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How To Stop Being Manipulated Forever

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How To Stop Being Manipulated Forever

Do you feel you are being manipulated?

Beware of people who ask too much of you. Something deeper may be at play.

  1. influencing or attempting to influence the behavior or emotions of others for one’s own purposes: a manipulative boss

You may be reading this post because you have reached an “enough already” point in your life. Perhaps someone manipulated you into doing something you really didn’t want to do—or into not doing something you really wanted to do—and now you’ve become so infuriated with them (and yourself) that you reached that “never again” moment.

Instead of going into why do they do that, for now let’s just leave it as: because they can get away with doing it to you. 

This blog is about why you have continued to let them do it, why you reached your last straw with them, and more importantly how you can put an end to it and never be manipulated again.

Why have you allowed yourself to be manipulated?

One reason may be that you are so hungry for positive attention and adoration (because you didn’t receive it as a child or aren’t getting it from an important current relationship), that when the manipulator flatters you or tells you how different, wonderful and special you are for treating them better than other people do, you lap it up. This can play to a grandiosity in you where you say to yourself, “I am special because I see the goodness in this person that nobody else sees.” Then you continue to lap it up, which sets the stage for feeling either that you owe them something in return or that you would feel guilty if you disappointed them.

But a deeper psychological reason may be that you really don’t know what it’s like to feel truly wanted or valued for you, so you have decided that a close second is to get people to need you. And then you think you can control the relationship by just giving people what they need. This may not be unfamiliar territory to you. Over time, however, you realize that although you like to feel needed, you don’t like to feel used, and begin to resent it.

But you can go a long time letting people need you and feeling that you’re special before it dawns on you that you are being royally exploited. This is despite your being warned about these people by others who do care about you. At that point, you can go from feeling kindly and benevolently towards the manipulator to feeling duped, hurt, frustrated, resentful, and furious.

When you feel those more deeply hostile and dark emotions, it is directly in conflict with your wanting to believe that you are kind, caring, and benevolent. Having those hostile, or even violent, feelings can not merely trigger guilt but shame as well, for being such an angry person.

And so what do you do when the discomfort of that internal conflict becomes too intense? You might do even more for the manipulator, employing the defense mechanism referred to as “reaction formation”—in order to lessen your anxiety about your shameful feelings, you do the opposite of what you actually want to do.

Your last straw

This could occur because when the person most recently tried to manipulate you, you said, “No,” and then he or she said something insulting, implying that not only are you not special, but you have turned out to be just as bad as (or even worse than) all those other people who have mistreated him or her. At that point, it might be all you could do to restrain yourself from telling them to go kill themselves (or feeling tempted to do it for them). Feeling those raw murderous feelings is so out of sync with your core identity as a caring and loving person that it scares you—enough to not appease them, not this time, but instead to finally say, “No more.”

How to put an end to it

Read my lips and practice saying this to the manipulator in your mind, and then in person the next time they try to manipulate you. Say to them, simply and directly, “No.” When they ask why, reply, “Because I don’t want to.”

You don’t owe them an explanation beyond that. If it escalates and they should threaten you with what they might do to themselves, say, “I hope you won’t do that.” If they threaten you with what they might do to you, say, “You will need to leave now and not come back or threaten me ever again or I will call the police.” Don’t make it a bluff. Mean it and do it.

How to never be manipulated again

Learn to recognize manipulators by catching yourself when they’re flattering you too much and too soon. Say early on, “That’s very nice of you to say, but I don’t feel I’ve done enough to deserve such wonderful comments. Also, I’m sorry to have you pay for the sins of others, but is there something that you’re going to want from me or for me to do? If not, I will have to think about whether I’m being too distrustful or even paranoid, because of others before you. And if there is something you want from me, you’ll have to give me a moment after you ask so I can think of something of equal importance to me that I can ask from you.”

What is fair for people to ask of you?

This is where you need to separate the truly needful people in your life from those who merely claim to be. There may actually be people who legitimately need what you can do for them or with them and to whom you feel a legitimate responsibility—a child, an aging parent, siblings or friends with true needs, rather than those trying to make their problemyour problem, and their responsibility your responsibility to solve.

One of the best ways to sort the truly needful from the pretender is to ask a friend (or another family member) who can be cool, calm, and objective; who doesn’t get manipulated by people; and doesn’t have a vendetta against manipulative people about the person in question, because they can say, “No,” to such people calmly and without guilt and can advise you to do the same.

A final note: If you are wondering why I have written this particular blog, it’s because I used to be an “easy mark,” but my “never again” moment woke me up.

Wish me luck going forward and I’ll do the same for you.

Authors’ Books and Kindle – Click for Amazon Reviews

Mark Goulston, M.D. is a business advisor, consultant, speaker, trainer and coach trained as a clinical psychiatrist who honed his skills as an FBI/police hostage negotiation trainer who increases people’s ability to get through to anyone.

He is Co- Founder of Heartfelt Leadership whose Mission is: Daring to Care and Go Positive Now and is the Resident Big Brother at Business Women Rising and serves on the Board of Advisers of American Women Veterans and Dr. Oz’ foundation, Health Corps.

He is the author of international best selling book, “Just Listen” Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone (AMACOM, $24.95) which has reached #1 at amazon kindle in six business categories, #1 in China and Germany , #1 in audible audiobooks and has been translated into fourteen languages. Dr. Goulston and his book was also a PBS special entitled “Just Listen with Dr. Mark Goulston.” His next book, REAL INFLUENCE: Persuade Without Pushing and Gain Without Giving In, co-authored with Dr. John Ullment will be the lead book for the American Management Association in January, 2013 and will focus on influencing people in a post-selling world.

Dr. Goulston’s development of those skills started with his education: a B.A. from UC Berkeley, an M.D. from Boston University, post graduate residency in psychiatry at UCLA. He went on to be a professor at UCLA’s internationally renowned Neuropsychiatric Institute for more than twenty years, become a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and was named one of America’s Top Psychiatrists for 2004-2005 and again in 2009 and 2011 by Washington, D.C. based Consumers’ Research Council of America.

A partial list of companies, organizations and universities he has trained, spoken to, provided executive coaching to or consulted with include: GE, IBM, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Xerox, Deutsche Bank, Hyatt, Accenture, Astra Zenica, British Airways, Sodexo, ESPN, Kodak, Federal Express, YPO, YPOWPO India, Association for Corporate Growth, FBI, Los Angeles District Attorney, White & Case, Seyfarth Shaw, UCLA Anderson School of Management, USC, Pepperdine University.

He is or has been a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors and the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches and is the best selling author of four prior books including the international best seller, Get Out of Your Own Way: Overcoming Self-Defeating Behavior (Perigee, $13.95) Get Out of Your Own Way at Work…and Help Others Do the Same (Perigee, $14.95), is a contributor to Harvard Business, blogs for the Huffington Post, Business Insider writes the Tribune media syndicated column, Solve Anything with Dr. Mark, column on leadership for FAST COMPANY, Directors Monthly. He is frequently called upon to share his expertise with regard to contemporary business, national and world news by television, radio and print media including: Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Fortune, Newsweek, Time, Los Angeles Times, ABC/NBC/CBS/Fox/CNN/BBC News, Oprah, Today.

Dr. Goulston lives in Los Angeles with his wife and three children.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Darlene Lancer, LMFT

    Jun 16, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    I thought this confusing, since often manipulators try to STOP us from doing things or try to lay responsibility for their actions and feelings on us. Manipulation can be any type of covert aggression or attempt to control. It can take the form of threats or blame as easily as compliments. As in any battle, the first step is objectively studying the enemy’s behavior. Decipher their strategy and tactics and build your own resources. That means build your own confidence, assertiveness, and self-esteem. Then you’re prepared to insist on direct responses and call out their tactics. Don’t explain or react to threats, manipulation, or blame, but respond with direct requests or limits. Don’t allow a manipulator to shift the focus from their bad behavior to you. Get my ebook, “Speak Your Mind – Become Assertive and Set Limits.
    Darlene Lancer, LMFT
    Author of “Conquering Shame and Codependency” and “Codependency for Dummies”
    http://www.whatiscodependency.com

  2. Kate

    Jun 18, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    95% of this applies to me and my first adult relationship at 22, that was nearly two years ago. We are still in contact but there’s a lot of conflict and apologise going both ways.
    I’m in constant conflict within as to wheather I should cut all contact or restrict contact or allow this man to be a kind of friend again.

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