How to Protect and Liberate Your Energy:A Guide for Introverts and Anyone Who Feels Drained

You have a right to claim your energy. These are the wise words bestowed upon me by my writing sister, Karla. Karla is a few steps ahead of me on life’s journey.  She’s raised her kids and closed out her career (in teaching).  She’s confident when declaring enough is enough.  Me, I am the coin that just stopped spinning.  I only recently revealed whether I was going to go heads or tails.  Why did I decide to claim my energy now?  I finally feel it is acceptable to create energy in quiet.  It is OK to recharge by going within or by simply being present.  For the longest time I thought only doing  or active energy was valuable. And not only active energy, but active energy chosen by others. If I didn’t make a conscious choice to protect and grow my energy, I would spin forever.

Introverts and Energy

Energy spills out quickly for introverts in stimulating settings.  It’s consumed in a flash if we feel we have to speak or act hastily, loudly and often. As I mentioned in There’s Nothing Wrong with You.  You’re an Introvert, introverts recharge in solitude.  We get energy from feelings, impressions and experiencing things in depth.

The dominant culture in the U.S. is extroverted.  Americans are known for being outgoing, full-steam-ahead achievers who thrive on a fast pace. Productivity, public speaking and accumulation are admired.

For an introvert, it can often feel like we are constantly being drained of the energy we summon from within.  It’s difficult to produce or store energy when there are so many people, tasks and possessions siphoning off fuel as soon as it surfaces.  Energy and will-power are renewable resources but they must be allowed to replenish.  Introverts restock images, dreams, creativity, light and energy in meaningful, slower paced settings.

As an introvert, wife and mother, I always feel selfish when craving calm time. My husband (trying to be helpful) tells the kids, Mom needs time without you.  Leave her alone.  I would prefer, Everyone needs time to recharge.  It’s a busy world. Why don’t you give her some time to herself and then maybe she’ll be up for drawing with you later. 

Space and solitude feel like extravagant luxuries. For example, I have a special place to write in my home but I still feel there are two unspoken caveats attached to it: 1. Here is your space to write and be alone.  Do it here and NOT anywhere else.  2. Don’t spend too much time there.

The need to recharge is bone deep.  As strong as this pull is the truth is I don’t want more and more space.  I want it to be OK to renew quietly by myself or with a few people.  I want more acceptance. I want to be able to rest in my own home.

How to Protect Your Energy

Three ways to ensure your energy is protected:

1. Educate your friends and family on the differences between introverts and extroverts.  Assure them that neither temperament is better.  They are simply different and the world needs both styles of living in order to advance.  Introverts pause and advise.  Extroverts leap and act.  We all have both temperaments within us, just one dominates the other. We all need to recover and recharge from the onslaught of everyday demands.

2. Learn how to say, NO.  It’s not easy, I know.  Even my children have a hard time saying no to playmates.  Their friends take it personally if they say they would rather goof around on the computer or play dolls by themselves.  In her book, Introverts at Ease, Nancy Okerlund gives us guidelines for respectfully declining to do something.  Nancy says, the most readily accepted way to say No is to use friendly-confident body language.  Smile as you say it.  This approach disarms the one requesting your action, leaving them feeling almost cheerful.  Nancy believes the introvert smile can be a fusion between different temperaments.

3. Limit your time with people who cause your fuel tank to leak.  You know who they are.  The ones whose numbers make you  wince when they appear on your phone.  The ones who instantly put you on guard.  Essentially, these are individuals who make you feel like your way of being is wrong. You always feel conflict when in contact with them.  Conflict is especially draining. Not only do negative folks drain us of our energy but they also stifle our natural positive energy production.  We don’t get those warm, rich feelings of satisfaction in their presence.  Mind the company you keep.

Where Energy Grows

Over the last few years I have found sacred spaces to generate energy.  I am aware of who and what cause a spark to ignite within me.  How did I find these energy centers?  I simply started paying attention.  Instead of going through life in a hurry, always looking to the next event, I paused and noticed the effects people and places had on me.  Was I calm? Content? On edge?  Then as Joseph Campbell advocates, I followed my bliss. I repeated the experiences that made me glow. I noticed a carry-over of positive behavior after I spent time in a setting that made me happy.  I would come home and sing in the kitchen.  I had more patience with the kids and found it effortless to listen to them with my eyes. I had more energy. We ALL had more joy.

You all have people and settings that light you up.  They do not have to be time-consuming or expensive.  I basically made some new friends and took further steps to do what I like (play music, read, write, exercise).  True, I had to burn energy initially to take action but it was repaid ten-fold.  The right people in your circle can feel like a turbo boost to your spirit.  They give you energy rather than take it. The right mix of down time and extroverting can lead to incredible satisfaction. Before you know it you are saying Yes! as much as you are saying No. Having a good time is positive energy. You will be energized and energize others. Claiming your energy does not have to deplete others, in fact smiles, laughs and satisfaction spread like wildfire.  What are you waiting for?  Get out there and claim your energy!

Do you ever feel guilty about protecting your energy?  Do you let others direct your energy flow? How can you take back and create more energy?

***Further reading regarding introvert energy:

Introvert Personality?  Conserve Your Energy for the People Who Count!

There’s Nothing Wrong With You.  You’re an Introvert. (space2live)

Introvert Relationships: Love Me or Leave Me but Please Don’t Need Me (Too Much) (space2live)

In Defense of Introverted Parents  (space2live)

How to Be Lively, Energetic and Vibrant When Your True Nature Is Thoughtful, Introverted and Reticent (space2live)

30 thoughts on “How to Protect and Liberate Your Energy:A Guide for Introverts and Anyone Who Feels Drained

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  18. My own mother fits #3 to a T. I’ve had it with the way she treats me, however ridding oneself of negative people isn’t always easy.

    • Agreed. Family is hard to dislodge or escape. I know. My way of combatting the negative people I can’t remove is to counterbalance or outnumber them with nourishing friends and relationships. Own your own values and nature and other kindred spirits will find you.:)

  19. I came up here from a Google request “introvert how to recharge” and definitely found this post very interesting.
    The one thing that cannot help me is # 3 of “how to protect your energy” beacuse, the one person who is draining me is my 6 yo son (very extroverted and talkative (English is not my first language so I am not sure this can be said, but I think that you would understand what I mean) and I definitely DO NOT want to spend less time with him…
    Anyway I will follow on reading your blog which seems an interesting place to be.
    Thank you for sharing.

    • I completely understand the drain and pleasure of parenting. I have 3 children. It often is not possible to spend less time with them and society makes sure we feel guilty if we have any desire to do so.

      The one thing I suggest is to create boundaries around your adult space. It is OK for your son to know you need quiet time to re-charge. You can schedule it in every day, perhaps an hour or two where he plays in his room, runs around outside or watches TV (yes, TV is fine in my book) or you can do something low-key together like read or go for a walk. If you have a partner I hope they honor your introverted needs. If you make it “normal” to have personal space then your son will grow up knowing solitude is healthy. He may someday need that knowledge for himself or someone dear to him.

      It has been my personal experience that active 6-year-old boys grow up and spend more time with their friends or in their room. Enjoy his energy now but be gentle with yourself as well.

      Thanks for reaching out and sharing with me.:)

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  21. Thank you so much for this! I needed this reminder that it is okay to be an introvert, and I need to protect my recharge time.

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  24. With the hussle of the end of a year and the beginning of a new one, your post this time speaks to the right way to end it off and begin it. Be present in where good energy is brought, positive change begins, and people bring you happiness. Well done Brenda! P.S. I’ll see your glowing energy Tuesday! Bring me those glistening legs!! :)

    • So true Connie.:) It takes a lot to be present this time of year with all the expectations and shopping lists but it can be done.:) The new year is an excellent time to take inventory of your energy. Where is it going? Where does it come from? You are an incredible energy source Connie – so grateful for you and your class. I’ll see what I can do about getting my legs to glisten, he he;)

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