Were You Manipulated by Someone Lately ?
Let me ask the question a little differently. Did you ” allow ” yourself to be manipulated or controlled by another person today, or this past week ?
Over just the last month I have heard some all too frequent and painful words pass by the lips of some half-dozen new clients who were experiencing Panic Attacks or Obsessive-Compulsive symptoms.
These anxiety symptoms can easily be over-whelming, and not surprisingly, had caused each person in their own way to avoid doing things in their lives that many would take for granted, like driving on the freeway, going into a large-box store,
enjoying a social life, making changes in their careers or just leaving their homes… for fear of having an anxiety attack..
Here is just a sampling of what I have heard :
” I just feel numb emotionally, I just don’t feel joy anymore. When did I stop thinking, feeling and doing for myself. I am certainly not selfish, but I have really gone so far the other way on my life because I have been so dependent on approval from others. I hate this feeling !”
” I feel overwhelmed, and it is paralyzing as if I cannot move forward. And I am now realizing it is because I have conformed and run my life based of what I felt other people expected of me or needed from me. How pathetic is that ? ”
” I am so angry, actually more angry with myself for allowing other people to control my life and not doing anything about it .”
” I feel this sense of depersonalization, like a loss of awareness as to who I am and what I really think or feel because I have spent my life seeking approval from others. What am I, chopped liver ? ”
” I am “adapted out” …I am like a chameleon, conforming to the needs of others, putting my energy into them and with very little coming back to me.”
” I don’t trust myself because I have made bad decisions in my life, and each time I feel like moving forward in any area of my life, my anxiety symptoms get worse. ”
There are many people out there who are selfish, self-centered and lack empathy for others. They are often those personality types who just like control, and possibly without realizing it, do not listen to you or consider your thoughts and feelings. They may take you for granted, may feel entitled or in other ways show disrespect. While I might argue that some of these very individuals have deeply buried insecurities themselves, these are personality types that often take advantage of, and consciously or unconsciously would manipulate and control you for their own agendas.
As you might have gleaned from the above comments, most of the people I deal with as a therapist are experiencing significant anxiety, mostly in the form of Panic Attacks or Obsessive-Compulsive thoughts and behaviors. In my opinion, at the heart of why many are experiencing these mind and body numbing symptoms, is conflict. They are, no doubt, feeling overwhelmed by their symptoms, but at the source, more often than not, there are ongoing personal / emotional conflicts that are more fundamentally overwhelming, but being ignored or avoided. As they navigate through the sometimes choppy waters of life, attempting to not just survive, but find a meaning and purpose, they must make fundamental choices. In the case of the majority of my clients, they are more typically adapting personality types, Caregivers, Conformers, Perfectionists and Peacekeepers.
These adapting types seek approval, a sense of belonging and a feeling of acceptance and appreciation on one hand while at the same time trying to realize and care for their own needs to feel worth and value, a purpose and meaning for who they are and what they do with their lives. Often, they come to realize that their dependency on approval has blinded them, causing them to ignore what they really think, feel and want to accomplish. The result is that they are not feeling emotionally in-control of their lives.
Now, as suggested before, most do not realize this at first as they are coming to me initially focused on finding an immediate way to eradicate their symptoms, and I certainly understand why that is their priority ! However, once I am able to open the door for them to see that there is, most often, a reason for all these ugly and dark symptoms, reality comes rushing back and stares them in the face which is why I hear the comments above.
So, stop and think:
How many times were you controlled or manipulated today ?
How many times did you think something but said nothing for fear of rejection or embarrassment ?
How many times did you go along with someone you disagreed with only because you wanted to avoid a conflict or keep the peace?
How often did you find yourself going over-board to do for others, but did not express your needs?
How many people are there in your life that you really do not like but you still go out of your way to do for them because you want them to like you ?
How much have you given up of your self esteem and confidence because you have allowed yourself to become dependent on others for that approval or acceptance?
How many times did you join in on gossip even if you knew it was hurtful to someone else, but found yourself sucked-in just to fit in and be accepted ?
How many times did people around you seem to dismiss your opinions, and just turned the discussion around to what they thought and felt ?
How many of your apparent friends tend to find fault or otherwise blame, shame and guilt others, including you, when someone doesn’t agree with their position ?
How often have you allowed the ” just be happy with what you have ” comments by others, even family, to interfere or totally derail some personal or career option that you dared to have a thought to explore ?
Why not take a personal inventory of your friends, family and others that you interact with in your life. How one-sided are some of these relationships ? How much emotional conflict is there in your life that you are just over-looking ?
Could you be allowing people to manipulate or control you ?
If you dare to explore taking greater control of your life, I invite you to join us in our free on-line Support Group Sunday evenings at 9 PM, ET at www.OneStepataTime.com
Gene Benedetto, Psychologist / Coach
CEO: The Benhaven Group, LLC