Do You Suck The Life Out Of People?

I’ll never forget my college pastor, Rick Howerton, telling me “Pete, every person you come in contact with will either suck the life out of you or breathe life into you.”

That was some 15 years ago and I now look back and think “How true!” We truly are being energized or drained by every single interaction we have.

John Ortberg wrote in, The Me I Want to Be (which is a fantastic new book)…

“At a level deeper than words, deeper than exchanging information, every interaction with another person is a spiritual exchange. Some people are life-bringers to us. They increase our energy, deepen our hope, add to our joy, and call out the best in us. Other people are life drainers. They add to our anxiety and invite us to cynicism. WE find ourselves becoming defensive, depressed, or exasperated.”

This explains  a whole lot doesn’t it?

What’s one thing you can do to make sure you’re energizing and not draining the people around you?

70 Responses to “Do You Suck The Life Out Of People?”

  1. Heidi H says:

    Refuse to be a part of gossip!
    .-= Heidi H´s last blog ..Go for the Gold…ducky that is! =-.

  2. woody says:

    offer grace.

  3. Jason says:

    I agree with Jim…encouragement and support.
    .-= Jason´s last blog ..Child sex in America =-.

  4. JD in Canada says:

    Sounds like a great book suggestion, Pete — thank you for sharing!

    What can I do? Ask the people around me, and be willing to hear their honest answers, not defensively, but with an open mind.

  5. Amy says:

    I have to remind myself that everything that I say needs to be encouraging and building up. Thanks for this reminder Pete.
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..Project Life Tuesday: Feb 15 – 21 & Giveaway #5 =-.

  6. Michael says:

    I would say be postivite and show love. I think that those who “suck the life out of us” can do so even when they are not there. But by showing love and being positive, will help combat this…
    .-= Michael´s last blog ..My Story Part 1 =-.

  7. I have to pray everyday and ask that Christ will let His spirit show through me. I have to kinda beg.

  8. Aaron says:

    In addition to not sucking the life out of others, one of the things I TRY to do is not participate or cooperate when a friend is engaging in those types of negative, cynical, anxious patterns of talk/behavior. I say try, because I don’t know how successful I am at it. It’s hard.

    Often we think that we are being supportive by listening to our friends vent or complain. We agree with them to show them we are sympathetic, often adding-on to show comaraderie. But sometimes we can help them most by not feeding into this unhealthy talk/thought.

  9. Zac says:

    Wow, this is a tough one. I feel like there are days I suck the life out of my wife. I don’t even realize I’m doing it, but by the time I do, its too late. I definitely need to pray to be more in tune with ways I can breath life into her rather than drain her.

  10. Rodney says:

    Jesus! Well that’s my sons answer for every bible question. He might be on to something here. To be like Jesus – a servant. I look at the word suck as pulling something towards you. Putting the emphasis on YOU. As a servant the emphasis is always on the other person. The next question is how to prevent from other people sucking the life out of you and still be a servant?
    .-= Rodney´s last blog ..Wednesday 9-2-09 Day Nine =-.

  11. joyce says:

    I agree with Zac…I know there are days I do this to my husband. hmmm…this morning comes to mind. And the reverse is also true.

    I think listening is key. Really listening…not just listening so I can formulate a reply to make my point.

    I’m a pretty positive person and I try hard not to be a complainer. Chronic complainers are at the top of my list of people who suck the life out of me. I find myself avoiding them.
    .-= joyce´s last blog ..The post in which we get to play with fire =-.

    • Zac says:

      I know all about the formulating replies. I am argumentative to a fault. I really need to allow other people to make points and accept that they don’t feel the same way as I do about something.

  12. Kara says:

    One thing I pray everyday is that I will see the people I come in contact with the way God sees them. So many times He shows me the child with in them. The tenderness, the innocence, the purity. Even the pain and the sadness that has brought them to their actions today. I am thankful that God shows me that because helps me to become less defensive & reactive and become more PROavtive in my prayers.
    .-= Kara´s last blog ..Christmas Past =-.

  13. bb19 says:

    I like to think of my self as a “breathe the life into” kind of person. I like to smile or nod at people, all people. Even the manager at Target came up to me one day and said, “what’s with you? You are always happy.” I looked at him genuinely and replied “Well, I’m not always happy, but I try to smile and that helps not only you but me.” I find people are kinder to me when I offer them the first impression of a smile. It’s about human kindness for me.

    I also agree with Joyce and listening is Key. Put your self-ideas back for a moment and Listen to others. But don’t forget yourself!! After you listen, Its really important to stand up for what you believe. Weather you say it or act it out. How else are you going to hear your life’s calling??

    Anyway, GREAT post! I found it from a friend post on FB.

  14. Tony York says:

    But, daggum, Pete.. vampires are cool. Real-life life-suckers are a lot like vampires in that when they look in the mirror they don’t see themselves.

    I don’t know that I could categorize myself as an either/or for life-sucker or life-breather because I believe that there is some of each in every one… and maybe, to some degree, we need to have both. That is not to say that we shouldn’t be challenged to be predominantly in the life-breathing category because as Christians who have abundant life, we should be able to impact people from the overflow from our lives.

    Here is something that I have noticed though… a person who is predominantly a life-breather may be a life-sucker to a minority of the people who they come into contact with. For example.. someone who works in the ministry could be a life-breather to everyone except their own family. Instead, they are so used up breathing life into other people’s life that they end up sucking the life out of the people at home.

    This can play out in other relationships as well.

    Maybe, just maybe, this tends to happen when we are trying to be life-breathers in our own power. We only have so much of our own power and when it is used up we get to a point where it can easy to be a life-sucker.
    .-= Tony York´s last blog ..Church Hunt Week 3 =-.

  15. jessica says:

    Avoid them! :) Ok I was just kidding.

    Honestly I have been both of these…depending on the season. I find that in order to not suck the life out of people I have to not be completely dependent on people. On their opinions. Ideas. Values. Gossip. Good and the not so great.

    If my life is flowing with worship and praise, gratitude…seeking the face of God daily, then I am able to offer life and love from the good. I am able to deal with others because I am coming from a place of holiness not a place of human rottenness.
    Then instead of being a life sucker, I can offer life because that is what is automatically flowing from me…flows from God to me to others.
    .-= jessica´s last blog ..Where I Am =-.

  16. Kyle Reed says:

    I actually came to the realization last week that people give me energy and when I am not with people I suffer and can really become apathetic.

    So I am really more focused on having life breathed into me.
    But you are right, people can suck the life out of you.

  17. I love this!

    Dream with people about thoughts, ideas, hopes, instead of constantly complaining about people and circumstances.

    The people who we surround ourselves influence us in so many ways. I think it is important to find friends who will energize you.
    .-= Lindsey Nobles´s last blog ..Reflections on a Year of Blogging =-.

  18. Emily says:

    The one thing that I can do best in order for me to not be draining on the people around me is
    BE IN THE WORD…to fill up on Jesus – That makes all of the difference-
    His Joy and Peace-

  19. Jan C. says:

    Start the day by picturing every person you will come in contact with: family, co-workers, store personnel, etc. Think in your mind about sending them love and blessings, and ask the Holy Spirit to make every interaction a loving and kind one. Then, and most important, decide to be happy and go out there and BE happy all over the place!

    • L. Hewett says:

      Great advice…I sometimes do this before as a club thing, but not actually praying for the individuals. Funny that some of the people in this particular club sit 2 rows in front of me each Sunday, yet in the club situation, they just lash out in ways that really can get to me. So far, I’ve been able to go on and try to respond in a nice loving way. Going to pray for each one from now on. Thanks

  20. JT says:

    Edification, affirmation and consistently making the conscious decision to seek out the positive in others and bring that out.

  21. Lauren Kelly says:

    Pete- I can so relate to this post. I have often struggled in the area of relationships where I am trying to find everything I need in my relationships versus finding it through Jesus and I literally had one friend who was bold enough to tell me to my face just flat out, you’re sucking me dry to where I just have nothing left to give. It was such an eye-opener and probably one of the best things she could have ever done for me!

  22. Jim F. says:

    For me, I like to ask people questions about thier life (Family, Job, Church, ect.) and sit back and listen. I think when we listen to people and then offer words of encouragement and are postive toward them it is helpful in breathing life and not sucking it out.
    .-= Jim F.´s last blog ..Intention =-.

  23. Kevin M. says:

    For me, it is truly listening to people by giving them my undivided attention.
    .-= Kevin M.´s last blog ..3 things bloggers should learn from Shaun White =-.

    • Tina says:

      Yes i agree with Kevin..listen to people and give them attention..they might just be in need of some attention and that can so make their day if they get it.

  24. David Knapp says:

    I get what you are saying and I agree but I had different thoughts before I got to your question.

    I am introverted and it doesn’t matter if the person I am with is an encourager because eventually too much of them and they are sucking the life out of me. :)

    So to answer your question I would say that if my friend is an introvert then I need to make sure I give them enough space so they can re energize their batteries. While I am with them our conversation should be uplifting.
    .-= David Knapp´s last blog ..Monk Habits For Everyday People =-.

  25. Buddy Knight says:

    Talk less . . . Listen More.

    Those that know me understand the challenge I have in this area!

    I think we also have to understand that God has created each of us differently, and for His purpose. There are personality types that “gain energy” only from solitude. They are taxed and drained by too much human interaction. Conversely, there are those who cannot abide to be without contact/interaction. To be engaged is to energize!

    So, regardless of what type or personality we are, we should choose our words, and non-verbals, with care and intent.

    Just my $0.02US.
    .-= Buddy Knight´s last blog ..OpenDNS Filtering: A Review For Home and Church =-.

  26. gitz says:

    This just happened last night… a friend of mine’s husband has been going through a difficult situation that we’ve been talking about. He called last night to tell me that he finally talked it out with the person and it was resolved… and then he kept saying, “but.” But… I don’t know if I can trust them. But… we’ll see how it goes.

    I wouldn’t get off the phone until he could say it was resolved without the “but.” He was borrowing trouble that hadn’t happened, rather than enjoying the happy moment he was in now. By the end of the call he was saying, “Ok, I’m living in the happy!” His instinct is to hold onto the hurt, and I think he calls me because he knows I won’t let him. 😉
    .-= gitz´s last blog ..Brought to You by the Letter S =-.

  27. katdish says:

    Just say NO to being passive aggressive. At least around me. Cannot. Handle. It! Argh!
    .-= katdish´s last blog ..The Root of Kindness =-.

  28. bryan says:

    encourage, encourage, encourage,
    stop the gossip…
    .-= bryan´s last blog ..PPT – Go to Kenya with Brad Ruggles =-.

  29. Pokinatcha says:

    Don’t focus on the negative things.

  30. Julie says:

    To be quite honest, I used to be a life sucker, but the Lord and I had an encounter in December that has radically transformed my life.

    I agree with Pokinatcha that it is about focusing on the positive.

  31. I just started that book this week!
    One thing I know I can do is only say positive things about the people around me and the things I’m doing (ex: schoolwork, track/cc workouts)

  32. Paul Mahler says:

    Hey Pete,

    Do you think that sometimes there is no life in a relationship not because someone is doing something wrong, but simply because God is not calling those people to walk together at a certain time? Sometimes it seems that Life is an indication that God is in a relationship. Its like His smile of encouragement or approval whether it be in a friendship, a ministry opportunity, or whatever else.
    .-= Paul Mahler´s last blog ..The Healing Process =-.

  33. Steve Swann says:

    Maybe don’t attack. Last night my wife got home from work late, which I resent because she loves her job and would rather be there than home with me and the kids sometimes. As she was walking in the door I was doing dishes and stopped myself from saying “You’re late.” Since I hadn’t attacked right out of the gate, she was actually happy and asked me how I was feeling (I’d been sick). It was a big thing at the time.

  34. a scott says:

    assume the best of people

  35. I gain most in my interactions and relationships when I am consciously making an effort to speak encouraging and life-giving words into others. Somehow I am energized when I am building someone else up.
    .-= Randy Kinnick´s last blog ..Come as You Are, But You Won’t Stay That Way =-.

  36. tam says:

    knowing the difference between constructive criticism and judgment. and then knowing if youve even earned the right to even go there.

    ive learned that the hard way.

  37. Bryne says:

    I can think before I speak.. Your words are weapons and your tone is even deadlier..
    .-= Bryne´s last blog ..Societal Roles =-.

  38. Read Pete Wilson’s next new book on relationships. Should be in the works after “Plan B.”

  39. sherri says:

    I find that the more time I spend in the presence of the Lord, my presence in the company of others is much more pleasant and desirable. We can only give from what we’ve received.
    .-= sherri´s last blog ..From CHAOS to order =-.

  40. bluegoose says:

    hmmm, I’m gonna have to think on this one! Can I get back to you…say, next year???
    Really, Pete!!! Must you allow the Holy Spirit to step on my toes through the computer???
    Lord, please have mercy on me!
    .-= bluegoose´s last blog ..Getting to Know YOU! =-.

  41. paula says:

    stay quiet when others are sharing (not just talking) and celebrate them in every way possible.

  42. Marissa says:

    Does it seem like the ‘life suckers’ don’t think they fall into that category? Possibly, they’re so focused on ‘self’ that they can’t see that this is what they are..? I wonder if a major solution would be to get our gaze off ourselves and onto Christ first, and others second..

    Now and then, I’ll walk away from a conversation and realize I did nothing but talk about myself..that’s a yucky feeling! ..and probably those were life-draining conversations for the others involved. :(

  43. Jennifer says:


    This is So good. I think we must just get out of our own way. Move past our insecurities, competition, and need for recongnition and instead shine the light on others. Once we become leaders, the compliments come when our team does well…from quarterback to coach, so to speak. If we approach others with that same mentality, the “feel good” points we get from it are the ultimate touchdown.

  44. ttm says:

    If I said what I really think about this, I’d probably be labeled a life-sucking blog troll, so I’ll just keep my thoughts about Christianity and it’s unhealthy either/or thinking to myself. 😉

  45. lizfentondecker says:

    If I take my emotionally & spiritually drained vessel to be filled with a living fresh daily experience of intimacy with THE ONE fills my vessel, I am much less likely to drain anyone & the excitement about my latest encounter with His presence should spill out.I try to think of my vessel more like a garden hose, filled with living water. Ever flowing, ever new. Always water but never the same water because it moves so quickly thru the hose it’s always new & fresh. As long as I’m hooked up to the spiket not tangled or clogged fresh water will flow thru me

  46. Mary Hampton says:

    I’ve had encounters with the life-sucking type lately and they didn’t look like I thought they would. They were positive, and cheerful and probably meant to be encouraging. But they didn’t really hear my heart and their ‘encouragement’ was artificial. I don’t want/need platitudes.

    Someone who breathes life into me actually SEES me. They hear my heart and speak to it rather than speaking in upbeat, positive tones that tickle ears (mostly theirs) but do nothing to nourish the hearer.

    I spent time with a friend who has actively stepped away from church after encountering too many of that type of life-sucker. She experienced a genuine loss and got too many “isn’t God good?” kind of responses instead of the “I am so sorry for your loss,” that she really needed.

    I’m afraid what many of us believe to be life-breathing actually ends up being a lot of hot air.

    (I am reluctant to post this here because it’s my first time posting on this blog, and it’s not really an accurate first impression of me. But I’ve been processing this very thing since this weekend. I am truly afraid that as Christians we often miss what is genuinely life-breathing and we end up as life-suckers when that’s the exact opposite of our intent.)

  47. Nancy Phiter says:

    Thanks for introducing the book. I read Ortberg’s ‘Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them’. Became a fan only after the first couple of pages. :)
    Will defitinitely look for this one then. Hope it’s available here.

    As for your question…one thing we can do to make sure we’re not draining other people is to let God, fill that hole inside of us.
    In each of us there’s a ‘hole’ that needs to be filled, in order to feel ‘whole’. I’ve learned that only God, our creator, can make us whole.Not our spouse, our best friend, our boyfriend/girlfriend, nor anybody that we interact with.
    If we know who we are in God, are grounded in His words, let Him as the only One who makes us whole, we don’t need to go around feeling ‘I’m not whole, so you need to fill me to make me feel good’.

  48. Kristyn says:

    I think it all goes back to not having a “Me-mentality.” What would happen if every day we intentionally put ourselves in last place? God first, Others second, and I’m Third? Sounds simple, but it’s really hard. I find that I am a life sucker when all that I am concerned about is myself…

  49. Bret Pemelton says:

    Wow! I can relate. There was a point back when i was going through musician/artist rehab that i know I was sucking the life out of my friends. I later went to them and apologized. As an employer I’ve discovered this concept applies to workers. Some employees cover your back and help you succeed. others, drain your resources. I still ask myself which camp I fall into.

  50. Derek says:

    I’m often a glass half empty guy, and I have little doubt that this drains the life out of people around me (sigh). One (BIG) thing I could do is endeavor to be a glass half full guy. To remind people of the blessing they have been in my life and to endeavor to be a blessing in theirs.

  51. […] Wilson, one of the pastors at Cross Point Church, had a great little post in which he said we all either suck the life out of you or breathe life into those around […]

  52. Mysoul says:

    Yes, some people are emotional vampires…

    I follow my gran’s advice –
    1.If you cant say anything nice, dont say anything at all.
    2.If you cant say it to the person, dont say it at all.
    3. If you are angry, do not say anything.
    4. Remember to talk to the other like you would want to hear it.
    .-= Mysoul´s last blog ..Running =-.

  53. Caroline says:

    I am in my 50’s and have spent a life time with parents that have sucked the life out of me. They continually winch, they control me by making me feel guilty or sorry for them. I have carried out their never ending bidding until I am degenerating myself. Not only do I get all their house hold jobs, their grown up mail to deal with (eg Tax) and thier shopping they also expect me to entertain them as they have nothing to do. My father swears at me under his breath (loudly) he cries that he has had to look after my mother who is mentally ill (when it suits her). I have had enough. He has been dying ever year since I was 7. He is now 86 and still drying every birthday is his last. I wish to hell I had the strentgh to have got away when I was old enough to go.

  54. Gwenda English says:

    stay positive but it’s hard when you are the one the life is being sucked out of.

  55. My brother suggested I might like this website. He used to be totally right.
    This submit actually made my day. You cann’t imagine simply how much time I had spent
    for this information! Thank you!

  56. Vicki says:

    I think we need to challenge people regarding this issue. I have been on the receiving end and as a Christian I need to be conscious if I am doing this. This would never be my intention. You can feel incredibly emotionally drained through it!

    I think we have to wipe the dust off our feet sometimes too and not throw your pearls to pigs. If people continue to abuse choosing to ignore your challenges I think you need to give them a wide berth to open up opportunities for new friendships to grow. Many of these people that drain the life out of you do it through hijacking conversations, sabatoging opportunities you may have as they want to socially isolate you to manipulation and control. It is an age old methadology!

Leave a Reply