Personal Self Defense has two forms. Physical self-defense and psychological self-defense. Part-one of this series looked at the social and psychological aspects of self-defense. Part-two will be a continuation of part-one however here we will look into developing actionable steps. Developing personal self-defense against manipulators requires a keen ability to be assertive. When you are confident, it automatically loosens the control a manipulator has over your thoughts and decisions.
As previously discussed many cult leaders use many of the tactics (discussed in part 1) to solicit new followers and potentially cause economic and physical harm to you and your family. Here are some actionable steps you can take to fight against those who are trying to manipulate you.
Tell them you feel pressured.
Tell them that you are feeling pressured and that you don’t want to do something. When your subconscious is telling you something is wrong, listen and speak up. The earlier you say something, the better. That way it won’t fester and develop into a more significant problem. Remember, you have the right not to feel pressured to do anything that you don’t want to do.
Ask a series of probing questions. Asking questions may put the manipulator on guard and give you time to reorganize your thoughts and actions. Consider using some of the following questions as a guide to probing:
a. What do I get out of this?
b. Does what you want from me sound fair?
c. Do I have a say in this?
d. Are you asking me or telling me?
e. Does this seem reasonable?
Refuse the Request
If someone approaches you to do something you don’t want to, don’t do it. At first, this may seem complicated, however becoming assertive at this point may save your life. Also, when you say “no,” the manipulator may become surprised and back down.
Don’t Give Into Continued Attempts to Change Your Mind
When someone doesn’t get the message that you are not interested, say no and walk away. You have the right to your own behavior, thoughts, and emotions and the right to offer no reasons or excuses for justifying your behavior. You have the right to change your mind and provide no explanation. You have the right to say “no” without feeling guilty.
Confront the Person
Confront the manipulator in a private setting. A public environment may turn followers against you, or worse alienate you to a group-think mentality. You may then feel obligated and reluctantly comply to demands. When you make your thoughts known, it shows that you are not easily convinced and may not be worth the effort. Also, realize that the person may not want to continue the friendship. Don’t feel guilty because again you have the right to have independent ideas and to be the judge of your own behavior.
Don’t Give Into Flattery
Flattery is an excellent tool of the manipulator. They use your own self-consciousness against you. When someone praises especially when you haven’t done anything to deserve it, question their intention. It might be easy to fall victim to flattery however it’s one of the best tools a manipulator can use to control your thoughts and actions.
Simply Avoid Manipulative People
You have the right to choose your own friends. If anyone makes you feel manipulated, don’t have them in your life. Avoiding someone doesn’t necessarily mean you need to end a friendship, it merely means you are exercising more control for the occasions and circumstances you meet.