The worst part of emotional manipulation is not feeling and going through this struggle. No, the most horrible part of enduring this abuse is repeating it with others.
I’m going to be honest with you, I have endured emotional manipulation since as far back as I can remember. No, there is no defined point in my life that I remember the start of this abuse. I just look back and see the characteristics in many events of my childhood and adult life as well.
As I grew older, I said no to this manipulation and chose how I wanted to live my life. I thought the torment was over.
Something strange started to happen. As I wrote blogs and articles about emotional manipulation, I started to see myself in some of these negative aspects. Was it true? Was I repeating the same abusive behavior that others used against me? I’m afraid so.
This is how I recognized the emotional manipulation that I used and this is how I learned to overcome that as well.
I learned a little while back that my disengagement was possibly a form of emotional abuse which stemmed from my own abuse. To avoid being rejected and to avoid taking a look at other perspectives, I choose to put up walls to other opinions. Whatever I didn’t want to hear was pushed away as I asked to be left alone.
I thought it was normal to push them away, and I thought it showed strength and resilience. As my parents often said, “Sometimes you have to put your foot down”, well, I seemed to be keeping my foot firmly planted on everyone else’s ideas and answers. I wasn’t being fair, and honestly, I was using emotional manipulation to get my way.
Angry outbursts, violent threats, and insults
You’ve seen a teenage lover’s quarrel, right? When teens fight, they tend to call names, hit each other and showcase loud outbursts. No, it’s not normal to do this, but it’s a common occurrence none the less. In adults, however, this sort of interaction is much worse, because we should know better and we should be more mature in our disagreements.
Unfortunately, and I hate to admit it, I fight like a teenager at times. I get angry and I do call names (Yes, I am embarrassed by this admission). I watched my parents fight in this manner while emotionally abusing each other and us children. I thought it was normal to have this power play, this pull and this desire for control during the fight. It’s not right and it’s not fair, but it is a consequence of emotional manipulation which passes on to the abused at times.
During emotional manipulation, you grow to believe that withholding things from others will get you what you want. My parents withheld things, even things that I needed at the time. Until I did exactly what they wanted and performed in ways they asked, I wasn’t allowed to have basic things. Sometimes, I wasn’t allowed to eat until my work was done, despite the fact that I was really hungry.
Fast forward to me. I have come to the realization that when I don’t get what I want, I withhold things from the people that I love. No, I don’t starve my children, but I do starve others of their emotional needs from me. I refuse to spend quality time with others if they are doing something I don’t want them to do or if they refuse to do something for me.
The good news is, I see that I do this and I want to change. It’s the first step.
So let’s put an end to this cycle
Ending the cycle of emotional manipulation is not easy. When you do this, you leave yourself open to hurt. This is the main reason the cycle continues, to protect the vulnerable heart.
Unfortunately, some hurt must occur in order for us to practice a new way of life. Let’s face it, not everyone in our lives was meant to stay and we have to learn to let go. No amount of emotional manipulation will keep someone in your life forever.
Ending emotional manipulation starts with letting your guard down and allowing others to love the real you. You have to be fragile, vulnerable, and open in order to relinquish controlling thoughts and crutches. You can still have self-control and be able to make decisions about your life, you just won’t be able to control others in the process. Everyone deserves freedom, just remember that.
It won’t be easy at first because up until now your instincts tell you to rule over the kingdom and flog the evil-doer. Let’s not do that anymore.
Instead, let’s show love and try to understand. Let’s stay open to ideas and learn to grow in ways beyond what we know. It can be done. We can stop the cycle of emotional manipulation. It just takes a little practice and a good heart.