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Emotional Manipulation

On September 26th, 2018

Posted In:
blog | Emotions

I got mad at my husband this morning.
He didn’t do something he was supposed to do and I ended up having to do it. Like super mad. It happens in relationships. I’m human. So is he.

But then I stayed mad. Being a coach, it’s just become a habit to mentally dig into my unpleasant emotions (especially if I’m reeeaaally stuck). Plus, I know that whenever I’ve got negative emotions directed at someone else, I’m feeling disappointed. That’s a red flag for me that I’ve got some expectations in place and am living in my should story instead of reality. So I set off on a little mental inquiry.

One thing I knew for sure was that I was manufacturing emotions. Mad showed up. No big deal. BUT. When it was naturally ready to exit, I started telling myself a story about all the ways he takes advantage of me and I blah blahed myself down the martyr hole. So Mad got to stay as a lead character.

Okay, Stacy, drop the story.
Why was I choosing this narrative? Why did it feel necessary? Because truthfully, I could feel that I was choosing it even if I didn’t want it.

It seemed I wanted to be mad at him as some kind of protective measure. The simple and loving response would just be to say, “Hey, when you didn’t do that thing, I had to do it instead and I really didn’t have time for it. Help a girl out next time? Thanks, sweetie!”

But somewhere in my mind I had some weird programming that didn’t trust that tactic. I seemed to believe that if I didn’t deliver feedback with my mad energy attached, he wouldn’t change the behavior. Like the request itself wasn’t enough. I had to get mad, too.

How lame, right? Doesn’t that just encourage the other person to make sure they don’t make you mad again? It isn’t so much that they'll want to help you out more.

It’s so manipulative, right?! I mean, not that I was consciously trying to manipulate, but once I took a step back and really looked at it, that was exactly what I was doing. Manufacturing emotions to manipulate someone’s actions. Gulp.

I very much believe that everything showing up in my life has a purpose.
None of it is random. All of the ways my husband challenges me (read pisses me off) are there to help me grow.

Perhaps this was a beautiful opportunity for me. Where else was I using my emotional reaction to manipulate people into doing what I want? That sounds harsh, I know. But, intentionally or not, it felt a little true.

And there is a flip side. Where did my original idea come from that people won’t show up differently if there isn’t an emotional reaction? Do I do that to others? Do I keep showing up the same lame way for someone until they get mad or hurt or sad about it?

I don’t know that it is reflected so much in my actions, but I can see it in my thoughts. The people I am the most afraid to disappoint are the ones that have an emotional reaction to what I do. Isn’t that interesting.

That just seems so backwards. Then again, maybe they’re accommodating and forgiving because they’ve already done all of this same work and let go of expectations. It’s definitely something for me to keep working on.

I share this little experience with YOU for a few reasons.
1. EVERYONE has all the emotions. Nobody out there, including me, gets to avoid them.
2. There is a big difference between natural emotions and manufactured emotions.
3. We sometimes use emotions to manipulate other people, even if we don’t know we are doing it. Let’s stop that and see what happens.
4. The people disappointing you have been put in your life for a reason. Take some time to figure out what that is, my friend.
5. Let’s make sure we keep showing up for ALL the people, not just the ones throwing emotional fits.

That’s all. Love you.

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