“Maturity is freedom from dependence on manipulation to meet your needs.”
~ Eben Pagan in Man Transformation
Manipulation is a dirty word in my book. Whenever I hear it, I cringe because I’ve become well aware of the havoc it can wreak on a person’s life.
I only know this because I have seen how much damage relying on manipulation has done to my own life. Experience is a harsh teacher, but I’m grateful for it because I now have a much better understanding of why we use manipulation and how it works.
Identifying and eradicating your manipulative tendencies will be your gateway to more advanced states of maturity and a better life.
This is the only way you will be able to reach a place where you are able to extend beyond meeting your own needs so you can focus on serving others to the fullest extent of your capabilities (since you are able to meet your own needs, you don’t have to approach every interaction with the mindset of “what’s in it for me?” This is the key to authentic generosity).
All of us have a need for acceptance, love, and approval. It’s not a question of if you have these needs, but instead a question of how you meet them.
Immature people subconsciously (conscious manipulation is less common) manipulate others into fulfilling these needs for them. For example, they may always play the role of the victim to garner the sympathy (love) of people they care about, or they may embellish stories of their achievements to win the approval of their peers.
Mature people, on the other hand, have done the work necessary to meet these needs on their own. They don’t need to plug in to anyone else’s energy for sustenance. Instead, they’re like generators who can go within and tap into all the love, approval, and acceptance they need.
To give you a better idea of how manipulation works, I’d like for you to imagine a circle. This circle represents your personal boundary. Inside of this circle is your self-esteem (energy), and the purpose of your personal boundary is to preserve it. Also, everything inside your personal boundary is within your control. Everything outside of it is beyond your control.
The average person’s personal boundary is littered with holes (exploitable insecurities and character flaws). Because of this, others are free to enter this person’s boundary and take whatever they want, whenever they want (if they can figure out how to access the hole).
Have you ever known a guy who can’t say “no” when people request something of him, even if deep down he truly wants to? That behavior is a result of a hole in his personal boundary. It’s also a form of manipulation on the guy’s part because he’s hoping to win the approval of others by saying “yes” when he really wants to say “no”.
A mature personal boundary has doors instead of holes. These doors remain closed to win/lose or lose/lose propositions, and open to win/win propositions. This type of boundary preserves a person’s self-esteem while still allowing for the benefits of synergy and interdependence.
How Boundaries Interact
Whenever two or more people come together and interact with each other there is an interplay between their personal boundaries.
If everyone involved in the interaction is mature, an interdependent exchange of energy will take place. Everyone wins.
If everyone involved is immature (lots of holes), however, the interaction will be a leech-fest because the involved parties’ boundaries don’t allow for the preservation of self-esteem. As a result, they have to keep filling their self-esteem by stealing it from the other parties involved in the interaction (see figure below).
Notice how in the figure above both people are extending outside of their personal boundary to enter the other person’s boundary. This is manipulation illustrated. The holes in the peoples’ boundaries create the illusion that something outside of their control in reality (other peoples’ self-esteem/internal states) is within the realm of their control.
As long as you have holes in your boundary, this illusion will persist and you will continue to manipulate others into meeting your needs instead of being a self-reliant, mature man who can address his needs on his own.
In case you’re thinking it’s easier to manipulate others into addressing your needs instead of doing the hard work necessary to achieve more advanced states of maturity, you’re right. It is.
But that means your self-esteem and internal state will forever be dependent on your ability to take advantage of and manipulate others into giving you what you need. Not only that, you will never be able to hold on to your self-esteem because it will just pour out of the holes in your boundary.
Plugging the holes in your boundary and replacing them with doors is the only way to become a high self-esteem, mature, self-reliant man. Also, it’s the only way you can protect yourself from being manipulated by others.
The Dark Side of Rahul
Ah, the good stuff. My dark side.
It’s taken me a while to reach a point where I’m willing to share this truth about myself, but I’ve realized it’s crucial I do so to help others become more aware of their true nature.
During my last relationship, I devised a manipulative tactic so devious that I still wonder to this day how I had the ingenuity to create something like it. I’m not proud of it, but it is fascinating to see just how far I was willing to go to avoid facing my insecurities.
When I entered the relationship, I made the decision to stop talking to other women. I guess this is kind of understandable, but I took it to the extreme when I resolved to refrain from maintaining/building strictly platonic relationships with other women also.
At first, my girlfriend was the same way, and we didn’t have any problems. But then, after a while, she started hanging out with some of her old guy friends again.
No big deal, right?
Uh, I wish. I had a major problem with this, and the wheels in my head immediately started turning to figure out how I could resolve this “problem”. The peculiar thing was that I had no right to be upset with the situation because she had never done anything to abuse my trust up until that point.
I didn’t get angry and yell at her to stop hanging out with her guy friends. Instead, I took a much more conniving approach to “rectify” the situation and brought up to her how I never hung out with/talked to other women out of respect for our relationship. I explained that since I wasn’t hanging out with other women, it wasn’t cool that she was hanging out with other guys.
I told her all of this as patiently and calmly as possible, and at the end of our conversation she felt extremely guilty. She decided to stop hanging out with other guys for quite some time, and for a while it sat fine with her.
A few months passed, and I could sense resentment slowly starting to build up inside of her. I asked her what was wrong and she brought up how she never asked me to stop hanging out with other women. She wanted to hang out with her guy friends again, and didn’t think my logic was sound or fair.
I eventually gave in, but this came at a price. I started to resent her for hanging out with other guys, and this caused a lot of problems in our relationship. Eventually we broke up for a multitude of reasons, and I wish I could say that I managed to transcend the need for the use of this manipulative tactic while in the relationship.
But I didn’t.
I only came to see it for what it was a few months after we had broken up. I realized that I wasn’t okay with her hanging out with other guys because my sense of self-worth was tied to her perception of me. I couldn’t understand why she would need to spend time with other guys if I was good enough.
All the while I was cutting myself off from forming connections with people that most likely would have contributed to my development.
I had to do a considerable amount of self-esteem work to overcome this insecurity and reach a point where I was able to assert my self-worth on my own. I’m happy to say I now enjoy a number of healthy, platonic, win/win relationships with awesome women that contribute to my development. I also know that in future relationships I will never have this particular issue again.
If you’re thinking I’m insane right about now, I don’t blame you. But before you gallop away on your high horse with the feel-good-thought of “at least I’m not fucked up like he is”, I have some bad news to share with you.
How Are You Using Manipulation?
It’s not a question of if you are using manipulation to meet your needs. It’s a question of how you are using manipulation to meet your needs.
Maintaining this awareness is crucial if you are to evolve into a mature masculine man. Growth is not possible when you fail to acknowledge the existence of your issues. You must remain vigilant in your awareness, and always assume there is something you are doing that is outside the boundaries of your perception.
If possible, ask five of the people closest to you, “what do you know about me that I do not know about myself?” Remain completely open to any feedback you receive, and be prepared to see yourself in a totally different light.
Take some time now to consider where you are relying on manipulation to get your needs met.
Do you play the victim and complain often to garner the sympathy of your peers?
Do you agree with others even when you really don’t agree with them because you’re hoping to win their approval?
Do you put others down and devalue their accomplishments so you can feel better about yourself and safe in your delusional grandiosity?
Do you constantly talk yourself up (embellishment) to win others’ approval and feel better about yourself?
There are an infinite amount of ways manipulation can manifest itself in our behavior. Often times it’s extremely difficult to spot because it’s something we do naturally and has the secondary benefit of temporarily addressing our needs.
Once again, the best advice I can give you is to always assume you are relying on some form of manipulation to meet your needs. By following this policy, I’ve consistently managed to uncover manipulative tendencies that were previously hidden deep in my shadow (dark side). I’m confident I’ll shed light on many more in the future.
Whenever you become aware of a manipulative tactic you’ve been relying on to meet your needs, refrain from judging yourself. Be grateful you had enough awareness to come to the realization, and focus all of your efforts on installing a door in place of the hole in your boundary (doing the personal development work necessary to overcome the insecurity/character flaw).
Follow this policy for the rest of your life, and you will progressively evolve into a more mature masculine man as a result of your painstaking efforts.
Photo by katietegtmeyer