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Lifelessons: Facing the manipulator





– I am the answer, the manipulator says, standing in front of an admiring audience, feeling their heart beating in tune with hers.
The crowd is moving, like floating seaweed in front of her, prepared to follow her instructions, not even with a glimpse of hesitation.
Maybe there are people whom, like me, feel ill at ease, but who doesn’t want to break this hegemony.
And I sigh, as I slowly am moving back and out of her context.

Me, who silently blows the whistle, risk to be excluded for having the nerve to question the manipulator.

I have been in the position of meeting manipulators many times in my life. They can be men or women. They can manipulate from a space of awareness, really having the intention to manipulate, and they can be more or less unaware of what they are doing.

When I meet these charming people, because I guess charm is one of the most useful tools for a manipulator, I see them smile. I see this smile spreading, catching the eyes of the person they meet. It’s as they turn on their charm, to make the other person a follower, or a person willing to wholeheartedly being in service of the manipulator. 

The smile doesn't reach the eyes

I also watch the manipulators eyes. Sometimes it’s as if the smile isn’t there. It’s as if the eyes are watching the scene, preparing the next move. In rare cases I watch the eyes of a snake, it feels like looking in to something dark and dangerously cunning. When comes the rapid movement, which will poison me, and make me a willing part of her crowd?

What fascinates me is both my reluctance to be part of the cheering crowd, my watchfulness, my ability to stand a bit on the side and watch the play uncover, and see how people, from what the believe is their free will, just walk into the arms of the manipulator and in some cases feel that he or she is a liberator. I can here them say: “I am so grateful that the manipulator has come to provide me a better life.”

Sometimes I try to tell people that I actually see a manipulating part in this person. I try to be specific, showing them how the manipulator acts to come in to power, in some cases creating a feeling of dependency to the manipulator: “I need her to feel good.”

"You are wrong"

Most of the time the person looks at me as if I am stupid. It’s me who don’t understand the grandeur of the manipulator and what she is giving to the world. Me, who silently tries to blow the whistle, risk to be excluded for having the nerve to question the manipulator.

I have noticed these phenomena among children and among adults. And I really don’t know what makes a person use manipulation, I don’t know what makes her wanting to control others, or to lift them up to higher grounds. Maybe there are explanations in the manipulators personal story, feelings of being little, or belittled, or being abused… I really don’t know.

I have seen manipulative leaders among children, where the manipulator forces her friends to break rules, to tie them to the tribe. I have seen manipulative leaders among adults, who pretend they are not trying to influence or being in a position of leadership, and at the same time always having “the answer” and never accepting another’s point of view. Some of them uses force or threats to impose obedience among the crowd (and a common threat is: If you brake the rules you must leave us or die), others use a softer method, but with the same outcome: The crowd surrounding the manipulator becomes faithful and loyal crowd members, sometimes prepared to do anything to defend the manipulator.

Withdrawal

So what is my strategy when meeting a manipulator? Often it is totally useless and waste of energy to try to tell my truth to the manipulator:

– Me, trying to manipulate? What are you talking about? I would never ever try to manipulate anyone. Just ask one of my followers, and you will see how wrong you are. You must really have a severe problem seeing me as a manipulator. What can I do for you?

I choose to slowly slowly back out from the field. I don’t want to get hurt, and I don’t want others to get hurt. Maybe some people will notice my withdrawal and ask themselves why this is happening… maybe that can ignite an impulse to really look into the eyes of the manipulator, and see that the heart isn’t there, and then make a choice, which could be to stay under the wings of the manipulator, or not.


And when all this is done, I turn inwards, looking at the manipulator within me. Hoping that I am aware when using this part of me, hoping that love is there.

Reflection:

What is manipulation to you?

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Charlotte Cronquist

Charlotte Cronquist
Bloggen för dig som vill få ut det mesta av livet. Författaren och coachen Charlotte Cronquist lär dig hur du får bättre relationer och hur du kan älska mer. Blogposts in English available.

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