Dementors don’t just exist in Azkaban, some walk the Earth in human form. If you’ve ever left an interaction with a person feeling emotionally exhausted, you may have just encountered what’s popularly known as an energy vampire— someone who crosses boundaries and only takes from you, leaving you drained, anxious, stressed or all of the above. And while some human black holes are avoidable, some aren’t, especially when they come in the form of a family member, colleague or boss. We got in touch with Mehar Makkar, Therapist at Kaha Mind to better understand how to identify and deal with an energy vampire:
How To Identify An Energy Vampire?
There’s healthy venting and then there’s emotional dumping— the latter being an energy vampire’s favourite activity. “They impinge on our personal or emotional boundaries by putting their needs and expectation above others. Over time, these interactions can be exhausting because we don’t get space for our needs or feelings. The best way to identify this is by noticing how you feel around certain people— whether you feel excessively tired and zapped of your energy or like you need to push down your feelings consistently,” Mehar explains. That being said, she cautions against labels like these, especially those which are not clinical terms because they can often be misused to shame or alienate people.
Types Of Energy Vampires At The Workplace
“Rather than looking at energy vampires as a category of people, it can be more helpful to look at it as a set of behaviours or actions that impact our social interactions or relationships negatively. In the workplace, that could be a pattern of harsh criticism, a lack of empathy, or constant experience of feeling unheard by another colleague or senior in the organization. It could look like consistently disrespecting professional boundaries or disregarding another person’s emotions. Especially if it is in response to someone who is in a position of power, it can make us feel more helpless and frustrated,” Mehar says. An overly negative outlook, complaining about everything and everyone, wanting to be the centre of attention in meetings, often being embroiled in workplace politics and drama, never taking responsibility for their actions and using manipulation to get what they want could be signs of an energy vampire. Highly sensitive people or empaths are usually the first to be accommodating to an energy vampire’s demands at the workplace which can be detrimental to their productivity.
How To Deal With An Energy Vampire?
Identifying the interactions where you are feeling drained or exhausted consistently is the first step says Mehar, “Creating boundaries for ourselves is the next step. This could be in the form of limiting those interactions as much as possible. If that is not possible at the workplace, then keep the scope of those interactions limited to the agenda at hand. Knowing that it is okay for you to say no, or refuse a request if it feels too much; similarly, it’s okay for you to excuse yourself from a conversation if you find yourself getting overwhelmed (and feel free to use an excuse if you need to!). It can feel daunting to take these steps but know that you are allowed to prioritise your feelings, no matter who is on the other end of the conversation.” Strong emotions like outrage tend to fuel people who are hungry for external validation, so don’t give them what they want, instead, stay calm and keep your response short and to the point.
“If you notice a pattern in your own life wherein you often absorb the emotions of others, it is important to be aware of this pattern and how it impacts your mental health. Employing healthy boundaries from this space of awareness is important, as well as self-care because you are more likely to be impacted by social interactions in general. In this context, self-care could look like creating space to unwind in your own time, reaching out for support from others (because we can be so used to offering support) as well as viewing empathy as a resource that needs to be conserved and used in situations where you wish to,” Mehar concludes.