Have you ever spent time with a friend/relative/coworker and realized you felt drained afterwards? Time with our community is supposed to nourish and connect us, but some people have the opposite effect. If you find yourself anxious, stressed, and tired after spending time with someone, they may be an energy vampire.
What are Energy Vampires?
Energy vampires are people who feed off your emotional, or psychic, energy. They use your energy to make themselves feel better. For example, you may notice that your parent constantly brings up your faults when you spend time together. Or a friend who only wants to talk about their struggles to find a relationship. These energy vampires can push you down to bring themselves up or use you as a sounding board to have a constant pity party. This is incredibly tiring.
Energy vampires usually do not have the emotional maturity, sensitivity, or empathy to manage their own problems. EVERYONE has issues — but instead of dealing with their own, energy vampires like to focus on yours or make you responsible for solving theirs. They prey on others to make themselves feel better.
Energy vampires do not knowingly pick on their social circle. They are drawn to your spirit because they subconsciously want to address their own issues and they identify you as the solution to all their problems.
No matter the situation, each person is responsible for resolving their own problems.
You are not liable for fixing their issues, and you couldn’t solve everything even if you wanted to. Do not make yourself responsible for fixing others when they need to do the work themselves.
WHY ARE ENERGY VAMPIRES SO TOXIC?
Once you have identified an energy vampire in your life, you may notice the adverse effect that relationship has on your health. Energy vampires are toxic because they can be a sore point in your community, a source of negativity and stress, and a drain on your emotional well-being.
Because people with energy vampire traits are emotionally immature, they usually cannot see things from an outside perspective. Because they focus on their needs and how the world affects them, they do not stop to consider how their actions impact others.
This can make them selfish, manipulative, overbearing, and draining. You may notice you are giving a lot more to the relationship than the energy vampire ever does or that you feel depleted after spending time with them. This may be because they constantly bring up your issues, tear you down, or ignore your needs altogether to focus on their own.
An energy vampire expects you to drive out of your way to visit them, but will never return the favor.
How to Deal with Energy Vampires
It’s time for you to take care of your emotional well-being. Once you have identified that a specific relationship is causing undue stress in your life, it is important for you to prioritize your health.
Think about what activities work well with the individual and which ones don’t. If you are OK spending time with someone in a group setting but no longer want to invite them over to your house, that’s perfectly OK. If you are going to spend time with them, set a specific time so that you are not dragged into a longer meeting than you want.
It is YOUR life and you CAN limit the interaction you have with energy-sucking people.
If you do not want to spend time with someone, you are not obligated to. You can say No to their invitations. You do not “have” to spend time with them. That doesn’t mean the No needs to be rude or impolite. Say No nicely and firmly, and leave it at that. You do not owe anyone an explanation or more than that.
Saying No does not make you a jerk. Sometimes to protect our own mental health, we have to stick up for ourselves. Being a connected, loving, nice person does not mean being a doormat.
SWITCH UP THE CONVERSATION
You do not have to let the energy vampire dominate the conservation. If they are focused on negative and stressful topics, change the focus. Pivot the discussion to light-hearted topics and refuse their attempts to drag you into their drama or focusing on your faults.
You are not required to talk about whatever they want to talk about. Steer the conversation to happier topics that won’t leave you drained.
DON’T GIVE THEM A REACTION
Energy vampires feed off your reactions and emotions. So by bringing you down, they can feel better about themselves.
As an empathetic person, you may find yourself as a target for energy vampires. They have low self-esteem and feed off your energy. Once they have sucked on your energy, you can feel empty.
It can be hard to drag yourself away from an energy vampire. But try your best to not give them a reaction and to step away when they are causing you undue stress. Don’t spend all night consoling them (again and again……). Know when to walk away to preserve your own emotional well-being.
TRY TO AVOID THEM
If these tactics for redirecting the energy vampire don’t work, the next option is to limit your contact with the person. Minimize the amount of time you spend with them and the amount of energy you give them. If it’s a coworker, focus only on work-related discussions. If it’s a friend, don’t spend time with them one-on-one and say No to their invitations.
CUT THEM OUT
If all the above steps don’t work, cut the person out of your life. This sounds harsh, but remember that your emotional well-being is important for your overall wellness. Chronic stress is terrible for your mental and physical health. This person is putting repeated strain on your life without a care for the consequences.
While you cannot change the energy vampire, you can change the way you interact with them. Consider the positives and negatives of your relationship with the person, and the steps you have taken to remedy the situation. If you have been honest with them about how and why they are straining you, and the situation isn’t improving, it might be time to sever all ties.
Over and over again we are told to help others. But we do not have to keep relationships that not only don’t serve us but actively drain us. Follow these steps if you have an energy vampire in your life to lessen their draining effects.
Remember that the person who knows best what you need is YOU. You do not owe anyone your time or endless therapy or a free pass at tearing you down.
You have to nourish yourself before you can give to anyone else.