Be More Positive

Drains and Radiators

This is a concept I was introduced to many years ago.  The idea is that people generally fall into two camps: drains or radiators.

DRAINS are the people who sap the energy out of you. They’re negative and self-absorbed. When you try to be upbeat or positive, they are quick to knock you back down and to discourage you. If you come up with an idea they’ll tell you it can’t be done. Can’t be changed. No point even trying.  They see clouds in every silver lining.  And they’ll leave you feeling tired – drained of energy and motivation. A drain has the power to bring everyone around them down.

RADIATORS are the opposite – spending time with them is enjoyable because they radiate energy and enthusiasm. They’re fun to be with and their energy is infectious. They’ll lift you up and fill you with motivation.  You’ll leave them feeling that you can do or be anything.  Raring to go! And if you get a radiator in the room, the energy levels will go up. Everyone gets energised.

Drains see the glass as half empty. Radiators see it as half full. 

It’s a radical difference.

Now you’re aware of  the concept of drains and radiators you can look around and very quickly spot them in your life.  You should aim to spend  a lot more time with the radiators and a lot less with the drains.

But what if you can’t avoid the drains – if they’re family, or work colleagues?
Then you need to mentally protect yourself.  If you’ve been around someone a drain for long, you’ll know how easy it is for them to bring you down to their level. They wear you down, and out. You must distance yourself as much as you can, physically and mentally. 

  • Avoid being with them for long, or frequently.
  • Don’t engage in their negative self talk.  Refuse to play along. 
  • Ignore and change the subject.
  • Don’t  think that if you come up with a good suggestion or idea they’ll get on board,  They won’t.  They’ll knock it back. Every time. It’s not worth using your energy up in this way.


If  the drain is someone you have to be around a lot and you want to have a go at encouraging them to change (or should that be, clearing the drain?!) it can be done – to an extent. Real, lasting change requires them to do the changing. But temporary changes you can often do. You have to be patient, and chances are you will have to tackle it every time you’re with them. 

Here’s an example: I have a friend who is a drain.  She’s a kind and genuine person, but every time I phone her, the conversation (her side!) starts off with a slew of negativity and deep sighs.  But I relentlessly push the positive and remain upbeat, and after a couple of minutes, her negativity lessens.  If I carry on with the positivity and the enthusiasm, I can take her with me, get her more upbeat and a bit more cheerful. It’s hard work, and I rarely phone her for that very reason, which is a shame. She loses a good friend because of her negative attitude. But she’s tiring, and I prefer people who are upbeat already.

A final thought – I hate to ask this, but are you a drain?  Look at your own behaviour. Are you negative? Do you always see the things that are wrong or could go wrong instead of the stuff that’s right, or could go well?

You can change.  You know now the effect it has on others. You’re pushing away potential friends with your attitude. And the fact that people avoid you or don’t like spending time with you should make you pause for thought and consider changing your behaviour.

You’ll probably never be a fully hot radiator, but getting somewhere close can make an enormous difference in your life and the lives of others. 

Just try to get into the habit of looking on the other, brighter side as well. So your first reaction to something is negative, search for the positive side and connect them.

I feel (insert gloom here) BUT I also feel (insert positive thought here).

In time, you will change your thinking. If you never get any further than negative BUT positive thinking, that’s still an improvement, but hopefully you will find that the positive feelings start to come first in your mind and the negative becomes little more than a pinprick of doubt.

This concept certainly opened my eyes to how other people can give you energy or take your energy. I hope it helps you to understand others better, and what to do when you are with a drain (or are a drain!)

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