Manipulation has always been an interesting concept to me. Twenty-four years ago I was accused by my partner as being unable to manipulate. He felt that manipulation was an important relationship skill that could lubricate the interactions between partners. Since that time I have thought a lot about the idea.
What I realized was that behind my inability to manipulate was the fear of influencing people. I acknowledged that I would hide my hurt, sadness and pain in order to not have people attend to me. I knew that sharing those emotions changed people and they often would act to take care of me. I was so opposed to manipulating and/or influencing people that I would try to suppress my normal reactions that I knew would provoke a response in them. For instance, many people are scared of angry people or of disappointing people and will do things they do not really want to do in order to avoid creating anger or disappointment in another. My response to this was to suppress my anger and/or disappointment.
The irony is that ultimately my fear of manipulation made me a manipulator. If I am pretending to be something that I am not in order to create a specific reaction in another person, then I am manipulating. It seemed I could not win. To hide my hurt was to manipulate people into not caring for me. To show my hurt would also manipulate them.
The bottom line was that no matter what I did I was having influence over people. I also became aware of how uncomfortable I was with my ability to indirectly influence people. I wanted to completely hide.
One of the things I aspire to is to be able to relax with what is. This includes accepting that my actions and thoughts influence others. What would it take for me to be okay with my awareness of how they are reacting to me? What would it take to let go of care-taking others by repressing, suppressing or changing me?