Do any of the following scenarios sound familiar?
1. Every time you call your mother, she is complaining about something in her life. When you try to give her constructive feedback to help her out, she believes it's not her, but everyone else that's against her and causing her constant strife. 80% of her stories are made up in her head and she is paranoid that every one is out to get her. You're the only one she trusts. If you ever turn against her, she says she might as well die. Every call is filled with negativity and when you hang up, you feel exhausted.
2. Your friend Tom always needs a favor. In fact, you have many text messages from him that start off with, "Hey! I need a favor..." Most favors include time away from your family and missing out on relaxing weekends by helping out Tom. Sometimes the favor may be to borrow your truck, a ladder, or even $50. Your items may even be returned damaged and the money you never see again. When you see a text from Tom, you feel exhausted.
3. Your sister Denise thinks you are her personal therapist. When she invites you over for some wine and "girl talk" that quickly turns into a counseling session with you listening to her talk about dating issues for 4 hours. During the week, she will call you to tell you that she thinks she found "the one" - then, the following week her heart is broken. She relies on you to pick up the pieces of her life and put them back together. Now when you think of Pinot Grigio mixed with Denise, you feel exhausted.
4. Your son Travis is involved in many school activities, including 3 sports: basketball, football, wrestling. He is also working towards his black belt in Karate. Even though he is 16, he doesn't want to drive, so you drive him to every game, practice, meet up, etc. You even have championships that take you out of state and summers filled with training and sports camps. You have told Travis that it would be good for him to take responsibility and start driving himself, or find a ride with a friend, but he insists that it has to be you! "Lucky charm" is what he calls you. When you think of driving Travis to one more game, you feel exhausted.
5. Your boss has promised a nice raise at the end of the year. Since January, he has piled on 3x the workload than you're used to. You've had to work overtime, skipping lunches, even some weekend days. He recently fired several people and now you are doing their jobs too! Your stress levels keep getting higher which filters into your life when you get home with your wife and 2 kids. When you think about going to work on Monday, you feel exhausted.
These are 5 examples of people in your life that could well fit the term: Emotional Vampires (a.k.a. Energy Vampires). People that suck your energy dry while you're with them. They leave you emotionally & mentally exhausted. If you're an EMPATH this is much worse as you will even feel the emotions attached to these people which can range from anger to anxiety to depression.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." - Albert Einstein
If you continue the same cycle hoping for a change, you probably won't get what you're hoping for. Let's face it, many people won't change in their life, especially if they do not see themselves at fault. They don't see how they are being selfish, throwing baggage on you, being unfair, asking too much of you...
For people to really change, they must (A) take a hard look at themselves and WANT to change, or (B) they are forced to - though that doesn't always have the best end result.
Instead of waiting for them to change and feeling helpless, you must make a change. When others "make" us feel guilty, we take that as truth and feel the guilt; therefore, we continue abiding by what they want us to do for them. Whether it's be their therapist, driver, worker, or constant shoulder to cry on, you keep on with this pattern even though it's affecting your own life.
YOU HAVE A CHOICE
Healthy relationships are not built upon one dominant person controlling the other. It doesn't matter who the other person is, you have the choice whether to continue putting up with what they do to you, or limit your time with them. In some extreme cases, it's best to even remove yourself completely from this toxic person.
People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.
When it comes to family, at times we can feel trapped. You may think, "No, I wouldn't choose these people as my friend, but we are family and family has to stick together." Depending on the toxicity of the relationship, you do not have to keep family interwoven into your life.
The most important thing to do for yourself is set BOUNDARIES.
It's good to imagine a protective bubble around yourself that emotional vampires cannot penetrate. Envision your energy remaining 100% contained within your bubble. Even if they try to puncture your bubble, or surround your bubble, you are safe. You have set boundaries. You have removed the feeling of guilt for things you are not guilty of. You know your worth and you deserve better relationships with people who lift you higher, not push you down nor use you.
With the 5 scenarios above, I'm going to write my version of how to implement a new course of action to protect your own emotional/mental health.
1. You don't have to answer the phone every time mom calls. She might throw more guilt at you about not talking to her enough, but you're a busy person and have your own life. When you do answer the phone, try to limit the call to 5-10 minutes. Take more control of the conversation to tell her about positive things in your life. If she keeps interrupting, tell her, "I would like a conversation with you, but it's hard for me to say anything without being interrupted. I am going to have to hang up now." Then, HANG UP. You're not being disrespectful of your mother, you're being respectful of yourself.
2. The next time Tom asks for a favor, say "No." If he asks to borrow your truck, tell him you'd rather not put extra miles on it. If he asks to borrow a ladder, be honest that the last time he borrowed it, it came back with a dent. If he wants money, tell him you no longer give out personal loans. The more you put up a boundary with Tom, the sooner he will find a new person to ask his favors of. Also - you don't have to answer Tom's text messages as soon as he writes them. You should never be at the beckon call of toxic, emotional vampires.
3. One thing I love about boundaries, is us being honest. The next time Denise asks for a girls night out, set rules. Tell Denise that she has 5 minutes to talk about her dating life, but then afterwards, if she mentions men, you will leave. Let her know that you are her sister, not her therapist. While you care greatly about her and her life, the constant dating conversations are very draining for you. You'd like to talk about other things, like your own life. Let her know that you miss your bond and want to share things evenly. You feel that she doesn't even know what's up in your life anymore. If she doesn't "get it" and still continues talking about herself and the next hot date or heart break, get up and leave. You're not being mean. If she can't respect you, you need to respect yourself. Denise is in a negative pattern that only she can get herself out of. It's not your monkey, not your circus.
4. First, let your son know how proud of him you are. This is the time to tell him that your job as a mother is to prepare him for adulthood and it's important for him to find alternate transportation. If there is a practice or game coming up in the next week, tell him you cannot drive him, and he needs to find another way. Offer to teach him to drive and if he refuses, try to gently find out the root of his fear. Let him know that you can't drive him around forever. He will start college in a year and you can't be his personal chauffeur. Even if he tries to guilt you with those puppy dog eyes, stand your ground. If you don't, you're enabling his behavior.
5. It's time to have that talk with your boss. Schedule a time to sit down with them. First, let them know how much you enjoy working for them and want to continue. Next, let them know about all of the changes that have happened in your workflow. Don't point a finger; instead, tell them that you realize they probably aren't aware of the significant changes - then list them all out. Let them know it is very difficult to balance your work and home life now. Hopefully, your boss will appreciate the honesty and make things right. Sometimes at work, we are the ones afraid to speak up and quietly suffer while the upper management doesn't know how we feel until we tell them. If your boss reacts by silencing you and invalidating your points and feelings, it's time to start looking for a new job. Many times, you'll find a better one that even pays better. The Universe/God doesn't want you to suffer, but have abundance!
I felt it was timely to write this as I feel many of you are dealing with someone who is sucking your energy dry. I want you to know that your upmost priority is your own emotional/mental stability. Set boundaries, make the choice to respect yourself, and another helpful tool is to listen to positive affirmations.
When you feel exhausted, take a salt bath or salt scrub shower to shed another person's negative energy off of you. Also, there are some crystals that help protect you from Negative energy:
1. Black Tourmaline
2. Black Onyx
4. Smokey Quartz
I also recommend smudging yourself by burning sage, palo santo, or sweet grass and circling your body from above the head all the way to under your feet.
Feel free to leave a comment about your own experience and how you are going to make a change!
Tristan Star is a certified Usui Ryoho & Karuna Ki Reiki Master, Angel Oracle Card Reader, and Law of Attraction Life Coach. Since 2013, he has practiced intention and manifestation methods with significant results. Tristan is also the designer behind Arcadia Jewelry Art.