I’d like to take a few moments to discuss a subject which affects us all. Judging from the title, you might think this post is part of our Vampire Dating Series, but it isn’t. We’re taking a break from the Undead today in order to talk about people whom you might interact with every day. As many of you have noticed, the world seems to be infested by joy-sucking, life-wrecking, soul-eaters. They’re everywhere, and while you might be able to avoid some, it’s guaranteed you won’t be able to avoid them all. Many of you have co-workers, class mates, or even family members who suck.
So, here’s the question: How do we shield ourselves from emotional vampires? How do we deal with people who suck?
The key to avoiding jerks is recognition. Some jerks are easily identifiable: they point and laugh when someone falls. They kick dogs, mock disabled people, and openly participate in immoral and unpleasant behavior. Other jerks are more subtle: they’re often friendly, accommodating, and amusing-while it suits them. These are our ‘closet jerks.’ And they can be divided into the following categories:
The Monday Moaner: It isn’t always Mondays. The days may vary, but one thing is certain – our Monday Moaner will pick at least one day out of the week to be as cranky and crabby as possible. I know everyone has a bad day every once in a while, but an MM seems to have a lot of bad days. I mean, tons. It can be anything that sets her off, from a major car repair to running out of gum when she thought she had a brand new pack. Everything is an issue or a tragedy. If an MM is on a rampage, no one is safe. She’ll spread her bad mood until it permeates the air we breathe. With door-slamming, curse-muttering, and temper tantrums, the MM will bring you down faster than cement swimming shoes. Beware! Just because the MM likes you today, doesn’t mean she’ll like you tomorrow. But, rest assured – if she roundly abused you on Crabby Tuesday, she’ll act like nothing ever happened when Wednesday rolls around.
The Work Jerk: Commonly known as ‘the suck-up’, the WJ does less and talks more than his peers. When the boss is around, the WJ is everywhere, doing everything. He takes credit for anything that goes right and is quick to point the finger when things go wrong. Since he doesn’t actually do anything, it’s hard to pin the blame on him, so don’t even try. The WJ is a master at twisting words and making your complaints sound petty. He excels in doing as little as possible while making it seem like he’s an integral part of the workplace. His peers are not fooled, however, because as soon as the boss disappears, so does the Work Jerk. The Work Jerk can often be found hiding behind a closed office door, hovering at a co-worker’s desk, or standing in the doorway of the boss’s office bragging about how much he accomplished that day and taking credit for the work his co-workers painstakingly slaved over.
The Combatant: Whether friend or foe, The Combatant views your relationship as a battle she must win at all costs. She does it better, did it before you, knows more about it, and owns the newer model. Even her kids are better than yours. She’ll go out of her way to tell you how much you suck, when all along, she’s the soul-sucking vampire. Don’t play her game; there are no winners.
The Honest Jerk: He’s not being a jerk, he’s just being honest. Or, at least that’s what he’ll tell you to justify the caustic comments he throws your way. There’s a fine line between honesty and cruelty, and the HJ crosses it every time.The Fair Weather Friend: She’s there for you through thick or thin, unless it might adversely affect her. She’s the first one to ply you with chocolate and tissues when your boyfriend dumps you, but the first to bail on you when rumors fly and she’s afraid of being taken down with you. This gal is a survivalist of sorts, and quick to flee the forest fire. It’s sad and it’s depressing, but the FWF isn’t nearly as soul-destroying as her evil twin, the Bad Weather Friend.
The Bad Weather Friend: The BWF has turned emotional vampirism into an art form. It’s difficult to distinguish her friendship from normal friendship until it’s too late. When things are at their worst, the BWF is there for you with sympathy and advice, ready to commiserate. Don’t get me wrong—having someone who genuinely feels your pain is invaluable, but when the friendship is steeped in misery, you might want to take a step back and evaluate the relationship. Is she too quick to tell you to leave your boyfriend, abandon your mortgage, quit your job, or sever all ties with our family? If this friend offers only solutions that require complete upheaval, seek out a different opinion. A supportive friend says, “I’m with you no matter what you decide. Just tell me what I can do to help.” The BWF says, “I don’t care if you’ve been married for twenty years, if he doesn’t respect you enough to remember to put your clothes in the dryer, then you should put him out on the street. Period.” Ask yourself this: “If my life changes for the better, will me and BWF have anything in common?” If the answer is “no,” find the nearest uplifting, supportive person you know and soak up their rays of golden sunshine. Note: there’s a difference between soaking up the sunshine and sucking out all their energy, so use caution, otherwise you’ll end up like one of the Sob Sisters.
Sob-Story Sally and the Bad Luck Boys: Where there’s a Sob-Story Sally, you can bet you’ll find a Bad Luck Boy. These two go together like gasoline and a lit match. Whether together or apart, they’re always in a state of turmoil, and if things somehow manage to settle down, they’ll create a crisis. They thrive on chaos like vampires crave blood. They feed on each other, constantly reaching for a higher level of unhappiness. Do not try to fix their problems. Sally likes to feel sorry for herself, and if her life magically comes together, she’ll have nothing to strive for. Unlike the BWF, Sally and her BLB don’t give a crap about your problems, but they do want you to care about theirs. There’s only one person Sally truly has empathy for, and that’s the BLB. No matter what the problem is, it’s always a million times worse for the BLB than is it for anyone else in the whole wide world. His car is always broken, he’s always being victimized by someone, and it’s never his fault. Just ask Sally – she’ll tell you all about it. The quickest way to rid yourself of Sally and her BLB is to talk about your own problems. That’s the last thing she wants to hear about.
The Leech: From car rides to infusions of cash, The Leech is always there to take what he can. The good news is, if you’re broke, The Leech won’t bother you for long. The bad news is, if you’re rich, you won’t be for long if you keep hanging out with him. It’s easy to get rid of The Leech – just ask him for help.
Here’s what all these folks have in common: they all take something out of you and offer nothing in return. So, how do you fight back? How do you protect yourself?
Make a list of how many of these people are unavoidable. Co-workers, family members, or teachers might very well be soul-suckers, but you’ll have to deal with it. You can’t avoid everyone, and throughout life, there will always be someone you don’t like whom you’ll have to deal with. Maybe you saw yourself when you read the descriptions. That’s okay. What sets you apart from the jerks is the fact that you recognize your less desirable traits and want to change.
Like I said, you can’t avoid everyone, but you can weed the proverbial garden of negativity by breaking down your Peace-shattering Peeps into two groups: Avoidable and Unavoidable.
Cyber-soul-suckers are those lovely Facebook friends who spew forth a constant barrage of hate and negativity. Press the Unsubscribe button and make your News Stream worth viewing once again. How about classmates or acquaintances who bring you down more often than they build you up? There’s nothing wrong with cutting that phone conversation short, or telling them you’re too busy to get together. It isn’t always easy to avoid Negative Nancy and Debbie Downer when they stop by. Maybe you don’t want to avoid them altogether. But, you can curb their behavior. You can interrupt or redirect a conversation. Eventually, they’ll get the hint. As for those you wish to avoid? Learn to say “no” when rude or selfish people ask for help.
Now that you’ve cut the avoidable peeps from your list, you might be stuck with a considerable number of people you can’t avoid. Soul-draining desk-hopping co-worker got you down? Try saying, “I’ve got a deadline. Can we talk later?” Is your boss or teacher a Crabby Abby? You can’t avoid them, but you can guard your emotional health by learning not to take their barbs personally. What if your close family members make up the bulk of negative energy surrounding you? Sometimes they live close by. Sometimes they live with you. You can’t avoid your family forever. If you can’t work it out and talk it out, walk it out. Create a peaceful sanctuary for yourself, even if it means taking a nice, long walk outside.
All psychobabble aside, this topic is dear to my heart. I’ve recently fallen into a pit of negativity from which I’ve been trying to climb my way out of. It isn’t easy when the emotional vampires keep clawing at my ankles and dragging me back down. As the old cliche goes, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. I refuse to do that. I don’t want to live in the dark, dank hole. I don’t want to join the legion of People Who Suck.
And, so my lovely readers, I am asking for positive, uplifting comments. Whether it’s a tip on how to deal with sucky people, or just an uplifting quote, your input will be much appreciated. Or, if you’d like to join the small and under-represented list of People Who Don’t Suck, join my blog. Let’s start a revolution!