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Energy Vampires?

By Ken and Lee Estridge

Where's My Energy?

Do you find yourself in the presence of people who take your energy away and suck you dry? After spending time with them you feel drained and exhausted, and you may even feel like a cold is suddenly coming on.

Energy Vampires Are Real

It's important to pay attention to who and what gives us energy and who or what takes our energy away. Our energy is a barometer of what is working for us in our lives. In a perfect world, we would only engage in activities and interact with people who give us energy rather than take it away. But, in everyday life, we often need to interact with people who take our energy away. They may be family members, friends, co-workers, or our boss. These individuals, otherwise known as "Energy Vampires," aren't necessarily bad people, rather, they're often people who love and admire us, and want our input and on everything they do.

What Is An Energy Vampire?

Energy Vampires are often people with difficult personalities and our interactions with them are challenging or confrontational. There are some common features of Energy Vampires. They may:

  1. have no idea of the impact they are having on other people,
  2. ask a million questions and never believe the answers,
  3. be terrible listeners and ask the same questions over and over again,
  4. have a tough time trusting anyone,
  5. often look for what's wrong or what could go wrong,
  6. lean on us to help them make decisions, even when they know what they ought to do,
  7. feel scared, insecure, and needy, and lean on us for strength
  8. feel that whatever we do for them isn't enough
  9. take much more than they give

How to Manage Your Energy Vampires (Or, How to Manage Your Response to Them)

If we had a choice, we would probably minimize our time with Energy Vampires, but many times this isn't an option with family members or co-workers. Our job is to have better tools to protect ourselves and also to be able to teach people how to be with us. Here are ten approaches for you to consider before your next visit with an Energy Vampire:

  1. Start with becoming aware of what it is about the Energy Vampire in question and their style of interacting with you that has charge for you. (Remember, they are just being themselves!)
  2. What does their behavior trigger in you and why does this drain your energy? (This question is all about you!)
  3. Create a mental boundary so that you can feel safe and calm as you observe their behavior from afar.
  4. Ask yourself how you might interact with them more successfully in the future. What do you need to change about yourself or your response to them?
  5. Look at how you may be feeding the Vampires through your responses to them. Are you giving them what they need so they come back for more, or are you setting good boundaries and diplomatically requesting that they interact with you differently in the future?
  6. Be consistent in your response and let people know what is not working for you.
  7. Focus on changing yourself and your response rather than trying to change them. You can't change anyone but yourself, but you may be able to change how others interact with you and how you feel when you interact with them.
  8. Try to use humor rather than criticism as a way of communicating what isn't working for you.
  9. Prepare yourself for your interactions with them and (ideally) limit it to times when you are feeling strong and have high energy.
  10. Take good care of yourself after a draining interaction. Go to the gym, walk your dog, eat a healthy dinner, skip the two martinis, and get a good night's sleep.

Remember, the only person you can change is yourself!