As defined, a manipulator is someone who influences or attempts to influence the behavior or emotions of others for one’s own purposes or gain. We’ve all done it and have been a victim of it, maybe not knowingly or with malicious intentions, but it’s more common than most people think.

Being manipulated can often feel like we were violated and maybe even victimized. Manipulators find creative ways to make us feel guilty when we don’t agree to their request. They may lie, withhold information and even use emotional blackmail. They have a bag of tricks up their sleeves.

For some people, manipulation is a core strategy for getting what they want. They do it and get good results, so they continue. Manipulators manipulate because they can.

The problem with manipulation isn’t that people manipulate; it’s that people allow themselves to be manipulated. If the manipulator ran out of willing subjects, they would look to other people or even new ways of getting what they want.

What that means is we are entirely in control of whether we are manipulated or not, and it’s time to take back that control.

5 Ways to Cut The Strings of Manipulation

1. Recognize The Victim Mentality

Manipulation happens when we stand by and allow it to happen. There are some things in life that place us in the role of victim that we have no control over, but being manipulated isn’t one of them. Recognizing our role in the manipulation process is the first step to cutting the strings.

If we are being manipulated, then that is entirely on us, and it is up to us to stop it. That happens by recognizing that we have the ability to control our reactions. When something doesn’t feel right, we must stop ourselves before agreeing. If we aren’t comfortable saying no, at least make a commitment to avoid saying yes.

2. Figure Out What Matters Most

It’s easy to be manipulated and take up causes that support what is important to someone else when we don’t know what matters most to us. When we know what’s important, we are empowered to take a stand. It’s easier to align what we are willing to commit to with our values.

A “no” because you are working for something specific is easier for a manipulator to accept than a “just because” no. A no without substance only empowers the manipulator to wear us down. Let’s take back our power and fight for the right things.

3. Demand Clarity

Manipulators are good at what they do. They are masters at selling us on why we should do what they want us to do. A great way to start cutting the strings is for us to ask them how this benefits us. It will scare them when we begin to demand clarity on the request including what we expect to gain from helping him. Because manipulators are all about what’s in it for them, they will recognize we aren’t a good target anymore when we begin putting our needs out there.

4. Be Resolute

It’s hard sometimes to get out of the clutches of a master manipulator because they are so good and so experienced at what they do. It’s in a confrontation with this charming, yet, manipulative person that our determination, will, and a strong purpose will serve us. They will try to wear us down, but if we are resolute, we can beat them at their own game.

5. Practice Self-Compassion

It’s impossible to be resolute and stand for ourselves if we don’t believe in and love ourselves for who we are. We are strong and capable, and we need to know that about ourselves. Sure we make mistakes, but as long as we learn from those mistakes and vow to do better, then we are doing what we need to do. We deserve better than to be used by other people, and we can stop giving them the opportunity by staying true to our values.

We can stop ourselves from being manipulated by learning to recognize the tricks of the trade and by identifying those people in our life that are doing it. This is where it becomes important for us to recognize the people in our lives that truly need us and those that are using us.

When we begin to stand up for ourselves, a master manipulator will realize he has no use for us and will walk away from the relationship. If we were being manipulated by a friend who didn’t realize what they were doing, they would accept our “no” with grace and the friendship will remain intact. It’s time to find out who our real friends are.