I don’t know about you, but 2012 was a year of many changes for me – home, career, relationships, personal goals, diet, and even ideals. And the success of overcoming these barriers would not have been possible without others.
I consider myself enormously fortunate to have people in my life who shared my enthusiasm and gave me heartfelt support. But there were also people who did not.
I recall moments when my encounters and conversations made me feel unworthy, stupid, unloved, offended, fearful, and even sick.
Let’s call them “energy vampires” – the people who only “take” from you.
Energy vampires can be your family, friends, clients, colleagues, teachers, neighbors, lovers, or even strangers. And they come in all types…
- There is the blamer, who lays blame on everyone else without ever taking any responsibility.
- The guilt trippers use shame to get what they want.
- Jealous bees can never genuinely feel happiness for anyone else.
- Then there are the insecure ones, who pull others down to their level of low self-esteem.
- The fun haters seem unable to embrace joy. The bullies stomp on the little guys to elevate their egos.
- The Debbie downers, the whiners, the short-tempers, the gossipers, the drama queens, and the list goes on…
Whatever form they take, energy vampires have one thing in common: They cannot create or sustain their own life force in any positive manner. So they latch on and feed off on others, slowly sucking the life out of them.
No doubt you know people like this. You probably care about them, too. Heck, they may even mean well! They may protest their love and care for you. That makes it hard to get away from these energy-sucking relationships.
Believe me, I know.
In the past, I tolerated energy vampires. I prided myself on being able to get along with everybody, to “suck it up” and “be the bigger person.” Maybe I was even afraid to speak my mind, or didn’t want others to see me as being difficult or aloof.
Perhaps I just didn’t want to alienate anyone.
But all the while, I was sacrificing my own precious energy.
The thing is, relationships are always an exchange of energy. People either uplift us… or they don’t.
During the last year, it horrified and surprised me how affected I was by the energy vampires in my life. In order to continue to stay and do my best, it became apparent that I’d need to safeguard my physical, emotional, and mental energy from them.
And the same goes for you.
You are the guardian of your own energetic space. And to live a healthy, happy, and positive life, it is absolutely vital that you surround yourself with people who promote the same way of living.
So ask yourself: Who is draining my life energy?
In The Art of Decluttering, I talked about the benefits of evaluating which objects to keep and which to let go. The same goes for assessing the people – the qualities of energy exchanges – in our lives.
Here are some things to think about:
- If your relationship with a person has changed, did it get better or worse?
- Can you wholeheartedly trust that person with your dreams, fears, secrets, or your heart?
- Do you feel valued, loved, balanced, and supported?
- How would you describe the quality of energy exchange? Is it an equal exchange or one-sided?
- Can you truly be yourself without fear of being judged, mocked, or ridiculed?
- If someone drains you, explore the root cause of your attachment and ask: Can the relationship dynamic shift?
- And then you’ve got a decision to make: keep the relationship going… or not?
Of course, you may not be able to “let go” of your sourpuss boss, your clingy high school friend, or your manipulative sister-in-law. You may not want to, either.
In that case, you can learn to cope by creating “energetic boundaries.” By doing so, it can help you interact with them easier while keeping your energy intact.
Here are seven ways to cope with energy vampires:
1. Take a deep breath and let it go! There’s no need to allow their words or actions to linger and take up space in your heart and mind.
2. Recognize when their words or actions are unacceptable. Don’t give them permission to leech your energy.
3. Keep things light and change the focus. Learn not to react on impulse; instead, go with the flow, and tactfully bring the situation back to neutral ground.
4. Remind yourself of the purpose of your bond or connection (e.g., why is this person in your life, how are you associated with them?), and know that you are allowed to walk away.
5. Take a step back by putting their words or actions into perspective. Their behavior is a reflection on them, not you.
6. Visualize a protective light around you, like an energy shield. This can help you remain energetically neutral without letting their words or actions cut or affect you.
7. Affirm your self-worth. You deserve to be surrounded by positive, genuine, and caring people who inspire you to be your very best.
Cheers to a happy, healthy, and energetic 2013!