Living Like a Puppet on a String

Ever instinctively know that someone is trying to control you, but you can’t put your finger on it?

rows of knobs on an audio recording mixing console

When someone is trying to control all aspects of your life, it’s time to persist in speaking your own mind and acting on your reality

You feel you’re being manipulated, but you’re not sure how it is happening?

Here’s a quick checklist to confirm your suspicions.

Manipulators pull your strings when they:

  • Believe their opinions, wants and dreams are more important than your own.
  • Believe they have the right to tell you who you are, what to think, feel and do.
  • Expect you to read their minds and know and meet their needs, without their ever voicing them.
  • Inflict verbal violence when you don’t do exactly what they want you to do.
  • Give backhanded compliments, when they give them at all, and manage to point out some flaw or short-coming at the same time.
  • Criticize your opinions and ideas, usually in front of others.
  • Constantly challenge your perception of your reality. For instance, you say you’re hungry. You’re told you are not.
  • Blame you or others whenever something goes wrong.
  • Expect you to change plans or make accommodations to suit them.

Manipulators are controlling and disrespectful because of hurts they have experienced in life and still carry around inside them. Knowing this is no reason to accept their behavior.

It’s not your fault they hurt, and more importantly, being their puppet doesn’t change their behavior or erase their hurt. Being their puppet changes you and prevents you from living your life to your richest and best ability.

Living an honest, open and true life requires us to recognize when others are treating us like a puppet on a string and to refuse to be the marionette. Living an honest, open and true life requires us to make decisions about ourselves and to act in our own best interests.

Fortunately, there are many great books out there, and professional counselors, who can help you if this is your situation. I urge you to take action for yourself. You cannot change a manipulator’s behavior, what you can do is take care of yourself. When we take care of ourselves, we are living an honest, open and true life.

What I can help you with is the words you use to care for yourself. Your words confirm and shape your reality. With practice, re-voicing your reality by stating what you are doing (that is opposite of what you’ve been told to do) will become automatic and you’ll reaffirm your own personage and experience a sense of freedom – at least in your mind – from your manipulator.

Re-voicing your reality, opinion, preference or direction will frequently be met with verbal violence. Angry words. Demeaning words. Because you are not really a puppet on a string, you have the power to walk away or to hang up the telephone.

But use your words first to voice what is happening and what you’re going to do.

“Because I am hungry, I am going to eat now.”

“I appreciate your ideas, but my choice is better for me.”

“I can see my decision is upsetting to you. I’ll leave you now so you can regain control of yourself.”

“I understand this is not something you can discuss right now. You are welcome to call me back when you are calm.”

Personal and business relationships and friendships are not based on control but on mutual interactions that seek balance and always are respectful. By letting others manipulate us, we give up a portion of ourselves and do nothing to help them learn how to address their inner hurts.

Life Is Honest, Open and True: When we recognize we’re being manipulated, it’s time to be kind to ourselves by being honest in accessing the situation, being open with a trusted professional, and by continuing to speak the truth about our own feelings, opinions, wants and needs.


Related Posts: Be True to You

I Can Hear You: Loud But Not So Clear

It’s All Your Fault!

Do You Dwell on It or Do You Move On?


Filed under Respect

14 Responses to Living Like a Puppet on a String

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  13. Hi Eileen, we share that background. As someone who has been in that kind of horrible relationship, you know how difficult it can be to choose to stand up for ourselves, and how absolutely necessary it is that we do! Good to hear from you.

  14. Many of your points resonated with me. I sent nearly 10 years in a minipulative and verbally abusive relationship. We have the power to choose and we should never compromise who we are for someone else

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