#22 – Reclaiming Your Energy from Emotional Vampires
This notepad by Knock Knock is totally inappropriate, but too funny to resist.
The talented and funny Rebecca Cooper, an ABC correspondent, shared a story last Thursday. She told us about some amazing research done with two groups of rats in a maze. A male rat was sent through the maze to obtain a piece of cheese or something, then had to make his way back. The rats tended to average something like 2 minutes and 30 seconds. A female rat (a mother rat) was put in the maze. She got to the end and back in 52 seconds. The takeaway is this: When there is more at stake, we women are more efficient. No B.s.
When there is more at stake, we women are more efficient.
In the past – I’ve touted to my students the ability to deal with difficult personalities. There are books written on it. Bullies in the workplace…revenge in the workplace…The “No A**hole rule.” People don’t like jerks. So, if you are one of the few who can handle them – more power to you. I truly believe it is a quantifiably valuable skill. Well, either fortunately or unfortunately – I am dissociating with overly dramatic or difficult people, thus temporarily abandoning my God-given talent. Or am I? Here is an exercise:
1. Pick one person about whom you have negative thoughts. You don’t want to talk to them or there is some otherwise negative feeling. These are “energy stealers.” My friend Michelle calls them “Emotional Vampires.” Michelle also is 100% a stark-raving-mad Twiglight, Edward Cullen, and True Blood fan – so, this may have something to do with it. Note: Someone does not have to KNOW they are an emotional vampire to be one. For instance, after a protracted battle with the city of DC I CANNOT speak to a lawyer or zoning official without getting the willies. So, that is what I visualized when doing this exercise.
2. “Try on” the behavior of detachment. Allow yourself a time period – a week, a year, a month – where you do not have to interact with this person.
3. After planning this time away from your emotional vampire, do you feel better? Ask yourself the following questions:
a. If you don’t feel better, why not? (E.g., You’ll have to interact with them again, the issue is still not resolved, they were mean to you, yada yada).
b. If you do feel better, why? What WAS it that was making you feel bad about the impending interaction?
c. For both, can you live with the idea that – for a period of time – something will not be resolved/will be less-than-perfect/etc. with this emotional vampire?
“C” is really what it’s about. It’s the idea that you are going to NOT focus your energy on the Emotional Vampire and INSTEAD focus it on something else. So – now comes “D.”
d. On WHAT will you focus your energy recovered from the emotional vampire?
Something about this feels good, especially “D.” It makes me feel less to and fro and able to deal with dramatic, incompetent, or otherwise snarky situations and individuals. For me it’s about avoiding burn out. I have always thought over-committment is what would kill me. At first I thought myself a hypocrite for writing off “drama” and everyone who comes with that in my life. Hey, I am the one who can deal with difficult people! I should be dealing with them, not ignoring them. Well, after completing this exercise I wonder: Could this be another tool in the toolkit of dealing with difficult personalities? Perhaps…my friend…perhaps.