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Blog: Break out of Prison – How to Free Yourself from a Manipulator

There are very few of us who may honestly say, that they have never been in a manipulative relationship. Be it romantic, family or work. Manipulation is not bound to any specific sector of our lives. We will encounter it all over.

Being caught in a manipulative space renders you powerless. You know you are being manipulated, you know you should get out of it, you know you should say no. But, you step back into that trap, time and again. The emotional charges, the moment you realise that you are being manipulated, varies from frustration, anger, dread and desperation.

Frustration, because here you are again. Just nothing changes. It is the same thing over and over. Do people not hear you when you say you do not want to do it? You feel like jumping up and down, just to be heard.

Anger, mostly at yourself. Why am I not strong enough to stand up and stop this? I am a weakling and deserve this manipulation. And the moment you feel angry, guilt steps in and says, hello. Guilt, maybe, because you can help, but it will put you at a disadvantage further down the road. Guilt maybe, because you feel sorry for the person. But what is the person doing to better their own situation?

Dread, when you see the person nearing, or the phone rings, you know what is going to happen. You try to avoid it, but there seems to be no escape. You start avoiding certain places, events, people, etc. You change your life so as not to be put in a manipulative situation.

Desperation, please heaven above, can something not just change?

Manipulation is a habit – for both the manipulator and the “victim”.

Why would the manipulator change their behavior if they only need to call on you? Why would the manipulator take responsibility for their own life? The manipulator wants to meet a need, and this is the way they know how. And the “victim”? I put it as “victim”, because the receiver allows it. The receiver enables the manipulator. The receiver is a victim by choice. No matter how much you feel trapped, you are allowing it.

We all have the choice, ever single second of every day, to change our lives.

The reality with all this, is that the change, the help, lies within you. The manipulator is not going to change. You are the one feeling uncomfortable, the manipulator is in a very comfortable zone.

No, you have to stop the manipulation.

But how do you do it?

1. NO. No is a full sentence. No does not need explanations. The moment you feel that you do not have a choice, that you feel stress, dread, your answer should be, no. NO. There is no guilt attached to no. No stands on its own. We have never been taught to say no, and also, never been taught to accept no. We always want an explanation or give one. Why? I do not owe you any explanation regarding my life and my decisions. No, it is a very scary word – small things quite often are.

2. Take a break. There is no reason to answer or do immediately. There is no train, truck or car heading for you. If you feel you cannot say no, then say, give me a moment. The manipulator will force you to make a decision now, they know you are in turmoil. It is to their advantage if you do not distance yourself from the manipulation. The moment you break the energy, you get the opportunity to think, to rationalize. You can say no “from a distance”. Take a breath, thrice, in and out, then look up and then decide.

3. Question your willingness. This is a hard reality to face, but we allow ourselves to be manipulated. Some people never get manipulated. Why? It is not a straight forward answer. Some of us grew up with manipulation our whole lives – parents, siblings, teachers, coaches. We grew up believing this is normal. Some of us seek acceptance, recognition, love. We feel that we can get it by giving in to the manipulation, and we do for a very brief second, by doing something “good”. But is it good? This “good” comes at a price to ourselves. When they say so and so did this, or so and so would not let this happen, well good on so and so. You do not need to be liked by so and so. The manipulator most likely used you on so and so. Why are you willing to put yourself through this emotional strain? Why are you willing to fight this inner conflict? Take a look inside to change the outside.

4. Treat it as only a request. Look at the person, they have only made a request. It is at your pleasure to accept or decline. Bring it down to the basics, what is this person asking of me? Forget all the other extras, the trimmings. Treat it as an invitation to movies. Do I want to go? Do I have the funds? Is it a movie I want to see? Manipulation is a request, enforced by using your emotions. The emotions are the optional extra when you make your decision.

5. Bring the manipulator to size. In so many situations where we are the “victim”, the person on the opposite side, the deliverer, is larger than life in our minds. See them for who and what they really are. It is only because we give them so much importance that they become larger than life. When I do not allow you to have power over me and my life, you shrink right back to your size and I no longer fear you.

Manipulation is used around us all the time. Most hurtful, it is often used by the people we love most. It takes even more courage from us to say no in these cases.

You have the permission now, right now, to stop it.

Break the chain and set yourself free.

Sue Leppan

Transformation Life Coach

NLP Practitioner

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