Did you ever wonder why after taking care of yourself including getting enough rest, eating whole foods, exercising etc., that something is still not right? Perhaps you feel fatigued after otherwise being well earlier in the day or have a sudden feeling of fatigue after working with a co-worker or listening to a client, friend etc.
Your energy is low, and you can’t put your finger on it.
It could be that you have fallen victim to an energy vampire.
In our field of work, many of us would fall into the category of an empath. An empath is someone who is compassionate, caring, understanding and a person incredibly connected to human beings and nature.
Empaths are also highly intuitive, seeking better for others, deep nurturers and sensitive to what another person is experiencing. These gifts of wisdom are what makes us so great at what we do.
An empath can also be very sensitive and vulnerable at times, taking on too much or too many causes or will push their own emotions aside to support another person.
Some of you can discern your empathic traits and set boundaries early and often but will have times when you will become vulnerable because of life stressors or situations and will need to work hard to protect yourselves even more in those times.
Energy Vampires are particularity attracted to empaths and those who are in the care profession.
Energy Vampires fall into specific categories, here are a few: a person who always seems to be a victim in life and have the most extended sob story to tell where everything is seemly still going wrong; the egomaniac who is self-inflated and can’t stop talking about themselves; the drama queen who has continual amounts of life-threatening ordeals and near-misses of death and for sure should have been on the stage but just not in your town; then, there are those who make you feel guilty, but are inherently riddled with emotional troubles themselves, and your listening ear always proves to support them and make them feel better. Whatever type of energy vampire crosses your path there are ways to cope and manage if walking out the door is not an option.
How, then, do you care for yourself while giving to others and continuing to care in a manner that empowers yourself and those around you?
Here are some tools to engage with energy vampires and protect yourself:
- Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses.
- Recognize those around you who are self-focused and look for the amount of energy you have at the beginning and the end of a conversation or interaction with them. Does your chest feel heavy, your body feel drained? Are you particularly vulnerable with this type of individual or perhaps more susceptible at certain times of the day?
- If you find yourself beginning to drain, stop at that moment and take a deep breath. A mental step back is as good as a physical one. Breathe again, slowly exhale. If you are with a client quickly shift your thinking, know that you are not responsible for their every need. You can still be comforting, understanding and provide information for additional support.
- Accept that although this situation may be more challenging than others, you are only responsible for your own emotions. Detach with love and understand those you are with are precisely where they need to be at that moment. Any attempt to change that person could have a negative impact on both you and the client/person.
- Take action to set boundaries immediately with good communication skills “I can provide you with this information.” And or “I am not able/ available to help with that.”
Later, reflect on what steps you could have taken to protect yourself better. Perhaps a time limit on the meeting or conversation. Embrace all that went right with what you wanted to achieve, caring for the client or possibly listening to a friend
Here are four things for you to consider after a meeting:
- Did I feel heard in the conversation?
- Were my feelings valued?
- Was the conversation balanced?
- What was the overall energy level during the meeting?
Navigating through some of these questions will give you a better understanding of how you can follow up with improvements or validate the boundaries set.
You are the keeper of your energy, so guard it well. It brings you peacefulness and emotional well-being. It is not for others to take or steal. You can determine when, how and how much you want to give.
Lastly, your unique abilities to care for others is a real gift, and my hope is you will continue to expand and grow in all areas of perinatal health care. Taking opportunities to new heights all the while learning how to be vulnerable and how to protect yourself along the way.
IBCLC, CLE®, CLD, CAPPA Faculty
Fiona has over 25 years of experience attending births, supporting mothers postpartum, and offering lactation care as an IBCLC. She is passionate about teaching in a kind and nurturing environment to meet the individual needs of each student. She studied in England under the National Association of Maternal and Child Welfare. Fiona then moved to Canada, and went on to teach and study internationally. Her experience in perinatal health along with her interest in technology and social media and passion for quality education makes her an excellent fit working with families locally, nationally and Internationally. Fiona provides private consults for Childbirth Education, Doula & Lactation Support, mentoring new doulas and as a Faulty of CAPPA provides trainings for Labour Doula & Lactation Educator. She can be reached at fionalangsharpe.com.