Today I have Karen Okulicz as my guest. She’s the author of three motivational pocket books: Try: A Survival Guide to Unemployment; Decide: How to Make Any Decision; and Attitude: For Your Best Lived Life. Each book captures the best successful personal responses to job loss, decision making, and keeping a positive attitude. Her books are utilized resources by State and Federal Agencies in One Stops and Rapid Response, College Career Centers, Outplacement firms, Job Corps and in Military RIFs. Below is an edited excerpt from Chapter 2 of her book Attitude!

Dealing With Joy Robbers & Energy Drainers
By Karen Okulicz

One of the enemies of having a great attitude is the presence of a joy robber. What is a joy robber? Joy robbers are the people for whom it seems the sole purpose of their lives is to create grief for others.

Joy robbers are everywhere, and always will be. They may come in the form of a boss, a neighbor, a relative, a new acquaintance, a stranger in the grocery store or behind a customer service counter. They are the people that bother you.

Joy robbers are sent to us to test our good nature with keeping a great attitude. They have the ability to drain you of your own self-love and discipline. Discipline? Yup! If you allow yourself to get caught up in their bad behavior, it keeps you off track. You need your attention focused on your own projects, your daily work or even your own fun. Joy robbers are deadly to success, if you allow them to bother you.

NOW WHY WOULD SOMEONE BE LIKE THIS?  Why would someone sabotage us in the work place, create ill will in the family or at our place of worship? I believe their behavior stems from their own unhappiness and disappointment in their own lives. People who are not well, also tend to act out and try to rob your joy. Their view of the world, without joy, is not your problem.

Funny thing: when you get rid of that awful boss (a joy robber) who has been so unkind to you and upset you for days on end at your work, you are relieved. Then arrives the new relative who starts something upsetting. Why is that?

I think really it is to just show us that there always will be joy robbers. No matter how long we live, we will always have them in our lives in some form. It is up to us to recognize the joy robber (“JR”) and not to allow them to trap us in their ugly web.

I have worked in many offices, and with many different supervisors. Early on, I realized that no matter how often I changed my work, or it was changed for me, the same people were employed there. Not the same people, but similar types. It was like someone had taken the head of one person and put the same head on another. A different-looking person but with similar bad or great behavior.

I am sure you do this with friends or old co-workers you call them up from a new position, and they ask you how the new place is, and how the people are. You then say, “Oh, we have our ‘Joe’ here, or remember ‘Sally’? We have one of those.”

THERE ARE LEVELS OF JOY ROBBERS. Some we see daily, others occasionally. Arming ourselves against these people is taking care of ourselves.

I am a believer that all things happen for a reason. Some reasons we know in time, and others (believe me) I will ask “Why did that happen?” at the end of my time. If all things have a rhyme and reason, why has this joy robber appeared in my life at this time? What have they to teach us?

Joy robbers may serve to direct us to move, to look for new work, put up a better fence for privacy or plan our holidays in China. Look for what the reason might be. They really do push our buttons, to find a better way of life. A better way of processing our world. If you need assistance legally, psychologically, or even spiritually to handle a joy robber, do yourself the favor and get the assistance.

After putting the situation in the authorities’ hands or not, a good thing to do is to just ignore them. Focus on yourself. Proceed forward to the next new job, or new place of residence or new adventure in your life. To enter into crazyland with any bad behavior on your part, makes them the winner. And we know these people are never winners. You are the winner when you handle issues with dignity and respect for yourself.

A SPECIAL TYPE OF VAMPIRE  There is also the event when you run into a certain person who I’ll call an energy drainer. This is harder. I always have the best intentions to stop and speak to the person. I will stop to say hello. The third degree starts. “So, how’s your business?” Mind you, this is my business, not their business. I say, “Fine.” Then they start with the questions, “How many books did you sell last year?” “Why haven’t you been on Oprah?” I am looking around me; why did I even stop to chat? By the end of the conversation, I am drained and dragging. What happened? This type of person will drain your energy.

I don’t play tennis, but when I meet this kind of character I feel like I have to have a racket in hand to lob the ball away from me. Insulting comment, hit the ball, probing question, hit the ball, sly remark, hit the ball, more probing questions, hit the ball. This is exhausting, for sure. Just limit the time. Look at your watch and say, “Have to go!” You may have to improvise, to just get out of the way of an energy drainer.

Once we recognize that there are, and always will be joy robbers and energy drainers in the world, it is our responsibility to gather the tools to handle them in a way that they do not harm our good nature. With these tools we will process whatever the situation is. They will not rob us of one moment of our joy or good attitude.

Is it this easy? NEVER. books

Check out Karen Okulicz‘s books on her website.

Take the self-love challenge and get my book, How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways for free at And you can post your loving acts HERE to reinforce your intention to love yourself. Read my 31 Days of Self-Love Posts HERE.

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