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Manipulated by Emotion
By Carl ToersBijns, former deputy warden, ASPC Eyman, Florence AZ
Published: 10/31/2016

Lies xsmall

In our life, there are the good, the bad and the ugly. For the sake of this article, the good are your positive influences, the bad are those who create the negativities and the ugly are those who play on the emotions of the good and bad to make it unpleasant or unhealthy. “Emotional manipulators” (Bradberry) can undermine your sense of who you are and even make you doubt your own sanity. Remember: nobody can manipulate you without your consent and cooperation.

Working inside a jail or prisons there are people we know to be emotional manipulators. Surely, we have all been warned of them as they prey on us and those around them to get the end game desired to play. They can be very effective as they have no limits or scruples in do it so often. It is something they wake up with in the morning and see how many people they can pull along with their mind games.

We all know what it feels like to be emotionally manipulated. It can be extremely effective, which is why some unscrupulous individuals do it so much. Inmates, whether convicted felons or awaiting their court dates inside a jail are people with their own agendas and updates. They are greatly aware of the moods and behaviors around them and play the games they design based on these observations and environmental responses.

We divide manipulated people into two categories – the willing and the unaware. The willing are usually ill-trained or prepared to work inside such a facility or environment and the unaware are those who allow others to manipulate them by tweaking your emotional responses to suit their needs. Regardless whether you are willing or unaware these qualities are both weaknesses. An inmate who chooses to target you can know your weaknesses and triggers. A skilled emotional manipulator can destroy your self-esteem and even make you question your sanity.

Because their harm is so precise and so harmful, you need to know how to recognize the warning signs to protect yourself and your reputation. It starts with a subtle and raises the stakes over time. It happens so subtle; you hardly notice it.

They undermine your faith in your grasp of reality. Emotional manipulators are incredibly skilled liars. They insist an incident didn’t happen when it did, and they insist they did or said something when they didn’t. In fact, they make you doubt yourself and your perceptions.

Their actions don’t match their words. Emotional manipulators will tell you what you want to hear, but their actions are another story. They pledge their support, but, when it comes time to follow through, they act as though your requests are entirely unreasonable. In some strange way, they embrace your presence with theirs and make you feel beneficial to help others.

They are experts at doling out guilt. Emotional manipulators are masters at leveraging your guilt to their advantage. When you’re dealing with emotional manipulators, whatever you do is wrong, and, no matter what problems is, they’re your fault. They claim the role of the victim. When it comes to emotional manipulators, nothing is ever their fault. No matter what they do or fail to do it’s someone else’s fault. Emotional manipulators don’t take accountability for anything.

They are too much, too soon. It can be a very overwhelming experience. Whether it’s a personal relationship or a business relationship, emotional manipulators always seem to skip a few steps. They share too much too soon—and expect the same from you exposing you to personal and professional vulnerability and sensitivity that can be used in a ruse or charade.

They are an emotional abyss of doubt. Whatever emotional manipulators are feeling, they’re geniuses at sucking everyone around them into those emotions making you feel responsible for their moods and obliged to fix them. They eagerly agree to help and maybe even volunteer then act like a martyr. An initial eagerness to help swiftly morphs into sighs, groans, and suggestions that whatever they agreed to do is a huge burden and eventually make you feel guilty, indebted, and maybe even crazy for being so involved.

Without a doubt, they try to stay one-step ahead of you. No matter what problems you may have, manipulators will convince you that they have it worse. They undermine the legitimacy of your complaints by reminding you that their problems are more serious. They know all your buttons and don’t hesitate to push them. Emotional manipulators know your weak spots, and they’re quick to use that knowledge against you. If you’re insecure about some personal issues, be prepared to have them used against you to the point of intimidating you or make you feel bad about yourself.

Make no mistake about it, their behavior truly goes against reason. The game to play is no game. Remove yourself from their traps. Quit trying to beat them at their own game. Distance yourself from them emotionally. You don’t need to respond to the emotional chaos only the facts.

Maintaining an emotional distance requires awareness. You can’t stop someone from pushing your buttons if you don’t recognize when it’s happening to you or those around you. Once you’ve identified a manipulator, establish boundaries, but do so consciously and proactively. If you let things happen naturally, you’re bound to find yourself constantly embroiled in difficult conversations.

Reference: Dr. Travis Bradberry -Coauthor Emotional Intelligence 2.0 & President at TalentSmart

Corrections.com author, Carl ToersBijns, (retired), has worked in corrections for over 25 yrs He held positions of a Correctional Officer I, II, III [Captain] Chief of Security Mental Health Treatment Center – Program Director – Associate Warden - Deputy Warden of Administration & Operations. Carl’s prison philosophy is all about the safety of the public, staff and inmates, "I believe my strongest quality is that I create strategies that are practical, functional and cost effective."

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