There are those whose primary ability is to spin wheels of manipulation. It is their second skin and without these spinning wheels, they simply do not know how to function. ~C. JoyBell C.
We all know someone who manipulates others, and it can be damaging to the person being manipulated.
Psychological/emotional manipulation is where one person tries to change others’ behavior, thoughts, and feelings through misleading practices and uses them for their own benefit. Now don’t get me wrong, in some capacity, we all use each other but, hopefully, for good.
The manipulator, though, deliberately creates an imbalance of power, and exploits his victims to serve his agenda while the person being manipulated most likely isn’t even aware.
This is because really great manipulators know very well how to play the game and get over with their evil intentions which may make it difficult to spot them. They may seem caring, can be charismatic, and often kind.
This is why the first step, as with anything, is understanding the tactics of manipulators so you can protect yourself.
How to Spot an Emotional Manipulator
Most manipulative individuals have similar characteristics in common. For instance:
- They know exactly when and how far they can push you by gradually testing out your weak spots.
- They convince you to give up something of yourself in order to serve their interests.
- They don’t stop the manipulation once they’ve found their sweet with you.
- Manipulators are smooth operators and will lie and cheat their way in to get what they want.
- Will make it seem like everything is your fault.
- They don’t discriminate so if you see someone in your circle manipulating others, they very well may have or are manipulating you too.
Common Tactics of Emotional Manipulators
1. Denial of the truth. One of the most common ways someone uses emotional manipulation is to deny the truth. The person who is manipulating you will often make a promise or a statement but deny it later. They will pretend that the truth doesn’t exist, and conveniently blame your bad memory for it. It’s difficult to prove the truth without a recording, email, or other physical evidence. In some cases, the manipulator will try to fight the evidence by saying it’s fabricated. An emotional manipulator can make you feel as if it’s your fault you’re not remembering the previous conversation the same way. They can make you feel guilty and ashamed so you don’t pursue the subject anymore.
2. Using guilt. Emotional manipulators frequently use guilt to control others and often use passive-aggressive tactics to manipulate you. They can also find your weak spots, so it’s easier to make you feel guilty. Manipulators will pretend to be victims so you’ll feel sorry for them. If you refuse to go along with the charade, they will accuse you of being insensitive and mean. They can make you feel guilty in order to get sympathy. This is another important sign to recognize.
3. Using others. Emotional manipulators will use your friends and other family members to hurt you. They can use others as messengers or mediators to control you. Emotional manipulators will use these people to send you hurtful messages or to blame you for their issues. By involving another person, they’re able to blame someone else for the message being misinterpreted.
4. Anger and threats. Manipulators can use their anger and threats to manipulate, frighten, and coerce you. Threats and angry outbursts are used to make the other person feel uncomfortable and upset. The anger can escalate to physical violence, so it’s important to pay close attention to the situation and seek help if necessary.
5. Belittling tactics. Manipulators may try to belittle you so they can manipulate you easier. Emotional manipulators will criticize you and point out your flaws. The main goal of this tactic is to make you feel inferior so you’re easier to control.
6. Focusing on vulnerable targets. Manipulators seek out sensitive people because it’s easier to influence them. They deliberately look for people who are vulnerable and insecure. In the beginning, emotional manipulators may even seem kind and concerned as they gather information about you. However, this quickly changes to control. Sensitive people are more likely to become victims and less likely to stand up for themselves or speak out against the manipulators.
How to Stop Emotional Manipulation
If you feel you’ve been emotionally manipulated, here are some things you can do.
- Know that you don’t deserve to be manipulated. You deserve to be treated with respect.
- Give yourself permission to speak up and share how you feel.
- Once you figure out you’ve been had, don’t blame yourself. It’s not your fault. But now that you know better, you can do better.
- Never try to change the manipulator’s behavior. It’s best to move on or avoid them as much as possible.
- And because we can’t change others, it’s best to work on yourself. The reason manipulators get their way is because their victims are often unsure of themselves, are not confident, or have not worked on themselves enough to know their strengths and weaknesses. So do some self-development and self-care tactics to strengthen your resolve, your inner worth, and confidence!
- Last but definitely not least, learn how to say no! The manipulator plays on your kindness and willingness to accommodate others but your task is to learn to say no or at least feel confident saying you’ll think about their request to give you time to formulate your response and/or simply move on.
Over to you
You must recognize emotional manipulation and refuse to let others take control of you or your actions. These relationships are unhealthy and toxic. Seek professional help if you need to, but it’s important to make positive changes to the relationship if you can or let the relationship go completely.
Have you ever been emotionally manipulated? Chime in with your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.