No one is responsible for taking away your happiness but yourself.
You know them. They hover around, slowly sucking the life out of you. Too much time with them and you’re empty, not an ounce of peace or positivity left in your veins. They’re energy vampires, and they drain not only your physical energy but your emotional energy too.
Energy vampires can be anyone: friends, family members, colleagues, acquaintances, romantic partners. The extreme ones can make you feel very bad about yourself with their insidious comments:
- •You look tired today.
- •Are you sick?
- •You’re a bad partner.
- •You’ve gained weight.
- •You didn’t put the dishes away…again.
- •Who taught you to parallel park?
- •Do you really think you should eat that?
- •I’ll get back to you (but doesn’t).
How do you know you’re the victim of an energy vampire? Well, after you’ve been around them, you may notice any of the following:
- •You feel tired.
- •You’re suddenly in a bad mood.
- •You feel unwell.
- •You don’t feel seen or heard.
- •You start doubting yourself.
- •You feel anxious or angry.
- •You feel shamed, controlled or judged.
According to Judith Orloff, MD, a New York Times bestselling author, there are seven types of energy vampires.
Rageaholics – They accuse, attack and control. They love to yell, especially around those who are closest to them, and they often say terrible things. They’ll wring the positivity and self-worth right out of you.
To deal with rageaholics, you need to let them know you hear them but that you won’t tolerate yelling. Take time to calm and center yourself, and if you need a time out, take it. When all else fails, leave or ask the rageaholic to leave.
Victims – The world is against them. The problems in their lives are someone else’s fault. You try to offer them a solution (bad move) and they reply with, “Yes, but…” They complain constantly.
To deal with victims, be compassionate but set boundaries. Tell them you can listen for only a few minutes if they keep repeating the same issues. Change the subject and don’t encourage their complaints. Use body language – crossed arms, breaking eye contact – to indicate you’re busy. Finally, suggest they get professional help.
Drama Queens (or Kings) – Everything’s urgent and everything’s a crisis. Often they grew up in drama-filled situations and don’t know what to do with themselves if things are humming along smoothly. As such, drama queens will even create drama in order to return to their comfort zones, and of course, they want you to react.
To deal with drama queens, stay calm. Don’t ask them how they’re doing (you don’t want to know). Be kind but be firm and set limits. If they’re always cancelling because of a crisis, tell them not to bother rescheduling with you until they’re able to show up.
Control Freaks and Critics – They give their opinions whether you want them or not. According to them, you can’t do anything right. Constructive criticism can be helpful, but when it’s meant to hurt or be nitpicky, you don’t need it. Remember, anyone’s opinion is subjective.
To deal with control freaks and critics, be assertive. For example, you can say, “I value your advice, but I want to think about how to approach this situation myself.” Politely ask critics to stop criticizing you. Often that will stop them in their tracks. Work on feeling secure with yourself. That way, control freaks and critics won’t have the same effect on you.
Nonstop Talkers – They just won’t shut up, and it’s like a verbal assault. They back you into a corner and recount their stories without even coming to the surface to breathe. They won’t give you the opportunity to interrupt and will even invade your personal space.
To deal with nonstop talkers, you have to lose some of the politeness and interrupt them. Show tact, but don’t be afraid to say things like:
- •Excuse me while I go to the washroom.
- •I need to speak to some of the other people in the room.
- •I’d like to make a point. Can you give me a minute to talk?
Passive-Agressive People – They smile when they’re angry. Even though they’re hostile, they use sweet language. They conveniently “forget” and make excuses. They make promises but do what they please. They say something sarcastic about you then insist it was a joke. They sulk when they don’t get their way yet say nothing is wrong.
To deal with passive-aggressive people, recognize that’s the behaviour they’re practicing. One of the best tricks is to ask them to clarify their position which forces them to take a stand.
Narcissists – Off all the energy vampires, these are among the worst. In their eyes, the world revolves around them. They have an inflated sense of importance and entitlement. Narcissists need to be the center of attention and showered with praise. In order to get their approval, you must compliment them. They manipulate you to achieve their goals, and if you don’t do things their way or please them, they turn cold, withhold love, or give you the silent treatment. They’ll even gaslight you.
To deal with narcissists, recognize that they really don’t have emotional capabilities. Refuse to let yourself be manipulated. Don’t seek their respect or approval. DON’T FALL IN LOVE WITH THEM! Try to avoid them, and if you can’t, don’t let your self-esteem depend on them.
Energy vampires are everywhere, and to deal with them, it’s important to heal your fears, anger and anxiety so that you’re not as inclined to absorb and be weighed down by their issues. Often, energy vampires show up in our lives to teach us lessons like setting boundaries or standing up for ourselves. In these cases, learn the lesson but move on.
P.S. As much as energy vampires can weigh me down, I know I’ve exhibited certain vampire behaviours from time to time. We all have. That said, I don’t prowl around at night nor am I afraid of garlic or crosses.