‘Manipulate’ is quite a strong word. It is loaded with meaning for a lot of people. Does it sound negative to you?
It can be a negative thing, but it also can be positive or neutral.
The Oxford dictionary defines ‘manipulate’ as
“to control or influence somebody/something, often in a dishonest way so that they do not realize it”
“to control, use or change something with skill”
Yes, manipulation can be a negative thing. It also can just mean to change a person's behaviour, action or mindset. If someone is sad and you have done something silly to make them laugh, technically you have manipulated them. Is that such a bad thing? If you barter with your child that they can stay up for an extra 30 minutes to play games if they help you with housework, you have manipulated them. Is it bad or harmful? No, you are teaching them to earn things.
Throughout life, we alter people’s thoughts and actions as we go, whether we intend to or not. It all depends on how well you know that person, and how you have assessed their personality. Unless you have a malicious intent, then manipulation doesn’t have to be a negative word.
You can manipulate yourself. That sounds weird, right? Stay with me.
If you tell yourself that whatever you are learning or doing is too hard, and you can’t do it, what do you think will happen? Do you think that you’ll find it easy and surprise yourself?
If you’ve told yourself that you can’t do it, then you will fulfil that prophecy. You will find it hard, and you may still complete it, or learn it, but it would have been easier if you’d have started out with a different mindset….
Have you ever tried it? Going into something - anything, with your mind filled with positive affirmations about yourself? Try it - the next time you go to do something, keep repeating ‘this is going to be great/I’m going to learn a lot here/I know what I’m doing/I’m confident/I can make my thoughts and opinions heard/my thoughts and opinions matter’
Make your new, positive inner voice speak louder than the negative inner voice. Tell yourself that you can do it. It may feel strange at first, but just remember that all this time, you’ve been telling yourself that you can’t. Now start telling yourself that you can.
At the start of this year, I was in a high pressure job as an Executive Assistant and Office Manager in a financial technology company. I had to stand up for myself every day, and make decisions that affected many people. I struggled with this a lot, and I knew that flip flopping on things would make a mess. So I stuck a piece of paper to my bedroom wall, so I see it every day when I wake up. I have written on it:
‘I am happy
I am confident
I make good decisions
I am calm and purposeful
I take time to learn things’
It is just a piece of paper stuck to my wall, but I look at it every day. It has had a profound impact on me. If ever I feel self doubt about myself, or negative thoughts creep back in, I repeat these things to myself. I know them off by heart because I see them every day, and it has become my mantra.
Why don’t you try it? All you need is paper and a pen, and some tape or tac to stick it up. Stick it somewhere that you will look at it often.
It needs to say something that appeals to YOU. Try and think what your negative inner voice often says, and write the opposite of that!
I also use this technique if I find myself worrying or thinking about what other people think. I actively think about what I want people to think, and then my behaviour will follow this.
Why don't you try it. Just for today.
What if it works?