I tend to do a lot of reflection during this time of year. Something about the fall and winter season makes me look back at the year and evaluate the past months. My successes and failures, the people I have surrounded myself with, and my investments. By investments, I don't just mean financial; I also mean energetic, emotional, mental, and physical. Were my actions a risk, liability, or profitable investment? I look at relationships the same way. Is our relationship a risk, liability, or investment where we contribute and gain?
As I have gotten older, I am definitely more aware and wiser where I spend my energy and invest my emotions. I have learned to identify, not just in my life, but I also help my clients determine the emotional enablers, emotional vampires, and emotional empowerers. As we grow and our goals and needs change, we need to pay attention to those around us. Often who we surround ourselves with can significantly impact our levels of success.
Let's dive in, shall we…
First, I think it's essential we understand that, for the most part, enablers don't have bad intentions. Often, enablers are people in our lives that genuinely care about us; They don't want to see us suffer or be in pain. They want to comfort and console and are genuinely wanting to be empathetic. The challenge comes in when boundaries are not set, which is where they seem to struggle.
Boundaries are essential. Boundaries help us clarify what's ok and what's not ok and protect us from abuse and toxic relationships by keeping out what is harmful. Boundaries create realistic expectations. People understand what is expected of them and what needs need to be met. If someone has an issue with your boundaries, then chances are they have become comfortable abusing you. Boundaries begin with us. We can not wait for someone else to set our boundaries for us.
Enablers can be quite passive, wanting to comfort when they see you suffer, not pushing the envelope too much for fear of upsetting you or making things worse. And actually, that is the whole energy behind an enabler, fear. They fear losing you; they fear you losing control; often, enablers are on the sidelines waiting to help and not sure how. They are afraid to leave, but they are also afraid of handing you over the keys to the situation…again, fear and lack of boundaries. So they watch over you in protective energy, often making excuses for destructive or unhealthy behaviors, thinking they are helping, but the lack of boundaries does more harm than good. Enablers tend to feel a sense of responsibility for that person, which can be associated with guilt or how they define love, such as attachment and codependency.
Emotional vampires will suck all the energy and drain you of the healthy and positive feelings you have. An enabler is different than a vampire. Vamps are the ones that side-eye you when you are bursting at the seams with good news about something significant that happened. They will never celebrate your wins, and they are the ones that find a problem for every solution. They will make sure you are reminded of every failure and suck the happiness right out of you. Emotional vampires want to get close to you, wanting to know everything about you, only to use it against you later on or gossip. Often the vampires are unhappy with their own lives and do little to make changes out of fear of failure or criticism. It is much easier for them to criticize than to be criticized.
A vampire also doesn't have boundaries, but the intention is totally different. A vampire will not care about your well-being or your highest good. They will feed you things (thoughts/ emotions/ substances) to feel worse if you are already feeling bad. They are manipulative and want nothing more than the company to their own misery. They may say they want the best for you, but their actions will always prove otherwise.
Take inventory of the people in your circle. Who is clapping when you fail and quiet when you succeed? Who are the ones that will try to keep you out late when you tell them you need to study or always have something negative to say about your relationship? They talk about everyone around them, judging and criticizing, but never doing better than the ones they talk about. After being around a vampire, you will likely feel insecure, drained, sad, or anxious. You will rarely leave the encounter with any positive or healthy feelings.
Empowerer…to be quite honest, I wasn't convinced this was a legit word, but it was Grammarly approved, so here we are.
The empowerers of our life are the ones that support you in your wins. They also help you strategize your failures. And yes, we all need failure. Failure is important. Failure helps us to succeed. There is not one person who has been successful that has not failed at something at some point. Your empower helps you reframe failure into feedback. They, much like the enabler, will give you the time to have your emotions, but they don't mind pushing the envelope. They know how to set boundaries with themselves and others. They are the ones that will speak up and call you out when you call about your toxic workplace for the 100th time and suggest you find a new job; they will help you get your resume together and move forward. They will help you work through your fear because their genuine intention is to see you happy.
They will love and support you through your questionable decisions and will be there to help you recover if you fall. Unlike vampires, they will never criticize or judge you. They will love you through it all and provide a safe place of solace.
The most important thing to remember is the intention in each one of these. Take a look around the people closest in your life, where do they fall in? This is a good opportunity to see where you self-identify.
- Blessed Be