It can be hard to describe exactly what low energy people are but it’s often easy for us to feel.
Do you know that feeling when we meet someone at a party and it feels like they are sucking all the life out of it with their vibe and perhaps even negative complaints?
On the other hand, imagine someone you know who is often upbeat and makes you feel excited whenever you are around them. Maybe they joke around with the cashier at Starbucks while getting their coffee and crack jokes with the other people waiting in line. That tends to describe a high energy person and it’s addictive. Here’s an example from friends:
Some people appear to be low energy people when they go to parties before they drink, but after a few drinks, they get in a party mood. There could be various reasons for this, for example, that they are shy and very self conscious or that they are still in work-mode and haven’t switched their brain off yet.
I’ve noticed that some people might mistake introversion and extroversion with low and high energy but I find that we can be both introverted with high energy at select times or extroverted with low energy. I like to think about it more as the energy or vibe we give off that other people can feel without necessarily being able to describe it.
A common misconception is that we think we have to be this super high energy, intense salesmen type. That isn’t the case at all.
The effects low energy people can have on us
Low energy tends to breed more low energy and creates a vicious cycle but high energy does the same. If we feel high energy, it tends to create more high energy.
It’s crazy how being around low energy people can make us feel like taking a nap or lose our productivity but once we understand it, we can use it strategically. For example, if we have an important presentation at work, being around high energy people tends to set us up with greater energy for the presentation and that often makes the presentation better.
We might feel more excited about the topic which in turn can make the people we are presenting for, more excited. At the same time, we can also avoid low energy people before the presentation to avoid being dragged down.
If that presentation is important for, say, a promotion, our energy level can have a huge impact and suddenly that domino effect of hanging out with someone low energy just before can torpedo that. We tend to feel as if our work should speak for itself, and true–it should be able to, but the reality is that a lot of things will be decided based on our relationship with other people and how much they like (working with) us. It’s uncomfortable to realize but we are emotional creatures and it is only uncomfortable for as long as it takes until we master the social game and are able to use it to our advantage.
It’s natural to think that while low energy people can drag us down in energy, we can also drag them up but for some odd reason it feels as if low energy has the stronger pull of the two.
An example is a toxic friend. They can have a crazy impact on your energy. A toxic friend can be someone who always complains, year in and year out but never changes anything, and basically creates unnecessary drama in their own life. Of course, we all have rough patches in our lives but complaining about the same job for three years without changing it isn’t a rough patch! I guess we can call them an energy vampire.
It is not impossible to be pulled up by higher energy people but it requires that we are in the right state of mind to be open to it. We’ll often see that when we are at a party as some people are looking for someone to create the energy and vibe that the rest follows.
Action step: it can be hard to truly understand the difference before you see it first hand. I suggest following a high energy friend around for a while and see how their surroundings react. Then do the same with a low energy friend and compare.
Are you a low energy person? How to detect it in yourself
I’ve noticed that many of us tend to think that someone is either entirely only low or high energy. I’ve found it to be more nuanced than that, and while some people we meet are always low energy, we can be either at certain times. Often we are low energy at certain times of the day, because of specific events happening, because we are at a particular place, around certain people, etc.
I’ve found that being high energy tends to make us happier and more optimistic in life, in general, and so there is a great upside to working to adding more energy to our lives. It can be difficult to figure out if we are high or low energy at first but it gets easier over time.
While it isn’t the only factor, excitement tends to lead our energy level and so to detect if we are low energy, first we can focus on how excited we are at certain times as that can be easier to notice at first.
For example, if you notice that you feel down or unexcited in situations where you perhaps should be excited (or where others are excited), note it down in a log on your phone along with:
- Where you are
- Who you are with
- What time of the day it is
- What you are doing
- How you feel in general
If you do it for a week or a month, I bet you’ll start to see a pattern of where you feel low energy but without it, it is impossible to figure out what to change since we don’t know where we are starting from.
For example, I’ve noticed that I am low energy if I’m very hungry but also at times just after eating if it is a heavy lunch that makes me feel sleepy.
Reviving ourselves from being low energy (or being around low energy people)
Once we have an idea of what makes us feel low energy based on our log, we can work to systematically change it. I know this isn’t as sexy as a magic pill that instantly fixes it but that doesn’t exist and this way, we’ll create change that lasts for life.
If you found a pattern where you often felt low energy in a certain place, experiment with switching to a different location to see if that makes a difference.
If you discovered that it was the people you were with that made you feel tired and low energy, try to avoid hanging out with them for a while and note in your log if it changes. We can follow the same exercise with the other things we logged down.
If we want to revive our energy from being around low energy people, there are short-term and long-term solutions. The long-term solution makes a big difference as it becomes a good habit over time but sometimes we just need a quick “recalibration”.
In that case, drinking coffee or listening to upbeat music tends to work but the key is to figure out why we feel low energy in the first place so we can adapt properly. For example, if it’s because your physical energy is low, listening to music might not work but eating healthy food will.
To my surprise, I’ve also found that working out or doing sports can be quite uplifting. Sure we get tired immediately after but I almost always feel great after a while, to the point where I’ve begun using it in my life specifically to get that feeling more often.
I think the confusion comes from our assumption that spending physical energy on working out makes us feel tired and makes us need to refuel. We might not realize that our emotional energy doesn’t work quite the same way and can be replenished by being spent on things we enjoy, which can create new emotional energy. I guess that’s why we can sometimes keep going at something we are excited about even though we feel physically exhausted.
Long term, we can use excitement to increase our energy. Again, I don’t mean HOLY SHIT BEST THING EVER but just basic excitement like when we try something new that sounds cool. We do it by thinking about how that thing benefits us. For example, if it’s a sport, we could get excited that it might be a new cool activity that we can do to hang out with our friends abroad.
It could also be something simpler like getting excited about how your significant other’s day was. It seems like nothing to be excited about but caring can create a closer relationship between the two of you, or you might learn something you can use in your own life.
Matching people’s energy levels
Sometimes we don’t want to be high energy because a friend had a tragic experience, feel down and so if we jump in like a happy go lucky idiot claiming ITS ALL GONNA BE GREAT, we don’t really feel the room and can even come across as insensitive.
Instead, we might just match the other person’s energy level if we know it’s a temporary thing. We can do that by showing that we understand how they feel and be there when they are ready to get back on the horse.
- Low energy people tend to drag us down more easily that we can pull them up
- Using a log to figure out why you feel low energy is a good idea to find the root cause
- Physical and emotional energy isn’t quite the same and doesn’t get refueled in the same way