They feed on your time and energy, and although they can illuminate your personality, more often than not they tire you out. There are countless forms of emotional toxins which you can learn to recognize as typical patterns of behavior in others with the probable outcomes of how they affect your own emotions. The key is to get them under control before they dominate your life and ego.
The Buddha said, “Life is a journey and you don’t always choose the people with whom you travel that journey”. You are a pilgrim on a trip called life. Whilst on your path, you will meet people who send you plummeting over an emotional cliff. These people come in various shapes, sizes and forms and are called emotional vampires. They don’t wear capes, fly or grow fangs. They can come in the form of relatives, friends, spouses, co-workers and bosses. They are the ones that feed on your time, energy and sometimes, your money!
Interactions with them leave you feeling emotionally drained, physically tired, irritable, angry, inadequate, hopeless, trapped or afraid. Your mood nosedives when you are with them. They can affect your emotional and physical health. That’s why it’s important to identify and deal with them.
Such people are often very insecure, scared or vulnerable themselves. They feed off your emotional energy because they have a scarcity of love, attention, approval or personal power. Beneath their cape of confidence lies low self-esteem, doubt, guilt, inadequacy or fear. So be compassionate with them, but set your limits as you figure out what emotional chilli to wear around them. Here are some common types of emotional vampires and how to deal with them.
1. The Narcissist: He needs constant attention and praise, is self-important and self-centred. He can be quite charming, but does not really care about your feelings and interests. When his status is threatened or things don’t go his way, he can turn cold and mean.
Solution: Keep your emotional distance and stay detached. Don’t share anything that can later be used against you. Don’t make your self-worth dependent on his opinion.
2. The Victim: This one thinks the world is against him and is always in need of rescuing. He is needy and always feels he has been wronged. He indulges in self-pity and seldom takes responsibility for his actions. He remains in “poor me” mode and any solution offered is accepted with a “Ya, but….”He can be tiresome and his tales of misery can overwhelm and put you in a negative frame of mind.
Solution: Don’t play therapist. Indulging his self-pity will not help. Limit your interactions. Listen briefly to his problems and redirect to solutions. If this doesn’t work, use body language like breaking eye contact and looking distracted to show disinterest. When all else fails, make a believable excuse to exit.
3. The Control Freak: He has an opinion about everything, loves to dominate and thinks he knows what’s best. He has a rigid sense of right and wrong, is rarely fun or spontaneous. He often asks “You know what you need?” and before you can answer, tells you how you’re supposed to behave or feel, leaving you unsure of yourself.
Solution: Be constructively assertive by stating your needs and point of view. Say, “I appreciate your advice but really have to work through this myself.” Be confident about your opinions and decisions and don’t be afraid to cordially agree to disagree.
4. The Criticiser: He is someone who puts others down, easily points out flaws, yet never sees his own. He can be highly judgemental, critical and condemnatory. He belittles people to massage his own ego. You feel inadequate with him as he fills you with self-doubt.
Solution: Realise that this person highlights your shortcomings to cover his own. Don’t let him ramble on. Express appreciation for what’s useful, address his misplaced criticism directly and don’t take any of it personally.
5. The Splitter: He is a person who sees the world as black or white. There is little space for the middle path. He often pits people against each other and thrives on getting extreme emotional reactions from them. He is emotionally volatile and you always feel on tenterhooks around him.
Solution: He feeds off anger so no matter what, stay calm! Don’t react when he pushes your buttons. Instead define some limits. If he goes into a rage, tell him, “We’ll talk when you’re calmer”. If he insists on talking, politely leave the room to avoid unpleasantness.
A great way to keep yourself protected in the company of negative people is to imagine a divine bubble of impenetrable golden light around you. Also increase your own vibrational frequencies by staying positive, laughing, dancing and listening to uplifting music. Address your own insecurities because the better you feel about yourself, the less you will be affected by emotional vampires.
And finally use this powerful advice from the Dalai Lama, “Overcome the forces of negative emotions by cultivating their counter forces, like love and compassion.”