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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Sometimes, I feel tested and confused in life and have a day or two where I’m blue. Luckily, it is rather short lived, but I was in one of those spaces until yesterday. When I least expected it, there was God’s reminder of my own Blessings. I had been focusing only on my tests as of late. I call these my selfish times and they remind me to be more humble and accept my tests.
I first saw the homeless man, when I pulled into the parking lot of a large super-store…O.K…WalMart. I have never spent one night without a roof of some sort over my head. He was not standing visibly out in the open, where he could be easily seen, but rather off to the side. He sat on a wooden bench that almost seemed out of place near the large lot…but there he was. At first, it struck me odd that he was not standing closer to where all the cars were coming in.
I was not sure why he had even caught my eye at all, on his remote bench, as the parking lot was busy and I was being cautious. It was the first day in almost a month where the temperature and sun seemed to be in harmony and maybe he was enjoying it. The man was holding a small sign, which eventually caught my attention; it said nothing more than HOMELESS. He held it low on his lap. Perhap, he was worried about Security or local police chasing him away. It was then I decided to buy him some food and give it to him as I was leaving the parking lot. Inside I picked up a few prepackaged sandwiches and drinks, got my own toiletry items, and headed back out to my car.
From where I had parked, I couldn’t see him any longer. Maybe he had left. When I got closer, I could see that he was still seated in the same spot…in the same position, holding the sign in his lap. I wondered what I would say to this man. It was difficult to tell how old he was; he was so dirty. His ragged sweatshirt was torn and the soles were pulling off his sneakers, I could see that as I proceeded towards him. He spit onto the pavement in front of him with huge racking caughs and held up his hand not to come any closer.
“I have a bad cold,” were his first raspy words. “I’ve been sleeping in the woods.” My bag of food seemed inadequate, but I handed it to him anyway. I hadn’t seen a full grown man quite that thin in a long time. His blue eyes were direct and he didn’t look away, but stared right at me. Most of his front teeth were missing or badly decayed. He held such sadness in his eyes, that I involuntarily choked up. We chatted back and forth for a bit. I’m not sure why, because he was totally sober, I asked if he would stop drinking and he hesitated… then nodded agreement.
When he mentioned he had just been into WalMart checking out the cough/cold medicine and then rattled off the price.. .I knew he was telling the truth about not feeling well. If I had stopped and asked him what he needed on the way in, I could have gotten that for him while I was in there, but I hadn’t been that inciteful. It also occurred to me that maybe he was completely conning me. For some reason, he still struck me as sincere. I noticed a still burning cigarette on the ground next to the bench and asked him to try and stop smoking too.
My own brazenness amazed me! Who did I think I was asking this total stranger to stop drinking and smoking? Again, he nodded agreement. He acknowledged that the soft drink would feel good on his throat, but he didn’t know how much of the sandwich he could eat. I merely asked him that he “try” and felt compelled to mention how thin he was and that he needed to take better care of himself.
As I turned to leave, he called out to me softly. “Thank you for calling me Sir,” he said to me. My throat tightened. “God Bless you Miss.” No, may He bless you,” was all I could utter in reply. They were the most sincere words I had said all week. As I waited to pull out of the parking lot, I gave a final glance in my rear view mirror. The man was eagerly tearing open the cellophane on the roast beef sandwich.
And all of a sudden…I got it! There, but for the Grace of God…go I.
So, I ask all who read these words to make a resolve that we focus not only on our own issues/needs, but actively assist others whose station in life is even less than our own. There are so many who need help, now more than ever.
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Self-image is tied up with self-worth. No one can create a healthy self-image for us…we must do it for ourselves. This is an especially difficult task for someone who has been abused. This goes for children as well as adults and any type of abuse: verbal, physical, sexual, and emotional. Changing the way we look at ourselves is hard, but it can be done. Issues of doubt pervade every aspect of decision making for the abused. All sorts of “What if …” enters conscious and subconscious thought. What if I fail? What if I’m not loved? etc. etc.
There is a large hole, left by the current or previous abuse, that is in constant need of refilling. In order to fill that hole…some overeat, some drink or use perscription drugs to numb the memories,some indulge in many unhealthy and unfulfilling relationships to make themselves feel “loved.” The end result is the same: there is no change in the level of self-worth.
We have convinced ourselves that our abuse was/is deserved because we aren’t worth anything better. We continue the abuse, literally, by now abusing our own minds and bodies. You give yourself the opportunity to heal when you realize how special and unique you are. What is your gift that only you can offer the world? Everyone has one…everyone. God has seen to that. It goes hand in hand that when you like yourself and have a positive self-image…others will like you as well. Knowing that we each have enormous self-worth is the ladder to healthy self-image.
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A Letter to My Daughter,
My dear daughter, now a full grown woman, the day you really see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.
If when we talk, I repeat the same thing a thousand times, don’t interrupt to say: “ Mom, you said the same thing before.” Just listen, please. Try to remember the times when you were little and I would read the same story, for you it was GOOD NIGHT MOON, night after night… until you would fall asleep.
When in the future, if I don’t want to take a shower, don’t be mad and embarrass me. Remember when I had to run after you, making it seem like a game and trying to get you to take a bath… when you were a little girl?
When you see how ignorant I am when it comes to new technology, give me the time to learn and don’t look at me in that annoyed way. Please remember, honey, I patiently taught you how to do so many things like eating properly, getting dressed, combing your hair, and dealing with life’s issues, every day.
Maybe, today is the day you understand that I’m getting old, (well, old-er, anyway), and no one hates it more than me. I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.
If I occasionally lose track of what we’re talking about, give me the time to remember, and if I can’t, don’t be nervous, impatient, or annoyed. Just know in your heart that the most important thing for me… is to be with you. I would willingly talk about… well, nothing… just so I can spend time with you.
And when my tired, arthritic legs don’t let me move as quickly as before, give me your hand the same way that I offered mine to you when you first began to walk. Lend me your arm in the future, if I come to need that for support. That day will undoubtedly be here one day too. I dread it.
When these days come, don’t feel sad for me or mad at me … just be with me, and understand me, while I get older with love.
I cherish and thank you for the gift of time and joy we share. Each and every moment with you is a blessing.
So, with a huge smile and the extraordinary love I’ve always had for you, I just want to tell you again,
I love you so much… my wonderful, wonderful daughter. Live your life well.
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