Energy vampires: 3 ways to detect and defeat them By: Val Van Brocklin

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Author’s note: This article is dedicated to the law enforcement and civilian staff of the Alaska Department of Public Safety Training Academy – Spartans all.

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We all know energy vampires. They’re the ones that suck the life out of a room and your spirit. They’re a diverse bunch, but they share three traits.

How to detect energy vampires

Vampires don't do well in sunlight. Keep yours shining.Vampires don't do well in sunlight. Keep yours shining.
Vampires don’t do well in sunlight. Keep yours shining. (Getty Images)

1. They’re negative no matter what.

Nothing anyone can say or do, no conditions or circumstances, will wrest them from their dismal swamp. They can nitpick defeat from the jaws of victory. Tell them the department got a 30% funding increase for crime prevention and they’ll respond, “Who cares?” and then tell you why it doesn’t matter.

I’ve encountered plenty of energy vampires but a couple stand out. In 2016, I highlighted a Gallup poll that showed citizen respect for police was at a record high that year – across age, race and political persuasions. I wanted cops to know that, despite the media’s skewed focus on isolated uses of force, the majority of a diverse citizenry had “a great deal of respect” for them.

The first comment came from Sabinjr: “Who cares.” That was followed by dpj8329: “Oh boy…more stats from the blowhards behind their desks. People either love us or hate us. It always has been that way and will always be.”

If good, nationwide news won’t loosen their grip on self-satisfying misery, it must be about them. Whether they came to the profession that way or succumbed to occupational hazards doesn’t matter at this point. They’re energy vampires.

2. They’re stupid.

As comedian Ron White says, “You can’t fix stupid.” You can fix ignorance with education. But energy vampires choose to filter and refract everything through their myopic, negative lenses.

“People either love us or hate us” is stupidly simplistic. There are some who love cops and won’t let the rare, corrupt ones dissuade us. There are some who hate cops and won’t be dissuaded by the untold, daily acts of service.

The majority of people don’t have the time or inclination to expend love or hate on the police. They’re too busy with their lives – raising kids, making mortgage payments, working, being sick, celebrating, grieving, etc. Those are the ones officers can influence – and do. The 2016 Gallup poll of citizens (not “blowhards behind their desks”) showed officers’ positive influence significantly outweighed the skewed negative narrative of the media and garnered respect from diverse citizens.

Maybe “who cares” and “people either love us or hate us” aren’t stupid. Maybe they’re just self-serving. Their comments let them “cop out,” which brings me to…

3. They’re lazy.

Caring takes sustained energy and work. If you love, you will experience pain and loss. If you aspire, life will present obstacles and disappointments. An ancient Greek sage and philosopher named Epictetus said, “Circumstances don’t make the man; they reveal him for what he is.” Epictetus would know. He was born into slavery.

The legendary 300 Spartans who faced an invading Persian army numbering up to a million knew their circumstances. Rather than surrender and hand over their arms in exchange for their freedom, they said “Molon labe,” which translates to “Come and take them.” They found something worth fighting and dying for, regardless of overwhelming odds, and their story remains an icon of valor that inspires centuries later.

It wouldn’t be so bad if the energy vampires kept their negativity to themselves. But they want to share it and suck the lifeblood out of everyone else. I’ve figured out why. They want to bring everyone else down so they’re not alone with their “copped out” selves, which brings me to…

How to defeat energy vampires

1. Avoid them.

I told the recruits at the DPS academy where I was an adjunct instructor for over 25 years they should try and avoid energy vampires and seek Spartan spirits as mentors. My first Police1 editor, Doug Wyllie, has been one of my mentors. Years ago when I mentioned Police1 reader comments like those of Sabinjr and dpj8329 he told me, “I’ve intentionally gone deaf to the grouchy a-holes who have nothing good to say about anything, much less our efforts to point out the good in the world that many officers have lost sight of.”

2. Get a silver stake.

Stock up on some memes and stickers and use them like silver stakes. Here are three I recommend:

  • “People who say it cannot be done, should not interrupt those who are doing it.” — George Bernard Shaw
  • “Pew. Pew. Pew. That’s the sound of me deflecting your whiny-ass bitching with my happiness shield.” someecards
  • The word WHINING with a red circle around it and a red line through it.

3. Kill them with sunlight.

If they persist in sharing, tell them, “Hey buddy, you’re blocking my sunlight.” I got that line from a long-told legend about the philosopher Diogenes, who insisted on telling truth even to power.

When Alexander the Great, accompanied by a bunch of statesmen, went to bestow his presence on the philosopher and grant him a wish, Diogenes was unimpressed. When Alex offered him anything he desired, Diogenes blew him off, saying, “Stand out of my sun.”

Vampires don’t do well in sunlight. Keep yours shining.

Then let circumstances reveal your Spartan spirit. Let your life inspire others.

NEXT: Staying positive is a discipline