I don’t know about you, but experiences around this issue leave a bad taste in my mouth. So I thought I need to deal with it, as I am not sure I have a satisfying strategy to deal with manipulation and manipulators. Please join me in thinking through this toffee.
To start off, what is manipulation? A definition is: “To change by artful or unfair means so as to serve one’s purpose.” In a sense we all manipulate. We manipulate our budget to pay all our bills; we manipulate our appointments to fit them into a day. What I am referring to is the interpersonal manipulation.
My current thoughts around this topic start with an understanding of boundaries. My experience is that manipulators do not have or respect boundaries. Not their own or other people’s.
Boundaries are healthy. Because we set boundaries we can build the life we want. Take a brick for example – at the start it is a fluid lump of clay, but it is baked into a solid form. No house can be built with unstable clay, but baked it can stand for years. The simple difference is boundaries have been established.
Not referring to psychopaths, which is a totally different story, but normal manipulators very often do not want to take responsibility for their own life and try to get what they want through other people’s lives and effort. In essence they are too lazy work for what they want. (This is not the same as using others strengths in a team effort).
I have also experienced that manipulators do not have the ability to delay gratification. They want their needs met with the least bit of effort from their side.
The ability to say no to yourself and others closely links with healthy boundaries. The simple ability to say no is the start of delaying gratification. For most of us, to deny yourself immediate gratification in order for a greater future benefit is probably one of the most difficult things to learn. This influences everything, from our eating habits to the way we spend our money and especially in our relationships. It seems manipulators have no desire to learn this lesson.
It reminds me of the two year old maturity that thinks the world exists to gratify their needs. This is acceptable in a two year old, but not in an adult. The truth is, we are part of the world and we need to contribute our uniqueness to create the greater good.
This links very closely to our understanding of power. Manipulators crave power over other people. But they miss the liberating truth that power is no were else but in ourselves. When we seek it from others it turns into might and force. Two inter-human dynamics that often evolve into parasitic systems. This also accurately describes a manipulative relationship.
I know I group manipulators under the tic category (aka parasite). In nature parasites have a useful function. They are supposed to kill the weaker specie (Unfortunately they can also kill the strong). So although I would like to deal with them more efficiently, I also acknowledge that they constantly kill my weaker boundaries and challenge me to exercise my personal power to say no to them. But I suspect there is more to it. What do you think?
To find our own inner power is a wonderful journey on its own. I have touched on it in my blogs “The authority of decisive mistakes”. It might help to also understand that this inner power is not something you must deserve or must find. It is something you must unleash. Your mental map around your own power needs to be created (or recreated) in such a way that your given genius can come to it full right. No one will do it for you. It is your responsibility.
Dealing with manipulators then seems to stands on two very strong pillars.
- Healthy boundaries and
- Knowing your own inner power.
The question then is, do you know your inner power and have you set your boundaries and do you keep them?
Useful sites I came upon are:
I hope it helps.