Energy Vampires can suck the oxygen out of the air if you let them.
To successfully deal with these “energy vampires” you must be methodical and not waiver.
We all deserve to be surrounded by people who are loving and who support us, inspire us, and motivate us—not those who suck the life force out of us with their fear, anger, criticism, narcissism, or neediness. When we hang around with such “energy vampires,” we feel worn out and frustrated. That’s because these vampires thrive on being negative and difficult.
They also feed off others’ vitality.
If you’re a caring, giving person, energy vampires will be especially attracted to you.
Don’t let them attack you.
Here’s how to spot five types of energy vampires and protect yourself from having your energy sapped.
Vampire 1: The Narcissist
These vampires have an inflated sense of self-importance and entitlement, and crave attention and endless praise. Some narcissists are obnoxious ego maniacs, but others are charming, intelligent, and masterful seducers. If you’re needy or vulnerable, they love being your white knight to save the day. Narcissists know how to play you like a fiddle so that you’re enamored with them. However, once your admiration stops or you dare to disagree, they turn on you by becoming aloof, punishing, controlling, or passive aggressive.
Self-defense tips: Because they value control and power over love, don’t fool yourself into thinking you can get a narcissist to truly care about you. Keep your expectations realistic. Don’t make your self-worth dependent on them, and don’t share your deepest feelings with them; their reaction will only disappoint. Complaining or getting angry won’t work with a narcissist. Instead, stroke their ego and show how your requests fulfills their self-interest.
Vampire 2: The Drama Queen
They’re the Sarah Bernhardt of vampire. They have a breathy flair for exaggerating small incidents and making them off-the-charts dramas. Life is always extreme, either unbearably good or bad. They spend life flitting from crisis to crisis, energized by chaos. Histrionics are their middle name. The rollercoaster antics of a drama queen can put you on overload, and wipe you out.
Self-defense tips: With a drama queen, setting limits will reign in their emotional extravaganzas. Understand: this vampire doesn’t get mileage out of equanimity; they only win if they succeed in jangling you. To keep your calm the moment you sense a drama queen revving up, take a slow, deep breath to center yourself. Keep concentrating on your breath. Let your breath release tension and ground you. This will keep you from getting caught up in a drama queen’s schtick.
Vampire 3: The Passive-Aggressive Person
These types express anger with a smile or exaggerated concern but always maintain their cool. They are experts at sugar-coating hostility. They often use procrastination or the exasperating excuse of “I forgot” to avoid commitments. They don’t give straight answers. These people are infuriating because of their seductive or innocent veneers. They appear eager to please, but know exactly how to make you mad.
Self-defense tips: If their mixed message feels confusing or underhanded, trust your intuition. Address the behavior head-on. “I don’t appreciate that you brought me ice cream when you know I’m trying to diet.” Being specific with passive-aggressive people pins them down. Let go of the idea that you can change them. Passive aggressive energy vampires often developed this behavior in response to a childhood where expressing anger was unsafe. Sabotaging others is a way for them to feel in control.
Vampire 4: The Fixer Upper
This vampire is like a fixer-upper house that requires endless repairs. There are two types to watch out for.
The first makes you into her therapist. At all hours she calls desperate to have you fix her problems. As a friend you want to comply, but her conundrums are endless. Her tyrannical neediness lures you in, and takes you for all the energy you’re worth.
A second type of fixer-upper is someone who you perceive needs an overhaul and you take him on as a project. This vampire is so seductive because he doesn’t put up enough of a fight to dissuade you from trying to fix him, yet he’s not interested in change.
Self–defense tips: If you’re susceptible to fixer-uppers, try to compassionately understand what ropes you in so you don’t repeat this going-nowhere pattern. Ask yourself: Am I motivated by the desire to be liked? To feel wanted? To control? Guilt? An inability to say “no”? When a fixer-upper appears, start by setting the ground rules of how you interact with them by offering emotional support without compulsively spewing solutions. If you’re consistent, many will be dissuaded from calling; others will be spurred to rely more on their own inner wisdom and/or an appropriate health care professional.
Vampire 5: The Guilt Tripper
These types are world-class blamers, martyrs, and drama queens. They know how to make you feel bad about something by pressing your insecurity buttons.
Self-defense Tips: Let go of the notion that you have to be perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. If you feel really guilty, find a private place and let yourself cry. You can also reply with a positive statement such as, “I can see your point of view. But when you say ___, my feelings are hurt. I’d be grateful if you didn’t keep repeating it.”
When dealing with energy vampires your tone of voice is important. A critical, snippy tone only inflames them. Remember, we all can be annoying and difficult at times. Let this sobering fact curb your enthusiasm for chastising the shortcomings of others in word or tone. With energy vampires, you want results–so you have to own the moment and not drop to their level.
The above is adapted from The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life Harmony Books, 2014 by Judith Orloff, MD.
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Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Ingrid Richter at Flickr