Archive for the 'Toxic People' Category

Reasons To Not Be Afraid

I’ve got a lot, but I am. I have been for years.

Sure, I can continue to wrack my brain, analyzing the hell out of my memories and ripping apart my actions looking for meaning, but that hasn’t gotten me any closer to the truth, happiness or to a level of satisfaction with who I am, my place in the universe and even a reason to keep going. It can’t, I’ve been lying to myself for a long time. I didn’t really realize it. When I was small I told myself a lie, a story, and I went with it. Then life became it, and finally I did too.

That isn’t good enough for me anymore. There is more to this world than these distractions I’ve been seeking and compulsively indulging.

My therapist suggested that I make 2 lists, one of the why’s and one of the what if I stop. I thought it would be tough, and it was kind of, I crumbled and cried and the self-loathing seemed to grow exponentially. But I had a lot to write and the ease at which it flowed out of me help me see that I have been ready for a sometime, but just afraid to step off the cliff and drop to my death. I liked the old me, but he was selfish, scared and offered only conditional everything. Those who knew me saw that things weren’t right, those who knew me really well would leave. My family and close friends were the only constants, and of the friends, only those who engaged me like an Adult, without judgement remain. And that was key unlocking the gate and convincing me to take the leap. I AM an Adult and it is okay to forgive myself for my past actions. Further self-judgment here is pointless.

The why’s of my compulsive behavior:

  • Predictable outcome - good or bad, I knew what would happen and there is some sense of security in that
  • It created a false me / them dynamic that helped me feel like I was different
  • It closed me off from other people, which helped me feel like I didn’t belong
  • It is wildly isolating, alienating and paradoxically not the person I presented myself to be
  • Being isolated allowed me to indulge my thoughts without outside perspective to balance them
  • It helped me feel different and deviant so not as good as anyone else
  • Doing it helped me feel a sense of shame that I could wear and feel inferior to others
  • It altered my emotional state temporarily so there was some escape for the emptiness / insecurity that I felt
  • It was childish and was a calling for some sort of love that I didn’t think I was getting
  • It was proof that I wasn’t okay and therefore not worthy of the things that others may enjoy
  • It helped me get a very nice body that I thought would compensate for my lack of confidence
  • It was easier to keep doing what I was doing vs. put the effort in to change

The what if I stop my compulsive behavior:

  • I will save money
  • My teeth, skin, and body will look better
  • I will feel my baseline, whatever that is, and be able to get the help I need to adjust that
  • I will improve my spiritual health as I become reconnected with the universe and the people on the planet
  • I will save a lot of time
  • I will feel my emotions clearly and in a timely fashion allowing me to properly engage and parse them for the information they are revealing
  • I will be free of the anxiety and guild associated with indulging compulsive thoughts
  • I will be able to recover from my fathers death more effectively
  • I will be acting with self-love and treating my body, mind and spirit with compassion
  • I will be acting more like my mentors
  • I will not be harming myself
  • I will have removed the monkey from my back and will have stopped doing something I am ashamed of
  • I will have gain the knowledge of just what these compulsive behaviors have been doing to me
  • I will be acting responsibly, I will be acting like an Adult
  • I will no longer be acting in a hypocritical way and this will restore my integrity
  • I will be thinking more clearly, my body will be functioning more clearly and I will be reducing a number of very serious health risks
  • I will be in a position for find a partner who complements my life but does not give it purpose
  • I will have a better idea of my actual worth and be able to take more effective actions to help me achieve my goals
  • My public self will match my private self and any dissonance between the two will be eliminated
  • I will not need to be living and managing two separate and incomparable lives

I looked at the lists when I was feeling absolutely crap over the last few weeks, picked an item and mediated on it. It didn’t take long for my chest to puff-up and for the fighter in me to come up to scratch. My actions are my choice so stopping is as easy as just not doing it anymore.

However, there is something going on inside my brain that this exercise was supposed to bring to light and my therapist was happy that it came out. I’m not necessarily afraid, but I am anxious.

Transactional Analysis - Part 1 - Laymans Introduction

Sean gave me another critical piece of the puzzle. I asked him if he has been pacing the information so as to not blow my mind up and he claimed no that it just hadn’t come-up. Transactional analysis is an object-oriented way to document interpersonal interactions. Each interaction is a transaction and the currency of TA are strokes. Depending upon the depth of the transaction, a stroke can have little worth “hi” or a lot of worth “I noticed that you pasted your exam, it’s great that all your hard work is paying off.” Hi is simply an acknowledgement of mutual existence. The lack of this type of stroke will be noticed MORE than it being there. The comment about passing the exam is more complicated and validating to the ego. Acknowledgement of mutual existence is there, the recognition that they exist to the other person when they aren’t in front of them (noticing that they past the exam), the recognition of historic labor efforts, and the social recognition that passing an exam is a payoff.

Ego states and Social states

An ego state is the psychological state from which ones’ comment comes. Child, Parent, Adult. The social state is the apparent state from which a comment comes. For example, it being important that we are on time is socially adult but if we direct a comment towards someone who is always late it is from a Parent psychological or ego state. These states are indicated with a capital letter.

We learn these states from our parents and other caregivers and while we may never be aware that they are there, they are, and while we may never be aware that we jump around from one to the other, we do. They are biologically hardwired through years of experience and validation and for these reasons certain behavioral tendencies are really sticky and may never go away. Your Child is going to be your Child for most of your life. Your Parent is going to be your Parent for most of your life.

The Parent automates the day-to-day stuff that makes life manageable – shopping, cooking, cleaning, going to work, looking after loved ones – because it is both controlling and nurturing. The Child allows for play because it has been cultivated with a sense of freedom. Creativity is the realm of the Child and this represents an essential piece of a human beings spirit. The Child can become overly adapted however with the wrong proportions of control and nurture:

If Parent nurturing Then Child free.

If Parent controlling Then Child adapted.

The Adult ego state is reflective and purposeful. It exists in harmony with the universe as it calls upon past experience for information and solutions but transacts with the others in a deliberate way. It has well-established boundaries and accepts that each person has the right and responsibility to manage their own life and affairs. Adults engage in coaching with enlightenment or independence as the goal.

The goal of TA therapy is to coach the client to transacted with social and psychological states being aligned as Adult. They are aware of and use when appropriate their Child and Parent states but these are tools to use vs. compulsions to serve.

Why would Sean tell me about this? Because I needed to hear it as I was lacking a visual framework from which to logically represent what I have been feeling and living through.

My last post of 2011 was about how I had to accept that I didn’t know what my motivations were in most situations and why I act the way I do. I needed to give-up my belief that I know myself in order to finally observe how I act. This is still the case, but it’s getting easier. What is remarkable about it, is that once it was understood to me it became very easy to see things happen and feel the shift in my psychological state.

For example, I was recently compared to someone I didn’t like very much. There was a moment when I thought about what I had heard and what I wanted to say and then realized I didn’t really know what the comment meant. I replied with “yes, there are similarities between me and him.” It wasn’t the Child reply that initially popped into my head. Their reply was “well, actually, this is the one similarity” which was true. He and I both have a tendency to try and solve the problems of the people we care about; not necessarily a character flaw but it can be a Parent action. MOST people have this problem. The key thing with the interaction was that I didn’t let myself slip into an automatic Child-like reply of “yes, but…” The comment was accurate because the other person made it. The inverse comment would have been equally true – that he and I aren’t very similar. That’s the thing with conversations with people, almost everything is right under some circumstances so, well, what’s the point in arguing?

I know what I need to do, I know what I want to do and I haven’t been showing a lot of control over things. When I work and play, it’s purposeful and passionate. When I am a Parent, it’s about very few things in my own life and I do have a tendency to try and look out for the people I like. When I’m an Adult I’m okay and everyone else is okay.

Negative Love Syndrome - It Can Stop Here

A few weeks ago Sharyl sent me an article. It was a .pdf of The Negative Love Syndrome by Bob Hoffman. It is fascinating and I’ve read it a few times a week since I got it. It isn’t very long and it is another layer of explanation along the lines of how people observe, learn and practice things as a child that become their unconscious adult behaviors.

With Negative Love Syndrome (NLS), just like compassionate love, children normalize the early experiences of “love” they observe from their parents / caregivers interactions with them and each other. No matter WHAT happens, it will be regarded as normal and set the baseline for all love behavior moving forward; these early experiences shape the child’s future actions so they will work unconsciously and often against their own interests to ensure the baseline experience is restored. But with NLS, the children normalize seeking loving behaviors that do not add quality of live or are simply negative.

For example, when mommy withdraws and doesn’t tell dad what is bugging her, daddy yells and then she does. The boys learn that adult females are cold and conditionally open (when they get yelled at), the girls learn to bottle things it up until her partner gets verbally abusive. Provided the boy yells, both eventually get what they want so they remain in “love.” This is in contrast to compassionate love were the women may not talk openly, but her husband accepts that she will talk when ready and will not pressure her. Children viewing this will internalize appropriate boundaries, and both the need for and respect of another person’s privacy. While the boy will not learn how to make conditionally females open, he also doesn’t learn to attack an object. He learns that women are people, with feelings and that they will talk when they need to. The lesson a girl learns from watching her mother set-up and honor the boundaries can on serve to make her more empowered.

If left unresolved NLS will manifest itself as a series of games between the adult and their future partners although little if any of this is conscious. Seemingly healthy relationships will begin to suffer as the adult works to create the relationship of their parents; which is the reason why they suffer from NLS. If their partner doesn’t realize that this is happening and remains committed to having a healthy relationship, they begin to alter their actions and play the game as well. This is why NLS relationships create unusual experiences for those who normally engage others with compassionate love.

It makes perfect sense when you reflect on it. You need and want your parents to love and approve of you so you try to do what they did. Doing something different than what they did will be tough because it goes against most of what you learned; it will feel and likely be perceived as rebellion. The assumption people make when they choose to get into a relationship is to work towards the bond that their parents had. One does not necessarily realize that this is what they are doing because they engage most parts of their life without the impact of NLS such that they may pick suitable candidates for girl or boy friends, ones who offer compassionate love, but once their own feelings of love begin to develop the negative love tendencies start to come out and degrade things quickly.

The confusing thing is that often what they are receiving is EXACTLY what they need and know they want but since it doesn’t feel like negative love it is rejected. The consequence of compassionate love being rejected tends to be a withdrawal from the rejecter - a negative love trait. So by rejecting the thing they want and need in their life, they are able to experience the thing that makes them feel normal and shittie.

People are going to be nuanced when how they manufacture a negative love environment so the games that get played can be very complex, engrossing and red herrings in terms of what is actually happening. Think about it, you are engaging someone with a very fast brain, that has automated and normalized something to the point of it falling outside of their consciousness so they are not even aware of what they are actually doing, let alone why they may be doing it. They KNOW something isn’t right, but resist all coaching in an effort to win the game.

The prognosis is good but only if the person is willing to change, so the outcome for most is poor. I have known a couple of people who have been able to find their way out of the darkness and would be confident that if someone is willing to work at it, they can get better. It takes time and a keen awareness of how you are thinking. But first it takes the person to realize that there is something wrong and a willingness to press pause, let things settle and see how the landscape looks.

Being Honest About Time

Seeing life slip away can be beautiful. It has a big impact on the willingness for honesty and there’s a dramatic shift towards being authentic. Why pretend anymore? There’s a big difference between having 6 and believing you have 500 and knowing you have 6. When you know you have 6 you’ll enjoy them fully and you’ll not let anyone take any from you.

And I suppose that we all think we have 500 so we float along enjoying some, sharing others, and allowing some to be stolen from us.

Cancer is greedy. It takes more than it’s fair share of the 500. It takes more than what we let others steal. But it gives something in return those who steal do not, it illuminates the end of the timeline. The flash of the terminal diagnosis shines brightly on what you have left so following the path to the end is very easy. You clear your schedule of the stuff that steals any of the time that remains.

You call in your troops and they shield you from the nonsense. The family pick to block obnoxious one on ones, musical chairs to maintain the wall of one between the cancer and the cancer, it’s a play book being written with each visit from someone who never mattered to us and always seemed to cost us energy.

It’s a sad sort of dream team simply because it is needed.

I’ve been left wondering after a well played game why I’m in this situation and what other things have I been letting into my life that share the same root cause.

I really want to be liked by other people. At least I used to want this. I’m not sure it’s worth the cost anymore; not to assume it ever was. I’ve normalized this habit though. I’m more aware of the interactions with people that leave me feeling unsettled than I am about the ones that leave me feeling nothing. In the last 3 years I’ve started to tread away from these types of interactions in favor of ones that leave me feeling good but I still have a tough time telling people to get away from me or just ending “friendships” that never worked.

The new awareness that death comes sooner and that time becomes more valuable as you near the end is forcing the issue about the pointlessness of wanting to be liked by other people. Almost everyone I know now will not be there when I die. The people I am choosing to generate mental friction about are not even aware of it and none of them will be there in the end. Wanting to be liked isn’t working for me anymore so I’m giving up on that habit. It hasn’t been authentic for a long time.

Narcissism - A Social Need For The Unenlightened

I wondered for a long time why so many seemingly normal and highly functional people constantly find themselves at the source of all of the bad things that happen in their world yet take responsibility for few of their own actions. It was disturbing until Des told me that believing you’re are a piece of unlovable crap is a sure fire way to ensure that you seek out the social situations to validate your lack of value. Initially it struck me as odd until I saw Donald Trump talking on TV and it hit me that there is a man who doesn’t really care what anyone thinks of him. He’s not narcissistic, he’s confidence because he knows he has a lot of value and this prevents him from needing other people’s approval. He’ll settle for their money and he’s just right for that.

If you are able to consider the inverse - that you are unlovable - you’ll see how seeking out this type of validation is a much bigger a social motivator than KNOWING you are the best. People who know what they bring to the table do not seek out proof of this from others because knowing it is all that is needed. I had an old girlfriend who would talk about things she knew nothing about but when it came time to debate about the things she knew, there was no debate. No need, I didn’t know what I was talking about. She’d correct me and then move on if I continued to disagree. What’s funny is that she would debate endlessly when she was full of crap.

This is one of my favorite topics as I age because I am uncovering more and more people who don’t understand that their motivation to see themselves as the center of the world and the cause of everything is a symptom of a sense of unlove-ability and that it is paying service to something that happened when they were growing-up. More often that not, their narcissism is a result of an incomplete developmental stage and an inaccurate pairing of cause and effect - for example, very attractive people tend to become narcissistic as they age because they were never recognized for their efforts (the things they can control) and tend to receive favor simply for being good looking. Their pathological behavioral patterns will tend to pop out any time they begin to feel overwhelmed by someone they view as better than them (a meaningless distinction) or anytime they feel the withdrawal of approval. They will often say the oddest things that you cannot reconcile in your head because they are not based on fact. To them though, they are based on fact; they are based on the interpretation of the evidence which just happens to see them as unlovable.

We tolerate this from children, movie stars and anyone we want something from because we can’t actually care that much about people who view themselves as unlovable because they tend to act in unlovable ways and alienate those who bring them kindness - they are dishonest, they create drama where it didn’t need to be, they involve others in their and other peoples business, they denigrate others in an attempt to make themselves feel or look better, they tell you who you can and cannot be friends with and they will throw you under the bus as soon as they realize that you are not treating them as unlovable as they act. Narcissism is obvious once you’ve seen it and the people it afflicts are toxic to those unfortunate to have to continue to engage them.

The prognosis is poor for these types of people because they are incapable of seeing their actions has shaping their world - I’ve yet to meet one who later said “I was creating all of my bad luck because I was acting unlovable.” Sadly for them and the people they impact, you tend to hear “look what you made me do” or “that isn’t fair” when you treat them the same way they treat you.

Chances are they are too heavily invested in keeping their delusion going to actually look at the root cause of their actions.

Toxic People - Let Them Hear Themselves - Possible Solution

The premise of the post Toxic People - Controlling Communication = Control was that toxic / controlling people are able to keep the upper hand because they are able to control the communication behaviors of their victim. By preventing the victim from getting external opinions, the abuser is able to maintain their high level of influence. This is very effective for maintaining control of the tone and to heavily shape the thoughts of the victim. However, it only works IF the abuser is able to prevent new information from entering or their abusive behavior leaving the confines of the relationship. Once an external opinion is thrust into the mix, their influence is diminished and the victim begins to regain power, control and perspective.

However, in many cases you can stop the verbal abuse very quickly letting the abuser hear what they are saying by recording their words and playing them back for them.

A recent example of this left me laughing out loud at just how quickly the abuse stopped. A female friend has been making some very positive situational changes in her life to which her soon-to-be-ex is opposed. He has a tendency to lose control when he’s talking and end’s up shouting, making false accusations and generally acting like a delusional person.

She just got sick of listening to his insentient crap and began to record the conversations. It has been going on for some time and he didn’t notice that she was doing it until this week. When he asked her what she was doing and found out that she has recording his abusive rant, he got angry and played the victim card “I can’t believe you would do that to me” to which she replied “I just want you to stop being mean to me in front of our children”. Then it hit him, she had been doing this for some time and he hadn’t noticed, he says “how long have you been doing this?” Her reply “long enough,” he’s been acting inappropriately for a very long time and she got a number of his abusive rants on record. He knows that his voice, his abuse is on tape so the rest of the world is now aware of the situation and of who he really is. What was once his word against her’s is simply now just his words on tape. And his words are actually kind of sad when you embrace the fact that this is a grown man acting younger than their 6 year old.

He’s stopped talking to her because he’s well aware that the world knows who he really is and that he is unable to control himself when he talks to her because abuse is such a big part of who he is. What was once a nicely controlled situation is now being controlled by the facts - he will act abusively towards her in front of their children because that is who he is choosing to be. I think this was a great solution for her because it stopped the abuse immediately once he realized everyone knew who he real was.

Toxic People - The Suicide Card

In abusive relationships, when the victim is beginning to see and mentions that something is isn’t working for them, the stakes of the game are often raised dramatically. The threats of the abuser may increase in severity. One of the greatest threats is that of taking ones own life. The suicide Card.

The suicide card is effective in abusive relationships because the victim cares so much about the abuser that they do not like the thought of them ending their own life. The abuser is so good at manipulating the victim that they are able to engineer the situation by which the victim believes that their actions WOULD be the cause of the death of the abuser. While obviously not the case, as the abuser would be taking their own life, the thoughts of this action are so bad that the victim is not able to think logically and consider what is really going on. This makes sense, given that logical thought and emotional responses cannot exist at the same time, with emotional responses taking precedence over logic.

How to respond when someone you care about plays the suicide card and blames it on your actions:

Step one - calmly deal with the immediate situation. Their statement is emotional and based on a sense of a loss of control. Given this, you need to make sure that nothing bad happens while the emotion is there. Assume that they are telling the truth and do what you need to make sure no drastic action occurs. Basically, say anything. You have NO control over their emotional state and you should not engage them on the same terms as you engage people who aren’t toxic or abusive. Your goal is to put out the fire, make sure no one gets physically hurt and lower the emotional arousal as quickly as possible. This phase in the cycle of abuse will end fairly quickly if you focus on letting go of whatever was the trigger for the abuser to play the suicide card.

Step two - once the threat has subsided, take stock of your situation. The threat of suicide is a threat of violence. Unless you want to be in a violent relationship, you need to quickly accept that the partnership is unworkable and that failure to terminate it at this point will result in an escalation of violence. I have spoken to a number of people who have left abusive relationships and almost all of them said that the suicide card was played more than once. Repeated threats are so common that it is safe to conclude that unless the situation changes (the abuser gets therapy or the victim ends all contact with the abuser) the suicide card will be played again. While I believe that therapy can definitely help an abuser identify the cause of their actions, they need to seek the help spontaneously and NOT as a condition of reconciliation.

Step three - tell someone you respect about what has happened. This will give you a chance to say it out loud which will often shed a new objective light on what has happened - saying it out loud to a parent, sibling or close friend makes the thing real and moves it away from seeming like some mental movie scene that we tend experience traumatic things as. Telling someone else about it will make returning to the abusive situation more challenging because you may end up feeling kind of dumb for even considering it. It is also a way for you to ask for help from them. People who love you want the best for you, and they’ll be able to remain more objective about the whole situation as they are not emotionally involved in it. Just make sure that you confide in someone who isn’t themselves a toxic or abusive person.

Step four - change your mind set. Given that most abusers do NOT seek therapy spontaneously, which is a condition for it to be effective, you need to accept that the abuser will not change; some do but the number is so low that to believe you are with one of the people who will isn’t realistic, particularly after they have threatened to commit suicide. You also need to accept that you give them the power because you care about them. Put these two conditions together and it should be evident that the situation is not workable EVER. You get the power back by taking it back. My opinion here is that the best way to take back the power when someone plays the suicide card is to consider, in your head, that they have been successful in their threat and that they are no longer alive. Action on this and stop talking to dead people. Ignore them, if you have to talk to them do not allow the conversations to last very long and do not answer their questions when they ask “why” because, again, these are not the types of questions you usually get from people who are dead. By engaging them again, you give them the power to hurt you and make no mistake about it, if you let them back into your life, THEY WILL HURT YOU AGAIN because that is how they interact with their world. It happens that someone will play the suicide card in their early 20’s and again in their early 30’s so do not fool yourself into believing that they will change.

Step five - take a long time to process EVERYTHING that has happened. There is a pattern to it and you must identify it. It isn’t enough to say “I’m not going to let that happen again” because you were powerless to stop it in the first place as you enabled the persons behavior by staying with them - playing the suicide card is not usually the first attempt at manipulation. You NEED to be able to observe this type of behavior very early on to prevent entering into an abusive relationship.

Step six - when you start to date again, or get into a relationship, LEAVE IMMEDIATELY if the manipulation starts. Controlling your partners actions is rarely appropriate and until an abuser sees their behavior as inappropriate, makes the decision to change it and follows through on making the changes permanent, they are useless to you and will drain you of your will to care about people. They have a major problem, don’t make it yours by allowing them to treat you like garbage.

If someone tells you that they are going to kill themselves because of something you have done, try to see the immediate crisis resolved. Once they have calmed down, get away from them and pretend they have died. They may never do it, but if they do, you need to make sure it doesn’t have a huge negative impact on you because murdering yourself has nothing to do with other people.

Toxic People - How Interactions SHOULD Leave You Feeling

My understanding of a toxic person is someone who is able to evoke a negative emotional response within another person. When it comes to a controlling person, they use these negative emotions to get other people to change their behavior.Almost everyone knows a toxic person but many people have not identified them because their behavior is unanticipated. Evoking negative emotional responses or guilt within other people is not a socially enhancing trait so most people do not possess or use their capacity to do it. As a consequence to its rarity, the victim doesn’t even know they are being manipulated. Very often your first awareness of their toxic nature is not you feeling like crap being around them, but comes out when someone asks the question “is there anyone in your life who seems to leave you feeling bad or different from how you view yourself?”

Very often the answer is “yes” and it is then followed with the question “what does that mean?” It means, simply, that you have someone in your life who is able to get you to feel bad things that you do not spontaneously feel. They are able to do this without changing anything about the physical environment so, in essence, they are able to control your internal environment in the form of your emotional state.

The real world implications of having a toxic person in your life is that you will need to be very diligent when engaging them as they are not entering the conversation with the same motives of purity as you are. They are after something, they are out for themselves, and you are just a tool or an object that will help them achieve their end goal. Make no mistake about it, you are not an individual to them. You are a means to an end and you will be used up as they move themselves toward their goal. The safe guard comes when you realize that they are not working with the world under the same assumptions you are and when you make the conscious and permanent decision to treat them as an enemy to an objective reality. They are only dangerous to you when you let your emotions be controlled by them.

My advice to EVERYONE when it comes to interacting with other people is that you should be left feeling one of three things after the interaction. At worst, you should feel no different from how you felt with you started the interaction; your mood and outlook should remain unchanged. At best you should feel either elation or challenged. Elation is very positive as it indicate an improvement in your mood. Challenged is fantastic too as it indicates a possible or pending change in your understanding of the world.

For example, when I visit my friend Tony, most of our interactions leave me feeling no different - this is because I am generally a happy person who enjoys laughing and when I hang out with Tony, we spend most of the time laughing and making jokes about everything. But since he has moving towards a career as an osteopath, a growing number of our conversations are about what he is learning, so I am left challenged to understand some new information he as given me or I leave the conversation with a changed understanding of my world - an understanding that is more complete and therefore elating to me. I NEVER leave my conversations with Tony feeling drained, emptied, guilty or bad. Tony isn’t a toxic person.

Toxic People - How They Do It

If someone was to tell you that they were going to get you to pay for their lunch, when you had no intention of paying for it, you would likely laugh at them and say “buy your own!” But a lot of people spend a lot of their time and money buying individuals lunch, or clothes, trips, groceries, rent, etc… basically paying for things that they don’t want to pay for, things that they don’t personally need or want, and parting with time and money for things that have no direct positive impact on their life.

Why do some good people give away so much time and money to people who only care about getting the time and money? Simply because they are being psychologically manipulated by someone who is skilled at getting people to feel particular things.

The Wikipedia Psychological Manipulation page is fantastic! It reveals a number of techniques that can be used to create a feeling within someone that will help you to gain the upper hand in an interaction that will help you part them from their time, money and positive emotion. I do not condone behaving like this, but given the prevalence of emotionally impaired people in the world, one is wise to be aware of how they gain the upper hand in during interactions. NOTE - there are a number of people who can be lumped into category of toxic people including sociopaths, psychopaths, histrionic / narcissistic personality disorder and people who are insecure or suffer thoughts of being inferior to others so the chances of your not being exposed to someone who uses psychological manipulation to get you to do their work from them are pretty small. By learning their weapons, you’re going to go a long way in disarming them.

Below are a few of the techniques that I have seen used effectively on other people:

Lying and lying by omission - someone says something that isn’t true or they leave out a critical fact that prevents you from seeing things objectively. For example, a girl claiming that her body friend went out without her while not stating that she told him she was too busy to go out with him (lying by omission). A guy claiming that his girl friend went on a date with another guy when in fact she went to work. Neither is an objective account of the world.

Guilt tripping - a person suggests to the victim that they do not care, is selfish or has it very easy which creates bad feelings in the victim keeping them in a self-doubting and therefore submissive position. For example, a student telling someone they want to pay for their school that because they are able to work, they have money and don’t know who tough the life of a student is.

Projecting the blame - blaming another person for things that they had a clear hand in creating. For example, when someone puts off doing something until the last minute only to have something pop-up that prevents them from completing the task; the issue becomes what came-up and NOT putting the thing off until the last minute.

Playing the victim - by projecting the notion that they are actually the victim they are able to garner sympathy from others. For example, someone playing up their challenging upbringing as an excuse for behaving in a way that they know is inappropriate. While there are things about ones upbringing that will impact their future choices, adults reach a point when they are able to see their behavior as wrong as indicated by their citing a poor upbringing as the reason why they did the wrong thing.

So how do you use the above to get someone to buy you lunch? Let’s give it a shot! How to avoid buying lunch is in italics:

Lying - Can you please buy me lunch because I haven’t had anything to eat all day because my ex boy friend emptied my back account when we broke-up with me this weekend? You should talk to the police about that, sounds like a crime has been committed. Call them on their words. If what they are saying is true, a call to the police will take care of it very quickly.

Guilt tripping - I’m so hungry! How can you eat that sushi in front of me given me that I haven’t eaten all day? Strangely, you being hungry isn’t impacting the flavor one bit. This lets them know that their experience of the world does not impact you.

Projecting the blame - I had to pay for cab fare last night so that my friend wouldn’t drive home drunk and now I don’t have any money left for food. Sounds like you care more about your friends than you do yourself. Here’s my phone, call them up and get them to pay you for the cab fair. Presenting the solution objectively will let them know that you see the world very clearly.

Playing the victim - someone stole my jacket from coat check and it had my wallet in it. Now I’m not able to buy lunch because someone stole from me. You need to start taking care of your things. It’s pretty unwise to leave your wallet at coat check. By letting them know that they created the situation themselves your give them the information to prevent it from happening again.

The key is to not respond in the natural automatic emotional way. Take what they give you and run with it. They just want a free lunch, they don’t want wisdom, humor or anything enlightened so give them these things and they’ll move on to the next person who may have the money to buy them what they want.

Toxic People - Controlling Communication = Control

A common experience reported by individuals who are in abusive and toxic relationships is that of a strong effort by the abuser to control the communication that the victim has with their friends and family. Often disguised as a sincere attempt to protect the victim, the abuser will subtly imply that a friend or family member isn’t exactly as the victim believes they are - the suggestion of a questionable work ethic may come-up, questionable morals, or a general statement of disgust or just “not liking them”. This is great ammo for toxic people as victims in these relationships are prone to believe what the abuser says. It’s a war of attrition and over time it’s the small things that help to give an erroneous or controlling notion traction.

The abuser does have a lot to lose in that their illusion of control may hang in the balance; at the very least, the abuser will need to escalate their manipulation attempts once the victim begins to talk to other people usually starting with stronger efforts of character assassination once the victims communication with an objective outsider increase.

What is the abuser afraid of? Simply put, they KNOW there is something not entirely right about the relationship dynamics and they know that in a group of two, their influence has at least 50% of the impact and more likely much higher than that given their overbearing, controlling and manipulative nature. They are also aware that adding a third perspective into the mix can dramatically reduce the level of control they have as this will dilute their influence, particularly when the opinion goes against the abuser - check out Solomon Asch experiments on conformity - were one person agreeing with the victim is often enough for them to break free from the grip of the abuser.

Speaking to other people also affords the victim an opportunity to clearly define what is going on, and this is often very effective at helping someone see what is happening in their life. Friends and family tend to ask lots of questions about things that don’t make any sense so the practice of explaining these can help add some objectivity to an unclear situation. Objectivity is NOT what abusers want so they will often try to limit and control the communication of their partners.

People in healthy relationships do not fear their partners talking to other people because they have nothing to hide. If you find your partner, or yourself, trying to control the external communication, you should take this as a warning sign that the motives may not be as pure as they should be. Take some time to examine the reasons given for discouraging the communication and make whatever adjustments you need to in order to address the situation appropriately.