Mood Hoovers, Psychic Vampires, Emotional Vampires, Eeyores. There are many ways to define them and there are still many accademical studies that are going on about it and not enough scientifical materials or literature about it.
What does it mean? Who are the Mood Hoovers?
“If someone only needs a trash bin, don’t let it be your mind”
- Someone who sucks all the good feelings out a room.
- Someone who sucks the soul out of you and not in a good way.
- Someone who drains you of all positivity through their need to be negative and moody. If they aren’t whinging they’re not happy…which is the irony!
- Are those which are born with (latent or active) an internal need, a physical need for pranic (life) energy which they themselves cannot supply.
- Someone who is draining the auric life force.
I think you got the idea. They moan. They blame. They complain. They love finding faults. They play the victim role. They are never happy. They are never satisfied.
We all have our bad days, but mood hoovers tend to be permanently negative and can be severely detrimental to the overall performance of your workforce, or your family’s/friend’s environment.
They are all destructive, but to varying degrees and in different ways. A mood hoover at the office is usually critical of everything, painfully dramatic or completely convinced of having more burdens than anyone else. Or a person who is constantly blaming his/her own partner for his/her own insuccess. You know someone is a mood hoover when interacting with them leaves you exhausted or frustrated. Sometimes you may even feel dizziness, headaches, anxious, depressed, negative with a need for carb/comfort food or a nap. Did it ever happen to you?
“The sob sister, for one, always considers herself the victim. The world is always against her, and she’ll recount every horrible thing that has happened to her, wallowing in every perceived slight. The charmer is a constant talker or joke-teller who has to be the center of attention. The blamer, on the other hand, doles out endless servings of guilt. And then there’s the drama queen, the co-worker who claims she almost died from a high fever or the neighbor who lives in extremes of emotion—life is unbelievably good or horrifically bad.” Judith Orloff
We may consider 3 categories:
- Gentle Mood Hoovers
They are actually dreamers who have difficulties to finish things. They have a tendency to give a lot of suggestions or corrections that can be certainly helpful but can easily drain your energy.
- Aggressive Mood Hoovers
They are the ‘always-right’ ones. They have difficulties to play well with others. They can easily tend to build kingdom-building people with a possible personal agenda. They have the powers to make any situation feel negative.
- Unintentional Mood Hoovers
These people have actually ideas but don’t understand how to get things done, so they might focus, for example, just on details, killing creativity. They often enable failure simply by over-protecting themselves and everybody around them. It was not in their intention. But it’s done.
Let’s be clear, we are not saying that moodhoovers are bad people. “It’s much subtler than that. They might be deliberate blockers and/or naysayers, but most of them aren’t purposefully negative, they’ve simply learned to be a doom merchant and/ore abitual moaner. Their default thinking draws them into an ultra-defensive mindset of spot-the-problem-rather-than-the-solution“. “Of course, the mood hoovers might actually be right. We are not advocating some sort of happy-clappy-blue-sky-thinking-rainbow-unicorned organization of positivity. Some ideas and situations are just totally shit, We get that.” SHINE (Andy Cope – Gavin Oattes)
While I was starting my carrier as a coach in 2013, my lovely husband gave me as a present the book “The art of being brilliant” by Andy Cope & And Whittaker. I read it 3 times and it inspired to create my own brand of WonderFULL Life, WonderFULL Women, WonderFULL Communication, WonderFULL Teens etc. It also inspired me to go deeper into the issue of Mood Hoovers. It helped me to give a name to a pattern of my life and from that moment I worked on it and I still do it in order to be always resilient and choose the people around me.
“If you can’t pick the people up in your life, for goodness sake don’t let them take you down!” Les Brown
The Andys are saying that Mood hoovers or energy vampires need special care and attention. “Remember, they have a special power of negativity that can put you under their spell. They make negativity seem so easy – it’s so natural. But we can resist. We have powers of our own. We can even fight back. We all know that garlic repels vampires”
So let’s imagine a very standard Mood hoover’s comment to any kind of ideas that you put on the table: “that’ll never work.”
You may reframe: “It’s interesting you say that. What do you think would work?
EXERCISE YOUR POWER TO REFRAME TO MAKE YOU EMPATHICALLY MORE RESILIENT AND WATERPROOF!
This has the effect of bouncing back and forcing the vampire to come up with a solution. “It’s not aggressive, patronizing or smarmy. Just assertive. Winning with a mood hoover means raising their level of brilliance rather than letting them lower ours.”
There’s a great story about Sir Clive Woodward and mood hoovers.
Back in 1997 he took his 40man England Rugby Team training with the Royal Marines. Unfortunately he’d already picked his team for the World Cup. His story went something like this:
At the end of the event, he asked the Sergeant Major what he thought of his team. Here was his assessment:
“Well, sir, You have three men in your squad whom I would not go into battle with. I don’t know if these three guys are good rugby players or not. I don’t know if they have superior skills to the others or if they make better decisions under pressure than some you have left behind.
But, in the Marines, we know there are certain people in life who live for themselves and only themselves. They are more interested in their own good, not the success of the team. If something goes wrong, it is someone else’s fault.
If they see themselves in competition with a colleague, they will undermine that person by making snide comments behind their back or lobbying others against them. They are not capable of taking personal responsibility for their own actions. They suck attention from those around them and don’t give anything back.
We call them energy-sappers”.
Clive Woodward lost the World Cup back in 1997. He didn’t make the same mistake next time – he ensured his team were full of ‘energisers’.
So what’s the opposite of Mood Hoovers? Energizers! Energy Radiators! Brilliant people! Inspiring People! Shining Auras People! 2%ers! What are the characteristics of these people? They are Enthusiastic, Joyful, Inspired, Excited, Calm, Relaxed, Full of energy, Bouncy, Confident, Passionate, Optimistic. Obviously, nobody can feel like that all the time, but everyone can learn to feel amazing more often and the only way these people can renew their energy is to mix up with other 2%ers.
There is a very interesting study on Vitality by Kim Cameron who is defining 4 different types of energy:
1 – Physical: body’s energy produced by burning calories
2 – Emotional: experiencing intense feelings
3 – Psychological: mental concentration and brain work
4 – Relational: this is the only renewable one, it increases as it is exercised. It enhanced through positive interpersonal relationships. It can be uplifting, invigorating and rejuvenating. This can be completely life-giving rather than life-depleting.
It’s true that we are influenced by the people around us. This is because our energy interacts and influences the energy of everyone and everything that we come into contact with. Negative energy has a tendency to dominate unless we are aware of it and know how to intervene effectively.
we need other people in order to feel good, connect, and create meaningful bonds. When we do that, our brain releases oxytocin. But when we aren’t able to “fit together” with someone else, and instead get hostility or suspicion, our brain releases cortisol, the stress hormone. A specific feeling lives in our brain: the sensation of threat. Best thing to do is to learn how to “waterproof” yourself to this kind of interaction. The goal is to safeguard our physical and emotional well-being.
Author, Jim Rohn says: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” SO LET’S START COUNTING!
Let’s listen to Martina Maccione‘s witnesses:
So many times I have found people who always want to fight, who complain about anything (even like “how are you?” “Bad, life is a s **** “). I have always been a beat of love, listening, optimism and empathy but I realized that I became one of them! Drying my energy, moaning and impatient of other human beings. I did not like it at all. So I had to choose not to give more space and help some people in my life. For example, sometimes, I do not even respond to messages on whatsapp. It makes me feel a bad and selfish person but I have one less problem in managing the feelings of others and mine (on which I already have a lot of work!)
Elena Lah is sharing with us:
My experience has a lot in common with Martina’s one. One day I decided to close the toxic relationships with these people (including the sentimental one).
Now I am facing a change with a person that I really care about, I have taken the road of being direct, not pitying, not consoling, no more cross-rogerism.
I’m better and I think she/he’s better too.
Marta C.Dessalvi told me:
I had no idea what the moodhoovers were until I read this post. Then I sadly realized I knew it very well, because I go out with a group and I can not disengage with them and their way of dealing with things. They are corrosive. They destroy all the good things they encounter on their way, especially if they talk about loved ones. All goodwill is paved. And I really can not figure out how to get rid of it. Sigh.
It breaks my heart to see that 99% of people that I met, friends, colleagues, students, clients are affected from mood hoovers. This is something we all need to deal with, we all need to learn how to cope with it and how to become more resilient and “waterproof”, so why nobody thought about including important life education matters in our educational mandatory path? Isn’t it more efficient to work on it from our childhood? The educational system should be revised from many points of views. But we will talk about it in another episode!
So what can we do to learn how to cope with them, become more resilient and waterproof?
1 -First of all we need awareness. Are we surrounded by mood hoovers? Who are them? What are their usual attitudes or behaviors? Or are we the mood hoovers? What kind of? Ask to yourself: When people walk away from me, are they energised? How can I do better than this? How this makes me feel? How would I feel I could feel less burden on me? Would I like to become an energy radiator? A brilliant 2%ers?
2 – Then let’s try to understand if you want to invest in this relationship or not. If it is worthy, or necessary, but sometimes you don’t have a choice. Even if, I think that most of the time, we do have a choice. Sometimes it is necessary for our self-respect and also to give them a signal (if they want to hear it) to walk away. We need to have the courage to unfollow people in real life, not just on social media. After that you will breathe, you feel lighter and discover again yourself to your best potential!
3 – Ok, you decided to invest. Good and Fair! So let’s talk about appreciation! Looking for something positive, something that you can value about them, something to be grateful for. Remind to yourself these things not to get poisoned by your own negative judgment about them! Don’t forget that emotions are contagious and it will have a good influence on all your environment.
4 – Stephen Covey is suggesting his model of Circle of Influence vs Circle of Concerns: “let’s park the things we can’t do anything about (and acknowledge what they are). And then look at all the things we can do something about. Challenge each other to what is possible.”
5 – Learn how to deal with Difficult Conversations. This communication technique is a basic, fundamental and ultimate tool that we all should learn. To summarize it, we should start with expressing our feelings (I feel, I have the feeling, etc) and then move on to the advocacy part where there are evidence that are observations and not evaluations, ending with an inquiry, where we can speculate possible keys to reading and asking the others as they perceive the situation, if they sees it differently from you, if they have another interpretations or point of view etc.
6 – Emotional Intelligence! Empathy is always a solution, basically to any of our problems. It is very important to put yourself in their shoes. Why do they behave like this? What do they feel? What do they fear? Do you see any pattern in their behavior? Did you ever try to connect and communicate with them, listen to their issues. Maybe they are affected by a personal trauma, or they are suffering from something, or maybe they have never seen any other way of communicating thanks to the past. At the same time, did you share with them your emotions and your needs? Opening the emotional channel to make us vulnerable and authentic between two people is like sharing a very special moment. It is like saying: “I see you naked and you see me naked. Look! We have more common things that we may have guest!”.
7 – Don’t get sucked in! Resist the pull of sharing negative comments about people or situations as this is what some mood hoovers thrive on. You may change the subject, ignore what they’re saying (which isn’t always easy), search for something positive to say about their latest issue or just walk away. Protect yourself first!
8 – Surround yourself with people who are good to you and for you.
Make the ideal environment for your growth, choose the people that are going to be influential in your daily life, people who deserve your energy, people who are inspiring you and taking out your best potential. People with whom you can show your real self, authentic and vulnerable. People with your same values and priorities. People with whom you can easily communicate exchanging constructive feedback in a positive environment. People who can support you, understand you and unconditionally love you.
If you want some specific advices on your personal cases, don’t hesitate to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Best Greetings from my Milano’s apartment.