How to Overcome a Manipulative Person
By changing the way you feel, think and live, being controlled by a manipulative person can become a very dangerous situation. Whether the controlling person is your significant other or perhaps a co-worker, being manipulated is unhealthy for you psychologically and, potentially, even physically.
To overcome such a person, you have to realize two important things. First, recognize this process may not happen instantaneously, and it probably won’t come easy. Secondly, it’s important to understand you absolutely have the power and ability to move past that person and become yourself again. Here are five steps outlining how to deal with manipulative people.
Identify the Manipulator
The most difficult part of overcoming a manipulative person for many people stems in the recognition that someone in their life is controlling them in an unhealthy way.
For instance, many people in a relationship with a manipulative person would deny the thought of their significant other as too controlling. Instead of accepting their relationship as unhealthy, one who faces oppression might blame their boyfriend or girlfriend’s actions and behavior on them being “too in love” or a simple case of jealousy.
However, the initial steps toward overcoming a manipulative person are seeing the signs and accepting the facts as they present themselves. The most obvious sign occurs in the form of the person taking control over every part of your life. Instead of letting you hang out with your friends, the manipulator will want you to spend every day with him or her.
Another big sign occurs when you feel the need to ask that person for permission for everything, such as what clothes you can wear, how you style your hair, or even daily tasks. Some other common signs include:
- The manipulator has angry or violent outbursts followed by claims that he or she loves and needs you.
- The manipulator hates when you hang out with your friends, especially if they are of the opposite sex.
- The manipulator pressures you into doing things you don’t want to do.
- The manipulator has threatened to harm you or himself/herself if you leave.
- You feel like you must do everything to please the other person.
The signs of this kind of manipulation may also happen so subtly you find it difficult to separate them from your manipulator’s typical behavior. Subtle signs might include:
- An inability to laugh at themselves and getting angry when anyone laughs at them.
- A lack of typical empathy or compassion, either for you or anyone else around them.
- A tendency to play the victim, and blame you or others for their behavior, their problems or their own unhappiness.
- Pathological lying, changing the truth to suit their own needs, and even changing shared events to enable them to have more power and control over the situation.
- Intellectual bullying — overwhelming and manipulating with facts and statements. It is not always a sign of emotional manipulation, as some people do this just to feel a sense of superiority, but it can also be a sign of manipulation that you might not otherwise notice.
It’s not always easy to determine if someone is manipulating you, but by looking for both overt and subtle signs, it can be easier to make that decision for yourself.
Understand How the Manipulator Has Changed You
You can determine how unhealthy your relationship with a manipulative person has become by taking a look at how you have changed. Have you stopped hanging out with the friends you used to always find time for? Do you now dress, talk or act differently? Do you now live in a state of anxiety and fear that you will make a mistake in your partner’s eyes? Taking a step back and seeing how you have changed as a person because of how you’ve been manipulated can help you begin to see the other person in the correct, negative light.
Take the time to think about and learn your fundamental human rights — the rights that every person on this planet has the moment they emerge from the womb. While not all of them apply to an emotional manipulation situation, you should keep these ones in mind:
- Article 5: No one shall be subjected to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. If your manipulator is punishing you for acting against their wishes, in spite of your own needs or desires, then they are violating your human rights.
- Article 18: Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. Emotional manipulators believe that they need to be in charge of your very thoughts, thereby violating your human rights.
There are 30 human rights in total, but the point still stands — by forcing their will upon you, a manipulator violates your human rights, and it is your responsibility to stand up for yourself and for those rights. You can ask for help, and there are plenty of resources available to help you get away from a manipulative influence, but when it comes down to it, it’s up to you to take that first step.
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Manage the Manipulator
For a person whom you feel is attempting to manipulate you outside of an intimate relationship, you should understand the best ways to keep that person from becoming dangerous to you. For instance, a roommate or coworker may try to control you for a number of reasons. Seeing the signs early on will allow you to handle that person in the healthiest way.
To manage someone trying to manipulate you, opt to stay as far away from that person as possible. Avoid him or her whenever you can. Keep your cool and don’t get into arguments with the manipulative person. Remain assertive and fair to yourself when dealing with the other person. If necessary, always try to have a third person present when you have to handle the person in question.
Don’t blame yourself for the situation — you are not responsible for the manipulator or their behavior. It may be tempting to blame yourself, or think you should have done more to salvage the relationship or satisfy the manipulative individual, but that couldn’t stem further from the truth. You’re responsible for your own behavior, not for theirs. Take the time to ask yourself:
- Am I being treated with respect? Think about this for a moment — are you being treated with genuine respect or is the respect you’re getting from your manipulator a façade to allow them to exert control over you?
- Are their demands and expectations reasonable? Unreasonable expectations, such as insisting that you stop seeing your friends or quit your job so you become dependent on them may indicate a manipulative relationship.
Questions like these may not have an easy black and white answer, but they can help you look at your situation a little more objectively and allow you to see whether or not your relationship is truly healthy. Either way, do not blame yourself for the situation. Instead, start taking steps to make a change.
Create a Plan
Now that you understand the nature of your relationship with the manipulative person, it’s time to create a plan for getting past the situation. The first step involves convincing yourself you want the relationship to end. From there, you can plan what you will say to the person who has been controlling you. Remain calm, assertive, firm and short. Don’t leave the other person an open door to sneak back in and manipulate you further. Understand how and when you will approach the person, and how you will remove yourself entirely from the situation.
Fill the Void
Filling the void of the manipulator’s absence is equally as important as getting away from the person for good. Suddenly, you will have an abundance of time and freedom. Use it by staying busy. Immerse yourself in work or a hobby. Make sure to save time for yourself as well as time for friends and family. Let them help and support you.
While we all inevitably find ourselves in undesirable and uncomfortable situations, we don’t have to remain floundering in them. If you find yourself being manipulated, controlled or taken advantage of, utilize these steps to remove yourself from that unhealthy situation.
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