We all have someone in our lives that is just a negative person, an energy vampire that leaves you worn out after only spending 5 minutes with them. Sadly, too often that person is someone close to us, a family member or a good friend. I’ve learned that one of the many lifestyle changes I had to make in order to cope with Fibromyalgia was to reduce the amount of time I spend around these people. Sometimes that leaves me feeling guilty, because I know they would like more time with me (or at least they give me that impression). I’ve learned there are a few things that help me in dealing with energy vampires in my life, and make my choice in avoiding them a little easier as well.
1.They are not a bad person, they just have flaws – Everyone has flaws, and when we focus on the flaws of another person it can make spending time with them excruciating (whatever that flaw may be). However, if we can focus on their positive attributes and what they have to offer us, how we can grow from time with them, then we can find ways to turn the energy drainers into something positive. Of course that doesn’t mean that they are someone you need to spend more time with than you have to. We can still appreciate their positive aspects, and still love them from a distance.
2. Set Limits – By now you know who the toxic people are in your life. I’ve found that setting limits on the amount of time I spent with those people helps me greatly. Generally, this means that I might have lunch with that person once every so many months. Lunch is great because it can be kept short. You can catch up with them and spend time with the knowledge that there will be an end. If you don’t have choices on when you see the person or if they are the type to just show up, you can still set boundaries. Set a time limit for when you have to leave their company or for when you ask them to leave. If they just show up at your house that’s a huge boundary issue that you should probably discuss and put a stop to. That alone could drain you.
3. Balance with Positive People – if at all possible when you must spend time with an energy vampire, bring a friend. It sounds mean to say that, I mean really if you know the person is toxic why would you want to ask someone else to spend time with them. But, really if you can find someone who is equally positive to balance out the negative then everyone will come away much happier. If you can’t have the positive person with you when you spend time with the energy vampire then plan to spend time with that positive person as soon as possible after.
4. Don’t Pretend their Behavior is OK – if the energy sucker has specific behaviors that are toxic be open with them. It’s possible that they just aren’t aware of their bad habits and that making them aware could help. If you are really friends (or really love them) you will try to help them. If you’ve expressed the problems with their behavior and it continues, set boundaries and let them know that you will not put up with the behavior and when it occurs you will walk away. This is harder when it’s not a specific behavior but just an overall negative attitude. In that case it may be better to just avoid them as much as possible, while at the same time being a positive role model when you do spend time with them.
5. Don’t Take their Behavior Personally – This is one I struggle with the most. There are specific people in my life that are just negative and it’s very difficult for me to separate their negativity from me, or to avoid thinking that there’s something I can do to turn their negativity around. The truth is I can’t fix them,only they can do that. However, I can remember that it’s not me. I’m not the problem. I don’t control them, but I do control my responses to them. And, when I take their behavior personally my response comes down to their level and makes the situation worse.
6. Don’t focus on their negativity – this goes right with that last one for me. If I get hung up thinking about their negative actions, or what I did wrong, or how I can change them I’m only creating more negativity in my life. I begin ruminating, running thoughts in circles, stuck in a loop that I can’t get out of. Their negativity then becomes my negativity. Instead if I focus on staying positive, if I remind myself that their negativity has nothing to do with me I can rise above it and get through time with them with less of a drain.
People can change but I don’t count on it. In the end the only way they will change is if they choose to. If they continue to get what they want with their bad behavior they won’t change, they won’t have any incentive to change. I have to set boundaries for myself, to protect myself. I have to be honest with those I love about behaviors that are toxic and help them understand why they would want to change, and how their behaviors are negativity impacting others around them. But, in the end I have to remember that my personal state has to come first. I have to protect my energy.
Do you have any tips on protecting yourself from the energy vampires? If so, please share your comments below, we all want to know.