How to protect yourself against toxic energy, ESPECIALLY when you can’t avoid it.

Recognizing and protecting ourselves from toxic energy is a survival skill set that is vital to overall wellbeing. Spending time with or being emotionally ensnared with an individual who is manipulative, cruel or abusive can take a serious toll on a person psychologically and physically. It can foster a negative mindset and cause one to be uncharacteristically cynical or angry. It can even make one lash out and treat others poorly without intending to. In some cases we can just walk away from the person and fully disengage, freeing us to spend time on more nourishing and productive relationships. There are some instances where avoiding this energy can be tricky as in the case of family members, co workers or other individuals with whom interaction borders on necessity. Sure, it is possible to quit your job or recognize that some family members are better in picture frames on a mantle rather than at your table.

What if we are in a situation where we don’t have that luxury to quit if we need that job or that relative is married to one of your closest family members?

Here are some strategies for protecting yourself against toxic energy when you are unable to escape it.

1. If you find their negativity or abusive words or outlook overwhelming you excuse yourself from the immediate situation. Go to the bathroom or another private place to take a few full belly breaths. Stretch, shake or make some noise to bring yourself back into your body as a reminder that you are separate from the energy they are pumping into the air.

2. Set boundaries. Only spend as much time with the person as absolutely necessary. Understand what the utility of this person is in your life and don’t feel like you need nurture a relationship beyond that.

3. Don’t feed the drama. If this person is complaining, moaning, or talking badly about people places or things — do not engage. Your energy is more useful elsewhere.

4. Respond but don’t react. A lot of times the person with the toxic energy is aware of your triggers and might try to hit them to get a reaction. You can disagree with what they say or let them know you are not going to engage in the conversation, but keep your cool. They want you to feel as badly as they do — don’t give them the satisfaction.

5. Focus on solutions not problems. If you are having a circular conversation just remember individuals carrying a lot toxic energy always have a problem for every solution. Focus on what can go right.

6. Take care of yourself. Knowing who you are, what you value and where you stand will inoculate you against absorbing negativity fully. Take time to pull back and recognize how being around the negative energy can shake you, but can never break you.