Y'all know people play mind games, right?
You clicked this blog, so perhaps you already get it! With the challenges that exist in our lives, we do not need nor have time to play with any extra mental distractions especially when they are for the sake of someone else's entertainment. Our peace of mind is too important to be treated like a toy.
With mental health and wellness becoming increasingly important, it is critical to empower ourselves with knowledge about those things that may be detrimental or contribute to our mind's demise. Psychological manipulation, playing mind games, is a type of detriment that aims to control or change the behavior of others through indirect, deceptive, or underhanded tactics most often to the manipulator's advantage.
If we have grown up with psychological manipulation or perhaps have been slowly lured into it unaware, it can be a bit tricky to pinpoint. Frequently, manipulators, brain ninjas, are masters at using sweet talk and seemingly sweet actions to cover their underlying ill intentions. Time reveals a blatant mismatch between their words and the results of their presence in our lives.. Here are a few signs to empower us to recognize it when we see it:
1. Gaslighting: A tactic in which the manipulator, in order to gain control, attempts to make a victim question their reality, their thoughts, and feelings. When lighting a gas stove, we can not see the gas that fuels the flame. Yet, when the match is lit, fire appears. Although we can not see it, we are absolutely sure that the gas exists. Perhaps there are other subtle hints, like the hissing sound or a faint smell, that fortify our assurance that the gas is there.
In various situations, we are quite sure of things that we can not see. Without visible proof, we may know when a person is lying, has an ulterior motive, is being deceitful, etc. A manipulator tries to force us to think otherwise, often to cover themselves, because there is no visible sign. They intend for us to dismiss our instincts because either we can’t quite figure out what it is that is off about them or another person, or worse, because we believe it’s our fault, or that it’s all in our heads. Please remember, that seeping gas unaddressed causes explosions. When we smell, hear, or suspect gas, it is probably gas. In these cases, our guts should be treated as a best friend.
2. Guilt Trips
Emotional manipulators whip up fresh doses of guilt to chunk at people while simultaneously playing the victim when others decide to eventually avoid them and their negative energy. Between "woe is me and what you owe me", their existence in our lives comes with loads of strings attached. When making a request, or more so a kindly demand, for your attention to them, presence at an event, support, purchase of a product, loaning of an item, they do not simply ask and leave it alone. They attempt to manipulate by assigning the responses to a lack or owing of love, lack or owing of support, lack of or owing of something. In the manipulators world, our no is not a viable option. If a person is unable to accept a "no" responsibly, we should avoid allowing them to bully us via guilt, feeling sorry for them, and/or obligation.
Ingratiation: Intentionally attempting to bring oneself into another's favor via flattering, overly admiring, and trying to please with "kind" actions for motives other than genuine affection. The manipulator's attempts to make us feel special are for some form of self gain. For example, they flatter with words of trust and then bring you into the most private parts of their worlds. Eventually their ability to only confide in you and only speak openly with you morphs into a pressure to be the lifeline in their ever-increasing drama and emergencies.
Other times, the manipulator noticeably increases their admiration for you in unusual ways. Suddenly their compliments, attention, kind gestures towards you grow exponentially. If examined closely, that same attention has waned other places. These fickle fans identity what their next target may need or desire and utilize meeting that void as an inroad into your life. Manipulators are masters at people replacement for their own agendas.
In these cases, watch out. For the lifeline scenarios, avoid saying things that commit you to their circumstances like, "I understand how hard that is, you can count on me." The end goal is to leave the manipulator's responsibility right where it belongs, in his or her own hands. In the latter case, while it may temporarily feel pleasant, avoid becoming a quick replacement BFF, or pedestal person, for anyone. Note if the goodwill gestures are inexplicably sudden or at the expense of making another person, who was previously their best everything, look or feel bad. Remember that fickle fans are also fleeting. Refuse to be enamored when they come nor hurt when they go.
Honoring the greatness in you.
Reference: Psychology Today; Stephanie A Sarkis, Phd.