How to Recognise (and Walk Away From) Emotional Manipulators

June 10th, 2022

By Antonia Beamish

Guest Writer for Wake Up World

I’ve had two clients recently with a similar problem.

Both are in close, personal relationships with an emotional manipulator. Both are experiencing fear, stress and anger in their own homes. Both are suffering with their own health and wellbeing because of it.

And that got me thinking.

I believe that there are a huge number of us who have someone like this in our lives. Someone who sucks the joy out of us, jangles at our nervous systems and emotionally manipulates us to get their way. Perhaps we live with them, perhaps they’re in our family or maybe they’re a colleague or neighbour.

So, how do we deal with people like this in our lives, especially when we don’t like confrontation and don’t feel brave enough yet to stand up for ourselves? Well, there are a few ways to deal with them which I’m going to touch upon below, but firstly, I want to get into the nitty-gritty of who these people are and what drives their behaviour.

Emotional manipulators are boundary abusers

In my latest article about boundary abusers, I wrote about how a lack of boundaries and low self-esteem allows others to walk all over us. It’s very subtle how they do this, so subtle that you think you’re imagining it. It’s like a grinding down, an inching across the lines, that you don’t realise is happening until it’s too late.

As I mentioned, often these are people are very close to us which is why it’s so hard to comprehend it’s happening. Firstly, we feel guilty for judging them. We give them excuses of why they’re being a certain way, sure that it’s because of something we’ve done wrong. We look inwards at our own actions and behaviour thinking “perhaps it was something I did?”.

Their ways are subtle, they do just enough to control you but not enough to truly out themselves.

We feel the need to right any wrongs, bending over backwards to please them and avoid the frosty, awkward, uncomfortable atmosphere that they can so easily foster to punish us and bring us back into their control.

If it’s someone close to you who you care for it can be incredibly hard to see their behaviour for what it is, emotionally manipulative. Yet we must.

Emotional manipulators have a need to control others

Often, these people see your joy, your light, your happiness and your sense of wellbeing and they want to take it. In this state you are free from their control and they don’t like it.

They have no emotional intelligence to understand their actions. They are deeply unconscious of their behaviour or else they would take a good look in the mirror and seek out the pain that they need to address to move forwards in their lives.

I find that most emotional manipulators are used to being in a position of power. It’s a place where they can find a sense of control when they have, in the past, been out of control. It’s this need to control someone in their life, for their own benefit, that drives their behaviour. Controlling others feeds their sense of safety and security.

Perhaps they haven’t felt safe in the past, perhaps they don’t feel safe now? Either way, that is just giving excuses to their behaviour.

How do emotional manipulators control our emotions?

I believe there is a spectrum of emotional manipulators, from narcissists to those who are just unconsciously manipulative.

I’ve also written about energy vampires, a type of person who exploits others for their own benefit, taking your energy so you come away from an interaction with them feeling drained and exhausted.

What I find so surprising is how common it is for people who have someone like this in their life and the array of emotions we can feel when dealing with someone who is so purposefully manipulative.

Often, there can be intense irritation, this is a sign that your boundaries are being pushed and you’re beginning to flare up in anger. However, more often than not, fear is the strongest feeling when in the presence of someone like this.

How they use fear and guilt to control you

The fear comes when you know you’re going to have an unpleasant interaction with this person. You know they are going to make you feel as uncomfortable as possible, knowing you can’t stand it and will do anything to please them and avoid it.

It can be a purposely curated frosty atmosphere, nitpicking and telling you off, the silent treatment or subtle remarks designed to make you feel like you’ve done something wrong.

So, alongside the fear is also a feeling of guilt that you’ve done something wrong or have upset them in some way, because why else would they be behaving like this? Our minds search for rational answers which is why we often take the blame for their behaviour.

They have a knack of making you feel like you are the problem. How ironic.

Another feeling is a tingling in the solar plexus, in the upper abdomen. It’s no surprise that this chakra is about control issues and self-esteem. Energy manipulators purposefully exert their power over those with low self-esteem because they’re easier to control, feeding their own need for control in their lives.

They gut our nervous systems, leaving us on edge and wired to any tiny change in atmosphere or subtle slight.

Stop giving energy manipulators what they want

Now we know who they are, why they’re like this and how they like to operate, we can begin to see them and their emotional manipulation for what it is, which is a powerful place to be in.

But how can you begin to walk away? Firstly, check out this article which gives a great summary of how to deal with these people.

It doesn’t have to be resolved in confrontation or arguments, which is often a result of built-up anger that has you at breaking point and gets you nowhere. There is another way to regain the control you’ve lost and that is to stop trying and let go.

We need to stop trying to please them, stop caring about what they think and start refocusing on our own lives. Energy manipulators like control over you as it feeds their own need for control in their lives, so stop giving them what they want.

It can only change when you change. So let go of your fear of being disliked and your need for them to accept you. They won’t, so let go.

Stop pleasing them and start pleasing yourself

They’re going to give you the frosty atmosphere and silent treatment either way so what you need to do is stop caring. It doesn’t matter if they don’t like you, you have so many others who love and accept you for who you are.

It doesn’t matter if they don’t understand where you’re coming from because they never will, so stop trying. They will never see your perspective, so don’t waste your time trying to get them to.

Remember, they are unhappy and feel out of control with their own lives so seek to control others to feel better about themselves.

Remember that they lose their power completely when you stop giving yours away to them. Remember that you’ve done absolutely nothing wrong, so isn’t it time to start shunning their shitty, manipulative tactics? I think so.

About the author:

Antonia is a Systematic Kinesiology practitioner based in the UK. With a root cause approach to dis-ease, she works with the physical, emotional and energetic body to uncover imbalances and help you connect to the innate healing power between your mind and body.

With a belief that the root of most dis-ease stems from emotional stress and trauma, her practice focuses on gently unpeeling emotional blocks and reprogramming subconscious beliefs to unburden you of suffering and facilitate healing. She finds great joy in helping you rediscover a healthy and trusting relationship between you and body.

Antonia discovered Kinesiology after it helped her uncover her own block around feeling worthy of love. This life-changing event led her train with the Academy of Systematic Kinesiology in 2017 and help others experience the wonder of Kinesiology.

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