I’m sitting on one end of my client’s couch and she’s at the other, but she seems a million miles away, lost in thought. Finally, she hurls the question at me that she’s been cranking on for a solid 10 minutes:
Her: “Nicole, what can I do to protect myself from ENERGY VAMPIRES?”
Me: “What do you mean by ‘energy vampires’?” I have a good idea of where she’s headed, but I want to hear more.
Her: “You know, those people that, when you’re around them, they suck the energy right out of you. Like, you feel totally drained.” Her eyes are wide. She’s now leaning forward, she looks legit unsettled.
Me: “Hmm. Can you say more about this?” Her shoulders droop and she looks at me like I’m an idiot and she’s suddenly not-so-happy she’s paying me to sit in her family room and “clear” her.
So she explains. There are these people out there, she goes on, who are so full of vitriol, or drama or who are so angry, or weird, or off the chain that they can turn into super-human-energy-sucking-vampire-beings!
And that they must be avoided.
And you’re better off not making eye contact with them if you don’t have to.
And if you do have to deal with them, vigilantly practice the B-word. (That’s B for “Boundaries”, people.)
Basically, SHIELDS UP!
I smile. But on the inside, I am not smiling.
On the inside, I am Pete Carroll on the sideline after a terrible-awful-no-good call has just been made by the ref against my team. (Quick FYI for the non-sportsy-types, Pete is head coach for the Seattle Seahawks, a professional American football team.)
“COME ONNNNN!” my inner Nicole/Pete screams with both hands in the air. “You have got to be KIDDING ME!”
I am killing that piece of chewing gum right now.
Alright, people, HUDDLE. ‘Cause we need to talk about energy vampires.
I’ve been studying and working with energy hardcore for 20 years now and I’m frequently asked about this topic. I think it’s safe to say is officially a thing now.
It’s starting to seep into conversations everywhere, and not just from my curious and worried clients.
Just recently, a highly respected and well-known OBGYN/MD gone woo-woo that I follow on social media posted a program for purchase on this very subject. In her introductory video, she details exactly what she believes energy vampires are, how she’s been vampired (losing $7000), and then goes on to say that for blahdey blahdey dollars, you can buy her three-part video series and never again be taken by one of these nasty energy vampires.
Okay, so I don’t have anything to sell here but I do have some free thoughts on this topic.
Then there’s the best-selling author that I seriously love the bejeezers out of who recently podcasted this tight episode on the topic of boundaries. At the very end, out of NOWHERE people, he guffaws and then throws in a curve ball that went something like: “but you gotta watch out for those people that will suck the energy right out of you. Watch out for them, cause they’re out there!”
I almost cried. He was right at the finish line and then he fumbles the whole damn 90-minute podcast with that one bad play?
It was off. It just felt OFF. Kind of like that weird feeling you get when you go to a fundraiser to help abused, abandoned animals, and people are chowing down on hamburgers.
But we do that as humans.
I don’t mean eat burgers. I mean we choose what to make sense out of, what to think really hard and thoughtfully about but with other things—most things—we choose to shut down and not see.
I get it: it’s how we cope.
Otherwise, if we let everything in, our psyches would threaten to blow up into a million pieces. We can’t open our lenses too wide; humans simply aren’t built to process the immense amount of information available to us at any given time.
But out of this place where we protect our fragility, our humanness, we have also moved into another extreme: defensiveness and separation. It hurts to be a human sometimes. It hurts to feel. It hurts to see horrors and travesties. We start shielding ourselves from the magnitude of life by mentally placing “bad things” in an “out there” category. We often do this is in our day to day interactions. Say we have an exchange with someone and are left feeling yucky. We automatically externalize the experience by putting it in the “out there” category: somebody MADE me feel this way.
And that’s how we got started with this whole notion of energy vampires in the first place. Because back in the day, I promise there were never any stories where Jesus, Buddha or Gandhi warned us about energy vampires. I mean, can you see Jesus, being all, “dude, stay away from that guy over there, he’ll suck the ever-loving energy RIGHT outta ya”.
Uhhhh, not so much.
Yet, over time, we started labelling our fellow humans in a way that is, quite literally, dehumanizing. We transform an everyday person just doing their thang into vampire status because we have an experience with them that leaves us feeling drained, depleted, not good. We don’t assume it has anything to do with us, we assume it was someone else… something else.
But what’s really going on is that deep down, we hold the subconscious belief that someone “has the power to do something to me without my permission”.
What we then commonly do in response to the notion that something is happening to us is we defend and protect. We separate and we move into “us versus them” mode. We point the finger. We judge.
And we conveniently stop right where our edge ends and others people’s edges begin by calling people vampires when we feel off for reasons that we don’t spend the time figuring out. When really, it’s how we’re reacting to the person on some level that holds all the clues to why we feel bad. But dang, it’s just so much easier to say it’s YOU. Can my discomfort please be about you?
We need to do ourselves a ginormous favor here. A favor that will empower and enliven us and make us more human again. And not only that, it will make us feel better. Not the “I just saw a great movie and have warm fuzzies” better, but we’ll start feeling like better human beings.
We are, after all, humankind. But we often forget the “kind” part.
What we desperately need to do is suck it up and admit that really, no other human can come along and take your energy away from you without…YOU.
“Without YOU WHAT?” You ask.
Because if we do believe that energy vampires exist—AKA all of those nasty people that come out of nowhere can zap, melt, and suck your energy —here is what you’re really saying:
- I’m powerless.
- I have no responsibility in how I react to other people.
- I’m a victim. Poor me.
- There are bad, evil people out there and they’re coming for ME!
- Be suspicious.
- They’re everywhere, watch out!
Does this really sound like the real YOU?
I don’t think so.
We aren’t always willing to face information head on, especially bad feelings and emotions. And if you can’t, THAT’S OKAY. But to make the bad feeling stuff about someone else, that’s not really okay.
So let’s play this out a little bit. You go to a party after having a great day. But you leave feeling dull, moody, and with none of the sparkly energetic self you went in with.
Where did it go? Where did it go, indeed. We naturally go looking for answers outside of ourselves.
It was the bad chicken taco. It was the full moon. It was the anniversary of the death of my favorite great aunt Claire.
All legit. But then we keep doing it and we get used to using this “it’s out there” habit.
“Doris was having a bad day, she spewed that shit all over me and now I feel awful.”
“Kim just told me all about her job review. It was bad and man, I did NOT need to hear that.”
Again, all normal. But there is a line in the sand we sooooo need to draw and that line is this:
Catch yourself before you go there and by there, I mean the place where you naturally and with lightning-fast speed look outside yourself and aim your bad-feeling arrow at someone else. Doing that is what’s really sucking your energy.
I’m not saying Debbie Downer and Negative Nelly don’t exist. And I’m not saying they are easy people to be around. I’m also not saying this is an easy fix. What I am saying is that resisting and defending won’t give you the outcome you want. But looking inwards instead of outwards just might.
Don’t feel bad. Don’t go glance in a mirror looking for fangs. Please no shaming or attacking yourself instead!
Just be aware.
Your go-to guide for handling the people formerly called energy vampires
- Train yourself to recognize the signs of when you’re about to launch an arrow. Slow down and get curious. Endeavor to get out of your own way before you make your experience about someone else. For example, check in with yourself before you rush off to Happy Hour or hit Costco midday on a Saturday. What’s your mood? Are you edgy, agitated, annoyed? Or are you feeling good, zippy and curious? Or are you somewhere in between? One a scale of 1-10, where are you at? Have you eaten? Are you hydrated? Have you done anything just for yourself today?
- Instead of asking yourself, “who or what is coming for me?”, try asking “what is coming UP for me?”
- Resist the urge to blame. People are just doing them. You’re just doing you.
- Get curious about how you’re feeling. The value of discomfort is that it gives you information. Your body is talking to you. Don’t rob yourself of an opportunity to feel something supremely uncomfortable, to be in information you don’t understand, to sit in discomfort. I mean, can’t we just be having a bad day? Or a bad moment? We’ve been trained to think that happiness is the only “good” emotion, but why is it so terrible to feel something that sucks right then, just for a little while?
- Don’t head out into the world to be a Social Sally when you know you’ve got a layer of edginess, agitation and annoyance right beneath the surface.
There is energy that exists out there that feels intense, scary and dark. I work with this kind of energy. I know it’s for real. And I know it can feel dense and murky, and when it hits our bright and shiny armor, we don’t like it.
But personalizing it is a losing proposition. And beyond personalizing it – deflecting it onto another, that’s an even bigger no-win scenario.
And here’s the glorious news: when you do this, you really do reap massive rewards and benefit. You’ll have more energy, you’ll feel better, you’ll feel kinder and you’ll stop creating and attracting drama in your life.
And hey, one day, you may even miss those hard partying energy vampires and wonder “where the heck did they all go?”