L.D., Washington, D.C.
Answer: I have personally experienced this during the years in my own practice. I began to notice that certain people, especially those who were depressed, whining and complaining, were draining my energy. I call such people "energy suckers." After spending time with me, they would leave feeling better--but I would be exhausted. I realized that if they drained that much of my energy in such a short period of time, they must be doing the same to their own spouse, children and co-workers.
My response was to decrease the time I spent with these individuals and start providing them with assignments to begin reprogramming their minds. I knew that these people were not purposely sapping my energy; that were just stuck in a rut of whining, complaining and grumbling.
If you are spending too much time with "energy suckers," the first thing you need to learn is how to identify these people. Then begin to limit the time you spend with them. If your spouse falls into this category, you need to explain to him that there are occasions when it feels as though he is literally draining you of all your energy.
Discuss this issue and decide on a "signal" that will alert your spouse to the onset of each episode. Hopefully, through time and practice your spouse will recognize the problem, and you both can work together to resolve your energy crisis and the feelings associated with it.
If the energy sucker is someone at work, I recommend that once you have identified the person, you limit the time you spend with him if at all possible.
Perhaps the energy sucker in your life is one of your parents, or maybe your mother or father-in-law. In these cases you will also need to limit your contact or else make them aware of the problem in a kind, gentle manner. Each time you either eliminate or decrease contact with one of the energy suckers in your life, your energy level will begin to rise.
It's like having a car with multiple leaks in its gas tank. With each leak you plug, you will save more gasoline and will have more gas to go the distance. Just as you can identify a rattlesnake by its rattle, you can generally identify an energy sucker by his whining, nagging and complaining. For more information on this and related topics, refer to my book Deadly Emotions.