We all have that one friend.
The one who always needs to vent about something.
The one who posts inappropriately personal things on Facebook because they are looking for attention or sympathy.
The one who calls us at inconvenient times to complain about their partner, or their last terrible date, or how exhausted they are because of their job or their children…and keeps us on the phone way too long.
This friend is someone who can “suck the energy” right out of the room with their negativity and outlook on life. Everything is a drama.
If there’s no drama in their personal life, they have no trouble finding it in the world and making it a point of discussion.
But there’s something odd about your relationship with this person, something that’s disturbing or even confusing to you.
Even though you consider yourself a genuinely caring, empathic, and compassionate person, you feel no compassion for this particular person.
You cringe every time you see their name come up when your phone rings.
You are numb to their “suffering.”
They cry, they rant, they want you to validate what they’re feeling.
“Can you believe they dropped the ball on that and now I have to work this weekend?”
“My husband doesn’t lift a finger to help around the house, and I make more money!”
“He stood me up again! I swear, he must get a thrill from abusing me like this.”
You want to be supportive, but all you can manage is to politely nod and say, “I’m sorry you’re going through this.”
Because if you’re the advice-giving type, you’ve probably offered help or solutions, only to be met with, “Yeah, but—” and a litany of reasons why they can’t possibly do the very thing that may help them.
“Yeah, but if I don’t pick up the slack, I’m going to hear about it from the clients.”
“Yeah, but I can’t ask him to do anything, he just shuts me down.”
“Yeah, I could just say no next time, but I don’t want to play games like that.”
It’s so frustrating! You feel pulled-on and want to distance yourself as much as possible, even if that means avoiding their calls or avoiding them.
Years ago, this same exact thing would happen to me. It was a very confusing situation for me, since I feel others’ feelings deeply.
Why did some people evoke genuine caring and empathy, and some make me want to leave the room?
It wasn’t until I finally understood that people cry from two different places—from genuinely wanting help in helping themselves, or from wanting someone to feel sorry for them and care-take them.
In other words, the people we want to run and hide from are probably coming from a place of self-abandonment.What Is Self-Abandonment?
People who always play the “victim” are like energy vampires, draining caring people with their lack of responsibility for themselves and blaming others for their feelings.
If you’re a naturally empathic and caring person, you may become a caretaker for a victim, trying to solve his or her problems for them.
The trouble is, the energy vampire is not open to learning about him or herself.
They resist your help and advice because they are unable to face their own underlying painful feelings and want to project them “out there” onto others by venting, complaining, and criticizing.
This is the meaning of self-abandonment: refusing to do what’s in one’s best interest or denying, deflecting, or distracting oneself from pain.
And yes, almost all of us self-abandon one way or another, because we have unexamined painful feelings. We do it by complaining to others, or by drinking too much beer and wine at the end of the day, or by zoning out with our smartphones (to avoid boredom, loneliness, anger, sadness, etc.).
But energy vampires, or victims, have subconsciously decided to avoid taking responsibility for their pain by making it your responsibility.
Don’t take the bait.
Stay strong and protect your energy.
How? By knowing how to take loving care of yourself rather than caretaking the “victim.”
Loving yourself with someone who is complaining and being a victim means that you stay tuned into your own feelings instead of being taken over by their feelings. It means you want responsibility for taking care of yourself rather than caretaking the other person.
It means that you don’t put aside your own feelings to take care of another’s feelings—unless the other person is actually incapable of taking care of their own feelings (such as a toddler or a very physically or emotionally ill person).
In order to take loving care of yourself, you need to accept that you are helpless to help someone who isn’t open to learning about loving themselves.
You can certainly feel compassion for their pain and pray for them to open to learning about loving themselves, but you need to fully accept that you can’t help others who are not willing to help themselves—especially since it’s likely that much of their pain is coming from their own self-abandonment.
If you are reticent to do this, because you feel guilty, obligated, or because you like feeling “needed,” it’s a sign that you may have issues with codependence, which is relying on others’ approval for your sense of self-worth.
And if that’s the case, then you have some healing to do on your own self-abandonment.
Many people who struggle with their own self-abandonment become doormats for those who want others to take responsibility for their pain.
If this is you, don’t despair. I know it’s difficult to say “no” to people because when you do, you’re wracked with guilt and shame.
That’s because of childhood patterns that started when your parents or caregivers led you to conclude (from direct experience or from your observation of their behavior) that you have to take responsibility for another’s feelings.
This is why I wrote my eBook, Thriving At Last, and why it can help you heal from these subconscious patterns and start saying “no” to energy vampires.
Thriving At Last takes you through a 6-step process called “Inner Bonding,” which enables you to examine the false beliefs originating in childhood that compel you to care-take others, listen to the voice of your inner guidance, and do what you have to do to take loving care of yourself.
When you learn and practice the steps of Inner Bonding as I describe in Thriving At Last, you’ll no longer be a magnet for energy vampires, because you’ll know how to set proper boundaries when they come calling with their latest “victim” story.
You’ll know how to respond and what to say to protect your time and energy, without being insulting and without compromising your own needs.
You’ll be able to stay centered, calm, and kind, because you will value yourself more than you value their approval.
But the best part is that you’ll learn how to welcome your feelings, become curious about your inner-world, and trust your own wisdom, so that you yourself don’t become one of these victim types that others want to avoid.
You can get started with Step One in a matter of minutes when you download the eBook here:Start With Step One
If someone you deeply care about is closed and being a victim, loving yourself means that you compassionately embrace your heartbreak over how they are treating themselves and your helplessness over their intent to avoid responsibility for themselves.
It’s hard, I know, but this is the reality that we need to accept—that no matter how much we love and care about someone, we have no control over their choice to abandon themselves.
But you do have a choice over whether or not to heal yourself.
P.S. What should you say to someone when their behavior feels uncomfortable, impinges on your time or space, or they are downright rude?
When you learn how to listen to your inner guidance, through the Inner Bonding process, you’ll always know the right answer to this question. Take a look at my eBook, Thriving At Last, and see how Inner Bonding can help you:Learn More