How do you know if someone is manipulating you?

Listen to your feelings!

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Manipulation? Listen to your feelings!

1/ What are you doing? – Whose interest does it serve: yours or others?

Are you doing what you prefer not to do? Are you on a mission by doing some favor for your family members, friends or acquaintances?

Yes? – You might be manipulated.


2/ What are you feeling while you’re doing it?

A.) “Happy. I enjoy doing it.”

Nope, you’re not manipulated.

B.) “I would rather do my own business.” “Why did I undertake that?” “What good is coming from this for me?” “I am being taken advantage of.” “Other people do this for good money.”

Yes? – You might be manipulated.


3.) Why did you decide to do it even though you did not want to?

A.) “Because it’s good (healthy, beneficial, pays off) FOR ME in the long run.”

Nope, you’re not manipulated.

B.) “Because otherwise s/he would think I am not good enough in some measure: not a good friend, not a good neighbor, not a good coworker, morally inferior, weak, sick, controlling or selfish. By avoiding these negative evaluations, I succumb and do what others expect me to do.

In other words, you try to avoid experiencing guilt, shame or anxiety.

Yes! – You might be manipulated!

Formula of manipulation:

1: You make effort for OTHER’S INTEREST, while
3: You do it against your will and interest because you want to avoid being labeled negative – feeling guilty, ashamed or worried by its implication.


If I boil it down completely, the formula is:

1: Whose interest?
2: Your feelings now?
3: Your feelings when you said yes.


If you do something that is in your interest and you sincerely want to do it as well as feeling OK about it: you do this from your will. Therefore, no manipulation is involved.

If you do something that you don’t want to, it is not in your best interest, especially when you feel exploited, or taken advantage of. You can be suspicious of manipulation.


Your feelings give you the first information. It might be hazy at the beginning but it says: It’s not OK. You might feel frustration, you might feel embarrassment, you might be angry. All of it comes with confusion, mostly because of the manipulator’s mixed messages: “I do it for you!” –   ”You misunderstand my motifs.”

Your manipulator wants to discredit your negative feelings in order to keep you in his/her track: “You are too sensitive!”” You are so selfish.” “You get angry so easily!” The goal of these interactions is making you believe that your feelings are not valid, not true, and lacking any base.

Don’t buy into it! Your feelings are your best friends! They are grounded to your physiology, you feel the adrenalin rush in your veins when you are scared: this makes you capable of fight or flight. You feel the serotonin-dopamine in your brain when you are happy.  This encourages you to maintain that state. Although subjective, your emotions are very real. Believe them! If you feel it is “Not OK!”, accept them and realize  it’s not OK for you! Figure out exactly what you feel and try to understand why you feel that way.


It sounds silly why you said yes if you really did not want to. Consequently, you end up suffering from it. Not so much! Don’t blame yourself! This is the well chosen motivation from the part of the manipulator: you wanted to avoid an even bigger threat: the terrifying emotions of guilt, shame and anxiety.

Examine the reason why you chose doing it in the first place.  If the person who asked it implied a judgment that people who are not behaving in a certain way are “xyz” (harsh judgment, even name calling), you probably tried to avoid being seen as a “xyz” whatever that might be.

This is the quintessence of manipulation: imposing guilt, shame or anxiety and show the way how to avoid it. The target of manipulation will act as s/he expected even if it’s inconvenient in order to avoid the “big threat”: feeling guilty, ashamed or worried.

Listen to your feelings and accompany them with rational understanding: this is the first step in disabling manipulation!

Reveal And Override Emotional Manipulation
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