How to handle emotionally draining people – Keeks
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How to handle emotionally draining people

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How to handle emotionally draining people

Be honest with yourself, if you did a scan of the people around you (Friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances etc.) you’re bound to find someone that makes you feel less when you interact with them. Just the thought of them could make you uncomfortable. They drain your energy and leave you miserable sometimes.

With this description you’ll think that the best thing to do for your emotional and mental well-being is to avoid them. But what if you can’t? What if they are your spouse, parent, boss or someone that you have to deal with on a regular basis? What do you do then? Continue being miserable? The truth is, if you allow yourself to remain around these negatively charged people that keep pouring their misery, frustration and lack of concern for your feelings on you, you’ll actually hurt yourself. With time, you get sadder (maybe depressed), you begin to shrink (not physically, but emotionally), you become withdrawn (and this affects your ability to spread love to other people), you start dumping on other people in your life (it may be little at a time, but it would be enough to get some people to move away from you), your immunity gets suppressed from all the stress and sadness. Over time this one person, gains so much power and control over your life. I always advice people not to give anyone that much power over their life.

So what do you do when you cannot avoid emotionally draining people? Well…

  1. BECOME FLEXIBLE. If you must deal with them regularly, then you need to create a mind and attitude that allows you to stand, and if you must bend, to do so without breaking. What this means is, you study your previous interactions with this person. You’ll begin to notice a pattern, use this to your advantage, then react in a way that would give you the result that you want. I know this sounds vague, but let me give you an example. If you have a spouse that yells at you for things that are beyond your control, remember how you’ve responded in the past and how it didn’t help, and try something different. It could be as simple as agreeing with them, saying nothing, or looking interested in what they are saying, it could mean discovering ways to get your point across in a way that it seems like their own idea, it could even mean walking out, but keep the end result you want in mind.


  1. SEE THINGS DIFFERENTLY. You can see things from three perspective to gain insight. Look at things from your point of view, this will be easy, now look at things from their point of view, finally look at it from the perspective of someone quietly observing the interaction the two of you are having. Doing this will help you respond better. For example if you have a parent that is always trying to control your life and belittles you for not living up to expectation, you could try and see things from their perspective. Is this person trying to push you to do more with your life (though the methods being used by this person is ineffective)?, Is this person’s controlling ways their own method of trying to keep you safe? Assuming a different perspective will change your response. And remember to always keep your outcome in mind.


  1. CHANGE YOUR EVALUATION OF THINGS. Two people may experience exactly the same thing, but their response to it may be completely different. This is because our response is controlled by our evaluations. If a stranger walks up to two people and give them a hug, one person could relax into the hug and think, “wow, what a friendly man, I really needed that hug today” (this person may be more comfortable with people being in their personal space). But the second person may get stiff with the hug or even try to avoid it or try to push the stranger away, he’ll probably to thinking to himself, “who the hell are you, get away from me” (this person might not like personal contact, or just may find such behaviour strange, unsafe and unclean). Your evaluation determines your response. So with emotionally draining people, choose an evaluation of the situation that empowers you and develops empathy in you for the person.


  1. GET HELP. Sometimes you need someone who has been there before, or someone who sees things differently from you to help you out. Ensure to choose someone that has your best interest in mind, and is open minded and unbiased with traditional or religious views. I say this, because I know some well-meaning people could be inhibited by their own beliefs that they allow you to continue to suffer.

These are things that I have tried that have worked for me. I must confess, it’s not easy, but I needed my headspace to be vibrant and not polluted by an individual that I could not avoid. You can use them or create your own. Always decide what’s best for the situation you’re facing. But remember that it’s people who are flexible in their interactions that win. Your mental and emotionally head (Your headspace) is very important, it should be a sanctuary for you, so don’t allow anyone cause distress for you, especially for prolonged periods.

Kiki Oti

Wellness advocate and health counsellor for Keek's

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