How to Co-Exist with Emotional Parasites—A Cultural Epidemic

A lot of my blog readers have been reaching out to me and asking me to further explain my definition of “emotional parasites.” They ask me how they can identify who these potentially disruptive people are. The more important question they should be asking is how and why they are so harmful to one’s success.

How does one identify and protect oneself from these so-called predators? Like colds or viruses, people tend to attract these types of “parasites” (e.g. emotional vampires) when their self-esteem or emotional guards are down. Like a magnet, we tend to attract those individuals that seem more than willing to aid in our self-loathing rather than challenge us to get out of our own way. The boggled and debauched, as I liked to call them, are unhealthy, dysfunctional people that often intentionally or unknowingly manipulate or use others for their own personal entertainment or distraction. These people tend to deflect their own negative self-worth rather than deal with their own self-sabotaging issues. They often pretend to be concerned or supportive of an unsuspecting victim’s uncertain or negative circumstance, but, in reality, they silently gain satisfaction and enjoyment by disclaiming and intentionally diminishing the success, spirit or character of their unsuspecting target.

To make matters worse, these emotional parasites will even go as far as making their victims feel guilty, and even responsible for their needs, playing on their guilt or misguided loyalties. I cannot begin to tell you how emotionally debilitating these cowardly people can be. They rarely own their own crap. They rarely apologize when wrong, and most importantly, they rarely respect YOUR needs, goals or requests unless it somehow benefits their own short-term purposes.

“When you say ‘yes’ to others, make sure you are not saying ‘no’ to yourself.” ~ Paulo Coehlo

Like anything important in your life, you always need to weigh the pros and cons. This especially holds true regarding the people you choose to include in your life. As I said earlier, the emotional parasites often tend to strike when you are most susceptible so I want to share three different scenarios that I have experienced that may make you more aware in the future:

1. The Bait and Switch – Unfortunately, there are individuals you will come across that have become master manipulators.  They study you and learn very quickly how to make you feel comfortable in their presence. They often tell you what you want to hear, pretend to like the things you like, or worse, create a false sense of security so that you take their bait. The only problem is…their actions are not sustainable over time because they are not being authentic to who they are. They are simply trying to get you to befriend them or, even worse, fall in love with them. NEWS FLASH: These manipulators have an agenda! So, you need to put their words on mute and study their actions. If you ask them questions and they become defensive, clearly you have unearthed a chink in their deceptive armor.  If this uncomfortable moment occurs, do not apologize; just continue to trust your instincts, keep your eyes open and be aware of any future inconsistencies.

2. Dismissive of needs – Recently, I witnessed a good friend of mine who reached out to a group of so-called friends requesting space and time to re-collect his thoughts while going through his tunnel of transformation. In the past, my friend had hit some tough times and these same so-called friends gleefully cheered him on by supporting his bad decisions and choices simply because it fueled their own unfulfilled needs. Yet, when my friend finally figured out that his choices were no longer productive in helping him find his success, he decided once again to reach out to these same so-called friends for support and understanding. Lo and behold, some actually became irate and dismissive with him because he changed his mind about how he had been leading his life—the same life they had been cheering him on with because it fulfilled their needs, not his.

3. Defensiveness (yeah, but you did this…) The last red flag that I would like to bring to your attention is a parasite’s failure to apologize.  Have you ever noticed when you call someone out on something you did not like, rather than receiving a simple apology from that person, you get a defensive response? It is almost like they are pissed off that you called them out on their agenda. In any healthy relationship, there are going to be times when you intentionally or unintentionally do something that upsets or hurts the other person. At this time, the correct response is to own and acknowledge your actions and not use it as yet another opportunity to point out an additional flaw or weakness because someone made you feel uncomfortable.

At the end of the day, an emotional parasite is simply projecting their fears. A successful person learns to manage their fears, as well as their relationships. As I share in my upcoming book, Growing Success: A Young Adult’s Guide to Achieving Personal and Financial Success, there are several reasons why successful people learn how to protect and cultivate healthy relationships and, at the same time, navigate around unhealthy people in order to achieve their desired outcomes.

I am hoping that the information and clarification I have provided in this post will allow you to recognize the warning signs early so that you can continue to grow your success.

So How’s That Life Working For You?

For anyone who has truly accomplished something important in his or her life, each person had to realize early on that ongoing success was something that did not come automatically, but rather something that had to be earned through a lot of tough commitments and hard work.

It is my personal experience that the true definition between a victor and a victim is simply one’s ability to own one’s mistakes and/or personal obstacles. Rather than acknowledging bad habits, decisions or mistakes, victims blame others for their lack of success and accomplishments. I am sure you have come across these self-loathing individuals that choose to blame the world rather than own their own crap, haven’t you?

I call these unfortunate people “the boggled and debauched” because they prefer to deflect their own negative self-worth issues by simply disclaiming others’ points of view, as well as intentionally diminish the success or character of others rather than deal with their own self-sabotaging issues. Unfortunately, unhealthy dysfunctional people often act as emotional parasites by either intentionally or unknowingly manipulating or using others for their own personal entertainment or distraction. In my upcoming book, Growing Success: A Young Adult’s Guide to Achieving Personal and Financial Success, I share a story about a frog and a scorpion and one’s ongoing need to be aware of others’ intentions despite inconsistent actions and words.

Luckily, successful people become acutely aware of unhealthy individual’s intentions, and as a result, ultimately learn how to engage and maneuver around them in order to protect themselves from potentially sabotaging outcomes.

In addition, successful people do not enable or make excuses for their own failures or bad behavior, but rather learn and grow from them. Recently I read a great anonymous quote, “Sometimes I win, sometimes I learn, everyone should replace the word loser with learner.”

As a life-long learner, my personal transformation for success started with a simple question that I had to look in the mirror and ask myself, “So, how is that life working for you?” A simple question that required no excuses, no blame, but simply a need to be honest with myself and my own fears. Yet despite its simplicity, this one question can elude and prevent the boggled and debauched from getting out of their own way and taking an honest look at themselves because it is easier for some to continue to live in denial and remain in their unhealthy comfort zone rather than accept their own shortcomings and disappointments.

If you are someone that finds yourself stuck or incapable of owning your own crap, STOP! Use this same unhealthy energy to become accountable for your own fears, decisions and outcomes. OWN IT!

If you want to be successful, take the time to look at yourself in the mirror, eye to eye, and ask yourself, “So how is that life working for you?”

Choose to finally be honest with yourself and ask yourself what steps can be pursued that will finally allow you to create your desired goals and passions.

What additional educational pursuits and/or authentic relationships are currently available to you that will help you achieve probable outcomes simply because you asked yourself an overdue question?

Most importantly, it’s time to stop projecting an unproductive victim mentality and the emotional use of others.

Right here, right now: it’s time to commit to fixing the problem, and not the blame. Start growing your future success now.