How To Break Free From A Manipulator

How To Break Free From A Manipulator

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Want to get yourself back on track? They can't stop you.

Margalis Fjelstad Ph.D., LMFT

Margalis Fjelstad Ph.D., LMFT

Dr. Fjelstad has been a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for nearly thirty years.Through her college teaching at CSUS in California and Regis University in Colorado, she has trained hundreds of students to become therapists.She is noted for her work with clients who grew up with a mentally ill parent and those who take on a caretaking role with a borderline or narcissistic family member.Her book, Stop Caretaking the Borderline or Narcissist: How to End the Drama and Get on With Life, was published in 2014 by Rowman and Littlefield and is available on Fjelstad has a private practice and conducts Caretaker recovery groups in Colorado.She has a workbook, an on-line class, and a monthly newsletter available through her website for people who want to quit caretaking.Dr. Fjelstad also provides phone consultations for people who have questions about a current or ex-loved one with BPD or NPD.
Margalis Fjelstad Ph.D., LMFT

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Letting go of an emotional manipulator even when you think you can’t

But despite all that, do you actually believe that you can’t let go? It’s not easy, but you can.

Let’s face it, emotional manipulators can be powerfully magnetic and amazingly perceptive. They have an uncanny ability to sense when you are at your wit’s end, and just at the moment you think you can’t take anymore, they back off and become more reasonable—maybe even thoughtful or funny or attentive. This does not mean that they have suddenly gained insight or won’t go back to their selfish, demanding ways. It simply means that they sense you are about to move away from their grasp, and they don’t want to lost their advantage with you. By being more pleasant at those moments, they keep you close and under control.

People who emotionally caretake for a manipulator or narcissist give up their sense of self to be who and what their partner needs them to be. These “emotional caretakers” are often very good at being aware of others’ needs and wants, but they lose connection to their own. Such people are very vulnerable and responsive to even the slightest positive indicators from the emotional manipulator. The caretaker is so hopeful and so needs the manipulator to see and understand the love and caring they provide that even small positive moments register as having enormous value.

Letting go of an emotional manipulator means giving up needing their approval, their validation, and their view of the world—and tuning into your own self-approval, self-validation and self-view. As long as you are trying to fit into the manipulator’s distorted perspective, or trying to get him or her to see and understand your perspective, you will be lost in a labyrinth of perplexity and confusion.

Letting go of an emotional manipulator means figuring out for yourself what you feel and want, and what you want to do—and then sticking with it. The emotional manipulator wants you to match her or his picture of you and will go to extremes, both positive and negative, to get you to conform to her or his preferred image.

As you may already know, not matching what emotional manipulators want exposes you to their anger and disapproval. Letting go means that you disengage yourself from trying to please them or to get their support and endorsement for what you feel, think, or do. This means not caring so much what the manipulator thinks about you. You know you often don’t approve or like what the manipulator does or says; so why does it matter so much to you how the emotional manipulator thinks and feels about you?

That’s the key. It is not just that emotional manipulators keep you bound to them, it is that you keep yourself bound to them by needing and seeking their approval and validation, which, of course, they give or withhold to get what they want from you. And they know just how much to give and take away to keep you coming back.

You have control over the choices you make. What you don’t have control over are the choices that manipulators make.

Focus on the what, why, when, and how of your own life—and give up trying to manipulate the manipulators. Just let their demands go. Let them focus on fulfilling their own needs while you work on taking care of your wants and needs.

Then you will be getting somewhere.

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