Do you know someone who has ever wanted or managed to emotionally blackmail you? How was it? How did he behave? What did he threaten you with?
If you are reading this article it is because you surely feel identified in some way. It is hard to suffer emotional blackmail and even more so to run away from it, especially if it comes from someone very dear to us. When this happens normally, we are not aware that we are suffering from it and we tend to underestimate its effects or ignore the signs that tell us that we should flee without looking back.
What is emotional blackmail?
Emotional blackmail is a technique that some people use to manipulate someone from whom they are interested in obtaining a benefit (fulfill their wishes, keep them by their side because it gives them security, more attention on their part, etc.).
There are several types of emotional blackmail depending on what they cause:
-Fear: it can make you feel through threats causing feelings of guilt or fear “if you do this I will not talk to you again “, “if you do not do your homework I will punish you” , etc. They are things that are said so that the other person does not do or stop doing something that he was doing and that the blackmailer does not like.
-Guilt: the most widespread form of emotional blackmail is making the other feel guilty with phrases such as “with everything I’ve done for you …”, “no one helped you except me …”, “if you let me, I’ll to give something “,” you don’t love me anymore “,” you disappoint me … “. They are some of the most heard by family, friends and couples.
-Confusion and distrust: one of the most dangerous forms of emotional blackmail is that in which the blackmailer modifies the truth to make you see that everything you believed was a lie and that only he has the absolute truth, he seeks to confuse the victim so that believe that you can not trust anyone or anything, they seek to distance the person from their loved ones and friends so that they generate a kind of dependency with them.
-Expectations: they offer you something you want in exchange for something else, widely used by parents “if you come to see your aunt I will buy you the album of stickers.” However, the most dangerous is when the manipulation is aimed at clouding the other with rewards “I’ll buy you the bag but in return come with me to …”
How to be strong in the face of emotional blackmail
1- Learn to identify manipulation
What is an emotional blackmailer like? It is difficult to give a profile of manipulator because more than people we should talk about situations, moments in which people even without intending it could emotionally blackmail another person and not realize it. An example is divorce, living with an illness, being unemployed or without resources. They can be people (usually with little assertiveness ) who are going through a bad time in their life and who are afraid, in a way that they do not really knowto what extent they are hurting. Now, it can also be people who know it consciously and still take advantage of it because they want to make a profit. These are easier to identify because they are usually people who like to act as “heroes” who are selflessly saving the lives of others when it is just the other way around. For this reason, they like to boast of their achievements and the topics of conversation tend to revolve around them, they do not like to listen and they do not like others to give them advice because they see it as an insult to their intelligence (they believe that they have the absolute truth ).
2- Practice assertiveness
Once you have identified the manipulator you should practice assertiveness with him. You should respectfully tell her how her behavior makes you feel but without directly accusing her so that she doesn’t get offended. Make it clear what you want or expect from him and what you will never tolerate for whatever reasons. For example, if a friend insists that the decision you make is a mistake and threatens to stop talking, you can say “Every time you threaten to stop talking to me, you make me feel terrible and that I rethink our friendship. I would like you to support me in my decision and not insist that I change my mind about something that I have already decided “you can even add “in the event that it is truly a mistake I will be able to learn from it and it will help me to know what to do in the future”.
3- Don’t take responsibility
One of the most used techniques in this type of manipulation is to make yourself feel guilty. Therefore, you must be aware that you are not the owner of anyone’s life and that each one makes their own decisions. For example, after a traumatic separation in a toxic relationship, it is very typical for one of the parties to say “if you leave me I will be able to end everything . ” We should never assume that responsibility, therefore, using assertiveness we can calmly answer “Telling me that only causes me pain because I want to help you but not in the way you want (which is not the healthiest). Both you and I know that that It is not the solution but in the end each one is the owner of his life and makes his own decisions, if there is another way in which I can help you, you can count on me “.
On the other hand, for the people who throw gifts in your face that they gave you without you asking for them, the answer is simple “I really appreciate that you gave me X but I thought it was disinterested, if I knew I would not have accepted it” or simply “I appreciate it very much but in reality I have never asked you”.
4- Do not show fear
Faced with this type of manipulation, we cannot be fooled, if we bow to them, they will surely reappear in the future because it is the way these people control us. We cannot show our fear, we have to be brave and show our face, make it clear that regardless of what they tell us we are not going to back down and that we are capable of assuming the consequences of our actions. Gathering assertiveness, we can simply answer: “I am not going to change my mind and if that is the price I have to pay, I will assume it.”