Caregivers who care for a loved one who is emotionally manipulative are at high risk for emotional, spiritual, mental and physical burnout and illness or “dis-ease” because their Chi, or life force energy, is consistently low.
While literature gives us multiple subtypes of emotionally manipulative people, this article will focus on the impact of “needy” manipulative loved ones on their caregivers.
Manipulation, simply put, is the need for someone to control another to get what they want. This article does not refer to those loved ones who have dementia-related emotional behaviors.
While the manipulating loved one may be emotionally unstable and needy, they are adept in finding others’ vulnerabilities and then latching to them with flesh hooks of iron, at any cost. The caregiver for this type of person is very often left feeling emotionally and energetically bankrupt.
The manipulating loved one needs all the caregiver’s energy to orbit around them, all the time, as if they were the only planet in the universe, and the caregiver their sole and un-ending source of survival. Often times they will be moody, lashing out one moment at the caregiver in steadfast wrath and anger, while the next, giving a compliment as if nothing ever happened. Their needs will always come ahead of anyone else’s and they are unable to sympathize with anyone else who is having a bad day. The caregiver might be having a bad day, but it’s nothing in comparison to the manipulator’s woes, and the caregiver’s problems are discounted quickly. The needy manipulative loved one is afraid of abandonment, and will find a way to keep others around, from performing small chores to creating a large, emotional and dramatic blowup. These manipulators cannot see the toxicity in their actions that drives others away, yet they are experts in using their manipulative behaviors to keep others coming back—whether it be threats of suicide to displays of helplessness for attention and care.
The caregiver may want to logically and rationally discuss the issues with them, but it is not allowed because these individuals are not vested in the caregiver’s feelings or concerns. Because the manipulative loved one works from raw emotion, you are either on their side or totally against them. They will not hesitate to engage in emotional outbursts, either privately or publicly, that leaves the caregiver in a shocked, embarrassed and drained state. This, eventually wears down the caregiver to a point of nearly feeling as if their own free will has been taken away.
Some common types of behaviors used by manipulators:
- Flattery: “No one else will help me—you are the only person who will, because you are a good person.”
- Guilt: “After all I have done for you.” “You are selfish for not ____”
- Control/threats: “I will lie here in my house and starve in my own filth, if you even try to put me in a nursing home.”
- Unreasonable requests: “You know that I don’t deserve to have my driver’s license taken from me. You have to make them give it back. We aren’t going to rest until this is taken care of.”
- Repetitive behavior intended to wear down the caregiver in attempt to get what they want: “I know that you said you can only come help me three days a week, but I can’t _____ when you aren’t here and it’s making me sicker.”
- Comparison: “Well ____’s family let her move in with them to be taken care of.”
- Pressure for an immediate answer: “I need to know right away if ____.”
Helpful tips in handling the emotionally needy manipulative loved one:
- Do not give immediate answers to pressured questions: Respectfully say “I will think about it.”
- You have the right to say no and never feel guilty about it.
- Set boundaries respectfully and stick to them. Expect resistance, but stick to your guns. Do not argue.
- Remember, the manipulator can only “guilt” you if you allow this.
- Let them know when you are about to depart and then leave when you should.
- Respect your own “time off” –if you make yourself forever “available,” you will not have proper recuperation of your energy.
In the energetic realm, these folks can be described as “energy vampires.” All living things are comprised of energy, which is being exchanged constantly by all living things. Different cultures call this energy by various names, such as chi, prana and life force. When this energy flow is blocked or unbalanced you can become sick.
An energy vampire is someone who heartily takes your energy, leaving you with very low energy levels. There are several types of people who require much energy from others, and an emotional manipulator is one type. Caregivers who don’t know how to balance and restore their chi, or life force energy, will begin to manifest emotional, physical and mental fatigue, perhaps feeling a “fog” that lingers for hours or days after being with the manipulative loved one. If the caregiver becomes chronically drained and is not able to recuperate their energy, they can easily develop coping mechanisms like overeating, excessive alcohol intake, drug usage, etc. These addictions, in turn, further deplete the caregiver’s energy, and can result in “dis-ease” or illness.
There are various ways to balance our energy levels daily to assure we replenish and restore our bodies with nourishing life force that feeds a healthy body, mind and spirit. A few are:
- Qi Gong: An ancient Chinese health care system that integrates physical postures, breathing techniques and focused intention.
- Meditation: Simple method of turning your attention away from distracting thoughts and focusing on the present moment, such as focusing on breathing in and out.
- Reiki: Japanese technique for stress reduction: restores and balances energy in the body.
- Yoga: Hindu derived system of stretching and positional to promote good physical and mental health.
- EFT (“tapping”) : Acupressure method using one’s own fingertips to tap areas on the body’s energy meridians for better overall mental health
These are only a few examples of energy balancing techniques help to keep one from caregiver burnout and illness. The goal of these therapies is to unblock or re-balance your energy force.
Keep in mind that all caregivers must have time for themselves. No one human can ever be 100% to any other human. “Respite care” provides substitute caregiving to give the regular caregiver a much-needed break. Some types of respite care:
- In-home respite: In this type of service, someone comes to your home to provide care. The type of care can range from simple companionship to nursing services.
- Adult day-care centers: Often located in churches or community centers.
- Short-term nursing homes: Ideal if a caregiver needs an extended time off, such as a long vacation.
- Day hospitals: Some hospitals provide medical care to patients during the day and then at night, the patient returns home.
It is essential that the caregiver take care of themselves so that they may maintain their own well being and energetic balance in their own life. By minimizing or eliminating the disruption of the energy flow through the body, caregivers can maintain harmony and help prevent physical, emotional and mental disorders of their body.
Resources: Nih.gov, Psychologytoday.com, Mayoclinic.org