Ask Monica: Manipulators
These are just a few notes on my experience with manipulators and how to stay away from them. The list is by no means exhaustive but hopefully it will help give you an idea of what a manipulator is, does and how to take your power back from them.
Section 1: How to recognise a manipulator – some real life examples
1. Makes you take responsibility for their actions/mistakes
-“I wouldn’t have done that if you were there”, “you left me no choice”, “you didn’t tell me that”, “you left me there”
2. Convinces you to do things for them but they don’t actually ask you directly. This way they can say “I never asked you to do anything, you did that because you wanted to”
3. Makes you feel bad for doing things for yourself or people other than them, they are jealous and possessive
-they are masters of the disappointed look, the hurt look, “puppy-dog eyes” etc. whatever look plays on your emotions; “I needed help with this but I saw that you were busy with that guy/girl”; “I needed your help but you didn’t want to answer the phone”
4. Makes you believe you need their approval for everything
-what you wear, how you speak, what you do, your schedule, what you should or shouldn’t be upset about – “don’t be silly, that’s nothing to cry about”
5. Tends to make you isolate yourself from other people
-usually talks badly about people around you or tries to put ideas in your head like they don’t care about you, they’re gossiping about you, they’re not really your friends etc.
6. Earns your trust and then pushes your buttons with the information you share
-initially they come across as very kind and welcoming people, smiles a lot, reassures you a lot and then all of a sudden they’re using your secrets, self-doubts and insecurities against you – “you know you couldn’t get/wear/do that” “you know your ″phobia″ is really just you being silly”
7. Uses belittling words, smirks or gestures towards you
-if you call them out on it, they say they’re just joking and it’s your fault for taking it seriously
8. Exerts control by playing with your emotions
-usually makes you feel welcomed or even comforts you only to then pull away, leaving you to wonder if it was something you said or did to upset them; if you were to ask them about it, they would just say that you’re imagining things or overreacting in what would probably be a belittling tone. Emotional rollercoasters are trademarks almost when you’re dealing with a manipulator.
9. Wants to know where you are, where you’re going and what you’re doing like you owe this information to them
-usually gets upset or even angry if you don’t share this information with them and if you try to reason with them, they will most probably make you feel bad for your reaction, like you are imagining things, or overreacting when they’re just asking a question etc.
10. You think more about them than you do about yourself – but not in a positive way
-before you say or do something, you find yourself thinking about what they would say or think about it – would they like my dress, would they be upset if I went there, would they be ok if I left etc.
Section 2: How to take your power back from a manipulator
In most cases, manipulators are “successful” in manipulating people who are genuine to the point of naïveté, people who always want to help others, people who put others above themselves, people who unfortunately have experienced some form of abuse etc. Whatever the cause of it is, generally people who have self-esteem or confidence issues are drawn to manipulators.
Some say people are generally drawn to what is familiar to them – good or bad – or that we may subconsciously choose to put ourselves in that position over and over until we get the lesson behind it and thus free ourselves. Whatever the reason for this may be, you can take our power back from manipulators.
You can get someone else involved or talk to other people, run them through what you’ve been experiencing so that they may give you their input. If nothing else, this will give you support and reassurance that you’re not “imagining things” or confirmation that you’re not being treated fairly or properly. It can be extremely difficult or nearly impossible actually to go through this process (identifying if you are or aren’t dealing with a manipulator) alone because you will always question yourself and the only other person’s input into the situation will be that of the manipulator.
The first step is to identify or acknowledge that you are in fact dealing with a manipulator. This is where other people come in with other perspectives, reassurance, support. Then you can then test this hypothesis just to be sure that you are not overreacting. If, unfortunately, this is the case, you can then move on the next step.
The second step is making peace with the fact that this is the situation. For some it will be easier than for others. For example, it can be difficult to admit to yourself that the person you thought truly cared for you (someone you consider a friend, a family member or a love partner) is actually doing things for a whole different reason and not a good one. And of course this is not made any easier by the fact that you have been “taught” to doubt and question yourself. I would say that this step is the hardest because among other things it takes commitment and strong willpower not to look back and doubt yourself.
Then you move on the taking action on this newfound understanding/realisation. You can either cut them out of your life altogether, or confront them about the situation before moving on. If you want to confront them, you can, just be prepared for the fact that you will never get them to admit to anything no matter what proof you give them, therefore this could be a pointless exercise that takes a lot of your time, effort and energy.
The important thing is that you move on knowing that whatever happened was not your fault, that you are not walking away a victim but a strong, confident person who knows what they deserve and respects themselves enough to make healthy changes in their life. Then release that situation altogether, no guilt, no blame, forgive yourself and the other person and just move on. This is not to say that manipulation is not painful and can really do a number on a person, but once you free yourself from it, you know to recognise the signs and steer away from such people in the future. And actually such a powerful experience changes you for the better, it helps heal whatever made that hole in your soul that left you susceptible to such people in the first place.
These are just a few thoughts I had from my experience with manipulators that I wanted to share in the hope that this post would help someone someday.
Remember, we are all beautiful people who deserve to be loved and respected, but it really does have to start with us
Love and light.