Making a change – those who drain your energy
Energy drainers – if you are involved with any kind of change you will find it drains your energy. Energy will drain as you come to terms with new situations. and deal with confusion. You will have to deal as well with anxiety – your own, and other people’s. You will find yourself giving out lots of your energy in support of others. But some people seem to take just a little too much – more than you can afford to give if you are going to stay fit for the task ahead.
We all feel insecure in the middle of change but energy drainers are usually people who are insecure and negative in their everyday life. Quite often they find it difficult to tolerate their own company. You may find people like this start to depend upon you to help them make all kinds of relatively simple life decisions. They may phone or text you several times a day on any pretext – they can eat you as well as your time and sap your life force!
Energy drainers don’t know how to tap into their personal energy reserves to survive
Very often these sad people are stuck in “Survival Mode.” They don’t know how to tap into their personal energy reserves to survive. Like children, they haven’t accepted responsibility for their own lives. But they find many ways, including emotional blackmail, to persuade you to give them the emotional support and the reassurance they need. Life is frightening and they are very scared indeed!
We all know people like this. They might be old friends, family or work colleagues. You want to help but their needs are overwhelming.
So, what do you do?
Keep in mind that you may need to conserve your energy to manage a complex change. If they are part of the change, you are certainly not going to be in a position to cut them out of your life. Anyway, at the end of the day, most of us would actually like to be in a place to help.
The stance you take depends upon your relationship with the person and the level of your energy reserves. However, your first responsibility is to yourself. You, too, may have to adopt a “Survival Mode” attitude.
It is certainly much easier to deal with someone who is an acquaintance or a work colleague. You have no personal commitment to them and you have every right to say goodbye when you finish work.
Dealing with energy drainers
Always try to stay in a neutral space when talking to them. Give neutral responses and try not to get drawn into their, or your, emotions. When you deal with them, imagine you are wearing a breastplate to defend your energy – withhold your energy behind your breastplate. Deliver a neutral, and deliberately, low energy response. Offer no more and no less than is necessary to carry out the transaction.
As a personal survival technique, this approach is also applicable for family and old friends. However, you may choose to take a more compassionate and supportive stance by demonstrating “tough love.” Your goal here is to move them on from negative to positive. You want to move them back into using their own energy resources. In this way, you can help them to become self-sufficient. Get them to think through their own options – to make choices and plan. When they do so give them lots of quiet praise – move them on from whining to thinking about concrete ways they can help themselves!
Dealing with emotional blackmail
Be aware, though, that energy drainers will resort to many forms of subtle emotional blackmail to get access to your energy. Don’t let them! Let them know, through your actions, that your energy is no longer accessible to them. Encourage them to make decisions on their own and to enjoy their own company by simply not being available: physically or emotionally.
It will not be easy for you or them. You are breaking established patterns of behaviour and setting a new precedent. But eventually a new dynamic should be established. They should begin to take responsibility for their own life and their own decisions.
You may have to support them through a change as part of your role but do so in a managed way! With friends and family, if they will not take action, success will be impossible. So recognise when you have banged your head once too often against that proverbial brick. It may be the wisest step is simply to “let go.”
If you need help dealing with your energy drainer, please get in touch
Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in organisational development, management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find all her books on Amazon at this link