As highly sensitive people, it’s important for us to be aware of “energy vampires,” which are people who drain our energy and sap our joy. These are usually people with a consistently negative attitude and pessimistic outlook on life. They may be bringing you down, and more often than not, you may not even realize the harm being done.
Think about the people in your life. Do you have toxic people around you? Perhaps you know someone who belittles others, makes snide remarks, and passes it all off as “just joking.” Maybe you know people who are highly judgmental and thrive on constantly pointing out the negative side of every person and situation.
There are also people who are “grievance collectors,” frequently portraying themselves as victims, even as they victimize others. These people are constantly on the hunt for things to be offended by and love nothing more than to complain. They are exhausting to be around, especially for highly sensitive people. After having a conversation with them, you will feel drained. You may even absorb some of their negative energy and walk away feeling bad about yourself and your own life.
If you have energy vampires in your life, you may not even recognize the damage that’s being done to your own psyche. Below are some signs to be on the lookout for:
- After spending time in their presence, you find yourself edgy, irritable, and exhausted. You may find yourself uncharacteristically lashing out at others or suddenly feeling pessimistic about everything in your life. You may even turn to behavior that’s not good for you. For example, you might want to drink more alcohol to dull the anxiety you feel. Or perhaps you’ll be tempted to binge on calorie-laden foods in an attempt to feel better.
- You hate the thought of getting trapped in a conversation with this person because you know you will walk away feeling terrible. You are certain that you have absolutely nothing to gain and everything to lose by interacting with this person. Your only goal is to get the conservation over quickly and without conflict. In this case, you are likely dealing with a grievance collector. These people are dramatic and relentless in their search for grievance. No one has a life as bad as theirs. Your efforts to help are thwarted because they don’t want to be helped. If you have a problem to share, you don’t get support. Instead, your concern is met with a competing problem, which (of course) is far worse than whatever trouble you’re experiencing. You find these interactions stressful, and as a highly sensitive person, it takes you a long time to recover from this experience.
- You avoid sharing positive things about your life with this person. Normally you love to share happy experiences or things you’re excited about, but you find yourself holding back. Perhaps this person tries to make you feel guilty about things going well. Instead, they would much rather shine a comparative light on all the terrible things happening to them. For example, they may have financial woes and try to make you feel guilty about being e more financially secure. A person that’s not good for you will not be happy for your success.
Not all relationships are good for you, even if it’s a family member. You might not be able to avoid them completely, but you can take steps to avoid getting cornered or drawn into a long conversation.
Keep in mind that the negative people in your life may not be harming you intentionally. They could simply be living their truth, however negative it may be. And you, as a highly sensitive person, are more sensitive to the energy of others. Instead of getting angry at them, focus your energy on taking actions to protect yourself.
You cannot change people who have a negative outlook on life. It’s not your job to do that. What you can do is protect your own emotional health by cultivating friends that are positive and loving. These relationships will be mutually nourishing and give you the freedom to grow. A true friend will support you and speak the truth to you in a way that doesn’t tear you down.
Do you have people in your life who weigh you down? If so, how do you deal with them? I’m interested in any thoughts or comments that you have.