I used to be surrounded by negative people who didn’t want to resolve their own issues and spent their time complaining to me about it. I would get emotionally wrapped up in their problems and give them my sympathy over and over. Mentally, I was willing them and hoping they would fix the problem. I would research ways to get out of their situation and I would watch them never act on it. Eventually, I realized that they weren’t as worried about their problems as I thought.
When I started to do research, I understood that the complaining was a way to get attention and a quick fix for that person. As long as they had something to complain about, they would receive sympathy. So, they would do things in their life to make them a victim so they could complain. It was a vicious cycle. I’ve been caught up in it myself. I realize that I have been an emotional vampire at times. I am more of an emotional withholder, which is equally as bad. I shut down emotionally and I won’t share what I am feeling or going through. I hold it in until I explode on some unsuspecting person. Imagine, you are doing the wrong thing and someone is just creating a list until one day they walk in and unload a laundry list of ways you have screwed up. That is me. I am trying to work on it. I know that I am an emotional withholder because I discount my own feelings. I make the other person’s feelings more important than my own until I feel so used that I have to fight back. It is unhealthy. Emotional vampires are similar that they discount their feelings as well. Instead of confronting the person causing the pain, they run to everyone else and suck the energy from them through complaining.
Now, I find my life free of emotional vampires of my own. I am still surrounded by negative people through no fault of my own. They exist in families and you can’t always get away from them. The only thing you can do is to minimize their power in your life. It’s the equivalent to wearing garlic and carrying a cross. When someone is being negative or an emotional vampire, if you are brave enough, you can challenge their negative thoughts. As they launch into their woe-is-me tale, you respond with thought-provoking questions or responses.
Your friend says, “My aunt hates me because she didn’t invite me to the dinner that everyone else was invited to?”
You say: “I doubt that is true. Didn’t she get you a Christmas gift? Maybe, she forgot to add you to the list or thought you might be busy. Why don’t you call her and ask?”
This will invite the friend to think about if the story she is telling herself is true. She may continue in her thinking. If you try another time to get her to consider it and she refuses, change the subject. If you continue this pattern, she will realize that she is not getting energy from you and you will be off her soul-sucking list. The other thing you can do if someone is very negative is to continue to point out the positives. If that person continues to be negative, you can tell yourself that it is them. Distance yourself emotionally and allow them to handle their own issues and problems. Don’t try to fix them, analyze them or solve their problem. Maintain your own beliefs, lightness and positive feelings. Be an example of who they can be. You have to detach yourself from the outcome. My motto is: You can’t save people from themselves. They have to want it for themselves.
I am now a glass-half-full type of girl. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t gnarly, horrific, and amazing trials going on in my life. There are. But, I choose not to see them as God/Universe against me, but as my own personal lessons. I used to be the student in class that was rolling her eyes at the other students because they were still asking questions. It didn’t take me long to get the lesson. Maybe, I am facing more because I can pass on what I learn at a faster pace. Maybe, it’s not a bad thing. Maybe, I am learning grace and I am supposed to pass that grace on to others. Whether it is true or not, I choose to tell myself a positive story rather than a negative one because it makes me feel better. Now, without thinking, I search for the positive or the lesson in every experience. Isn’t that a reason to believe that my cup runneth over? I think so.
“We will act consistently with our view of who we truly are, whether that view is accurate or not.”- Anthony Robbins