Over the past year I have been learning about the concept of emotional manipulation (I like this article about the topic). My study of emotional manipulation had four goals behind it:
- I wanted to recognize that I was partaking in many of these behaviors myself .
- I wanted to recognize when others were being emotionally manipulative.
- I wanted to improve myself so that I didn’t participate in these behaviors.
- I wanted to improve myself so that emotionally manipulative acts by others did not have power over me.
Learning always happens and growth is a process that never ends so I am still in the process of understanding emotional manipulation.
My first big breakthrough in understanding emotional manipulation was when I recognized the things that I was guilty of in some of my conversations and interactions. Recognizing that these things which I did (some more than others) were like horrible tools in my human utility belt was a big moment. Upon recognizing them I then realized that I could fix them myself. For the sake of transparency, the emotionally manipulative tactics that were in my utility belt were (and sometimes still are as this is a work in progress):
- Overwhelm You with Facts and Statistics
- Manipulation of Facts
- Negative Surprises
- Giving You Little or No Time to Decide
- Negative Humor Designed to Poke at Your Weaknesses and Disempower You
- The Silent Treatment
- Pretend Ignorance
Some of these horrible tools were utilized more often than others, but at the root of everything I had to recognize that I was guilty of using these tools and in turn being an emotionally manipulative person. I am doing my best to catch myself if I feel my actions leaning towards using one of these tools. I am not perfect, but I am getting better. I have been thankful to be on this journey even though it has been difficult at times.
I also embarked on this journey to recognize when others were being emotionally manipulative. I think emotional manipulation is a thing that all humans living in the modern world are guilty of practicing. I cannot pinpoint why we are all inclined to lean on emotional manipulation in our day to day lives, but I do recognize that it is something that is prevalent in our world and that in order to live a full life one must understand emotional manipulation being used on you.
Understanding when someone is using emotionally manipulative tactics on me has helped me in the past year to lead a calmer life, not hold onto grudges, and in turn make any bouts with depression less overwhelming. The journey of understanding is always difficult but the reward when a breakthrough has been made is worth it. Recently I came into contact with a few people that used some of these emotionally manipulative tactics. I don’t know if they knew what they were doing, but I was able to recognize emotionally manipulative habits happening in the moment. While their actions still had an impact I was better able to deal with their words and actions. The words that come out of our mouths always have an impact. We should all understand that what we say will lead to an action or an emotion.
I will continue to learn about emotional manipulation and grow from experience and understanding.
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