Manipulation: The Costs Outweigh the Benefits

The dictionary defines manipul8 as “to influence or manage shrewdly or deviously or falsify for personal gain”.  No one likes to see themselves as, or be accused of bein’ a manipulator. But most of us from time to time engage in manipulative strategies n'our efforts to fulfill certain desires or expectations that we ‘ve of others.

Here are some exs of somd' ways that we may manipul8:

  1. Intimidation
  2. Shaming
  3. Comparing
  4. Threatening
  5. Condemning
  6. Self-pity
  7. Insulting
  8. Humiliating
  9. Ridiculing
  10. Belittling
  11. Humor
  12. Accommodating
  13. Withdrawing
  14. Criticizing
  15. Blaming
  16. Silence
  17. Intellectualizing
  18. Crying
  19. Cajoling
  20. Flattery
  21. Bargaining
  22. Bribing
  23. Demanding
  24. Sarcasm
  25. Name-calling
  26. Punishment
  27. Playing dumb
  28. Guilt-tripping
  29. Judging
  30. Raging
  31. Whining
  32. Distracting
  33. Lecturing
  34. Nagging
  35. Nit-picking
  36. Attacking
  37. Seduction

Many of these behaviors aint intrinsically harmful and under certain circumstances even appropriate and legitimate. wha’ determines whether or not one is bein’ manipulative aint the behavior itself, but'a context in which tis bein’ used na intention behind the action or words. An intention becomes manipulative when tis driven by an unstated, covert desire that is meant to mislead another person and influence their perception.

We manipul8 when thris an outcome that we desire and we're + attached to achieving that outcome than we're to maintaining integrity n'our relationship. Manipulation is wha’ we do whn'we're not willing to risk openly acknowledging our intentions by expressing our desires. We feel less vulnerable whn'we use covert means to influence others to accommodate us.

While most of us are aware that manipulation in close relationships can diminish trust, we continue to practice manipulative behaviors. Why then do we manipul8 whn'we know better? And how do we justify this behavior to ourselves? Here are a few exs of somd' + common-used rationalizations that we’ve heard from pplz ‘oer the yrs:

  • Everybody does it.
  • It’s harmless.
  • I won’t get my needs met if I don’t.
  • He/she does it and I’ll be at a disadvantage if I don’t.
  • It’s not a big deal.
  • It’s a habit and I can’t giv't up.
  • I don’t want any-1 to take advantage of me.
  • Etc.

You can add yr own favorites to this list. Keep in Ψ that rationalizations aren’t equivalent to the truth. And inna case of relationships, there are “unintended consequences” that inevitably occur whn'we justify manipulations, regardless odda reasons why we dweet. Those consequences include:

  • A diminishment inna lvl of self-trust and trust inna relationship
  • An increase in feelings of anxiety (resulting from the fear of one’s deeper motives bein’ revealed)
  • Feelings of guilt and shame
  • A diminishment inna quality of intimacy inna relationship
  • An increase in feelings of resentment
  • An increase inna frequency and intensity of arguments
  • A loss offa sense of personal integrity 

While we may feel manipul8d at times, when another person is using covert means to influence us, we're much less likely to be aware of these intentions in ourselves whn'we're not odda receiving end of things. Most of us are disinclined to recognize motivations in ourselves tha're inconsistent with our image of ourselves as bein’ a “good” person. Consequently we're generally unaware of our manipulative tendencies. We usually manipul8 cause we fear that if we don’t fulfill our desires, we will suffer. We frequently don’t realize it whn'we're manipulating, and tis embarrassing to catch ourselves inna act to admit that we're.

exs odda desires that we seek to fulfill include (but aint limited to) acceptance, ♥, approval, sx, mny, attention, security, support, agreement, control, and prez. In becoming + conscious of our manipulative patterns na cost incurred, we can find the motivation to interrupt manipulative impulses. Then we can find the courage to risk outwardly acknowledging our needs and desires and make + direct requests to others.

The process of interrupting our manipulative impulses and restoring our integrity requires us t'get honest with ourselves in regard to the why’s and how’s of our manipulative tendencies. Through a process of self-inquiry we can bring into gr8r awareness the unconscious motivators that maybe at play. Self-inquiry enables us to assert new, + effective practices to meet our needs and avoid the damaging consequences of manipulation.

Here is an ex of some ?s thall help you to uncover some of yr competing commitments and hidden desires. You may wanna respond to these ?s in writing or in dialogue with another person rather than simply thinking bout the answers. With each insite into our deeper motivation, we become + empowered to act n'wys that strengthen our commitment to integrity. Each action that is expressed from this commitment deconditions the manipulative patterns that keep us separate from each other and ourselves.

  1. How do I manipul8? (exs of ways that you manipul8)
  2. wha’ am I looking for when I manipul8? (exs of wha’ I am seeking t'get or experience).
  3. wha’ tis fear that drives me to manipul8? (Another way to ask this ? is: “wha’ is it that I am afraid of losing or not gettin if I don’t manipul8?”
  4. wha’ are the prices I pay for manipulating? (wha’ are the neg consequences to you and yr relationships?)
  5. wha’ ‘d be required of me to stop manipulating? (wha’ risks ‘d you ‘ve to be willing to take in order to break this habit?)
  6. wha’ kind of support ll'be useful to me in my efforts to break the habit of manipulation?
  7. Who are the pplz whom I can count onna support me in this process?

Such self-confrontation requires courage and commitment. The tendency to avoid facing unpleasant truths bout ourselves is strong in us all. doin’ so can activate feelings of shame, humiliation, and guilt. Yet in coming to terms with these deeper feelings we can become + able to ‘ve a h8ened experience of authenticity, intimacy, freedom, and passion. We don’t ‘ve to w8 til we “arrive at out destination” to begin to feel the benefits of this process. The + feelings emerge as soon as we commit ourselves to living + authentically and communicating + directly w'da pplz with whom we seek to co-create a fulfilling connection. The longer we practice, the easier it gets. It’s never too early or too l8 to make this commitment and to begin to enjoy the results odda process. See for yrself!

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Manipulation: The Costs Outweigh the Benefits

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