Okay, these are really no fun. That being said, you need to understand the ways you manipulate others and how you can be manipulated. Remember, the one being manipulated is not to blame. They do need to learn to set and enforce boundaries though. Before you can set and enforce your boundaries, or teach anyone else to do so, you must know what to address.
We start with manipulation because it is far more common than you might think. Not to worry, you will see that it is everywhere very soon. In fact, Jon and I have made it almost a game to spot and call out manipulation to each other...even by each other! I get called out for "freaking out" in angry fits I use to get my family to clean the house and be "responsible adults" right in the middle of my fits. It sucks, but it snaps me out of it when Jon points out that I've lost control. Needless to say, I rarely indulge this urge anymore. I'd rather clean up after people and make them pay me to get their stuff back (If they won't I throw it away or put it in a random place so they can't find it without a LOT of effort.) Ask Jon where his tools are. I don't hide them, I just can't remember where I put them, nor do I worry about it. They are not my responsibility, they are his. I cannot tell you how much better I feel not getting upset anymore if someone else won't be responsible with their stuff. I don't intentionally put things in random places, but I really do have a difficult time remembering where I decided they should go. That's why my boundary with my stuff is, "I put things away when I am done." I don't lose my stuff much anymore. I can't speak for other people's stuff if they refuse to create a home for it and put it away! *Cackles in delight*
Alright, time to get to work.
- How do YOU manipulate? As you recognize the manipulations you use, add them to a running list. Take note of who you manipulate, and why. Don't beat yourself up, just notice that you are manipulating and make a note. After a few days, you will begin to see patterns. For example, you might walk away instead of allowing someone to finish talking when what they say is upsetting. This action could be a boundary, but only if it has been communicated and is not done to avoid anything (like taking responsibility or confronting someone else's manipulation). Or maybe you give a particular "look" to someone being "stupid" so they know to knock it off. The end goal of manipulation is to avoid discomfort, confrontation, emotion, or responsibility. When you can see where you want to avoid, you can see where you need education, boundaries, and even to change your own behavior.
a. Making this list does not need to be a chore. Be brief. You might write "walked away when [individual] asked why I didn't call/go to the doctor/do [what I said I would do that I didn't].
b. Keep the list on paper in your wallet, on your device, or run back through at the end of the day. We recommend finding something that works, without running the risk of forgetting or being too tired at the end of the day.
c. Add to this list over the upcoming weeks as you learn to identify and boundary yourself into healthier, more productive ways of communicating.
d. Add to this list as you think of more manipulation tactics you use while considering how others manipulate you. Chances are, you do the same things, even in different ways. Since you are your own problem, the one you are here to work on, be honest! We can't help you if you are not.
- How do you allow others to manipulate you? If your boss starts yelling, do you jump and do what he asked, no matter what else is happening? Or do you answer his calls, no matter what, so you don't have to hear about it later? If someone tells you how sorry they are, do you let it go, even if they have done the same thing a dozen times? Does your dog bark and bark until you yell and stomp or swing at it? If someone has a painful past, do you let them continue to walk on, use, manipulate and lie to you because "they had it rough?" Just like when you use manipulation to get out of something, every other human over 18 months old knows how to get what they want. We all manipulate. As disgusting as that may feel, remember that every commercial ever made, every ad, even the colors of fast-food restaurants, digital games, and football teams are based on research used to manipulate you out of time, focus and money. It is, sadly, the way the world works. You are constantly being "tempted" into something you were not thinking about before. Time to take responsibility and wake up! Next up: BOUNDARIES!
See you in class for our first official "Lesson!"