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Do you feel exhausted after listening to certain people?

Updated: May 11, 2022

(3-minute read)

Have you ever thought “That person drains my energy” or “That person is an energy sponge”? Although I do agree that you may feel drained after spending time with certain people, I don’t believe that they are responsible for sucking the energy out of you like a leach. What I believe to be going on is that a part of you has consciously or subconsciously taken on some responsibility for the feelings of the other person.

What is taking up your energy then? I believe that it is a part of you that is trying to fix, save, sympathise, or take away the other person’s pain.

In these types of situations, the strategy that many of us have is to avoid contact with the person or to dissociate while in conversation with them. Remember that party where you spent the entire evening trying to not make eye contact with a certain person. Eventually, they corner you in the kitchen and start to tell you their story. You try to offer them advice, to help them with their problems, and when none of that works you start thinking about other things whilst still nodding and smiling. Feeling overwhelmed and exhausted you manage to use some excuse like needing to use the toilet, to escape.

Your strategies of avoidance are an attempt by a part of you to protect you from having to feel the burden of responsibility for someone else’s experience. These parts of you are doing important work to keep you safe, and yet I would like to invite you to consider something. What if everyone labelled this person as an energy leach and everyone avoided listening to them? What would be the result? I believe that the outcome would be that those who are most desperate to be heard would be ignored, thereby perpetuating the problem.

I am not suggesting that you should ignore your own need for self-protection and become everyone’s therapist. What I am suggesting is that you bring some awareness to any judgements you may have of others for their energy-sucking tendencies. I am inviting you to consider that your lack of energy after conversing with someone could have more to do with what is going on inside of you than it does with the other person’s behaviour.

When we can let go of the responsibility that we carry for others feelings, then we get more access to that field of energy that is empathy, compassion, and curiosity. Empathy is something that I open up to rather than something that I give away. It is an energy field that is already present within and all around us. The parts of us that have an agenda are what block access to this energy.

The field that I am speaking of is not something that is personal and does not belong to you or me. If it is something that belonged to me then it would be limited. I would, therefore, only be able to give away as much empathy as I have in my possession and no more than that. True empathy and true compassion are limitless and are not qualities that are mine to give but rather aspects of the life force that I relax into. When the parts of me that are trying to help, fix, resolve, or save the other are able to relax back, then this abundant source of energy is revealed and I actually feel energized after listening to someone who is suffering.

True empathy and compassion require no energy from me, personally. These qualities exist as a field that I drop into. When I meet others from this place then they cannot drain my energy because it was not mine in the first place. This field of compassion is always in abundance and cannot be drained. It is life itself meeting life.

Would you like to learn to listen with empathy without getting exhausted as well as to speak up for yourself when you don't actually have the space to listen? Check out our NVC courses.

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