Know any “Emotional Vampires?” Surround yourself with energy givers, not takers
Over the last few weeks I’ve been incredibly touched by the support of many friends, family and colleagues who’ve been cheering me on as I’ve launched my new book Stop Playing Safe into the world.
Launching a book is obviously exciting. But it’s also scary. I mean, “What if no-one wants to read it? What if those who do read it don’t like it? What if…” and on it goes. I’m certainly no less immune to those nagging voices of self-doubt than anyone else.
However, as I wrote in Stop Playing Safe, one of the greatest weapons against the internal barrage of naysayers and critics, is an external team of cheerleaders encouraging our efforts and supporting our success. When we surround ourselves with people who believe in our success, it makes success so much easier to achieve. And so if you want to achieve something exciting, or make a big change in your life, it’s crucial to deliberately surround yourself with people who will support you and cheer you on, particularly when the going get’s tough. (Sometimes they may also give you an equally much needed kick in the pants.)
Of no less importance is deliberately shedding those people from your life who hold you back, and get in the way of you making the changes you want; people who only fuel the inner voices of doubt and who tend to pull you down rather than lift you up. I call them “Emotional Vampires” because they tend to suck our energy from us, rather than leave us more energized after time in their presence.
Of course, emotional vampires come in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes you are related to them. Sometimes you work with them. Sometimes they are long held ‘habit’ friends who’ve you’ve known for years and share a wealth of personal history with. Certainly you can’t always completely remove them from your life.
At least not in the short term. However, it’s vital to be very aware of who they are, and to create strategies to keep them from undermining your confidence, your actions and your future.
While there’s no easy way to do this, here are a few suggestions.
a) If you can avoid seeing them, do. And if you need to make up reasons like “I’m just really busy over the next few weeks, months (decades!)” do that too. Hopefully, they will get the hint.
b) Let them know that what you want to achieve (or change) in your life and that you’d appreciate their support.
c) If they are chronic complainers or dooms-dayers, then let them know you’re really prefer if they kept them complaining for when you’re not with them. Tell them you’re happy to help them take actions to address situations, but you aren’t interested in complaining for the sake of it and that you don’t see how it helps them, you or anyone else.
d) If there is something going on in your life and you feel compelled to give them some ‘venting time,’ set a time limit for them to BMW (Bitch, Moan and Whinge.) If you’re up for being playful, set your phone for 5 minutes and tell them when it starts beeping, you’re done. On to more positive things. Sometimes people have no idea just how negative they are. You may be doing them a favour helping them realize how much time they spend stuck in complaint.
Of course it takes courage to set firm boundaries with people you’ve known a long time, even more to sever ties on old relationships. If you find yourself struggling with either of those, just ask yourself, “Who is this serving by leaving things as they are?” If you are truly honest with yourself, the answer will be clear: “no-one.”