5 Unrecognized Manipulative Behaviors in Recovery

It can take a while in recovery to learn some of the nuances of positive

It can take a while in recovery to learn some of the nuances of positive communication. At first, it may feel impossible, then it may feel forced, but over time, you will find that it comes naturally to actively listen to the people around you, and give them the space and time they need to get their needs met.

When it comes to getting your own needs met, however, you may find that you are engaging in unhealthy practices without even realizing it. For example, even if you are not technically forcing someone else to do your bidding, you may be engaging in practices that serve to manipulate them to do what you want. Any time you make a choice that puts someone in the position of choosing between giving in to your demands or suffering some kind of consequence, you are engaging in manipulation tactics.

Here are just a few of the most common ways that you may be manipulating others without realizing it:

1. Making your desire seem like someone else’s idea

When you feel relatively certain that someone will not want to do something that you want to do, and you would like to make it seem like you thought it was their idea so it doesn’t fall on you, you are engaging in this tactic. For example, if you want to spend money buying a new car and you know your spouse is against it, you might say, “But I thought you wanted a sporty car? You always talk about it. I’ll put down the deposit while you’re out of town and pick you up at the airport in our new car!” You might say this even if you they have rarely, if ever, said anything remotely like that. A better way to handle it might be to say something like, “Do you mind if we go for a test drive in the car? I’ve done some research and I think it could be a really good vehicle for us.”

2. Stalling

If you evade doing something that someone has asked you to do and continually give them excuses like, “Sorry, I got busy” or “I forgot,” when you have no intention of doing what they requested, you are manipulating the situation. Instead, the more direct approach would be to state flat out, “I’m sorry. I’m not going to do that. I understand that is what you want, but what about another solution?” However, if your “I forgot” is in reference to cleaning the bathroom at home or cleaning up after yourself, then the focus should be on improving your ability to respect shared spaces and keep your word rather than continually putting people in a position to pick up your slack.

3. Freezing someone out

A common manipulation tactic is to “ice someone out” if they do not do what you want them to do. The “you’re dead to me” manipulation sends that message, “If you don’t do what I want, then you hold no value in my life.” If someone is harming you emotionally or physically and you feel that you need space, only then it is appropriate to avoid all communication, but only after you have made it clear that you are taking space and will not be engaging in a relationship with them any longer. If it is simply a case where someone is not doing something you want them to do, or they disagree with your opinions on a matter, refusing to speak to them will ultimately only harm your relationship and any hope of getting your needs met.

4. Guilting someone

When your response to someone disagreeing with you is to equate their rejection of your idea with a personal rejection of you or to say, “Fine, I’ll do it myself,” or “You NEVER want to do what I to do…” when they won’t do what you ask, you are only getting them to agree to the behavior by manipulation. Guilt trips are not a functional way to get what you want; they lose their power over time and eventually lead to resentment and evasion.

5. Making a dramatic exit

If you love to shout a dramatic and scorching indictment when you are arguing and then slam the door or screech off in your car, you are doing the “dramatic exit” form of manipulation. When you do this, you cut off the person’s ability to respond to you and force a situation in which tension and anger remain and no resolution can be reached. By prioritizing having the last word in a discussion, you are forcing control over the conversation and worsening the situation rather than moving closer to finding a common ground of agreement.

Recognizing and Addressing Codependent Behaviors in Recovery

Codependency is a common issue among those in recovery, particularly for those who have struggled with addiction for an extended period of time. Codependency can manifest in various ways, such as feeling responsible for others' emotions or actions, sacrificing your own needs to meet others', or enabling the addictive behaviors of loved ones.

Recognizing codependent behaviors is the first step towards addressing them. It is important to understand that codependency can be just as harmful to your recovery as addiction itself. By putting the needs of others before your own, you may be neglecting your own well-being and sabotaging your progress towards sobriety.

To address codependent behaviors, it is important to focus on self-care and setting healthy boundaries. This may involve learning how to say no to requests from others when they conflict with your own needs or learning how to ask for help when you need it without feeling guilty.

Therapy can also be a helpful tool in addressing codependency. A trained therapist can help you identify unhealthy patterns of behavior and provide guidance on how to develop healthier coping mechanisms.

Remember that recovery is a journey, and it takes time and effort to overcome not only addiction but also any underlying issues that may contribute to it. By recognizing and addressing codependent behaviors, you can take an important step towards long-term sobriety and emotional well-being.

The Importance of Setting Boundaries in Recovery

Setting boundaries is an essential part of the recovery process. It involves establishing limits on what you are willing to tolerate from others and what behaviors you will or will not engage in yourself.

Without clear boundaries, it can be easy to fall back into old patterns of behavior or become enmeshed in unhealthy relationships. For example, if you have a history of substance abuse, being around others who use drugs or alcohol could trigger a relapse. Similarly, if you tend to put others' needs before your own, setting boundaries can help you prioritize self-care and avoid becoming overburdened.

Setting boundaries can also help you build stronger relationships based on mutual respect and trust. By communicating your needs and expectations clearly, others are more likely to understand and respect them. This can lead to healthier communication, reduced conflict, and greater emotional well-being.

Of course, setting boundaries is easier said than done. It can be challenging to say no to requests from friends or loved ones or to assert yourself in unfamiliar situations. However, learning how to set healthy boundaries is an important skill that can benefit all areas of your life.

Some tips for setting effective boundaries include:

  • Start small: Begin by identifying one area where you would like to establish a boundary (e.g., avoiding certain triggers) and work your way up from there.
  • Be clear and direct: Communicate your boundary in a straightforward manner without apologizing or making excuses.
  • Stick to your guns: Once you have established a boundary, stick with it even if others try to push back or test your resolve.
  • Practice self-care: Prioritize activities that promote physical and emotional well-being (e.g., exercise, meditation) as a way of reinforcing the importance of maintaining healthy boundaries.

Remember that setting boundaries is not about being selfish or rigid; it is about taking care of yourself so that you can be the best version of yourself for others. By setting healthy boundaries in recovery, you can create a supportive environment that fosters growth, healing, and long-term sobriety.

Identifying and Coping with Triggers that May Lead to Relapse

Triggers are situations, emotions, or people that can lead to cravings and potentially trigger a relapse. They can be difficult to avoid entirely, but it is important to identify them and develop coping mechanisms to manage them.

Common triggers include stress, boredom, social situations where drugs or alcohol are present, negative emotions such as anger or sadness, and even positive emotions such as excitement or happiness.

One way to identify your triggers is by keeping a journal of when you experience cravings and what was happening at the time. This can help you recognize patterns and develop strategies for managing these situations in the future.

Once you have identified your triggers, it is important to develop coping mechanisms that work for you. This might include distraction techniques such as exercise or meditation, reaching out to a support network such as a sponsor or therapist, or engaging in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment.

It is also important to have a relapse prevention plan in place. This might include having a list of emergency contacts who can provide support if needed or having an action plan for what steps to take if you feel yourself slipping into old habits.

Remember that recovery is not always easy, and there may be times when you experience setbacks. However, by identifying your triggers and developing effective coping mechanisms, you can reduce the risk of relapse and stay on track towards long-term sobriety.

Exploring the Role of Shame and Guilt in Addiction and Recovery

Shame and guilt are common emotions experienced by those struggling with addiction. Many people turn to substances as a way of coping with feelings of shame or guilt, only to find that their addiction exacerbates these negative emotions.

Shame is the belief that one is fundamentally flawed or unworthy, while guilt is the feeling of having done something wrong or immoral. Both can be powerful motivators for change, but they can also be hindrances if not addressed properly.

In recovery, it is important to explore the role that shame and guilt may have played in your addiction. This may involve working with a therapist to identify underlying feelings of inadequacy or worthlessness that contributed to substance use.

It is also important to develop healthy ways of coping with shame and guilt in recovery. This might include practicing self-compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance. It may also involve making amends for past wrongs and taking responsibility for your actions without allowing them to define you.

Remember that recovery is a process, and it takes time and effort to address underlying issues such as shame and guilt. By exploring these emotions with honesty and openness, you can gain greater insight into yourself and develop effective strategies for maintaining long-term sobriety.

Understanding the Link Between Mental Health and Addiction

Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, or bipolar disorder can often coexist with addiction. In fact, research shows that individuals with mental health disorders are more likely to develop substance abuse problems. The relationship between addiction and mental illness is complex, and each condition can exacerbate the symptoms of the other.

For example, someone struggling with anxiety may turn to drugs or alcohol as a way of coping with their symptoms. Similarly, someone dealing with addiction may experience depression or anxiety as a result of their substance use.

It is important to seek dual diagnosis treatment when both mental health and addiction issues are present. Dual diagnosis treatment involves addressing both conditions simultaneously through an integrated approach that combines therapy, medication management, and other evidence-based interventions.

By treating both conditions together, individuals can achieve greater success in recovery and improve their overall quality of life. If you suspect that you may have an underlying mental health issue in addition to your addiction, it is important to seek help from a qualified healthcare professional who can provide an accurate diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Remember that there is no shame in seeking help for mental health issues or addiction. With the right support and resources, it is possible to overcome these challenges and achieve lasting recovery.

Are you manipulating people in your life in order to get your needs met? Is it time to learn more healthful methods of communication and interaction in recovery?

Since joining the Townsend content team, Shlomo has become a thought leader in the addiction field. He is a Seinfeld junkie, a recovering Twitter fanatic, and a sports expert. He enjoys milk shakes and beautiful views from rooftops.