Thursday, May 16, 2013


Have you ever felt emotionally drained - like you have nothing left in you? Have you been exhausted not just emotionally, put physically too even though you haven't done anything strenuous?

I know at times of high stress, a person can become drained of physical and emotional energy. A death, a natural disaster, or a horrific event can take a lot out of a person. 

And this makes sense to me but what about people? Can a person drain you emotionally and physically?

I think they can. Actually I am pretty sure they can because I have experienced it. The other day, I was feeling so tired. I was emotionally and physically exhausted. I just wanted to lie down somewhere and go to sleep. I remember thinking, it's weird but every time I talk with this person, I feel like the life has been sucked right out of me leaving me feeling negative, frustrated and very unhappy.

I can't stand feeling like this. I work so hard to be positive and uplifting then to have someone rip that all apart on me . . . 

What can I do to protect myself? What can you do to avoid this kind of person from bringing you down?

I wanted answers so I Googled it.

I found out that these life draining people are vampires - Emotional Vampires! They "suck the good" out of relationships. Instead of  feasting on human blood they feed on positive energy and the good feelings in their relationships. They are real - living among us - disguised as everyday people - maybe your sister, brother, mother, father, friend, neighbor, co-worker . . .  maybe it's you.
Emotional Vampires

Signs That You Have Encountered an Emotional Vampire

(from “Emotional Freedom” by Judith Orloff MD)

You can always tell when an Emotional Vampire has been in your presence. You may exhibit some or all of the following:
  • You feel physically tired - you may need a nap.
  • You feel agitated - grumpy
  • You feel sad, hopeless or worthless
  • You want try to comfort yourself with shopping, binging . . .
  • You feel anxious, depressed, or negative

I knew being around negative people made it difficult to feel optimistic and happy but now I know that Emotional Vampires inflict deeper wounds. They suck the optimism and serenity right out of us. 

They can make us believe we’re unworthy and unlovable - that we don’t deserve any better. They can makes us feel bad about ourselves. 

We need to know how to recognize these Emotional Vampires so we can protect ourselves.

Identifying Emotional Vampires

Emotional Vampires come from all walks of life. They can be a boss, a coworker, a colleague, a friend, family member or romantic partner.

According to Judith Orloff MD there are five types of Emotional Vampires. 

Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff’s New York Times Bestseller “Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life” (Three Rivers Press, 2011)

The Narcissist

Their motto is "Me first." Everything is all about them. They have a grandiose sense of self-importance and entitlement, hog attention and crave admiration. They're dangerous because they lack empathy and have a limited capacity for unconditional love. If you don't do things their way, they become punishing, withholding or cold.

How to Protect Yourself
Keep your expectations realistic. These are emotionally limited people. Try not to fall in love with one or expect them to be selfless or love without strings attached. Never make your self-worth dependent on them or confide your deepest feelings to them. To successfully communicate, the hard truth is that you must show how something will be to their benefit. Though it's better not to have to contend with this tedious ego stroking, if the relationship is unavoidable this approach works.

The Victim

These vampires grate on you with their "poor-me" attitude. The world is always against them, the reason for their unhappiness. When you offer a solution to their problems they always say, "Yes, but..."  As a friend, you may want to help but their tales of woe overwhelm you.

How to Protect Yourself
Set kind but firm limits. Listen briefly and tell a friend or relative, "I love you but I can only listen for a few minutes unless you want to discuss solutions." With a coworker sympathize by saying, "I'll keep having good thoughts for things to work out." Then say, "I hope you understand, but I'm on deadline and must return to work." Then use "this isn't a good time" body language such as crossing your arms and breaking eye contact to help set these healthy limits.

The Controller

These people obsessively try to control you and dictate how you're supposed to be and feel. They have an opinion about everything. They'll control you by invalidating your emotions if they don't fit into their rulebook. They often start sentences with "You know what you need?" and then proceed to tell you. You end up feeling dominated, demeaned or put down.

How to Protect Yourself
The secret to success is never try and control a controller. Be healthily assertive, but don't tell them what to do. You can say, "I value your advice but really need to work through this myself." Be confident but don't play the victim.

The Constant Talker

These people aren't interested in your feelings. They are only concerned with themselves. You wait for an opening to get a word in edgewise but it never comes. Or these people might physically move in so close they're practically breathing on you. You edge backwards, but they step closer.

How to Protect Yourself
These people don't respond to nonverbal cues. You must speak up and interrupt, as hard as that is to do. Listen for a few minutes. Then politely say, "I hate to interrupt, but please excuse me I have to talk to these other people... or get to an appointment... or go to the bathroom." A much more constructive tactic than, "Keep quiet, you're driving me crazy!" If this is a family member, politely say, "I'd love if you allowed me some time to talk to so I can add to the conversation." If you say this neutrally, it can better be heard.

The Drama Queen

These people have a flair for exaggerating small incidents into off-the-chart dramas. 

How to Protect Yourself
Stay calm. Take a few deep breaths. This will help you not get caught up in the histrionics. Set kind but firm limits. 

Judith Orloff MD is the bestselling author of the book Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life (Three Rivers Press, 2011)  She is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA. She has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, and in the Oprah Magazine and USA Today.

Oh, I don't know if the short summary of Dr. Orloff's book was much help. The book of course has more information if you want to learn more.

Dr. Albert Bernstein has his own site where he shares his incites into Emotional Vampires. Check it out here.

What I did learn is that Emotional Vampires believe their needs are more important than yours and rules don't apply to them. They will never admit fault and they will throw a tantrum if they don't get their way.

And now that I can recognize an Emotional Vampire I know that the best way to protect myself from an Emotional Vampire is to avoid them if at all possible. Otherwise, it's best not to take anything they say personally which is easier said than done. 

Do you know an Emotional Vampire? Or have do you see some of their tendencies in yourself?

Maybe we are all Emotional Vampires at certain times in our lives?

I hope you find this post helpful or at least amusing! Let me know what you think by leaving a comment. I can never get enough of those.  :) And if you know someone else who may enjoy this post, please share it with them.

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