With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, many are looking for the best present to give their partners. But, do you know what actually helps relationships thrive and work?
What do I mean by that?
We are surrounded by manipulators, people who are trying to influence our behavior or perceptions. They may try this directly or indirectly. They may even use deceptive tactics. Either way, these people are out for their interests, not yours.
In its worst form, it’s a cheater or an abusive partner who wants to control you or harm you.
But manipulation doesn’t only happen in a relationship. We are also potentially influenced by the ads of big corporations, the words, and actions of politicians, movies, the news, and more. Don’t forget that your dates, boyfriends, partners, boss, kids, or mother may also try to influence you sometimes. They may even have the best of intentions, but it may not be what you think is best for you.
Why Do People Hate Being Manipulated?
The problem with being manipulated is that it feels like you have been pushed or tricked into something you don’t want. It feels better and more empowering when you make a conscious choice to do something.
But, here’s the thing: Nobody can manipulate you or make you feel bad about yourself unless you let them get away with it. It’s like what Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
If you feel manipulated, then this may seem like a strange idea. But understanding this concept can help you feel more powerful in every area of your life.
For example, let’s say you see the man you’re dating with another woman. When you mention it to him, he tells you that you must be imagining things or that you’re paranoid. You have two choices: you can assume he must be right about you, or you can wonder if he is defensive or not telling you the truth. In other words, you suspect it is his problem, not yours. If you assume he’s right and it’s your problem, you are letting him manipulate you. You have a choice.
But, with manipulation being so common, how can you deal with it without feeling taken advantage of? Here are 5 tips to help you avoid being manipulated:
You Can Avoid Being Manipulated Tip #1: Pay Attention to Your Feelings
When somebody is trying to change your perspective or behavior, it often feels uncomfortable. Maybe you feel anxious, guilty, ashamed, or even angry. You might be afraid of conflict with the other person, which might make it hard for you to be upset with them.
Feeling any discomfort is usually a sign that something is off. It can often be a sign of manipulation or disagreement. Don’t ignore how you feel as your feelings are your best GPS to guide you.
You Can Avoid Being Manipulated Tip #2: Hear Them Out
Sometimes people just want to be heard. Let’s say your boyfriend tells you that you’re overreacting when you have a legitimate gripe. When you tell him that you don’t like that, he gets defensive When you listen and understand, he can feel heard.
If you can listen without being unduly influenced, you can understand his motivations in order to better resolve the situation. Put yourself in his shoes.
You Can Avoid Being Manipulated Tip #3: Maintain Your Boundaries
You deserve to have a different point of view. Your unique experiences and values are going to be different than someone else’s. You want to be able to hold your perspective when someone has a different one.
It’s impossible to be in a close relationship with someone and to agree about everything all the time. Conflict is unavoidable, and learning to deal with it well improves relationships.
You Can Avoid Being Manipulated Tip #4: Validate Their Point of View
When you reflect on the other person and understand their point of view, it can help to diffuse any tension. When you let them know that you understand where they are coming from and believe their intentions are good, they are less likely to be defensive and dig deeper into their opposition.
For example, you could say. “You’re right. I did overreact last week, but I don’t think I’m doing that now because…”
You Can Avoid Being Manipulated Tip #5: Stand up for Yourself
Rather than criticize or blame, you can just simply state your position. If they don’t accept your perspective, you may be able to agree to disagree.
At least you are having an honest, open discussion of your difference of opinion without any manipulation. You can compromise, you can disagree and let everyone think it over, or you can walk away.
You have the power to choose how to handle these situations. When you know you can’t be manipulated, you will feel you have more power over your life. This can improve your confidence and self-respect.
If you are experiencing physical or emotional abuse, you will need more help than this article. If you aren’t sure if this is an issue for you, check out the National Domestic Violence Hotline.