Aggressive personalities of all types use manipulation tactics to get their way. (See also: Aggressive Personalities: Part 1). And covert-aggressors are the penultimate manipulators. These folks know how to appear benign. They have the skill to charm and endear others. In short, they know how to look good without truly being good. You generally realize who they really are in character after years of emotional abuse. But before you see things as they are you can feel pretty crazy. You may sense in your gut that there’s something not right about them. But the tactics they employ invite you to believe there’s something wrong with you. This is the “gaslighting” effect. (See also: Covert Aggression Causes Gaslighting)
Covert-aggressors reveal themselves by the manipulation tactics they prefer to use. But you have to recognize and understand these tactics to truly empower yourself. You have to know how they operate. That helps you define their character. Then you have to know how to respond to their tactics. That not only empowers you but helps you see things as they really are. It puts an end to the gaslighting effect. (See, especially: pp. 109-162 in In Sheep’s Clothing.)
They Know What They’re Doing
We’ve been conditioned to think that most people do things unwittingly. Accordingly, we think if we bring things to their awareness, we’ll make things better. And while this can sometimes indeed be the case, we can’t take this for granted in our character-disturbed age. There are too many out there who hurt us not because they’re not aware, but rather because they don’t care. Most manipulative characters know exactly what they’re doing. But they feel perfectly entitled to take advantage. In their selfishness, having their way is all that matters. So, they look for ways to manipulate your compliance.
A Common Mistake
People in manipulative relationships make the same mistake some therapists do. They assume the problem character just doesn’t get it. And then they make it their business to try and get them to “see” the error of their ways. They avoid confronting destructive behaviors directly. And they muse too much about what the underlying and presumed unconscious motivation might be.
To put an end to the gaslighting effect you have to become immune to manipulation tactics. You have to recognize them for what they really are:
- powerful weapons of interpersonal and emotional warfare
- crafted in a manner making them difficult to discern as such
- effective “impression management” tools
Knowing what someone is really up to when they use these tactics is a game changer. Refusing to be swayed and standing ground is an even bigger game changer. And knowing how to respond in straightforward, ways changes the game completely. No more feelings of craziness. No more self doubt. Only healthy self-assurance. For many, it’s a whole new life.
Character Matters is piloting on a potential new network. Accordingly, 6 episodes will be airing in advance of a new program with a new time and format. Provisions will be made for taking calls. I’ll have more on developments as time goes on. Here’s a link to the initial program on Mental Health News Radio (part of the Mental Health Radio Network).