Tuesday, April 6, 2010
We all know 'em, but not necessarily when we see 'em.
Rather, we feel them. Or, more accurately, we feel their effects on us. They are the people who exhaust you. They're the ones who, when you hang up the phone with them, have drained you of energy. They do it numerous ways. They complain. They gripe. They never have anything to be happy about. They always have to "one-up" you. If you mention that something is pressing on you, they quickly re-steer the conversation back to themselves. Yours is a very one-sided relationship (they get all the attention), but when you try to step away to regroup, recenter, and recharge, they guilt trip you for needing to do that. They always have to be right. If you dare to disagree with them, they will argue until they're blue in the face, leaving you tapped out. They feel superior enough that they feel entitled to ridicule you because you don't think exactly like they do. They don't take responsibility for hurtful things they may do or say. If you're hurt, that's your fault. They're not responsible for your feelings. They know the jargon, and they apply it whenever it's convenient.
On other days, they may be completely self-pitying. Life isn't fair, so-and-so isn't fair, this or that isn't right, and they're powerless victims. They need you to prop them up. Unfortunately, you may collapse under all that weight.
If you're an alcoholic or addict, these energy vampires are double poison. They not only drain you, they may actually serve as triggers to make you want to pick up and use, just to feel better ... just to get them out of your head.
The only real solution to dealing with energy vampires is to learn to recognize the "sapping" feeling when it begins. Don't even try to find a happy medium of protecting yourself AND giving them your time and precious peace of mind. The problem is that they're not actually interested in you, or in your friendship. What they want is for you to be in their own private fanclub. All they really want is for you to heap compliments on them. Or if they're bitching about something, they want you to agree with them and join in on the bitching party. You have to remember that when they're attacking something or someone, they're projecting: we hate most in others what we most despise in ourselves. So the typical energy sapper will kvetch that so-and-so is a jackass of a know-it-all; meanwhile you're sitting there thinking to yourself, "Isn't the pot calling the kettle black?"
Don't engage them. Smile, and graciously take your leave. Make a mental note to self: "Stay away from this person." I'm sure they have lots of reasons, some even good ones, for why they are the way they are, but face it: you can't change them. They like being what they are, because they have the choice to change themselves whenever they want. Yet they stay stuck in that place.
So don't even go there.
Your day will be happier and more productive for it.