2. Energy vampires, narcissists, and boundaries
Empaths often attract people who are very self-absorbed, narcissistic or have vampiric energy. Being emotionally open draws particular types of attention and people into your life.
People need people, however, that does not mean you have to be the only person who feeds the emotional needs of another. You have your own work to do and emotional needs to fulfill. When a human has an emotional lack or energetic lack, they will often seek out the energy stores of others.
An empath is more emotionally vulnerable to people who are trying to get their energy needs met. It is important to be aware of these dynamics and how you can easily attract people with this psychic need.
What we are discussing here applies more to energetic issues related to boundaries, energy vampires, and the vulnerable layers that surround the empathic person.
Learning to establish and maintain your boundaries will help you shed the confusion that comes with being a people pleaser. The focus of this guide is on you and your needs!
Because you are emotionally caring, naturally understanding, and can sense what other people are feeling, you might often sacrifice your own self and needs in favor of someone else’s.
Their needs might seem more acute and, therefore, you easily flex your own comfort, security, and general ease for others.
This is something that is especially common in people who are socialized to accommodate others at the expense of themselves. If you leave situations feeling drained or give someone a ride across town because you didn’t want to say “No,” then these are things you can work on setting better boundaries around. You will feel much better having stood up for yourself and will feel less confused, exhausted, and you will avoid feeling resentment in the long run.
It can be a challenge to set personal boundaries, especially if you have been in a people-pleasing mode for a while. It takes courage to confront someone with vampiric energy tendencies and the outcomes are not always what you hope for. It is important to have a good support system in place — people you can trust, like partners, friends, family, or community — to ensure that you are able to discuss, process, and find collaborative solutions.
Practical Step-by-step Exercises for managing boundaries
1. Visualizing the boundaries you need
One way to energetically set boundaries is to practice various visualization techniques. If you meditate, then this exercise can come more naturally to you. You can modify the visualizations to suit your needs and situation.
This is a good one to have in your toolbox for stressful situations: being on public transportation or at the grocery store, etc. It can be done quickly and effectively.
It is also a good boundary exercise to start with, as it helps you avoid automatic confrontation with others, which can be very stressful and anxiety-inducing. Practicing these techniques in your mind and energy field brings you into your own personal awareness. It aligns you with your needs and prepares your mind for shifting the energy toward the boundaries you would like to maintain.
- Close your eyes and take a deep breath.
- Move your awareness to the space between your eyebrows.
- Now, see or sense a protective golden light surrounding you.
- Feel it as warm and protective.
- Take another deep breath, allowing the visualization or sensation to become stronger and more solid in your mind’s eye.
- You can now encase the golden light around you energetically using your mind.
- Depending on your situation, you can imagine as if you are surrounded by a mirror that faces out towards the person so you can reflect their energy back to them, or you can imagine a brick wall if you want to keep everyone else out of your energetic space, you can picture a holly plant or thorny vines growing up and around you to provide support and protection. Do what works for you and feel free to experiment.
- Feel held and protected, aware and present.
- Continue on with whatever it was you were doing.
- Return to this visualization if you feel you need to re-establish the boundary, loosen it, or change it in some way.
2. Letter writing
You can sort through and process your experience with another person — the things you want, or need, to say but are having trouble bringing up. In addition, it is a good way to more deeply explore your concerns and fears that may be blocking you from asserting your boundaries.
- Get a piece of paper and pen or type out your message.
- Start at the top writing out Dear _________,
- Then write or type out, or just think it to yourself: I need to set a boundary around ______________.
- Write out as much as you like, list your needs. This person never has to see what you write so don’t filter your statements.
- This can help you sort out how you feel, where you may feel fear or confusion around asserting boundaries or expressing your needs with particular people.
3. Saying “No”
Consider the following familiar statements: “no problem!” “I’d be happy to help!” “sure!” Now consider if you had said “yes” when what you really wanted to say was “no.” Consider that if something is a maybe, it is actually a “no.”
You have the right to accommodate your own self and needs, and can practice this skill, especially if you struggle to tell people when you are not up for something.
Saying “no” is a big part of setting boundaries with energy vampires, toxic people, and just anyone in your life. People cannot read your mind. Verbalizing when something is not okay for you, or that you don’t want to do something, can make all the difference to clarifying a situation.
- Tell friends and family members that you will be working on saying “no” more often over the next weeks or months.
- Then, any time they ask you for something, or call you or need your attention, give yourself at least one to three minutes to fully contemplate before giving your response.
- Consider how you really feel — are you up for that video chat? Do you really have the capacity to listen to someone else right now? Be honest with yourself.
- When you are ready, tell the person how you really feel. It is okay to say “no.” You can do it in a kind way. You can offer an explanation if you like, but a simple “no” is sufficient.