The Dangers Of Subtle Manipulation
One of the trickier things I have witnessed over the last few years is that of the concept of subtle manipulation. The reason it’s so tricky is the first word: it’s subtle.
Usually this consists of one person trying to get another to do or be or behave in some way that they wouldn’t normally (or else you wouldn’t feel the need to manipulate them!). They’re trying to get an outcome or intended result.
It’s also very sneaky because it can come across as guilt tripping, thus attempting to make you feel like you’re a bad person, and causing you to take action on the thing because you don’t want to be a bad person.
I have seen some whopping guilt trips in my life. I have had them put on me and also acted on them because I didn’t want to make someone else feel bad. Because I’ve gotten better at being uncomfortable with other people’s discomfort, and just seeing them for what they are, I rarely do that anymore. And when I do I usually catch myself and then have to go have a conversation.
Another form of this is gaslighting, which is where one person makes another person think they are crazy and can’t trust themselves. They cause them to question their self-worth as well as their sanity. Often the reason most people who do this do it is to try to feel some sense of control in their own lives by causing the other person to be dependent on them.
The obvious problem with all of this is it causes people to do things they wouldn’t otherwise be doing. And that could literally be anything.
I’ve had all of this happen to me at different points in life by different people. I’m still working on noticing it when it comes up at any point in time, and it’s still tricky to spot.
I’ve also been guilty of doing some of it myself. Not the gaslighting part, but the guilt tripping part; as a way to try to get what I want. It was a learned behavior that I’ve worked very hard on unlearning.
Normally I like to give real life examples to support my writing; I’m actually not gonna do that here, because it feels super personal and I’m not interested in putting anyone that’s done this to me in any kind of spotlight on the internet. And even if I’m vague, many of you who know me well enough will know the people I’d be using as examples, which feels sucky to me.
I’m also not gonna tell you how to know if it’s happening to you, but if you feel like for a second it might be, a google search will return multiple articles on how to identify it in the myriad of ways it might show up.
The point is though, it’s real. It happens. If you even remotely suspect it’s happening to you at all, whether you are being guilt tripped by someone or gaslit, know that you’re not a bad person, and that you’re not crazy. You might have to do some work around that to get out of it, especially if it’s been happening to you for a long time.
But know that you’re not the only one, and you’re not alone.
And lastly, know this: the word “No,” is a complete sentence.