Understanding the Energy-Drainer and Coping with Them
Have you ever sat with someone for just a few minutes, say 5 minutes, and left feeling drained? Like a huge portion of your soul has just been sucked out? I thought so. I have too. On the other hand, I am sure you have ever conversed with someone for hours and came out feeling energized. You were probably surprised how fast time flew while you were sitting there talking to them. You may even have wished it would have lasted longer and hoped to do it all over again soon enough… Yeah, me too. These two illustrations describe two kinds of people—the energy-takers and energy-givers. While energy-givers tend to uplift people, energy drainers do just that—drain energy. But why are they made that way and how can you cope with them? Read on.
The toxic energy-drainer
Most energy-drainers are just plain selfish and manipulative, using various strategies to drain you in order to get what they want or have things done their way. The average energy-drainer will use at least one of the following strategies to drain you emotionally and get what they want.
Attempts to control you
From the bully at your workplace to the clingy partner, every energy-drainer seems to have an opinion of how you should live, work, wear, etc. They just happen to know what’s best for you. And the sad news? You fall for it. Every single time.
Exhibits self-importance and attention-hogging tendencies
This one will likely appear knowledgeable and fun to be with (at first). They happen to know anyone, anything and everything. The tragic thing? They have convinced themselves that nobody can be better than them. So, they will punish you for disagreeing with them and remind you of your weaknesses when you attempt to correct them. You are forbidden from attracting attention when there is at least one more person in your company. You are actually expected to sing them praises. You know you can’t count on them but you expect that they will come through for you anyway. Until they don’t.
When a disagreement arises, an energy-drainer will always play victim. Even when they are wrong, they will always find a way to turn things around and blame you. They will punish you for the wrongs they did and make you apologize. For instance, a toxic partner will cheat on you and unapologetically blame you for not being good in bed. This distracts you from the betrayal and sinks you deeper into the abyss of self-doubt and low esteem. You start chasing after the wind, trying to make yourself better for someone who will never see any good in you. The more they cheat, the more you try. Their plan works every single time.
Constantly criticizes you
Have you ever had someone in your life who never seemed to see any good in you? Someone who made you feel like you never get anything right and even when you do, either you used the wrong methods or were just lucky? A parent, sibling, teacher, boss… If there’s one energy-draining strategy that can and will drive you crazy (literally) is this one. A person who constantly criticizes you will do serious irreparable damage to your self-esteem. Ironically, such a person is usually struggling with their own self-esteem. It is true what you often hear—a person who tries to bring you down is often trying to make themselves feel better about themselves.
Coping with the toxic energy-drainer
Dealing with energy-drainers can be a daunting task. While keeping away from the toxic person is the ideal solution, it is not always possible or practical. For instance, quitting work may be too expensive a solution toward escaping the bully at your workplace. Your toxic parent will never stop being your parent anyway. While separation or divorce is an option in a toxic marriage, you will continue engaging with your spouse every once in a while, especially if you have young kids. Understanding why a toxic person behaves the way they do is the first step toward ridding yourself of all the negative emotions they infect you with. Here’s what you can do:
- Strive to be confident: no matter how many times they try to correct you or fault your decisions, always explain that you are convinced that you are doing things right and even if you are not, make it clear that you are (and be) willing to bear the consequences. You do not always have to agree with them. If you must, agree to disagree.
- Have realistic expectations: if your instincts tell you that someone cannot be trusted or relied upon, don’t attempt to convince yourself otherwise. Set clear boundaries and have realistic expectations (or none at all).
- Avoid being defensive: a person who constantly criticizes you is often thirsty for acknowledgement and appreciation. Denying them that and especially going full-blown defensive only fuels their determination. Filtering out the (few) important points they make and acknowledging them is a good first step. Next, let them know that you appreciate their positive criticism. Finally, let them know that you respect their right to having a contrary opinion but it is also important that you take charge of your duties and responsibilities.
The innocent energy-drainer
A less common type is the innocent energy-drainer. This one does not usually drain you intentionally; their being just happens to be vibrating at low frequencies all the time (if you subscribe to that school of thought). The innocent energy-drainer is often going through a rough patch for extended periods of time. They are not the best at dealing with negative emotions, especially grief.
If not careful, it is easy to get soaked up in their grief and end up being affected even more than they are. Don’t get me wrong; it is important to be empathetic and attempt to uplift people who are suffering emotional pain. However, it is equally important to set boundaries that you must not cross. You have to know when to listen to and comfort someone and when to recommend professional help. You can be their friend but never their shrink. And if it goes on long enough without the person making effort toward getting help, you must make the tough decision to keep away. The line between the innocent energy-drainer and the toxic victim is very thin.