Beliefnet
Adapted from "Positive Energy," published by Harmony Books.

I learned to honor my energy needs the hard way. As a psychiatrist who specializes in intuition I knew how important it was to listen to my body. Yet still I'd alternate between intense weeks of speaking tours and bouts of utter exhaustion at home. I couldn't turn down "irresistible" opportunities. Here was my dilemma--I trusted my intuition, and was committed to living by it. But I had a blind spot: Although I was quite successful at helping others trust intuition and lead high energy lives, I was ignoring my own energy crises. Finally, my fatigue was so profound I had to change.

I know first hand how important it is for us to cherish our precious energy so we don't compromise our capacity for passion. I now believe that the most profound transformations can take place only on an energetic level. I've met many patients who've spent much time and money on talk therapy hoping that intellectual insights will bring emotional freedom, but they're disappointed. As much as I love the linear mind, my approach, which I call "Energy Psychiatry," goes further to also facilitate a conscious rebuilding of our subtle energies, the most basic life force in each of us.

Do You Get Drained By Other People's Energy?

Our bodies are made of flesh and blood, but they're also composed of energy fields-though sadly I wasn't taught this in medical school. Each day we encounter a wide range of energies, both positive and negative. Positive energy includes compassion, courage, forgiveness, and faith. Negative energy includes fear, anger, hopelessness, and shame. We need to be experts at dealing with energy so we don't get demolished by draining situations or people who're energy vampires.

Like me you may be an intuitive empath, someone who's so sensitive to energy you pick it up from other people but you're also drained by it. This goes way beyond feeling sympathy for a distraught friend-we actually take on their pain either emotionally or physically. To cope, we take refuge in solitude. We empaths are so attuned to others that we can feel what's going on inside of them. This can put us on energy overload and aggravate everything from chronic fatigue to overeating.

Growing up, my girlfriends couldn't wait to hit the malls, but I dreaded them. I always felt overwhelmed, exhausted around crowds, though I was clueless why. "What's the matter?" friends would say, shooting me the weirdest looks. All I knew was that crowded places and I just didn't mix. I'd go there feeling fine but leave nervous, depressed, or with some new ache or pain. Unsuspectingly, I was a gigantic sponge, absorbing the energy of people around me.

Thank goodness, as I matured, I realized I had intuitive empathy. Once I learned to protect my energy, empathy has become a gift enhancing my compassion.

A Survival Guide to Protect Yourself from Energy Vampires

You don't have to be an empath to experience the fang marks of an energy vampire, though empaths are often hit the hardest. Relationships are always an energy exchange. To stay feeling our best, we must ask ourselves: Who gives us energy? Who saps it? It's important to be surrounded by supportive, heart-centered people who make us feel safe and secure. It's equally important to pinpoint the energy vampires, who, whether they intend to or not, leech our energy.

Positive energy in others can be rejuvenative. For instance, you're nervous about a job interview, but the minute you meet your prospective boss you relax. He's so calm and welcoming, you calm down too. Or perhaps you have a good friend around whom you always feel loved. These are energy-givers, those we must gravitate towards.

In contrast, energy vampires exude negative energy that drains. Vampires range from the intentionally malicious ones to those who are oblivious to their effect. Some are overbearing and obnoxious; others are friendly and charming. For example, you're at a party talking to a perfectly nice person, but suddenly you're nauseous or weak. Or how about the co-worker who drones on about how she broke up with her boyfriend for the tenth time? Eventually, she feels better, but you're spent. The bottom line is that on a subtle energy level these people suck you dry.

There are many types of vampires to watch out for. The main ones I stress in my book are the Drama Queen who wears you out with her dramas; The Sob Sister, who whines all the time; The Blamer, who cuts you down with criticism and The Go-For-The-Carotid type who purposely cuts you down without any respect for your feelings. Keep an eye out for these types so you're aware of their methods, and stop them from draining you.

Strategies for Dealing With Energy Vampires

1.Take an inventory of people in your life who give energy, and people who drain. Specifically identify the energy vampires, and begin to evaluate people you'd like to limit contact with or eliminate. Plan at least one complete afternoon with people who give off positive energy and avoid drainers. Notice how this beneficially affects your physical and emotional well-being.

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