they threatened by the very idea that trying hard could achieve results? Or is it just a habit with them?

Negativity is an energy vampire. Emotions, attitudes, and perspective are contagious. Be careful what you choose to focus upon so that you can reserve your energy for people, activities, and ideas that fill you up, not deplete you. The upside is that not only will you benefit, you’ll be able to spread your positive energy to others.

Amanda Mitchell is an executive coach and strategist specializing in helping senior executives deal with disruptive drama within their teams. An advertising agency veteran, she experienced first-hand the business implications of corporate drama both with her Fortune 500 clients and within the Manhattan ad agency she led. She founded Our Corporate Life (www.ourcorporatelife.com) to help executives solve the problems no one wants to deal with. She has been published in Bloomberg Businessweek, and quoted in Fast Company, CNBC.com, and Monster.com. She lives in New Jersey with her family.

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