12.22.12 Truth & Wisdom
How to Avoid Emotional Vampires
BY Victoria Cox
When one thinks of vampires, satanic images of Dracula, graveyards, coffins, and of course those Twilighter’s inevitably come to mind. But did you know that there is another species of vampire lurking around in broad daylight without being reduced to a puddle of vampire ooze? This unique species doesn’t have any interest in sucking on your blood, they get their kicks from sucking on your energy. Many aren’t even aware of their Draculian tendencies and operate from an apparent subconscious desire to burst your bubble, rain on your parade or just dump a coffin’s fill of negativity onto your shoulders.
I like to call these types of people emotional vampires, who literally suck all the joy out of you, leaving you feeling overwhelmed, insecure or just plain uncomfortable. These vampires can be found everywhere in modern society. It could be the family member who constantly criticizes your appearance, the colleague who laces every faux-compliment with a dash of negativity or the childhood friend who constantly puts you down in order to feel better about themselves. Whoever it is, it is important to know that there are some effective ways of dealing with these bloodsuckers. The following few vital rules might come in useful in order to protect ourselves when we are around these types of people without the need to start digging into our garlic supplies or stocking up on holy water:
Have you ever had an innocent chat with a co-worker, only to walk away feeling as if you have to physically wipe away the verbal torrent of negativity that they just vomited all over you? Called a relative and after a verbal tongue-lashing wish you never called in the first place? One of the most effective ways when dealing with these types of people, is to set boundaries. The main reason that people get away with this type of behavior is simply because we let them. Learning how to set boundaries for yourself as to what you will and most importantly will not accept is vital for maintaining a healthy relationship whilst protecting your sense of self, and sanity. Setting boundaries for emotional vampire’s works as effectively as placing yourself inside a moat of holy water. They quickly sense that you are not willing to engage in their behavior and will soon back off to find another victim.
Setting new boundaries may be as simple as being very direct and saying outright “I’m sorry but I really don’t want to talk about this right now.” Sometimes a more subtle, nuanced approach can also be effective so that when the conversation takes a direction that is making your skin crawl, just saying ‘Sorry I’m really busy at the moment, can we talk about this later?” can save your sanity. Try this a few times, being persistent each time and slowly, the vampire will sense the resistance to engage and eventually stop their negative behavior when they are around you. Sometimes though, persistence can be futile and if they don’t begin to change their ways and start respecting your boundaries, it may be worth asking yourself if it’s really beneficial having this person in your life.
Learn the Lesson
Things generally happen for a reason. If you find yourself wondering why these types of people are constantly in your life sucking away at your joy, it might be worth asking yourself, why? Perhaps it is because we simply allow it to happen and don’t want to deal with the potential fallout from rocking the boat. The lesson could be, that we need to learn how to deal with conflict without running away, or to become more assertive in life and start standing up for ourselves. It’s important to understand that if we don’t deal with this issue, it will just keep happening over and over again until we finally get the memo. Sure, no one likes to deal with certain conflicts; it can bring out uncomfortable feelings, bad memories from your past or can make us anxious or fearful. But denial is not our friend.
Thinking about each issue that comes up and dealing with it in a safe emotional environment will ensure that we learn to process these difficult feelings and finally set ourselves free from them. In these types of situations, ignorance is most certainly not bliss and ignoring these types of issues and stuffing them down deep inside only preserves the pain for later. I truly believe that whatever we resist, persists, and it might be beneficial to figure out what it is that we are resisting in life and what lesson needs to be learned from that. Perhaps it’s time to address the negativity you feel when you are around that person by turning it into a positive and asking “what can I learn from this situation?” and “how can it help me grow?”
There are certain situations wherein these emotional vampires have simply been lying in their crypts for too long, and their behavioral pattern has set in like a case of rigamortis. They could be unable or unwilling to change. Sometimes they are just unaware of how acutely their behavior is affecting those around them. In these types of situations, especially if you are dealing with emotional vampires in your family or somebody that you are unable to restrict contact with, then its time to accept the fact that they are the way that they are. Sure, you don’t like it, but ultimately you do not hold the power to change it. Accepting them for who they are, warts and all, without attaching judgment to them can often feel very liberating and ensures that you don’t waste any of your energy or time trying to ‘fix them’. You accept their behavior for what it is, stop reacting to it and move on with your life.
Whatever the situation, knowledge is power and taking your own power back from these energy suckers will almost certainly guarantee yourself a more peaceful existence. Cutting ties or changing behavioral patterns can be tough, but ultimately we all deserve to be surrounded by people who love and appreciate us just the way that we are.