How to Recognize and Protect Yourself From Manipulation

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manipulation

There is no greater wealth in life than peace of mind.

And being around any kind of manipulation creates havoc with your sense of peace, harmony love and abundance.

You really don’t need that in your life.

Yet we’re all vulnerable to manipulators. 

I’m one of those who back in the day couldn’t find ways to say ’No’ and I played right into the hands of every manipulator within a hundred mile radius!

I was miserable and thought there was something wrong with me.  And the most scary thing of all.  I was totally unaware I was being manipulated.

I felt guilty about everything, because manipulators always manage to turn everything around.  Seemingly lovingly.

Like the time I went out of my way to cook a special meal, only to be told: “It was nice, not what I was hoping for but as long as you are happy that’s all the matters because I love you.  And it doesn’t matter that much to me that I didn’t get what I wanted.”

Can you see what happened there?  It looks and sounds as though he was loving and caring…but believe me…he was actually using guilt and getting me to believe that he was doing a great job at ‘loving me’, whilst I…well clearly I fell short.

It’s a mind game. And the use of guilt is high up there in the arsenal that emotional manipulators use because so many of us will do whatever we can to reduce our feelings of guilt.

But since it is a game…nasty as it is…here’s some rules to help you understand and put a stop to manipulation in relationships or any area of life.

Because my lovelies you deserve to feel empowered, to be thrilled at being alive and to live with a heart full of joy and gratitude…not bow down to toxic manipulation.

Look out for:

1. The scared routine

Don’t buy into the “I’m scared” routine.   

They’re sorry that they did this, or said that. They’re sorry they don’t want you to have male friends or whatever else they’re sorry for, because they’ve been hurt before, or whatever the excuse is.

It’s a Jedi mind trick giving them an excuse to be the jerk they are.

Don’t let others keep you away from friends and family who truly love you.

2. Trust yourself

Manipulators love to find ways to make you doubt yourself. 

And they do it so beautifully. 

Always sounding as though they have your best interests at heart. 

Sometimes they say one thing and later say they never said it. They’re experts at explaining things away, justifying and excusing everything.

Believe me…I’ve heard it all and once you begin to doubt yourself…game over.  Don’t trust them more than you trust yourself.  In fact trust your gut most of all…it is speaking truth to you.

3. Don’t take on responsibility for how they feel

This is crucial and leads right back to the number 1 trick, guilt.  And this is crazy.  Anyone who wants you to be miserable because of the way they feel should not be in your life. Period.

We feel good, we feel bad. All of our feelings bubble up from our unconsciousness, from our past and nobody is responsible for them but us.

When people treat you like they don't care...believe them.Click To Tweet

4.  Look for patterns

Pay attention to where words don’t match up to actions.  And don’t allow anyone to blind you to the truth of what’s happening.  Manipulators are brilliant at taking advantage of your kind, forgiving heart.

When someone is constantly reminding you of all they’re doing or have done for you, but the reality doesn’t match the words…they are being manipulative.

When someone has excuse after excuse for the same bad behavior, however plausible the excuses might be…they are being manipulative.

Don’t buy into it. Seriously, be strong enough to know when it’s time to take better care of yourself.

5. Stop pretending it’s okay

When it becomes easier just to go along to get along and do what the manipulator wants the manipulators of the world can easily use this to their advantage.  Do Not Do This.

It’s not okay.  It’s never going to be okay however hard you try to make it so.  This is a direct path to long term pain.  Stop tiptoeing around them.

Accept this for too long and  one day you’ll find yourself so entangled and co-dependent that you’ll forget you ever had any needs of your own, never mind your right to have your needs met.

6. It’s not you

Know this.  No matter how often people imply you’re the problem.

You are not! 

Their fear is the problem.  They’re afraid of losing control or afraid of losing their victim.  And yes, that would be you.

You are remarkable.  You are deserving of someone who doesn’t fight dirty. Someone who isn’t passive aggressive. Someone who doesn’t tell half truths. 

The problem lies in them…but it’s up to you to stand up for yourself and not allow yourself to be blamed for their conduct.

7. Non-acceptance

No matter how difficult it is, how terrible you feel, do not accept that this is your lot in life.  You don’t have to accept the sulking, withdrawing or personal attacks.

The empty promises will keep piling up, the lies will never stop.  It’s just what they do.  And it’s up to you to stop falling for it.

Change can be hard.  Getting away from manipulators can be excruciatingly difficult.  I know…because I had to do it.

But living with the toxicity of manipulations is a health and well-being killer.  Eventually it will make you sick.

You are allowed to walk away from anyone who abuses your goodwill and your love.

They will never be happy…even while you are being destroyed.

Don’t wait.  Don’t hesitate to leave their space. It might be the only thing that will save your sanity because whilst you continue to accept the status quo you’ll keep being dragged back into their mind games.

Final thoughts

Please don’t think, even for a second, that whatever is happening is fine and you can find a way to live with it.  Be motivated enough to set yourself free from the chains of a manipulative relationship.

It wasn’t easy for me with a partner who used emotional blackmail and fear to scare me into staying.  You absolutely have to decide you’re done with it and be firm no matter what.  And it’s hard.

Turn to your friends and loved ones and allow them to remind you that life is beautiful and you’ve been missing out on a lot of living.

Talk to me.

Have you been in a manipulative or controlling relationship. How did you save your sanity? Share your stories in the comments below and help others who are going through something similar.

Encourage one another.

Love Elle

xox

ElleSommer
Elle Sommer is the author and founder of Live Purposefully Now, a website focused on sharing the insights and ancient wisdom that have collectively changed her life, in the desire to make a meaningful impact on yours. Trained at Coach U and having completed a year long training with Bob Proctor, her mission is to encourage and inspire others to build the business, relationships and life they want. Get your free instant access to Success Simplified ebook and get the tips, techniques and secrets of successfully living the life you want.

25 Comments

  • Hello Elle
    I can relate to so much of this and it is so good to know that I’m not the only one to have been taken in by a manipulator and to have the confirmation that his behavior is to do with him and not me.
    I was married to..that is still am and waiting for the divorce to go through…to a grade 1 narcissist. Fortunately for me and my children “only” for five years. After 3 years with this man I suddenly woke up to the fact that “I” no longer existed! I no longer had my friends. I had all but lost contact with my family. I was told what and when to eat. What to wear. My self-confidence and self-value had been whittled away to zero. Once I’d got to the point of considering suicide as the only way out fortunately something snapped and I started the process of “escape”. It has taken me 2 years to be….with the exception of waiting in the divorce… free of him. It has left me with many emotional scars and large debts but I am so grateful to be finding “me” again.
    The work you and others like you do to raise awareness to this subject, showing victims of this type of abuse that there is a way out and a life after mental and emotional abuse is invaluable. Thank you.
    Sorry this is rather long…it’s the first time I’ve “gone public” with my experience and I feel it is an essential part of the healing process xxx

    • Dearest Diane…I truly feel for you my dear. It’s a terrible prison to be in and oh so difficult to escape from it, a big hug and enormous credit to you for taking the steps and persisting…it shows how courageous you are. I remember when I finally ‘escaped’ it felt as though I had come out of a dark tunnel into the light. What a relief. If there’s any words I can offer you, any comfort at all, please don’t hesitate to contact me…my e-mail address is on the contact page of my site.

      Meanwhile I’m cheering you on from the sidelines. May you life be filled with more joy and peace from now on. Love Elle. 🙂

  • Dear Elle
    thank you so much for your comforting and encouraging words. They mean a lot to me!
    I may well take you up on your offer. At present I’m still very much occupied with sorting practical things with little opportunity or strength as yet to really start dealing with the emotional scars. I’m not really sure where to start on that.
    Love Diane xx

  • I can’t remember being in a controlling or manipulative relationship likes this. I found it interesting that you didn’t know, Elle, and that also makes sense because we can sometimes be so vulnerable. Your article has shown me that there are many subtleties to all this. It’s important to know what to look for so thanks for outlining it so clearly.

    • I’m so happy that you have never experienced this Sandra. It hurts heart, soul and body and yet is so hard to get away from. It doesn’t make any sense intellectually, but then much of what we do stems from more than our intellect. I just hope what I had to say will help others find some light in their darkness. 🙂

  • Wow, this hits so close to home right now, I feel blown away. My employer who I’ve been with over 10 years, I had planned on working there until God told me to move. I was expecting to possibly have to give up my whole life for them, even when they treat us employees like a product to be used up and discarded, and move on to the next ideal employee, only to be uncared for and used up. Their manipulation is so bad that a lot of times I feel I have no choice but to put their needs above me and my life. All the while they work us short handed on purpose to save money and has now even started to call me on my days off to fill in. To utterly use me up, almost like they want to kill me. I give my all its still not enough, even if I gave my life for them, it still wouldn’t be enough for them. Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for being so real and caring enough to write your article. Feels like an answer to my prayer and will help me to escape soon, I hope. Thank you. 10+ years of increasing torture and mind games, and I’m feeling more free right now. Thank you.

    • I’m so happy you’re feeling less of a prisoner and more of a power in your own life Little Swiftwind. It truly isn’t easy firstly to see the manipulation and secondly to find ways to escape or improve the situation. So huge hugs and congratulations on your awareness. It’s from that space that you can see the path forward for a happier life. And I wish you every joy and success in your future dear one. 🙂

  • Thank you for this Elle. Manipulation comes also from friends and family…even our children. You pointed out excellent situations to watch for. I always enjoy your posts

    • Hi LSM…it’s so true manipulation happens in so many different situations. The work place, family, partners and we can become some accustomed to it that we can’t even see how destructive it is to our happiness and well being. Thanks for the wise words and I appreciate your kind remarks about my articles. 🙂

  • Ohhh….the answer “And it doesn’t matter that much to me that I didn’t get what I wanted” hit me…thanks for highlighting that this is an act of manipulation. I think we can call it the work of the ego too. The manipulative ego always wants to let others know who is superior.

    • It’s interesting Evelyn that we don’t always (and I certainly didn’t) recognize manipulation even when it’s right in front of us! I honestly think that most manipulators are operating from fear. It’s funny how it always boils down to that one question…is this coming from love or fear? 🙂

  • Elle I feel so blessed that I have not been in this type of relationship on a personal level. I love this Because my lovelies you deserve to feel empowered, to be thrilled at being alive and to live with a heart full of joy and gratitude…not bow down to toxic manipulation. It has brought back a business person though that i allowed to manipulate me . it took a long while fore me to forgive myself too xxoo

    • It’s too bad that manipulators are so clever at pulling the wool over our eyes Suzie. Be it in business, partnership, families or wherever. Glad you’ve let go of the idea that somehow you were at fault. You were simply your kind, generous, beautiful self, an ideal target for the master manipulators of the world. I’m glad we’re both wiser today. 🙂

  • Hi Elle. Thank you for highlighting this so clearly. So many people use manipulation as a tool to get their needs met and the ones who are a real master at it, are often hard to spot! So difficult when it’s close family or your partner who chooses manipulation over real communication <3

    • Wise words Allanah…for those who’ve never been on the receiving end…or been too naive to spot it (guilty me!) it’s difficult to understand how we get ourselves into such situations. Now I’m older…it’s become all to clear…and I’m happy that I can put a spotlight on it for those who are in it and trying to extricate themselves. No easy task, escape that is! 🙂

  • Hi Elle,

    This is an important topic that affects so many of us. There were times when I’ve felt manipulated during my earlier life as well. They don’t always mean to, but sometimes parents can feel manipulated by their adult children when they are struggling. Manipulation never feels good, so I appreciate you shedding light on this problem.

    • Hi Cathy…kids can be great little manipulators. I’m not a therapist, but sometimes I think it’s how they learn to get their needs met and it develops into an unhealthy behavioural pattern as they grow up. And your point that it doesn’t feel good is spot on. 🙂

  • Elle, This is such a necessary article for many of us. While its hard to distinguish between genuineness and manipulation….its one we need to keep our eyes open to. Your article and tips help immensely.
    xoxo, Z~

    • Hi Zeenat…so glad you enjoyed this article…as you can tell, it comes from experience sad to say. But once I plucked up the courage and found the determination to follow through on the best course for me and my family, my life became almost instantly better. It’s just a hard thing to do and I feel for others caught in the same/similar situation. 🙂

    • I’m so sorry Susan. Honestly I know how hard it is. Please make sure you take care of yourself, whatever you choose to do. And please remember you are worthy of someone kind, caring and loving. 🙂

  • I am so deeply grateful to have found you on Facebook ~ your words for encouragement are thought provoking, positive & have touched me deeply ~ going through this with my mother ~ we have always been very close due to my parents divorce when I was very young ~ emeshment & codependent all mixed in together ~ now in her older age the traumas of her childhood &. difficult life are leading her to treat me with unbearable anger & frustration ~ there are 4 children ~ all of which have taken their turn on the outside ~ I have always been the dutiful daughter; but now I am a grandmother & she is extremely angry with my divided attention with family & friends ~ there is no end to her passive aggressive behavior ~ pitting my siblings ~ I have read everything I can get my hands on ~ my heart & head are in a constant battle just trying to have peace of mind ~ understanding her has helped me greatly, but boundaries are extremely difficult for me ~ desperately don’t want this to carry over to my immediate family when I am really emotionally exhausted ~ 💓 ~ thank you for empowering so many of us 💓🙏

    • I am so sorry for all you’re going through dearest Cindy. Some things are just beyond our control.

      I’ve sometimes found thatsome problems just don’t have a solution…other than to keep yourself in a place of love as much as you can. At least within yourself. Nothing might change on the outside, but you will have some inner peace and perhaps healing will take place on the outside too. Many blessings and thank you so very much for sharing your story and your kind words. 🙂

  • Hi Elle.
    I have been married for 20 years and my husband is very controlling and I have become very codependent. We have 4 children, school age. About 2 yrs ago he deserted us for a younger woman and demanded a divorce. Before we could divorce he came and wiggled back in. I kept telling him I wanted the divorce but he is very emotionally abusive. I am also concerned for my children. I don’t really have any family and because of him, no friends. I don’t want to live like this anymore. He has threatened me. I’m just stuck.

    Christine

    • I’m so sorry Christine…I know from personal experience how hard that is dear one. We, none of us, should have to live like that and it sounds very much as though you could use some professional help. I wish I could help more, but I’m not a professional. I would honestly encourage you to seek someone locally to support you. I know that’s a hard step to take. But you, unlike many of us who’ve been in controlling relationships, are wise enough to recognize what’s going on and I give you lots of credit for that. The next step is to find a therapist or counsellor who can help. Big hugs to you Christine and do let me know how things work out for you.

      I would add that it took me far too long to leave a similar relationship but it was one of the the best things I ever did for myself and my daughter. 🙂

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