The super short Coles notes about energy vampires
Here’s what we do. We’re moving through life and something really hurts. We don’t want to get hurt like that again so we create stories about what happened, why it happened and what we must do or restrain from doing so it doesn’t happen again. This usually occurs below our day to day thinking, goes unexamined, and causes us to limit our behaviors going forward. Because we aren’t directly aware of the restrictions we’ve set up, we don’t notice that, over the years, we get more and more limited about the ways in which we are willing to open up, willing to grow.
We’ve been doing this since childhood. In fact most of our most unusual and hard wired limitations are almost as old as we are. The original strategies to not get hurt are developed with a younger than five year old brain and are, therefore, somewhat out of whack. (Read with sarcasm.) We may be aware that our responses are out of proportion to what is happening around us but still we are unable to change our response. We can end up looking irrational and emotionally unhinged.
What’s really going on here is this: we are still trying to get acceptance/validation/belonging (read “energy”) from the people around us without opening up to the risk of being rejected the way we have experienced in the past. We are trying to get connection from others without reciprocating. We are trying to “steal” energy. We are becoming energy vampires! We are all capable of reverting to this defensive behavior when we feel threatened and at risk.
Likewise, we have all been on the receiving end of someone else in an energy vampire state. We have all experienced the feeling of being exhausted by an interaction with another person, an inability to connect, support, influence someone despite trying every good intention we can muster. When the energy vampire behavior is aggressive or obnoxious we are often able to set a boundary and disentangle, but when the strategies employed are accompanied by pleas for mercy or other subtle manipulations it can feel almost impossible to disengage.
But disengage we must! Engaging with anyone in an energy vampire state (including ourselves BTW) is not only a pointless exercise, it also serves to perpetuate a strategy for living that is unsustainable. Engaging means you are supplying energy, plain and simple. When energy is unavailable, when the strategy doesn’t work, something will need to change for the energy vampire. While there is, of course, no guarantee, this is the best chance that the person will emerge from the vampire state to attempt a connection strategy instead.
And, this isn’t the point. We are all responsible for holding our own healthy boundaries. This allows us to collaborate with others, to grow, to take responsibility for how we generate our own energy. Because we know that feeding unhealthy energy sucking behaviors is un-supportive, we have an obligation to examine our own reasons for feeding into them. We have an obligation to find our strength, learn, and demonstrate healthy connection.