Have you heard of the term energy vampires? I think it’s a particularly apt phrase used to describe people who sap you of energy and positivity, leaving you feeling drained and downbeat because of their negative mindset. A friend of mine likes to call them “vibe suckers”, whilst Liam O’Connell, author of Don’t Feed The Ducks, calls them “mood hoovers”. Whichever way you refer to them, I certainly know a few people who dampen down my mood and I bet you do too.
People’s moods and energy are infectious. Associating with happy, positive people will do wonders for your state of mind – you can’t help but be influenced by their upbeat nature. But hanging around with negative, downbeat people will inevitably rub off on you and drag you down. It’s a bit like when someone walks into a room and the atmosphere changes – either for better or for worse – because of the vibe they give off.
Having said that, it’s important to bear in mind that we all go through tough times when you can’t help feeling low or downbeat – and it’s during these times that we need support and empathy from our loved ones. Energy vampires, on the other hand, tend to be people who thrive on negativity and seem unable or perhaps unwilling to see life in positive terms. No matter how many times you might try to highlight a positive, they’ll always turn it back to the negative. Often, they are unaware of what they are doing.
Here are some signs that you’ve been struck by an energy vampire:
- You feel exhausted and drained after being in their company
- You feel negative and downbeat
- You feel anxious and vulnerable around them
- You dread seeing the person again
- You feel stressed and tense at the thought of seeing them
Here are some tips that I’ve found to be particularly helpful in my own encounters with energy vampires.
State your case
Sometimes energy vampires don’t realise what they are actually doing, so try speaking to them reasonably and rationally, explaining how their behaviour makes you feel. They may have no idea of the effect they are having on you. If you’d rather run naked down the street than confront the person in question, then why not try writing them an email? It’s often easier to get our point across in writing rather than face to face, when we can take time to think about what we want to say. You might want to write out the email and wait a while before sending it. Often just by putting your thoughts out into the open you’ll feel better, stronger and more able to deal with the situation. You might find you don’t even need to press send…
Use your imagination
Visualisation is a powerful tool and can really help to change your perspective on a difficult situation. I was given the following exercise by an NLP practitioner which I think works fantastically well if you know you are going to have an encounter with an energy vampire who drains you. Before you meet up with this person, take a few moments to sit quietly and close your eyes. Imagine that you are completely surrounded in a protective shell – use your imagination here, it could be a cloak, a wall, a protective bubble – the key thing is that it surrounds you and protects you. Then visualise the energy vampire talking to you and their words pinging off the edge of your protective shell, unable to penetrate it and get to you. Try to make this image as vivid as possible in your mind, and practise it every time before you have a difficult encounter. Trust me, it works!
Here’s another good way of deflecting the negativity of energy vampires, suggested by Andrew Johnson, a lifestyle coach and clinical hypnotherapist. Plant your feet firmly on the ground, visualise ‘roots’ growing from your feet down into the earth. The earth loves this sort of energy and with a little practice and using whatever colours or sensations feel right, allow any negative energy to flow down through you and into the earth. After a while this process will become second nature. This stops the resistance to the energy vampire’s energy and, as we all know, what you resist persists and what you look at and allow disappears.
“Energy vampires are totally weak when they are not feeding off you so make a determined decision that you will no longer feed them,” says psychotherapist Sally Stubbs. Sally suggests doing some role playing with a trusted friend in order to practise dealing with the situation. Start by standing up, making sure that you’re well balanced and stable, and ask your friend to behave and speak like the energy vampire in your life. Then, interrupt your friend. Do this quickly. Say something in a strong voice like: “I’ve got to go!” And walk away from your friend strongly and congruently as if you have the most important thing in the world to do. Practise this a few times with your friend and then try it for real when you next encounter an energy vampire.
Affirmations are one of my favourite tools for improving your mindset, and they’re particularly good for combating the effects of an energy vampire. Affirmations are powerful statements that we say to ourselves, and they have a strong influence over our state of mind. Confidence coach Sue Stone explains: “Many people affirm to themselves in a negative way, such as “I can’t do this”, “I always meet the wrong people”, “things always go wrong for me,” not realising the detrimental impact it is having on their lives. No one can make us feel inferior and negative without our consent. If we ‘choose’ to take it on then it will affect us, or we can ‘choose’ to ignore it and instead say a powerful, positive affirmation such as “My energy is strong and positive at all times”.
I like to write my own affirmations as I feel that that makes them more personal and effective for me. If you know that you’re going to have an encounter with an energy vampire, why not write down an affirmation and say it to yourself before the meeting?
I’m going to leave the last word with Dr Karl Birthistle, author of Access Your Greatness, (£21.99 Ecademy Press) who has the following sage advice: “We live in a world of free choice, and it is our choice to be sucked down by those who complain about everything, those who see the negative, dark side of everything, those for whom it can never be right. Remember that this way of being is their choice. The negative life they lead is a choice, their creation, although they may not be aware that they are the author of their own misery. We too have choice. Energy vampires cannot drain our vitality without our permission. We don’t need to be a part of their world. Open up to them your own world of positivity, energy, joy and love, and invite them to participate fully in it. Their failure to join you is not your problem.”
About the author: Liz Parry is a writer specialising in holistic health and wellbeing, personal development and spirituality.