Emotional Vampires

When encountering emotional vampires, see what you can learn…You can simply feel tortured, resentful, and impotent. Or, as I try to do, ask yourself, “How can this interchange help me grow?”

-Judith Orloff

Emotional vampires are everywhere: in your family, at work, amongst friends and acquaintances, and they can easily sap you of your energy and joy. What are some possible responses to this negativity?

One response is to cut the emotional vampire out of your life.  There may be a friend or romantic partner who drains you and treats you unacceptably, and it may be appropriate for you to remove this person from your life.

But this response may not be possible if the emotional vampire is, for example, a boss or family member. However, this does not necessarily mean that you should open yourself up to be hurt by this person.

In this case, perhaps it would be helpful to adopt the approach mentioned by Judith Orloff. First of all, recognize the affect the emotional vampire is having on you. Never minimize your pain or suffering! Being someone’s doormat or punching bad is never acceptable.

Then, as Orloff states, you can either feel hurt and powerless, or you explore what you can learn from the experience, and what response is required in this particular situation.

One encounter may require you to stand up for yourself and clearly state your boundaries. Another encounter may offer you the opportunity to learn something new about behaviors that trigger strong emotional reactions. And, another encounter may require you to be quiet and learn patience and forbearance.

You decide. This is your journey, a journey with moments of joy and moments of confusion and pain. And, we can take these challenging moments and challenging people, and, with non-judgment, patience, and understanding, turn it around and use it as an opportunity to grow!

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