Is someone’s presence making you feel confused, incompetent, anxious, or all of the above? Could they be manipulating you?
Manipulation comes in various shapes and forms. It can affect you in the face of a loved one trying to alienate you from friends they don’t approve of. It can be a relative making you feel guilty for looking after yourself instead of taking care of the family. Also, it can be a coworker attempting to get higher in the work hierarchy through you, or a boss taking advantage of their position as your employer.
Whoever is trying to use your kindness and your naive nature for their own benefit is, in fact, manipulating you. They are exploiting your pure heart to gain something out of it. And, sadly, no matter what people say to make things seem less harmless, it rarely happens unintentionally. While some individuals may not realize that their words and actions are beyond devious, many manipulators are completely aware of what they are doing.
And the worst part is that often manipulation is hard to recognize.
Sometimes it inflicts negative feelings in the victim, such as guilt, sorrow, and despair, while other times, it aims to awaken positive emotions through strategies like love-bombing. However, in most cases, its intent is to fool you into believing something far from the truth.
For instance, gaslighting is one of the most used approaches manipulators practice to control their prey. It is a form of manipulation that makes you doubt everything, including your own thoughts and feelings. It can drive you absolutely insane.
Of course, there are other forms of controlling behavior, such as silent treatment, triangulation, where the abuser makes their victim feel excluded, and passive-aggressive attitude, which aims to hurt the victim’s feelings with no consequences for the manipulator.
So, do you feel like someone is manipulating you?
Here are 6 red flags you are a victim of a manipulator:
1. You are slowly losing your sense of self.
Questions like who you are and what is your purpose are haunting you. You are no longer sure what you want to achieve or where you want to be in life. And it’s all because of this one person’s influence upon you. Before getting close to them, you were someone with a clear plan for the future. You had hopes and dreams and you were motivated to work on turning them into a reality. But it all has been blurred since this person walked into your life. Now, you don’t even know if there is a point in dreaming anymore.
2. Your mental health has been unstable.
As already mentioned, gaslighting, one of the most dangerous manipulative tactics, makes you question your own feelings. Imagine what that does to your mental health. Being controlled by someone whose intentions are far from genuine can make you feel overstressed, anxious, confused, depressed, disoriented, and so many more negative emotions at once. Hence, it inevitably affects your mental stability.
3. You stop listening to your intuition.
Once you start questioning your own choices, beliefs, and thoughts, you stop listening to your gut. And this is perhaps the saddest thing that happens to victims of emotional abuse. It leaves them unable to trust themselves, making them vulnerable to even more manipulation. Eventually, they stop believing their inner voice telling them they are in danger and give in to the mind games their abuser has prepared for them.
4. You are constantly walking on eggshells.
When around this person, you are always extremely careful with your words and actions. And it’s not because you want to make a good impression, but because you fear their reaction to something they might not approve of. Spending time with them has taught you to avoid talking about certain topics, people, or memories that aggravate them. You have also stopped doing things you love because you know they would annoy them, and you will end up regretting ever doing something for yourself. In a way, you have developed a hyperawareness of your behavior around them. Before every single move you make, you ask yourself: “How would they react to this?” And if you don’t like the answer, you usually stop yourself from taking action.
5. You feel guilty or embarrassed of yourself all the time.
Manipulators often guilt-trip their victims, blaming them for things that are entirely out of their control. They love playing the victim, presenting themselves to be the ones suffering from the harrowing consequences they created on their own. Meanwhile, you feel guilty for hurting them, overlooking the fact that you are the one hurting. Somehow, they manage to convince you that your actions pushed them to behave in such an insidious manner. As a result, you are constantly feeling responsible for their unhappiness, even though there is nothing you can do to satisfy them.
6. You wonder whether you are the problem in your relationship.
Similar to the guilt-tripping, the person who attempts to control you also tries to make you believe you are the one in the wrong. By acting as if they were innocent, they make you feel as if you were the problematic one when it’s exactly the opposite. Sooner or later, as you try to avoid causing more problems, you begin overlooking things you would normally be upset about. While you may think this is helping your relationship thrive, it is actually creating much more serious adversities because the little things you ignore pile up.
By identifying the signs of manipulation, you can protect yourself from becoming a victim. Whenever you feel as if someone is trying to take advantage of your kindness, look out for these red flags. Being aware of them would help you see through the abuser’s mind games and unveil their true intentions.
Does any of these six signs of manipulation sound familiar? Let us know in the comment section!