Something that should be taught in school.
This article is all about manipulation and the truth your should know about manipulative people. On the one hand, I can say that I wish I had known this sooner, however, on the other hand, would it have been possible for me to get to know what I know now about manipulation and manipulative people if it hadn’t happened to me?
Manipulation: unfair play
There are people with different personalities around us. Since childhood we are all taught to respect everyone, treat people equally, be polite, be kind, be humble, be generous, be sympathetic, be responsible and many other good things. We are taught to be a good person. However, when we grow up it turns out that not everyone attended those lessons and not everyone was committed to becoming a good person.
You realize it when you meet a person whose only conversation topic is themselves; or when you agree to do numerous favors for a person but when you ask them for a favor, they turn their back on you; or when you help someone consistently but they act like you owe them something and treat you poorly; or when someone is trying to convince you that something that you know for sure happened didn’t happen or vice versa, something that didn’t happen – happened, making you question your sanity; or when someone ruins their own life or fails a task and doesn’t take responsibility, blaming other people and circumstances; or when someone emotionally abuses you to keep you under their control; or when an adult person throws a temper tantrum, etc.
In all these cases we’re talking about manipulative people – people who need you as long as you can give them what they require: it may be help, money, status, attention, love, praise, control, etc.
The truth you should know about manipulation and manipulative people
Manipulative people are insecure
Sometimes we may think that a manipulative person is just a very confident person but in reality, the opposite is true: manipulative people are insecure, so don’t be fooled by their bravado. Some manipulative people enjoy undermining other people’s confidence to control those people. If you’re being affected by a manipulator, read How to Be More Confident and Succeed in Life and What’s the Difference Between Confident People and Unconfident People?
Manipulative people are not victims
Be cautious with people playing victims as sometimes they are not. Manipulative people may play victims to touch your soul and get what they need from you. Don’t buy into it. If you help them once, they’ll be demanding help from you again and again like something you owe them. There will be little gratitude shown after a while, so look for this sign.
Manipulative people are not martyrs
You may hear how unfortunate they are, how bad their life is, how they have been giving everything they have to someone else ignoring their own needs. Don’t buy into it. As soon as you show enough empathy, they’ll know you are in control. When you are in control, they can treat you the way they want (as they think). You may feel that there’s something wrong but you may never pay attention to this feeling because of the lies the person keeps telling. But if you are lucky enough (yes, I can this luck because learning the truth in this case can save you a lot of nerves and save your comfortable way of life), you may also see this martyr yelling at you, calling you names, throwing temper tantrums, telling lies about you to other people, etc. as soon as something goes not as planned by them.
Manipulative people don’t care about you or others
Manipulative people may be very polite and charming at first. This is because they don’t want to scare you away. If you have what they need, they need you in their control. However, with time you will start noticing some warning signs like not so polite speech, leaving some of your messages unanswered, asking you for favors every now and then and not keeping promises they gave you, twisting your words, telling lies about you, calling you at inappropriate time, showing lack of respect, blaming you for their mistakes, etc. This is because manipulative people don’t care about anyone but themselves and their interests. Even if this person has a child or a spouse or another close relative they are supposed to care about, they treat them just the way they treat others because they simply don’t care about the needs and wants of another person whoever it may be.
Whatever they do, they do it for themselves. Narcissists, as an example of malignant manipulators, can’t love neither their spouse nor their children the way we perceive love. Even if they marry, they do it because it’s what they need for their status or other reasons but not because they love their spouse. The same with kids. Narcissists want their kids to accomplish and achieve their own dreams and goals. They want perfection and if their child is not perfect – they’ll treat the kid poorly. Children of narcissists are going to be very insecure people.
Manipulative people never take responsibility
Notice that manipulative people rarely take responsibility for their mistakes or their life but even when they do, it’s not genuine. They just have no other choice than to take responsibility. Manipulative people put blame on circumstances and other people but not themselves.
Manipulative people never apologize genuinely
Manipulative people don’t want to apologize because for them, they have done nothing wrong: they did just what they needed. Other people and their interests don’t bother them. However, sometimes there are situations when a manipulative person has to apologize to be able to continue to control and manipulate you. Never believe such people. They don’t feel guilt, they still think you’re a fool even if they smile at you and praise you.
Manipulative people won’t change
If you think that manipulative people are still humans just like you and it’s possible to change them – you are wrong, their brain is very different from brain of a normal person. You won’t change them unless they want to change. But as they don’t see a problem in their behavior – there’s little you can do.
Manipulative people create chaos around them
Manipulative people don’t want to solve problems. They want other people to solve their problems. A manipulative person will tell you everything about their troubles and suffering someone or something else is responsible for. As soon as you show empathy and start helping them, you are on their hook: you solve one problem – they create another one and so on. Moreover, the manipulative person may also blame you for not doing enough for them. At the same time, the person does nothing to solve their problems, they just keep creating more and more chaos turning your life into a stressful mess.
Manipulative people choose sensitive or vulnerable people as their victims
Sensitive people like empaths and vulnerable people like victims of abuse are much more likely to buy into a manipulative person’s tricks.
Manipulative people can’t feel empathy
Malignant manipulators (those whose whole life is a manipulation) are likely to be narcissists (narcissistic personality disorder or NPD) or have other personality disorders (psychopathy, sociopathy, borderline personality disorder). People with these disorders, according to research, have less gray matter or lowered activity in the part of their brain which is responsible for empathy. It means that, for example, narcissistic people just can’t feel compassion like you can’t fly.
Manipulative people learn, adjust and fake
Malignant manipulators are not like you. Stop comparing them to yourself and thinking that they possess the same good traits. We’re not sure what they really can feel and we will never know what it is like to be a narcissist, a psychopath, etc. What we know is that they can’t feel empathy, so they watch other people and their reactions, adjust to situations and people and fake emotions when needed. They turn to manipulation whenever they need to get something from others. They’ll do everything to make you believe their lies, even act out a play for you. Interested whether a person you know is a psychopath? See Psychopath or Not: How to Tell?
Manipulative people use people around them
Manipulators use people and they perfectly know it. So it’s not like a manipulation happened occasionally. If you let it occur once, the manipulator will keep using you. Manipulative people find what other people are sensitive to and use it to get what they need.
Before I’ve learned what I’ve shared here with you, I used to think that all people perceive the world relatively the same way and have similar feelings and experiences. Therefore, I used to excuse a lot of people who mistreated me or others or behaved inadequately sometimes because I tried to rationalize their behavior or attribute their weird behavior to a possible childhood trauma, treating them like victims, with compassion, often setting myself on fire to keep them warm. Now I know that not all people are the same and more than 10% of the world’s population have a personality disorder which means that they perceive situations and people differently. 1% of the global population has narcissistic personality disorder and approximately 4% of the global population are sociopaths let alone other personality disorders. These people are great at manipulation as they feel neither empathy nor guilt. They lack conscience which means they don’t possess a moral sense of right and wrong.
So, for your own good, whenever you meet manipulative people or notice inadequate behavior like temper tantrums, aggression, playing victims, not taking responsibility for their mistakes, showing disrespect, etc. distance from this person as much as possible because, most probably, it’s just a manipulation. Don’t let their toxicity affect you and your life. Remember to trust your intuition: if something seems weird, it probably is weird.
This article is Part 1, Part 2 is How to Deal with Manipulative and Toxic People and Reduce Stress.
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