This is a difficult subject to discuss and something that probably all of us have been subject to. I have experienced being manipulated and I have observed those I love being manipulated to an extreme extent. Having, in the last two years, removed a manipulatory force from my life, I now feel as though a grey cloud has lifted from my daily life. I am now able to reflect on that period of my life with clarity and accuracy. I hope this blog post is helpful to you and that my articulation on manipulation proves useful.
In its simplest form, to manipulate means to
Handle or control in a skilful manner.
This connotes the idea of influence over inanimate objects or mechanisms. So, when a person is manipulated by another, it means to
Control or influence another cleverly or unscrupulously.
Now, we can see the notion of underhandedness and wrongful actions. This is just right – to manipulate is wrong. This is easy to identify when you know you are being manipulated, however, acknowledging when this happens is harder to see.
On one level, we may have all experienced the relentless and pushy salesperson – perhaps when looking at cars or taking out a new phone contract. They say certain phrases and carry themselves in a certain way to build your trust and later try to have you act the way they want – i.e, buying the car or taking out the contract. It is usually easy to walk away from this stranger without acting as they’d have liked.
However, emotional manipulation at the hands of a loved one is somewhat harder to identify and arguably even more difficult to address. We can often find ourselves subliminally making excuses for this person when they attempt to control us.
Manipulation at the hands of a loved one can take form in a number of ways. In many instances, they try to change your behaviours or actions to further their own interests. This can be by influencing the way you look, the way you act or the things you do. Sometimes, manipulators can be aggressive and coercive. Regardless of the form manipulation takes, this is wrong and we need to identify this so we can put a stop to it.
How Can I Identify When I am Being Manipulated?
When feeling manipulated, experts say we experience three main emotions – fear, obligation and guilt. When we are coerced into doing something we may not have originally decided to do by someone close to us, we may feel guilty about not doing it, obligated to do it and fearful of the repercussions of not doing it. This can be something as simple as not wearing a particular pair of heels that makes you taller than your partner because he expressed anger last time you wore them as he felt short. However, it can also take a much more serious form – and this previous example can quickly escalate to become more emotionally coercive.
Perhaps your partner does not like you leaving the house wearing makeup and accuses you of trying to impress someone else at the office. You don’t wear makeup to impress anyone but instead decided to wear makeup to feel nice. Besides, you don’t need to justify your actions – do what the hell you want! This form of manipulation may not seem like much, but this is someone trying to actively change your independent actions – something that you should always have autonomy over.
One effective way of ensuring you are equipped to identify when someone is trying to manipulate you is by setting your own boundaries. In effect, this means to know what it is that you expect from a relationship but more importantly, what you expect of yourself. Stay true to what you want from life and remember the things that make you happy from within – not what make your partner happy. We are not responsible for anyone else’s feelings or wants. If you feel you are responsible for another’s unhappiness by not fulfilling their agenda, then you need to reevaluate this relationship.
Sometimes, it is more difficult to identify manipulative behaviours in someone you love because you may have become accustomed to it and have perhaps invested a lot of time into the relationship and excuse this behaviour as a result. However, this is where ‘setting your boundaries’ comes into play. You must always remember what makes you happy. If your partner does not like you doing these things, then please think about whether this relationship is beneficial.
In my previous blog post, I spoke about attaining inner happiness and high vibrations through positive exchanges of energy. When someone is playing the role of the manipulator, they are draining you of your positive energy and taking it for themselves. This is never acceptable and as a human being, your purpose is not to dish out energy where required without any in return. You will leave yourself empty and, undoubtedly, unhappy.
Manipulation is a form of weakness. The manipulator is unable to effectively express their own feelings and desires so instead, opts for a more direct approach by using a victim as an agent of their own agenda. In the end, these used individuals are left feeling far from their true selves and zapped of happiness. Meanwhile, the manipulator feels more powerful since they got their own way. Identifying emotional and physical manipulation is hard, but when you do observe it, knowing how to address it is even more difficult.
How Can I Address Manipulative Behaviour?
This is a tricky one. Manipulators can sometimes be very dangerous or scary people who wish to incite fear in others. When they are called out for their manipulatory actions, they may react aggressively or enact negative repercussions for those that resist their coerciveness. As previously alluded to, manipulation is a form of power over others. To address manipulation is to reassert your own power and regain control of your own wants and needs.
Considering this, it is important not to put yourself in danger when addressing your manipulator. Sometimes it is not as easy as simply saying ‘no.’ In some cases, the situation may be so severe and the fear of repercussions after calling out this behaviour so real, that we are deterred from acting. In this instance, is it so important that you contact someone you trust to discuss your situation. In the most severe scenario, please contact your local authority who will believe you and will take you seriously. It is so important that you remove the manipulator from you life – however this may be – so that you can realign your focus to yourself and work towards personal happiness again.
Manipulation is such an intricate and sensitive subject and I have only really scratched the surface of what emotional impact it can have on victims. I will be sure to revisit this topic in later blog posts, covering the subject in more depth and detail, drawing on my own experience.