#6 Who Are the “Energy Vampires” in Your Life?

[NOTE: This is an excerpt from my recently released book Choices for College Success (Boston: Pearson Education, 2011, page 221.) While the book addresses student success, the topic for this blog applies to all of us.]

Toxic people can “poison” our lives on various levels. Perhaps it is a physically abusive relationship or a psychologically demeaning relationship. In whatever manner they come to us, these toxic people seem to take the life right out of our bodies, figuratively and literally.

In her book Positive Energy, Judith Orloff writes of energy vampires –people in our lives who are continually draining us of energy. They whine about their lives, berate us for our actions, and monopolize conversations. When they finish with us, they feel more energized; we feel exhausted, having had our energy zapped.

The metaphor of an “energy vampire” is powerful. It could be a classmate, an instructor, a friend, a roommate, a coworker, or even a family member. The experience may be subtle–you are not sure what happened, but you feel more tired than you did before a particular person talked with you. At other times, you may literally feel the energy draining from your body as the person moves towards you. [Note to the reader: On my first CD (Same Tune, Different Song) I wrote a song about these people, aptly titled Energy Vampires. You can hear a clip here.]

Energy vampires do not typically engage in conversations; rather, they typically deliver a monologue about their maladies, opinions, or prejudices. In short, these people spray toxins into your environment just as real as if you immersed yourself in a polluted river.

Two cautionary notes must be added to this description. First, as with many things in life, there are shades of gray; not every situation is black or white. Obviously, a friend who comes to you in distress about a traumatic event that just occurred is not the same as the person who continually drains energy from your relationship. Second, any encounter is a two-way street. If you frequently find yourself in draining relationships, it would be wise to evaluate your actions. Do you do something that draws these types of people to you and encourages their behavior?

Finding “nutritious people” for your life

One way to protect your energy and sanity is to associate with nutritious people. These people help to neutralize the poison spewed by the energy vampires. A nutritious person has three main characteristics that stand out:

• When this person sees you, he is genuinely glad to see you. His face brightens with a smile.

• When you speak, this person listens to you. She asks questions about what you have said and about what matters to you. She exhibits a genuine interest in what you have to say.

• The nutritious person accepts you as you are. He does not try to make you into someone he would like you to be.

The more nutritious people we have in our lives, the better. It is almost as though we can feel our energy level rising just by seeing their faces. Be grateful for their presence in your life. And then ask yourself: “Am I a nutritious person for other people?”

© Steve Piscitelli and Steve Piscitelli’s Blog, 2010.

About stevepiscitelli

Community Advocate-Author-Pet Therapy Team Member
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26 Responses to #6 Who Are the “Energy Vampires” in Your Life?

  1. Pat Moody says:

    I thought this was a great article. It makes one stop and examine the people in our lives, as well as take a good look at ourselves.


    • Terrell says:

      Nutrious people are hard to find. Especially for me because I have a hard time trusting people. For one thing people change after you get to know them and some time has pasted, but it’s hard to just keep meeting people, getting to know them then just leave them alone after a year or so when you find out they can be a energy vampire. What can I do about that.


  2. Barbara says:

    Energy vampires are people that I warned my kids about.Just as I taught them about stranger danger, I warned them not to allow energy vampires to suck their energy and vaporize their dreams. But admittedly, I also told them that they are a necessary “evil”, they are the thing that can make us fight with all we have in us passionately to hold on to our dream. When we have won the fight to let our dreams live, we learn how much of our passion lives in those dreams.


  3. Lemuel T says:

    Ive met a few energy vampires in my life, I dont deal with them long. The older I get the less tolorant I am of them. I learned long ago to deal with positive people, I must admit never have I thought of them as nutrious.


  4. Tracye Swan says:

    It Is sad to admit but I have a few Energy Vampires In my life. I would not refer to them as being “Evil” or “Bad” but they don’t want the same thing as me, and It seems as If they rather for me to party than study, because that Is what they choose to do. It bothers me more ways than one, but at the end of the day i have to what Is best for me and make the best decisions even If they are close friends or family memebers.


  5. LisaH says:

    What a powerful topic! I found myself being consumed by energy vampires at one point in my life. Trying to fight with no energy is quite difficult. I literally felt like I could only be around these certain people for a short time because I needed to recharge. I am introspective by nature, so I began trying to figure out what was wrong with me. Why was I “attracting” such unhealthy relationships? I learned a lesson from the energy vampires. I learned to set up personal boundaries with people. Its not easy to enforce boundaries once they are set, but I found better results when they are in place.


  6. David B. says:

    David B.
    Energy vampires, the one aspect of our live’s we encounter regularly. It catches us off gaurd at times. We are stealing energy from those who will listen not knowing we are at times. I have experienced this but on the end of actually being the vampire. I would be so over whelmed with the hurts and failures of my life I would express how I felt to my girl-friend thinking im just venting, but in actualitiy I was creating a monster, a bad vibe if you will. This cauesed her to seem down and think of her own problems. Now I can see the difference in our convasations we are more helpful to each other now. I will venture to say Professor Piscitelli this passage is rich, needed, helpful, through out many lives, im sure if we take the time to evaluate this uncontrolable aspect we will notice a change and difference in our lives.


  7. Brandon C. says:

    I like this blog because it was beneficial to me. It helped me to get over my energy vampires and to realize who and what they were doing to me. I have an uncle who is an energy vampire to me, always downing me to feel better about himself. Now I won’t allow him to do that to me anymore. I also am going to be a better person so I can be per say a nutrious person.


  8. Candace Taylor says:

    I never realized that people could take our energy, but after reading this I can identify people in my life that seem to do that. There are people who I see who take energy, but at the same time there are people who seem to give me energy. I think people may have more motivation to do things if they can idenitfy these types of people and remove them from their lives.


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  10. Daphnie says:

    Reading this I have realized how much I have allowed “energy vampires” to effect my past and my spirit. Growing up where I’m from your constantly surounded by “energy vampires” and mite I say they can be people you dont even know. I always had someone that had an oppinion about what I was doing, how i was doing it, and why I shouldnt do it. Never an up lift, always negative. I got tierd of hearing “how many people you know from where we’re from makes it” or “I can’t leave the hood” and the one I can’t stand to hear the most “as long as I can get by”. I have always been opposite, ” I cant wait to leave the hood”, ” I want more out of life” and my favorite “bigger and better things”. I thank God I got out when i did. Like they say, you have to step out the box to see whats in the box.


  11. monserrate dejesus says:

    Recently I have had this experience on my college campus. There are numerous amounts of energy vampires I encounter daily. These people seem to project their hate and you can see it coming, but what are you gonna do hide in your house. My solution is to enjoy the time you have with positive people and have metaphors that you say to yourself. It is like a shield, in life we have to fight sometimes.


  12. JoAnna Rushing says:

    Energy vampires are real. The name itself holds the perfect description. when I read about topics like this I feel relieved that I’m not the only one who has/ is over coming this. Sometimes negative people will try to make you feel as though you are some how not good enough, like your efforts are not good enough, that somehow you are “less”. Articles like the one above is a great reminder that those energy drainers are real. I also liked how the article points out that its good to consider how I may entertain the toxic behavior and points in my direction to take responsibility for what I allow in my inner circle.


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