Does your kind and compassionate heart – your generosity – ever leave you feeling like a sucker?

I’m talking about feeling manipulated or used in your life by others. Do you over-give and over-accommodate in your relationships? Are you drawn to people who have high expectations of what you should be doing to them (and you go along?)

If any of that sounds familiar, let’s talk about why that might be and how you can change those patterns of behavior.

The first thing you need is awareness. People who grew up in homes where they didn’t feel valued and were trying to get positive feedback from a parent – perhaps a distant mother or emotionally-unavailable father – can be particularly vulnerable as an adult to being manipulated. This includes those of us who are empaths, as we are very dialed into other people’s feelings and needs. Being aware of your background and how it impacts the kinds of people you attract is important. People who are manipulative are very good at spotting the kind of people they can take advantage of.

Another key thing is realizing the difference between being needed and being taken advantage of. Do you consider yourself a helper, do you like being needed and helping people?

There is a big difference between being truly valued, desired, and needed and being USED. @terri_cole (Click to Tweet!)

We have all had relationships in our lives with people who have taken advantage of our kindness or who have seen it as a weakness to exploit. These are people who will continually try to get you to do something that benefits them, even if it is not in your best interest.


So how do we identify those people?

1. Flattery

Be aware of people you have just met who are being OVER complimentary or flattering. Be mindful of any pattern someone using flattering to “butter you up” before asking you for something.

2. Different Faces

Manipulators often go from being sweet and kind to one person, to being cruel and aggressive to another very quickly. What they are doing is continually assessing consciously and unconsciously how they need to behave to get what they want from each person.

3. Self-Blame

Keep in mind that manipulative people have an ability to know what buttons to push to get you to do what they want. If you identify this kind of relationship in your life, don’t fall into a default position of blaming yourself, rather try to observe and not make it personal. That will allow you to make a more objective decision about what value this person adds to your life.You need to decide who gets to be in the front row of your life. Start thinking about what and who you want in your life.

4. Mirroring

Manipulative people are sometimes not consciously aware of their behavior. There is a technique where you mirror their unreasonable request or selfishness back to them. Repeat their request back to them starting with “So you are asking me to….”.  Be firm and ask them if they think their request sounds fair. This will also make it clear whether this a request, or whether they are just expecting you to do whatever they say. Our intention with this technique is to hopefully make them aware of their manipulative behavior, if they are not already.

5. Resist

You have to resist being manipulated. Manipulators can often make you feel totally engulfed and overwhelmed by what THEY want. Resist allowing anyone to make you feel like you MUST do what they want right now. Manipulative people know how to use urgency as a way of forcing you to do what they want. You don’t owe anyone an instant answer and poor planning on another person’s part does not have to constitute an “emergency” for you.

6. No is not a four-letter word

For many of us, it can be very hard to say ‘No’ but to take back control and create healthy boundaries you must. The only reason you need to give for saying ‘no’ to something, is that you don’t want to.

I hope that you’ve found this episode helpful and if you did, please share it on your social media platforms and with the people in your life who you think may find it helpful.

To view the video please click HERE and as always, take care of you!


Terri Cole is a licensed psychotherapist, transformation coach, and an expert at turning fear into freedom. Sign up for Terri’s weekly Newsletter, check out her blog and follow her on Twitter.