How Negative Energy Effects Adults, Teenagers and Children: What We Can Do To Change it

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Bob Livingstone is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCS 11087) in private practice for 22 years in San Francisco, California. He holds a Masters Degree ...Read More

Negative energy has a profound effect on adults, teens, and children. People who carry around this adverse attitude can appear to be very powerful to those in their presence. Negative energy is expressed by put-downs of you or your friends. These comments are stated either directly to you or behind your back. The comments may be an accurate description of how this person feels or they may be made up in order to accelerate drama.

One of the most damaging things about negative energy is that it can be contagious, which means you may begin to emulate the negativity of those around you.[1]


In this article, you will learn about negative energy, how to identify it, and how to handle it effectively.

What is Negative Energy?

Negative energy, in the context of emotions and interpersonal dynamics, refers to an unfavorable and draining atmosphere created by people’s attitudes, behaviors, or interactions.

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It often manifests as tension, conflict, or a general sense of discomfort within a social or emotional space. This negative energy can be contagious, influencing the emotional well-being of those involved and impacting the overall dynamics of relationships or group interactions.

How Negative Energy is Expressed and Experienced

Negative energy can also be expressed by him not participating in a discussion with you. You will try to get him to talk by asking questions, but he will either ignore you or make comments like, “Whatever”, “I don’t care about that” or ” I’m not interested in that.” He can also express his displeasure by giving you the silent treatment and making believe that you don’t really exist. These folks often do not share much enthusiasm about anything or anyone. They tend to be sullen and agitated.

There are several reasons why negative energy is experienced by many as overwhelming and frightening. In our society, the message is that to succeed, we must be better than others. Therefore this mindset creates unhealthy competition which leads to put-downs of others. It does not enhance a spirit of cooperation.

We spend lots of time watching television whose popular reality shows specialize in the humiliation of the species. We are very influenced by this and learn that humiliating others is the cool thing to do. 

The news on television has talking heads trying to articulate their position on issues of the day while belittling the opposition; making them appear to be a lesser life form. We learn that making light of other’s viewpoints is desired even though it may be devastating to those who are on the receiving end. Those folks who are filled with negative energy have their own set of issues. They usually don’t have much self-confidence and don’t feel that they are physically attractive, smart, or talented. Therefore they make fun of others in an effort to elevate their own sorry vision of themselves.

Identifying Negative Energy

Sometimes it can be difficult to identify negative energy in social situations or in relationships, especially if you grew up around it or are accustomed to you—you may assume that’s normal or what’s expected out of social settings. However, negative energy can be distressing and draining. Here are some signs of it:

  • Tension, silence, and a lack of open communication
  • Constant criticism, judgment, and negativity toward others’ ideas or actions
  • Defensiveness or resistance to feedback
  • Lack of cooperation or support
  • Frequent conflicts, arguments, or unresolved issues
  • Withdrawal and avoidance
  • Negative or harmful gossip

Physical sensations and feelings you may notice in yourself when you are affected by negative energy include:

  • Muscle tension and tightness
  • Headaches
  • General discomfort
  • Fatigue
  • Signs of stress like elevated heart rate

Some emotional or psychological signs that you’re dealing with negative energy may include:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Frustration
  • Anger
  • Resentment
  • Sadness or sense of hopelessness 
  • Problems concentrating and focusing

Effects of Negative Energy

People consumed with negative energy may have low self-esteem because they are abused or neglected. They may also be spoiled and used to having things go their way all the time. This sense of entitlement leads them to be overly sensitive to feelings of rejection if things don’t go their way. This hurt quickly leads to anger where they make fun of others or say bad stuff about them to their friends.

Those who encounter these folks with negative energy may get triggered by this angry or hateful mindset. This person may remind us of others in our lives who have been abusive towards us. Therefore, we may sense the instant need to stop this creepy, scary, pervasive feeling as soon as possible because it feels so threatening to us. 

The Psychological Toll of Negative Energy

Exposure to consistent negative energy can have detrimental effects on emotional and mental well-being.

Research indicates a strong link between chronic exposure to negativity and increased stress levels, leading to heightened anxiety and a higher risk of developing mood disorders.[2]

One study found that individuals consistently exposed to negative interpersonal interactions were more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety.[2]

Additionally, prolonged exposure to negative energy has been associated with a decline in overall mental health, emphasizing the importance of cultivating positive environments for psychological well-being.[2]

Dealing with Negative Energy

We may try to stop this feeling by going overboard in making friends with the negative energy person in order for her to not direct her venom at us. You may find yourself joining in the putting down your other friends in order to keep her from turning rage towards you.

Other ways of dealing with the negative energy person are to get into arguments with him or to go way out of your way to avoid him.

How can we deal with negative energy people? Here are some tips: [3]

  • Set boundaries to protect yourself from exposure to negativity
  • Practice mindfulness to stay present
  • Seek positive outlets and engage in things that bring you joy
  • Express your feelings calmly and assertively
  • Surround yourself with positive support people
  • Practice self-care, such as getting enough sleep, eating balanced meals, and exercising
  • Minimize exposure to negative individuals whenever possible
  • Use positive affirmations to counteract negative thoughts or feelings
  • Seek professional support, such as therapy or counseling
  • Cultivate gratitude


  1. Herrando C, Constantinides E. Emotional contagion: A brief overview and future directions. Front Psychol. 2021;12:712606. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2021.712606
  2. Lincoln K. D. (2008). Personality, Negative Interactions, and Mental Health. The Social service review, 82(2), 223–251.
  3. Johns Hopkins Health. The power of positive thinking.
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