We all have ways in which we manipulate others to do what we want.
My wife does this thing where she pretends to be so helpless that other people will feel compelled to help her out when in reality she’s totally capable of doing whatever it is herself. Like when she’s trying to make the bed and seems to have so much difficulty with the fitted sheet that she could be starring in an infomercial for a miracle bedsheet product. Eventually, she knows someone will either have so much pity on her (not me) or get so frustrated with her lack of progress (that’s the one) that they’ll take over the task.
Me, I developed a knack for asking for things in ways which put some kind of social pressure on the person to give in. For instance, if I know my wife isn’t going to be super excited about going somewhere, she’s far less likely to object if I bring it up around friends who will seem excited about it because she won’t want to be the whiny one in front of everyone else.
One of our cats does this thing where, if he wants something, he’ll dig it out of its hiding place and eat it. Later he pukes it up on the floor.
But I suppose that’s irrelevant.
Whether we want to admit it or not, we all learn something similar. Those methods we develop for getting what we need (and eventually what we want) are rooted in our early years, and by the time we’re adults they are second nature.
What we don’t learn until we’re closer to adulthood is how to react when other people try to bend us to their will. It might even be that the better we become at manipulating others, the less equipped we are to function when the tables are turned. If my wife and I are typical, our natural inclination is to kick the manipulation up a few notches until we either give in or get what we want.
But what’s the point?
People who always get their way are absolutely horrible to be around, and those who always give in aren’t any better.
The thing is, these skills are useful. We learn them for a reason. But another thing we don’t learn right away (and some people never seem to learn) is that there is a time and place to break out the big guns. Generally speaking, you don’t win points for always being the one to decide where you’ll eat dinner. Your chances of gaining respect and admiration are better if you’re always the one who stands up for the rights and dignity of others.
You’ll know you’re on the right track when people you admire stand with you, rather than resist you.Tags: manipulation, personal essay, spirituality, will
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