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From the Heart: The Vampire Strikes Back

by Alan Cohen


While on an airplane I saw that the in-flight movie was Beautiful Creatures. Thinking the movie was a documentary on puppies or a sweet love story, I started to watch. It didn’t take long before I realized it was vampire movie, complete with pale faces and blood sucking. Oh, well. I’ll have to get my puppy fix at home.

What’s up with the rash of vampire and zombie movies that has pervaded books, theaters, and television of late? Since fiction generated by a culture is an expression of the culture’s subconscious, there must be a message here. Here’s what I believe it is:

Our culture is filled with psychic vampires and zombies. Many people feel lifeless and needy, so they seek to extract life from those who are more alive than they are. You probably have one or more psychic vampires in your life. You know who they are. People who can never get enough attention, answers, money, sex, love, or security. No matter how much you give them, they want more. They are like black holes who can never be filled. You end up avoiding them, resenting them, or hating yourself for letting yourself be used or abused.

Yet everyone we meet is in some sense a mirror of ourselves. Each of us feels we need to get something from someone else that we do not have or cannot give ourself. Power, money, connections, beauty, passion, fame, stability, or spirituality, to name a few. Sometimes we just go for the jugular and attempt to hang with others who have what we want, to see what we can glean from them. If we’re a bit more sophisticated we might strike a trade. You have youth and beauty and he has stability and money, so how ‘bout let’s give each other what the other one lacks? Or you have needs and I need to be needed, so I will be your savior. And variations thereof. All based on the idea, “I lack and you have what I lack, so I’ll get what I need from you.” Relationships are then reduced to a business deal.

You might feel fairly whole yourself, but you have vampires in your life. People are trying to suck from you to the point of depleting you. An alcoholic husband; a child who won’t earn his own living; a friend who has constant dramas or just won’t shut up; an employee who isn’t doing her job but you feel too guilty to let her go. And variations thereof.

In the movies the cure for vampires is garlic or a stake through the heart. That might be a bit extreme for you. Instead, you might try a good dose of wholeness applied to you or your vampire friend. Confront the illusion that you lack or need, or that your friend does. The best way to get rid of a stray cat is to not feed it, and that’s the best way to get rid of a psychic vampire. Don’t fall prey to the idea that you are their source of good. Hold the vision of him or her as a whole, complete, strong, and capable person. Sprinkle that awareness with a generous topping of love. Appreciate and acknowledge your friend for who she is at her best, when she demonstrates independence, strength, and capability, even if those traits show up only rarely. Reward healthy behaviors and do not reinforce the sucking response.

If you tend to reach out to others to fill in your perceived gaps, get in touch with your own wholeness. Pray, meditate, visualize, and affirm your inherent completeness. No one can give you what you already have. Look within for your answers and fulfillment, and then receiving support from others will be the icing on the cake rather than the cake. Buddha asked, “If you do not get it from yourself, where will you go for it?”

The reason for the zombie phenomenon is more obvious. Look at people walking on the streets of the cities, riding in subways, and watching mind-numbing TV. Have you ever observed a child watching television? Hypnotized. Adults, the same. Our culture is fairly unsophisticated at dealing with pain. Our primary response to pain is to escape into distraction, addiction, and numbness. You don’t have to go the movies to watch zombies. Just scan your TV room.

The only cure for zombies—the living dead—is living life. To return to authentic passion. To feel our feelings, the joys and hurts, and to tell the truth about them. To honestly communicate what’s going on in our heart of hearts without denying, numbing, or putting a Band-Aid on our psychic wounds. To become more childlike in our self-expression without hiding, posturing, or censoring. To say “I love you” when you really mean it and to not hang with people you don’t enjoy. To be who we are instead of who others want us to be. Then we stand a chance to infuse life back into the bodies that walk but do not go anywhere; speak but do not say anything; listen but do not hear. The walking dead can be resurrected with love and intention.

This month we celebrate Halloween, when the spooks and goblins come forth. The word “Halloween” means “all hallowed evening” or “holy evening.” It’s the night before November 1st, All Saints Day. The shadows come up to be shined away by the light. As we bring the darkness to light, we might recognize what beautiful creatures we are after all.

Alan Cohen is the author of Enough Already: The Power of Radical Contentment. If you would like to become a professional life coach or incorporate life coaching skills in your career or personal life, join Alan’s celebrated Life Coach Training Program beginning January 1, 2014. For more information about this program, Alan’s other books, free daily inspirational quotes, and his weekly radio show, visit www.alancohen.com, email info@alancohen.com, or phone (808) 572-0001.


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