Way too often we are being dragged into manipulative and exhausting relations without even realizing it. It is all too common to express your negative emotions, fears and concerns in Post-Soviet countries, this being considered a courtesy movement to show an interlocutor you are not better off than them. Unfortunately, in many cases such behavior becomes a standard and long-winded lamentations about one’s misfortune and bad luck becomes a predominant conversation topic. If this is the case, should you reciprocate with negativity or there is another way? In this article I would like to address the often overlooked topics of emotional vampirism, abuse and blackmail.
Emotional Black Holes
In popular culture as well as in our social circles often times the description of a friend is awfully distorted. Have you ever heard of the concept of a friend as the person who is there to be our pillow when we want to cry? While it is undeniable that a close person should be there when we feel good and bad, the dominance of a “cry pillow” characteristic is not what should make the foundation of friendship. According to Wikipedia, friends tend to share common backgrounds, occupations, or interests. If your “friend” is contacting you only when he or she needs your help or a devoted ear to listen to all their troubles, chances are you are dealing with an emotional vampire.
Emotional Vampires are psychologically weak people, who need other person’s positive energy to keep afloat. These are some common characteristic:
- They are always negative
- They make you feel bad if you are happy
- They make you question your optimism
- They degrade your achievements and joy by turning the conversation back to their misfortune
- They are trying to find out what problem you have and concentrate on it until you feel down in the dumps yourself
NB: Emotional Vampires are not your Friends! Those are people who are using your energy to feel better by making you a companion in their emotional black hole. Recommendation: Avoid!
Emotional manipulation is the most common as well as the subtlest form of emotional vampirism. It can be subconscious as well as well thought-out. Accordingly, the tactics to deal with those are different.
Emotional manipulators are trying to subjugate you by instilling their superiority. The cases and applications are so different that both an adult stating that you should tone down your opinion because you are too young and a kidnapper trying to undermine his victim’s human dignity are similarly the examples of emotional manipulation. Now you see the difference between the subconscious manipulation and a thought-out tactic. The examples can be plenty. What about a person who is saying no one ever needed you as much as they do; no one ever did or will do what they are doing for you; no one cares about you as much as they do? Have you ever met people that state your success is mainly attributable to them while their failure is unavoidably your fault? Having your voice silenced down or downplaying your importance is the best treat for an emotional manipulator.
So how do you know you are dealing with a dangerous case of emotional manipulation?
- Your feeling of self-worth is depleted
- Your self-esteem gets lower
- You start fearing the next encounter with a person
- You catch yourself preparing a defense speech
- You might experience sleeping issues and nervous breakdowns
If an emotional manipulator is a close relative or a colleague, there is little chance of avoiding a person altogether. In this case be ready to speak up and indicate the signs of manipulation. You need to make this person understand the practiced behavior is inadequate and is not to be tolerated. In case of an unconscious emotional manipulation, a person is expected to realize the mistake and adjust one’s behavior.
In case of a conscious and well-thought manipulation you must weight pros and cons of avoiding further encounters and decide if you will have to employ manipulator’s tactics for his defeat or change the surrounding.
NB: A person who pinpoints your weaknesses and dances around your insecurities is not a person you want to put up with. For your health sake, you don’t want to deal with this person at all!
Emotional blackmailers are people who are using a FOG formula (a mix of fear, obligation and guilt) to force you to take specific actions. Your employer can use the fear of firing you if you do not commit to unethical business practice and your partner can make you feel guilty and obliged to them if you do not act as they are asking you to. Even family members can be using your sense of obligation for the time they helped you with something to make you do what they currently need. Thus, since anyone can perform a role of an emotional blackmailer, you will be safe only if you learn to avoid “Reciprocation Complex”. You can feel fear, obligation or guilt, but if another person is pointing you at those, your best strategy will be to know that you are obliged nothing to no one and build your response and actions accordingly.
You might find the biggest number of the above mentioned cases in your childhood, when you were still unaware and weaponless in front of the surrounding emotional vampirism. A common problem is that we can feel bad without ever realizing that our emotion void is coming from our surrounding and not rooted in ourselves. While you have to take responsibility for your own actions, you have no obligation to let other people suck out your emotional strengths. Be positive, be kind, be thoughtful and avoid the vampires. And which one are you: a giver or maybe a taker? Find out by listening to this one