Emotional Manipulation 101


I can remember agreeing to do things I didn’t want to do…

I can remember wanting to prove my loyalty… my love… my commitment…

I can remember feeling like what I was experiencing was not love…

Each of us is unique in terms of our experiences, our trauma and our capacity and bandwidth. Even more difficult is that all of these factors change over time – sometimes day to day.

What felt good yesterday could make me sick to my stomach today.

What was acceptable 5 years ago could mean all bets are off today.

We change. We evolve. We transform.

When we say “if you love me you’d…” to a person that we love and care about, that is a form of emotional manipulation. The person on the other end of that comment is being put in a position to “prove” their love. They are being guilted into doing something for you. I’d like to propose that we consider another form of communication.

Replace “if you love me you’d…” with “I need X” or “I would like for you to…” That is much more direct and you can know that the behavior of the other person is coming from a place of love, support and care versus guilt or a sense of obligation. When we stack up the things that we do because we feel guilty or the things that we do solely from a sense of obligation, all that is left is resentment.

Plus, we have to allow people to show up for us in the way that they can. For example, when it comes to supporting other sin business, we can’t assume another person’s financial situation. If someone doesn’t buy your products or services or they don’t show up to your event, don’t be so quick to make their perceived lack of support about you.

  • Perhaps they have medical bills
  • Perhaps something pressing or serious came up
  • Maybe they are not ok spiritually or emotionally.

I am the mom to 4 angel babies. The first loss was the most devastating because I had a miscarriage at 5 months. For the next year or two I was not ok. I could not bear to attend baby showers. I could not watch Pamper’s commercials. I could not even walk by the baby section in retail stores. I remember going out of my way to walk around stores to avoid the baby section. I missed a lot of my close friend’s & loved ones baby showers during that time period. I didn’t want to show up and have an emotional breakdown.

I know people who have lost loved ones and have a very difficult time during the Holiday Season. I don’t expect those people to show up to my holiday gatherings. I’ve also been in situations where people say things like “You just want to hurt me.” If someone truly loves you, their intent is probably not (or at least it shouldn’t be) to intentionally cause you harm. If that is the first thing that comes to mind there is more unpacking to do beloved but those are YOUR BAGS to unpack.

Lastly, we have to communicate what we wish and what we want from our loved ones. Instead of putting out open/super public invitations on social media, we have to personally reach out to people and invite them to the events, causes and gatherings that we care about. The way these social media algorhithms are set up, they may not see it (even if they are following you). You may have a conversation with someone about something happening 30 – 60 days later. Give them the grace of a reminder when it gets closer. I can attest to the the fact that if something isn’t written in my calendar, it will likely not happen or remembered. Plus sometimes there are competing priorities and we just can’t be everywhere, all of the time. I would hate for someone that I care about to believe that I didn’t loved them or wished them ill intent or I didn’t are about them over a misunderstanding.

It is emotionally manipulative to guilt someone into doing something or to reduce a friendship or relationship to one decision. There are so many more layers and things to consider. We can sometimes fall into our destructive and unhealthy patterns and project this energy on those closest to us.

If someone is not in the mood to talk… that doesn’t mean that they don’t like you or don’t care about you. It simply means they are not in the mood to talk… it likely has nothing to do with you.

If someone doesn’t show up for your event… it doesn’t mean that they don’t want the best for you, and the best for the event. Check in with them later. Step outside of yourself for 5 minutes.

Communicate what you want and what you need with clarity and with specificity and watch those wants and those needs be met – fog, guilt and sucker free!

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