In some cases, you have a choice as to whether to have the energy vampire in your life. The trickiest times, however, are when you have no options (coworker, boss, family member) but to find a way to protect yourself in these forced relationships.
I made the difficult decisions years ago of letting a "friend" go after her energy vampire tendencies became too much to bear. She was in her fifties, very fit and attractive, funny when not dark (which was rare). Over the years, even her children became estranged from her, because she was exhausting. She found fault in everyone, couldn't keep a job long because she detested every person and policy, she had no friend except me anymore. She had many divorces and finally wrote men off for good. She would "joke" constantly with the expression "it's all about me" - and believe me, it was. There were times I needed a friend to talk to, but she was never it...diverting the topic onto something to do with her. She was a constant victim and blamed the world for every misfortune, taking no steps to ever change her destiny. For someone so externally beautiful, inside her heart was nothing but darkness and ugliness. I finally ended our friendship because of the constant drain.
In cases where you cannot make the difficult decision to walk away (which is recommended when you can do so), you will have to change yourself. You cannot expect to get through to the other person or put your energy into changing him/her. Here are tips on how to handle energy vampires you are stuck with:
- Think positive during their negativity - focus on all you are thankful for.
- Feel empathy or sorrow that the energy vampire is missing out on so much joy in life, which puts your mind in control of the situation instead of being held captive in negativity.
- You have to be firm. This isn't about criticizing or arguing, it is about having to stop being a polite hostage and saying "I have to go" and "I have work to do" and, of course, "no."
As a sidenote, be sure you aren't drawing energy vampires into you. If you yourself have a tendency to need to vent, hold onto anger, complain...you might just be drawing them in as a place to dump out all of your negativity.