Have you ever had the experience of having the life sucked out of you by spending time with a particular person? I’m talking about feeling exhausted, bored, irritated, stressed, anxious, threatened, overwhelmed or depressed after just a few moments in that person’s company.
There may have been times where you felt guilty for having negative thoughts about that person — which made you feel even worse. You may even have thought there was something wrong with you, such as feeling a headache coming on or stressing over a work deadline. Either way, you didn’t understand why you felt so out of sorts.
If that describes a familiar experience, chances are you have been in the company of an energy vampire.
Energy vampires are emotionally immature individuals who have the sense that the whole world revolves around them. They are almost incapable of seeing things from another person’s perspective. They often lack empathy. They believe that they must take everything they can get from others and that giving anything will deprive them of essential resources. It’s as if the whole world exists just to serve them and you are the latest object upon which they have set their sights for exploitation.
Here’s how to protect yourself from being drained. This is a two-pronged approach. First, you need to assess your own emotional capacity. Second, assess how much of a threat to you the energy vampire is. Weighing both these aspects will help you decide what action you need to take.
The extent of your own emotional capacity will determine how much of this person you can take. The most important tool in your kit is your ability to self-reflect. This means being curious about your own reactions so as to understand yourself better. You also need to be kind to yourself by accepting yourself just as you are.
If you have a daily self-reflective practice (e.g., walking, meditation, yoga, cooking, cycling for at least 40-60 minutes), that will increase your emotional capacity. Similarly, so will a good relationship with your partner, a steady job, a good place to live and lack of trauma. Having a mentor, a good education and experience with personal development also helps.
Conversely, if you are currently struggling with a disruption in your life, or if you have a particularly harsh inner critic that never stops nagging you and continuously puts you down, you will be more vulnerable to a vampire attack.
The other thing to consider is, what is your motivation for having this person in your life? If you are highly motivated (e.g., in getting ahead at work) and this person is just a nuisance you have to put up with, then you are likely to be more resilient. However, if you put up with being drained just because you are too afraid to quit your job, then you are paying a very high price indeed for that fear.
At first glance, energy vampires can seem highly attractive. They often are good-looking, bold, flamboyant or intelligent, and may appear to have a high opinion of you as indicated by their flattering attention. Drawing you into their inner circle may seem like just the boost you need in your usually drab work environment.
However, be aware that they are “grooming” you — setting you up to exploit you in whichever way best suits their purposes later. What seems quite innocent at first, such as finding a good friend, may lead you to compromise your ethics, morals and values against your will — maybe even breaking the law in due course. And because energy vampires are masters at avoiding responsibility, you could be the one who takes the blame when things go wrong.