Table of contents:

10 beliefs that will help you resist manipulation
10 beliefs that will help you resist manipulation

The rules of behavior learned in childhood make it difficult to recognize someone else's influence. Here's how to avoid falling into a trap.

10 beliefs that will help you resist manipulation
10 beliefs that will help you resist manipulation

Imagine a situation: your boss doesn't like it when employees leave work on time. When this is observed, he shakes his head in displeasure and says: "Success is achieved only by those who do a little more than is required of them." As a result, you and your colleagues are ashamed to go home at six sharp. You spend an extra hour at work every day, although you manage to get everything done on time.

This behavior of the boss is a typical example of manipulation. With his attitude, he makes employees who leave on time feel lazy and unworthy of success. To prove that this is not the case, subordinates are delayed at work.

Manipulators influence our emotions in order to get what they need. For example, getting employees to work an extra hour for free.

American psychotherapist Manuel Smith, in his book Self-Confidence Training, expresses the idea that we unconsciously succumb to manipulation because we have become accustomed to it since childhood. Parents used the same psychological control method when we shouted and stamped our feet, "Good kids don't behave like that." They manipulated our emotions and behavior to keep us out of trouble and teach us how to live in society, to make us more “comfortable” for those around us. Now that we are grown up, manipulators use similar tactics to force us to act to our advantage.

According to Smith, the skill of assertion helps to resist manipulation. This is a person's ability not to depend on external influences and assessments, to independently regulate their own actions and be responsible for their consequences. Smith developed a model of assertive behavior that consists of 10 beliefs. The therapist advises to stick to them so as not to become a victim of manipulation.

1. I have the right to evaluate my behavior and be responsible for it

When we doubt that we can independently judge our own actions and decide what is right and important for us, we feel insecure and begin to look for some universal rules by which we can live. This is used by manipulators who impose on us the views of supposedly wiser and more authoritative people or invented rules of social structures. In fact, they just adjust our behavior so that we behave in a way that suits them.

“You’re raising your children wrong. I raised two, I know better.

  • Not assertive:"Tell me what am I doing wrong?"
  • Assertively:"I want to decide for myself how to bring up children."

2. I have the right not to make excuses for my behavior

Since childhood, we are accustomed to being accountable for our actions to other people. Parents, teachers, educators decided whether we were doing the right thing or not. Now we have grown up and are responsible for our own behavior. We no longer have to explain our actions to other people in order to get their approval. Those who demand excuses from us try to make us feel uncomfortable.

- Why don't you want to go to the concert?

  • Unassailable:"I don't feel well."
  • Assertively: "I just don't want to go to the concert."

3. I have the right not to take responsibility for other people's problems

Each of us provides our own well-being. We can help another person with advice or push him in the right direction, but we cannot make him happy if he is not ready to take responsibility for his life and learn to solve problems. When we feel like we have more obligations to other people or an institution than to ourselves, those around us rush to take advantage of this and impose their own difficulties on us.

- Pick me up from the airport tonight.

  • Unassailable: “I have a meeting in the evening, but I’ll come up with something.”
  • Assertively: “In the evening I have a meeting. Sorry, I can't help you."

4. I have the right to change my mind

Our opinion on certain issues changes throughout life. We develop, gain new experience, analyze different points of view and choose the best for ourselves. However, there are people who are uncomfortable with the change and resist our new choice. They force us to justify our new beliefs and apologize for old ones in order to convince us that something is wrong with us.

- You used to love juicy steaks, but now you suddenly became a vegetarian.

  • Unassailable: "Now I will explain to you why my views have changed."
  • Assertively: "My views have changed."

5. I have the right to make mistakes and be responsible for them

We all make mistakes, and that's okay. Failure is an inevitable part of life and a valuable experience that helps us become better. When we perceive mistakes as an absolute evil, which only unworthy, stupid and worthless people are capable of, we are easily manipulated. Having stumbled, we will try to make amends with the "correct" behavior and agree to any conditions.

- You are mistaken in the report.

  • Unassailable: “Sorry, I don’t know what came over me. I'm very embarrassed".
  • Assertively: “And it's true. Thanks for noticing. I'll fix everything today."

6. I have the right to say: "I do not know"

When we forget about our right not to be an expert in everything in the world, we become vulnerable to manipulation. Others rush to point out our ignorance to us and make us think that we are incompetent, irresponsible and unable to make decisions on our own. So, we need to be controlled.

- How can you not know this!

  • Unassailable: "Yes, I should read about it."
  • Assertively: "I don't have to know everything."

7. I have the right not to depend on the attitude of other people towards me

When we care too much about what others think of us, we drive ourselves into the trap of other people's opinions and preferences and forget about what is important to us personally. We react painfully to disapproval and are ready to sacrifice our own interests in order to return someone's favor. Other people can use our fear of rejection and threaten to stop loving us if we disobey.

“They think you’re boring because you don’t go to parties.

  • Unassailable: “I’ll go to parties more often so they don’t think about me that way.”
  • Assertively: “Let them count. I don't like parties."

8. I have the right to make illogical decisions

It happens that with the help of logic we try to explain very illogical things: desires, sympathies, values. We look for weighty arguments to justify our choice, and we doubt when we do not find such. At this point, other people can persuade us to make a decision that is beneficial to themselves if they come up with convincing arguments.

- I don't think you should go to the theater. There is fierce competition among the actors, and besides, they are not paid much. Better go to legal. Lawyers are always in demand and earn good money.

  • Unassailable: "You're right. Probably worth considering a career as a lawyer.”
  • Assertively: “I am aware of the risks. Nevertheless, I want to go to the theater, because I'm interested in it. I am ready to be responsible for my choice."

9. I have the right to say: "I do not understand you"

We may not always be able to understand what other people want, especially if they express their feelings non-verbally: with the help of an angry facial expression, silence, or a judgmental look. Instead of discussing the problem and finding a solution, they are trying to make us feel vaguely guilty for what we ourselves do not fully understand by their actions. None of us are able to read other people's thoughts, so it is absolutely normal in such a situation to say: "I do not understand what you want."

- Guess for yourself why I'm upset!

  • Unassailable: "Did I make you sad somehow? What can I do?"
  • Assertively: "Sorry but I do not understand. Please explain."

10. I have the right to say, "I don't care."

We tend to strive for excellence. We fight our weaknesses and work on ourselves to become better. It is worth stopping for a second, and we already feel lazy and lagging behind, we blame ourselves for wasted time. At this moment, we become vulnerable to other people's influence: others point to our inaction in order to shame us and force us to change our behavior. To avoid being manipulated, allow yourself to be imperfect sometimes.

- Stop playing computer games, it would be better to read books!

  • Unassailable: "I guess I'm really wasting my time on nonsense."
  • Assertively: “I know I could have been more productive, but right now I don't care. I just want to relax and play."

Assertive beliefs can help us get rid of childhood notions and ideas that make us feel anxious, uncomfortable, and guilty about who we are. It is more difficult for manipulators to influence our emotions and control our actions when we take responsibility for our own behavior and allow ourselves not to depend on the opinions of others.