I used to be skeptical about the idea that people could give off positive or negative or calm or anxious energy. I had observed on many occasions that I felt good or bad in the presence of some people, or sometimes even in a crowded room, but I chalked it up to my own issues or another person’s way of speaking or their body language. I was either “in the mood” for people or not, or I’d had a good or bad day and it was affecting how I felt around other people, or people’s behavior was subtly off-putting in some way and I was picking up on it. Surely other people’s actual energy wasn’t impacting my own. That was way too woo-woo.
And then this super cool calm energy thing happened between my dog and my partner.
See, my dog Gizmo is terrified of the vet. Terrified. We had a traumatic experience with a previous vet’s office where the staff was rough, curt, and impersonal and labeled my 12 pounds of ears-down, tail-tucked trembling ball of fur “aggressive” and tried to muzzle him. They didn’t try to spend time with him. They took one look and wanted to muzzle him. I can’t remember what I said to get them to agree not to muzzle him, but I remember I was horrified at how rough and impersonal the staff was. It was five years before I mustered the courage to make an appointment with a new vet. (Yes, I realize that is way too long to go without seeing a vet. I still feel guilty.)
Because of that traumatic experience at the vet, I asked my partner to accompany us to the new vet who came highly recommended through a friend. I wanted my partner there to be an emotional support for me because I thought I may get too anxious and forget how to speak up if something wasn’t going the way it should. But my partner ended up being a support for the dog.
I already knew Gizmo liked Amber, but, um, wow. Gizmo — my puppy soulmate, who will stand at a door I’ve walked out of literally for hours waiting for me to walk back through it — chose my partner over me. I was too anxious. I tried to take deep breaths and be calm, but I was so worried we’d have a repeat of that past vet experience that apparently I was not giving off calm vibes. My partner clearly was, because my dog chose to sit on their lap rather than mine. Happily. My partner was basically my dog’s thundershirt. Witnessing it first-hand left no doubt that my dog was responding to my partner’s positive, calm energy.
Gizmo is literally smiling. At the vet. Where he normally hides under a chair and shivers. He clearly craved and thrived on Amber’s energy.
I’ve seen Amber in action with humans too — they befriend people everywhere they go and people constantly tell them they have “good energy” — but my skeptical brain attributed people’s positive reactions to Amber’s friendly, outgoing nature. Amber always seems to know just the right thing to say to put people at ease, and I figured that was why people seem to gravitate toward them. With my dog, it was very, very obvious that it was an energy thing. He chose Amber over me in a moment when he needed comfort.
I did some crowdsourcing on my public Facebook page about this, completely expecting to get some responses from other skeptics like me. Alas, I am apparently the last one on earth who didn’t believe people can have positive or negative energy and that other people can sense it.
Comment after comment flooded in, with people telling stories about how their spouse has a calming energy that has always grounded them, or how a person at their work has a negative energy that affects the entire office until they leave the space. One commenter, a woman I grew up with, said she got a terrible gut feeling about a friend’s boyfriend the moment she met him even though he said all the right things, and that man later murdered her friend. Horrific. Another commenter told a much happier story of her friend introducing her to a boyfriend, and the commenter got such a great positive vibe from the guy that she told her friend to never let him go. They’ve been married now for 17 years. Many people said they’d been told by others that they had a calming or reassuring energy.
A couple of therapists jumped in on the thread too, pointing out that there is actually science to back up our intuitive feelings that people give off varying types of energy — some of it is based off of actual physical processes happening in the body such as mirror neurons firing as we witness the movements of others with whom we share a space. Other nervous system responses happen without our being consciously aware of them, like when we get “gut feelings.” A reiki practitioner also popped in to remind us that energy healers and the idea that bodies experience and give off different types of energy have been around for thousands of years.
I still believe that often, our “feelings” about people do actually come from unconscious observations of a person’s body movement, posture, and tone of voice. But I also think there is something else happening at a level that can’t be perceived by sight and sound alone. My dog Gizmo loves me more than I’ve ever seen one creature love another. He is obsessed with me to the point I feel sorry for him because it’s kind of sad to have your happiness be so completely dependent on the physical presence of another.
And yet, in a situation where he normally would be reduced to a trembling ball of fur, Gizmo chose my partner over me. In a difficult situation, he opted for the human with the calm energy, the one who could help ease his anxiety. So, yeah. This skeptic has been converted. And, added bonus — it’s pretty clear that my dog approves wholeheartedly of my partner. I’ll take it.