Overcoming Codependence: Relating without manipulating

Without understanding our motives, we can easily lapse into behavior aimed at manipulating others. We can do this by passive-aggressively punishing them, or doing things that seem kind and sweet as a way of getting them to respond to us in a certain way.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Sulking is a means of letting others know we are displeased and forcing them to attempt to win our approval.
  • Flattery is a false expression of approval that we don’t really feel – giving others good strokes for our own purpose.
  • Withholding deserved praise is a means of putting others down, something we’re likely to do because of our jealousy.

Manipulative behavior is almost always selfish behavior. It is usually a false means of trying to get our own way. It is certainly an immature way of dealing with people and situations.

We have neither the right nor the responsibility to control or regulate other people. Our best approach, in trying to influence another’s actions, is simply to state our own case with sincerity and honesty. Others must be free to act, free to choose, and free to make their own decisions without manipulative interference on our part.

The best way to avoid being manipulative is to get – and stay – in touch with our own emotions and needs, and be honest about both. There will be times when emotional triggers hijack us, or busy schedules overwhelm and cause us to shut down. When that happens, we will need to step back, quiet ourselves, and possibly meditate or journal to get back in touch with our souls.

This might sound like a lot of work, and it is at first. But it gets easier over time, and the rewards are tremendous. The rewards are serenity, intimacy, and recovery.

* This is a remix of a meditation by Mel B, published in “Walk in Dry Places” by Hazelden Publishing.

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