4 Strategies to Survive Emotional Vampires


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Empaths Survival Guide

As an energy psychiatrist, I know that to come out ahead with drainers, you must be methodical. Emotional vampires can’t savage your peace of mind or prick you to death with corrosive remarks if you’re onto them. My books “The Empath’s Survival Guide” and “Emotional Freedom cover everything from recognizing an initial exposure to an energy vampires to deploying techniques to deflect negativity. These strategies will enable you to stay centered in difficult relationships.

The First Strategy: Determine Am I Being Sapped By An Emotional Vampire?

Anyone who has ever shared an office, car pool, or attended a family dinner with a vampire can attest to experiencing some common emotional side effects.
Even after a brief contact, you feel worse; they feel better. To find out if you’ve been bled, watch for these signs. Experiencing even one indicates
you’ve met a drainer on the prowl.

  • Your eyelids get heavy–you’re ready for a nap
  • You feel put down or like the rug was pulled out from under you
  • Your mood takes a nose-dive
  • You have a yen to binge on carbs or comfort food
  • You feel sniped at, slimed, or agitated
  • In addition, sometimes intuitive flashes and dreams can raise a red flag. Pay attention. For instance, following a dinner I attended where the guests had
    something negative to say about everything, I dreamed I was bombarded by a storm of leeches. Similarly, after a critical friend skewered one of my
    patients, she felt as if she’d fallen to the bottom of a well. Another patient dreamed that a pigeon pooped on her head–splat, there it was: her reaction
    to a nasty altercation with her apartment’s superintendent. Whether you’re awake or asleep, notice telling imagery that conveys emotion. This will
    help you identify a vampire.

    The Second Strategy: Practice These General Do’s and Don’ts With Emotional Vampires

    Whenever possible, eliminate drainers from your life. However, with those you can’t or don’t want to remove–for example, friends going through a rough
    patch or relatives who are fixtures–follow these tips:


  • Take a breath to center yourself
  • Listen for intuitions signaling danger (i.e. you get “the creeps,” a bad taste in your mouth, a tired or tense feeling)
  • Stay calm and matter of fact instead of going for their bait
  • Pause…develop a plan to handle the situation before you react (refer to the fourth guideline describing these strategies)
  • Communicate clearly, firmly, with a neutral tone when setting limits
  •           Don’t

  • Panic
  • Talk yourself out your intuitions or call yourself “neurotic”
  • Blurt out what you’ll regret later or use an accusatory tone
  • Fight with the person
  • Overeat to medicate stress
  • Also consider what kind of emotional vampires you’re facing; we often attract what we haven’t emotionally resolved in ourselves. If you’re fearful, you
    may find yourself surrounded by legions of fearful people. However, once you’ve begun to heal an emotion, you’re less likely to magnetize it towards
    you, nor does it possess the same ability to wear you out.

    If you decide that the pros outweigh the cons of remaining with an emotional vampire, say a bullying colleague or mate, you must take responsibility for
    that decision and the way you respond. Ask yourself, “How can I stay in the relationship and not feel oppressed?” This means concentrating on the good
    and accepting someone’s limitations.

    The Third Strategy: Could I Be An Emotional Vampire? How Do I Know?

    We’ve all got a smidgeon of vampire in us, especially when we’re stressed. So, cut yourself a break. It’s admirable to admit, “I think I’m emotionally
    draining people. What can I do?” Can’t be free without such honesty. Then you can change. These are some common indications that you’re becoming a

  • People avoid you or glaze over during a conversation
  • You’re self-obsessed
  • You’re often negative
  • You gossip or bad-mouth people
  • You’re critical, controlling
  • You’re in an emotional black hole, but won’t get help–this strains relationships and won’t free you
  • The solution is always to own up to where you’re emotionally stuck and change the related behavior. For instance, one patient in computer graphics kept
    hammering his wife with a poor-me attitude about how he always got stuck with boring projects at work. Instead of trying to improve the situation,
    he just kvetched. She started dreading those conversations, diplomatically mentioned it to him. This motivated my patient to address the issue with
    his supervisor, which got him more stimulating assignments. Similarly, whenever I slip into vampire mode, I try to examine and alter my behavior or
    else discuss the particulars with a friend or a therapist so I can change. Don’t hesitate to seek assistance when you’re stumped.

    The Fourth Strategy: Identify and Combat Emotional Vampires

    To be free of vampires, you must know the nature of the beast. Each one has a special talent for emotionally disabling you. The good news is that vampires
    are predictable. Once you get their number, you won’t be caught off guard. Understanding vampires from multiple angles gives you the upper hand. So
    does having empathy for their emotional wounds–intuitively, these feel as real to me as physical injury. Think about it: No one becomes a vampire
    because they’re happy! Whether or not they know it, vampires are driven by insecurity and weakness, infirmities that impede goodwill. This doesn’t
    excuse their predatory acts. Rather, it allows you to show compassion for people you may not like while setting limits, a paradigm for emotional diplomacy
    that frees you and reduces drain. This framework will help clarify your relationships, but realize there’s much more to a human being than any single
    definition. Stay focused: your aim isn’t to rehabilitate vampires, merely to counter them with uncommon grace.

    Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff’s book,The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People (Sounds True, 2017)



    Judith Orloff, MD is a New York Times bestselling author with the upcoming book The Genius of Empathy: Practical Skills to Heal Yourself, Your Relationships and the World (Foreword by the Dalai Lama). She has also written The Empath’s Survival Guide and Thriving as an Empath, which offers daily self-care tools for sensitive people. She integrates the pearls of conventional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, empathy, energy medicine, and spirituality. Dr. Orloff specializes in treating empaths and highly sensitive people in her private practice and online internationally. Her work has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, Oprah Magazine, the New York Times and USA Today. Dr. Orloff has spoken at Google-LA, TEDx U.S. and TEDx Asia. More information about Dr. Orloff’s Empathy Training Programs for businesses, The Empath Survival Guide Online Course and speaking schedule at www.drjudithorloff.com.

    Connect with Judith on  FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

    2 thoughts on “4 Strategies to Survive Emotional Vampires

    1. Dr. Orloff:

      I am living in a women’s group home and there are 13 alleged adult females living in a 5 bedroom house.

      Until about two weeks ago when I started using a shell of protection with a dome of power over the house I was in a horrible situation.

      Soooo much high drama all day every day. Plus the many demands of getting myself out of homelessness.

      Finally, I realized that pretty much every jack one of them, especially the house mother and her possy of favorites, were emotional vampires.

      I was making great strides in therapy which is wonderful.

      But not even divinity could save me when I was feeling better and positive and confident.

      The ramp up of vampire behaviors would leave me exhausted and feeling beaten to a pulp.

      This occurred three times before I caught on. My apologies, but I have been busy.

      My question Dr. Orloff is this: Is there an easier way to protect myself from mass vampirism?

      My body, protection sphere, and the power dome have to be ramped up at least two, and depending on how hungry they get, three or four times daily. One time a feeding frenzy required an emergency “refill”.

      I draw up Earth energy for stability and comfort. I draw down starshine energy for refreshing good feelings that draw each individual into looking inside and working on healing their lives. Then I ask that this combination to redirect vampirism away from bickering, pettiness, arguing, sabotage and other junk that creates lots of high drama, and put it into playing nice in the sandbox while healing from their “owies” and progress in their own lives.

      At any rate, have you spoken to anyone else in a group situation?

      1. I would suggest that you read Dr. Orloff’s book The Empath’s Survival Guide to learn more protection strategies.

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