Vampires? For real?
Yup, vampires. They are all around us and while they might not try to bite your neck and suck your blood, these vampires are a lot more efficient and have plenty of people to feed on unnoticed.
People who drain us emotionally (or sometimes called emotional vampires) are people who suck all the positive energy out of you. You’ve met at least one before; your co-worker who all they do is complain about everyone in the office, constantly. Or your step-aunt who just can’t seem to stay out of drama-filled situations and tells you all about it.
Whenever you’re with them your mood radically changes, you feel tired, tons more pessimistic and less patient.
Emotional drainers come in many different shapes and sizes but one thing they all have in common is that they feed off the positive energy of those surrounding them and seem to thrive in negative head-spaces.
You’ll easily spot them by asking yourself this before going out with them: “Will I feel better or worse after going to coffee with this person?” If your answer to that question is no, then you’re probably dealing with a drainer and will need either some coping mechanisms or at least different strategies to deal with their presence in future interactions.
So, garlic and crosses and stakes?
No, no need for garlic, promise. There are several options for dealing with these type of folk and I’ll list them from least drastic to most drastic so you can analyze which road you have to take whenever you encounter an emotional drainer.
1. Don’t open the window!
If an emotional vampire knocks on your- Office cubicle? WhatsApp chat? Facebook messages? Wherever they may knock, don’t let them in.
If they start going on and on about how terrible their life is, how awful everything around them keeps going and how disgrace seems to follow them around: shut the door. Well, the proverbial door, ask them politely but firmly if they’d be willing to change the subject to a more positive one.
By no means give them advice or try to console them if it’s been tried and true that they only want to complain and shut down all of the advice. It will lead nowhere but to you feeling exhausted and frustrated.
Establish your boundaries and make them very clear, you are not willing to wallow in pity along with them and you won’t succumb to negativity over and over.
2. Recharge yourself
If you have no option but to deal with an emotional drainer, such as a coworker you have to interact with, consider neutralizing their effects.
After a long meeting with Candy the Complainer, you might feel like you were hit with a brick. You could try to do a little mindfulness meditation at your desk to charge your happy batteries up again, or maybe watch a video of baby octopuses.
Whatever helps you bring those positive bars back up helps! If you’re a gym master take it out there or if you’re more of a bookworm, submerge yourself in your favorite mystery. See? Candy the Complainer has no power over you!
3. Fight the hunger
It happens all too often that after Candy visits our cubicle or we run into her at the supply closet that we feel the need to lash out or rant with our best friends. Will he/she never stop? How can he/she be so horrible? Wait… You’re starting to sound a lot like Candy!
Just like with sci-fi vampires, people who have to spend a lot of time with drainers end up turning into them, which is terrible because it suddenly becomes a huge cycle of negativity.
To avoid turning into an emotional drainer, try to rid yourself of negativity whenever you feel it coming.
Try to remind yourself of how tired and terrible you feel after a round of Candy and use positive mechanisms to channel the negativity. Do something nice for someone close, pick up some trash on your way home, recycle or re-purpose something to help Mother Nature.
4. Tell the vampire to look in the mirror
Similar to point one but a tad more direct and perhaps more confrontational but sometimes the only way to deal with someone with whom you don’t wish to part with just yet.
People sometimes don’t notice how bad it’s gotten until we tell them; we’ve spent so much time listening, helping, advising and patting them in the back that when their vampire sucking ways get out of control the process has been so gradual that they’ve lost sight of who they were before they became the emotionally draining people they are now.
In these cases, when you’re close enough to someone to say “Hey, I really don’t want to upset you because I know you’re having a hard time but whenever you go on these complaining/hateful/negative tirades I feel ______”.
It will help them realize that they are not only not helping themselves but perhaps even hurting people they love or losing people they care about, hurting themselves in the process.
5. Put some distance (the more the better) between you
If an emotional vampire just won’t let you go, you are entitled to put yourself first always.
Your emotional health is always one of the most important assets you possess, so putting in jeopardy for someone who thrives on the negatives of life is very dangerous, since it can also affect your mental health.
A positive environment helps us become more active, productive and overall happy as per studies made on the subject, whereas negative environments make us lose proportion of difficult situations and make it harder to sail our daily lives. Narcissists, manipulators, perpetually negative presences that hurt you or make you feel bad should not be welcome in your life.
Please, always, take care of yourself first. Remember, you shouldn’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm and similarly you should never be drained to keep others full.
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How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.