Emotional blackmail IV. – Aftermaths

Emotional blackmail is not life-threatening but overbalances our mental unity. This unity means I am who I’m; I believe this and this; this what I’m willing to do; these are my boundaries. Victims often give up their mental unity, they don’t stand up for themselves; they allow fears drive their life; they don’t oppose whom hurt them; and they allow others to define them how to act, think and feel; they betray themselves and others; they can’t protect their physical and mental health and they lie. They give up their beliefs, continuously get disappointed in themselves and loosing self-respect. But how is it possible that victims can’t see it?

Victims often use rationalization when they need to choose between their own scale of values and surrender. Finding justifications why must surrender because the victim doesn’t want to lose the important person-who is the autocrat. (Not to be confused with codependency) The highest price of emotional blackmail is the narrowed world of the victim. They lose their friends, their interests just to make the autocrat happy.

Also victims suffer a lot from feelings what they are not able to express freely. They dig them deeply which come up like depression, anxiety, overeating or chronic headaches or other physical pains. They often question themselves if they are allowed to feel certain emotions, mainly anger.

They betray themselves but they might don’t realize the fact, they often betray others as well just to avoid disapproval of the autocrat. Often victims feel they must choose between the autocrat and another important person or even a child.

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Emotional blackmail destroys security in the relationship, which means the trust and the good will is going to disappear. If these two things are missing the relationship becomes superficial, there is not going to be emotional openness. The victim loose trust and start to hide things and emotions and stop talking openly. They start to hide things from the autocrat, avoid topics to talk about as a protection. For instance: avoid to talk about mistakes; expressing sadness, fear or doubts; hopes, dreams, goals or fantasies; unhappy moments or time periods; everything which can prove that the victim changes and develops. The safe talk topic’s scopes get ever tighter and talks become more and more vapid.

When intimacy and security disappear from the relationship, mainly victims start to pretend. They pretend to be happy and not having any problems, not to be worried about things and pretend still loving that person who emotionally blackmailing them. Victims usually use so much energy to keep up appearances.

We can see to live together with an emotional blackmailer is not easy and the price is very high. But as always, there are solutions and available help as well to change it, it just requires a bit of courage.

If you could have recognized yourself as a victim of emotional blackmail, you must know that there is a way out, it doesn’t matter how hopeless and helpless you feel. You are the only one who is able to change your life! If you want to know more about emotional blackmail, I recommend you a book to read.

Susan Forward – Donna Frazier

Emotional Blackmail: When the people in your life use fear, obligation and guilt to manipulate you

Picture: http://www.123rf.com

Emotional manipulation-emotional blackmail I.

We often might experience manipulation or worst cases emotional blackmail. What is the difference? Why do some people use it?

Manipulation is to avoid open and clearly stated asks or wishes because it doesn’t seems that aggressive. The manipulative person doesn’t need to be afraid of refusal or anger because actually didn’t state or phrase what exactly wants.

Why don’t they say clearly what they want? Largely people who use manipulation have not learnt that they can state their needs or wishes clearly or they are not able to accept a fact (or deal with it) which is their needs or wishes might be refused.

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Manipulation becomes emotional blackmail if it’s used repeatedly to get the victim to do what the autocrat wants and the victim pays its price like giving up own needs and well-being.

Emotional blackmail has 6 typical signs which helps to identify it, it’s kind of a circle or procedure.

  1. Demand – the autocrat wants something from the victim
  2. Resistance – the victim is resisting
  3. Putting pressure – the autocrat is putting pressure on the victim
  4. Threats – the autocrat states the consequences of the victim’s resistance
  5. Surrender – the victim surrenders to the autocrat
  6. Repeating – together they established the base of demand-pressure-surrender circle

Often these steps are not so obvious and the victims don’t know that they are victims of emotional blackmail.

There are four types of blackmail, blackmailer, using different tools to get what they want.

1. The punisher

They can be easily recognized, identified. What they do and how they do it is very visible and obvious. Every even small resistance can make them upset immediately. Some of them express this anger aggressively with using clear threats they are the active punishers, the passive punishers don’t express their anger so openly but the victim knows that the autocrat is upset for a fact. In an emotionally tense interaction the punisher is becoming blind by the intensity of own needs. They are sure what they want is right and don’t care about the other’s feeling.

– Active punishers: they use serious statements and threats, they are very effective and openly expresses what is going to happen if the victim doesn’t do what is demanded. Their threats can be very serious so they keep the victims continuously in fear (what if the autocrat carries out the threat). Also the victims of active punishers are between the devil and the deep sea, if they try to stand up to protect their interest, they risk the punisher carries out the threat or if they surrender (maybe trying to win time) they experience anger toward themselves not being enough strong to resist but also towards the autocrat for the oppression.

– Passive punishers: they don’t express their anger verbally or using threats. They sulk and don’t say anything, showing their disapproval, often for a long time staying in silence. This silence is cold and harsh, very difficult to take it without emotional reaction. They hide behind impassable wall and refusing any responsibility how they make the victim feel.

2. The self-destructive: they threat their victims with holding out the prospect of committing suicide or self-destructive action. Their aim is intimidation and the victim feels there is no other choice than surrender. These type of autocrats mask themselves weak.

3. The martyr: they expect that their needs should be satisfied by others what they don’t express openly and clearly. They expect people around being a mind-reader and know what they need. If those needs are not satisfied the victim must suffer and it’s the victim’s fault-accusation. They are continuously busy with how bad they feel and identify the lack of mind-reading capacity with a lack of care. In the mirror they see themselves as martyrs-victims, hardly ever undertake to make situations clear or asking something. Their outward can be weak but in real they are silent dictators. They are always the victims of circumstances. The reason of their unhappiness is that the victim didn’t give them something very important which is missing to be happy. Usually they take aim at the saviour-solicitude instincts of the victim. They really seem like need so much care.

4. The torturer: the most sophisticated autocrats. They promise a lot of “awards” if they get what they want but actually their promises never become real because the victim never can be enough good for that. They take aim at the acceptance-family intimacy instincts of the victim.

Every types of emotional black mail undermine the victims’ self-esteem. In my next post I write more about this topic.

Picture: http://www.disinherted.com

Prejudice – locked into box

“Blond women are stupid, politicians are corrupt and psychologists are lunatic.” Where do our prejudices come from? Why it is so difficult to quit on this method? What can we do about it?

Who are those people being more susceptible to use prejudice so often?

Prejudice is a kind of an opinion which is not based on expreiences but has a very strong emotional charge. Prejudicial people don’t consider facts. If they heard something which is the opposite of their opinion, they would disregard or using creative argument method. In this case they try to include the information into their world concept by creating absurd explanations.

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Where does our prejudice come from?

Most of us believe in the power of righteous world, so we blame victims for bad things which happened to them. Like when we hear about a raped woman, immediately prejudicial people think, probably that woman were dressed and behaving too provocatively. This kind of mindset leads to being unrighteous to the subject of prejudice. In our case we truly believe never can happen with us. When we are watching the news and hear terrifying things we believe those things are so far from us even tough according to statistic data it could have happened to us as well. This is an optimistic bias.

The reason of using prejudice can be a self-justification as well. Like when we want to believe that member of a group is more inferior to us. In this case we easily can associate negative characteristics to them and easier to discriminate. If we see a person or a group negatively it’s easier to reject them as well. Like if we think people with glasses are ruthlessly ambitious people, we can think that we have the right to behave with them badly because they deserve it, they are the favorites of teachers anyway.

Using prejudice is very common if we are in the low social class because in this case it’s important to know that there are people, groups even lower than us. Also common if we are not “okay” with ourselves, like having a fragile and low self-confidence or being emotionally immature.

The base of using prejudice also can be in a situation of competition. For example if in a country there are no enough jobs, people often start to blame minorities for it. This’s used so often by politicians in their campaigns.

Also common that we are looking for a scapegoat. In this case we are not able to release our frustration on that person or people who we are really upset with and we are looking for a “weaker opponent”. We are not able to wreak our anger on that person because that person is too powerful or the consequences might be so serious. For instance, if someone gets offended by a boss, this person high likely is going to release his/her anger on a waiter or on a child. Unfortunately releasing anger on a child is very common even if that child is not a direct causing of the anger. Releasing anger in a family and on its members is kind of a safe movement for parents. No visible consequences as they see. Innocent children are the perfect victims for it, perfect punching bags, first because they are not able to defend themselves, second easily can take a role of being the scapegoat because they don’t have the ability to see what the real problem is behind the abuse.

There are people who are more susceptible to use prejudice and stereotypes than others. They like to find the answer first for everything, but very often they don’t collect enough information to have an objective view and wrongly pigeonhole others. If they got an information which doesn’t support their previous conjectures, they would ignore those information. If they became a boss (not leaders), they would most likely behave autocratically and using a very typical sentence – Because I said so!

How can we resolve prejudice?

We must see that very prejudicial people have one thing in common, it’s that they have a little information about that specific group or people and not having connection with them. When they get more information or get in touch with them personally that prejudice can be slowly dissolve. It requires an opened mindset, which can be learnt.

Don’t hide behind your prejudice because most of the times you just cover your fears and ignorance with it and becoming blind for being objective and not being able to see the reality.

Picture: http://www.bbc.co.uk.com

Self-esteem – being okay with myself

We hear so often that we are able to have a positive attitude to others if we have the same to ourselves as well. It’s a fact even if it’s difficult to believe in it.

How can be self-esteem defined?

Self-esteem is relevant in our life because it has a strong effect on cognitive and emotional process, motivation and behaviour. So if we have a problem with our self-esteem it can appear on several areas in life.

Self-esteem is very complex but we define three aspects of it. Trust in ourselves, own self-image and the self-love. They are the main parts but also we must mention self-satisfaction, self-confidence, self-knowledge, self-acceptance and self-assertion. Our self-esteem is shaped by two needs: competence, which is desire of expertise and the desire to get other people’s love and recognition. To have a healthy self-esteem both needs must be satisfied. Self-esteem is an easily changing personality dimension, so it must get a continuous attention if we want to sustain its healthy level.

Believe, love, trust-yourself?

The self-image’s point of origin is self-knowledge but notwithstanding more than that. It includes not just knowledge about ourselves but also persuasion about our abilities, characteristics and facility which not always match the reality. Self-image is an important part of the self-esteem since the positive self-image can be used as an internal resource to reach goals. The most important aspect of self-esteem is the self-love. It means we still feel worthy of being loved and respected notwithstanding that our imperfection, defects and failures. Self-love prods us to pay attention to our needs and desires. Self-love develops mainly in childhood and our family happenings and its relations are the most determinant factors in it, that’s why this is the most difficultly improvable part of self-esteem. Self-confidence is connected to action. The individual feels being able to hold on in different situations and isn’t afraid of failure or being judged by others. It’s indispensable to strengthen our self-esteem. Mainly with initiating actions we are able to work successfully on ourselves because with actions we are able to experience successes and they subconsciously effect our self-image and self-emotions improving our self-esteem.

A loving family, acceptable environment and happy childhood experiences constitute the foundation of self-love.

What kind of differences can we see between people with high and low self-esteem?

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People with high or healthy level of self-esteem have a more detailed self-image which is basically positive. They are willing to make decisions, trust their choices. They believe they can improve, they like challenges and those activities which bring them new experiences. They are flexible and their self-love is almost touchable.

People with low self-esteem have less clear self-image, most of the time they are irresolute and their opinion always depends on who they are communicating with. They are afraid of being unaccepted and exclusions. They have difficulties to make decisions and they are not able to defend them. They don’t take risks and suffer more if they fail. Due to the less clear self-image they always compare themselves to other people, their feelings about themselves are mainly ambivalent and they are more susceptible to depression as well.

There is another dimension to see self-esteem, like how to cope with everyday difficulties.

The capability of resistance depends on self-esteem, stable or unstable.

To have stable self-esteem we must have positive self-image, self-love and self-confidence. With stable self-esteem our emotions and opinions about ourselves are not changeable easily, they are lasting. Stable self-esteem sustains a stable capability of resistance.

People with stable and high level of self-esteem understand critics sensibly, they don’t take everything personal due to the capability of resistance and lack of comparison with other people.

People with stable but low level of self-esteem are the most difficult to reach change with. Because their persuasions (negative) are stable, they don’t do any actions to improve their self-esteem, just accept their situation and emotions. They react to feedbacks emotionally and most of the times their mood is negative.

The unstable self-esteem can be re-shaped. If the self-esteem is unstable and high, re-shaping can cause a very negative outcome.  People with high but unstable self-esteem often vacillate in uncertain or competitive situations. They are very sensitive to critiques, they typically use self-defence and self-advertising mechanism. Their core belief is stable, almost unchangeable.

If the self-esteem is unstable and low, re-shaping can cause a very positive change, because these people try to improve their self-esteem, they try to improve their mental conditions and react positively to success. Their core belief is unstable, so re-formable. Critiques and failures can easily make them unsure but praiseful feedbacks can shape easily their feelings and opinions about themselves.

Self-esteem has a key role in feeling good in our daily life, to sustain stable relationships and reaching our professional goals and feeling successful. With a healthy level of self-esteem we are able to evolve our capacities because we don’t feel that our mistakes brands our personality.

If you want to work on your self-esteem, concentrate your attention on making your self-knowledge more real and more positive. Try new things even if you are afraid of them. In the area of self-love you can get support from your own supporting and safe relationships.

Important to know how your self-esteem is unstable and compensate it.

To reach and sustain a healthy level of self-esteem is possible especially with professional guidance and it pays off. You can experience its great effects daily.

I must mention here there are some exceptions. Self-esteem is not or just partly able to be changed in few personality disorder cases. In personality disorders (like Narcissism, Machiavellism, Psychopathy, Sociopathy etc.)  the core belief about self-image is so deformed but stable and unfortunately almost impossible to re-shape it.

Picture: Kinsale CBT