Just a few days ago I wrote about “EVP – Emotional Projectile Vomiting” … something folks who have no awareness of their emotional states other than as explosive experiences beyond their control spew the contents of their emotions all over others.
In that post I assert that this is a particularly nasty and all too common human trait. I also laid out the structure of how EVP happens and even some suggestions about what to do about it if you’re a sufferer.
However, there’s another side to nasty human emotional responses … the Emotional Vampires.
The Sad Story Of The Too Kind King
There is a fable about a very kingly and kindly king who ruled a kingdom a long time ago, far, far away.
The story goes something like this …
One day in a massive battle against another kingdom during a particularly brutal time in the fighting one of the king’s closest companions, a boyhood friend and confidant, was challenging a foe who was too big, too strong and too fast for him to handle alone.
Just as the tables turned against the king’s companion, and he found himself about to be pierced by his opponent’s sword and struck dead, his opponent unceremoniously fell to the ground … and as he did his head rolled slightly to the side sliding off it’s neck to lie still on the ground next to his body.
The shocked man followed the falling body and the rolling head with his eyes, as his body was frozen in place – unable to move, until he looked up and away to see the king with his bloody sword in hand.
Immediately the king’s companion realized what the king had done and wept tears of graditude as he hugged his friend thanking him. The king accepted his friend’s graditude simply and silently, thinking to himself there was nothing else to do, but what he had done.
After the battle ended with victoriously for the king, he and his companions went their separate ways … the king back to the palace, the companion back to farm. A few years went by and one day a small caravan passed by the king’s companion’s farm and he saw the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, and fell in love at first sight – fortunately for him, she too fell in love with him as soon as she laid her eyes on him.
He knew he had to follow this woman and did so, back to the palace. When he arrived he found out that this woman was the king’s younger sister, a princess … who the king delightly offered to marry him to when he heard of their love. Soon after the wedding the princess became pregnant and they had a daughter born to them.
There was much rejoicing at the fortune of the young couple, as any news spread quickly in the small kingdom. However, just two years later the young princess fell deathly ill … and it seemed all hope was lost. But the king would not hear of it and sent his personal physician to care for his niece, and miraculously the physician healed the girl bringing her back to full vigorous health.
The companion and his wife, the king’s sister, were overjoyed at their daughter’s recovery, and for many more years all was well. Then there was a terrible drought and the farm failed, leaving the family near starvation. One day, without fanfare or notice a carriage from the king’s palace arrived to take them to the king, saving the companion and his family once again.
When they arrived at the palace the companion went to see the king. They met in the king’s private chamber, the king opened a bottle of his best wine and poured them both a cup. Then the king was called away for a moment on some affair of the state, and when he returned they drank together.
Almost immediately the king felt himself seized by terrible convulsions, and he knew he had been poisoned. He looked to his friend asking him with gasping breaths to call the physicians, but his lifelong companion did not move, instead he slowly sipped the wine in his own cup.
Then the king knew … it was he, his childhood friend, the one he loved as a brother, that had poisoned him. He managed to croak out but one word as he slowly died, “Why?”
The companion looked away and said, “How could I live with this … when you have done so much for me … so much I could never hope to repay you?” He continued, “For as long as you are alive, as long as I know that you live and I may see you, or hear your voice, I know that I will carry the burden of your gifts and the weight of them has broken me.”
The king was astonished at this, but did not have the strength to speak. His last breath rattled in this throat and his old friend spoke to him one last time, “This my dear friend you brought upon yourself … so much kindness can never be borne by one so common … I would say that I am sorry, but in truth, I am not.”
And so the story begins …
How Emotional Vampires Get Their Fangs
It may seem counter-intuitive to presume that an excess of kindness creates a monster, but so often that is in fact the case.
The fact of the matter is that when the scales of relationship become excessively imbalanced in favor of one person in the relationship, the other person begins to experience a kind of relentless guilt that’s unbearable and impenetrable. Simply … there is no way that the receiver of such extraordinarily excessive kindness can ever imagine how they will rebalance the relationship … so they begin to see the giver as an oppressor rather than a benefactor.
However, these folks are seldom then able to remain content with simply taking out their vengence on their benefactor, they often begin to build a kind of expectation that transitions to entitlement.
When someone begins to experience a sense of entitlement they begin to expect others to take care of them, to ensure they get to experience what they desire, regardless of the cost to others.
One of the ways this kind of expectation is expressed is in the manifestation of the Emotional Vampire … the person who drains the energy and emotions of others relentlessly to fulfill their own desires and needs.
The nature of vampire’s behavior is often contradictory. While they seem needy and weak, this is just a smoke screen for justifying their demanding and insistent nature.
“GIVE ME! GIVE ME! GIVE ME! … I HAVE NEEDS!!!” … rings forth from them in their every breath and act. Yet their words are often softly spoken, almost inaudible at times. Their movements may be deliberate, smooth and slow, belaying their real intention to steal what they can from others.
Like a thief in the night, Emotional Vampires often take what they believe they need and want without being noticed until they have fled. Only afterwards … when the victim is feeling drained and weak themselves do they begin to notice that something has been taken from them.
By then it is too late to recapture what has been lost … but it is not too late to keep what remains … and to rebuild the emotional treasury.
Crosses, Garlic Necklaces and Wooden Stakes
Like with most things a little knowledge is a dangerous thing … and when it comes to Emotional Vampires your having a little knowledge is a dangerous thing for them.
Probably all this means nothing to you if you’ve never been bit by an Emotional Vampire … but if you have this will make all too much sense.
You’ll know you’ve been bitten by the symptoms you experience after the bite … a strange, unyeilding fatigue … a terrible sense of longing for relief, but relief from what or whom remains vague or utterly unknown … what feels like complete exhaustion down to the center of your bones …
Sometimes just the thought of spending time with the vampire is enough to bring on the symptoms.
But … fear not. Now that you’re beginning to learn the symptoms and the cause you can prepare yourself to resist the onslaught of the vampires before it begins.
First you must do is to raise your level of self-awareness (as I wrote about in my posting about Emotional Projectile Vomiting this is an area we place extensive emphasis on in the MythoSelf Process work).
You need to be able to recognize the symptoms of having been bitten by an Emotional Vampire after you have been … then as you are experiencing the symptoms … and then as you are beginning to sense them coming on … and finally when you are in the presence of an Emotional Vampire before they begin their treachery.
STEP ONE: Re-gaining Your Ground
Self awareness is the key to recognizing the symptoms of being bitten, as well as being able to notice when you are in the presence of a vampire.
The kind of self awareness I’m referring to is an awareness of how your being in the moment … a body-based awareness that is somatically organized. You need to be able to notice for subtle somatic changes in yourself, and attend to them properly.
One of the key premises of the MythoSelf Process is that how we are (and how we operate) in any given moment is somatically organized … or grounded in our bodies.
This is linked to another fundamental premise that cognition is embodied as well … i.e.: that we literally think with and in our bodies … therefore you must learn how to notice the subtle cognitive shifts that show up in the body first (another thing we feature in MythoSelf Process training for good reason).
STEP TWO: Re-setting The Field
In all human interaction there is an exchange that everyone who is engaged in the interaction experiences.
Some folks like to refer to what they experience in their interaction with other using words like energy, chi, ki or prana … whatever the name for this field that something is exchanged between us is plain and clear for most people.
While the experience is ineffable, the recognition that something meaningful has been exchanged and that something meaningful has transpired between people is unmistakable.
This is part of the human field and it feeds us and nourishes us, emotionally and spiritually, as food nourishes us physically.
Emotional Vampires are gluttons for the charge of this experience … they seek only to dwell in the field of human interaction and feed … they consume much while contributing little.
To reset the field, such that you are not suceptible to the lure of the vampire, you must be able to reconnect the three main centers of human experience so they operate integrally.
The Three Main Centers of Human Experience
The three main centers of human experience are:
1. The Head Center (or the intellect)
2. The Heart Center (or the emotions)
3. The Gut Center (or the intuitions)
Working with the three main centers of human experience in an integrated way is referred to as operating in wholeform within the MythoSelf Process work.
When you are operating in wholeform manner, with all three main centers integrated, you are able to notice for what we call “Signals In The System” in the MythoSelf Process model.
Signals In The System are subtle signs that you begin notice perceptually via your five senses and simultaneously intuit via changes in the environment tat create shifts you experience internally within yourself (in part this is the power of re-setting somatic ground).
One of the effects of deep meditation practice is the awakening and re-integration of the three main centers of human experience. However, this is not the only way …
In addition to silent meditation and/or active contemplation, another process for awakening and re-integrating is working somatically.
Clinical somatic re-education, things like the Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais Work or Hanna Somatics, are among the practices reported to produce an effect that is similar to deep meditation.
There are other somatic practices that are more active as well … Yoga, Chi Kung, Sufi Dancing … that also create shifts that may lead to an awakening and re-integration of the three main centers of human experience.
However, in the MythoSelf Process we use very subtle forms of somatic interventions, as well as those resembling the more familiar practices like those I’ve mentioned.
The sublte form of somatics we use when training in the MythoSelf Process model opeate at the micro-muscular level … sometimes intending to focus on the idea of twitching as little as a single muscle fiber.
STEP THREE: Keeping the Vampires At Bay
Regardless of the process it is essential for your emotional and spiritual wellbeing that you keep the Emotional Vampires at bay.
When you’ve learned to operate in wholeform the ability to notice the shift in the environment as a vampire begins to feed on the emotional charge in the field becomes instantly available to you.
When you are organized in wholeform, i.e.: in an integrated way, you can immediately shift what you are doing and disrupt the pattern the vampire runs to escalate the emotional charge.
The primary shift you learn to make is internal, the ability to maintain your state regardless of the circumstance or situation you find yourself confronting … or to change it if that’s more appropriate or useful to you.<
You’ll also intuitively know how to notice for and interrupt patterns of behavior and speech that create the kind of charge that Emotional Vampires feed on and drain you.
The third powerful resource for dealing with vampires that becomes available to you when you are operating from a wholeform position is the ability to shift the direction of an interaction, steering the emotional quality in the positive direction, e.g.: to joy, happiness, optimism … something Emotional Vampires hate.
The Final Word …
Emotional Vampires feed on negative emotions, not positive ones … they luxuriate in sharing the misery of others, and their lure is often their own misery, which they freely share to take control of the interaction.
When you refuse to have the negative conversations that vampires so often gorge on they are stunned and will reveal themselves openly.
You will be accused of not caring about them, being insensitive, ignoring their needs, acting in a hurtful way … yet, if you learn to listen closely you’ll hear that every word they speak is about them … their feelings, their needs, their desires … they deplore your selfishness!!!
Don’t give in … never, never, never, never give in …
Just say “NO!”
Joseph Riggio, Ph.D.
PS – My book “The State of Perfection“ has a full set of examples of me pointing out and working with Emotional Vampires in the training room … and helping the folks there learn how to deal with the ones not in the room … sometime living at home with them. Pick up a copy and let me know what you think about it …