Monday, 11 January 2010

Emotional blackmail

No-one can make you feel anything.

When I first heard that I was inclined to disagree, afterall I can think of a dozen instances off the top of my head where I was made to feel mad, glad, sad, angry etc. Then think a moment longer. Can anyone make me do anything I don't want to? Short of threatening my loved ones or holding a gun to my head, no-one can make me do a single thing that I don't want to do. No-one that is, except for myself of course. So it naturally follows that if I can't be made to do a thing, then I can't be made to feel a feeling.

So do I allow myself to feel things? Or is a feeling something which just happens to me without my control? And do I like that thought? Are my feelings just carrying on without my authority so to speak? Or do I have a decision in the direction my feelings take? If I initially feel angry about a situation, do I then have a choice to continue feeling that way or decide to feel something else. If I do decide to feel something else then am I a candidate for Psychotherapy and/or counselling for repressed feelings, or is the fact that I made a decision to not dwell on and be consumed by a feeling that disturbed me a reasonable way to deal with a situation?

Have you ever heard the term emotional blackmail? The people that use these tactics (and to some extent, I believe most of us have at some point) are trying to make you feel something in order to benefit themselves. It is invariably one of the feelings like guilt, compassion or fear.

I think sometimes people use the tactics so often and consistently in their lives that they don't realise they are doing it anymore. In fact they might even be surprised, annoyed or hurt at the implication that they are trying to force you into anything. They see what they are saying as reasonably argument and perhaps persuasion.

Unfortunately the person on the receiving. end of the emotional blackmail also has a responsibility in this. They may be allowing themselves to be manipulated in this way and so strengthen the perpetrators belief that their behaviour is acceptable.

Naturally I have a reason for all of these meandering thoughts but I suppose if I really knew how to deal with a person who is emotionally blackmailing me, then I wouldn't be posting my rambling thoughts on the internet. And so I feel frustration. And are they making me feel it? I know I am certainly giving into it a bit and allowing it to grow and probably a wee bit of anger thrown into the mix for good measure.

As a Christian my response should be immediate because of course it means that I don't have to internalise or repress anything. I can pray it away, give it up, believe that if I am behaving in a way that 'stands up in court' so to speak, then a resolution will come. And so that's all I can do. Talking to this person results in further attempts at emotional blackmail and I would come away with the negative feelings strengthened in myself and that in itself is pointless. I am not saying that my choice is to do nothing which would be against what I've already said, rather, I'm saying that I choose to give away my negative feelings and trust that it will be dealt with.

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