Helplessness as Manipulation

Helplessness as Manipulation

Some people act helpless in an attempt to manipulate others. Detrimental Caretakers fall for helplessness every time. DC’ers are trusting, helpful and giving, as well as competent.

Manipulation is the process of controlling or playing upon another by artful, unfair or insidious means, especially to one’s own advantage. I believe people can be manipulative without even knowing it themselves. This is especially true for those who act helpless.

“I Can’t SEE”

My girlfriend, Colleen, asked her husband {let’s call him Paul} to take the 11 pm feeding one night. The baby was 3 months old. Colleen had been nursing him and she needed a break. Before going to sleep, she asked if Paul was OK with taking the late shift.

“I got it,” he said and flashed her his ‘I’m not an idiot’ eye roll. Little Sam started to yowl just before midnight. Colleen waited a minute or so before nudging her husband. “Honey, baby’s up. He needs you.” {Insert loud baby howls here.}

“I got it,” Paul grumps. Yet, he is still lying there. The baby wails. She rustles the covers and wakes her husband from dozing. “Honey … the baby.”

Paul slowly gets up. He is in the hall, taking a loooong time. Baby is still crying.

“I can’t see, Colleen. It is so dark out here.” Colleen’s adrenaline pumps and she is pissed. She flies out of bed. Into the hallway she goes. “It is so dark … Where is the light?” her husband asks again.

Colleen flips on the light. Her husband says, “Thanks. I got it, babe.” But by now she is wide awake and annoyed. Her first thought is, “It is probably better if I just do it myself from here on out!”

Seeing Better

Paul has a master’s degree and is a successful businessman. He is very smart. Did he really not know how to turn on a light?

Could Paul have manipulated Colleen through his actions?

Have you ever experienced situations where others don’t try or act helpless and you end up completing the task?

For the record, I don’t believe Paul for a second was thinking about how to manipulate Colleen or how to shirk his responsibilities that night.

Having a Conversation

That said, a manipulator can operate with ease when he/she has a Detrimental Caregiver at his service. Colleen chose to have a hard conversation with Paul in the light of day about her expectations … how she needed to be able to count on her husband to handle things.

Resting Better

The next time it was Paul’s turn to take the late-night feeding, Colleen felt the relief of having help … she rested better.

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No Rest for the Weary?

Too many women out there, particularly ones with codependent characteristics do not take the time to rest. To them, productivity is key. They live by a motto of “Do more, be productive, keep going, must achieve….”

Are you a modern-day Cinderella?

If you look around, it can look suspiciously like  women out there are modeling their life after one of the most famous female characters of all, Cinderella. Except the modeling is not about wearing the glass slippers and enjoying one’s self at the ball. No. Modern women are carefully disguised Cinderella workers who are steadily working in cute, trendy mom clothes or high heels and a gorgeous fitted suit.

You think you are not working as hard as Cinderella? When was the last time you took the day off because you felt a cold coming on? I am not talking about lying in bed with a box of tissues and a bag of menthol cough drops because you can’t function. That doesn’t count. Taking quality care of one’s self  means really checking in with your needs and what your body is telling you. When was the last time you stopped to enjoy your day? Or rested because it would feel good. Move slower and know that things will get accomplished.

If you are a mother, be even more patient and compassionate to yourself. I had a client who brilliantly explained that when she was without a child, she could “handle” pushing herself to the max to get things done. (Handle?) Then, when she had a baby she realized that there will never be an end to the list of things that needed to be done. Never. You can do serious damage to yourself if you are hypervigilantly attempting to achieve an unattainable goal.

Women aren’t the only ones. Men are working too hard too.

Just this weekend my husband was looking peaked (really green actually) and told me he was nauseous and weak. He grabbed his workout clothes and told me he was going to “just fight it.” Fight it? With what, the stairmaster? I explained that rest is the best thing you can do to fight illness. It took a few minutes for this to register. However, maybe he just needed someone else to say it. Finally, he went to bed  and slept for three hours. Surprise, he started feeling better.

Rest is necessary for healing.

I know my husband knows this. Maybe he just needed to hear it from someone else.

So call out to the Give Away Girls out there: It is OK to take care of yourself. Rest is a really good way to do that.

Enjoy a few minutes of peace today.

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