Sometimes, we feel manipulated by people we know and/or love. When this occurs we experience a great deal of stress and anxiety, both of which can make us ill and out of sorts.  When this occurs we need to step back and view it NOT subjectively, but rather objectively. View the entity that is doing the manipulating.

In research, it is indicted that a manipulative personality is, essentially, an aggressive personality. Now, there are also people who are overtly aggressive! Those are the people that we’re afraid of or intimidated by and their personalities are “overt.” Right there in your face. Then there is the covert personality that is aggressive in an underhanded way. Most manipulative people are the covert type.

That personality type is most often self-centered. They’re often narcissistic. They’re self-involved and they lack empathy for other people. So it’s all about what I want… and what I can get other people to do for me. It rarely is about what can be done FOR other people.They tend to use other people and they do that in a number of ways.

They’re dishonest. Or, they’re deceptive about issues. They tell half-truths or they don’t tell the whole truth. It’s also a feature of many personality disorders: borderline, avoidant – the avoidant person tries to get other people to do their work, because they will avoid others – the dependent personality – that plays the victim and wants everybody to take care of them – histrionic personality, anti-social – passive-aggressive has a big component there – and type A “angry personalities” and “addictive personalities.”

People that are addicted to drugs/ alcohol almost always blame all their problems on other people. “Angry” personalities they are they way the are because of something in their past. In the end, this type of behavior is so self-destructive. This is a pattern that runs deep with manipulation. Many of these people don’t care about relationships, sadly. They just care about getting what they want out of people. Often, they end up alone.

Guilt-tripping. One of the things that a covert-aggressive person knows well is that other types of people have very different consciences than they do. So, all a manipulator has to do is to suggest to the conscientious person that they don’t care enough, or kind of imply that they’re being selfish, and that person immediately is going to start feeling bad. So that’s an “in” that they can use to push people around and get them to do what they want.

Turn that around and a conscientious person might try, until they’re blue in the face, to get a manipulator, or any other aggressive type personality, to feel badly about a hurtful behavior, to acknowledge responsibility, or admit wrongdoing, and it’s absolutely to no avail, because these people don’t think that way. It’s all about them. It’s not about others. They don’t have empathy!

Shaming is another form of manipulation. Sometimes the use of subtle sarcasm and put-downs is used as a means of increasing fear and self-doubt in others. The stuff teachers say! I heard this from kids all the time – about the things that teachers say/said to them to shame them. Covert-aggressive people use this tactic to make other people feel inadequate, or unworthy, and therefore, to defer to them. It puts them in a one-up position.

Vilifying the victim. This tactic is frequently used in conjunction with the attacker playing the victim role. The aggressor uses the tactic to make it look like he’s only responding, or defending himself, against aggression on the part of the victim. It actually enables the aggressor to better put the victim on the defense.

Another thing they do is, they play the servant role. Covert-aggressives use this tactic to cloak their self-serving agenda in the guise of service…you know, to a more noble cause. You do just the opposite of what you’re really doing. National politics all over again. Most of our public servants get rich while they’re in office. So what does that tell you?

What causes people to become manipulative? Where does it come from? Mostly it comes from anxiety. People anticipate catastrophic losses in some cases. So, in an effort to control their own environment, and stay safe, and meet their own needs, they try to get other people to give them what they think they can’t get for themselves.

There are many of us who have had terrible experiences as children/ young adults… who do not resort to manipulation as adults. Perhaps, this is the realization that this isn’t the right way to go about things or treat other people.

It is never too late to stop manipulating and realize we can count on our own resourcefulness and God- given strengths.

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