September 28th, 2011 10:36 EST
Emotional Vampires Are Lurking: What You Need to Protect Yourself
(Adapted from the new book, Emotional Freedom)
Emotional vampires are lurking everywhere and wear many different disguises--from needy relatives to workplace bullies. Whether they do so intentionally or not, these people can make us feel overwhelmed, depressed, defensive, angry, and wiped out.
Without the self-defense strategies to fend them off, victims of emotional vampires sometimes develop unhealthy behaviors and symptoms, such as overeating, isolating, mood swings, or feeling fatigued.
Here are five types of emotional vampires, discussed in Emotional Freedom, whom you`re likely to encounter, and some "silver bullet" tips for fending them off. (To avoid gender bias, I alternate genders in the below examples.)
Type #1: The Narcissist. This vampire is grandiose, self-important, attention hogging, and hungry for admiration. She is often charming and intelligent--until her guru status is threatened.
Self-defense tips: Enjoy her good qualities, but keep your expectations realistic. Because her motto is "me-first," getting angry or stating your needs won`t phase her. To get her cooperation, show how your request satisfies her self-interest.
Type #2: The Victim. This vampire thinks the world is against him, and demands that others rescue him.
Self-defense tips: Don`t be his therapist, and don`t tell him to buck up. Limit your interactions, and don`t get involved in his self-pity.
Type #3: The Controller. This vampire has an opinion about everything, thinks she knows what`s best for you, has a rigid sense of right and wrong, and needs to dominate.
Self-defense tips: Speak up and be confident. Don`t get caught up in bickering over the small stuff. Assert your needs, and then agree to disagree.
Type #4: The Criticizer. This vampire feels qualified to judge you, belittle you, and bolster his own ego by making you feel small and ashamed.
Self-defense tips: Don`t take what he says personally. Address a misplaced criticism directly. Don`t get defensive. Express appreciation for what`s useful. Bounce back with a massive dose of loving-kindness.
Type #5: The Splitter. This vampire may treat you like his BFF one day, and then mercilessly attack you the next day when she feels wronged. She is often a threatening rageaholic who revels in keeping others on an emotional rollercoaster.
Self-defense tips: Establish boundaries and be solution-oriented. Avoid skirmishes, refuse to take sides, and avoid eye contact when she`s raging at you. Visualize a protective shield around you when you`re being emotionally attacked.