Emotional De-Manipulation

an Inner Shift

I have an excerpt from a relationship advice show for you today. Dan Savage is very good at uncovering the invisible dynamics that underlie relationships. 

Listen to this call about a woman who is in a dilemma about whether or not to go to her father's 60th birthday party. Click the link below to listen: 

Some questions to think about and journal on:

Do you agree with Dan's advice?


Have you ever experienced being on the receiving end of emotional manipulation?


I look at this issue through the lens of how firm or soft your boundaries are. The caller's boundaries are far too soft and Dan is encouraging her to make them stronger. If you answered yes to the previous question, describe how you softened your boundaries to accommodate the other person's demands.


If you answered no, can you think of any occasions when someone tried to get you to soften your boundaries so they could get their way?


Where are your boundaries too soft right now in your life? 


How can you make them firmer?


I really like the phrase 'performative pain' that Dan uses about the caller's mother. This woman is using the completely normal 'life happens' discomfort to control her children. There is definitely a lack of acceptance of that pain that is no more helpful for the mother than it is her children. 


The issue of making your boundaries firmer is a huge one for many of my clients, and indeed people in general. Excess weight and the diversion of chaotic and compulsive eating can provide fake substitute boundaries that are totally ineffective. That protective fat suit or angry binge cannot do the job of standing up to the manipulative, passive aggressive mother/father/partner/friend that so many people subconsciously hope it will.


If boundaries are an issue for you, I recommend listening to Dan's weekly podcast. He gets regular calls of this nature, and over time you start to develop a kind of 'intolerance radar' for the outrageous, boundary-degrading behaviour of the caller's mother described here. Hearing Dan's rants on this subject has definitely helped me, having come from a marriage where I put up with unacceptable behaviour for years. The process of strengthening your boundaries is not an overnight one and having someone to act as an example, to urge you to say that scary NO when necessary is like gold dust. Be aware that in the podcast, Dan also discusses (in a very upfront way) sex in all its forms. 


He is also very funny, and calls Donald Trump 'Orange Julius Cesar' 😉


You can listen The Savage Lovecast podcast in your podcast app or here: http://www.savagelovecast.com/