Can we be energetically affected by the people and situations surrounding us? And if we can, how do we protect ourselves from becoming emotionally drained?
Psychiatrist and author Judith Orloff says we can sometimes blame "emotional vampires" for sucking the energy and happiness from our lives.
Here is an excerpt on how to tell if you are an emotional vampire from Orloff's book "Emotional Freedom."
We've all got a touch of vampire in us, especially when we're stressed. So, cut yourself a break. It's admirable to admit, "I think I'm emotionally draining people. What can I do?" Can't be free without such honesty. Then you can change. These are some common indications that you're becoming a drainer.
People avoid you or glaze over during a conversation
You're often negative
You gossip or bad-mouth people
You're critical, controlling
You're in an emotional black hole, but won't get help -- this strains relationships and won't free you
The solution is always to own up to where you're emotionally stuck and change the related behavior. For instance, one patient in computer graphics kept hammering his wife with a poor-me attitude about how he always got stuck with boring projects at work. Instead of trying to improve the situation, he just kvetched. She started dreading those conversations, diplomatically mentioned it to him. This motivated my patient to address the issue with his supervisor, which got him more stimulating assignments. Similarly, whenever I slip into vampire mode, I try to examine and alter my behavior or else discuss the particulars with a friend or a therapist so I can change. Don't hesitate to seek assistance when you're stumped. Also, review the types of emotional vampires in Emotional Freedom (The Narcissist, The Victim, The Controller, The Criticizer, The Splitter) to make sure you're not one of them.
Excerpted from Judith Orloff, MD's new book "Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life" (Harmony Books, 2009).