Did the title make you doubt my sanity? Haha! It will all make sense as you read on. I have been listening to this fascinating podcast over the past 2 weeks called Founder Thesis wherein the host interviews many successful Indian start-up founders. You might be aware that I started my own business last year and this podcast has been super helpful in giving me ideas about what I can do better. While listening to the business side of the podcast interviews has been educating, I also discovered a concept called ‘Energy Vampires’ that was a revelation for me and explained so much about my interactions with the people in my life.
Over the past 3-4 years, I’ve noticed that I thrive and feel more energetic when I get some ‘me time’ and often feel drained after interacting with some friends and family members. My understanding of it was that I have a limit to how much social interaction I enjoy and overdoing it leads to me feeling drained out while hanging out with people. But the concept of energy vampires changed my perception of my interactions.
So what or who is an energy vampire? An energy vampire is simply anyone who zaps the energy out of you. Have you had an interaction with someone that left you feeling drained out? That is exactly what an energy vampire does – he/she feeds off of your energy. They can do so in different ways. Some examples are:
- The Critic: Being insecure themselves, they prey on the insecurities of others by bringing them down with their criticism. Eg: A coworker criticizing you for taking 4 hours to do a piece of work that they believe could have been done in 2 hours.
- The Martyr: They want to pass on the blame of their problems to someone else and never take responsibility for their contribution to their problems. Eg: Every time something gets hard, they’ll find some incident in their past to blame for their woes.
- The Shifters: These are people that will diminish your problems by playing up their own. Eg: you were only stuck in traffic for an hour, my flight got delayed by 3 hours and I was stuck in the airport with nothing to do and so many annoying people around – it was so much worse.
- The Users: This category will use your good nature to get what they want by unloading their troubles/stories/problems onto you and then disappearing before you get a chance to share your woes.
- The Codependents: These are people who are emotionally needy and latch onto others to get their feed. They often use romantic relationships to get their fill of drama but also, often use friendships to do the same. Eg: Continuing in a bad relationship cause they are super codependent and can’t imagine being alone.
What are the signs that you feel after hanging out with an energy vampire? The main sign is that you feel drained out and emotionally zapped. You feel like you are giving more emotions and care than you are getting back – the balance of giving and receiving is off. I have often felt like this after hanging out with some friends and while reading the categories I could actually categorize a lot of them into these categories. (Eg: My ex-flatmate loved talking and unloading her woes/stories onto me but would lose interest in the conversation as soon as I’d start sharing my stories. I always wondered why I felt drained out after our interactions and realized this was a pattern and called her out too about it.) Looking back what I believed was me running out of my social clock was actually just me being zapped out of my energy and needing a break to recoup. Ironically, I had an interaction with a blogger recently that left me feeling zapped and now I can understand why.
The best way to deal with energy vampires – is to set some boundaries with people that leave you feeling drained out. If they are close enough to you, calling them out on their behaviours that leave you feeling drained is a great way to keep your relationship going. I unconsciously chose to set boundaries and limit my interaction to conserve energy but ended up doing so with everyone instead of just the energy vampires cause I wasn’t able to tell them apart.
Finally, it is also important to realize that we can be energy vampires in someone else’s life. I totally see myself being The Critic. As an insecure person, I have had a tendency to criticize and bring down those close to me. This is something that I identified some time back and I am working to correct this behaviour.
So does garlic work on energy vampires? Maybe. Maybe bad breath will help you get some distance from them but overall – boundaries work better than garlic.
Does this concept resonate with you? Do you see people around you that take more energy from you than give back? Has any interaction left you feeling zapped? Share your stories in the comments!
If you haven’t already, check out my other recent posts: