Our lives are full of lots of different people, which makes life interesting and enjoyable most of the time. Every day, we come into contact with all sorts of different personalities…at the office, in the street, in restaurants and even at the school gates when we meet other moms picking up or dropping off their kids. There are some people you meet in life who uplift you, make you feel good, leave you feeling energized and happy after meeting them and seem to bring joy to everyone they meet. Oh how nice it is when we spend time with someone like this! We go back to our office or home feeling vibrant, lighthearted and full of inspiration. They make us feel young again, they bring us hope, laughter and moments of sheer joy and our lives are all the richer for knowing them. Their influence on us is like a cozy blanket, wrapping itself around us and enveloping us in warm, comforting love. We wave them goodbye and meander off, feeling full of new ideas and with a greater vibrancy, a smile on our face and a spring in our step.
Then there are energy vampires…those people in life or in business who literally suck all the energy from us, leaving us exhausted, depressed and worn out after meeting them and very grateful that it might be some time again before we have to go through the complete torture of spending yet another hour in their company. Energy vampires come in all forms (if it helps, you can imagine Dracula in human form but without the teeth…). Some energy vampires are always moaning and whining and can be our friends, family members, neighbors or colleagues. You can recognize them straight away because nothing in their life ever goes right (according to them) and they love to apportion blame for this to everyone except themselves. Other energy vampires are massive attention seekers – you hear them before you see them, they seek attention everywhere they go and from everyone they meet, by their loudness, rudeness and general “look at me” behavior, leaving us zapped of all our energy, headache-y and breathing a massive sigh of relief when they leave the room.
In a nutshell, energy vampires are the people who make us wish that we could say “beam me up” when we encounter them, so that we could disappear into the ether, leaving the energy vampire moaning to themselves.
We all know or have met energy vampires in our life, but we don't always spot them straight away or, when we do recognize them, it's too late and they've already managed to find an “in” into our life – whether that's through friendships, personal relationships or business relationships. Sometimes we are unlucky and have an energy vampire in our family circle, a person who is not as easy to extricate ourselves from. For some of us, an energy vampire could be the friend who calls and texts us day and night to complain about how awful her life is, to moan about how unfair and mean her boss is, how terrible her mother is, why that guy never called her back, how nothing ever goes right for her and she can't understand how others have so much and yet she has so little…for others, the energy vampire in our life could be our boss, a colleague or that person in our office who has recognized the kindhearted person within us and uses every conceivable opportunity to complain to us about how bad their life is, how they never get promoted, how hard they work and the long hours they put in but that it is never recognized by others and how much they absolutely hate their job but what's the point in trying to find another one? It will only be exactly the same situation somewhere else!
So what can we do about energy vampires? Are we powerless to deal with them, or are they the ones who hold all the power? Do we just have to suffer in silence while they drone on, leaving us feeling drained and exhausted?
It is often very difficult to avoid energy vampires. They use our good nature and kind spirit to unleash their tales of woe upon, knowing that we are so kind and caring that we are unlikely to complain or tell them we are not interested. We become like sponges; heavy and full of someone else's problems, anger and disappointment. It can be hard to get away from these people who cling onto us emotionally and mentally and drain us of our happy thoughts and positive energy. Why do they do this? The answer is simple – because they can. The unfortunate truth is, that if you did not listen to them and instead walked away, or found a way to avoid them, they would simply replace you with someone else who can satisfy their emotional needs. Like any vampire, when they are robbed of their source of energy they move on to their next victim very easily. They don't really care where their energy comes from just as long as they get it from somewhere! You will also often find that these people do not care about the good things that happen in your life – they are not interested in your good news or hearing about how great your life is. After all, it is all about them, not you.
The great news is, there are some practical things we can do to rid ourselves of energy vampires – and if we cannot get rid of them from our life completely due to work, social or family circles, there are still a number of ways we can manage our own energy levels and feelings so that we are not affected by them and can block their negative energy and instead replace it with our own positive energy and good thoughts.
If you are faced with an energy vampire unexpectedly – they call to your house, arrive at your desk, or they telephone and you pick it up without realizing they're on the other end – don't panic. The first and best thing you can do is to take a deep breath. Deep breathing allows us a few moments to gather our thoughts and prepare ourselves. Sometimes when an energy vampire takes us unawares, we are unprepared and automatically tense up. Tensing up makes us feel stressed and by getting stressed we allow the other person to control how we are feeling. Remember that you are in control of this situation. You have the power to walk away at any stage and you have the power not to react to the things the energy vampire is saying. They are not in control!
Use imagery to refocus
By using imagery we can refocus our energy away from the energy vampire and instead on to something nicer and more comfortable – it can be anything you want…in your mind imagine your children's faces, a beautiful sunset, waves on the beach, being in a forest surrounded by trees and light…When we refocus on something positive and beautiful we take our energy back subconsciously – the best thing about this is that the energy vampire won't even know you are doing it!
Take back control
It is hard at the beginning to remove yourself from an energy vampire or indeed to make them leave you alone, but one of the ways you can take back control is to turn a conversation back on the energy vampire by saying something strong or positive when they start complaining or moaning about how bad something is:
“What are you going to do about that?”
“Are you doing anything about it at the moment?”
“What have you done about it?”
“Have you tried doing something positive to help change the situation?”
Of course, an energy vampire's reaction to any of those questions will usually be something hopeless-sounding and negative, but that's not really your problem…what you are trying to do is deflect the negativity back onto the energy vampire. They tend to dislike having to look inward at their own flaws or failings, so by doing this consistently they will be less likely to come to you for tea and sympathy next time there is a crisis in their life – instead they will turn to someone who will absorb all of their negativity and not deflect it back on them – which of course is exactly the reaction you are hoping for!
Put yourself first!
It is worthwhile remembering that energy vampires simply don't care who they get their energy from. All they want is someone to listen to them and pay attention to them. By coming to you for sympathy and empathy, they are putting themselves first – over and over again. So, why wouldn't you put yourself first? They don't care that you walk away feeling as if you've been run over by the emotional equivalent of a truck…they don't mind that you have to go back to your own life feeling heavy and depressed. All they care about is themselves. So do yourself a big favor – put your own needs first.
The golden rule
It is not always possible to surround yourself by happy, positive people 24-7. Life just doesn't work like that. We all come into contact with negative and difficult people on a regular basis, particularly through our jobs, but this does not mean that we cannot seek out happy, positive people and try to spend more time with them than with the energy vampires. The golden rule when it comes to keeping our energy levels positive and our mood happy and light, is to spend the majority of our time with those who make us feel good and as little time as possible with those who make us feel bad or negative.
If you do have to spend time with someone who zaps your energy and leaves you feeling tired and depressed, then immediately you need to do something to elevate your mood to minimize the damage. Seek out someone or something that makes you happy – even if you don't feel like it! Go for a walk, a swim or a run, meet a good (and happy!) friend for tea, give your kids a cuddle and find something to laugh at!