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In our daily lives, below the capacity of most of our senses, we exchange not only conversation and interactions with others but also energy. Energy is the real currency of this world, and those who are able to cultivate it or take it from others find themselves in two very different positions of power.

The person who cultivates their energy– through understanding who they are, doing practices such as meditation, spiritual practices, qi gong, yoga, tai chi, or even working out (in a balanced way i.e. not too much so it is depleting but not too little that it isn’t a regular practice)– finds themselves in a place of power that radiates from them and is palpable to others. They know who they are, what they are intended to do here. They are crisp, clear, assertive, and have firm boundaries.

This is of course for a healthy system. I am sure that we all know people who exercise daily simply to keep the proverbial demons at bay, or in my line of work I come across a lot of magical/occult/spiritual practitioners who are too caught up in their own stuff so that they don’t really cultivate their power. But more typically, people who do these practices do not cultivate this sort of palpable presence either because they are afraid of it, because they are blocking themselves, or because they are “armchair”– basically meaning that they read all the books but never do any of the practices on a regular basis.

There is also the difficulty here of belief system– so many people are afraid of their own power or believe it is “bad” because of teachers and teachings that are aimed at their students staying in a disempowered role, which causes the student to stay exactly where they are in terms of belief structure and power. They believe what their teacher taught them to believe, basically… and they are not ready or willing to rise above it.

But mainly a lot of power, and coming into our own power, has to do with trauma. Trauma disempowers us, it separates us from ourselves. When we are disassociated, fractured, or basically not embodied we can only have so much power. This is why some people get addicted to meditation and workshops and the illusory worlds they create for themselves– because in those worlds and experiences they have power. In their daily lives, in their physical bodies they do not. So we have a whole generation of spiritual enthusiasts who are goddesses in their meditations and in their daily lives they feel disempowered.

But the person who cultivates their power, their energy, in an embodied way, is something to behold. They know who they are, what they think, and have moved past enough of their shit to no longer block or fear themselves.

Those who take energy from others is another story…

Before I start on this, I will say in some communities the term “vampire” is meant for mutually beneficial or even playful exchanges of energy. There are whole conferences where people congregate and consciously decide to swap energy with one another. There are also relationships where each party in the relationship decides to swap energy in a similar fashion. But these are conscious happenings, with typically pretty clear boundaries (if it is healthy, of course).

I have cultivated a fair amount of energy at this point. I do not say that as a “oh I am so special” sort of thing. I believe that anyone can cultivate energy and power who has appropriate teachers, appropriate techniques, and the presence of mind to do so…. and more importantly works on said techniques on a regular basis. As a side note, I sometimes get approached by people who want to become more conscious, awake, enlightened, have kundalini awaken, etc… and I always tell them to meditate daily. Probably 1 out of 10 do. Probably 1 out of 50 actually stick with it in some capacity (yes, I am making those numbers up, but they are probably fairly true). But generally the people who are ready to do so will. People who are ready to cultivate their energy will find a way to do so, to go beyond the surface level and powerless teachings that always cause the student to want and need more… to find the appropriate methods, teachers, and regular practices that allow for them to do so.

But I generally mention this point because I am still balancing my compassion with my boundaries. I have been working consciously on boundaries for over a decade now, and I am still being taught and fine-tuning my boundaries. I am especially taught by energy vampires– because they have the capability to really test people in order to sort of “suck” their energy and are sometimes quite skilled at it (whether they are conscious of the ability or not)

I am lucky that I do not get “sucked in” so to speak very often, but it happens. And each time it is a learning experience for me. Each time it allows for me to have a bit more clarity, to redefine my boundaries even further, and to be steadfast in my boundaries the next time.

Each time it allows for me to see what I truly want in my relationships, in my friendships, and in the relationships in my practice.

Developing boundaries, although it may not seem like it, is a compassionate act. To the traumatized energy vampire who is looking for energy and finds you unwilling to give yours, it might initially cause them to have a bit of a tantrum, or to think negatively about you… or even to break off a friendship or a relationship with you.

It is funny, each time that I work through something my relationships change. Those who are simply looking to be parasitic to me drop away as I become healthier and more clear. The more clearly defined my boundaries are the less energy vampires contact me, wish to work with me, or wish to have friendships with me. And those already in contact with me will find other practitioners or “friends” to feed off of.

But let us back up a bit and consider what an energy vampire is.

For the sake of simplicity, energy vampires can be described as someone who takes or steals energy from others. They are the type of person that most people have a visceral reaction to (as in, “Amy is coming to the party? Ugh, I don’t know what it is about her, but I just don’t like her” sort of energy). These people typically are heavy (in energy). They are draining.

In conversation they only really have the capacity to talk about themselves. Typically about how bad their lives are. When they first meet you they are likely to tell you information that is inappropriate for a first meeting, such as what diseases they have, details about how difficult their lives are, and how much they are suffering. They do this to create compassion for them, and possibly empathy. This allows for them to more readily and easily take energy from you.

When we are compassionate, we are open. Compassion can be a great force of good in this world. If we were only to see what it would be like to walk in the shoes of another a lot of the issues of this world will lessen, if not cease completely.

But compassion without boundaries equals an unbalanced energy exchange. Those who are energy vampires take advantage of this and “take” as much as they can with the person they are interacting with.

People who are looking for energy outside of themselves will always find someone willing to give their energy. Some energy vampires will look for either the person they can find that has cultivated the “most” energy… or the person who is a natural nurturer and is depleted but is willing to give a lot of their energy away.

An energy vampire is not able to handle you talking about your own issues, or asking them for anything. They simply wish to take as much energy as they can from you– and while on the surface they may listen to you, they are not extending or offering any of their own energy.

In fact, the minute that an energy vampire realizes that you might expect or want an equal exchange of energy with them they will find someone else to interact with.

I am of full realization that in 99 percent of cases, the energy vampire doesn’t realize that they are doing this. They have simply learned to make their way in this world by draining others. On some level most of them realize (it seems) that people viscerally and intuitively do not like them and do not like to be around them. That they are heavy, stagnant, and that their lives are often filled with difficulties.

They realize that there is an emptiness inside that they are attempting to fill. 

And I feel compassion for them, I really do. It must be hard to be so wounded, so traumatized, that you feel that your only hope for connection to others is to take. That the only way that the hole inside that they sense can be filled is through taking the energy of others around them (rather than filling it themselves with their own energy, health, and power). It must be hard to on some level realize that people see the energy vampire at a party, or calling/emailing them and their first response is “not this person again!”

But until the energy vampire realizes that they do not need to “tentacle” outside of themselves (what this looks like to me– literally like a tentacle type cord that is gooey and looking for a person to attach to), and fill that place that is inside, they will continue to act like this. They will continue to drain those around them, they will continue to be that person that goes through that cycle of negativity and need for compassion in order to drain those around them (and then quickly go into victim mode in most cases if they are not “opened” to so they can drain the person they are telling about their diseases or difficulties or negativity to).

I do realize the above sounds harsh, but there are varying degrees of this, of course. There are energy vampires that are more subtle than this, and I have used an example of a completely draining energy vampire to illustrate a point here. But this is a commonplace enough phenomena that most of us will recognize this cycle and likely be able to name one, or five, or twenty energy vampires in our lives.

So the question is what to do about this? We could get upset that there are people out there like this, but really these people are so traumatized with such a black hole within themselves that it is hard to get upset at them. They are operating the best they know how, and unfortunately they feel (and have learned) that they need to take energy from others in order to function. Until they are ready and willing to see that they can fill that hole in themselves and come into their own power, they will likely continue taking from others, and be unable to give anything of themselves.

We could treat this as a learning opportunity, as I do. Every time I find myself in a situation with an energy vampire that has successfully gotten past my initial boundaries, it is up to me to find out why they were able to do so. In sitting with this, I am often able to heal situations that I would not have if they had not broached my boundaries. It is even more of a learning opportunity if I find myself in friendships or relationships of some sort with this type, as there is often a need for healing there and once I resolve it, the person will disappear from my life because they are no longer able to drain my energy. Luckily, I am able to realize this pattern pretty quickly these days and I have the opportunity to firmly put up boundaries and remove the tentacle they have stuck on me (as well as the slime/goo).

So these people are a blessing, really… because they teach us how to build strong boundaries. 

But in reality if we are aware of energy vampires they can only have so much power. The best way to stop someone “taking” from you is to realize that they are doing it. You do not have to see the tentacle, you can have a basic understanding that the person in front of you is an energy vampire. You can then have compassion for them– it must be difficult to live life like that. You can then say an internal “no” as in– you are not going to take my energy and I am not going to open to you so you can do so– and it is likely that the person will leave you alone to find an easier target. You can also simply start expecting an equal relationship with them– telling them about your issues and expecting help from them. The energy vampire will either go into a more equal relationship with you… or chances are they will disappear from your life, moving on to the next person who will allow for them to take their energy.

By the way, if you have not bought/read my Cord book it will teach you how to work with cords, which really helps. Promise.