Are You Being Manipulated?

The month of February is all about love and relationships, so I thought I would do a blog series on those difficult relationships we all find ourselves in at times. I am sure you have experienced at least one of these as either the one doing it or the one receiving it:

  • The Manipulator
  • The Addict
  • The Co-dependent
  • The Abuser
  • The Entitled One
  • The All Talk no Action
  • The Victim
  • The Narcissist
  • The Drama Queen

And I’m sure there may be a few more I forgot about. Today I will blog about the manipulator.

Manipulative people have a strong need to be in control. When not in control, they feel threatened. This may derive from underlying feelings of insecurity on their part, although they often compensate for these feelings with a show of strong self-confidence. Even though they may deny it, their motives are self-serving, and they pursue their aims regardless of the cost to other people. They have a strong need to feel superior and powerful in their relationships – and they find people who will validate these feelings by going along with their attempts at manipulation. If you exert power over them, they retaliate to gain back the control they feel they lost. They cannot understand the idea that everyone can feel empowered or that everyone can gain. Here are some things you will experience with a manipulator:

  • They manipulate your words to make themselves look good and you look bad.
  • They tell you they want to do something to help you and then when they finally do it they whine and complain the whole time.
  • They tell you something and later deny they ever said it.
  • They guilt you into doing what they want
  • They say and do things to turn people against each other and then act like they had nothing to do with it
  • They blame others rather than admit when they are at fault.

If this sounds like someone you know, don’t tell them how their behavior is affecting you, most manipulators are not capable of empathy and may use this information against you in the future. The only effective method of changing manipulative behavior is to disable it by making a change within yourself, thereby changing the relationship dynamics. If you cease to cooperate with the manipulative tactics, you will alter the nature of the relationship. A good counselor can help you learn how to do this. When manipulators have to work hard to maintain control in the relationship, they usually give up – often by leaving the relationship and finding someone else to control.





Creating a Culture Without Sexual Harassment/Abuse

This idea may sound like an impossibility, but we create the world we live in so when we as a collective society decide we want this, it will happen. It may take a generation to turn things around, but we first need to make the decision to begin the process and commit to do what it takes. Following are the areas I believe we need to focus on: Family, Gender Identity and Equality, Sexuality, Religion and Media.

It starts in the family. If you have been a victim or perpetrator of this behavior, seek counseling and healing to stop this generational curse from continuing down to the next generation. If a child comes to you reporting abuse or harassment, listen and believe them. Get them into counseling so they can heal rather than carry this around with them into adulthood.
As parents we need to raise our sons and daughters to respect each other, to have empathy for each other, to understand how their choices affect each other, that when someone tells you no, it means NO. Don’t try to force people to change their mind, ignore what they told you or force yourself on them.

Gender Identity and Equality
Parents, instill in your children that their worth and value comes from who they are: wonderful, creative, loving human beings created in the image of God, rather than from their gender or what they do. Parents do not put your children in competitive situations where they need to prove their worth with siblings or other children or need to do something to earn a parent’s love and approval. Teach them to respect and value both genders equally.
God is a balance of both feminine and masculine energies and so are each of us as his creation. We have been taught to see ourselves as separate and fear our differences. However, it is time for us to accept both the masculine and feminine energy within us and learn how to appropriately express rather than suppress them.
We each bring our own unique abilities and personality and when we respect and affirm each other, there is no reason to feel superior or to harm anyone else. A man’s identity needs to change where it is not based in being superior to a woman.
Being put in powerful position does not mean you get to do whatever you want at the expense of other people. It means you have greater responsibility to be a positive role model and work together as a team, respecting everyone regardless of where they are on the hierarchy of power, gender or social status.

We were all created by God to be sexual beings, but few people are taught what healthy sexuality looks and feels like. It was created to be an expression of love and unity between two people. It was never meant to be used to dominate, harm or manipulate someone, to get attention, or to use someone for your own personal gratification.
Sexuality is meant to be expressed, not repressed. People no longer get married in their teens and early twenties and expecting them to wait for any sexual expression until they get married after 30 is unrealistic and unhealthy. Sexual energy when repressed leaks out through inappropriate sexual behaviors such as harassment and abuse. This does not give you permission to sexually do whatever you want to whomever, whenever. Any sexual encounter should be a consensual act of love between two adults.

The religious beliefs many of us were raised in concerning sexuality and gender roles are outdated and need to change. However, people fear making changes because they fear God will punish them if they do. Many of these beliefs were written in a culture thousands of years ago that was very different from the one we live in today.  Let’s agree together to see the following truths established in religion:

  • Men and women are of equal value
  • Men and women are both capable of leadership positions
  • Women were not created to submit to men or come under their control
  • Woman and men have equal access to God
  • Sexuality is something to be celebrated, not shamed or repressed
  • Men are fully capable of controlling their sexual desires if they choose to
  • Religious leaders who sexually harass or abuse others need to be held accountable and receive healing.

Quit watching, reading or buying media that promotes sexual harassment and abuse, pornography or gender inequality. Whether it is TV, internet, books or movies, you can vote with your money and your time. When fewer people promote this, they will be forced to create media that is more positive in how it portrays humanity.

Societal change begins slowly and then gains momentum. Be patient. If we each agree to do at least some of the things in this blog, it can turn our society around for the better. Individuals create families who create communities who make up a society. Don’t underestimate the power of one individual to turn things around. It took one brave woman coming forth and talking to start the momentum we see now to create a society where men and women can work and live together from a place of love rather than fear. Let the change begin with you.

Why Now??

Sexual harassment and abuse have most likely been going for thousands of years. What God created to be an equal and respectful relationship between genders turned into one gender wanting power and control over the other and putting them in a place of submission under them. So why is everyone coming forward now about being sexually harassed or abused? If you look at this issue from the aspect of the fear love continuum, the earlier generations were based in fear. Fear controlled their lives, life was about survival of the fittest, war was the method to resolve conflicts, people saw themselves as separate from each other, competition more important than cooperation, life was hierarchical, and male dominated. In a fear based culture, someone needs to be the one in control and then subdue others to insure they keep their place of dominance at the top.

In 2012, there was an energetic shift on the planet and the love vibration of the collective population/consciousness of mankind finally surpassed that of fear. Now that love is in control, everything related to fear is being brought to the surface, so it can be transmuted into love. The Bible talks about a time when what was done in darkness will be shouted from the housetops and where your sins will find you out. This is a time when everyone’s “junk” is coming to the surface and they are being given a choice to admit and face it, seek help and receive healing, or continue to deny it and remain in a place of fear, insecurity and separation. So, choose wisely when your junk erupts.

So, I thank God that our society is going through a state of turmoil, because the only way injustice can be healed is to be brought out of the darkness and into the light. I am grateful for all the women who found the courage to come forward and talk about their experiences.  When we learn what we need to learn, heal from what we need to heal, and successfully make these positive changes in our society, we will have created a much better world for us and future generations to live in. A world where men and women respect each other, where men and women have balanced out the feminine and masculine energies within themselves. A world where our beliefs and actions are motivated by love rather than fear.

In next week’s blog I will address how we can create a culture without sexual abuse and harassment.


Can a Victim be Healed?

For the victim, healing begins when you find someone you can trust to share what happened to you. This can be a friend, co-worker, counselor, pastor, family member, it does not matter who, as long as they believe and support you.  Sexual abuse and harassment affects every part of who you are so healing needs to occur at all levels for you to fully recover and enjoy your life again.

Physical: Your physical body was violated so you may struggle to love your body, feeling like it betrayed you. Any future sexual experiences are going to be impacted by what happened to you.

Emotional: You feel many powerful and conflicting emotions; fear, hurt, guilt, anger and shame. In order to survive abuse, you may disconnect, deny or minimize your feelings or you may act them out and project them onto others.

Spiritual: Your understanding of God can be shaken, you are taught that God, prayer and angels will protect and keep you safe so when they don’t, it is common to feel anger toward God and not trust him.

Mental: Sexual abuse and harassment mess with your mind. You begin to believe lies about yourself, dissociate from the experience, and continue to be re-triggered by what happened.

Relational: It is very difficult to trust again so it can be challenging to develop relationships with others, to know how to set appropriate boundaries and effectively assert yourself.

Healing involves:

  1. Telling someone you trust
  2. Looking at your beliefs about gender roles and replace those that no longer serve you with ones that empower you.
  3. Whether the abuse happened in the past or the present, get into counseling.
  4. Forgive the one who harmed you

Do not allow yourself to become bitter or hold long term anger toward the one who hurt you. This only puts you in a victim role which will then become your identity and run your life. Rise above and become a victor, realize the one who hurt you, was hurting themselves in some way. While this does not justify what they did, we are called to be compassionate and seek to understand one another. The best place to process this and heal is through individual or group counseling. Many women avoid this because they do not want to re-live the trauma. The good news is with energy based treatments, while you will need to share some of what happened to you, you no longer need to give a detailed account of the abuse.  I have had the privilege of helping many women go through this process and know that it is possible for you to fully heal and enjoy living your life again.

Why Women were Silent

Sexual harassment and abuse toward women has been going on much longer than most people realize. Before the internet, this subject was hidden and rarely talked about in public or even within a family. Today, people can openly share their stories with each other. Here are some of the reasons why women were silent for so long:

  1. It is a generational pattern of behavior experienced and witnessed in families. You grew up witnessing your mom being abused by your dad or you or your female siblings being abused by a father, brother, uncle or other male figure. When you finally got brave enough to tell someone what was going on, you where not believed, you were shamed for accusing one of these men of harming you in some way. If you challenged mom as to why she allowed dad to treat her this way, she began to justify how it was okay, how she deserved it, how you should not question these things.
  2. The abuser/harasser threatened you that if you told anyone, something bad would happen to you or those you loved. Your voice was silenced and, so it remained silent when you encountered this behavior at the workplace, school, church or in relationships.
  3. Energetically you attract what you experience. So, if you were raised in a home where sexual harassment and abuse were common place, you may continue to attract that energy from others outside of the home until you are healed of your own sexual abuse/harassment trauma.
  4. Women are taught, especially in the church, that your sexuality is something you need to keep under control. If a man makes unwanted advances toward you, it is your fault for tempting them by the way you dressed, the way you walked, the words you spoke. You were asking for this behavior; therefore, it was your fault you were sexually abused or harassed. The fact that a man could not control himself, was all your fault.
  5. Women are taught, especially in the church, to submit to men. This is what good Christian woman do. You do not question men, they know what is best for you because they are in a superior position, placed there by God, therefore, they can hear from God better than you and know what is in your best interest better than you do.
  6. Women are taught in the church not to disrespect men. When you question their behavior toward you, you are disrespecting them and their spiritual authority over you. So, you keep silent.
  7. Women are not taught in our culture to see themselves as equal to men. Therefore, when you are in the presence of men who are more powerful, of a higher social/economic standing than you, you may automatically submit yourself to them, even if you are not doing it on a conscious level.
  8. Many women work in places where the boss is a male. They believe the only way they can move up in the company is to accept the sexually inappropriate behaviors of the boss and not tell anyone about them. Many of them are single women raising children and they cannot afford to lose their job by speaking out.
  9. Because women were taught to keep silent about being sexually abused or harassed, they did not talk to other women about it. They believed that it was only happening to them and did not realize so many other women were experiencing the same types of sexual abuse and harassment that they were.

As a society we have done a poor job of raising women up to respect themselves, find their voice and learn how to have healthy interactions with men. The fault lies in so many different places as you can see in the different reasons behind their silence. If you are a parent, raising girls, look at this list and ask yourself what you can be doing differently so your daughter knows how to identify sexual abuse and harassment and how to stand up for herself and speak out against it. If you are a woman reading this, and identify with anything I mentioned in this list, take the time to honestly assess your life and see if you have fallen into any of these patterns of beliefs and behaviors. If so, seek counseling to help you process it all and become healthier in how you relate to men. Next week I will write a blog on how women can be healed after being sexual abused and harassed.

Can a Perpetrator be Healed?

The media will lead you to believe you can get men to stop sexual harassment and abuse by:

  • Educating men about why sexual harassment and abuse is wrong
  • Firing men from their jobs
  • Having women tell men how their behavior affected them
  • Educating men about gender equality
  • Shaming these men, posting their names on social media

These solutions on their own, are doomed to fail because they only address the symptoms rather than the root cause of sexual harassment and abuse which I addressed in the previous blog. Both the symptoms and the root need to be addressed for healing to occur.

For the perpetrator, this pattern of sexual abuse and harassment has most likely been with them for quite a while. These behaviors come from beliefs that were instilled in them from their family of origin, their religious upbringing and from the society in which they were raised. Things they were taught and things they observed. They usually begin as thoughts and they try to ignore them. Then they begin to entertain the thought, then imagine what it would be like to do this, what would it feel like, and then turn it into action. Usually the first time it is done they feel some shame and guilt. But whatever positive benefit they received from the behavior, it is strong enough to entice them to do it again until it becomes a habit and they find ways to justify what they do and often blame the victim for their behaviors. Healing involves:

  1. Becoming aware of these behaviors
  2. Admitting their responsibility rather than blaming others
  3. Understanding where these behaviors came from, why they did what they did and then doing what they need to change their beliefs, thoughts and feelings associated with these behaviors, so the behaviors will stop.
  4. Becoming aware of how these behaviors affected the victim
  5. Making appropriate amends to the one they harmed
  6. Forgiving themselves
  7. Being accountable to someone who will alert them when they see signs of this behavior again, so they can stop before they do it again.

The best place to process all of this and heal is through counseling. However, most people resist this and think they can just stop these behaviors at will. Or they just get another job, move to another city, find another girlfriend and begin the behaviors all over again, hoping their past won’t be found out and they will not get caught this time. If you know of someone who is struggling with these issues, please encourage them to seek counseling.


Cant We All Just Get Along?

While people often ask this question, our society has been set up to insure this idea of everyone getting along does not consistently happen. From a young age we are trained to see those different from ourselves as our enemy. We are trained to compete against each other.  We are trained not to trust each other. We are trained to blame others rather than taking personal responsibility. We see this in politics, religion, education, sports, economics and in many other areas. One of the things that fuels this “us versus them” mindset is competition. Competition has been around for a long time because it does have some positive aspects such as:

  • Encourages us to strive to be better than we thought we could be
  • Teaches us to set goals and to keep after them
  • Not to give up when things get difficult
  • Keeps us from becoming lazy and mediocre.

However, competition also has some negative aspects that prevent us from getting along with each other. It sets us up to have winners and losers and our value and worth as a person is determined by if we win or lose. Rather than seeing you as an equal, I put you down, instill fear in you, see you as an enemy, verbally attack/taunt/bully you, so I can win rather than you. It is hard to feel love toward another person when you are treating them this way. While competition will most likely always be apart of our culture, I would like to encourage you to consider the benefits of cooperation.

  • You are valued, wanted, loved, and accepted for who you are, not for what you do.
  • You work together to help each other meet your needs or wants.
  • You feel loved whether you win or lose.
  • You can celebrate who you are without having to prove yourself against anyone else.
  • You value other people and do what you can to help others, not just yourself.
  • Because you feel love toward others, you seek to understand them rather than fear your differences.
  • You live with less anxiety when you are not competing against each other.
  • It is easier to trust people when you are working with them rather than opposing them.
  • You see yourselves connected to each other.

As you interact with people this week, whether is it co-workers, friends or family members, start noticing the times you find yourself competing versus cooperating with them. When you find yourself competing, ask yourself why, who is it benefiting, how does it make you feel, how does it affect the one you are competing against, it is helping you get along with others? And when you are can, choose cooperation over competition. Let us celebrate and seek to understand and respect the differences between us rather than trying to prove we are better than someone else. We are all part of the human family, all from the same Creator God Source. We can all get along when we choose to.





Who are the Others?

Jesus taught that we could not love our neighbor until we first loved ourselves (Mark 12:31). The past few blogs were about loving ourselves so today I am going to start blogging on relationships, how to love those “others, our neighbors.”

So, who are these “others?’ Those you like and those you don’t. Those who believe like you and those who don’t. Those who think, feel and act like you and those who don’t. We are trained in our culture to put everyone into categories and then associate with the ones most like us and avoid anyone we deem different. But that is not what Jesus did. He associated with the rich and the poor, those in the temple and those outside of it, those who were healthy and those who were sick, those in the city, those in the country. Jesus understood the concept that we all came from the same source, Creator God, so we are all connected to each other. Everyone is our brother or sister. And when we mistreat one, we are mistreating ourselves. For everything we do, say, believe, think, feel has a ripple effect on everyone else. So, while we think “this is my life” and “I can do whatever I want” the reality is, while we have the freedom to make our own choices, our choices do affect people beyond ourselves.

Following are some things I have noticed about our relationships with others:

  1. We like to focus on fixing the other person rather than focusing on our own stuff.
  2. We project our own stuff onto other’s, so we don’t have to face it.
  3. We look to others to make us happy when true happiness can only come from within.
  4. We love to pass judgement on others.
  5. We think we know what is best for others and attempt to convince them of this.
  6. We fear those who are not like us instead of seeking to understand them.

Every day as we interact with others we can choose to bless, love and serve them or we can choose to harm, manipulate or control them. We can accept people for who they are and seek to understand them or we can judge them and attempt to change them. We can hold things against them or we can forgive them. The Bible teaches that people will know us by our love, it is genuine love for each other that will draw people to the God of Love.

Remember, when you meet anyone, it is a holy encounter, you are both God’s children.

Why is it so Hard to Love Me?

Jesus taught that we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. (Mark 12:31). So if we  do not love ourselves, we will have a difficult time loving others. In last week’s blog I wrote about how some of you were taught that loving yourself was selfish. Today I am going to give you a few more reasons why you may struggle to love yourself.

  1. You have been taught to focus on everything that is wrong with you. You especially see this in the media messages that show “perfect” looking people. You are taught to compare yourself to others and can always find something that does not measure up and needs to be fixed. Then the sales pitches come in about all the things you need to buy to make yourself feel better, so you can feel happy. The subliminal message is that you cannot love yourself unless you are perfect or happy. The truth is God loves you just as you are with all your imperfections, so you can choose to love yourself just as you are!
  2. Some of you may have had negative words spoken over you. You were told you were too fat/skinny/tall/short/boring/stupid/the words are endless. As children growing up you interpreted these lies as truths about you and they continue to control your life today. It is time to start speaking positive words of love over yourself.
  3. Religions often teach that because you are a sinner, you are not worth loving. However, when you receive the truth Jesus taught, you are free, and sin becomes a choice rather than your identity. You can now see yourself as God sees you—through the image of love rather than the image of sin.
  4. You all have parts of yourselves that you deem “bad” which you believe disqualify you from loving yourself. You may try to cover up and pretend the “bad” parts of you do not exist and fear you could be shunned by others if these parts were revealed. However, we are all made up of good and bad. We all do things we later regret. When you can freely admit your imperfections and not judge yourself harshly for them, they will lose their power over you. God’s love can then come in and heal these parts of you.
  5. You were taught that thinking highly of yourself was being prideful. It is only prideful when you are boasting about yourself because inside you feel insecure so are trying to find a way to build yourself up in the eyes of others. There is nothing wrong with taking pride in something you have accomplished or done well.
  6. You do not see yourself as God perceives you. You were created in the image of Creator God. Therefore, you are an amazing, creative, powerful, loving human being. You are worthy of loving.

When you choose not to love yourself, you are essentially telling God that he made a mistake because you are not worth loving. Have you ever created an artwork, a recipe, a song, or a solution to a problem that you loved but others did not like it? How did you feel? Hurt, angry, frustrated, sad? Perhaps this is how God feels when you do not love the unique person he created you to be. As you go through this list, make note of any that you resonate with and then pray and ask God to help you work through the reasons why you do not love yourself. If you need to, seek counseling so you can learn how to love yourself. Remember the words of Jesus, you cannot love others until you first love yourself. This is why it is so important that we learn what healthy self-love looks and feels like. Since God created you, the very presence of God resides within you and wants to express itself through you. You are worth celebrating! You are worth loving!

“When I loved myself enough, I began leaving whatever wasn’t healthy. This meant people, jobs, my own beliefs and habits – anything that kept me small.  My judgement called it disloyal. Now I see it as self-loving.”      Kim McMillen