Emotional Blackmail: How to Recognize and Fight It

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Robert Maurer
@robertmaurer
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wikipedia.org

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Phrases such as: "you will realize what you are doing", "if you really loved me you would not do it" or "if doing so you will have problems do not ask me for help" are classic examples of emotional blackmail. In fact, on several occasions we have almost all been puppets whose strings were moved by others. Sometimes it is very easy to recognize emotional blackmail, but in other cases it is complicated because everything happens in a very subtle way. Sometimes, even knowing that we are victims of clear manipulation, we accept it out of fear of the consequences or simply because the person who does it is someone we love and we don't want to hurt him.

The three most common forms of emotional blackmail and how we can counter them

In general, manipulation is the attempt to control what another person says, does and feels by violating their rights. Emotional blackmail in particular consists of using emotions and feelings for this purpose. It means leveraging the person's weak points, putting your finger in the sore to get what you want.



Emotional blackmail is usually associated with selfish, devious and twisted people. This perspective is reassuring because it offers us a simple explanation (there is good and bad, black and white), but in reality, anyone can manipulate another. In fact, emotional blackmail is often used by the people we love most.

When manipulation reaches extremes it turns into aggression, a form of psychological abuse that can leave deep traces in our personality, undermining our self-esteem and generating intense feelings of frustration, anger and / or helplessness. Obviously, the sooner we put an end to this situation the better.
1. Pressure or threatThis is the most direct and obvious form of manipulation and the other person says that if we don't do what he asks of us there will be punishment. This form of emotional blackmail is bound to cause fear in the victim, ensuring that there will be harsh consequences that will affect us emotionally. In couple relationships the typical phrase is “if you do this, I'll leave you.” How to defend yourself?

Showing the person that we do not fear his threat and that we are ready to face the alleged consequences without collapsing. Often, when the blackmailer sees that we are not giving in to pressure, he realizes that his strategy is useless and abandons it. For example, a manipulative partner may say, "I love you, but I'm also free to do what I want, if that causes him to leave me, I can't help it."



2. Sense of guilt

It is a more subtle but widespread form of emotional blackmail. Basically, they try to make us believe that we are bad people if we don't obey. The typical phrase used by parents is: "with everything I have done for you, this is how you repay me", while in the couple relationship it is customary to say: "if you don't do it, it's because you don't love me anymore." The purpose of these statements is to make us feel guilty, to convince us that we are misbehaving.

How to defend yourself?

By making it clear to the blackmailer that we will not fall into his net. It is necessary to make him clearly understand that we do not think we are a bad person just because we do not bow to his wishes. Tell him that you too have needs, desires and dreams, and you have every right in the world to try to make them come true. Remember that continuing to be close to someone just out of pity or guilt is not a pleasant feeling and will eventually hurt both of you.

3. Gifts

This is one of the most subtle forms of emotional blackmail and also one of the hardest to spot, because the person uses gifts and promises to get what they want. The classic example is the parent who promises the child a gift if he receives a good report card or a partner who resorts to a mountain of gifts when he wants the other to bow to his will.


How to defend yourself?


By letting him know that he is free to give the gifts he wants, but that does not give him the right to make decisions about your life. Receiving a gift does not mean that we should put ourselves at the mercy of the blackmailer. It must be remembered that in balanced relationships, a person must give for the sheer joy that such an act causes, if the other expects something in return it is as if he is trying to buy your love or obedience.


The next time you are faced with emotional blackmail, keep Hermann Hesse's words in mind: "When we fear someone it is because we have given that someone power over us."


Find out how to defend yourself from manipulators by learning to recognize and manage them by reading this book.

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