How To Defend Yourself Against Manipulators
Want to be able to defend yourself against manipulators? Here is what my experience has taught me about this topic.
To defend yourself against manipulators, you first need to recognize them as such. It can be very difficult to notice manipulation, as it is usually subtle. This is especially true for those who grew up in an abusive environment or surrounded by manipulative people. They’re so used to it that they don’t even realize this is not as it should be.
Here are some tips on recognizing manipulators.
At first, don’t try to defend yourself yet. Just observe what they’re telling you, verbally and non-verbally. Identify the subtext. Get clear about what’s really going on, both inside of you and between you and the manipulator.
Once you have a clear awareness of the situation, you can act.
Remember that manipulation is often unconscious and sometimes a way of coping with some problem, for example diverse fears. Even when it is conscious, it’s just a choice that someone else makes. Other people’s choices have nothing to do with you as a person.
I know that being manipulated is a pain in the ass, especially when they try to make you feel bad in order to control you – just remember that this is not really about you personally. Their goal is to get something, but it is not to harm you. You’re collateral damage. So, don’t take it personally.
Manipulators are the kind of smelly orcs that can make your social life tedious and foul. If it’s a spouse, family member, coworker, or any other person that you are not ready or willing to let go of, you’ll have to learn how to deal with them. If you can avoid them, though, just say bye. In my experience this is way more efficient.
However, you cannot spend your time running away from manipulators. You need to work on your mindset anyway. If you attracted them once, chances are good that you have some holes in your armor. Those holes will attract more of them, no matter how far away you flee. So, avoid them – and invest the time and energy that you save by avoiding them in working on yourself.
The more you’re powerful in your head, the more you become immune against manipulators. Your mindset is key. I cannot stress enough how important that is. So, if you want to defend yourself against manipulators, absolutely work on that. Here are some tips on how to build a healthy anti-manipulation mindset.
Optionally, you can learn anti-manipulation techniques. If your mindset is strong, you won’t really need them, but when you’re just starting and still insecure, they can be very useful. Especially the translator method helped me a lot in the past. I highly recommend it.
Ideally, practice them first with a trusted friend, outside of real manipulative situations. Do some role playing, one playing the manipulator, the other one the technique user. Try out different techniques and different scenarios. Then switch roles. This way, when it really happens, you’ll be prepared and have a knee-jerk reaction.
Way more than techniques, what I recommend is to step completely out of the subtle manipulation game and to play with open cards. Be direct. Remember that manipulators always want something. So, when you spot one, ask them “What is it that you want?”.
You can also ask them “How do you feel about this situation?”. And, remembering that manipulators often use manipulation out of fear, you can ask “What is it that you are afraid of?”.
You can see manipulators as enemies out to get you, abuse you and control you, and hit back. But this creates separation. You can also choose oneness and compassion. The manipulation itself is just their way of expressing themselves. Instead of getting hung up on it, you can go directly to the meat of the matter by asking them what exactly they want.
Give them an opportunity to express themselves openly in a safe environment. Often they simply have never learned that. Listen to them. You can also explain what exactly you want and try together to find a solution that makes both happy.
If they realize that their expressing their wishes directly is taken seriously, welcomed in a non-judgmental way and actually brings good results, it will be much easier for them to let go of manipulation as a way of getting what they want.
Take care to stay focused on finding a solution though. Listening doesn’t mean playing psychotherapist or giving them lots of energy by listening and listening and listening! This would be too draining for you.
Take your time, observe, prepare yourself… but once you’ve started defending yourself, be consistent. Mixed messages teach others to continue with their abusive behavior. So, don’t oscillate between standing your ground and falling back into victimizing yourself. That’s not healthy. Whether you use anti-manipulation techniques or just talk straight with them, continue with it in a consistent way until they don’t try to manipulate you anymore.
When you suddenly start defending yourself, at first they’ll try harder than ever! So, be prepared for an increased fire. But at some point, sooner or later, they will realize that it just doesn’t work this way anymore, and give up.
They will let go of their manipulative behaviors and learn other ways to communicate what they want, and the relationship will become a good bit healthier. If they’re not able or willing to do that, the relationship will probably break.
In case really nothing helps, and no matter how open you are to straightforward and honest communication, no matter how consistently you block their manipulation, they just keep doing it… Or even respond by creating lots of drama… Leave.
I know this can be very difficult, but your first duty in this life is to take care of yourself.
Some people are just not able, ready, or willing to stop manipulating others. Some are just too blocked in their own personal development. It’s not your job to compensate for that. In the long run, you’re not doing them a favor by accepting their behavior.
There are also people who have an unconscious and compulsive need to create negativity in others in order to feed off it. These people will never stop with their abusive ways. Run.
Good luck! :-)