Aunty Kathy does a three part workshop series on energy vampires. What's an energy vampire? Basically, anybody that's draining to be around. Everyone knows them and everyone has their own internal energy vampires. In part one Aunty Kathy explains what energy vampires are and describes 15 different kinds of energy vampires.
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KD: What I want to talk about today is energy vampires. Energy Vampires are people in our lives that leave us feeling drained and exhausted and one of the reasons why people find themselves unhappy. If you look up on the internet, you get a limited scope of what energy vampires are but I flushed this out to a much greater degree and it ends up being a useful tool for life. This is probably a three or four part series but this is the first episode that is my attempt to flush out what an Energy Vampire is.
JB: Is energy vampire your term or a common one?
KD: It is a term that floats around; I have not been able to find out where it originated. It is kind of a casual term. Most of what you can see is that don’t be around negative people or with a negative attitude but it's a much more complicated subject that has ever been discussed before.
This story begins about 20 years ago, I was fairly new to Comox, had been living there for about four - five years, had a little kid, so I didn't have a lot of opportunities to make friends. So not a lot of support and no family in the area except for my then husband's parents. I was working but the office I was working in was reminiscent of high school and a queen bee dominated it, so everybody had to say what she said or else we were ostracized and made fun off. Either we were in the clique or you were out in which case your life was made miserable by judgment and people gossiping behind your back, it was toxic. My marriage at that time was devolving and so people who drained me surrounded me in every aspect of my life. Therefore, how I came out of that situation and how I came to be a happy person that I am today started with coming to an understanding that there are two ways that people interact- through collaboration or through competition. I got myself out of this by saying yes to collaboration and learning how to say no to competition. I grew up believing that whenever anything goes wrong, I play a part. I was thought that, not only do I play a part, there are two sides to every story, but there’s something I can do about it. If something is going wrong there’s something I can do to make a difference. So how that got into my head was, if there’s a bully and I was being bullied because I wasn't cool enough or smart enough or athletic enough and if I could make myself better that bully wouldn't bully me. Another example, my elder sister, your mom, I wanted nothing more than to hang out with my two years older sister. She refused to hang out with me under any circumstances because I whined a lot and the truth is I was a whiny little kid. So I believed that if I changed that about myself, my sister would hang out with me. One more example, there was neighboring family who had a toddler, an 18-month-old kid and whenever I went there for a play over, this little guy would make a beeline for me and bite me really hard which would inevitably make me cry and I would run home to my mom and she didn't say that it was my fault that it bit me but she would say things like, "Well could you try staying away from him. Maybe go and tell his mom. Maybe just see if you can go to the corner for a minute and not come home crying." I know that she was trying to help me, but the message that I got was somehow, there was something I could do to change the circumstance. There was just enough truth in all of these things, for me to believe that it was somehow my fault. Does that sound like a story you have from your childhood or is that a story you walked through in life?
JB: Anytime something bad happened, I definitely can relate to that in childhood but I also think that I was almost too hard on myself in those situations or when anything goes bad, I always think what I can do to change it.
KD: I am here to tell you or anyone like you out there listening, that this is a trap. It’s not true. If you think about the bully, the bully is picking on me because of whatever is happening in his life. So there’s nothing about me that’s making him bully me. He is a bully because of what is going on in his life. The truth is that, my sister who is one of my best friends now, would not hang out with me no matter what, there’s no way that my two years older sister was ever going to hang out with me. I held no appeal for her. I am not saying that I am bitter but the idea that if I would have changed myself and she would have hung out with me is nonsense, she is two years older, she is trying to hang out with people two years older than her and she was trying to hang out my older brother. Maybe the most insidious one was somehow if I did something the outcome would be different from that little kid biting me. That somehow I was the victim because I did something wrong or I could do something better and it was not true. Who knows why he bit me? Maybe I was tasty.
JB: If another girl was walking home, she would have been bitten too.
KD: She might have, I don't know that and It wasn't about me. So that's the first thing I figured out. The whole thing that there are two sides to every story is not always true. In fact, it's somewhere that we get ourselves completely stuck because we are never looking at what the other person may have done, we are always looking for what did we do wrong. The other piece that was important for me to figure out was that sometimes it is not even just neutral. It is not as if the bully picks on me because I am not cool enough. The bully is invading my life; the little boy is invading my life. I am being raided of my life force. There are people, given the right circumstances, will go in and steal energies, good feelings from people around them.
JB: So there are good intentions, neutral intentions and then bad intentions?
KD: Exactly, and we have been trained as a society, especially maybe Canadians, to say "I wonder what my fault is? I played a part too, I should look at myself and make myself a better person" which is great but what it misses is that sometimes it’s not your fault. Sometimes what you need to realize is that person in that situation is sucking you dry and it is all about them and you need to put a stop to it. So they are levels of human interaction, there’s collaboration where we are working together trying to boost each other and trying to generate a better outcome that neither of us could create alone. There is withdrawal, where I am just not interacting with you and then there’s competition, I have played the game of competition, it will be fun when we get to that part of the conversation because I think competition is never healthy in spite of the fact that lots of people think it is. I just think that competition is coming from the wrong place.
JB: So we are going to cover each one of those?
KD: We are not going to cover that topic today, today we are going to stay focused on truly coming to understand and identify energy vampires.
JB: I was going to say that I want to hear more about withdrawal but you said that it won’t be covered today.
KD: I think that is going to come in part two. Getting the gist of energy vampires is easier if you could think of someone in your life that drains you. So after you have interacted with them, you may feel exhausted or stressed out. For the rest of people who are listening, I am going through the rest of the list - exhausted, stressed, frustrated, irritated, outraged- my favorite, defensive, inferior, guilty- you could feel like a failure any of those things. So do you have someone in your mind that causes you to feel drained whenever you interact with them?
KD: Perfect. So here are the rules, again for the ones who want to be nice, I am not one of those, you are either come from the kingdom of nice or come from the kingdom of bitch
JB: Those are the only two kingdoms available?
KD: Yes, and it's where you come from not the kingdom where you were born or grew up. So nice kingdom people tend to not even have this conversation, because it might be partly their fault, they have all the stories for why they are not going to judge anybody ever. The kingdom of bitch, has a tendency to over-judge, they just write everybody off. Anybody that does not do it their way is just stupid.
JB: There is no mediocre in the middle, I-am-kind-of-a-bitch- but- kind-of- nice-sometimes kingdom that I can sign up for?
KD: That's where you want to get to. What we're talking about is when push comes to shove what is your tendency?
JB: So you have to choose one, black or white.
KD: Yes, that's where you came from, that's where you naturally fall and I said that I came from kingdom of nice, I didn't. Now that I think of what the question means, I came from the kingdom of bitch. So, the person that you are thinking of could be someone you know really well or could be someone that you don't know at all or not very well. So I have an example here, there’s a women that I have known ever since the kids were little because they went to school together. I have probably talked to her five times in my whole life. She is lovely and a nice person with a good heart. The reason why I only spoke to her only five times is that if I see her in a grocery store, to this day I duck my head, turn and go to another aisle. My experience when I talk to her is that she’s got a monologue for 45 minutes. She is going to keep talking, she is not going to pick up the social cues to break conversation. Because she drains me even though she is a nice person, I will probably never talk to her in my life. If it's the people you know very well, that could get very contentious but odds are that for such people, you know where the skeletons are hidden. It’s almost easier to find the energy vampire parts of the people that we know well.
JB: I want to ask if there is ever a time where it’s appropriate to drain somebody of their energy, say you go through a tough breakup and you go and talk to your friend and you need to went, that's draining for your friend. Is that appropriate?
KD: They are two ways to go and get help from your friend, you can go with the intention of venting, you can have those kinds of conversation where you might think are draining, if you come with the intention of just getting it off your chest, you will not drain your friend. This whole thing is about intention and if the idea of talking to your friend is to say it out loud or get it off your chest or you genuinely like to hear their opinion, all of those things are collaborative and as long as the person is happy to listen to you and you are not demanding something from that person that they are not willing to give then you are fine. If you are going with the intention of making them feel sorry for you or to show them how much of a victim you are, that's exhausting. So do you have someone like that?
JB: Yes, 100%
KD: So without giving any clues as to who this person is or how close relationship they have with you, can you describe how they act?
JB: They drain you all the time, they don't stop talking, there’s a lot of ego in there so they are talking with the intention of making you feel that they are good at their job, better than this person or on the flip-side they wanted me to feel sorry for them. It’s never neutral, it's either that they wanted me to sympathize them or wanted to feed their ego.
KD: This is a chronic vampire. This person is in vampire mode full-time.
JB: Since I became familiar with this concept, every time I interact with this person, I feel it.
KD: Tell me about the feeling part, because that is the key.
JB: It's mentally draining me, the only word I can think of is draining.
KD: Do you have any sense of where you feel it in your body? You mentioned mentally, so can you feel the energy draining out like thoughts or any other capacity draining out of your brain?
JB: I think it would be my head more than anything.
KD: Different types of vampires hit us at different places. So one of the types I know for sure is that if I am being dominated or if someone is being aggressive at me, I get a knot in the pit of my stomach, it’s a kind of feeling of powerlessness.
JB: I had a recent experience with that. This was probably about a month ago while coming back from Banff, there was a really drunk person to a point that he almost got arrested, lit a cigarette on the plane and was being absolutely obnoxious the entire flight and I said to Jen after we got off the flight that I was feeling sick.
KD: One of the things that we want to be doing is being aware when energy vampires show up and one of the clues would be where in the body we are feeling this. Sometimes they are draining the creative juices in your brain, sometimes they are trying to soak every heartfelt feeling you have and sometimes it’s the feeling in the pit of your stomach. The Urban Dictionary defines energy vampire as a person who boosts his energy by taking energy from others by means of an argument, belittlement, criticism or other one-sided conversations. My first definition of energy vampires takes away all this and just says, an energy vampire is a person who boosts his energy by taking energy from others.
JB: It's clear as day, also it is cool that you go on Urban Dictionary. You have now solidified your position as my favorite Aunty.
KD: I have a more practical definition, we are being an energy vampire anytime we have an intended outcome for an interaction. So every time we go into any interaction intending a certain outcome, we are an energy vampire because we are trying to control what is going to happen- we are not in collaboration. I have a list of 15 different types of energy vampires and this is not an exhaustive list but it gets close because most people will find the person they are thinking about on the list.
TYPES OF ENERGY VAMPIRES
KD: So what I would like to do is to go through the types of energy vampires that we have picked up, have a little bit of discussion of what their intention is like, what energy are they trying to steal and what’s in it for them.
KD: So first one is the accommodator, he is someone who is like "You go ahead. Whatever you want to do. Can I make you a sandwich? Can I get you a stool? We will go to whichever restaurant you want to go to."
JB: The accommodator jumps out to me because I know lots of people like that and I have never really labeled them as an energy vampire.
KD: So, what are they draining?
JB: For me, because I feel that they are not being honest, not being straightforward and causing me to put myself in their shoes and to try and figure out what they want.
KD: Exactly and what do you think might be in it for them?
JB: Maybe they won't be the nice person.
KD: I think, they are after risk-free brownie points. So, they're after you to think they are nice but without having to take any risks to do it, they don't have to show up or contribute. So it’s draining because you are doing all the work and they stay safe and you can’t get them because they are being nice, but meanwhile, they are not contributing anything to the collaboration.
KD: Next one is the Apologizer, "I am really sorry to bother you, I know you are really busy but is it okay if I ask you any question.” That is the apologizer.
JB: That’s kind of like me sometimes.
KD: This is the key, we all have strategies, energy vampires strategies to get our needs and to stay safe.
JB: So everybody is an energy vampire in one way or the other at some point.
KD: Yes, so the conversation is what to do about chronic vampires. What to do when we are in the presence of someone who is currently acting as an energy vampire and is not always and what to do when our own energy vampires kick up because they will.
JB: Can you be an energy vampire to yourself?
KD: 100%. Especially in the kingdom of nice where people tend to not go and try stealing energy from others, they end up beating themselves up. So the apologizer, you have recognized to be you, how is that draining to me if you are apologizing to me all the time?
JB: I am a little bit torn because I am not like that all the time and if I am, it’s probably because I just met somebody. I think I am overly empathetic sometimes, so if I don't know somebody at work and if they are busy and I need help then I will be extra apologetic because I don't like being bothered when I am at work so it stems from empathy. What’s in it for me is that I think I just want them to know that I understand that I am bothering them however this can’t wait.
KD: Why may it be draining for them?
JB: If the apologies are over the top then it can be draining because they get the point and it feels like they need to apologize back or reassure that you need not apologize, you are not bothering them. It puts your expectation on them.
KD: That is right, it drains them because they are already busy and now you are already asking them to take care of you.
JB: I actually have an example of that. When Jen and I were looking at this apartment, we had to come by a few times to check it out and we were on the fence and our landlord came down on the last minute to show us the place one last time at 8:00 PM and Jen apologized 10 times, even I felt uncomfortable.
KD: If we want to be brutally honest about this, the truth is you are interrupting them in the same way you don't like being interrupted. So you made the choice to interrupt them and that's fine, there are many times that people will interrupt you too even though it’s inappropriate. So what you are saying is that you feel uncomfortable doing what you don't like when other people do to you. So you want to pretend that you are not doing it or you want them to tell you that it's okay to have done it.
KD: Bulldozer, they drive me crazy. They want to win the day- you get this in business meetings a lot, they say everything they want to say and won't let anybody have any voice. Every time someone says anything, they are just going to say yes but they just keep going because their goal is to win the prize of their idea being the one that gets adopted. Its opposite of collaborative. They suck all the oxygen out of the room.
KD: Caretaker, "Can I get you a cup of coffee? Is that seat comfortable? Would you rather have mine? I will go do this for you?" Do you know anybody like that super-takes care of you?
JB: How is this different from an accommodator?
KD: An accommodator does whatever you like, is more passive. You make the choices and they are fine with it.
JB: Yes, I have come across people like that.
KD: What do you think they get out of that?
JB: I feel like that it is similar to the first one- free brownie points.
KD: I would like to suggest that there is more to that. If I take care of you, you need me. I have a meaning, a purpose.
JB: Where does that stem from?
KD: All of this stems from childhood learning. Mothers are caretakers of life and the reason they have value is that the people around them need them. Why can it be draining for the people around them?
JB: Because if they do it for you, you feel like you owe them something.
KD: And it’s exhausting. I do not want you in my life that much. If I want something, I will ask you. So it's kind of like the Apologizer, you are trying to find ways of helping me to suit you.
KD: Controller, they control every aspect. We are packing to camp, have you thought of this? Did you get this? Did you cancel your work phone? We are going to stop at 10'o clock and put gas and we are going to go two miles west, we are going to stop for lunch and you are going to order the Sushi and I chicken and we are going to share but we won't have a drink because we have to get back in the car. Does this sound familiar?
JB: For me, that is the MVP of the kingdom of bitch and that does sound familiar.
KD: What’s in it for them? Why would somebody want to be the controller?
JB: To feel important?
KD: Yes, to feel important and to get the credit at the end.
JB: I know somebody like that and to me, massive insecurity is written all over it.
KD: Sure, all of these stem from insecurity. Everything that’s not collaborative comes from insecurity.
KD: Deflector, I am going to ask you a trick question and can you think of anybody that’s like this, because I think there is a very famous one at the moment. The Deflector is someone like, “ I would take the responsibility but it's not my fault. It's not me. Something has gone wrong. The dog ate my homework.” There is always an excuse, this is probably the first one that I really recognized. My experience at work is that these are the only people that I have to fire, ever. What happens is that I will try coaching, I will try threatening, I will try drawing the line in sand, I will do three tries and you are out. I will do everything in my power to reach this person and let them know that they need to correct and change what their performance and despite that, it won’t work because they can’t hear anything. Nothing goes in, it all get’s deflected off. There is no new information for these folks. When I say, you are fired and they go “Well where did that come from?”
JB: Sounds like the world’s worst employee.
KD: So can you think of a deflector in the news these days?
JB: Head of the country that I live in.
KD: Nothing is that man’s fault ever and nothing new goes in. Drama queen, do you know any drama queens?
JB: I think that's the person I have in mind, from the start.
KD: So what does the drama queen look like?
JB: Nothing's ever right, nothing is ever okay. There is always something to complain about.
KD: This person that you are thinking about, do they do it in a dramatic way?
JB: I am thinking of few different people, some very dramatic. Some not so much it’s kind of passive complaining.
KD: Hang on, cause they are other kinds of energy vampires for that. The drama queen in my mind is someone who sucks all the energy out of the room, they are the most important person in the room. They get all the attention. Not fun to be around because what is in it for you, right. Cause the idea of collaboration is - I pay attention to you, you pay attention to me, we get to join our ideas and our creations together and it feels really good for both of us.
KD: Duplicator, again it’s similar to other ones but it is important to have the differentiation. So the duplicator is -You are wearing pants, I am going to change into my pants too.
JB: That sounds like me sometimes, that example where if we are going out and if I am not dressed nice enough then I have to change my clothes.
KD: Why are you changing your clothes?
JB: Because I do not want to be, the odd man out or I don't want to diminish the chances of getting into where we are going. I think it stems from a place of empathy, maybe I am trying to make myself look good but I also do not want to be the cause for screwing the night.
KD: So you want to be a chameleon? I got to tell you, based on what I have heard so far, I think you are from the kingdom of nice. Unlike your mother and your Aunt. So why would it be draining for the people around you?
JB: I think that is a fine line. When I am sharing the stories of changing my clothes so I do not screw the night, I think that is a nice gesture, no?
KD: No, from the kingdom of bitch, no. So, you are getting ready and then you change your dress because everyone's dressed better than you. You have now made it so that, if we end up going somewhere and everybody else is dressed in jeans and we are dressed up, it's on me now. So, we are not collaborating on how do we think we should get dressed to this place. So you are saying, “Oh! So you dressed this way, you made this choice so I will match you. So, it’s on you if we don’t get in.”
JB: Okay. If it's three or four times that somebody does that then I definitely can see how it can be a nuisance but if it’s a one off thing I struggle to see your point.
KD: I know two people like this, I start talking and they echo my words. They say every word I am saying just a split second after I say it as a way of indicating that they thought that too.
JB: Is that the type of person who does not have their own opinion, like a yes man?
KD: I don't know if they have their own opinion because they are not sharing it with me and again remember all these things come from insecurity and come from not feeling safe. So their way of feeling safe is to duplicate exactly what I am doing so that they fit and it’s exhausting. I do not want to talk to myself; I want to talk to a person with a different opinion.
JB: Are they doing it to agree with you or are they doing it to get credit for the idea?
KD: I think they are mostly doing it to agree with me. I don't think they are trying to steal the idea.
KD: Interrogator, so it’s a person who asks you what seems like innocuous questions but they are after something. It’s one of the dominating ones, If I get to the weakness that I know you have then I can exploit it. It’s a particularly disturbing one and will definitely be on the list of what everybody thinks up as an energy vampire and yet it’s no different from all the others in its anatomy or where it came from.
KD: Judge, it is very similar to an interrogator but here it could be a very quiet thing. You just sit back and go, I am better than you. That is a nice outfit but those shoes really do not match.
JB: There's another person who is coming to my mind, they are quiet all the time and I worry that they are that judge, however, I know them enough to know that they are not very egotistical and they are shy. So I am just wondering where it comes from. There are two people that I am thinking of, one definitely judging all the time and really has no issues saying it. Then the other person is quiet all the time, just sits back and I feel uncomfortable because I don't know what they are thinking and it feels judge-y but I know them enough to know that they are really not that way.
KD: At the beginning, we said that there’s collaboration, withdrawal and then the competition. So when you are in energy vampire mojo in competition, there’s every chance that this person that you are uncomfortable around is just withdrawn.
KD: Martyr - I will do it all, I will do all of the dishes, I will clean the entire house, I will do everything you just go ahead. So what’s in it for them?
JB: I would say that you owe them something.
KD: Eventually, they will go for months but ultimately they will use it against you.
KD: Rager, finding things to be outraged about. Truth be told, I have been watching Donald Trump for months, I was obsessed with it for a while. Why? because I get fed so often. My outrage tends to be more distant, it tends to be from T.V, stuff from the news as opposed to outrage about people around me. I don't usually bring into my personal life but it is still damaging, it’s still raging.
JB: I'm a rager when I play basketball.
KD: Why would it be an energy vampire? What would that be draining?
JB: I am drawing a blank.
KD: Outrage-r is detrimental to other people because what it actually says is that I have already judged you less healthy than me. I am not interested in what your story is, why you acted that way. I don't care, I am superior to you.
THE SAD PUPPY
KD: Sad puppy- forgive me, love me with those cute little puppy dog eyes.
JB: Is that mostly only a girl thing or do guys do it too?
KD: Isn't it funny because you think of girls and I think of guys. Guys do it all the time. It’s a flip-side of an abuser, of someone who is violent. One of the questions that make me crazy is when people ask why do women stay with abusers.
JB: I have wondered that too.
KD: So here is what happens- it is not just abuse. There is abuse and then there is a sad puppy, there is I am sorry and he means it. Abusers are not aggressive 100% of the time, abusers become aggressive from time to time and so when they are not being aggressive they have another strategy to manipulate which is apologizing. There is another side that invites the person back in. We don’t just have one go-to kind of energy vampire, we have our favorite and then we often have the opposite of that which works when our favorite doesn't.
JB: If somebody is being labeled the energy vampire abuser, does it necessarily mean that they are aggressive?
KD: No, it does not. I don't have abuser as a specific kind of energy vampire because an interrogator could be an abuser, a victim could be an abuser. An abuser to me is somebody who is emotionallly, physically and sexually assaulting somebody. You can emotionally abuse someone by being a chronic victim and I think that this is something that gets missed a lot in our society. By always being in need of other persons care and by knowing how to manipulate them so they cant get free of taking care of you, the person that can’t get free is being abused emotionally. So no, its not necessarily aggressive. However, I was talking about the case of physical abuse, why would you stay with someone who is physically abusive because they don't do that full-time. They also have other strategies to keep you sucked in.
KD: Then we have savior, this one is subtle but its super annoying. “I have the answers, just find Christ” is the obvious example.
JB: So someone is always telling you what you need to do.
KD: Yes because they have the answer.
JB: I know somebody like that and it is draining because I feel belittled because they think that I can't make my own decisions.
KD: Even if it is something you don't know, someone telling you that the answer is X, is not going to help you. First, it is not going to help you because you haven't figured it out yourself but second of all, they could be wrong. I get that it worked for you but that doesn't mean it is going to work for me.
JB: What’s in it for the savior?
KD: I was right. I saved them, look they are doing better now.
JB: I feel that savior's often gloat about saving.
KD: Absolutely. Even if they don't do it in front of you, they feed on it away from you.
JB: I can't wait to breakdown all the insecurities that are behind this, I imagine its part two or part three, because I want to know.
KD: We have just two left, which is the victim, a standard one that everybody knows. I wouldn't be like this except look what happened to me in my life. I am a victim of my own circumstances.
JB: Is it similar to the deflector?
KD: The deflector never takes any responsibility for anything; the victim takes responsibility but then says that it’s not my fault. It is subtly different. The deflector is a happy person; the deflector does not absorb any information from the outside world and lives in a bubble. The victim absorbs everything and rewrites it. I will give an example from my life, I am divorced, and many people I know are divorced. They are some women and men that I have talked to who are divorced and have never gone over it. “Let me tell you a sad thing that happened in my life in, sometime in the past that is still the reason why life isn't good for me.”
JB: And it’s draining because they want your sympathy.
KD: Yes. They don't want a solution, they don't want you to take their story away, they want your sympathy.
AK: There is one more and this one is the withholder, the withholder is what you suspected your quiet friend was doing that probably is not. The withholder is- I am mad at you but I am not going to say anything. I am going to give you a look and I am going to walk away. With-holder is passive-aggressive. The safety for him is, I can’t get busted for being wrong, I don't have to clarify how I feel and put myself out there at the risk of misinterpreting something. It’s draining because I got nothing, you want me to chase you and ask what is wrong. So, I think we have beaten to death the idea of energy vampires.
JB: You and I have talked about this stuff for long, we have talked about people being energy vampires, this has helped me immensely, and I have been familiar with it for a long time. I am really hoping that people will find this valuable. As you are going through the list and explaining these titles, I am putting people I know and I do often feel uncomfortable around these people but I couldn't figure out why and having that label helps me understand it. That is why I want to know why they are like that.
KD: I just want to summarize by saying that they are surprising number of strategies for stealing energy from others. But they have the same goal and they are three tells and if you want to practice whether or not a vampire is present, the tells are as follows- notice how they behave, notice how you feel and another thing you can check is what is their intention. Victim is a great example, when you feel drained and their intention is not for me to assist them, their intention is for me to feel sorry for them. So, those are the three things.
JB: So what’s part two and part three consists off?
KD: Part two is where did this all come from and part three will be what we will do about it.