TO DODGE A DOWNER
Try “gray rocking”
You love your sister, but she’s always complaining about everything, from her health to her job to her friends. “This is different from someone who is depressed and reaching out for help,” says Dr. Northrup. “It’s a chronic pattern where you’re always there for them but they never change their behavior, never take your advice and never lift a finger to improve their situation.”
The solution? “Just become like a gray rock,” advises Dr. Northrup: When she starts cataloging everything that’s wrong and disregards your attempts to comfort her, switch off your usual dynamism and be as dull and uninteresting as possible, keeping conversation to a minimum. “This can be very challenging at first,” admits Dr. Northrup, who acknowledges that it’s common to have a family member who is an energy vampire. “But you cannot help anybody from an empty tank.” When you stop putting in more energy than you’re getting back, you communicate your limits and avoid leaving these interactions feeling drained.