Mental garbage unloaders and emotional vampires
Have you ever been involved with a person who made you feel literally exhausted every time you talk to them? Or perhaps you have a friend like this?
Interaction with them seems to always lead to an exchange of energy levels: if, for example, you felt great and energized before their call (and they were down as usual) then after 40 min of a mental garbage unloading session they were the one who felt great and energized, and it was you who felt low and drained.
Emotional vampires and mental garbage unloaders have an ability to spot and use those who are susceptible to their antics. You may think you are in control (at first), but if you let the conversation keep going, you will eventually get a sense of being sucked into a vortex of overblown, never ending negative drama.
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At this point it is usually too late. It takes only one time to politely go along with their unloading on you for them to become your frequent visitor. After that, they are always back. Again and again.
They need it. It’s just the way they are. Call it co-dependency, PTSD, narcissism, mental disorder… whatever. I am not writing this article to make diagnosis, I am writing to help YOU to protect yourself from these vampires.
Here is what they usually do, but feel free to add your own:
~ ALL of your conversations/interactions have a very defined model: it is 1% about you, like ‘how are you doing’, and then the remaining 99% is about their mental unloading.
~ they expect you to have time and desire to listen to them. Never mind you have your own plans and schedule. They just call and it is like blah-blah-blah non-stop.
~ they seem to always be supercharged with strong emotions, to the point where you think ‘gee, they seem like they're on the edge of a mental breakdown. Maybe they should see a specialist’.
~ they may curse, cry, criticize and make it all look like it is everybody else's fault and they are the victim. And yes, you have to listen to all of that.
~ they may ask for your advice or feedback, plus they expect you to take their side at all times.
~ good luck spending 20 min of your time on giving advice. They will NOT take it. They never do.
~ they call only when something happens in their life and there is the need to unload. Your attempts to reach out when something happens in your life and you need to talk it through are always futile; they are nowhere to be found.
~ they find comforting talking to you. It is like they are a leech and you are their narcotic drug.
~ they do not get hints and have no sense of how aggravating they come across. They do not sense your exhaustion.
~ you have the sense of being ‘a hostage’ or the pressure to continue with the conversation because… you do not want to be rude.
~ there is this sense of obligation ‘to follow up’ on your last conversation because, again you do not want to come across as being cruel or heartless.
~ you feel resentful about the imbalance of time spent talking and attention given to their vs. your problems.
~ they may say: “you understand me like no one else, you are the only person I could tell this“.
~ you may especially feel like a naïve, 'trying to help fool' after discovering that the terrifying drama story they told you was shared (by them) with other people but in much less dramatic manner because it was not a big deal. Here you are, all emotional and worked up, trying to come up with helpful ideas to solve their emergency case having no idea that they are actually just fine.
~ seeing their name on a caller ID or in your email inbox gives you nervous ticks.
The longer this whole thing continues the worse it is for YOU.
At this point you need to recognize that you have become a victim of a mental garbage unloader and an emotional vampire.
If they are just a new date or a random stranger, let’s say at work, then you may want to cut them off completely. It is the close friends and family members that could be difficult to address. You may eventually want to cut them off too, but I suggest a ‘softer’ approach. This approach is about erecting boundaries and removing yourself as a dumping ground from their mind.
Humans are like animals – they can be trained too. Just like you got all loose and soft on them when it all started, it is time now to tighten the belt and rough up. Do not worry about appearing ‘selfish’. They are the ones who are.
Here is the ‘all inclusive’ package guaranteed to work if applied in full. Do all of these together and I guarantee you relief in less than one month.
~ Stop giving advice, refrain from going over every single detail of their issue, and do not go on and on talking about their drama. They feed on it! One response sentences and that’s it. It should make them feel ‘dry’ and ‘unsatisfied’. Do it several times and you will be fired from the job of a counselor.
~ Cut on your talking time. It may seem like a tough proposition, but here is what you could do: when they call say you are in the middle of something and have only 10 min to talk. Once the time is up say you have to go. Example of excuses: guests coming over or are already here, dinner time, getting out of the door to run errands, rushing to a place before it closes down, doctor appointment.
Rest assured it will work, but do not be shocked if they call later that day. As long as they think you are a dumping ground they will keep coming back. Stay put and do not answer that call. Your goal is to leave them ‘dry’ and ‘unsatisfied’.
~ When they talk it is like they are the only person on the scene with projectors shining at them. Everything else and everybody else is dark and invisible. Well, NO MORE. Mentally shift those projectors onto you and start talking. Let them talk for 2 min and then interrupt. You deserve to be heard too. Talk about yourself, your problems, feelings and issues. See if they reciprocate and how long it will take them to get fed up with your talking. Again, do not let this phone call last too long. Set a time limit that is comfortable for you.
If you do all of the above it will be just a matter of time before they start looking for another dumpster. You do not have to be enemies for life, all you want is to train them to bug off. You could still be friends, but your role of being a dumping ground will be replaced with someone else.
You may also want to think WHY you let it all happen in the first place. Why namely you and not some other person? What is it that you did to make them pick you for the role? Play back your behavioral pattern to spot problem areas. Think what you could do differently next time to not become a victim.
Also, it may not be comfortable to hear, but could you be THAT person? Could you be an emotional vampire too? Do you talk to your friends/date/boyfriend mostly about yourself nonstop with no regard to their time? Do you have the need to talk to them to feel better?
If it is all about you then sorry, you probably know the answer. The good news is that these relationships could still be saved if balance is restored.
In addition, if this is your long-term habit and you have history of people cutting it short or disappearing on you then it could be the reason why.
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