Have you ever dealt with a person who sucks the life out of you? Who seems to make the air heavy around themselves? Who takes much more than they would ever give?
This is what we might call an ‘energy vampire’.
The term energy vampire is often thrown around, ans overused, but generally speaking describes someone who consciously or unconsciously drains other people of energy.
In today’s post I wanted to go over some of the ways to deal with energetic vampires in day to day life, but also shine some light on why people might become energy drainers. Much of the time, energetic vampires are a lot more disempowered than we think they are!
What is an energy vampire?
An energy vampire can be any person in our lives who drain our energy without realizing it, including family members, close friends, associates, work colleagues and so on.
An energy vampire is essentially someone who is so disempowered that they cannot gain energy on their own, they don’t know how to or haven’t been given the tools to do so. In an attempt to regain the power that they feel is owed to them or that they haven’t had; taking it from others.
For the most part when we refer to energy vampires we are referring to this group of people, because most people aren’t intentionally going around hurting or draining people. Even when the intention seems to be there, it comes from a place of deep unawareness.
With that being said, there are some people who are very intentional with how they drain, distract or manipulate others. This is a more dangerous type of energy vampire that is harder to deal with.
Ways energy vampires take energy
Many of the ways energy vampires gain (take) energy are subtle, largely because they aren’t aware of what they doing in the first place. Here are some of the specific ways they can led away from our own power.
A person who is never consistent about who they are or what you can expect from them. The key tactic here is confusion – if you don’t know what you are working with, you have no way to protect yourself.
This takes place in the form of subtle jabs and comments, that can easily go ignored the first or second time, but quickly become draining. A person who gains energy this way likely doesn’t know how to communicate their own needs, wants, preferences and so looks for other ways to express their desires.
The type of person who enters a space and makes it all about them, when we are focused on something else it feels like a insult. This can manifest in constant complaining, blaming and gossiping about other people.
Looking for undue sympathy
One of the key ways energy vampires take our energy is through soliciting undue sympathy. This is perhaps the most difficult dynamic to become aware of, because most of us want to be helpful and caring.
A lack of personal responsibility
When someone completely lacks personal responsibility or accountability, everything is someone else’s fault. Everything is an insult, a projection, unimportant etc. Everything is your fault, and consequently all of the work in the relationship rests on your shoulders.
This can also manifest in a constant search for validation, or asking for advice without following through on it or changing anything. While we all need validation to some extent as social creatures, this becomes tiresome when actions do not consistently align.
Most energy vampires are not malicious in nature. Instead they feel deeply drained in themselves and unconsciously search out someone who can be the solution to their problems. This is largely due a lack of emotional intelligence rather than ill-intention.
We often talk about the relationship between highly sensitive people/empaths and narcissists, a similar dynamic often plays out here. Narcissists and energy vampires are not viewing other people as people, but as a source of power much like a battery.
One of the biggest ways energy vampires drain us is by playing on our empathetic nature. If we are deeply empathetic, a people-pleaser or take on a carer or savior role in our relationships, it’s very easy for energetic vampires to take advantage of this.
In these cases we have to step away from these carer/savior roles. We can absolutely be caring, empathetic and help people, but we can’t save other people. At some point we have to leave their stuff to them, and give them space to grow on their own.
We can always be helpful, but that doesn’t mean we have to be without boundaries or limits. The two do not cancel each other out. In having boundaries we simply acknowledge that we too need a rest.
If you would like to learn more about working with energy, check out my guidebook.
How to deal with energy vampires
For the most part, no one can take our energy away from us. They might be able to distract us, manipulate us or leave us feeling powerless, but this is because they cause us to forget our own source of power.
Part of dealing with energy vampires is to no longer play into this idea that someone can take our energy away, or at very least minimize the weight we put on that.
There are instances where people can take our power away in a very real sense, where they create unsafe environments or overexert their power. Ultimately it comes back to what we can do about this dynamic – what we can focus on.
It’s all well and good being able to spot an energy vampire, but how do we actually deal with them?
Get in tune with your intuition
Energy vampires are those who try to override our intuition. When our intuition is overridden we are more likely to ignore red flags and give our energy away as a result.
People who drain our energy can often do so because their actions come through louder than our intuition – this is a type of distraction technique. Getting in tune with our intuition means becoming comfortable with quietness and being able to hear our intuition, even when it comes through softly.
When we are in loud situations or with people who use loudness (physically or energetically) in order to distract, we can still hear this whisper of intuition.
Get comfortable with silence
- Find a quiet spot where you won’t be disturbed
- Start taking deep breaths from your stomach
- Sit with your inner silence for at least ten minutes
When you are in ‘silence’ with yourself what can you perceive and what makes you uncomfortable. Get accustomed to the habitual stream of thoughts, emotions and responses. Over time you become familiar with your internal landscape, familiar being the key word.
When you are familiar with how you think and feel, it’s very hard for others to pull you out of this completely or disorientate you. It’s also a way to figure out what your own values are, so that other people cannot influence you in ways that don’t align.
Observe your energy when you’re around others
Getting comfortable with ourselves through meditation and mindfulness is how we can interact with others in a more aware manner. We work on ourselves so that others do not have that entire burden when we are socializing.
- When you are around others observe your thought patterns
- Observe your instinctual emotional reactions
- Observe which emotions come up in social settings that don’t when you are alone
It’s less about being obsessed with these responses (which can become a hindrance in itself) and more so about becoming aware of the discrepancy in both states of being – where are you not being yourself, and how can you bring a more authentic version of yourself forward when around others.
All of the work we do in becoming more solidified in ourselves is also a way of avoiding becoming energetic vampires ourselves. We become so powerful in our own space, that we do not have to constantly look outward for power.
Refuse to play games
When we are interacting with an energy vampire it’s paramount that we know ourselves well. We know what we would like in a relationship, we know how our own energy feels, and how it feels when we are acting out of accordance with our values.
Energy vampires can take our energy on some level, especially when we are unaware of ourselves. However they cannot take away who we are at our core. When you find yourself playing games with someone, notice how that distortion of energy feels.
We can also give our energy away in more subtle ways: returning subtle jabs, passive aggression, or internalizing behavior. This type of energy exchange is not always loud and obvious, which is why we have to get in tune with our intuition, our quietness.
Set strong boundaries
Boundaries are important all of the time, but especially with energy vampires. Boundaries are where we state our limits – what we are willing to put up with and what we are not.
The problem is that often energy vampires (whether consciously or not) don’t tend to follow boundaries, this is especially true when we are referring to family members. In these cases, boundaries must be followed up with clear actions.
As I have said many times before, boundaries are not magical, in the sense that we can’t stop people from overstepping them. However we have an option to step away, limit contact and make our own intentions known.
After that it’s up to the other person to change their behavior or not, and we can work from there.
What a lot of people miss with boundaries is the importance of physical boundaries. Sometimes it’s just not enough to show what we want with subtle hints, our expression or even words. Sometimes we need to physically step away, limit contact, or completely close down contact.
One of the reasons we don’t consider these boundaries is because we are afraid to close a relationship down or ghost someone.
There is a difference between ghosting and consciously closing down a connection. Ghosting is where we are in fight or flight, aren’t sure of ourselves or aren’t emotionally mature enough to communicate.
On the other hand, when we have made our objections clear, have shown someone their actions are overstepping the mark or hurting us, when we have repeated our boundaries over and over without acknowledgement, we absolutely have the right to step away and cease contact.
Can we have empathy for energy vampires?
This might seem like a weird place to go with this topic, but I think it’s perhaps the most important aspect of dealing with people who drain our energy.
As I mentioned before, for the most part energy vampires are those who are deeply out of tune with their own energy. They feel powerless and want to transfer that feeling onto others. This is a distortion of power, because it is not sovereign – it relies on someone else.
Even when energy vampires are gaining power through others, they remain powerless because this source of energy can be taken away at any time. When we are strongly in tune with our own energy and intuition, we don’t need to take energy from others in order to feel nourished.
Many of those we label as energy vampires are simply in a low place themselves. Without self- awareness, their natural tendency is to bring other people down with them. The only way they know how to connect is through conflict, complaining or passive aggression.
When we are using terms like ‘energy vampire’ it’s important to keep in mind how quickly these labels can stop us from fully understanding someone, or ascribing malice where there is none.
Much like the term narcissist which describes a very real condition, but is often overused, as a blanket for people who are just unsavory.
Empathy is also important in cases where we become an energy vampire ourselves or look back and see where we have been that for others.
Am I an energy vampire?
I think most of us can look back and find periods of our life where we drained other people of energy consciously or unconsciously. Where we were in a low place and brought other people down with us as a result. It’s in this understanding that we can grow from our actions rather than excuse them.
Sometimes when we refer to people as energy vampires we aren’t seeing the deeper issues underneath.
People become energy vampires not just because they are feeling a deep level of pain or have been through difficult experiences (which all of us have to some extent) but specifically because they lack a sense of responsibility and accountability.
We are looking at people who have experienced deep pain and want to find some release from that. People who are unhappy, unaware, lonely. This doesn’t excuse the behavior by any means, but can provide some context.
Questions to explore your own inner energy vampire
- Where do I feel most disempowered?
- How do I nourish myself mentally/emotionally/energetically?
- Where have I drained other people’s energy?
- How can I make amends?
A lot of us do not have a practice where we focus on our inner power, we might not have the tools to cultivate energy from within.
This is where looking at the ways we gain power (which might not be healthy) is so important. How are we giving our energy away to media, certain social settings, disempowering thoughts and actions, and where would we like to shift this?
Noticing where we are/have been the energy vampire in people’s lives is a sign of great awareness. Most of the time when we refer to people in this way, we can also identify those characteristics in ourselves.
I don’t mean in the sense that we are equally as manipulative, abusive, or malicious as someone else might be at any given time, but that we can see where we have played those roles to some extent in the past/present.
Some level of empathy is required so that we do not unconsciously become this type of person, and even more so, that we don’t lose a sense of personal responsibility.
Practice shadow work (discovering the negative or hidden aspects of yourself) inner child work (looking at the ways power has been taken away from you in the past) and get to know your relationship to power.
What is your experience with this dynamic?