No this isn’t a “how to” guide on covert manipulation and getting your way. It IS an insiders look at how people pleasing, codependency, and perfectionism form.
Covert Manipulation? Switching it up on ya, ha! Now, if you’ve been hanging around here for a bit, you would probably be surprised if all of the sudden, I decided to train people on the very thing I’m against, emotional abuse. Never fear, that’s not my intention today.
Let’s start with the the big bad wolf lurking in the corner, shall we? Covert Manipulation. What is that anyway? Is covert manipulation different from regular old manipulation? Great questions! Let’s break it down.
Manipulation is handling or controlling in a skillful manner.
That’s it at it’s most basic level. You can manipulate clay for example, yes? Yes. We start out with a slab and can create tools and works of art. But we aren’t talking about inanimate objects. We are talking about human beings with rights, values, feelings, wants, and needs. When we zoom out and look at it in a broader sense to include people, manipulation is considered managing or influencing unfairly or unscrupulously to ones own advantage. Covert simply means private, secret, hush-hush, undercover, veiled…you get the idea.
In laymans terms, covert manipulation is being sneaky to get your own way regardless of the outcome to anyone else.
Now, let’s be honest with ourselves here. I think on some level, consciously or not, we can all see moments in our lives where we have tried to get our wants and needs met without necessarily asking directly for x. We all have inherent desires, that’s natural. Nothing to be ashamed of. It’s when we are so concerned with getting our way regardless of what damage is done, “winning“, that it shifts to actual manipulation.
Emotional abuse (ea) is probably the most impactful, yet overlooked, form of abuse that can be done to another person. Also known as psychological abuse, it can happen at any time in your life; childhood, your teens, the college years, adulthood. It can happen at home or professionally.
In a nutshell, EA is any words or actions leading to humiliation, intimidation, feeling “less than”, or loss of self-worth or dignity.
It can include:
- isolation from friends and family
- stalking/constant checking in
And the question always arises, why doesn’t the person leave? It never starts out that way, by any means. It’s very slowly introduced, usually after an intense bonding period, so the abusee’s self esteem and self worth is wrapped up in the relationship. As far as the brain is concerned, chemically speaking, it’s basically an addiction to the good times and the hope for them to return. Gimme that dopamine! But hope isn’t enough. Addicts will do whatever they can to get their fix, whether its heroin…or love.
At first glance that list doesn’t come across as sneaky as much as it comes across as aggressive.
Let’s imagine the abuser is deeply afraid of being abandoned because his parents divorced when he was young. Then, shortly after, one died in a car crash. Let’s also imagine he doesn’t realize any of this, the home he grew up in didn’t help him heal or teach him effective ways of being in the world. All of the things he says and does can be traced back to the fear of people leaving. So he does whatever he can to prevent that from happening.
The tactics listed above slowly whittle away at a person self esteem, and they believe they aren’t worthy of taking care of themselves, getting their wants and needs met, or that their life could be any better. Thus, they struggle to leave. And the abuser doesn’t have to experience being abandoned. Abuser wins, the abused loses.
Covert Manipulation is being secretive to get your way regardless of the outcome to anyone else.
And sometimes the secret isn’t even a conscious one.
This is just one example. And I don’t mean to overly simplify it.
Remember in the article “How to Tell if Your Boundaries Have Been Crossed”, I described boundaries as,
An imaginary line that separates us from others. Boundaries are ways we protect ourselves, our time, energy, heart, resources, etc. And they help us keep a clear sense of self when its easy to get focused on others. A boundary starts as an idea someone has about their rights. That gives way to identifying what you want in your life and what you don’t want. A boundary is a statement you use to make those desires clear. The key is maintaining them when the world is full of noise, pulling at you, wanting things from you. Your attention, your time, your help, your money. You get the idea.
I also shared,
Because I was so broken down emotionally and my self esteem was at a rock bottom low, they wore me down…I caved and just said, fine. I don’t care anymore.
I felt trapped and had developed into a people pleasing, perfectionist, with codependent tendencies.
The truth is I didn’t have good boundaries prior to that moment, because I had been in so many situations where they weren’t taught or respected or listened to. I was overwhelmed, the idea of speaking my truth scared the shit out of me, and I had no concept of, or connection to, my authentic self.
The lack of boundaries made me a prime candidate to attract disrespectful, unhealthy, and unconscious people in life, love, and work (yes even the jobs I had). I believe they were sent to shine a light one the inner work I needed to do, so I would stop repeating these types of relationships. I see it as an opportunity.
Today, I no longer attract, or am attracted to, those type of people because I did the inner work to develop my sense of self, intuition, and discernment. I stand my sacred ground knowing my worth. I built boundaries and say yes to myself. Communicating my wants, needs, and rights gets easier every day. And you can too. It’s possible.
Are you ready to boost your Boundaries?
Get started now, download my FREE Resource Guide to Better Boundaries
(My TOP TEN favorite books on this subject).