Welcome to Hard Talk. I'm Isaiah. You're here for the hard truth and I'm here to give it to you. You can evade reality but you can't avoid the consequences of doing so. Manipulative people want you to think that you will never get ahead no matter how hard you work. They want you to believe that other people's happiness and success are more important than your happiness and success. They want you to join them and they're evading the simple fact that you are responsible for your own life and deserve everything you achieve or don't achieve. Manipulative people want unearned respect as if respect, the effect, could give them personal value, the cause. They want unearned admiration as if admiration, the effect, could give them virtue that's worth admiring. They want unearned money and success as if success, the effect, could give them ability, the cause.
Now when I was in graduate school, my advisor whenever he got upset he would shout, "Listen to me, I'm the boss. I'm in charge." Look, if you have to tell people you're in charge, you're not in charge. This guy desperately wanted respect from everyone around him. The problem was he hadn't done anything to earn our respect. He wanted the effect without the cause. This is what manipulative people do. They want to pressure you to give them things like your time, energy, and resources, without having earned it. They want to obligate you into doing things to their benefit only. Everyone knows they should stay away from manipulative people. But how do you know if someone is manipulative? What are the red flags?
Well there are three red flags, three warning signs that will tell you when you're dealing with a manipulative person. First, you know you're dealing with a manipulative person when they use the fact that they care about you to control your behavior. "You wouldn't do this if you cared about me as much as I care about you." Or, "I do it because I care about you. If you cared, you'd do the same." We've all heard these manipulative pleas before.
Listen, you can care about anyone you want to care about. You don't need permission to care. In the same way, other people can care about you whether or not you give them permission to care. But just because someone chooses to care about you does not mean you must care about them in the same way in return. Sure, it's healthy to be polite and cordial to people. But don't confuse politeness with penance. You don't owe other people anything. Just because someone really likes you does not mean you have to really like them. Just because someone considers you in every decision they make does not mean you have to consider them in every decision you make. It sounds harsh but it's true. What's truly harsh is trying to control someone passive aggressively by making them feel guilty. You must guard yourself against feeling like you owe other people things simply because they say they care about you. Otherwise these people will take advantage of you by playing the victim.
Second, you know you're dealing with a manipulative person when they expect you to take their feelings into account for every decision you make about your own life. Look, your happiness is independent of anyone else's happiness. No one has a right to tie their happiness to you and your actions without your permission and then expect you to behave in a way that keeps them happy. No one has any claim to your time just because you spent time with them in the past. Everyone is responsible for their own happiness. You're not responsible for how someone else feels. You can't feel for anyone else. It's impossible. A person's feelings are the effect of their decisions, not the effect of your decisions. You're not responsible for causing other people's happiness. Sure, you should want to make other people happy, but you're not obligated to do it at the expense of your own happiness.
Third, you know you're dealing with a manipulative person when they work to make your life harder simply because they're unhappy with their life. Some people don't like their own lives. Some people are lazy and miserable and like being that way. The problem is, misery loves company. When someone values misery they will try to make you miserable too. When someone values being a victim they will try to turn you into a victim as well. People who are unhappy will do whatever they can to make you unhappy too. They will use all kinds of psychological warfare to drag you down. They will use threats and guilt instead of logic and reason to get what they want from you. Be wary of these people. Stop trying to save them. Remember, they don't want to be happy. As soon as they show you their real colors cut them out of your life. Do this and you'll live a more confident and focused life. Until next time, live like a lion.