Manipulation techniques are employed by toxic people. Once you have identified this the next step is to understand, know and realize when and how they employ their manipulative techniques.

Some of the manipulation techniques are – 

  • Gaslighting – the common phrases used during this are – Are you crazy, I never said that are you imagining things – in short, the person tries to distort your reality and makes you feel as if everything is alright even when you know something is wrong. There is pathological lying from the toxic person’s side. The way you deal with this is – to talk to someone who really understands you and is empathetic, writes things down to gain clarity and what was said, ground yourself to your own reality. 
  • Denying and withholding – The toxic person tries their best to keep denying those things that you need, they withhold love, kindness or open communication or anything that you want from them as a tactic to punish you and to get you to admit that you are wrong and they are right and make you dependent on them for decision making. Practising emotional detachment in this case helps to practice being independent even if they make you feel bad for making your own decisions. Stay firm.
  • Guilt-tripping – god forbid if you take decisions independently and land up making a mistake they will guilt trip you for days if not years. One of the most powerful and extensively used tactics. This is especially evident with parents when children choose to find their own partners and the marriage doesn’t end well, or then the wife wants to start something new but feels unsupported. This tactic is used so that you feel so bad that you stop taking decisions and doubt yourself and hand the reigns and control of your life to the toxic person. The person aims to make you change your decision or let them have their way, some common phrases  – We did so much for you, you can’t even do this much? , oh why did you say this, you shouldn’t have done that, I hadn’t expected something like this from you, – Look what you made me do! It’s your fault, you could have done this or that. I had such a bad day or I am going through such a challenging phase and you have no consideration for me 
  • Projection– The responsibility of their own negative behaviour they will put on you, – it will be they themselves who might be money-minded or jealous, insensitive or lying but instead they will say it in such a way that you feel accountable for the mess and will need to keep convincing and giving proofs to them that you aren’t that way. A way to get out of this is – You don’t need to defend yourself or convince them you’re a good person. You are a good person and if you make mistakes you own up – and make amends unlike them. That’s more than enough proof to show that you are good. 
  • Triangulation– This is what is divide and rule or is used to build rivalry – they will use someone else to convey their intentions to you or blame someone else for causing trouble so that you don’t doubt them, instead becoming negative to the other person. It’s also called playing one person against the other. To get out of this one – realise that the other person is also being manipulated by the toxic person and instead take their help to deal with the toxicity if they are not under the influence of the toxic person. 
  • Hypocrisy  –  REALIZE that the toxic person is a master hypocrite and practices double standards. They are defined as – a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie stated beliefs. The way to deal with hypocrites is to not take what they say at face value and not to believe the words coming out of their mouths but instead their actions. 

I know this is a lot to take in and it might be difficult to comprehend that people can actually be this way. 

Let’s first make ourselves aware of the patterns that may ensue while dealing with someone toxic and the possible emotional and psychological distress and abuse that we aren’t even aware of that is happening. So let’s get down to the chase right away and realize the loops that we may be going in. As a psychologist, we help the client to identify such patterns which the client themselves may not be aware of. Seeing things from a different and unbiased point of view helps in identifying such patterns. One such pattern is of the abuse cycle. 

 The abuse cycle has four parts to it. The phases are as follows 

  1. Tension building – This includes over-protection in the name of love, restrictive control of resources and activities, power gained through social isolation, and breakdown of communication. 
  2. Incident – verbal, physical or emotional abuse, blaming, arguing, use of manipulative techniques, using punishment tactics, threats and intimidation. 
  3. Reconciliation – The abuser apologies but gives excuses for the behaviour, fakes empathy,  blames, acts as if nothing happened, and says it wasn’t as bad as the victim claims. 
  4. Calm – Also called the Honeymoon phase, the incident is ‘forgotten’, no abuse is taking place, increase in love and kindness.

After a while, the whole cycle from point one is repeated and the tension build-up starts to happen. This can be a weakly thing or a monthly cycle as well depending on the individuals. In some cases, this entire plays out in a day as well. 

It’s the third step that individuals keep getting sucked into. In a healthy relationship, the efforts of reconciliation are authentic and an individual takes responsibility and is accountable. All relationships have their ups and downs however with time things improve and don’t deteriorate, individuals have a healthy growth trajectory.  But in toxic relationships, things remain stagnant and the cycles are repeated over and over again with time things get worse as conscious genuine attempts are not made to change behaviours. 


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