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Growing Self Awareness

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A Self Awareness site to help Men and Women deal with their Inner Patriarchs and Inner Matriarchs

Dealing with Manipulation

As children we initially believe our parents (and other primary care-givers) have almost all the power. Even when they abuse that power, small children cannot see it as abuse.

The manipulation set up

This sets the abused child up for situations in future where they can be manipulated by anyone who they believe has control over them. Whether it is the power of a lover, a teacher, a lawyer, a salesperson or an abuser, if the belief is there then the sense of being unable to resist can seem very real.

Manipulation is  based on a belief that is not really true about a power that really does not exist. It is aided by core beliefs  held by the victims that they have little or no ability to resist the manipulation or the power  person’s control.

Dealing with manipulation

The term ‘manipulation’ does not apply to every situation in which people are forced to do something they don’t want to. It refers only to  emotional appeals that are used in dishonest ways to persuade and influence others or gain agreement unfairly.

Manipulation is a form of cheating, a bluff or underhand strategy that gives one person an unfair advantage over others who choose not to employ the method. It is a often adopted by those who feel too vulnerable about losing and care more about preventing this happening than whether the outcome is fair and equitable.

Example: You are facing an angry manipulative client who, as well as refusing to pay an overdue account is now making a counter-claim against you for sexual harassment. It’s understandable that you feel fearful even though you know that everything you did was completely professional.

Many people in these circumstances fearing the adverse publicity of a harassment case, agree to reduce the account to make peace. They are being manipulated.

The following are some typical signs that may help you identify manipulation

• The victim may not even be aware that he or she is being manipulated. They may even believe that perhaps they are somehow in the wrong when they are not.

• As well as the threatened loss of tangible items (money, time, privacy, professional status, personal freedom), the victim’s feelings and personal rights are also undermined.

• The active manipulator whether intentionally or unintentionally, gains  an unfair advantage.

• An appeal or benefit is offered in return for the victim’s co-operation, but the “benefit” turns out to be practically worth­less or non-existent.

This ‘false benefit’ in return for co-operation is usually nothing more than regaining something (security, friendship or  respect) that appeared to have been taken away from you at the start of the manipulative process. This is the basis of the manipulator’s ‘trick’ and one that unfortunately most young PYRO  parts  cannot see through.

Example: The manipulator blames you for something you have not done and withdraws their  love or respect for you. ‘You have made me unhappy’ they cry. So you give them what they demand to ‘make them happy again’. As a reward they ‘give you back’  the love and respect they took away at the start.

Note, however, that should a person be fully aware that a threat is real, not a bluff,  doesn’t like what is being suggested, but agrees under pressure to co-operate in return for a real benefit (such as keeping the marriage together) this is more a matter of excessive control rather than manipulation.

Personal crisis manipulation.

Treating an ordinary problem as a ‘personal  crisis helps the individual to pass the problem on to others, a pattern known as ‘learned helplessness’. You may notice that the victim’s problems occur more often when the people who usually come to the rescue are close by.

Manipulative games

In many of these ‘crisis’ situations, two people repeat a similar set of victim-rescuer activities on a regular basis. Each person plays the same role each time, and both somehow seem to be unconsciously hooked into repeating the event a week or a month later. This is known as a ‘manipu­lative game’.

These games can continue only as long as you remain convinced that you must join in or that to refuse to play would cause even more harm or suffering which would again be your fault. If you think you are getting caught up in such a situation. the best defence is to identify the process and disengage completely.

• Avoid becoming emotionally involved, instead, try a ‘STAR OR WING more Aware Grown up’ response such as levelling which is  explained in Book 10.

• do not accept the false idea that a person with a problem has the right to insist others share it.

• stop responding altogether: Walk quietly away from the situation, it takes two players to keep the game going.

• remind yourself that you have the right to control your own feelings, do not give this right away to anyone, especially manipulative game players.

• do not try to rescue a person while he or she is caught up playing a ‘victim’ role (especially if you are being held to blame for a problem that was not of your making).

Unacceptable forms of control

It is important not to confuse the term ‘power’ as described on the previous pages with the use of negative methods such as threats, force, extreme pressure and outright abuse or aggres­sion.  They have no place in relationships, nor  are they legitimate means of persuasion. Use of non-legitimate power or force is indicated by the following patterns.

Folding  but staying

Folding is what you do when you have no power or have no room to negotiate. It  has one minor benefit in that you do stay in the relationship and the fighting stops leaving you with another chance to seek a better deal later on.


Compliance is less-than-willing acceptance by one person that another has more power on that issue. However compliance is not always a ‘total back-down’; it can be a matter of choosing ‘second best’ position rather than other worse alternatives.


Submission, on the other hand, is the complete surrender of one partner to another, with no compromise. The loser is denied the right to negotiate or even to choose a stage at which to comply. Total submission is seldom a satisfactory result for either partner.

Do not give your power away

Recognise the differences between legitimate or real and non-legitimate or pretend power, between real power and manipulation.