We all know those people who like to be the centre of attention. The people who are looking for reassurance or are always complaining. They're pretty much anywhere you turn; workplace, friend group, family—you get the idea. I’ve heard the term energy vampires use to describe these kinds, and honestly as brutal as it sounds, I quite like it. As an empath, I sometimes find dealing with these “vampires” challenging. I sometimes find it hard to separate what I am a feeling, versus what other people are feeling being an empath. Below are some tips I've learned an how to handle negativity from these energy vampires:
Learning when to say no to others was huge. I would never call myself a people pleaser. But I’ve been guilty of spending time with people who don’t lift me up when I don't want to. There’s always a handful of friends or family members, who always seem to see the bad side of life. They try to guilt others into feeling bad, which is something that has never sat well with me, even as a kid. They act in ways that make you cringe, do things that you don't agree with, and they seem to radiate negativity. Over time, I’ve learned that when I remove myself from situations that I know will make me cringe, I tend to feel better. Saying no, and having limits on my interactions with these kinds of people help me keep from feeling weighed down.
When it's challenging to avoid people, like minimizing contact, has been life changing. I, of course, will be polite and say hello to people, but I tend to not engage in conversations much deeper than that. In university I had a lot of friends who always seemed to have a worse day than me, no matter what. They seemed to be in competition with you about who has it worse, which is a pretty terrible way to compete with others. I would much rather inspire and uplift the people around me, and focus on the accomplishments of others and myself, rather than competing with them. Learn to be happy with the stage of life you're in, so that you can make peace with it. This will grant you the freedom to be happy for others, as they crush their goals, rather than you feeling jealous of them.
Learning to manage the emotions of other people is a challenge, but especially in environments that are very stressful. When someone is complaining about their day and you’re not having it, the last thing you want to hear about is their terrible day. Setting up boundaries and putting time limits on interactions can be very helpful. If your coworker is struggling, saying not right now, rather than no—this is a more effective way to balance your needs and theirs. This will let them know that you are there to support them and you care about whats going on. At the same time it gives you the time to gather your thoughts before engaging in a heavy conversation, so that when you are ready to dive in with them you can be all there, which is what they deserve.
Another tool that that I've found to be helpful is learning to take time for yourself. This can be as simple as when you get home, taking a few minutes to do something that YOU enjoy. It could be binging a few episodes of your favourite show, getting lost in a book, doing a face mask etc. Let it be whatever helps you destress a little and unwind from the interactions during the day. Taking time to focus on yourself lets you decompress, and helps you feel more energized, so that the next time you run into these energy vampires you are prepared for their drama. Taking care of yourself, even only for a few minutes isn’t selfish. It helps keep you sane! If you don't have to worry about time sensitive tasks on your to-do list, taking 15-20 minutes will be a beneficial break.
Dealing with draining people is not fun, and we all have at least one person in our lives who is like that. Limiting the interactions with these people, and arranging tough conversations are small steps. These will help you feel more level-headed, and will put their drama into perspective. Don't forget to take the time to decompress afterwards! Enjoy it so that you feel refreshed to tackle whatever might come your way tomorrow!