How to Stop Being Manipulated in Life

How to Stop Being Manipulated in Life how to stop being manipulated in life
Photo by Nghia Le on Unsplash

In one way or another, we have all been manipulated in life, from work, family to relationships or even the general public. When it comes to manipulation, regardless of the techniques used, it always involves a manipulator influencing you to do as they wish by playing with your emotions.

In case of relationships, you’re being manipulated by someone who seeks to control you. If you want to stop being manipulated in life, it’s actually about you doing something about it, it’s about you not allowing your emotions to be toyed with. Tactics like avoiding manipulators or learning about manipulation techniques in life will not work long-term because manipulation is everywhere and you cannot avoid life.

In this article, I am going to share some of the things you can do for yourself so that you can deal with any kind of manipulation in your life. I will start with the easiest ones and then move to the ones which you should really aim to get to.

How Do You Stop Being Manipulated in Your Relationships?

  1. Set and Uphold Clear Boundaries

The first thing that will keep you from being manipulated is to just understand your boundaries. You’ve got to deeply understand what you cannot tolerate in your life. With boundaries, people will not take advantage of you because you just know your values, limits and what you stand for.

Once you understand your boundaries, you have to be able to say no and walk away from someone who crosses your boundaries even if it upsets them. Regardless of if that person is your friend, parent, partner or just someone close to you, you have to be firm with those boundaries. Do not just have those boundaries for PR, have them as part of your being, because the moment you lower them it means you’re vulnerable to manipulation.

We also need to know that manipulation mostly happens from those close to you, not the strangers out there.

2. Work on your Self-Esteem

The second way to stop being manipulated is just to work on your self-esteem so that you can be deeply secure within yourself. With healthy self-esteem, you’ll be rooted in the truth of the matter without bothering so much about what the other party is doing. You will not be easily flattered by those empty words from another because you deeply understand that you’re just good enough as you are.

You will also not allow someone to walk over you as they wish because you can voice your opinions or assert your boundaries with a lot of ease. When you’re deeply secure, you’ll not be threatened by grandiosities aimed at taking advantage of you. When you have low self-esteem, you will be easily swayed by a manipulator because they say what you want to hear (validation and approval).

They say what you lack deep within yourself (self-validation), they feed you with it but now on the outside. When you seek validation and approval from other people, you’ll be priming yourself for manipulation. But when you have healthy self-esteem, you’re just a whole being who doesn’t need constant reassurance from another human being who is also struggling or has a distorted world view.

3. Understand We’re Conditioned

The moment we’re born, we’re fed with norms and beliefs. We come with an empty plate but the environment and the people around us will serve us with what they know and the cycle keeps going on and on. We grow up with those beliefs as facts. So, in fact that’s the first instance of ‘necessary’ manipulation in life.

We have to learn from someone (a parent or just an adult around us) or start somewhere. So, when you have some norms or perspectives you’re not supposed to challenge because of culture or your background, then it means you’re already under the spell of manipulation. This is the least talked about form of manipulation but also the one which carries the most weight.

Let’s talk of the common example probably across most cultures like “Do as your parents say” or “Marriage is eternal.”

When those norms are deeply entrenched deep within you, it will mean that you’re already being manipulated to do what your parents/partner wishes. You will do as they wish without questioning them because you don’t want to upset them or you’ll feel guilty if you don’t or you’re afraid of being ‘cursed.’

You just ‘have to do it’, you might make slight modifications but you’re doing it even when deep inside you just don’t want to. Isn’t that grand manipulation (let’s go back to the definition of manipulation — doing something against your wish). To put the icing on this manipulation cake, you think you’re doing it as a show of love (Love never comes out of duty and ‘have to’).

So, we’re all manipulating one another in a subtle way. So, the moment you understand that we’re all conditioned and actually nothing will happen if you break those rules, then you break free from the matrix. You are then able to execute those boundaries with everyone regardless of what those norms are telling you.

It’s more of challenging those commonly held norms and just being inwardly free to live as a loving human being and not as someone who has a ‘duty to uphold.’ Hope that makes sense, I am so conditioned as well and I’m unlearning most of the things. As for you, give your all to challenge those things you’re afraid of challenging and you’ll not be prone to manipulation.

4. Emotional/Psychological Independence

Has someone close to you ever cried or expressed their dissatisfaction with your actions then you ended up doing something you were not supposed to do? It’s a normal occurrence in life, right? That’s where emotional independence comes in.

One main factor which enables manipulation is depending on one another psychologically. You might depend on someone else for your happiness, joy or peace or even to live (“I can’t live without you”). So, you may be prone to manipulation because the manipulator is your source of happiness and satisfaction.

In short, the manipulator ‘makes you happy’ so you do as they wish. For example, when your partner is unhappy because you’ve not done something for them, you also become unhappy, you then end up doing as they wish so that you can both be ‘happy.’ When your emotions are dependent on someone else, you’ll be prone to manipulation because as we said before, with manipulation, someone toys with your emotions in order to control you.

Emotional independence is now the ability to regulate your emotional wellbeing without being excessively influenced by those around you. This means that you can be the only happy person in the room without being influenced much by how the other people are feeling. Your parent may make negative remarks about you but you’re unbothered and don’t feel that bad about yourself.

You just don’t feel that they can define you or toy with your emotions so that you can do something for them. It’s not the easiest one for sure but that doesn’t mean we don’t work on it. When you’re able to view the actions of another person without them determining your emotions and thoughts, then you’re free from their direct or indirect influence. Emotional independence will also sort you out when you find yourself in instances where you have to depend on them physically (money, house or just basic needs).

This is because you will be using what they give you like money without letting them get into your head. You can use their physical assets just in the physical space without feeling the need to reciprocate with your emotions. Of course, building your own physical independence helps a lot but when you’re really stuck with them, don’t let their physical gestures get into your head.

It can be hard but it’s not impossible, you just use them because of your situation without feeling emotionally indebted. The moment you feel indebted, your emotions have been compromised. As we can see, we cannot really avoid facing manipulation in our day-to-day life and what we can do is just be the kind of person who cannot be easily manipulated.

Regardless of if you’re dealing with a serial manipulator, a narcissist or a loved one, you’re the one who holds the key to your receptiveness to manipulation. Start small by setting and upholding those boundaries then look at where there are leakages when you’re struggling to uphold those boundaries. The only way is for you to put in the inner work. So, instead of focusing on learning about manipulation tactics or NPD as its mostly advised, focus more on putting the work that will help you be the kind of person who’s deeply secure and free.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these toxic patterns, then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.

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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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