Coping strategies


My husband and I are watching a Star Trek Voyager episode where Neelix is manipulated by an old friend to do what he wants. The “friend” does it by reminding Neelix of how a “bad person” he used to be and emotionally manipulating him by asking if Neelix would drop an old friend in trouble, that he deserves the same chance at success that Neelix experienced.

All through this I keep on wanting to shake Neelix and tell him: you WORKED to get where you got. It didn’t fall in your lap. You didn’t take shortcuts and through all your hard times, you bettered yourself as a person. Hence your friend being able to say you “USED to be that bad”.

When a person manipulates another, they will invariable push the buttons that will make you feel vulnerable. It may be referring to your old nature, reminding you of a deep fear, playing on your insecurities or even your beliefs.

– What would happen if they find out who you really are. Do you think they’d accept you like I do?
– You call yourself a Christian, but you are willing to let me suffer?
– I see you posted on Facebook about paying for fertility treatments. They are expensive. We don’t have money for power or food till the end of the month.
– You are lucky to have so much in your life. I never got the chances you did.

How do I deal with this?

I know that in the situation of being manipulated, right on the spot, you might fail to understand the situation. It might take a long time and many such instances before you are strong enough to stand up against it.

The most important thing is that you start. Start small. But first, try and understand the following:

  1. You are no less than the next biological, bathroom-using, food-needing person on this planet. We are all just bags of cells that have to perform the same functions to stay alive. Designation, purpose, assignment…none of that gives any other homo sapiens the right to undermine, dominate or manipulate another. In essence, you are worth it.
  2. I almost feel like copying the previous point and pasting it here again. Understand and grasp this: what you think of yourself is a preconception. From today you have one project and that is to become your own best friend. Understand yourself and know your strengths and weaknesses. This will help the next time somebody wants to tell you who you are and what you’re worth.
  3. When you have time, replay a previous moment of manipulation, with one change: be in control. Write it down, play it out, however you wish to record it. In the moment of resisting the manipulation, feel the strength and resoluteness you have to stand up against it. Next time it happens, breathe deeply and try to remember how you felt in the exercises.

It won’t be easy and you might still have a few moments after which you will feel that you could have done better…give yourself the time and space to learn. Learning a new skill is not like with Neo in The Matrix, a simple download and “I can do Kung Fu”. It takes time and dedication, but you’ll get there and at the same time you will gain a sense of self-worth. I repeat: you are worth it.

I leave you with one thought: If somebody is pulling you down, remember, they are there to begin with.