Energy: None of that Low-Grade Sh*t

How do you feel right now?


Go ahead, answer me. Close your eyes and feel yourself for a second (without your hands).


That, my friends, is your energy.


And you’re not hiding it. It’s right there in the open. We’re all rubbing up against it and stuff.

a lit lightbulb on a wooden table

So, this energy … what are you doing with it?

Forgive me for admitting that I was never a religious Oprah watcher. But I’ll be damned if I don’t realize the woman is amazing. 

Several years ago, she was on as I rifled through my mom’s closet for a scarf to borrow (cool, Megg!). I paused as I heard the show pause. It was essential—we all knew—to hear what Oprah said next.

Brace yourselves, for it was this:


“You are responsible for the energy you bring into a room”


She repeated it—”You are responsible for the energy you bring into a room.”

In the years since, my brain hears the sentence repeated weekly by that matchless voice. There have been lapses—times when I’ve failed to remember for months on end.

But invariably a day will come along where everything’s been shit: I’ve woken up tired, been late to all things all day, felt busy without results.

Then I meet up with friends and feel like a cheap piece of tape—I try to attach myself to someone for conversation and nobody seems to stick.

What’s happened is this: I brought my crappy day with me. These people who generally love me have noticed without consciously noticing that being near me is wearisome. Even though I’m there physically, my engagement is still off somewhere buried under a stack of problems that no longer exist in the present moment.

man tied up with scotch tape and post-its

We’re all guilty of it.

How many people sit down to lunch with a friend or lover and say something along the lines of, “Sorry if I’m in a bad mood, it’s been a crappy day.” And you’re expected to say, “Oh no, what happened?” then listen to a list of negative events that have no real relevance to life anymore.

Is this the “acceptable” behavior? 

A bad day does not excuse propagation of negativity.

In fact, it should invite the exact opposite. Why do we bow down to a series of punches instead of taking on the responsibility of the balancing out the negative with our own fists?

Using prior bad luck to explain current bad behavior is lazy.

Yet wallowing in negativity is frustratingly easy. Why do we love it so much?

It’s been proven that when we’re in a bad mood, something as simple as smiling can literally help to pull us out of it.  So we know this…yet how many of us actually make a habit of smile-forcing when we’re feeling blue?

It’s mind-boggling.

We decide instead that it’s easier to remain in the mire because we forget how literally attainable it is to feel better. It just takes a little face work.


A New Way Serve

We grow up inundated with the notion that life goals should have something to do with serving others, yet we don’t spend time learning how to serve ourselves.

I have certain friends that are consistent sources of negativity. Nothing ever seems to go right for them. And nothing ever seems to get done as an attempt to change their circumstances.

I’m not writing a guide on how to be a good friend here, but I will say that like it or not, friends will vent. Sometimes it is important to give a shoulder to cry on. We all love and need bitching—sometimes.

But the moment we choose to put ourselves on the receiving end of a friend’s negative energy is the moment we choose to stand across from a charging station.

Do we charge up on negative energy? Or do we plug into the other outlet: joy?

european plug plugged into wall outlet

Joy or Negativity: Which is it going to be?photo courtesy of


I want always to be mindful of my energy and how I wield it, and I want to surround myself with people who do the same. In the unexamined life, we don’t pay attention to how we affect others.

So, here’s a reminder:

We will have bad days, and sometimes they will seem insurmountable. But in the badness we can create one act of good: to think twice before enveloping the people we love.

I’m not saying to stuff the feelings down and ignore them. Work instead to escape the unexamined and negative life through journaling, self-improvement, and therapy. Those are just a few of the ways we can air out our demons without fanning them onto someone else.

I am energy, and I am the only one responsible for what I bring into a room.


Do you have energy-sucking friends? Lovers? Family? Is that a rhetorical question? How do you handle them?

Am I too harsh to imply that maybe the friends should be ditched?

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