One of my clients requested that I talk about this important concept, because until she worked with me, she didn’t fully understand that no matter what someone says to you, what thoughts they offer you and what feelings they want you to feel, you are 100% in control of whether you take on those thoughts or choose to believe them. Without this knowledge she was prone to troubled behaviors, of most concern was her tendency to become involved in manipulative relationships.
What is emotional manipulation? In coaching we define it as: the attempt to control how someone feels by manipulating what they think and believe. Why? Because if you know the self-coaching MODEL that I teach, if someone can control how you think and feel, ultimately, they will change the way YOU ACT.
Manipulators are very good at using negative emotions like fear and guilt to persuade the person to do something against their will. In less severe cases it can look like a parent using guilt to persuade their adult child to take care of their needs first, even though the child is overwhelmed with their own work and family life, i.e. “It really makes me sad honey when you don’t come and visit your poor old mom”. Mom is trying to instill guilt into the child, to change their mind and ultimately their actions to visit. This tactic can be very effective unless the child understands that it is mom’s own thoughts that are creating her sadness, and the child does not have to feel guilty, unless she allows it via her thinking.
In more severe cases a manipulator might attack someone’s self-worth and point out area where they fall short in order for the person to feel bad about themselves and ultimately comply with the manipulator. Again, if that person knows deeply that his/her self-worth is absolute no matter wha,t this tactic will fall short, but sadly this is often not the case and can perpetuate a toxic relationship.
It is important to recognize that your thoughts are your responsibility and that other people can think what they want to think but you are never responsible for them or how they feel. Period. It is okay for your parent, your spouse your friend to be upset when you speak your truth. Their thoughts have nothing to do with you but rather it’s their own thinking.
Lastly, please know that you always have the ability and right to set boundaries with someone who may be trying to manipulate you. Boundaries mean that people can behave how they want to you, but YOU get to decide how you will take care of yourself in those situations. If someone is trying to convince you to believe something about yourself that is negative or not true, you have every right to stop listening and not be in the presence of that type of energy. Prepare for them to get mad, that is okay (remember it is not you creating their anger, rather their own thinking).
Prevention is the best medicine. Arm yourself with the knowledge that no one can make you think or feel anything unless you let them. Surround yourself with people that build you up with positive thoughts and set boundaries around the ones that don’t. Emotional manipulators beware, these tactics will no longer work on my people.
If you or someone you know is drawn to people who end up trying to emotionally manipulate you, please know that you are not alone and I am available to coach you through this and create boundaries for yourself. Reach out for a consultation session: http://bit.ly/2rD8YZk