What is Manipulation, and How can you Detect and Protect yourself from being Manipulated?
Manipulation is often seen negatively because, more than not, it is often used ill intentionally. However, it is not always harmful. It is a survival tactic human beings utilize to survive through the harshest conditions. Some people are forced to resort to these tactics, such as guilt-tripping and forced quick decision-making, to meet the urgency of personal needs. Positive manipulation, which is subtly used to help and motivate others, and their perception of reality, exists too. However, in this blog, I will be talking about egotistically-driven manipulation to obtain personal desires or agendas, not essentials or needs.
What is Manipulation?
The word “manipulation” derives from the Latin word “manipulus,” meaning handful, or more specifically, to skillfully handle. The solar plexus chakra, responsible for confidence, self-worth, and control over one’s life, is also known as the “Manipura chakra.” It is the source of one’s personal power and ability to evoke change in the world. When this chakra is overactive, it can lead to control issues and ego-inflation. When this chakra is underactive, it can cause insecurities of personal identity, low self-worth, and depleted self-esteem. Often, those with overactive solar plexus chakras are the ones attempting to control those with underactive solar plexus chakras.
Those with strong, egotistical desires pull on the heartstrings of the low-self esteemed, vulnerable, and weak-minded because they are the easiest to control. For example, a puppet master manipulates the puppet's strings to put on a show for entertainment purposes. Every slight pull or movement results in the facade of an inanimate object performing a seemingly real show with characteristics like a human being. Its body will appear to be animated, although it is lifeless and powerless because it is being manipulated to act upon the desires of its master. Those who are weak-minded and vulnerable are likely to be controlled by someone who is skillfully manipulative.
Manipulation is the intentional, premeditated force of desire acted upon someone to obtain or fulfill a personal goal. The best manipulators strategically analyze, rationalize, and plan out how they will influence other people before it even happens. The desired perception is created with the mind-control techniques used to facilitate the belief and actualization of its intended purpose. Manipulators control how other people think, feel, react, and act by deliberately choosing how they want to be perceived. Therefore, manipulators can pretend to be your friend to bring your walls down to gain your trust so that you can become comfortable and vulnerable with them.
It is important to know manipulation is not always obvious, upfront, or straightforward. It is usually subtle and sneaky, hidden in plain sight but yet not so apparent at first sight. It usually begins very small, with miniscule, condescending remarks or mediocre, seemingly innocent requests. However, as trust is built over time, the force of manipulation pulls more and more, until ulterior motives are realized and exposed.
I will be teaching you how to detect manipulation and protect yourself from its influence upon your mind. It is important to identify manipulative tactics in their earliest stages to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of its effects.
Forms of Manipulation
Testing Your Sanity aka Gaslighting— They will challenge your ability to retain information and consistently remember what they have said. They will sometimes switch up the littlest details in a conversation to see if you’ve picked up on even the most elusive changes. They will test the waters of your intelligence and watch if you will swim or sink into the depths of their control. They will explore how far your awareness travels in order to find loopholes in the way you perceive reality. Then they will break into the crevices, and make a gap in awareness, and further push the depths of your sanity.
Conditioning/Programming/Normalizing — The common saying goes, “What you allow continues to perpetuate” meaning that anything you choose to tolerate will condition its normalization. Manipulators are masters at “setting the tone” and making certain conditions and standards for what is accepted in a relationship. They will justify why these standards are necessary and push the agenda until it programs the mind into believing it is normal.
Guilt-Tripping/Projections/Low Blows — These techniques are used to attack your self-esteem and compel you to feel guilty, even if you have done nothing wrong. The projection will be created upon a false reality, in which the burden of the manipulator will now become your problem. The emotional responsibility will be placed upon you for not living up to their expectations and desires. It dehumanizes the manipulated to feel inferior to the manipulator.
Border-lining Between Manipulation and Control — This technique is somewhat passive-aggressive, and will more subtly be used by those with more charming, hypnotizing types of personalities. They attempt to convince you to do something, then once they lure you in knowing you will comply, they will take control from there by forcing you to do as they say, or they will enforce consequences which punishes you for not complying. If they cannot manipulate you, then they will try to control you.
Transactional Dependency— The manipulator sets the terms and conditions of the relationship based upon what they can get out of you, and what you have the potential to gain from them. They will make it seem like you are benefiting from the relationship, when in reality, they are siphoning more from you than they are providing in return. They may even make excuses for not providing back, such as they don’t have the resources right now and they will pay you back later on. Eventually, the debt accumulates, and the relationship becomes primarily one-sided.
Walking On Eggshells/Apologizing For Nothing — This technique is similar to the guilt-tripping, but it is taking it a step further and reinforcing the emotional responsibility on the manipulated, such as when the manipulator becomes offended for petty reasons such as not showing being shown enough attention or appreciation. It compels the manipulated party to follow the demands in order not to face repercussions of the whiplash. It compels the manipulated to feel horrible whenever the manipulator is angry, sad, or stressed, even if it isn’t their fault, and forcing them to apologize for no good reason.
Forcible Isolation — A person can be at their most defenseless and vulnerable state when they are alone with a manipulator, and that’s exactly the targeted goal for this technique. The manipulator will put pressure on the idea of isolation to keep them away from family and friends who can be a source of discernment and protection from being manipulated.
Fear-Then-Relief Method — This technique is used to scare people into making the safest option possible. For example, a partner threatening to hurt herself if her husband ever cheats on her, is a form of manipulation. It is intentionally used to set the manipulated on an emotional rollercoaster, but eventually alleviates those worries by stating they weren’t actually going to do it. The purpose it to get a strong, negative reaction out of the manipulated and compel them to prove they are worthy to the relationship more than the manipulator. It’s also a way of pushing boundaries to see how much the manipulated can tolerate.
How You Can Protect Yourself
Setting Boundaries — At the beginning of a potential relationship, placing limitations on how someone can treat you is a protection blockage. Making it absolutely clear that disrespect, negativity, or deception will not be tolerated, and it will lead to the end of the relationship, will immediately force the manipulator to either A) follow your boundaries accordingly or B) find someone else who can be manipulated. Either way, this is the best way to handle anyone who plans to use manipulative tactics to get their way through you.
Giving Yourself Space and Time — If an individual displays manipulative tactics, and you are under the suspicion they may be trying to manipulate or force you to do something for them, tell them you need space and time to think about it before making a decision. Postpone your decision-making until you have the clarity to make the best choice possible. This is a very good technique especially for those who are being pressured by a salesperson to buy a product or by a charity who’s trying to guilt-trip you into donating.
Call Out The Very First Red Flags — When you begin to pick up on manipulative behaviors and patterns, call it out immediately. Do not let their manipulation perpetuate into normalization. Ask questions regarding the root of their behaviors. Track their lying record and maintain tabs on promises they have broken. For example, if someone attempts to gaslight and twist the truth because they didn’t follow through on a promise, keep referencing back what was previously stated and keep asking questions on why they decided to change what they had said. Make it abundantly clear that you did not forget what they said, and it is futile to try to switch up the truth. Even if they do not admit fault, the manipulator will know you see through the facade of their lies, and it will be difficult for them to manipulate you because you did not fall victim to their control.
Holding Manipulators Accountable — After calling out the red flags, it’s time to enforce a punishment upon the manipulator so they may be held accountable. Saying no, denying access, and withholding rewards are some ways you can punish the manipulator. Explain to them why they are being punished, and how they can hold themselves accountable. Make it clear that apologizing is not enough, and they’re actions need to be a reflection of their desire to change. If they do not change, and continue to reinforce their toxic behavior, there is only one more solution.
Cutting Ties — When you have done everything in your power to set boundaries, give yourself time and space, call out the manipulation, and hold the manipulator accountable, and none of that works, the best decision is to end the relationship immediately. The cycle will only repeat itself if you continue to stick around and hope eventually they will change. It’s difficult, but sometimes leaving is what’s most beneficial for you. If you prolong the connection, it will make it harder to move on later. Stopping it at the source is the quickest, but often the most undesirable solution, especially it is for those we love the most.