Drainers & Energizers: How to Be Contagious for Good

bay cloud reflectionSailing Mom

It was the kind of August afternoon I dreamed about all winter. Dazzling sky, blazing sun, light breeze, gently ebbing tide.

Even the humidity had dropped.

Paddling easily, I floated close to the docks and noticed a woman peering through a pair of binoculars.

Wow, it’s a beautiful day.

She clenched her teeth so tightly, I was surprised she could speak.

It would be, but my 8-year-old is out there in the regatta. Not. Sailing. Well.

Oyster Guy

It was a chilly May morning. Grey sky, cloud cover, whipping wind, ripping tide.

Even my drysuit couldn’t stop my shivering.

I struggled to paddle in the shallows beside the sandbar, when I noticed a man in waders, the cold salt water up to his waist.

Whoa, aren’t you cold?

His smile was so bright, it felt like the clouds disappeared.

Any day on the water is a great day. Love. It. Here.

Drainers & Energizers

Two interactions, years ago, but I still think about Sailing Mom and Oyster Guy.

When glide through life, happily basking in metaphorical sunshine, I remember how it felt harder, somehow, to keep going after Sailing Mom complained.

When it feels like I’m struggling against both wind and tide, I remember how it felt so easy, somehow, to keep going after Oyster Guy smiled.

Without realizing it, I experienced social contagion, the theory that emotions can be contagious.

In The Hidden Power of Social Networks, their book about social contagion theory, Robert Cross and Andrew Parker’s introduce the terms drainer and energizer.

I lived these terms when I met Sailing Mom and Oyster Guy.

  • Energizer me + drainer Sailing Mom = we both took an energetic hit.
  • Energizer me + energizer Oyster Guy = we both increased our positive energy and simultaneously built up our reserves.

If I showed up at Sailing Mom’s dock as a drainer, each of us would have increased our negative energy and drawn upon our positive reserves.

Cope with Drainers, Be an Energizer

Deal with the inevitable drainers in your life the way Superman dealt with kryptonite.  Know their qualities, what they look like and what effect they’ll have on you, and both how long you can be exposed to them and how long it takes you to recover.

It’s also important to manage your own energy so you can showing up as an energizer as often as you can. That doesn’t mean faking it when you’re feeling drained.

Honor yourself – and the people you’ll be inevitably contagious around – by noticing and then replenishing your energy.

Rest first, then intentionally notice the positive things around you – the more the better – without trying to pretend the negative ones away.

That’s the best way I know to not only enjoy the wind and cold and bask in the sunshine, but also to become the kind of energizer who creates renewable personal energy for yourself and the folks around you.

Ready to Navigate Your Right Life using tools like this one? My Positive Navigation individual coaching series is designed to help you leverage evidence-based tools from positive psychology to do just that.

Spread the love
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •