Friday, July 8, 2011

How to Combat an Emotional Vampire

Within the last several years, it seems that all things “vampire” have become cool- the wildly successful Twilight series, True Blood, etc. 

With one exception, the emotional vampire. 

Dr. Judith Orloff  defines them as “people who suck the serenity and optimism right out of you.” 

Dr. Martha Beck calls them “emotional  muggers”. 

No matter what you call them, you know one when you see one-or rather, know one when you feel one, but unfortunately, we may not be able to pry ourselves out of their desperate grasp until the damage is already done. 

Depending on the skill of the vampire at hand, it could be hours or days until you start to feel like yourself again.  

Here are the signs you are in the clutches of an emotional vampire:

-You get the urge to bolt, but for some reason feel like you are standing in quicksand.

-You are afraid to seem impolite, and keep thinking of possible ways you can get out of the conversation.

-You feel that you are supposed to care about or feel sorry for the person speaking, but you don’t.

-You may be asking yourself, “Why is this person telling me this?”

-Your gut is screaming “DANGER”, but you remain strangely passive and unsure of yourself.

-You feel sleepy, very sleepy.

-You may feel attacked or “slimed”.

-You may get the urge to drink or eat some comfort food.

I always tell my clients to pay attention to how they feel when they leave a person, group or environment. 

If you leave an interaction feeling any of the above mentioned ways, ask yourself what about it caused you to feel icky. 

If you see a pattern where you usually feel “icky” after you see someone- it’s time for a relationship evaluation. 

The vampire brings you in with a tentacle, attaches with a vice-like grip, and holds on until you are sucked under.  

They do it by hooking you with drama, stirring up your emotions, or pushing your buttons.  

I was recently facilitating a group where a woman decided it was time to tell her story after the group was gathering their things to leave.

She launched into a drama filled rant where she carefully left breadcrumbs of worry for her safety, leading us to ask her if she needed a restraining order. 

It was only a few minutes into her story before I realized this woman was an energy vampire.  

She continued to talk ad nauseum and undeterred, even after participants were leaving the meeting! 

It was only after several facilitators stood up and pushed in our chairs that she stopped talking. 

I left feeling like I’d been held hostage, slimed, and depleted.
The next morning I still felt crappy, and then remembered what this vampire told us she did for a living. 

She’s a phlebotomist- she takes people’s blood for a living.  

Honest to God, true story. 

The irony of the situation was beyond belief. 

You are in danger of attracting an energy vampire if:

You are a people pleaser, a “nice” girl, hate being rude, need work on your self esteem, have depression, or routinely play the role of victim.

We tend to attract vampires who mirror unresolved issues in ourselves. 

Once we can find the pattern, we can work on healing it so that we can develop a super-shield against it, rather than a funnel for attracting it. 

My next blog will be about the 5 types of Emotional Vampires, and what you can do to prevent needing a transfusion when you encounter them.

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