PTSD and the Effect of Putting Out Negative Energy

July 11, 2014 Michele Rosenthal

If Putting Out Negative Energy, Are You Attracting The Right People?

One problem I see often in survivors of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) moving through trauma recovery is unhappy self-discovery: They don’t like themselves much.

I remember feeling that way myself. Years after my college graduation, I hadn’t been able to build or sustain a career, income or professional or personal relationships. My ties to my family were terribly strained by both my self-imposed isolation and my raging to keep everyone at arm’s length.

Sleep deprived and anxious, I was convinced I was insane and beyond help. Moving through the private hell of my everyday life, I thought pretty poorly of myself. (Could you blame me?)

Do You Have Low Self-Esteem?

It is not unusual for people with PTSD to put out negative energy. Learn the cause of this negative energy and how to change it to improve your life.If healthy self-esteem is an essential ingredient in resilience (which scientific evidence proves it is), then it’s no surprise that low self-esteem slithers through the post-trauma world of a PTSD survivor struggling with symptoms. Coping with a self and a world that seems out of control, it’s easy to slip into a space of hating and devaluing yourself. A short list of clues you might be doing this include if you:

  • Don’t shower/bathe or engage in regular hygiene
  • Don’t get “dressed,” opting instead to wear the same clothes (often unwashed) for long periods of time
  • Say mean and unkind things to and about yourself both in the privacy of your mind and to others
  • Believe you’re worthless and unsalvageable
  • Allow yourself to be used and manipulated by others
  • Take a pass on opportunities that would be good for you because you “don’t see the point”

Are You Putting Out Negative Energy?

In this state of mind, you send out vast quantities of negative energy, which means you’ll attract back to yourself the same from others. Recently, a survivor shared with me, “I don't know why I attract people having negative energy.” One reason is because like attracts like. If you put off negative energy (even though it’s tough to do anything else in the trauma state), that’s often what will come back to you.

As much as the like attracts like law can work against you, it can be simple to use to your benefit. Before we go further with this idea, please understand: I’m not suggesting you slough off your post-trauma issues and take on a fake persona – everyone does that enough in coping in the moments you really need to. Instead, what I’m about to suggest are some checkpoints to see where and how you can adjust the energy you’re putting out in an effort to redirect and channel what comes back.

How Not to Put Out Negative Energy

Body language, facial expression and posture – A survivor once shared with me her shock that a man at a conference asked if she was an abuse survivor. She asked how he knew. “Because of the way you hunch your shoulders and sort of cave in on yourself.” How you present and carry yourself sends clues to others. Those who want to prey on weakness will read powerless posture and take advantage of it. Notice how you hold yourself. In what moments or situations can you shift from a powerless to powerful posture?

Wardrobe and personal hygiene – How you dress, tidy and clean yourself sends a message. Lack of showers, shaves and brushed hair -- or clothes that are dirty and worn day after day -- send the message you don’t care about yourself, which encourages others to treat you the same way. You don’t have to be a glamour girl or guy; you do have to make the effort to be presentable if you want to be treated with respect. Take stock of your appearance. How can you clean up and make a little bit more of an effort at self-value in this area?

Language, tone and delivery – More than what you say, people interpret meaning by how you say it. Say out loud, “I’m going to the store” (in three ways: angry, sad, excited) and you’ll see what I mean. How you express yourself informs others’ understanding. Notice how you talk. When can you make the effort to change your tone to be less Eeyore and more Tigger (if you’re not a Winnie the Pooh fan, that means less depressed and (slightly) more energetic) so that you communicate differently with those around you?

Attitude toward yourself and others – The more you hate yourself (inside your own mind or in the presence of others) the more you behave in ways that teach people how to treat you. If you treat yourself unkindly, so will they. Listen to your internal and external self-talk. How can you change your attitude to be more supportive, kind and loving of you? (Self-Compassion and Positive Self-Talk)

Boundaries – Without installing and maintaining boundaries, you leave yourself open to be preyed upon by others who (1) delight in overwhelming boundaries so they feel in control, (2) make a habit of taking advantage of intruding on your mental, physical or emotional space. (Damage Caused By Sexual Abuse) Assess your boundaries. What would it take for you to put in place boundaries that keep negative people and energy out of your internal or external space? (read: How to Set Personal Boundaries)

It's totally reasonable that you may be generating more negative energy right now. However, generating more value and positive energy in and around yourself (to whatever degree and level feels comfortable to you) can have a ripple effect in those around you. The more positive energy you surround yourself with, the more you will create that around you from sources in the outside world.

The key here, as in all recovery efforts, lies in the small steps, moments and wins. Making adjustments and changes in any of the areas listed above – or others that you identify as personal to your experience – provide small shifts that build on each other until, finally, you look back and recognize that you are attracting a much better type of energy with much better interpersonal experiences.

Michele is the author of Your Life After Trauma: Powerful Practices to Reclaim Your Identity. Connect with her on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and her website


APA Reference
Rosenthal, M. (2014, July 11). PTSD and the Effect of Putting Out Negative Energy, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 15 from

Author: Michele Rosenthal

January, 21 2016 at 7:12 pm
Yes, the attracting weird people. I've always known not to welcome new people into my life when I was depressed or suffering ptsd symptoms. I didn't trust myself to assess their character, nor really had the energy. The problem is, they come around when I'm doing well too.

It's a vulnerable place to be in.
January, 7 2016 at 2:38 pm
I'm 54, have been living with PTSD for so long.
Mine is from traumatic sexual abuse on many levels from age 3 to 15 involving multiple abusers.

I have a wonderful therapist and psychiatrist. However I feel stuck....

How do I get treatment from a specific trauma unit, inpatient?

Thank you....
January, 28 2015 at 4:46 pm
Wow!!! Michele!!!!! This is so exactly perfect of a description of what has happened with me!!! I started "attracting" strange (both previously unknown, AND strange strange" men in public places. Stores, parking lots, libraries, even. It became so frightening that I stopped going out at all... They would just start talking to me, and more than a couple, told me that I had been abused, raped, one even said I looked like I had Ptsd...They would follow me, as I walked, I mean really scary... And the therapist said she was "sure, there is something to this, the being magnetic to strangers, men...and it had to be energy/vibe related"... You always hit the nail on the head, my "Rockin' Woman"!!! AGAIN~Thank you for doing what you do for us!!!! <3 :)
Krista Selby
December, 6 2014 at 2:27 am
So many seem like they don't know what caused their PTSD, but I do. I observed my partner shoot herself in the head and I was trying to hold her head, turn her b/c of the blood, and other things with her head. It's etched in my mind. I don't want to go anywhere, no energy, sadness, seeing this play over and over in my head. What to do?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Michele Rosenthal
December, 10 2014 at 7:59 am
Krista, What you're describing it completely normal. Trauma treatment is the best place to begin. Take a look here for some ideas:
teresa sierchio
July, 20 2014 at 12:12 pm
This article is me, I have been diagnosed with ptsd but I've never seen all the symptoms, it's all me, it's so hard to change, I am 53 now, I don't know where to begin,

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

October, 3 2017 at 4:35 am
I'm right there with you at 47. I feel like I try to power through sometimes. Other times I get so tired and I think it's just too late because of my age.
Mitzi MacBain
July, 19 2014 at 8:19 pm
Another way to be rooted in positive energy instead of negative is Neurofeedback. I suffered with horrible anxiety, PTSD and depression until I was 49. I was rooted in negativity with tapes playing in my head on a daily basis. It turns out my brain was chemically imbalanced causing my emotions to be stuck in overdrive.

Now I am rooted in positivity and naturally put out healthier more balanced energy. What a gift after spending 30 years through conventional methods i.e. Therapy, Accupuncture, EMDR, Hypnotherapy, etc. and never getting lasting results.

Neurofeedback can change your life :)


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