Advertising
Advertising

Are You Being Emotionally Exploited?

Are You Being Emotionally Exploited?

Have you ever been part of an interaction with another person that left you feeling drained, confused, and inadequate? You may have been dealing with an emotional manipulator. These people get an A+ in stealth coercion. Often times, you’ll walk away from these situations giving the other person exactly what he/she wanted without even realizing that you gave it to them in the first place.

It may start out as a completely normal conversation. Maybe you came to them because something they said or did upset you and, like the grown up person you are, you pulled them aside to try and talk it out. Or, maybe there’s actually no conversation at all. Maybe this person is someone you have to be around a lot: An in-law, a co-worker, or a boss. Maybe he/she uses body language and nonverbal cues that make it more than clear that you aren’t welcome, accepted, or liked, but then when he/she speaks with you, it’s in the most polite and sincere tone you have ever heard.

I'M Stabbing You In My Mind GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

    Emotional manipulators (or Machiavellian-Feeling Ninjas, as I like to call them) are skilled deceivers. They usually have high emotional intelligence and can bend and shape any social interaction to their advantage. They are shrewd observers, taking in the communication around them and easily establishing a baseline on individuals which they will use to analyze that person’s strengths and weaknesses. They may even ask probing questions in conversational tones in order to get a better fix on you. Once they have you down, they’ll use their knowledge to exert dominance over you.

    Winning Emperors New Groove GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

      There are several ways they could do this, from sarcastic cutting remarks disguised as “jokes,” to guilt-baiting you and trying to convince you that their happiness is your responsibility. I once dated a guy who actually told me that it was my job to keep him happy. “That’s how relationships work. You’re supposed to make sure I’m happy.” Yes, those words came out of his mouth, and when I tried to explain to him that his happiness was his own responsibility, he got upset and claimed that I didn’t care about him. This is another tactic these emotion ninjas use.

      If they know they can get away with it, they will play the victim. They want you to feel sorry for them because they know this will increase their chances of getting what they want, and sometimes what they want is just to feel good about themselves at your expense.

      http://gph.is/2eoWmPl

      Advertising

      Guilt-baiting and passive aggressive jokes aren’t the only strategies manipulators use to get their way. A friend of mine once dealt with a mother-in-law who used what I call the “let-down con.”

      Let me explain. My friend and her husband had a one-year-old son together. Their parenting style differed greatly from that of her husband’s parents, and this caused issues between them. In order to keep from disrupting the family relationship, my friend and her husband sat his parents down and let them know what their boundaries were. One of those boundaries included the fact that they would not be taking their son to his parents’ home without one or both of them present because of the environment.

      The mother-in-law would then make plans or offer to babysit for her and her husband, sometimes weeks in advance. Then she would cancel thirty, fifteen, and even ten minutes before the scheduled time. After putting the two of them in a bind, the mother-in-law would then make excuses or remarks on how she would have no trouble watching her grandson if they would bring him to her house. This is a classic example of how a manipulator can use negative surprises as a weapon against you.

      Excited Stephen Colbert GIF by The Late Show With Stephen Colbert - Find & Share on GIPHY

        Of course, one of the most well-known and obvious tactics that manipulators use is the distortion of facts. My ex was a pro at this. Not only would he lie frequently, but when I caught him in a lie, he’d turn the tables on me and try to make it my fault.

        I’m not even talking about the obvious cheater lies here either. You know the whole, “Well I cheated because you make me unhappy. You aren’t satisfying me…” blah blah blah crap? No, I’m talking about lies that make absolutely zero sense, or withholding information just for the purpose of making me look bad.

        For example, I once pointed out during a disagreement that he was trying to manipulate me. He then accused me of being the one manipulating him, naming off times that I had done so. None of the things he mentioned ever happened. In fact, most of them were easily disproved because I wasn’t even there on the specific date he mentioned. I knew that I hadn’t done or said any of the things he said that I had, but he held on so strongly and argued so convincingly that it actually made me question myself.

        Advertising

        Another thing he would do is tell me the wrong time for family get togethers so I would show up late. He’d then state in front of everyone, “I told you to be here at X time.”

        Late People GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

          Then there’s the whole cold shoulder treatment.

          I have a friend whose in-laws repeatedly threatened not to invite her to family gatherings or summer vacations at their lake house because she would not act the way they wanted her to. My friend is very down to earth. One of those “what you see is what you get” types of people. She isn’t rude or loud or trashy, but her in-laws wanted her to “toe the line” when it came to social outings with them. She was expected to agree with them and do what they wanted her to do without question. She was even told that she wasn’t accepted into the family because of her “behavior.”

          She explained politely that she wasn’t going to change who she was for anyone, and she wouldn’t behave a certain way just because they wanted her to. This is when they began to “ice” her out. Even though she really didn’t care to go where she wasn’t wanted, it still hurt her. These were people who were supposed to be her family, and she didn’t want to be the reason her husband had problems with them. Not to mention the effect this type of relationship had on her children.

          I tried to point out to her that standing up for herself was the right thing to do. Yes, it’s a sticky situation when you have family involved, but life is too short to have those kinds of negative people in your life. Truly, it’s not her job to be accepted by them. Her husband married her because of who she is. If his family doesn’t want to be a part of their lives, then that’s their choice, not hers.

          Tyra Banks Goodbye GIF by America's Next Top Model - Find & Share on GIPHY

            So what do you do when you encounter a Machiavellian-Feeling Ninja? How do you combat a slick and cunning manipulator who can out-argue logic and reason?

            Advertising

            One word: Boundaries.

            That’s right. You have to know your boundaries. In an article from Psychology Today, communications expert Preston Ni discusses fundamental human rights that apply to all of us. These rights are our boundaries, our lines in the sand. When one of these rights is violated, we have a responsibility to ourselves to defend that right. No healthy relationship, whether it be family, personal, or business related, can be maintained if these boundaries are crossed.

            1. You Have The Right To Be Treated With Respect

            http://gph.is/1MhGXN1

            No matter what the interaction is, you deserve to be treated with respect. This means that the other person involved is considerate, polite, fair, and open. They are not dismissive, belittling, or degrading. When you show someone respect, you practice gratitude, sincerity, and encouragement.

            2. You Have The Right To Express Your Feelings, Opinions, & Wants

            Sarcastic Talk GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

              No one is ever going to agree with everything you have to say. That’s fine. It’s also fine for them to tell you so, or to offer a different point of view or counterargument. In fact, I strongly believe the best decisions are made after hearing opposing arguments and finding the middle ground. However, if someone tries to tell you that your opinion is wrong, or that you don’t have a right to express yourself, then you have a problem. No one should ever tell you that your feelings don’t matter, that your needs and desires aren’t important, or aren’t as important as theirs. We are all equal on this front.

              3. You Have The Right To Set Your Own Priorities

              Priorities GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

                Barring that physical harm to another human being is at the top of your list, what you choose to focus on is your decision. No one can tell you what’s important to you. Other people don’t know your values, principles, or beliefs. Other people aren’t inside your head. They don’t have the same life experiences as you. So how could they possibly know how you should live your life?

                Advertising

                They can give you guidance. They can offer advice and opinions on what they think is best, but only you know what’s best for you.

                4. You Have The Right To Say No Without Feeling Guilty

                Shake My Head No GIF by Originals - Find & Share on GIPHY

                  Let me state this clearly: NO ONE SHOULD MAKE YOU FEEL BAD FOR SAYING NO. EVER. I don’t care what situation it is. It could be something as innocent as a group of friends hounding you for saying you didn’t want to go out that night. It could be your boss pressuring you to work overtime when you have other plans. It could be your next door neighbor attempting to guilt trip you into joining the neighborhood watch, or your kids’ PTO pressuring you to cook for the bake sale instead of ordering from the bakery in town. Or, it could be more sinister: A boyfriend (or girlfriend) pressuring you to have sex, peers pressuring you to drink, a loved one pressuring you keep dangerous secrets.

                  Regardless of the context or people involved, no means no, and if they respect you as a human being, they won’t try to make you feel guilty for saying it. If they do, then it’s definitely time to rethink your relationship with them.

                  5. You Have The Right To Protect Yourself From Threats

                  Protection GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

                    Whether the threat is emotional, mental, or physical, you have the right to protect yourself against it. If someone has or is trying to cause you harm, you need to get away from them and seek help immediately. HelpGuide has a fantastic article on domestic abuse. It describes, in detail, how to spot abuse, what to do about it, and who to call. You can find the article HERE. For more resources, check out THIS article on the different types of abuse, or THIS article on emotional abuse.

                    Gaslighting has been in the media a lot lately. It’s really just a different form of emotional abuse. You can find information about gaslighting HERE.

                    6. You Have The Right To Create Your Own Happy & Healthy Life

                    Fuller House Ashton Live Blogs GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

                      Your life is your own, and no one has a right to prevent you from creating that life the way that you see fit. Again, as long as you aren’t harming others, you have the right to find happiness and to live in good health. Healthiness isn’t just about exercise and the availability of good drinking water. It also includes emotional and psychological health. No one should threaten these things. No one has the right to take them away from you. It is a fundamental human right.

                      These rights are a good starting point in creating boundaries for yourself. They’re also a good way to ensure that you aren’t violating the rights of others. Just as you have the right to healthy boundaries, so do the others you share this planet with.

                      Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pexels.com

                      More by this author

                      Jessica Willing

                      Freelance Writer

                      Are You Being Emotionally Exploited? 7 Ways to Connect to Family When They’re Far Away 5 Things Every Woman Should Say To Themselves

                      Trending in Communication

                      1 If Money Can’t Buy Happiness, What Can? 2 Having an Emotional Breakdown? 15 Ways to Re-Center Yourself 3 10 Simple Ways To Always Think Positive Thoughts 4 What’s the Easiest Language to Learn for English Speakers? 5 Need Morning Motivation? 30 Routines to Help You Start Afresh

                      Read Next

                      Advertising
                      Advertising
                      Advertising

                      Last Updated on September 17, 2019

                      10 Simple Ways To Always Think Positive Thoughts

                      10 Simple Ways To Always Think Positive Thoughts

                      Positive thinking can lead to a lot of positive change in your life. Developing an optimistic outlook can be good for both your physical and mental health.

                      But sometimes, certain situations arise in life that makes it hard to keep a positive outlook. Take steps to make positive thinking become more like your second nature and you’ll reap the biggest benefits.

                      Here are 10 ways to make thinking positive thoughts easy:

                      1. Spend Time with Positive People

                      If you surround yourself with constant complainers, their negativity is likely to rub off on you.

                      Spend time with positive friends and family members to increase the likelihood that their positive thinking habits will become yours too. It’s hard to be negative when everyone around you is so positive.

                      Advertising

                      2. Take Responsibility for Your Behavior

                      When you encounter problems and difficulties in life, don’t play the role of the victim. Acknowledge your role in the situation and take responsibility for your behavior.

                      Accepting responsibility can help you learn from mistakes and prevent you from blaming others unfairly.

                      3. Contribute to the Community

                      One of the best ways to feel good about what you have, is to focus on what you have to give.

                      Volunteer in some manner and give back to the community. Helping others can give you a new outlook on the world and can assist you with positive thinking.

                      4. Read Positive and Inspirational Materials

                      Spend time each day reading something that encourages positive thinking. Read the Bible, spiritual material, or inspirational quotes to help you focus on what’s important to you in life. It can be a great way to start and end your day.

                      Advertising

                      Some recommendations for you:

                      5. Recognize and Replace Negative Thoughts

                      You won’t be successful at positive thinking if you’re still plagued by frequent negative thoughts. Learn to recognize and replace thoughts that are overly negative. Often, thoughts that include words like “always” and “never” signal that they aren’t true.

                      If you find yourself thinking something such as, “I always mess everything up,” replace it with something more realistic such as, “Sometimes I make mistakes but I learn from them.”

                      There’s no need to make your thoughts unrealistically positive, but instead, make them more realistic.

                      6. Establish and Work Toward Goals

                      It’s easier to be positive about problems and setbacks when you have goals that you’re working toward. Goals will give you motivation to overcome those obstacles when you encounter problems along the way. Without clear goals, it’s harder to make decisions and gauge your progress.

                      Advertising

                      Learn to set SMART goals to help you achieve more.

                      7. Consider the Consequences of Negativity

                      Spend some time thinking about the consequences of negative thinking. Often, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

                      For example, a person who thinks, “I probably won’t get this job interview,” may put less effort into the interview. As a result, he may decrease his chances of getting the job.

                      Create a list of all the ways negative thinking impacts your life. It likely influences your behavior, your relationships, and your feelings. Then, create a list of the ways in which positive thinking could be beneficial.

                      8. Offer Compliments to Others

                      Look for reasons to compliment others. Be genuine in your praise and compliments, but offer it frequently. This will help you look for the good in other people.

                      Advertising

                      9. Create a Daily Gratitude List

                      If you start keeping a daily gratitude list, you’ll start noticing exactly how much you have to be thankful for. This can help you focus on the positive in your life instead of thinking about all the bad things that have happened in the day.

                      Getting in the habit of showing an attitude of gratitude makes positive thinking more of a habit. Here’re 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude.

                      10. Practice Self-Care

                      Take good care of yourself and you’ll be more equipped to think positively.

                      Get plenty of rest and exercise and practice managing your stress well. Taking care of your physical and mental health will provide you with more energy to focus on positive thinking.

                      Learn about these 30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit.

                      More About Staying Positive

                      Featured photo credit: DESIGNECOLOGIST via unsplash.com

                      Read Next