Have you ever experienced the confusion and pain of manipulation in a relationship? I know I have and I’ve had some recent epiphanies I’d like to share.
I have been reading Kick Ass with Mel Robbins and was struck by something in it.
For those not familiar, the book is of live coaching sessions with people who are all at different times in their lives, dealing with different struggles.
I have had the mantra, “my response is my responsibility” for a long time, which also, infers, that I am not responsible for anyone else’s reactions, but what if we are?
Mel’s assertion was, whenever we lie and omit information to avoid conflict, we are being manipulative and when found out, we are responsible for how people react, but when we are open and honest, they are responsible. Whilst it may seem obvious, that the consequences for our actions are our ours to bare, I hadn’t made a connection to that behaviour being a form of manipulation by managing other people’s reactions.
I’m sure I’m not the only person who has experienced, the lie by omission, and the pain that comes when the truth or the full facts are revealed. Then being made to feel like I shouldn’t be so upset, because there wasn’t really a lie told! I now have a new appreciation for why I was so uncomfortable, it’s because I realise I was being manipulated. My feelings were being played with, there was deception, whichever way you dress it up, still comes down to dishonesty or my new made up word thanks to Jamie from the Bachelorette ‘ingenuine’. How I choose to behave, in that moment, is still up to me, however, my feelings were at the mercy of another’s actions because I’ve been blindsided.
We all want to feel, that in relationships, we will experience honesty and openness, that we don’t have to question or second guess, that we can take at face value all communication, but when full truths are hidden, anything beyond, “does my bum look fat in these jeans?” deserves the truth, however uncomfortable and possibly even that no win question!
The foundation of great relationships is trust, when we experience the feelings that our trust is being taken advantage of by leaving out details to avoid conflict, small cracks appear. Strong relationships can cope with a couple of minor cracks, we can work to rectify them, fill them up with goodness, paint them over till we are almost good as new. But too many small cracks and the solid foundation gets eroded to the point that no amount of putty-filling-amends-making can ever repair the damage. Relationships become toxic and hostile and a crumbling ruin. This is true in personal, family and work relationships.
We are also at risk of taking those damaged bricks to build the next relationship. This is why we talk about needing space to heal, to repair any damage caused from past relationships before we enter into a new one, for how can it be new, if it’s built with damaged bricks?
But when we are truthful, open and honest through all our challenging conversations, we genuinely are only responsible for our own responses. Sometimes the truth hurts, but lies hurt more.
When we value our own short term comfort over honesty and openness, we risk long term damage.
It’s time we got comfortable with the uncomfortable.
If this has struck a cord with you, feel free to reach out to me.