Discover more from LovingU by Hannah Taylor
Safe from Manipulation
when emotional expression becomes emotional manipulation
When emotional manipulation is part of a dynamic
(when anyone in the dynamic believes in emotional manipulation or is susceptible to emotional manipulation)
emotional expression becomes a source of conflict.
"Why would you share your feelings if not to control my behavior in some way?
Your feelings are demands on me, and I don't appreciate their presence here, where I was busy trying to show you MY feelings to demand different behavior from you."
Emotional manipulation is outcome-focused behavior, which murders intimacy and connection every single time.
Outcome-focused behavior does not tune into the individual desires at play, it's a form of tyranny. In this case, it is enforced by resistance to emotions, which works via a belief system ABOUT emotions.
There's plenty of nuance to it, but it boils down to the ideas that
1. some emotions are good and others are bad, and empathy means that we are feeling the same thing at all times.
2. it is bad when someone else causes me a bad emotion, there are natural reactions to certain behaviors, and other people should know how I'll feel about how they act.
3. someone should feel bad when they cause me or someone else a bad emotion (again, because empathy means feeling the same thing)
4. when they feel bad enough they will do whatever I say to make me feel better so they can feel better.
There is no sovereignty in it!
There's no freedom of expression, freedom of ownership, freedom of responsibility.
This is manipulation, a trap, an outcome-directed agenda which punishes to control. It's topping from the bottom, using victimhood as the currency it is in the need-based economy. It may still be benevolent, the outcome it pursues may be “good” in every way, but this practice is death for intimacy.
Connection isn't possible in this tyranny, because connection is made of two things, and this system only allows one thing—the tyrant's experience and agenda.
In connection, I share about my experience and I'm curious to hear about your experience. We each own what we are bringing to that experience, and we have a wealth of discovery in our commonalities and differences, as we gently explore our distinct experience of a similar circumstance.
Empathy means that I feel for your experience and make an earnest attempt to understand your reality as you experience it, while remaining within my experience and my reality.
I am content with my way, you are content with your way, so we are simply showing each other our ways, delighting in where they align, honoring where they diverge. There's always plenty of common ground. Understanding and respect are always possible, when that is what we aim for. In this system, creation emerges naturally in the light of truth.
Tyranny is often innocent, too. It's also understandable, dare I say even respectable? Tyranny innocently believes that safety is available in control. Tyranny violates the safety of the tyrant as well as the oppressed, in the moment, for the sake of an imagined safety they’ll experience when they’ve gained a sense of control, when they feel confident in a method of control.
Tragically, this safety never comes, because safety is a practice, not a place to get.
The truth is that safety is something we can only experience in the moment. It is only something we can experience in sovereignty, respect, understanding, and love. Anything that violates the safety of the moment violates all the safety available.
True safety is not possible. Life is not safe. It is not harmless. It contains pain and loss and death. We are all guaranteed not to be "safe" by our own mortal humanity. We are guaranteed to feel "bad" feelings, and sometimes our loved ones will be around, being their imperfect selves, when those feelings arise.
All we can have is the experience of safety, in any and every moment. We can only have it when we cultivate attention on it.
The safety of understanding, clarity, respect, and love. The safety of looking with loving eyes and being looked upon with loving eyes. The safety of trusting and being trusted.
That is the only safety available. Look with loving eyes in this very moment. Cultivate understanding. Project that you are safe and loved. It can only happen now.