Books, movies, TV shows and video games have given new life to vampires, those mythological creatures who need the lifeblood of others to survive.

    From Dracula to the Twilight series of romance novels, vampires have fascinated, entertained and frightened us for years.

    Today we have a different type of vampire walking among us. 

    Unlike those delightful souls who bring joy to our lives with positive, uplifting energy, the modern vampire leaves us feeling stressed or guilty or mentally exhausted.

    They are the vampires who drain us of positive energy and replace it with negativity and dismay.

    They are energy vampires and, sadly, they are all around us.

    We all know a sob sister (or brother) who always considers themselves the victim. The world is always against her or him and they’ll recount every horrible thing that has happened in their lives, wallowing in self pity and expecting your sympathy for every perceived slight.

    Perhaps even more common is the blamer who dishes out endless servings of guilt.

    They didn’t fail. Someone else caused them to fail. Their parents didn’t nurture them. Their neighbors don’t trust them. Their boss or co-workers don’t like them.

    And then there's the drama queen (or king), that co-worker or the person who sits behind you in church who claims he or she almost died from a rare disease they really only read about.

    Without doubt, today’s most prolific energy vampire is the Facebook addict who lives on the roller coaster of emotion – life is incredibly bad or unbelievably good and it changes in 30-minute cycles—so stay tuned.

    No matter which kind of energy vampire we find in our lives, the good news is that we’re allowed to walk away or to turn off the cellphone or computer.

    Is that discourteous? Is it insensitive? Are we afraid of offending those persons? So how can we remove ourselves from a conversation that will drain us of positive energy?    

    If leaving is not an option, we can start by taking a deep breath or two and then mentally recalling a positive image like a beautiful sunset or the smile of a loved one.

    No one enjoys feeling hemmed in or zapped or stressed out. We don’t have to submit to these energy vampires, even among family members and friends.

    The hardest part is discerning between the real and the imagined. We know that some people are legitimately entitled to our sympathies, our thoughts and prayers, and our encouragement.

    But those with a crisis or complaint a day generally should be avoided, lest we fall victim to an energy vampire.

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