Protect yourself from energy vampires

As a physician and energy specialist, I can tell you that energy vampires do roam the world, sapping our exuberance.

by Dr. Judith Orloff — 

The quality of our relationships affects our health. Our relationships are governed by a give and take of energy — some people make us more electric or at ease, yet others suck the life right out of us. As a physician and energy specialist, I can tell you that energy vampires do roam the world, sapping our exuberance. You often see their fang marks and the carnage they have strewn. But most of us do not know how to identify and cope with vampires, so we mope around as unwitting casualties, enduring a preventable fatigue.

Here are some types of energy vampires to watch for and ways to deal with them.

Vampire #1, the Sob Sister — Every time you talk to her, she is whining. She adores a captive audience. She is the co-worker with the poor-me attitude who is more interested in complaining than solutions.

To protect yourself, set clear boundaries. Limit the time you spend talking about her complaints. With a firm but kind attitude, say, “I’m sorry. I can only talk for a few minutes today.” Then go on with your work.

Vampire #2, the Drama Queen — This vampire has a flair for exaggerating small incidents into off-the-chart dramas. My patient, Sarah, was exhausted when she hired a new employee who was always late for work. One week he had the flu and “almost died.” Next, his car was towed, again! After this employee left her office, Sarah felt tired and used.

A drama queen does not get mileage out of equanimity. To protect yourself, stay calm. Take a few deep breaths. This will help you avoid getting caught up in the histrionics. At work, set kind but firm limits. Say, “You must be here on time to keep your job. I’m sorry for all your mishaps, but work comes first.”

Vampire #3, the Constant Talker or Joke Teller — This vampire has no interest in your feelings; he is only concerned with himself. Initially, he might seem entertaining, but when the talking does not stop, you begin to get tired. You wait for an opening to get a word in edgewise, but it never comes. He may even move so close to you he is practically breathing on you. You edge back, but without missing a beat, he steps closer again. One patient said about such a coworker, “Whenever I spot this man, my colon goes into spasm.”

To protect yourself, know that these people do not respond to non-verbal cues. You must speak up and interrupt. Listen for a few minutes, then from a neutral place, politely say, “I’m a quiet person, so please excuse me for not talking a long time.” This is a much more constructive approach than, “Keep quiet, you’re driving me crazy!”

Vampire #4, the Fixer Upper — This vampire is desperate for you to fix her endless problems — at all hours. She turns you into her therapist. At lunch, she will make a beeline to your desk, monopolizing your free time. Her neediness may lure you in.

Do not become the rescuer. Show empathy, but resist offering solutions. Be supportive but tell her, “I’m confident you’ll find the right solution,” or sensitively suggest that she seek a qualified professional for help.

Vampire #5, the Blamer — This vampire has a sneaky way of making you feel guilty or lacking for not getting things just right. Constantly having to stay on your guard or being cut down is sure to sap your energy. This vampire always seems to have a negative comment to make.

To protect yourself, try this visualization. When around these people, imagine yourself surrounded by a cocoon of white light. Think of it as a protective covering that keeps you from being harmed. Tell yourself that you are safe and secure here. The cocoon filters out the negativity so it cannot deplete you.

Vampire #6, Go-for-the-Jugular Fiend — This type of vampire is vindictive and cuts you down with no consideration for your feelings. He says things like, “Forget that job. It is out of your league.” These jabs can be so hurtful that it is hard to get them out of your head.

Eliminate these people from your life whenever possible. For a boss who is not going anywhere, try a visualization that will distance you from him or her, and refuse to ingest the poison. If you do not want to switch jobs, realize he or she is a wounded person, and try not to take the meanness personally.


Judith Orloff, M.D., is a psychiatrist who specializes in intuition, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA and an international workshop leader. This article is excerpted from her book, Positive Energy: Ten Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue, Stress, and Fear into Vibrance, Strength, and Love (Three Rivers Press, 2005).

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 26, Number 3, June/July 2007.

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