Being manipulated


It’s never a good feeling when we discover we’ve been manipulated. Deliberately given partial information, appealing to my sense of guilt or inadequacy, feeling pressured to do something I’d rather not do. These and many other ways happen daily – from advertisements, packaging, and politicians – so much so that we know better than to trust what we’re told. That’s smart, and also sad, because it can turn us into cynics.

Whenever it happens its because the manipulator wants us to do something that helps themselves. It might also help us, but that’s a possible side-effect and nothing more. It might be an unethical renovator who uses sub-grade materials, or someone who charges for something they didn’t actually do. It may be relatively harmless or something that is ruinous.

I’ve experienced both: charged for a purse repair that wasn’t done; an investor misrepresenting themselves to rid me of my savings. All cause pain and all cause damage.

Being manipulated happens a lot, and may be increasing, so its important to learn how to address it.

  • The first thing – always – is to pay attention to your own gut response. Do you feel a little uneasy? For me now, that’s enough. For you, you may need more … .
  • Is what you’re being told make you fearful, or angry, or set some basic emotion off? It’s hard to make a good decision when your emotions are up. Manipulators know that, and use it. So, if you notice your feelings are up, take some time off before taking any action.
  • Have you got someone you trust to talk it over with? If not, why not?
  • Finally, try turning it around: what would inspire you to ask the same thing of others? Then apply what you discover to what someone else is asking of you, and see what you discover.


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Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at .



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