Acts of manipulation, in and of themselves, are not healthy.
They are hurtful.
However, they are not always necessarily evil.
Manipulation, as a stand-alone behavior, is a scream for help. I personally understand where it comes from, although I do not accept or justify it.
I actually feel sorry and empathize with some of those who use manipulation tactics.
The closer you look, the more you realize that they are just wounded. They are clueless about how to get their needs met in a healthy way that does not include manipulation.
People who use those manipulation tactics with the conscious intention of hurting you are evil and toxic.
And those who do it because they are scared are the majority and their intentions are not pitch dark. You used some of these tactics at one point or another, I promise you.
That being said, you still need to protect yourself from manipulation. You still need to hold manipulators accountable for their behaviors.
Here are 6 examples of manipulative behaviors.
The more someone behaves like this, the more they are likely to be manipulators –and the more wounded and unstable they are.
Blackmail, whatever its type, is an unfair negotiation.
When it comes to emotional blackmail, as with every other type of blackmail, you give the blackmailer whatever he wants because you would get hurt otherwise. Not because you want to.
It is emotional damage in this case.
Usually, they threaten to hurt you by taking something away that they know you care about.
This something that they know you care about, in most cases, is them and their relationship with you. Sometimes it is their approval if they are in a position of authority. Sometimes both.
For instance, John tells Sally he will leave her should she refuse to stop hanging out with her friends.
John is being toxic, and Sally should be careful.
The mother who tells her son that she wants nothing to do with him should he go to study aboard.
John, again, who sits Sally down and lists all the good things he has done for her, and how much he *loves her* and, accordingly, how she is at fault for disobeying him.
Poor Sally! She needs to walk away or assert her boundaries.
Equally, the mother who tells her son how much she has suffered to make him who he is today and shamelessly reminds him of all the money she spent on him. And then says that she loves and cares about him although she may not should he disobey her.
Reminding someone that you love them and care about them and the relationship is one thing. Reminding someone that you love them and using that as a way to manipulate their behavior is another thing –a toxic thing!
Those are manipulative tactics. This is blackmail, not love.
This is very similar to emotional blackmailing.
They play on your conscious.
They make you feel guilty when you do not do what they want.
It is when the other person makes you feel like you have made a mistake by doing this or by not doing this.
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Again, it is a way to control and manipulate behavior.
As a general rule, all manipulative tactics have one thing in common. They aim at giving the manipulator more power.
When they forget something at home, and you are extremely busy doing something very important to you, and they call you to ask you to get that thing for them.
But you truly cannot leave the house because you are doing something important.
So, you say no.
And here comes the guilt trip.
They will make you feel like you have done them wrong by not bringing them their stuff.
You have disappointed them! You are selfish. You have hurt them. You do not even care about them.
They will forget the fact that you have your own important things to do.
This is manipulation.
They use guilt to force you to do what they want or to make you feel bad when you do not do what they want.
Again, guilt works because they know you care about this thing they make you feel guilty about.
It could be your identity as a good person who serves others. It could be their relationship with you and how you should never disappoint them.
And it could be that you cannot stand losing people’s approval.
Manipulation, regardless of its different tactics, stems from the same place. It is bribing you emotionally because you are invested emotionally in an unhealthy way.
For those of you who think that the solution is to never invest emotionally, it is not. Simply, you need to invest emotionally in a healthy way and in healthy individuals. That is for another article.
Generosity is good.
However, there is toxic generosity, and there is genuine generosity.
With toxic generosity, there are strings attached. You give to get; you give to manipulate the behavior and the emotions of someone –either to get them to do something for you or to give you something (physical or emotional).
On the other hand, genuine generosity is when you deeply care about someone, and you genuinely want to help them.
You give because you care. You give because you want to.
When toxic generosity is not paid back, resentment is the typical response. And when the genuine one is not paid back, it does not matter because it is not the point anyway –the point is to help and to give.
Always be aware of people who are too nice.
And yes, reminding people of all the good things you did for them is toxic.
This one is a silent contract.
It goes like, “I know you care about X and I know that you need it. I will stop giving you this X until you do what I say.”
It extremely sucks when the person who is deprived of this X is in great need of it.
Sometimes this X can be love. And obviously, this happens in romantic relationships.
It happens subtly. One partner starts pulling away and not giving the other partner what they really need.
This partner does not leave the relationship but only gives so little of what the other partner needs to manipulate them to do something.
In other cases, this X is approval. And this happens in families or in friend’s groups.
The silent contract is, “we are not going to consider you one of us and we will not give you the feeling that you belong to us until you do this and/or stop doing that.”
Whatever the case, it is manipulation.
Again, manipulation, regardless of the intentions, is toxic.
It is an indirect way to force people to do something for us rather than honestly communicating our needs and fulfilling them directly and in healthy ways which don’t include toxic drama.
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It is your fault!
And because it is your fault, you have to fix it. It is your responsibility.
To put it simply:
Beware of anyone who refuses to be held responsible for their actions, especially when their actions are causing damage.
Be aware of people who do not want to be held responsible for their emotional baggage.
Those people will not accept the responsibility for their own mistakes and shortcoming and want you to handle that.
And that will cost you time, energy, or even money if you are around them long enough.
They might hurt other people and refuse to be held responsible. That is even worse. One must know what he is responsible for and be painfully honest about that.
But most importantly, they will not accept the responsibility for their emotional baggage.
When someone does not accept the responsibility for their emotions, they assume their well-being is other people’s responsibility. And if their well-being is somehow messed up, it is someone’s fault, and they hate them for it.
You may think that sometimes it’s actually someone else’s fault that your well-being is not so well.
They have done quite the damage for you.
They could be your family, a boyfriend/girlfriend, the government, a specific group of people, or whoever.
And that might be true.
But what you are missing here is that blaming is still toxic. It is about relinquishing responsibility and assuming the victim’s role.
Even if someone has been the reason for your suffering, it is still your responsibility to pick yourself up and remedy the situation and take care of yourself.
You only waste time and energy by blaming and pointing fingers.
This is called maturity.
Even if someone is making you suffer emotionally, it is your responsibility to walk away and handle those bad emotions and overcome them to feel sane again. That is called emotional maturity.
People who actively practice blame are neither mature nor responsible.
The most important requirement for being toxic is the inability to accept responsibility for your own insecurities.
Well, it all starts with blaming someone or something else for what you are directly responsible for: your actions and your emotional well-being. AND then expecting and waiting for this person to come and fix it for you.
The last part is important as we all get annoyed with people sometimes. But are we waiting for them to fix things for us?
Do not be a complainer. And be careful of people who are.
The silent treatment
Lack of communication should never exist in healthy relationships.
You should always be able to communicate and talk about things, good and bad.
The silent treatment is about torturing the other person and giving them the cold shoulder without telling them why you are doing what you are doing.
Let us assume you are the toxic person for a while.
You are the one who will use the silent treatment to manipulate and hurt someone else.
You will treat the other person as if they do not exist. As if they do not matter.
All of that suddenly and without any warnings or any type of communication.
Yes, the other person is aware that you are probably being mean because you are upset about something or even upset because they have done something.
However, they have no clue what that thing is.
They are just left wondering what in the world they could have done wrong.
And that is the trick.
Their insecurities, which you are probably aware of, will come to the surface. They will start blaming and doubting themselves. You know that they care about the relationship with you and you use that as emotional blackmail and as a way to make them feel guilt-ridden.
You do your best to remind them of your generosity in the past. And you deprive them of it for now.
All the tactics are in one place!
You know that under the weight of their insecurities, they will come kneeling before you and begging your pardon, majesty!
That is a shitty way to treat someone you care about. Especially if you are conscious of those dark, evil intentions.
Relationships are based on honest communication.
And honest communication is extra important when something goes wrong.
Remaining silent as a way to make other people pay for what they have done is a crule strategy that lacks honest communication.
I wrote an article that talks deeper about silent treatment here.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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