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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Emotional & Energetic Vampires

What a way to think about some of the people in our lives! Most of us have been conditioned to regard vampires as the very substance of our most dreaded nightmares. The absolute epitome of horror. And yet … many of us lead lives with more than just a nodding acquaintance with one or more emotional and energetic vampires.

Perhaps the most daunting aspect of this – if we wish to do something about it - is that a good number of people with this type of personality often appear to be anything but emotional or energetic vampires. They appear to be kind, generous, considerate, and hospitable. And certainly, in many ways – at least on the surface – that is exactly what they are. So why do you feel so awful when you are with them? Weakened, drained, exhausted, sapped. Your energy is gone. Your vitality is gone. Your good mood is gone. You’ve been sucked dry in the truest sense of the word.

How to Recognize When You Are in the Presence of These People

(Use Your Feelings as a Gauge)

Feel a tightening in your gut? A restriction in your chest? A queasiness? An uneasiness? These body sensations, as well as what follows, which is taken from the way we feel, gives you a hint that you might be in the presence of an emotional or energetic vampire. Remember: the way your body feels when you spend time with someone, and your feelings in the emotional sense of the word, are always indicators of something going on that you want to investigate. It may not always mean you are faced with a person of the type I have been describing, but it certainly warrants some careful consideration.

  • Guilty (we feel guilty as we ask ourselves how we can possibly be feeling some of the things we are feeling, if this person is being so good to us or so helpful and hospitable.)
  • Drained and sapped
  • Tired and weak
  • Unenthusiastic (or if we were enthusiastic earlier in the day, after a bit of time in their presence, our enthusiasm is gone)
  • Pushed and pulled in directions you don’t want to go (ever heard of subliminal manipulation?)
  • You may even feel befuddled, less clear in your head, as if you had been mildly drugged
Who Are They?

They can be anywhere and everywhere. Or not. What I mean is this: if you have someone like this in your life, that person, or those persons, could be in any sector of your life. Very close to you. Or more distanced. But if they are emotional or energetic vampires, you will know it because of the way you feel when you are with them for more than a few moments.

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Co-workers
  • Neighbours
  • Superiors
  • Acquaintances
Some Typical Scenarios

  • The “nothing you do or say is ever valued” vampire: This type never is happy for you if something good happens. Or, rather than showing happiness when you tell them about something good, or something you are proud of, they find a reason to put it down, or to show you how it could go wrong, or why it will never work. If, after many of these situations, you finally say something about it, there is a good chance that they may defend themselves by telling you: well someone has to be realistic. If you mention that they never seem to be happy for you when something goes well, they may seem puzzled and ask: but what do you mean? Of course I’m happy for you. If you don’t catch on, you won’t see the connection between your low feelings after being with them, and their lack of joy about your good news. Or you may find yourself striving to do something really spectacular, just to get a favorable reaction from them. And when it does not come, the circle repeats itself, with your vitality and enthusiasm going lower and lower each subsequent time. 
  • The “I know it better than you do” vampire: This vampire is not a vampire because they actually do know something better than you do. I mean when they talk about those areas where they truly have expertise, you do not feel drained or empty. What happens here is something different. You tell them about something. You are enthusiastic. It could be something you did, or experienced or heard about or read. And immediately they have some kind of one-up-man-ship. It could be that they heard about it long before you. They were dong this when you were still a baby. Or they know all about feeling that way (if you had been describing feelings), but now they are well launched into their own description of their experience of this type of thing. Whatever it is, they have been there, done that, or know about it. You begin to feel flattened, drained, sucked dry whenever you speak to them.
  • The “victim” vampire: This one can actually be putting on a very brave face, interlaced however, with much possible sighing, and a soft, suffering voice. Here there has been a great injustice done to the vampire, perhaps it is the family that has let the person down, perhaps it was a spouse, or friends, occasionally this vampire may even blame him or herself for some events, but nevertheless, because they view themselves as victim, albeit brave and all-suffering, you are put into the untenable role of someone who is expected to help this person, generally at the expense of your own well-being. Your help may come in the guise of marathon talk sessions, ideas, something you physically do for the other to help them get stronger or better, but whatever it is, it drains you. And of course, if you stop accepting the role of helper, builder-upper of strength (the other’s), you feel guilty for being such a bad friend (or relative, or partner).
  • The “monologue” vampire who never lets you get a word in edgewise: This one isn’t just talking endlessly about what is not going well in his/her life; the endless talking can also be about potentially interesting subjects, but there is simply no interest whatsoever in what you might have to say about it. So the monologue goes on and on. And since this particular vampire has never done anything to offend you, you feel you would be rude or discourteous by complaining. And so you continue to listen as your life blood (your energy) drains out of you. This can go on for decades.
  • The “I just want to be like you and do everything you do” vampire: This one suffocates you by their desire to emulate you to the nth degree. They may begin by dressing like you, going to the same tailor or designer, using your salon, picking up your discards when you no longer date someone (or after you’ve divorced someone). Later they may actually try to date them even when you are still with someone. They want to go everywhere you go, participate in all your activities, they may decide to sign up at your gym or your yoga class, they may show up unbidden at restaurants when you are dining out with other friends. But basically, because all they are really doing is trying to be like you – which we often take as something complimentary – you may not notice how much you are being suffocated until it has reached a point of strong frustration. And then, if you want to keep your head over water, you may need to disappear from their life.
  • The “please take care of me” vampire: This one is another type of victim vampire, but comes dressed in new clothing. This vampire comes right out and says he/she needs your help, needs you to take on responsibility for some portion of their existence. And for some reason, you fall right into the role. It could be because at the beginning it makes you feel good, or strong, or valuable. Or perhaps they admire you as go about whatever it is that you do for them. But eventually it suffocates you. Because you are now in the strait-jacket of having to be responsible for the other. And to remove the strait-jacket, to stop being suffocated, you may need to take drastic measures, never an easy step. To begin with, it will probably make you feel highly guilty to refuse to continue in the role. But if you do continue in the role, you may feel, apart from suffocated, very resentful, low in energy and enthusiasm, because life just is no longer very good. How can it be, if your life blood runs through their veins? Don’t forget, that in some fashion, vampires are parasites.
  • The “I can’t live without you” vampire: This is a cousin of the please take care of me vampire, i.e., another type of victim vampire, but this one is bigger and stronger. This one may even get the kids to help reel you back into the fold in order to re-establish the status quo. This one may have been feeding off you for an entire marriage. Or as your sibling an entire lifetime. Or your parent, or even your child. You know that you feel drained and empty, perhaps even hopeless in their presence (hopeless because you just don’t know how to stop it). So finally you take the big step and give them an ultimatum – or, even more drastic - remove them from your life. Now they use strategic tactics to undermine your recently-found strength. They pull at your heart-strings by sending you the children (possibly adult children) to let you know how they are not able to live without you. Or they send you your parent (in the case of a sibling) to pass on the same message. The result? You feel so guilty, so terrible about your own selfish behaviour (for wanting to be out of their presence), you feel so responsible for their well-being, that you may capitulate. Don’t. It’s your life that is at stake. You are responsible for you. They are responsible for themselves. They need to learn how to exist without feeding off you, and it is not your role to teach them how.
  • The “I need to know everything about your life” vampire: This one really suffocates as well, but here the suffocation has nothing to do with imitating you or behaving like a victim who needs you to be responsible for them or who can’t live without you. Here we’re talking about someone whom you have become used to giving blow-by-blow accounts of the details of your life. You may be friends and talk on the phone every day and all the fine points are gone over in minute detail. Or you may be colleagues with a similar scenario. At the beginning it just happened. If someone asked you how it came about, you might say that you aren’t really certain. It felt good, and it was lovely to be able to share with someone in such intimate fashion. At some point however, it started to become an obligation. Perhaps a moral obligation. You felt guilty if you didn’t share all. You sometimes began holding some bits back, noticed it, and then felt resentful if the other pried, or prodded you into saying more. In time, you started feeling drained as you recounted your daily life to the vampire. But by now – at least on the surface – you are so close, that it seems to make no sense that you want out, or that you have any negative feelings, so guilt builds up on more guilt. And you feel more drained.
Note: This listing is not meant to be definitive. There are many, many other versions of emotional and energetic vampires. Some, who appear in the workplace as your superiors, have not even been touched upon here, and they can make life a living hell. Others can appear in your bedroom. That will eventually also turn into a living nightmare.

What Does it Mean?

  • There is high degree of manipulation in the art of being a vampire – manipulation directed at you in order that you will offer your neck (and your life blood) willingly
  • In the early stages of the relationship, you may have a feeling of being worthy, of having value, but when you begin to feel drained and robbed of energy, you know that those feelings were merely part of the unresolved issues in you that need work 
  • The vampire:
    • Does not have to take care of the self
    •  Does not have to work on being responsible for the self
    • Feels alive by draining others
    • Feels powerful by draining others
    • There is something very needy about the vampire – why else would they be draining you of your life blood? However, this kind of neediness is highly dangerous for you, if you decide to “help” them with it. Where they are needy, they are dysfunctional. And that is totally their own responsibility. That doesn’t mean you couldn’t be a supporting friend or partner, should they decide to do something about it. But as long as they expect to get their blood from you, and you comply, you are both highly dysfunctional.
What Can You Do About It?

Try talking openly. Maybe you can salvage the relationship, although I don’t think it’s very likely (in order for this to happen, the other person will have had to do some growing of their own, and more often than not growth takes place at different time in individuals’ lives). Try explaining. If none of that works, keep as much distance as you can, both physically and emotionally. Examine everything that is being said and done, and remember that whatever it is that is being said and done has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with the other person. Consciously choose to hear it and observe it, but to not let it affect you the way it has up to now. Leave the presence of the other person as soon as you can. But in some cases you may need to walk away … perhaps in a definitive way, by ending the relationship.

Why Do You Have Someone Like That in Your Life?

Let’s start with the premise that the reasons I enumerate are in line with the spiritual philosophy of psychology I’ve been offering in these newsletters over the past four years There are numerous possibilities. However, I just want to touch on one of the most obvious and frequent reasons that pertain to inner growth regarding the reason why people have emotional and energetic vampires in their lives.

Having emotional and energetic vampires in your life eventually teaches you about boundaries … about the fact that you have poor boundaries …about the fact that you have now (as you truly become aware of this in your life) developed a real allergy to this ... to people who do not respect you. In either calling them to order, or in ridding your life of them, you become much more aware and conscious about yourself. Due to this you are now in a position to move to a whole new level in your life because of this new awareness and your conscious decision not to let individuals of this type continue to be an influence in your life.

This reorganization of your inner self and the subsequent move to a whole new level is immensely important. It means you become responsible for your entire self, not just for your physical well-being, for example. By so doing, you ensure that your environment – in this case the type of persons that people your world – are healthy for you. Another magnificent step to inner freedom.

Related Articles:

(all are available here)

  • Claiming Responsibility for the Self 
  • Controlling Ourselves, Our Lives, and the People in Them
  • Do Your Relationship Boundaries Contribute to Your Well-being?
  • Emotional Unavailability: An Introduction
  • Finding it Hard to Love Yourself? Check Our Your Boundaries
  • Gratitude Choice, and the “Why Did This Happen to Me?” Syndrome
  • Grow in Richness: Stop the Blaming
  • I Need You, I Need You Not: Does Love Imply Needing?
  • Intentional Focus, Your Happiness, Your Success, and the Law of Attraction
  • Making Choices: Taking Responsibility For Our Lives
  • Rejection: The Devastating and Paralyzing Effect it Can Have on Us
  • What Are Your Addictions?
  • When Love Walks Out the Door: Six Tips For Intelligent Survival

1 comment:

  1. Really Liked it!! ..Also It may also tell us we might be one of the vampires but the awareness of it and interest in conscious learning and living really will help and assist in modifying them to somethings more constructive :-) Thank You