Buzzkill (n): A person or thing that has a depressing or dispiriting effect. Someone or something that ruins enjoyment or pleasure. Slang (killjoy, wet blanket, pin in your balloon, rain on your parade, Debbie Downer).

Yes, take out the garlic and holy water, my friends. And your high-beam flashlights. We’re going hunting for big-game vampires, commonly known as buzzkills. I’m betting you have a few of those circling your wagons, right?

How can you tell?

Well, outside of the fact that you’re always looking for the nearest exit when they’re around, a buzzkill tends to give more than they take, talk more than they listen, and judge more than they allow. They’re also carriers of bad news and sowers of doubt, and bring drama and turmoil wherever they go. And you can bet if they can’t find any, they’ll create it. And, of course, buzzkills have an uncanny ability to drag you into their vortex with them. They want you to buy into their drama and worldview—to feel their pain, share their anger, join their outrage. Obi-Wan Kenobi would call this buzzkill a disturbance in the force.

By any definition, buzzkills undermine your positivity, derail your enthusiasm, and unquestionably drain your energy, which is why they leave you irritated, exhausted, and inexplicably ready for a shower and a massage.

And, if you’re a compassionate person who believes you should help those who are struggling, you might be tempted to jump in with a defibrillator in hopes you can bring them back to life. But, be warned, most buzzkills don’t want your band-aids or wise words of positivity. They’re not looking for support. They’re looking for conspirators. Buzzkills want fuel to keep their negative energy alive.

Don’t worry, we can fight off these vampires and restore balance and peace to our lives once again. And we won’t even have to drive a stake through anybody’s heart.

How to Deal With the Buzzkills in Your Life
(And stop being drained of all your energy)

Step 1: Listen to your internal radar
There is no better starting place for protecting yourself against buzzkills than with your internal radar—the intuitive self that senses those disturbances in the force. Call it by any name that makes you feel comfortable, but this inner guidance is always pointing you toward those people who uplift and energize you and away from those who would discourage and weaken. Chances are you already know who they are, you just need to teach yourself to listen to that voice. Cultivate this awareness through practice. Listen, act, then see how you feel. Rinse, lather, and repeat. And just as important, recognize what happens when you don’t listen.

Step 2: Prune your field of buzzkills
While it’s not easy to get rid of buzzkills when they live in your house or sign your paychecks, we all have those individuals we keep around purely out of habit, history, or convenience. Give yourself permission to let a few of these go. Weed. Prune. Hit the delete key. You’re not a horrible human being. You’re merely honoring your freedom by not allowing anyone to hijack your emotions and drain you of your life force. It will not only make your life less stressful but will allow more positive and energetic people to come into your life. It’s spiritual gardening. Be subtle with your pruning it makes you feel better. Cut back gradually and do it over time. Say three nos to every yes. Over time, they’ll get it. And the ones that go kicking and screaming will only validate you dropping them in the first place.

Step 3: Set boundaries
If you can’t avoid your buzzkills entirely, at least put up more boundaries. You don’t always have to return phone calls right away, or immediately text back. Stop volunteering. Learn to say no. Cut conversations short. Choose how long you can be around someone on any given day. Turning a three-hour lunch into an hour coffee can make all the difference in the world. Sometimes spending 5 minutes too long with someone is all it takes to have your energy drained.

Warning:  Move slowly. Buzzkills do not like when their energy is taken away.

Step 4: Beware of buzzkills carrying cake
Most times buzzkills are easy to spot, coming at you with a black cloud over their head. But, just as often, they will come at you with smiles and hugs, and carrying cake. They’re funny, witty, popular, successful, rich, beautiful, and all those things we think we want to be around (which is why we ignore their true nature). Check under the hood with your new radar, and don’t allow yourself to be seduced by shiny objects. If you feel the slightest bit drained by anyone, and it happens more than a few times, move on.   

Step 5: Stop reacting
The truth is, a buzzkill can’t drain your energy unless you allow it. So when a buzzkill comes into your world spewing negativity in whatever shape or form, it’s up to us to decide how to act. We can respond by reacting with the same energy or comparable negative energy, OR we can choose to respond neutrally, without reaction, judgment or opinion. Unfortunately, not reacting is a challenging feat, especially when every part of our body wants to scream (inwardly or outwardly). And, it’s even more challenging when those buzzkills happen to be close friends or family members. Still, not reacting is the ultimate solution and genuine pathway to inner calm. And it’s more than possible. All we need to do is remember the following tips:

  • We’re all buzzkills
    It’s good to remind ourselves once in awhile that we’re all on the same journey, just at different stages along the highway. Today’s buzzkill might be tomorrow’s breath of fresh air…and today’s breath of fresh air might be tomorrow’s buzzkill. And it’s possible that, at this very moment, you are someone else’s buzzkill. The lesson: give others the space to be in a negative funk—the same space you’d like for yourself. Don’t judge. Don’t react. Just stay away when you need to and always protect your energy.
  • Don’t wear someone else’s shoes
    I feel your pain might make a great bumper sticker for a president, but it’s a horrible way to live life. Empathy isn’t crawling into someone’s shoes and feeling what they’re feeling. On the contrary, empathy means understanding, being aware of, and sensitive to the feelings of another. More importantly, it means  understanding someone’s pain within the context of their spiritual journey. Note to self: we are all spiritual beings having a human experience. We can certainly feel for those around us, be there for them, and support them in any way we can, but we can’t feel their emotions for them. There is no amount of sadness that we could feel about a situation or a person that will ever help that person. Being sad, angry, or outraged when someone else is sad, angry or outraged won’t make that persons life any better, it will only make ourselves more miserable—and lower our energy and life force. This doesn’t help anyone. Listen to the airlines and put on your own oxygen mask first.
  • Don’t ride someone else’s roller coaster
    This goes hand in hand with wearing other people’s shoes, but with a slightly different twist. Riding someone’s roller coaster is allowing someone else’s emotional ups and downs to mess with our own ecosystems. It’s responding at the whim of how those around us are feeling. When they’re high, we’re high. When they’re low, we’re low. In other words, it’s letting someone hijack our day—the ultimate buzzkill. My wife still jokes how she stopped riding my roller coaster years ago, And she’s right. She shouldn’t, any more than I should ride hers. She can hold my hand as I would for her, or be there to hold the vomit bag when I get off the ride, which she does (and if you’ve ever had vertigo you know what I mean). But, my ride is mine and her ride is hers. Let those in your world ride their own roller coasters. Give them a shoulder to lean on, chicken soup, tissues, and whatever you can to help guide them to a healthy life…but, at the end of the day, their ride is their ride. It’s not an easy lesson, which is why a second reminder to self might be a good idea: we are spiritual beings having a human experience.
  • Let your buzzkills becomes your master
    Sometimes our judgmental, hot-headed, knee-jerk reactions to buzzkills are merely reactions to something inside ourselves—our weaknesses and limitations. You might want to call this psychobabble, but I’d prefer to call it cosmic poetry—letting our hang-ups and shortcomings become master teachers that allow us to grow (should we have the eyes to see and the strength to accept). In the words of Confucius, “The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.” Often those trials are the buzzkills that come in and out of our lives. Next time you want to react to a buzzkill, ask yourself what you’re reacting to. Is it something in you? Start there and see where it takes you. As Wayne Dyer liked to say, “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change.”

Step 6: Seek new energy
Buzzkills will never go away entirely. You can’t escape to an island or lock yourself in your room. They will always rear their ugly head, or at least until that moment you no longer see buzzkills as buzzkills, but as just another Soul on the same journey. But by that point you’ll you’ll be under the Bodhi tree sipping nirvana smoothies with Gandhi.

Until that moment, one of the best ways to get rid of the buzzkills in your life is to live without judgment, and with as much laughter, love, mindfulness, and gratitude as you can. Buzzkills can’t survive in this environment. There’s way too much light. They will slowly disappear from your life. And in their place, a new garden will grow, filled with like-minded men and women who will uplift and nourish you in your journey to find purpose and joy.

Now, that’s the kind of buzz we like.

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