I started to type up my usual Monday post today but I couldn’t stop thinking about this topic. So I take it as a sign and just allow my thoughts to put themselves into writing. Today it’s time to talk about something uncomfortable, unpleasant and in my case indefinitely irritating out loud:
Guilt Trips and Emotional Blackmailing!
Ultimately I have always been a sucker for guilt trips. I make other people’s problems my own and try to please everyone and do everything to make them not feeling bad. Even when I turn out to be the only one that feels emotionally and physically drained in the end.
And if there are no other people’s problems around for me to take on I have more than one thing in my life I happily send myself to guilty island about! To name just a few:
- I don’t call my mother often enough
- I never call my father
- I don’t see my friends often enough not even the close ones
- I should work more/ more structured
- My PhD thesis is not at all where it’s supposed to be
There’s more but you see it’s all about things I should do! I’ve spoken about the shoulds and the implication how they would make us more happy a few weeks back. And for myself I came to the conclusion that I want to make myself free of these self-inflicted guilt trips and enjoy what I am doing instead. Doing things that make me happy ALWAYS leave me much happier in the end than any fretting about things I should have done ever did! You see a pattern forming? For the first time in my life I decided to be egoistic! I decided to put myself first. I decided to stop beating myself up about anything and be kinder and more forgiving to myself!
Of course I am not trying to be one of those people who don’t care about other’s and their feelings at all or walk over other people just to get their way but I try to ask myself what really is best for me instead of trying to please the others no matter what! Even when that means I don’t attend a party and don’t bend over backwards just to make things happen.
I spoke a lot about that with my sister because she’s gone through a rough phase lately and independently from each other we came to the realization that if we don’t look for ourselves nobody ever will! Hence a certain dose of egoism is rather healthy and freeing.
For me this led to two things! On the one hand I am much kinder to myself, I feel in a good state emotionally, I am more happy. On the other hand I see other people jumping to my rescue and trying to fill the gap of tearing me down emotionally. Most interestingly I have noticed an increase in attempts to emotionally blackmail me in the past few weeks.
What is Emotional Blackmailing?
The academic smartypants I am I have done a bit of research 😉
Emotional blackmail is a powerful form of manipulation in which people close to us threaten (either directly or indirectly) to punish us if we don’t do what they want. At the heart of any kind of blackmail is one basic threat, which can be expressed in many different ways: If you don’t behave the way I want you to, you will suffer. (source)
In other words:
It’s a tool used to control someones behavior! Does this sound familiar? I am fairly sure that anyone had suffered of emotional blackmailing before. But it’s not necessary to take the bait (yes it is a bait!) and buy that ticket for the next guilt trip! Let’s look further at this before!
There are four different mental manipulation styles:
|Punisher’s threat||Eat the food I cooked for you or I’ll hurt you.|
|Self-punisher’s threat||Eat the food I cooked for you or I’ll hurt myself.|
|Sufferer’s threat||Eat the food I cooked for you. I was saving it for myself. I wonder what will happen now.|
|Tantalizer’s threat||Eat the food I cooked for you and you just may get a really yummy dessert.|
Whilst the first two ones are a bit extreme (and are often associated with mental illnesses) I have come to notice the second two ones in common situations! I see many adults using the Tantalizer’s Threat on kids and on me most of the time people use the Sufferer’s Threat!
How I am being Emotionally Blackmailed
Let me give you a few examples of situation where I didn’t do what people wanted me to do:
Situation: I didn’t text back immediately because I was busy and didn’t feel like starting a conversation!
Reaction: You really disappoint me. Most of the time you never get back to me!
Sidenote: not even true! I checked our what’s app chats and actually this person didn’t reply to more of my texts than the other way around!
Situation: We declined the invitation to a birthday party of a close relative because we were only invited two days in advance and already had other plans!
Reaction: You really hurt my feelings. You have changed so much and our relationship seems to mean nothing to you anymore.
Sidenote: What the fuck?????????
Situation: We decided spontaneously not to go to a friend’s birthday party as I was feeling a bit sick and had a really stressful week!
Reaction (from the friend’s partner): This is not how a friend is supposed to behave. You’re very selfish!
Sidenote: I never was a big fan of this partner, now I am only polite. And when I told a friend about this, she told me she was in the exact same situation this very day! Seems to be quite commen???
What effect Emotional Blackmailing has on me
I can say in retrospective that a few months back I would have jumped to take any bait, beaten myself up about being such a shit friend and made anything to please those people. I would have texted back immediately telling them that I was sorry, that I didn’t mean to hurt their feelings and that I would make up for it. I would have felt horribly guilty and ultimately I would have done exactly what I was supposd to do: I would have behaved like those people wanted me to.
Now I detect this behavior as it is: just a threat to manipulate me! And I do not approve of being threatened! Now I just get horribly angry. Emotional Blackmailers want you to suffer in order to get their way! To an extend I can understand why people use emotional blackmailing. It is hard when you realize that you lose your power over someone. It’s hard when those who have always been predictable and reliable are not anymore. When they act “egoistic” and “selfish”. But I tell you what, this is their problem and not mine!
Threatening people is unfair, very rude and hugely irritating! And after getting a grip again I reply calmly and DO NOT TAKE THE BAIT!
I am not one to give any advise on how you should handle those kinds of situation. If you need some input, look here, here and here! But I know that I have too much self-worth now to let anyone mess with my feelings anymore!
So if I am an egoist, I am an egoist happily – if I am too selfish, I will be too selfish with the greatest pleasure. If I am taking it too far I hope there will be someone to take me aside and tell me that I am behaving rude and like an asshole. I can take it, I will appreciate it. But don’t try to manipulate me. Don’t use me as your doormat! Because this is not about me, this is about you!
Have you ever noticed Emotional Blackmailing?
How do you react?