How can you avoid manipulation?

This issue can be common in some families, between spouses, between friends, other people or at work. What happens is that people try to manipulate you into behaving like they want you to, by giving you a guilt-trip. I`m sure a lot of you may have experienced that some persons in your life make you feel bad about you making your own decisions. They would come with remarks like; “how can you be so selfish?” or “after all that I have done for you…” What they`re actually implying indirectly is that if you don’t behave the way they want you to, you will suffer. A blackmailer could threaten to use information they have gained before to harm or ruin person`s reputation. What actually happens is this:
1. The blackmailer is demanding something.
2. You resist.
3. The blackmailer pressurize you and threatens you
4. Eventually you give in.
5. It repeats.

This is a vicious circle that keeps on blocking you from living a free life. You may feel trapped and don’t know what to do. Guilt-trips have to do with the blackmailers making us believe that we are responsible for their complaints and their unhappiness. A blackmailer would use a sentence like “I`m feeling … and it`s your fault.” Sometimes we are able to stop the guilt-trip by checking the accusations reliability, but many times we would say “sorry” before we check the blackmailer`s logic later, if we check it at all.

When someone is not able to make us feel bad enough about something, they would call for reinforcements. They would bring in other people, family/ friends, enlisting allies to prove that they are right and you`re wrong… Just so that the target may feel outnumbered or overpowered.. Always remember one thing the blackmailer wants you to think that it`s all about you. When in fact it`s not. Actually it`s the blackmailer that is insecure and fears something so he/she has a need to prove his/her self-righteousness. And so everything is tossed on you. Sometimes it`s difficult for one to understand that others demands can be quite unreasonable so you give the blackmailing permission to occur.

To stop the emotional blackmailing it`s important that you resist and you change your reactions to it. The most useful way to change a manipulator is to make that person`s tactics ineffective by changing yourself. If the manipulation turns out to be hard work for the manipulator he/she would probably give up. This is a sentence that can be quite useful: “I understand that you want me to do this work for you, but your threats aren`t going to be effective anymore”. Keep on saying the sentence till the blackmailer stops the manipulation and finally sees that no matter what he/she would do he/she isn`t coming any way. And from there and forward make it clear to the manipulator how you want to be treated.

-Extracts taken out from the book “Emotional Blackmail”, written by Susan Forward Ph.D.

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