I am an Energy Drainer.
A joy sucker. An enthusiasm eradicator. I am an emotional vampire.
There. I admitted it. I really am “the worst,” or at least that’s what the countless articles I have read on the topic would have me believe.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, allow me to enlighten you: emotional vampires are exhausting people that effortlessly deplete energy. We are drama queens that constantly seek attention and thrive on our own self-professed victim status.
We suck the life out of you.
After scouring the internet for information on these vicious demons among us, I have discovered a ton of blogs on how to recognize and guard against emotional vampires. There are hardly any on what to do when a person happens to identify (begrudgingly) with this malignant and toxic brood.
There seems to be a preconceived notion that we actually enjoy making people feel diminished. But, as an emotional vampire, I believe we’re lacking awareness for ourselves and those we engage with.
It’s only in retrospect, after we’ve replayed the conversations over in our head, that we realize what started as an attempt to connect with others became another episode of heads tilted, necks exposed, and vampirical drinking until their heart rate lags, they’re bled out, and lifeless.
When we’re in “feed” mode we think we are attempting to connect. We are seeking empathy and, yes, validation, but all we feel is panic. I have been “ghosted” by countless people that I blame for being fair-weather friends. In fact, I never brought them anything but storms. Seldom did I acknowledge the role that I played in my own desertion.
We cannot fix a problem if we’re not first able to acknowledge it. Awareness is the first step in staking (figuratively, of course) our vampiric self. Seeing the darkness of our ways allows us to change. But how do we stop sucking all the happy from every atmosphere we enter by being a perpetual Debbie downer, a destroyer of merriment and a killer of cheer?
Yo! Pay attention.
Practice focusing on others. Read their overall vibe. Cue into their facial expressions, eye contact, the tone of their voice, their body language. Devote attention to them. There are times that I get so caught up with patting myself on the back for holding my end of a conversation that I completely check out of it. I’m thinking about the smart or witty thing I’ll say next, excited about how this person and I are clearly becoming the best of friends—missing the heartbreaking story they’re telling me about their childhood or pet.
Sh*t, I wasn’t listening! Conversations should be two-sided. Engage by asking questions and hearing the answers. These people are sharing the most precious commodity with you. Time. Show gratitude and respect by being present.
Let that sh*t go.
No matter how hard we try, we cannot control anything other than our own behavior. It might be hard for others to tell I want so badly to be liked because I’m guarded. Before people have a chance to decide for themselves, I determine that they don’t like me in order to confirm that I am a misunderstood victim.
Emotional vampires tend to be insecure people. We try to control the people around us so they can’t hurt us. Sometimes we try with all our supernatural might to convince them that we couldn’t care less if we’re liked or not. But inside it stings quite a bit to feel like someone that people could do without.
We will meet people that don’t care for us. People that will say malicious things or not laugh at our jokes. Humans are not always nice and we cannot change that. The only thing that we can control is the version of ourselves that we present to the world. A cognizant effort must be made to not suck.
The road to connection is kindly paved.
Paying compliments is one of the easiest ways to break our bloodthirsty habits. First, we may have to spend some time headbutting our personal inner hellion. Emotional vampires are all about approval. Because of our hyper-focus on getting the acclaim for ourselves, we’re terrible at dishing some out.
For some time now I’ve been trying the kindness approach. I wonder if my attempts come off as forced and inauthentic. Change is never gentle—it’s strenuous and difficult. I feel exposed and vulnerable. Regardless, I keep at it. I am determined to break out of my coffin as a thoughtful, kind person.
Here’s the thing: we can do better.
It takes diligence, compassion, and understanding how to give love and receive it. When we truly connect, everyone is satiated. By inquiring about those we engage with and offering compliments, we become aware of those we share space with and of ourselves. Killing the vampire within requires checking our need to control things and practicing generosity and kindness.
Eventually, crosses will be lowered, garlic disposed of, and we are welcomed into the sunlight.
Author: Johanna L. Vissman
Apprentice Editor: Micky Sedota/Editor: Lieselle Davidson
Copy Editor: Travis May
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