Have you ever felt exhausted after a conversation with someone? If so, the chances are you’ve just had an encounter with an energy thief.
They are all around, and they prey on us all the time, draining us of energy whenever possible. So who are these people, why do they do it, and how do we protect ourselves from them?
We need energy to survive
The most direct way of getting this energy is through the foods we consume, which is why it is so crucial we pay attention to what we eat—but this is a whole different topic for another time. A more powerful way is through a direct connection with the source of all energy, that we call God, or Great Spirit, or Infinite Intelligence, or whatever name works for you. This is where an abundance of energy resides—if only we could tap directly into it.
However, since children we have been systematically separated from our connection with the source. This was the topic of my previous Blog. The effect of this is to leave us feeling hollow, as though something is missing. And as we explored, there is something missing. The sense of meaninglessness that pervades our being leaves an ache of emptiness which needs to be filled. Unless we go in search of soul medicine, this emptiness will persist.
So what has this got to do with energy thieves?
People who are unaware it is the separation from source that is causing their emptiness, are likely unaware that to resolve this they need to find a way to heal that broken connection. Instead they will master the art of stealing energy from others to make them feel good about themselves.
What does this look like?
Recently a group of us went out for lunch. I live in Hawaii in a semi-rural area. The cafes are quite rustic and it is not uncommon to enter through either the front door or through the back door via the carpark and service entrance. I entered through the front door, found my party and sat down. Soon after, a young lady entered through the rear door and joined us. In so doing, she had passed by a box of salad greens lying next to the trash cans. In a loud voice she announced, “This place is disgusting. They leave their salads in the sun next to the garbage. How can I possibly eat here?”
She then sat back and waited for the reaction. Immediately we went through a range of emotions including disgust, outrage, contempt for the place, and so on. Some of us even defended the cafe suggesting she must be mistaken. Instead of reconsidering her position, she instead chose to dig in deeper, thereby sucking us further into the drama. Clearly she was a master of manipulating others to buy into her need for attention. I left feeling exhausted by the encounter and unfulfilled by the lunch outing. She felt great!
Needless to say, on leaving I went outside to inspect this so-called salad storage location. Just as anticipated, it was the discarded salad greens which had been sorted ready to be collected by a local pig farmer! But she had won—she had stolen energy from those around her. We had become willing participants when she dangled the bait.
How do we recognize energy thieves, and how can we protect ourselves?
In my book Your Return to Freedom, I discuss the difference between judgement and discrimination, versus discernment and genuine curiosity. One steals energy from the encounter, the other adds energy to the encounter. As soon as we go into a place of judgement or discrimination we are setting the scene for counter arguments and defenses. People with a vested interest in the topic that is being judged are sucked into rejecting or correcting the person doing the judging. Judgement smacks of control and manipulation.
On the other hand, discernment and genuine curiosity leads to an open-ended conversation as each side seeks to learn more from the other. Energy builds and collaboration is possible. Understanding and compromise result. We leave the encounter feeling vitalized and recharged. I call these moments Appointments in Power.
Energy thieves are everywhere. They enter into a conversation by complaining about the weather, how bad the traffic is, how unfairly they have been treated by their boss, how nasty their landlord is, and so on. They even complain about lettuce in a cardboard box when entering a cafe! When you hear such complaints, become alert. Go into discernment—into deep curiosity. Is their grievance genuine, or are they trying to pull you into their drama?
If their grievance is genuine, they will likely want you to listen and not to give advice as they offload whatever it is they need to resolve. This is not the same as a petty compliant about some minor inconvenience, or in the case of salad-lady, pure manipulation for the purpose of sucking others into her fabricated drama.
Provided you do not allow the energy thief to penetrate your own personal boundaries, you will know the difference, and you will know how to respond. Protect yourself. Do not allow others to drain you during such conversions. Get out if you have to—make any excuse. No one has the right to steal energy from another, no matter how smart they may be at manipulating others.
So how did it end with Salad-Lady?
She ended up ordering a pizza, which she endlessly complained about. This is not what she wanted—she really wanted a salad but had sabotaged herself to such an extent she could not bring herself to ordering one. So instead, I enjoyed my wonderfully fresh Caesar salad as she looked on with contempt. I did not need to engage with her, nor did I have any desire to do so. I value my energy too much to allow another to steal it from me. This annoyed her and also annoyed some of the others who had bought into her drama. I was unsure what they were actually annoyed about.
My advice to you is to recognize these people and to disengage as quickly as possible. This could be by leaving the situation, or by ignoring them. If this is not practical, and if you actually care about the person, you could bring to their attention that their behavior (using specific examples—very important to avoid generalizations) exhausts you and if they don’t stop you will leave. I have done this too to great effect. A few huffs and puffs and feigned indignations resulted, followed by a pleasant peace thereafter descending upon the encounter as they withdrew their quest to steal energy from the me...until the next time!
What about You?
Now step back and ask yourself, “Am I too an energy thief?” Perhaps it’s time to get back into your meditation practice? Let me know what comes up for you—start or join the discussion below.
Aloha from beautiful Hawaii, the island of fresh salads!
Meet the Author
Nigel B. Patterson was born in Tanzania, Africa and has lived in four countries across three continents. A significant life-crisis at the age of thirty-five shattered his carefully constructed ego-based self, and propelled him onto the path of the spiritual warrior. Today he is an author, coach and spiritual teacher living in Hawaii. He supports clients around the globe in their quest for freedom.