Appropriately for Halloween I have started thinking about Vampires…
Bizarre as it may sound, Vampires are not necessarily the mythical creatures from films and stories. There ARE real life Vampires operating all around us feeding on our life energy and nowhere do these predators operate more successfully than in the art world.
Do Vampires really exist?
Sounds like a bunch of daft mumbo jumbo right? Have I been drinking too much Halloween punch?
Think about it. Most of us know people who we dread being around. After being on the phone to them for ten minutes we feel exhausted and in need of a lie down. If they pop round to visit we feel depressed, knackered and possibly even ill after they leave. We try and make excuses to avoid them but they always seem to know when we feel low and call just at the time we least feel we have the energy to deal with them.
These people are what I would class as Energy Vampires. They emit negativity and suck all the joy and happiness from a room. They leave greyness in their wake. They feed on the life energy of others in order to make themselves feel better or more powerful. They are draining, exhausting and damaging to be around.
How to spot an Energy Vampire
Energy Vampires are easily recognisable from some common characteristics.
- They like to criticise and complain and bring down positive people by destroying their confidence with subtle undermining comments.
- They are jealous of people who achieve things in their life and consequently do all they can to sabotage them in order to make themselves feel more powerful.
- They suck the lifeforce out of everyone around them.
- They are the passive aggressive killers of dreams and generally never have much positive comment to make.
- Life is never good for them, something is always wrong, be it the weather, their job or their spouse.
You come across them every day in all areas of life. They might be a friend, an aquaintance or someone you meet through your artistic practice. In defense of the Energy Vampire they often don’t realise what they are doing and have unhappy and damaged backgrounds so a little understanding is called for.
Artists are easy prey for the Energy Vampire
Unfortunately, artists and creative people are particularly easy prey for an Energy Vampire. The very act of creating some kind of Art – Sculpture, Painting, Photograph, Music or Print is a baring of your soul.
Standing in my first exhibition after all the work had gone up, I was shocked at how vulnerable I felt. My inner thoughts were out there for everyone to see. This act of translating your soul out through your art makes the Artist sensitive and open to negative people who seek to drain their power for their own ends. Its easy to trash someone’s confidence when they have put their entire being, thoughts and energy into a piece of work. There are also people who are jealous that you are doing something you enjoy, or are good at a particular artistic skill, as its something they feel they can’t do well themselves. Consequently they might rubbish your output in order to feel better about their own work.
How do Energy Vampires attack?
The attack generally comes in two equally damaging forms: Destructive criticism and the Destruction of Dreams. Lets just look a little closer at these two.
Negative or destructive criticism of your work:
Constructive criticism of your work can help you flourish and develop as an artist but destructive criticism destroys, undermines, damages confidence and is one of the biggest reasons Artists stop creating. The tragedy is that some Artists will just stop creating work for the rest of their lives, believing that their Art has no value. No one appreciated the work of Van Gogh during his lifetime but what a tragedy if he had just given up because someone told him his work sucked and he listened!
Destroying your dreams:
Being told “no one ever makes a living as an Artist” “You need to live in the real world” “You’ll never make it” and variations on the above can make working and living as an artist seem like an impossible dream. Energy Vampires are often very unhappy in their own lives and like to make sure everyone else is similarly unhappy by dashing their hopes and dreams.
How to defend against Energy Vampires
So, what can you do to thwart the energy vampires from draining you of your creative lifeforce?
The Best defence against energy vampires is wonderfully simple – recognition. Once you can spot a Vampire at work it’s easier to stay strong in the face of their negativity and realise that it’s their issues at work, not yours. Recognising what they say or do for what it is, invalid and undermining, will allow you to avoid being dragged down and to shake off any criticism.
- Nourish your protective confidence
Build confidence in your work. A healthy confidence in your own work will give you great protection. Develop your work and skills in positive ways and become involved with positive organisations for mutual support. Some people will love your art. Some won’t and won’t understand it. That’s OK. The main thing is that YOU love your work and are happy that it’s the best you can produce.
Simply stop hanging around with people you know bring you down and are bad for your psyche. Make sure you surround yourself with people who create positive energy and support your dreams.
So keep strong. Keep Painting, Sculpting, Photographing, Printing, Designing, Drawing, Playing and Making. Keep your dreams alive and hang onto your creative energy.
“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that but the really great make you feel that you too can become great. When you are seeking to bring big plans to fruition it is important with whom you regularly associate. Hang out with friends who are like-minded and who are also designing purpose-filled lives. Similarly be that kind of a friend for your friends.” ― Mark Twain
Do you have experience with Energy Vampires? How did you deal with them? Share with us and have a spooky Halloween…