Forget Edward Cullen, Eric Northman or Count Dracula. Do you know a real-life energy vampire?
We all have that certain friend/ family member/ co-worker who makes our body and soul feel that just-ate-a-bag-of Chee-tos-and-watched-a-Keeping-Up-With-The-Kardashians-marathon yucky.
Do you recognize the feeling?
Stress hormones pool in the body: anger, weariness and frustration.You may even feel a bit weak. Your judgment becomes clouded. You blame yourself: if only I did this, if only I did that.
You stare at the wall, drooling onto your throw-pillow, ready to sleep the slumber of the undead. That Kim and Kourtney and Khloe, you think, they seem low-maintenance, don’t they?
There is much to be said for being present for others during tough times. There is also much to be said for eschewing the role of Doormat in one’s own life.
Luckily, we have our yoga practices to stretch and squeeze us, to keep us attuned.
What are the typical manifestations of an energy vampire?
1.) You feel absolutely exhausted after spending time together and you don’t quite know why. (Duh.)
Let’s get over the decades of cultural conditioning that one must ‘be nice’ at all costs. (Many of us, particularly women, have been trained to value longevity over self-respect in relationships.)
Penelope and I have been friends for twenty years! you think. Surely she didn’t mean to ditch me at that party at 2 a.m./ cherry bomb my toilet/ steal my idea at work.
Or would she?
I’m just a little tetchy, you think. Maybe it was just some bad take-out food.
No, silly. Your beyond-wise body is trying to tell you something your brain is afraid to touch. Your second and third chakras have swollen up like helium balloons because they are trying to tell you something. Your soul is getting seriously deflated. Listen to it.
2.) There is an unequal flow of energy in the relationship.
We human beings place energy and intention into what we value. I like to think of it as an exchange of Kundalini energy.
Do you know somebody who takes weeks, months or (shudder) even years to return phone calls, text messages or e-mails, but demands instantaneous attention in every minor crisis? Unless he or she is a secret CIA operative, this will be bad mojo for your energy field.
In our modern world, many things compete for our time. Yes, sometimes we all go MIA sometimes, but nobody can be that busy. Pulling back a bit will not only increase your self-respect, it will enhance your sense of safety and reciprocity. This guy or gal needs to respect your need for communication.
3.) This is an individual with very rigid views of how a person should be. There is a right way to live. And there is a wrong way.
Hello, FOX News. I’m kidding. Well, not really.
You should eat this. You shouldn’t eat that. You should have this many children by this age. You should do this kind of work. You should live here. You should get married. You shouldn’t get married. You should worship at this church or that church or not at all. You should practice this style of yoga, with this teacher wearing these super spandex-y pants and not those.
Respect his or her beliefs. Keep your heart calm, keep your gaze on your own life and carry on.
4.) This person is a rabid social-networker.
In the past, this would have been called a social climber. Social networks can be fun, but they’re not flesh-and-blood real, you know? You don’t always need an audience.
5.) You begin to doubt yourself.
Energy vampires can wear down a host with a series of subtle digs. They may not even realize what they are doing.
They can be competitive: You’ve found an awesome new apartment in Transylvania? They’ve just rented the castle from Craigslist. You finally held crow for thirty seconds? They have a yoga video ready for distribution.
They can be undermining: You’ve finally been promoted at work? Well, that’s only because she put in a good word for you. You’re finally going on a vacation? He built a time-traveling device in the basement and will be teleporting to Ancient Rome this summer.
They can be blamers:
Did something go wrong? It’s your fault.
They are largely unreliable:
Have plans to do something together? Make sure you have back-up plans and the number for a reputable taxi company.
Don’t want to spend the day with a clove of garlic around the neck?
The following strategies are tried-and-true methods to neutralize the pull of the energy vampire:
1.) Reframe the situation: Realize what is going on. Human competition can take on many insidious forms. Whether or not it is apparent, the energy vampire is suffering, too. Each individual’s contribution to the world is valuable, even if the vampire is not aware of this. Your contribution to the world is valuable. Remind yourself of this. Keep this on mental loop. Seriously. Put it on a Post-It if you need to, right under the grocery list.
2.) Practice visualization: If you can’t get away from the person, you can project yourself onto a warm beach in the Florida Keys, a snowy mountain in Colorado, a deserted ashram in the Himalayas, a yoga retreat with an Olympic soccer team. Get the picture?
3.) Do some deep breathing: Nothing breaks up a vampirically inclined social gathering more
quickly than a series of calming alternate-nostril breathing or a quick round of Kapalabathi breath.
4.) Try to keep a sense of humor. Imagine the vampire as an actual vampire with a long black cape and a set of those waxy, glow-in-the-dark fangs they sell at the Halloween store. Or get more sophisticated with it, if the mood warrants. Is she more Bella or Elvira? Is he more Bela Lugosi or Bill Compton?
5.) If all else fails, just try to keep some distance.
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Ed: Kate Bartolotta