Time and Energy Vampires, If Given The Chance, Will Literally Suck You Dry.
They start out using phrases like, “Gee – would you help me with something?” When I was a novice coach, I loved helping people. Heck, that’s the reason we become coaches – to help others. And I still love helping people. However, I don’t do it for free anymore. The time/energy vampire will always want it for free and favors are never reciprocal, as in, I help you and you help me. With vampires, it is a one way relationship. They take. We give. Until we say, “Stop. No more.”
If you think that someone is a time/energy vampire and you aren’t sure, ask for something in return and note the reaction. If the other person gives generously in return, then she or he is not a vampire. If you get excuses like, “I would but right now I’m just too busy with . . .” or “Oh, you know if I had unlimited funds I would gladly but . . .” then you are dealing with a time/energy vampire.
Now, let’s talk about what vampires really do to us – the givers of this world. In the near term, the giving, giving, giving wears us out. It uses up our time which is a very valuable commodity. This one way helping takes from us but does not bring anything back to us. However, these types of relationships also end up taking our energy. One way to look at it is to say that we invest our energy into these people and their projects and then we are unable to recoup that energy for when we need it.
Yet, there seems to be an even greater drain on us or influence over us that seems to go along with the time/energy vampires of this world. That is the type of energy that, then, seems to surround us and the things we work on.
The Something For Nothing Time Vampire
About a year ago, I was invited to become part of an email exchange group of four people. Three of these people live under the assumption that there is a reality of “something for nothing,” as if wishing will make it so. There was no sense of a willingness to work hard to create the lives that they wanted. Merely, a sense of entitlement to what they wanted and, therefore, it should be theirs. Such a belief has never been part of my paradigm or belief system. We earn what we earn.
Time and energy vampires, however, believe they are entitled to whatever it is they want without any kind of exchange of energy, money, or other things. So, within that type of belief system, they are entitled to take from others all that they can. It is my belief that the energy associated with these beliefs and behaviors somehow rubs off on us. In other words, we become drained by the vampires and, at the same time, that negative energy permeates into our otherwise positive being. The fourth person in the group became a client. He was building a ministry as he’s a non-denominational minister. About two months into the coaching relationship, after I had dropped away from the group, he asked me my reasons. As gently as I could, I explained that it wasn’t healthy for me. His response was, “Me neither – I dropped out also.”
One thing I noticed was that, once I had disconnected from this particular group of people, that my energy levels seem to rise and that some unexpected positive things began happening in my life. Perhaps it was coincidence. I choose, rather, to believe that the two things were connected. The fourth member, my client, experienced the same things I did – his ministry improved dramatically once he stopped being part of the group.
In another situation, a good friend was being victimized by a time/energy vampire. In an effort to offer support to my friend, I became the empathetic ear and shoulder. Again, although the vampire was not directly drawing energy from me but rather from a friend, I found my time and energy being drained through the support I was offering. When I attempted to point out what was happening to my friend, her reaction was less than positive and very much along the lines of, “If you were really my friend, you would understand that I have to help this person. He is so lost.” He wasn’t lost but he was very accomplished at getting others lost.
One of my coaching clients is a medium – yup, the real thing. Now if you ever want a truly interesting coaching relationship, get a medium for a client. There will be many moments when you wonder who the coach is and who the client is. Once, during one of our sessions, the client said, “You do recognize that you’re an empath, don’t you?” My response was to ask what an empath is. He explained that an empath senses other people’s emotions with great accuracy and will, when called upon, allow others to tap into the empath’s positive emotions in order to help restore balance. To be honest, no, I did not know that about myself. I knew that I was intuitive but figured that everybody is intuitive to a greater or lesser degree. However, after some serious soul searching, I came to realize that the accuracy of sensing and interpreting other people’s emotions is part of me. The client also pointed out that this makes me vulnerable to time/energy vampires. Talk about an interesting epiphany.
For Novice Coaches
For novice coaches these points are especially important. You come out of training and want to help people, are willing to take some practice clients, or offer some practice sessions with other novice coaches. This opens the door to the time and energy vampire. For this reason, if you are inclined to offer practice sessions, put a reasonable limit on that – as an example, no more than five sessions total. For practice clients who are not living up to their accountability requirements, a strong indication of a vampire, end the relationship before it gets out of hand. And, of course, this holds especially true for those who “just want someone to talk to.” We are not therapists. We are coaches.
In closing, the one thing I would like to point out is that we don’t help the time and energy vampires by giving to them. In fact, quite the opposite – we reinforce very unhealthy behaviors. Not good for us. Not good for them. Sometimes, it’s difficult disconnecting from people – even when the relationship is unhealthy – but continuing down the unhealthy path is much worse and, saddest of all, there is no positive payoff in the end.