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October brings the spooky holiday of Halloween, when ghosts and goblins, trick or treat, and pumpkins are carved. Monsters, ghouls and vampires sneak out of the shadows and scare us as we jump in our seats and scream at the screen.
Thankfully, those diabolical creatures of terror live in the world of fiction, even as popular culture has embraced and perpetuated the myths of zombies and vampires.
They don’t really exist….right?!
Vampires such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot or Boris Karloff as Nosfertu are pale skinned nocturnal fanged bloodsucking beings who favor long dramatic capes and fear the sun. Even hipper versions of vampires, those who don’t follow the standard vampiric rules, and drink, smoke and carouse, are frightening with their hidden violence and blood lust.
Fortunately, these types of vampires don’t exist, but rather are a metaphor for people who literally drain another’s energy, enthusiasm and emotions. Often called “users”, a more sophisticated term would be energy or energy vampire, both of which can be used interchangeably.
For the purposes of this article, the term ‘energy vampire' will be used.
An energy vampire can do a lot of damage in your life if you are already unhappy: you can learn more about how to cultivate happiness with our book Happier Human. It is a guide to finding hapiness in your daily life, and getting rid of toxic influences.
If you think there could be an energy vampire in your life, you might be right. There are some easy ways to determine if there is someone close to you who is sucking your life-energy, and you need to make sure that their influences are mitigated to the greatest degree possible.
What You Will Learn
- Who Created the Idea of an Energy Vampire?
- How to Identify an Energy Vampire in Your Life
- Is There an Energy Vampire in Your Life?
- Be Positive to Yourself, Not Necessarily to the energy vampire
- Self Awareness and Self Compassion Can Help You Cope
Who Created the Idea of an Energy Vampire?
There is some debate about who actually coined the term “energy vampire”. According to lore, Anton LaVey of the Church of Satan wrote about the topic in his Satanic Bible, popularizing the term during the 1960’s.
LaVey claimed credit for creating the term, although the concept of a psychic or energy vampire had been introduced in the 1930’s by Dion Fortune.
A related notion is that of the “emotional” vampire, used by author Albert Bernstein who connects the idea to psychological and personality disorders. Although the American Psychological Association does not have a proper medical definition for it, such vampirism does exist and it can overlap with sociopathy and psychopathy.
Regardless of what exact label we wish to give them, energy vampires cause fatigue, depression, lethargy and exhaustion, and crush hope, dreams and optimism.
How to Identify an Energy Vampire in Your Life
If vampires aren’t really translucent figures with fangs, claws and an affinity for bats, how can they be identified?
What are the traits of an energy vampire who hides not in the shadows but rather walks among us?
Energy vampires can be a friend, a family member, a roommate, and/or a colleague. As surmised, there are no physical clues but rather behavioral signs of an energy vampire. The chances are quite high that after dealing with this person and their drama, you are exhausted, sad and emotionally battered and bruised.
True, someone may be having a bad day, a stroke of bad luck or might be suffering from depression, but these are not necessarily the characteristics of an energy vampire, and therefore, it might take a bit of time to identify the vampiric individual in your midst.
However, the following list provides key traits that all energy vampires exhibit, so keep your eyes peeled and some psychic garlic in your pocket.
1. Lack of empathy
Unfortunately, lack of empathy and compassion appears to be increasing globally. When world leaders exhibit this trait, it is difficult to appreciate how devastating it can be, as we conflate it with tough politics and zero tolerance.
Lack of empathy is also associated with Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Anti-Social Behavior.
If someone in your life repeatedly does not care about your or your problems, tries to belittle or degrade you, demonstrates abusive (or potentially abusive) behavior, dismisses your thoughts and feelings, or does not care about the suffering of others or the damage he or she has wrought, then this person is probably an energy vampire.
2. Attention seeking
This characteristic is also associated with Narcissists and Anti-Social Behavior. Even though it may appear ironic, people with anti-social behavioral traits are quite social. Typically extroverts, they love being at the center of the crowd. Due to their tendency to take risks, they can seem exciting, brash and daring, and people are attracted to them. However, there is definitely a dark side to their charm.
3. Hyperbole machine
This category also includes lying. In the quest for constant recognition and due to a grand sense of self-importance, energy vampires often manipulate facts and circumstances to make themselves look much better or to have suffered much more than anyone else. In an attempt to be the eternal “top dog”, the vampire stretches the truth to feed their ego. They often will “one up” others in order to prove their superiority.
4. Constant criticism
The energy vampire loves to blame everyone else for his or her own problems. Rarely is anything their fault, from the small imagined slights to the larger conflicts at play. They cannot be accountable for their mistakes and often lash out at others. In the alternative, they seek nurturing and compassion from kind hearted people or empaths.
An energy vampire will be attracted to empaths because the vampire lacks this very necessary emotion. Kindness does not kill them, but makes them stronger; however, kindness kills the person giving it, since the vampire will never reciprocate.
As can be observed from this list, there is an overlap of the traits, as they often operate together. One who always complains and criticizes is very easily one who exaggerates and seeks attention. To be fair, everyone complains. In fact, complaining and judging might be the usual human status, since compassion, happiness and openness all take considerable work.
Nonetheless, the energy vampire takes complaining to a new level. They will turn their complaining and criticism on you, your friends, your family, your interests and your work, in an attempt to isolate and to control you. Therefore, constant complaining complete with barbed comments is a means to an end with the vampire.
Although it is a term usually used with teenagers, drama is a big part of the energy vampire’s life. There is always a problem, most likely of their own making, because they aren’t particularly happy people and they conflate attention with excitement, even if that excitement is destructive.
Drama provides them with the distraction that they need to avoid introspection, especially if they are bored or lonely. They seem to operate according to the adage that “bad attention is better than no attention.” energy vampires are quite toxic, wreaking havoc on their victims.
7. Deeply insecure
Always manipulative, the energy vampire can make you feel guilty for not paying attention to him or her or for not being glowing in your appreciation for their “good deeds”. If attacked negatively, the person may project their anger back on to you and accuse you of doing things that they have done! In this manner, the energy vampire is the ultimate practitioner of gaslighting.
energy vampires are nearly always negative, finding the proverbial chinks in one’s armor. Any good news you may wish to share will be shredded by the vampire’s pessimism, as he or she will react with their own sad tale of woe. For every step forward you may take on life’s road, the energy vampire will knock you back two.
Is There an Energy Vampire in Your Life?
As seen from this list, it does take time being around another person to ascertain if he or she has any of these traits. In the interim, it is important to note that energy vampires crave nice, good, kind people who offer support, friendship and loyalty.
For the vampire, this is like a long cool drink of life force, since they will drain the person who gives so freely. Vampires look for a specific type of person, certainly someone who is initially impressed by or attracted to their affable extroverted fun-loving image. However, they also prey on people who may be low on energy, have scattered energy, are having difficult times, or are out of balance.
As discussed above, they are particularly drawn to empaths. Like a moth to a flame, the energy vampire wants what it lacks. Now that you know that vampires are slinking around and you have handy tips to identify one, how do you protect yourself?
The best solution is to cut all ties with the energy vampire in your life. Of course, this is easier said than done. Certain circumstances might prevent a clean and/or immediate break. If the vampire senses that you are attempting to end the relationship, he or she might employ manipulative tactics to make you stay.
Therefore, cutting an energy vampire out of your life is not an easy process and smaller steps might be needed to achieve the goal.
Don’t be discouraged.
Be Positive to Yourself, Not Necessarily to the energy vampire
There is the thought that trying to empathize and to give compassion to the vampire is part of this process. Although this certainly is humane, it is exactly what the vampire wants.
By giving it more of what it craves, almost like an addiction, you are neither helping yourself nor the vampire. You are making the vampire stronger. True, the vampire might be a broken individual with a sordid childhood and severe anxieties, but you need to protect yourself.
Understanding why the vampire acts a certain way may better help to empower yourself and to develop the strength to cut ties. You can recognize the vampire for what it really is, and even feel sorry for it, to a certain degree, but do so from a great distance.
Identifying the vampire’s personality disorder will enhance your emotional and mental intelligence which you then can use for healthier relationships.
There are other tips that you can try to help deal with the energy vampire and its repercussions.
1. Protect yourself
Although this may seem like a broad sweeping piece of advice, it is the best thing you can do. One way to practice this is to know and see your own worth. In this way, you can see through the vampire’s tactics.
Limiting your time with an energy vampire, choosing particular activities to decrease their draining behavior and planning ways to avoid them altogether are additional means by which you can protect yourself.
Make sure that you have a definite “end” to an interaction with a vampire will ensure an easy escape from their manipulations.
2. Protect your energy
There are multiple means by which someone can protect their energy, from the practical to the spiritual. Limiting the amount of energy you expend on an energy vampire is the first step, but the best way is to redirect your energy to activities, interests and people that you like.
Because vampires are drawn to people who do not know or appreciate their own value, simply appreciating yourself is an act of rebelliousness. Once you know that you not only don’t need the criticism and negativity, but also that you don’t deserve it, you can use your energy in more positive and fulfilling ways.
If you prefer a creative visualization, imagine yourself surrounded by bright white light or a force field that will repel the vampire and keep your energy close to you. By being in touch with your own energy and aura, you can ground yourself. Others find talismans and oils are physical manifestations of the rituals used to keep safe and sound. Listen to your intuition.
After spending time with an energy vampire, you will probably be exhausted, depressed, and tired. Give yourself ample space and time to recuperate from the experience. Perhaps a nice bath, a long walk, watching a favorite movie or reading a book, whatever gives you pleasure. Practicing self-compassion is another way to release tension and boost morale.
4. Set boundaries
This concept is connected to the above tips. Setting boundaries will protect yourself and your energy and provide time to take care of yourself. Boundaries are necessary when dealing with vampires because it sets forth the limits of what you are willing to do and willing to tolerate.
Learning to say “no” and refusing to play into their unfolding games are important habits to practice. Knowing when you have had enough and when you need to recharge are great gifts you can offer to yourself.
5. Try not to take their behavior personally
As difficult as this may seem, the energy vampire’s bad behavior is a reflection of him or her and their own emotional and mental issues. It truly has nothing to do with you. energy vampires are searching outside of themselves to meet their own needs, looking desperately for a nice soul who will do this for them.
Although knowing about their childhood traumas and subsequent personality disorders may explain their relentless search for validation at any cost, you are not responsible for their actions. They are. Don’t take the experience onto yourself and internalize it. You don’t deserve to shoulder the blame for their carefully crafted drama.
6. Don’t become an energy vampire yourself
Whether we want to admit it or not, we all have the ability to become an energy vampire. The exposure to constant negativity may be contagious, as you adopt new patterns of behavior, ones mired in doubts and insecurities.
Being with an energy vampire can wear you down, until the path of least resistance becomes appealing. If you observe yourself starting to engage in this change of behavior, then offer yourself love and compassion and gently steer yourself towards sympathy and empathy towards others.
Self Awareness and Self Compassion Can Help You Cope
Cultivating self-awareness is essential to avoid becoming an energy vampire and sucking precious energy from someone else. If you notice that you often attract energy vampires, then ask yourself why that may be. Is it because you are an incredibly open person with few boundaries or filters?
Do you have a hard time saying ‘no” to people? Is your sense of self-worth tied to being of value to others? Do you have a need to accommodate and please others, to be kind no matter the cost, because what will the neighbors think? It is very important to reflect on these possibilities, especially if there are multiple energy vampires in your life or circling the parameter.
When it comes right down to it, an energy vampire is a deeply unhappy person: you can learn a lot more about how to be happy with our book Happier Human. It will help you find happiness in everyday life, and resist the attacks of negative people you can't avoid dealing with.
Another great piece of advice is to follow your instincts.
More often than not, first impressions are correct. If you feel that someone in your social or work circle is an energy vampire, displaying the above outlined behavior, then the chances are incredibly high that he or she is an energy vampire.
By practicing the above listed tips, you should be able to withstand their predatory onslaught and emerge victorious, driving the proverbial stake through their ego and letting you live in peace.
Nicholas Say was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and has been interested in global belief systems from a young age. This area of study led him to research many Eastern philosophical systems, including Vedic and Buddhist ideas and practices. Today he thinks that humanity needs to find ways to be happy with being, as opposed to possessing and doing. His views fall roughly in-line with the late philosopher Alan Watts, who he venerates as great teacher.