We all manipulate at some point in life. We’re designed to outgrow manipulation by adulthood. “Lifestyle Manipulators” are those who continue to use manipulation as their primary pattern of relating to others. Looking at the behaviors of Lifestyle Manipulators makes it clearer to perceive how manipulation works. You don’t have to be a Lifestyle Manipulator to be manipulative. We all have “pockets” of manipulation, areas of life in which we continue not to take responsibility and rely on using the energy of others. Our job is to release such patterns in ourselves.
From Chapter 5: Manipulation Persists in Our Lives
“Simple as it may sound, we have manipulative people in our lives because we ourselves are manipulative. Like attracts like.”
“If you are an angry person, you will tend to attract other angry people. If you are a loving person, you will tend to attract other loving people. Similarly, if you are manipulative, you will tend to attract other manipulative people! It takes one to know one.”
“If you are relating intimately with someone you believe is using you or draining your energy, you are in some way using them or draining their energy. It means that you have deep fears about your survival if you do not receive whatever it is you believe you need from the other person. This is good news when you plan to get off the manipulation merry-go-round; once you end manipulation for yourself, you will no longer attract manipulation!”
From Chapter 6: Characteristics of the Lifestyle Manipulator
“Let me clarify at the outset that most people who drain others’ energy do not exhibit all the characteristics of the Lifestyle Manipulator. But if someone consistently exhibits from seven to ten of these characteristics, make note that unless you take steps to remove yourself from the manipulative process, your energy will be drained by that individual. Do not be surprised if you recognize some of these characteristics in yourself. Remember, it takes one to know one!”
“We are born needing an energy agent, usually a parent. As we have discussed, when we are not helped to learn to use our own energy effectively, we grow up to be terrified of living separately from others. Consequently, we spend very little time alone. Even if we live alone (which is usually not the case), we make sure we always have plans or stay connected with the world through phone, internet, social media, television, or by filling our heads with constant music. We never disconnect. Even facsimiles of other people (Facebook or Instagram, television, radio talk shows, etc.) are sufficient to ease our internal demand for constant connection. And we can use what we learn through our electronic connections to “hook” others as we interact with them.”
“Singularly Concentrated Focus”
“Concentration is the key to power. The Lifestyle Manipulator appears powerful because he is concentrated on what is important to him. He focuses on his own view of things…. Sometimes a Lifestyle Manipulator will be so concentrated on getting his needs met that he will totally forget or misremember things he has decided or requested for himself.”
“Because the Lifestyle Manipulator is so focused on what is important to him, he appears to be quite powerful.”
“The Lifestyle Manipulator is only as powerful as a young child or as the connection that his agent allows.”
“ ’On,’ Up on The Latest”
“If, as a Lifestyle Manipulator, I am desperate to keep others connected to me, then how I look to them really matters. Because I have little of substance active inside of me, appearances become extremely important…”
“One way for the Lifestyle Manipulator to look good is to be able to talk about and relate to “the latest,” whether it is in entertainment, technology, family gossip, or the private lives of music or movie stars. This also allows the Lifestyle Manipulator to feed energy to his followers, so they give even more energy back to him because he becomes the go-to person for information on these topics.”
“The Lifestyle Manipulator remembers what has happened, yet the memory is inevitably slanted in his favor….”
“This can be a most frustrating behavior with the Lifestyle Manipulator, because unless you have evidence, the tendency is just to go around and around on an issue, with no hope of resolution.”
“Similarly, the Lifestyle Manipulator misremembers contracts to which he has agreed….”
This is what I call the “promise them anything but do only what you have to” syndrome.
“…. A Lifestyle Manipulator will make promises he does not really intend to keep. He will not keep the promise unless he perceives a threat to his connection with the other person. At that point, he will get right to work fulfilling the promise. He also will start sweeping with his internal “radar,” looking for signs that he will not have to endure a break in the connection, even if he does not complete the promise. If he perceives the other person will remain connected without the promise being kept, he will return to his pre-promise level of behavior. As the other person realizes the promise still goes unfulfilled, the requests for compliance will begin again, with a replay of the “promise them anything but do only what you have to” syndrome. We may believe we are dealing with an adult, but this really is the behavior of a youngster.”
There are thirteen more characteristics of the Lifestyle Manipulator, including a habit of not taking responsibility, one with which we’re all familiar. For now, use these six characteristics to observe yourself and the people in your life.
Notice your own behaviors and those of others. Using what we’ve discussed already, think about how each characteristic brings energy to the manipulator. What happens when you participate in another person’s manipulative pattern? What do you feel emotionally? What might you need to change in yourself to no longer participate in these patterns? More patterns next installment!
Connect with Ilene Dillon on The Wellness Universe and walk away feeling better!
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Ilene Dillon, MSW, has dedicated her life to helping people resolve personal challenges once and for all, then design life to be what they want it to be. A Transformation Specialist, she has worked 50 years as a psychotherapist and 15 years as a coach. She is a global speaker, Amazon International Best-selling author (The Wellness Universe Guide to Complete Self-Care, Volumes 1 and 2), podcast guest, and plans to give her first TEDx speech (on Anger) later this year. Ilene is also the author of Emotions in Motion: Mastering Life’s Built-in Navigation System and End Manipulation: Stop Being Jerked Around by Toxic, Energy-draining People. With her little dog, Pi, Ilene lives and travels full-time throughout North America in her RV, writing, teaching, and speaking along the way.