Has this ever happened to you? You are minding your own business when suddenly, you find yourself stuck in a corner listening to the finer details of someone’s life for what feels like hours. The amazing thing is…you haven’t uttered a single word for most of the conversation. When it’s finally over, you feel like a puddle of muck on the floor, zapped of energy and wishing you had never left the house. Is this familiar? If it is, congrats! Why congrats? You are now about to walk away with more awareness about how to identify an Energy Vampire, and this is a crucial skill for highly sensitive people and empaths.

So what is an Energy Vampire?

In short, it’s a person who feeds off your energy in order to inflate themselves or make themselves feel better. After being with said Vampire, you might feel drained of energy, depressed, confused, anxious, or worse: questioning your self-worth or value. Energy Vampires aren’t necessarily bad, corrupt or awful people. They are also not often aware of their behavior or of their energetic impact on others (except for when they are and they do it anyway). Energy Vampires gain energy through their actions at the expense of the energy of someone else. They take and do not give. The key for you is being aware of how you are feeling so that you can manage the situation in a way that honors your needs over theirs.

As sensitive souls, we are very open (usually), we care a great deal about how other people feel, and we are incredibly giving to others. These are fabulous qualities! However, in the wrong circumstances, and if we allow others to cross our boundaries, we are the perfect fodder for energy vampires. Here a couple more reasons that energy vampires just love about us:

  1. We are great listeners: What another great quality! However, we are often the ones finding ourselves listening as someone goes on an on an on about something that doesn’t engage us at all. We literally become sponges for their story. There is no give or take: It’s all about them.
  2. We care about and want to help ease the pain of others: Energy vampires will very often need help of some variety. They are often trapped in some kind of drama where they are a victim of someone or something. If we are not careful, we can get easily sucked into wanting to help them because we are healers; listening to someone and wanting to help them improve their quality of life is one of our gifts. Normally, this is a fantastic quality because we make great friends, family members, co-workers, healers, etc. However, in this case, we are the perfect audience for an energy vampire because they need an audience who cares about how they are feeling and will want to help. This is one way they “feed” off you. They want what you have to give.

So how do you know if you’ve run into one?

Firstly, you may not know right away. Sometimes it can take a few encounters, and sometimes even a few months, of getting to know someone before a pattern is established. The best way to know if you’ve been in contact with an energy vampire is to pay attention to how you feel. If you notice that you are feeling heavy, drained, exhausted, etc., then this person’s energy isn’t nourishing for you. If you leave a conversation feeling uplifted, happy, joyful, connected and alive, then this person’s energy is nourishing for you.

In order to become more aware of how things are affecting you and to how they make you feel, simply tune in on a conscious level; become an observer or a detective: Pay close attention to how your mood, energy and body are affected when in contact with someone. Make sure to pay attention to your body as well as your mood/energy. For me, I will often start to feel physically uncomfortable when I’m in a draining situation. Personally, I will have a tightness in my chest or a very heavy feeling in my back, as though I am carrying something heavy (and I am! Their energy).

So the first clue that you are talking with someone who is draining you is to pay attention to how that person makes you feel when you are in their presence. In addition, here are a few clues about the behavior patterns of energy vampires:

  1. It’s all about them and rarely, if ever, about you: These are the people who will talk your ear off without ever asking you a single question about yourself. Or, they will dominate the conversation, without giving you a moment to contribute.
  2. Drama, drama, drama: It’s all about the drama! Very often, talking about the latest and greatest drama of their lives is their very favorite thing. They will often look to you to agree with them about their drama so they can feel validated in their victimhood. These can be the people who are sucking the life out of you by either dumping their misery on you or asking you to gossip with them about other people to bolster their self-esteem. The complainers and the blamers also fall into this category.
  3. They make you feel bad about yourself: This is a form of “vampirism” because they are feeding off of the high they get by tearing you down. I met my first energy vampire of this variety in college. He was stunning. This beautiful and hysterical specimen of a man. I was drawn to him immediately. After about a 2 year “flirt from afar” relationship, we finally started spending time together, and….he was awful. However, he was just funny enough and nice enough to keep me second-guessing myself. He would compliment me, then follow it up with a cutting remark in the form of “helping me to be a better person.” So essentially, he was criticizing me and simultaneously making me feel as though he was pointing this out for my own good. Barf. At the time, however, as a good HSP is prone to do, I self-reflected and I took all of it to heart. I also wanted to assume that he was a good person, and that maybe I was misreading things. Or worse, maybe he was right, and the things he was criticizing truly were places where I needed some personal growth. Can I write, “barf” again? I’m doing it: Barf. I also call, “Bullshit.” So beware the misery-feeding energy vampire, even if they come in a beautiful and funny package…

So what to do?

Well, if it’s someone that you don’t have an established relationship with, then simply bolt. Get out of there. Avoid them. Make an excuse, and lovingly say your goodbyes. Don’t for a minute feel guilty that you aren’t engaging with them. Remember, it’s about your needs over theirs. Put yourself first!

If it’s a friend or a family member, it’s time to practice putting those boundaries into practice!

  1. Limit time you spend with them: For example, if you know you have to talk on the phone or see someone in person, create your exit strategy before the event. If I’m on the phone, I will often say, “I only have a minute…” or if it’s in person, I will make sure that I have somewhere else to be right after the meeting.
  2. Stock up on High Vibe activities: If you have to see someone who will drain your energy, make sure to load up on lots of “High Vibe” activities that day! I talk a lot of about “High and Low Vibe” in my coaching practice. It’s exactly as it sounds: there are things, experiences, people, etc., and they will either help you raise your vibration to where you are feeling good or great: HIGH VIBE, or they will drain your energy, leaving you feeling…you guessed it: LOW VIBE. Guess which one Energy Vampires are? Yep! Low vibe. So the antidote to an encounter with a low vibe person is to stock up on lots of high vibe experiences!
  3. Speak Your Mind: Oh, geez…this is not always an HSP/Empaths strong suit, is it? We can feel devastated if we feel like we might hurt someone’s feelings. This is a muscle that we all need to exercise. It is absolutely crucial to set limits on what we are willing to tolerate. We are worth speaking up for, and no one is going to do it but us. Speaking up in the moment with a firm, “Excuse me, but I’m going to head to the bathroom…” is one of the most loving things you can do when stuck in an energy-draining situation.

I’d love to hear from you! Please share your experiences or a-ha’s below!

With so much love,

P.S. If you’re a Highly Sensitive Person and would like some tips on empowering your own Inner Badass, I’ve written a special FREE eBook just for you.

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Cortney is a transformational coach, writer, speaker, mentor for Highly Sensitive Badasses TM, and founder of the coaching program: The Sensitive Badass Badass Personal Coaching Program and the Sensitive Badass Sisterhood. She is passionate about helping women tap into their unique brilliance through divine self-care so they can live their highest purpose and reach their full potential. She offers private and group transformational and empowerment coaching programs for highly sensitive and empathic women.

Cortney earned a B.A. from Vassar College in Art History and a Masters of Architecture from Catholic University. Following her heart later in life, she became certified as a health coach with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She became a “health architect,” dealing with her own health crisis and struggle to manage anxiety and depression. She is also a proud graduate of Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts Mastery program, a NYC institution that teaches women to use the power of pleasure to have their way with the world.

Cortney lives in Baltimore with her 2 kids, her dog and her husband. A passionate traveler, photographer, gardener and foodie, when she isn’t dancing or listening to music (her favorite things!), Cortney is all about engaging all of her senses in service to her inner badass—and awakening the inner badass in every highly sensitive person she encounters!

Are you Highly Sensitive? Take the quiz at thehighlysensitivebadass.com


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