Sometimes you just have to call a spade a spade.
Give them an inch and they’ll take 9 million miles. You know who I’m talking about; it starts as an innocuous conversation and next thing you know, you feel tired and drained. What happened? A brief conversation with them happened. At the water cooler sharing small talk for 3 minutes and suddenly you’re ready for a nap. Maybe it’s another mom in the school yard, 10 minutes near the swing sets and you’re ready to put yourself down for the day.
It takes skill and practice to tune in and monitor yourself while you’re in another’s presence. I’ve had to become a ninja with my own time as I often spend the day either on the phone or in person with clients. Most calls leave me feeling energized yet once in a while I’m left drained and exhausted.
What are the clues?
You find yourself unable to fit a word in edgewise.
Your companion goes negative on you and before you know it you’re listening to their list of woes in life and acting as a stand in therapist. I’m not talking about a friend in need or going through transition (yet sometimes even friends will take on a pattern of draining us if we’re not careful), I’m talking about those people that talk at you rather than with you.
How are you feeling? Over time, attention to this has made me strong and I’m armed with better boundaries; yet admittedly it can be hard to stay in touch with how you’re feeling as energy suckers are sneaky and subtle. I’ve learned to listen carefully and when people want to talk around issues, or complain instead of problem solve, I pull out my sword and start trimming my time with them.
Some people will drone on and on when I’ve explicitly said that I’m busy and can’t talk right now. In these times a sharper sword is needed. This is my time, my life, and it’s being filled with someone else’s sloppy boundaries.
What to do?
The biggest tool in your bag is your body. When you silently scan your body while talking to someone, you’ll either feel relaxed and in the moment, or you’ll be clenching something. For me, the pit of my stomach gets tight when I’m being talked at and drained. Sometimes I find myself holding my breath and looking desperately for a way in to break their long winded speech. Am I polite? Yes of course, for the first two attempts. After that it’s every man for himself and I usually just interrupt and excuse myself. I spent my 20′s and my 30′s being drained by vampires. Now I’m kind, yet practice compassion for myself.
To stand there “uh huhing” someone that wants to suck your energy dry is enabling poor behavior. The exhausted feeling you feel isn’t made up in your head, it’s draining your vital life force energy.
Rather than good friends temporarily off balance, I’m speaking of those people that always seem to steer the conversations to themselves and more often than not spend their time complaining instead of celebrating life!
The key is to watch these interactions over time. Do they balance out? Do they give back when you yourself are in need? Do most of your interactions flow back and forth? Sometimes we all go through difficult periods, but over the long time span of your friendship, has it been a back and forth volley or a one way serve?
A major way people get caught is in the gossip trap! It may be tempting, yet when you engage in gossip with another, it may make you feel better about yourself for a moment; but in the end it’s draining and affects your own energy in subtle ways. Water seeks it’s own level. Lowering yourself to participate in gossip wilts your petals faster than any energy vampire possibily could. I myself repeated something last spring about someone I respected and it came back to bite me. I felt terrible.
Negative talk reduces energy and makes us age faster! Gossip makes you ugly and drains your energy. Avoid gossips at all costs.
Time = life broken down into small bites. Would you consider ringing the CEO of (insert your favorite store here) to ramble on about your life? Absolutely not. First off, there are probably people screening the phones so this highly valuable person can focus on what’s truly important for the day. Secondly, you wouldn’t even consider bothering someone like that. Aren’t you the CEO of your own life?
I’ve learned that I have to be that screener in my own life and push those that want to waste it wayyyyy out!
Time disrespecting, constant negativity, complaining rather than problem solving, spinning out in misery instead of looking for a way out, and routinely taking instead of giving are the vampire behaviors for which boundaries were made.
At the end of the day, if I’m drained and exhausted, it’s usually because I’ve allowed people to waste my time and energy. Sadly, only I am to blame.
I suggest we all carry energetic garlic strands in our pockets and under our skirts to protect ourselves from those energy vampires, and those strands are called B O U N D A R I E S.
~photos from freedigitalphotos .net
Vampires by luigi diamanti, garlic by Carlos Porto, rose by Pixomar, lock by Simon Howden, friends by graur codrin, business man by healing dream, witch~well, that’s me.