No matter who we are or what we do, we each have an opportunity, even a responsibility, to lift others up.
I’ve previously written about Embracing Relationships and engaging more deliberately with people to develop more meaningful relationships with them. However, it’s also important to understand the opposite end of the spectrum: energy vampires.
As monk-turned-business consultant, Dandapani, explains, we all have a finite amount of energy to use each day and we’re exposed to people who either fill us with energy or drain us of energy. People who drain our energy are known as energy vampires. These people could be colleagues, friends, family members — even people we encounter while out running errands.
Dandapani suggests that one of the first things to do when dealing with these people is to figure out if they are a temporary vampire or whether they are inherently an energy vampire. Temporary energy vampires might be going through a difficult time in their life — divorce, loss of family member, job-loss, or something similar. In the short term, they need to lean on others and that’s okay, even though it may be draining.
Conversely, inherent energy vampires are always this way; and they aren’t looking to change. The easiest way to identify this type of person is to assess how you feel after you walk away from them. If you feel exhausted, then chances are that person is an energy vampire.
Here are some common characteristics of energy vampires:
- The Victim or Blamer: They consistently talk about how they are always getting the short end of the stick in life. They find external blame wherever possible and like to make others feel guilty.
- The Center of Attention: They always seem to make themselves the center of attention in any room or conversation; they like to stand out.
- The Narcissist: They are consumed with themselves and their own problems; they take very little time to think about others or how to make their lives better.
- The Drama Queen/King: They love the highs and lows, are surrounded by drama constantly, and want to bring everyone along for the ride.
While the best solution is to avoid these people altogether, it can be challenging if they are your co-workers, close friends, or even family members. And when we try to move away from them, we often feel guilty about it.
However difficult, it’s essential that you find a way to break free. What you’re doing is looking after yourself and protecting your energy. When you allow an energy vampire to drain you, they are depleting your ability to help and uplift others and be the best version of yourself.
It’s not about being confrontational, it’s about learning to tactfully avoid energy vampires and, if that’s not possible, then learning how to not engage with them. Your energy is best used elsewhere.