Energy Vampires – Holiday Style
You know those people…. they drain you of your life force and zap your energy. Just spending a few minutes in their company is sometimes enough to make you feel tired. They may even make you feel bad about yourself, your family, etc.
The tactics of energy vampires fall in different categories. If one tactic doesn’t work, they might try another until they get what they want from you: Your energy and attention!
Here are a couple of common categories:
The Victim: He will always refer to earlier times where he was hurt, taken advantage of or worse. He will refer to these earlier times of hurt to gain your sympathy. Your natural inclination will be to try to “make up for” what horrible things have happened to this person in the past by indulging him. And this is precisely what he wants!
The Gossip Sister: She is related to the category above, and makes sure that she tells of how screwed up other people’s behavior is. She also might drop little hints that you are being observed and reported on to the next person she meets. This might make you extra careful around her and make you accommodate her a bit more than you really feel like.
The Drama Queen: You know someone like this… This is the kind of person who always enlists you to help put out a virtual fire or attend the current emergency that is generated around them. You constantly have to resist the temptation to rush in with the cavalry to the rescue . If you do not help they drop hints designed to make you feel guilty.
The Gabber: Always talking, always demanding attention. These people rarely take any interest in what you say or do. It is all about them…. and it can drain your energy, if you do not have a plan for how to deal with it.
When confronted with an energy vampire you can remove yourself gracefully from the person to limit your exposure. There are many ways that allows you to create a situation where you take care of yourself and reduce your availability to these types of high-need people.
But what do you do, when an energy vampire is in your own family and you are a captive hostage for the holidays? How can you create space between you and the difficult person, when they sleep in your guest room and are ever-present at breakfast, lunch and dinner?
Many of us find ourselves in the situation, where we are trying to be warm, kind and forgiving… it is Holiday time after all…. and we end up feeling exhausted from dealing with behavior that leads to indirect as well as direct confrontations at every bend.
A great piece of advice is simply to be yourself. To not let the vampiry behavior, you observe in your guest, change how you do things. This is fine, however, here is what happens to me at times, where I become conscious about “just acting normally”, and am deliberately “being myself”: I start to question my actions! It sounds something like this:
– “Now is this what I would normally do?” – “Did what I just said sound natural?” – ” Is this considered ‘being myself’ or am I being confrontational?”
At this point, I have already spent much energy on premeditated considerations, before I act or speak. The result is invariably that my actions are no longer spontaneous, but rather contrived and feel forced.
No matter how well we integrate advice and learn good behavior for dealing with difficult, energy-zapping people, the fact is that they are temporarily omnipresent and they are pushing our buttons.
What to do?
Realize the situation is not permanent. The vampire will move back to where they came from.
Don’t be wishy-washy. Avoid giving hints and vague expectations. Be direct. Explain to them: “You can expect this and that. And no, not that and that.
Avoid confrontations and yelling matches. This is where the energy vampire feels validated: There is someone who cares enough about him/her to lose their cool for their sake… It is the blood that feeds their addiction!
Energy vampires are big on interpretations. “If you do this or that – it means that you don’t care about me”…. avoid taking the bait! Instead stay firm on what you will and will not do, and resist the temptation to explain. The more you explain, the more the vampire will try to trip and trap you.
When next year’s holiday plans are being made, remember what you learned and limit your exposure. See if Uncle Frank and Aunt Emme can’t stay in a local B&B or Inn and help them book the rooms early! Resist the urge to over-extend!
If you ended up getting triggered and blew up, see if you can identify what lessons might be hidden in the irritation… Often we might discover some unfinished business in ourselves that caused us to be vulnerable and allowed our buttons to get pushed.
Now that the holidays are close to being over, take heart and celebrate the good moments that you had. Take stock and celebrate what you learned this year. You might even want to write down what you will and will not do next year as a commitment to yourself.
Then embrace the magic all over again next year, appreciating the lessons learned. Just like weddings, the holidays can be fraught with high expectations that get in the way of actually enjoying the precious moments with loved ones. And having a plan for how you will spend your own energy next year might just keep you feeling the love for all the holiday guests.