When we GIVE IN to others, we GIVE UP on ourselves

I’m all in favor of kindness and service to others, but not when it means allowing others to manipulate us. Refusing to allow others to walk all over us is not about being selfish or self-centered, but of being self-aware. It’s about understanding we are responsible for our own lives. If we GIVE IN to others, we GIVE UP on ourselves.

This article is about people manipulating others. Let’s start with a definition. Manipulation is about being used, abused, intimidated, coerced, pressured, bullied, or ‘brainwashed’ into doing something you don’t want to do. When we do something that is not in our best interest simply because we were pressured into it, we surrender our personal power and turn control over our lives to others. Unlike cats, we have only one life; so, don’t turn it over to someone else.

We are here to help others, but we cannot help others until we help ourselves. How can we make others strong if we ourselves are weak? How can we teach others to defend their rights when we do not defend our own? There is enough unhappiness is the world, it needs more people spreading joy. Yet, when we do what we don’t want to do, we add to the unhappiness in the world.

We help one another by engaging in a series of transactions. We make exchanges of value. For example, I agree to work for my boss and he agrees to pay me a salary. As long as he pays me, he is living up to his part of the bargain and I am obligated to work for him. But manipulation involves no exchange of value. For instance, a coworker comes up to me and says, “I’m moving into a new apartment Sunday and need a lot of help. If you don’t help me move in, I’ll be very disappointed.” The coworker is trying to manipulate me. He wants free labor and in exchange promises not to feel “disappointed.” He is acting like a child threatening to throw a temper tantrum unless it gets its way.

I’m not responsible for my coworkers’ feelings. I would hope he chooses to be happy and joyful, but if he chooses to be unhappy and disappointed; well, that’s up to him. Because of the absence of an exchange of any value, I am not obligated to help him. Nor do I owe him any explanation or apology. So, the conversation may go something like this:

“Sorry, Bob, but I have something else planned for Sunday.”

“How long will you be busy on Sunday?”

“All day.”

“What are you doing that’s so important?”

“Leading my life by doing what I want to do. It’s something I recommend to everyone.”

“I’m disappointed in you, Chuck; I thought I could count on you.”

“If you want someone to count on, call the moving company.”

I’ll stop here, but manipulators can be persistent. They hope you will break under the pressure. If Bob were to persist, I would just break off the conversation with something like, “Sorry, Bob, but I already gave you my answer. I wish you luck. Now I’ve got to get back to work. See you later.” Also, when standing up for our rights, there is no need to reply in a hostile tone. We can remain polite, but firm.

Bob, my coworker, is just an acquaintance, but Jim is a friend. Compare Jim’s conversation with Bob’s. “Chuck, I’m getting ready to move again. I know you’re working on your basement. If you give me a hand moving, I’ll help you out in your basement.”

There’s a big difference in conversations, isn’t there? That’s because Jim is not a manipulator. Cooperation is the opposite of manipulation. He offered to exchange something of value. I was happy to help because we both got each other’s job done in half the time and had fun doing so.

To avoid being a victim, remain on the alert. If someone asks you to do them a favor and you can’t say NO without fear or YES without resentment, you are a victim. If you are, it’s time to regain your power. No one stole it from you, you handed it over to them. Now take it back. After all, you can’t live for others without squandering your own life. When you are in control, doing what you want to do, you will be happy and in the position to spread happiness to others. But when you reluctantly follow the wishes of others, you will be resentful and spread misery. You owe it to yourself and others to remain in control of your life.

Although you should be on the alert, there is no need to fear the attempts of others to manipulate you. For their attempts will give you the opportunity declare, decide, and develop into the person you want to be. Further, once you understand why they are trying to manipulate you, you fear will be replaced with compassion. And because of your compassion, your assertiveness will never change to aggression.

Why do some people try to manipulate others? Because they’re weak. Weak people are not to be feared, but to be pitied. Their weakness comes in many forms and includes feelings of inadequacy and incompetence. They try to get others to do what they believe they cannot do. They try to compensate for their feelings of powerlessness by gaining power over others. People like this don’t care which way the car is going as long as they remain in the driver’s seat.

Also, people who live miserable lives like to make others miserable too. When they are successful in doing so, they find some relief by diverting their attention from their own pain to the pain of others. Also, they may be afraid that if they ask for what they want, you may refuse, so they try to manipulate you instead. Some manipulators have distorted thinking. They either believe they are superior and entitled to their demands or they feel they are treated as inferiors and therefore are entitled to special privileges.

Whatever the cause, it’s based on weakness. So, whenever they try to get their way by making you feel guilty, refuse to give in to them, but do so in a gentle caring way; after all, they’re weak, and you’re not. When facing manipulation, don’t give in to fear. Don’t be afraid of losing a friend, hurting their feelings, or disappointing them. You are responsible for your life, not theirs. Remain vigilant and ignite in your heart the flame of courage, for as Helena Petrova Blavatsky (1831-91) wrote, “The more thou dost advance, the more thy feet pitfalls will meet. The Path that leadeth on is lighted by one fire — the light of daring burning in the heart. The more one dares, the more he shall obtain. The more he fears, the more that light shall pale.”


  1. This article is very informative and true. It is a reminder of some things I know I do but helpful to the areas I need work in. I will now try my best not to manipulate others and have more respect and compassion towards everyone.

  2. I’ve enjoyed reading the article. While reading it all sots of thoughts flowed through me. Remembering the times I was manipulated and probably have manipulated others. Sometimes we are not aware of this .We call it winning, when we see that I works to get our way we seem to continue on. I learn something new every day!

  3. Thank you so much for this article, and thank you SLM for believing the daughter. I’m still suffering from this from BOTH my parents, and they manipulated my brother too. They have kept us in such a low position all our life, so hopefully I will find strength to get rid of this once and for all! I will remember that they are doing this because they’re weak, I’m scared but, I’ve gotten so much better over time WISH ME LUCK

  4. This article is very informative of why a person manipulates another and when to know inorder to stop being manipulated. The thing is ,the article should also mention what a person should do , inorder to reduce that attitude if this person decided to hold on to the manipulator ( husband , wife , brother sister , people you care for ) sometimes we just cant help being far , yet we cant accept bad behaviour . how would you do answer this . No condition is permanent in life , they cant just jump from being normal into being crazy or manipulative over the past years . it is because you allow it that it became and atitude you are now diagnosing .

  5. This article helped me understand what happens with my mother and I. She is a MASTER manipulator. She has everyone in my entire family dancing around her. It’s sick. I do pitty her. But for the other mothers out there that have daughters telling them this. It would behoove you to take heart. They girls are most likely not making it up. If you don’t see it, then do some real soul searching. Why would your daughter make this up? Why would a person cause conflict with their own mother if there wasn’t a real issue? I have had to stop talking to my mother all together and it’s so sad. I have a 4 month old daughter, but cannot sacrifice my happiness for my mother any longer. She is the biggest bully I have ever known. Please, if you are accused of this, you are probably doing it. So seek help for it. Go see a professional that can help you work through it. Your daughters are not mean, they are doing what they have to in order to be happy and productive individuals. Manipulation is a horrible thing!

  6. Wonderful article!! Chuck you have made much sense, it was an eye-opener to a youngster like me, I’ve just been duped and I still had feelings for the “manipulator” because I FELT SORRY / SAD FOR HIM! In that- I only wound up hanging up on myself. I have learnt my lessons and your article has wisened me up. Many Thanks!!

  7. I really dont care for the response. I find that I manipulate and have been for a long time and cant stand it. Often I find that am not aware of what has been happening until after the damage is done, after the mistake has been made. It does not honor myself or the other person nor is it respectful of yourself or the other person. I have been trying to take a spiritual approach to the problem. It is the only way I know how in order to have dignity and self respect.

  8. great article,deal with a person like this everyday at work, has everyone dancing to her attention. not easy like the article says you need to develop a life outside work and keep it to yourself.

  9. This is sometimes a personality disorder. My 31 year old daughter tells me this for years …I’m so sick of bad selfish behavior. Detach with love..take care of yourself..pray for her…its all in gods plan…

  10. This article was very helped me alot. But i have a 20 year old daughter, who is always accusing me of manipulating her. I read this article and i just do not see it. I know she can be that way at times. She has now told me that iam cut out of her and my grandchild to be lives. I can not wrap my brain around this. If you have any words of wisdom it would be greatly appreciated.

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