It has been often said around the tables of 12-step meetings that addiction is cunning, baffling and powerful. For those who are caught in the vice grip of a substance abuse problem, the influence of drugs and alcohol overtakes their logic and way of living–and they eventually become a shadow of their former self. Full-blown addicts adopt the unspoken mantra of by any means necessary, and they will do whatever it takes to keep their addiction alive–even if it means hurting the ones they love most.
If you have fallen victim to an addict’s manipulative ways, you have no doubt felt angry, betrayed and even humiliated. One of the ways you can take the power back in a relationship and start momentum towards helping the addict face their consequences of addiction in a healthy way is to find ways to avoid being played. The following are 6 ways to avoid manipulation by an addict.
Realize That You Have Basic Human Rights
The most important way to avoid manipulation is to understand that you as a human being have basic human rights, and you have the power to tell those who try to manipulate you they are violating those rights. As long as you do not harm others, you have the right to stand up for yourself and defend your rights. The following are some examples of your basic human rights:
- You have the right to be treated with respect.
- You have the right to express your feelings, opinions and wants.
- You have the right to say «no» without feeling guilty
- You have the right to take care of and protect yourself from being threatened physically, mentally or emotionally.
For those who are active in their addiction, the first thing they will attempt is to attack these basic rights in order to get what they want. It is important to realize that YOU are in charge of what you say, feel and be and not them.
Keep Your Distance
Another one of the important ways to avoid manipulation by an addict is to separate yourself and avoid engaging them except in situations where it is absolutely necessary. The addict can wear many faces depending on who they contact. While all people engage in social differentiation to a certain degree depending on who they are communicating with, addicts are very extreme in this differentiation. Addicts can be extraordinarily polite and charming to one individual, then can turn on a dime and can be completely rude to another person. If you observe this kind of behavior from an addicted friend or loved one, it is important to keep a healthy separation and realize that you are not responsible for their happiness or well-being.
Focus the Spotlight on Them
Master manipulators often will request you to do things for them that are unreasonable and will enable them to continue engaging in their addictive behavior. When you hear an unreasonable request, one of the important ways you can avoid manipulation is to put the focus back on the manipulator by asking a few probing questions. These questions are meant to put the proverbial mirror in front of the addict’s face in hopes they realize that what they are asking is inappropriate. You can ask questions such as the following:
- What do I get out of this?
- Are you really expecting me to do this?
- Do I have a say in this?
- Does this sound reasonable to you?
If the addict who is being manipulative has any degree of self-awareness, they will eventually see their requests for help or assistance are indeed reasonable. In the event that the person trying to manipulate you doesn’t see this, you need to continue to employ measures to keep your power and rights intact.
Time is on Your Side
Addicts want things right now, and they don’t want to wait. Whether it is your money, the use of your vehicle or the use of their phone, the addict will pressure you into a decision right away. In order to leverage power back to your side, all you need to do is utter the following words:
I will think about it.
When you give yourself time, you can carefully weigh the pros and cons and you have time to come up with a compromise that won’t leave you in a situation where you lack power.
Learn How To Say No in a Nice Way
Another one of the important ways to avoid manipulation by an addict is having the ability to say NO in a way which is respectful. When you are able to say NO in this manner, you are clearly stating your boundaries and standing your ground while leaving the door open to hopefully work out a more equitable solution that benefits both parties. Being able to say no is one of the important basic rights you have as a human being.
One of the most damaging things that an addict can do to manipulate you in to exploit your weaknesses and hit you below the belt. Everyone has areas in their lives where they feel inadequate, and the addict focuses in on those areas in order to put you in a vulnerable situation. To avoid this hurtful situation, you must keep in mind that you are not the problem. The addict is trying to manipulate you to feel bad about yourself, and if you feel bad about yourself you are more likely to surrender your power and give in to their demands.
In these situations, you must ask yourself if you are being treated with genuine respect. You must also determine if the “giving” in the relationship is one way or is going both ways. Your answers to questions such as these will shed light into the addict’s true motivations.