Emotional vampires drain you of the life force necessary to live a happy, healthy, and meaningful life. Some types of emotional vampires are easy to spot. Others hide in plain sight.
People grossly underestimate the impact their environment has on their life. I know the ‘five people you spend the most time with’ idea is such a cliche, but it’s so true. You always end up conforming to your environment, even if it happens gradually and slowly. Actually, that is how things happen.
People don’t just wake up one day and decide to join a gang. But if you live in the neighborhood and you’re around that element all the time, the odds continue to increase that you’ll join one day.
That’s just one of many examples. You’re probably not worried that you’re going to become a blood or a crip. But I bet you are worried that if you don’t make some changes soon, especially the people you surround yourself with, you’re going to run into problems. You will.
So, let’s talk about avoiding those problems by finding ways to either deal with or totally avoid these emotional vampires.
I once almost got into a fistfight with one of my friends in college because I didn’t want to drink. I went over to his house planning to just hang out. He wanted me to “have a few,” which is what we usually did. Actually, we’d always end up having quite more than a few. I said “no.”
He hit me with the typical guilt trip people give you when they want you to drink. “Oh, come on man. Just have one.” I kept politely deflecting his offers until I had to make it clear to him that I wasn’t going to drink. Once he realized this, he got upset with me. He was also very drunk at the time. Shoving ensued. I decided to just leave. As I was leaving he yelled out “You think you’re better than everybody but you’re not!”
This type of emotional vampire needs you to indulge in the same vices as them. They’ll make you feel like you’re acting high and mighty when you’re just trying to avoid those activities because you just don’t want to for whatever reason.
I’ve lost friends in the process of quitting drinking, smoking, and partying. I didn’t knock anyone for doing those things. I just didn’t want to do them anymore. If you reach a point where you want to drop some of your vices or quit doing things that don’t fit with your goals and values, it’s going to cause conflict with other people because you’re a mirror showing them something they might not want to see about themselves.
There’s a stereotype that only women are prone to excess gossiping and drama. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I live in a small town of about 100,000 people. I’ve been there for about two years and I realize that you start to get to know who everyone in town is pretty quickly, even if you don’t want to. I’ve heard gossip and rumors from males and females alike.
I’m 32 years old and I’ve observed situations with the people in town that resemble high school — drama about who’s sleeping with who, breakups and makeups, people who have ‘beef’ with each other. On the whole, people gossip because it’s wired into our DNA. It’s unrealistic for people to never gossip or be a bit dramatic from time to time.
But people become emotional vampires when they always have some tea to spill. You start to realize that if they’re talking about other people behind their back, they’re doing the same thing to you. You can’t confide in them because they’re going to turn around and tell someone else your secrets.
Mostly, they just waste your time. There are so many better and more valuable things to talk about than what other people are up to. Conversations with your friends and colleagues should be about leveling up in life, discussing ideas, or just shooting the breeze in a fun way that doesn’t involve tearing other people down.
Robert Greene has a rule for this type of emotional vampire in his book The 48 Laws of Power “Avoid the happy and unlucky.”
He goes onto say:
People who are perpetually miserable spread misery like an infection, and they’ll drown you in it. Avoid these people like the plague. Conversely, if you associate with happy people, you’ll share in the good fortune they attract and spread
Have you ever had a ‘woe is me’ type of friend? You go to hang out with them and by the time you’re done you feel exhausted. Your environment affects you. You can’t spend a ton of time in a negative environment with a negative person and avoid feeling negative yourself.
Bad luck is contagious.
You already have your own set of doubts and limiting beliefs that keep you from getting what you want. Why pile into it by spending a bunch of time with someone who’s even more doubtful and limited than you? There’s less wiggle room with this type of emotional vampire. It’s in your best interests to dramatically reduce the time you spend with them. The list of tips at the end is about how to be okay with it.
Most people on planet earth ‘concern troll’ people. Concern trolling happens when someone tells you not to do something out of feigned concern. A good example: people who tell you not to start a business because ‘most businesses fail’ and ‘I don’t know. Sounds risky.’
The biggest emotional vampires in your life can be your own parents. In fact, your parents are usually the biggest concern trolls in your life. They do it because they care about you, love you, and want you to be safe. Or they do it because they’re projecting either their wishes or their own shortcomings onto you, sometimes both.
Here’s what you need to understand about this behavior. People just can’t help themselves. Societal conditioning runs deep. If you asked most people, they wouldn’t admit to being conditioned by society because they genuinely don’t believe they are. They learned a set of rules for how to live and just consider them normal by default and never questioned them.
It’s not like you’re some contrarian deep thinker, though, either. Neither am I. We’re all run by something. The difference is that some of us know that so we try to fight against it while others are completely unaware. Stepping outside of the established path will make you feel alone at times because you are. Most people will never rise above their limiting beliefs and they will project their limits on you constantly. It’s unavoidable. You have to decide whether or not that’s going to stop you from doing what you want to do with your life.
You can probably guess who this is. If you can’t, just think for a second, it’ll come to you. Who sucks the most energy out of your life? Who always seems to get in your way? What’s the main variable of every single issue in your life? This vampire isn’t invisible in a mirror. You see them every day.
The biggest challenge we all have as human beings? We are experts at BSing ourselves. The main way you BS yourself? You don’t take enough credit for the outcomes you’re getting in your life. It’s your fault. Yes, there are a billion reasonable-sounding answers for why your life isn’t your fault. But still, adjusted for circumstances, your decisions have a dramatic impact on your life.
So there’s the shirking of responsibility. And then there are all the other things you do to become your own emotional vampire. Your self-talk can be worse than anything a friend would ever say to you. You’re not being a good friend to yourself if you indulge in too many activities that are having a negative impact on your life, whether it’s Jack Daniels, Big Macs, or porn. There are ways you suck the energy out of your life by the way you structure it.
Every day you live a life that’s well below what you know you’re capable of, you’re draining yourself of energy. Constant hesitation instead of just doing the things you know you’re supposed to do drains you. Telling yourself comforting lies that help you cope short-term but rob you of your long-term results drains you.
So what’s the remedy for this, not just dealing with the other emotional vampires but dealing with yourself? There is no magic remedy. You have to go through a constant process of figuring you what you want to do with your life and acting based on those insights. On top of that, you have to deal with the emotional minefield that comes with changing your life in a sincere way. You’re going to mess up a ton and often it will feel like making a real attempt at changing your life isn’t worth the effort.
Maybe the way you get there isn’t by effort. Maybe you get there by just relaxing into who you are, what you value, and what you want to do. Instead of trying to force boundaries onto yourself others, learn to be comfortable with who you are that you set them naturally. You will naturally get better at ridding yourself of emotional vampires by just aiming in the direction of a better life and doing it with calm and patient energy. Don’t make this big proclamation that you’re going to make dramatic changes and cut people out if they don’t toe the line. Just decide today that you’re going to start living a better life and have a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude along the way.