“3 Ways to Not Get Drained by Needy People”
by Margaret Paul, Ph.D.
“Do you sometimes leave a conversation feeling energized, and other times you feel drained? Are you aware of the difference between people who have a giving energy and those who have a taking energy? It's important in our relationships to be aware of our own energy, and it's equally important to be aware of others' energy. If you often leave a conversation feeling drained, then you need to learn to be aware of what needy, draining people do that suck the life right out of you - and what you can do to not get drained.
How Draining People Drain: Within a few minutes of a recent conversation, I knew I was speaking with a draining woman. Here is what she was doing:
• No matter what I said, she turned the conversation back to her.
• She had a "talking addiction," going on and on telling stories about herself.
• She noticed nothing around her- not our home, our animals, our art or our beautiful view. Her focus was entirely on herself.
• She had a need to keep on praising herself, which is a pull for approval.
• On the energy level, she felt empty- like there was a black hole in her, pulling on me to get filled up by my energy. Her energy felt like a vacuum cleaner, trying to suck the love, attention and approval from me that she was not giving to herself.
I knew right away that I didn't feel good being with her. But she was in my house, interviewing for a job!
What To Do?
1. Be "Rude": I was brought up to be polite- to not be rude. This desire to not be rude is often what gets in the way of taking loving care of ourselves. For example, in a recent workshop that I conducted, we were taking about ways a woman can take care of herself with a man who is trying to rape her. A woman brought up a situation where she could have caused damage to a man's penis, but she said she couldn't do it because it would have been "rude." On one level, she realized how strange this sounded, but on another level, it was actually true for her. She was brought up to never be rude, to the point where she didn't think about how "rude" and violating it was to her for him to rape her!
Sometimes, in order to not be drained, we need to be "rude." With the woman in my house, I felt that she was being rude by her needy, pulling behavior, so I had no compunctions in also being rude. Since she never came up for air regarding her non-stop talking, I had to interrupt her. "Sorry, I'm very busy today and I have other people coming to interview for the job. Thanks for coming by."
I got up, right in the middle of her sentence, and headed for the door to show her out. I had no intention of remaining captive to her pulling and needy energy any longer! While she might have been very skilled at the job she was interviewing for, there was no way I was going to hire her. I do not willingly put myself around that draining energy for any length of time.
2. Walk Away: Sometimes, if I'm at a social gathering and I happen to end up with a draining person, I will just say, "Excuse me," and walk away.
3. Compassion: If, for some reason, I can't leave the situation, then I go inside and bring much compassion to myself for how bad it feels to be at the other end of needy, taking energy. Then I extend the light of compassion all around me, and I extend it out to the other person. The energy of compassion is a powerful energy, and it protects me from being drained.
It took me quite a lot of inner work to let go of taking responsibility for a needy person. I used to be a caretaker, trying to fill others with the love they were not giving to themselves. But thankfully, instead of taking responsibility for them, I now take responsibility for me by not allowing myself to be energetically used and drained.”