Do you have a "social vampire" in your life? Someone who quite literally sucks the life out of you after you spend time with them? They specialize in making you feel deflated. If you have an accomplishment, they are quick to one-up you or try to tear you down. The conversations are often dominated by their issues, frustrations and patterns.
Over the past few years I have renovated my life. I've dug deep to remove what no longer serves me, which means peeling back the shades to reveal and cut out the things that are truly holding me back. For me, it was my social vampires.
As part of my deep cleaning, I looked at all my relationships and thought of who makes me feel good, supported and excited to be around. Who is dreaming big and interested in solving problems vs. talking about them.
Then, I asked: Who are the people who make me feel bad about myself, who don't support my goals? And why do I want to be friends with them? The answers quickly revealed themselves, and for every social vampire, I wanted them in my life because I could see their potential. I was holding out for the hero within to shine through.
But time and time again, I would feel frustrated, anxious and unheard in each interaction. The reality is, people will always tell you who they are. As Oprah says, "When people tell you who they are, always believe them." As humans, we are conditioned to think that being a good friend is listening with open arms and ears to friends who are in need. But in this exchange we often sacrifice ourselves and dull our true sparkle.
Many times social vampires find their victims when they are down and in the dumps. When I was depressed, the majority of my friends were substance abuse addicts, clinically depressed and negative people. I wanted so much to be a positive influence, so I tried to stay strong and remind all of them that it gets better. Well, misery loves company, and eventually I found it easier to join the dark side and complain, judge and worry about things that didn't really matter.
The more I hung around with people who didn't think highly of themselves and blamed the world for their problems, the more I lost myself. They wanted me to be like them; they wanted me to stay stuck in fear. But, my inner self kept nudging at me, as to say, "This is not you; you need to be yourself."
I broke away and realized these people where not my real friends. Through this process I realized that it doesn't matter what other people think about you. As long as you follow your heart, you are being true to yourself. You are living a life of integrity and honor.
Part of making the most out of life is digging deep to uncover the areas that aren't working as good as they could be. And it starts with you looking inward. For me, the people I called friends were not really my friends. They just felt safer when they had someone else to complain with. As soon as I removed myself from the toxic emotional sucking vampires, I found my productivity, self-esteem and opportunities expand. My quality of life immediately bumped up, and I felt more content and happy.
Here are tips to help you recognize and handle a social vampire:
Set an Intention
Set an intention at the beginning of each conversation. I said, "I will only hold space for happy awesome thoughts. I want to hear about the good things going on and your goals and how I can help you reach them. The moment you complain or start to judge someone or something I will have to hang up." Most of them got the message pretty quick. And what I noticed is the "friends" who only wanted to gossip and talk dirt about their life stopped calling me.
Stand Up For Yourself
After I shifted my vibration to a higher state, I learned that some people didn't want to talk about goals and were more comfortable complaining about situations versus trying to solve them and learn from them. But the people who were inspired and interested in making the most out of life called me more, and our relationships became so much more rich and fulfilling. Just by sharing ourselves with each other and holding space for support, growth and opportunity.
We have an opportunity in life to make every second fantastic, and it starts with you and your friends. Surround yourself with positive, supportive people, and you will immediately see the quality of your life expand.
HuffPost Lifestyle is a daily newsletter that will make you happier and healthier — one email at a time. Learn more