Holiday Harmony Series – Keep Yourself Safe and Sane During The Festive Season of Socializing

Nov 16, 2023

Part 1 - Halloween’s Over But The Energy Vampires Are Still Here

Put away the broomsticks, giant spiders and plastic gravestones from the yard. Grab the pumpkin pie spices, ceramic gourd ensemble and your cherished pinecone turkey centerpiece you made in second grade. It’s full-on festive season and that means more socializing over the next couple of months.

Whether you feel a squeal of excitement at the thought it or a tiny knot of dread, may have a lot to do with how your nervous system processes social interactions.

If you’re an HSP (highly sensitive person) it’s likely you prefer deep, one-to-one conversations in a cozy corner with another thoughtful person in between long stretches of quiet time at home.

But during the festive season, you may feel obligated to attend cocktail parties, after work happy hours and the company holiday party, which often involves anything but quiet conversation.

In this Holiday Harmony Series, I’ll offer a fresh perspective and some practical tips to help you sail through the season with a little more cheer than dread.

First up, energy vampires and drama queens.

These are people in your life who take more than they give. Energy vampires feed off your emotions and your reactions. They like to rile you up, and then drink up that intense energy they just evoked. Drama queens want your sympathy and attention – all of it. These are two versions of a similar type of person who can be very draining.

Highly sensitive people are emotionally open. They’re kind and caring and tend to want to help.

As an HSP, your willingness to be open to others puts you at greater risk of being targeted by people looking to grab extra attention and emotional energy.

This could be a co-worker who is simply unaware of their behavior or who has low self-esteem and needs a lot from others. Or it could be someone with a more serious personality disorder. In any instance, you can make choices to keep yourself safe and sane during all this socializing.

How to Spot an Energy Vampire:

  • Whatever you share in conversation, they ‘one up’ you.

  • They don’t take responsibility for their actions.

  • They tend to exaggerate their needs, qualities and experiences.

  • They drive on a one-way highway. There is much more take than give.

You can tell if someone is an energy vampire or drama queen by how you feel during and after your interaction.

As a highly sensitive person, many types of interactions with others may leave you feeling a little low on emotional batteries. But this kind of interaction can leave you feeling a whole range of emotions from confusion to sadness, and totally wiped out energetically.

When you’ve identified the energy vampires and drama queens in your life, make an agreement with yourself to respond to them differently.

  • Don’t expect them to change or be able to support you.

  • Don’t look for an enriching interaction with them.

  • Keep your connections brief and sandwich the interaction with self-care. Even a few minutes of deep breathing with your eyes closed can soothe your nervous system.

  • Limit the frequency and duration of exposure to them when possible.

  • De-personalize their comments. It’s not about you…even if they’re talking about you.

  • Stay neutral. Don’t give them your emotions to gobble up, and don’t argue.

  • Just say “no.” We’ll go into detail in the next post on how to say “no” in a way that doesn’t leave you feeling like you want to throw up.

Save your energy for someone who’s more open to your gifts. 

Don’t use even more of your energy by trying to enlighten them in their ways. It won’t work. Take a deep breath and focus elsewhere. This takes awareness and practice so be kind to yourself as you develop this skill.

Use your innate compassion to wish this person well, send them love and tap into your understanding of their unmet needs behind this behavior. But do this from a safe distance without an attempt to fix, inform or heal them.  You can manage your own energy by being aware of who these people are and responding accordingly.

An intimate one-to-one conversation with a thoughtful person can leave you feeling satisfied and inspired. So don’t feel obligated to work the room at these social outings. Find someone you can relate to and enjoy that interaction. And don’t make yourself wrong when you want to leave early.

With a little insight and action you’ll be set for a wonderful festive season.

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