Mind games are the most destructive of all manipulation tactics. They have the power to completely destroy a person from the inside out. By the end, that person has no sense of worth, confidence, purpose or direction. They become co-dependent on the relationship of the very same toxic person who shattered them through mind games.
Don’t be their next victim. Power is knowledge. If you can recognize the signs then no toxic person will ever be able to destroy you.
A Hunger for Control
Toxic people can’t live without feeling in control, it’s basically like food to them so they will hunt for it at any cost. It usually is gradual, like at first, they’ll want to choose what you eat for dinner and at what time then the next thing you know they have a say about what you wear and what job you should take.
They’re just hungry for power and they need to feel like they will always have the last word. To do so, they’ll find ways to “punish” you when you don’t give them what they want such as by shutting you out or making you feel like your decision-making skills are nonexistent.
The Guilt Trip Game
This is another game that is all about power dynamics. Toxic people need you to feel inferior so that you’re easier to manipulate and so that they could feed their ego. Ironically, toxic people are great at playing the victim. They might even cry in front of you to get you to feel bad for them and be the one to apologize.
They want you to feel like they would be lost without you so that you feel too guilty to leave them. They think that by always guilting you, you’ll cave and they’ll never actually need to take accountability.
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The Constant Critique
Toxic people will use critiques to shame you about being the person that you are and eventually bring you down. They’ll slowly take away anything that makes you feel good so that you feel like you have nothing but them. They’ll tell you that you’re not good enough and should just be happy with what you have.
They’ll critique the way you look and do things so that you need constant validation. They’ll make it so that you start to believe that their opinion is the only one that matters, even above your own.
The Feeling Denial, Or Gaslighting
Toxic people will completely deny you your own feelings and recollections so that they get rid of any guilt or need to apologize. Instead, they’ll tell you that you’re too sensitive and can’t take a joke. They’ll make you feel dumb for not understanding what they actually “meant”. They’ll disqualify you by retelling a completely new version of events that makes you question your own memories.
Really what happened is that they insulted you and you called them out, but they couldn’t handle it. Sometimes it’s because they can’t even confront themselves and accept that they’re being a terrible person.
The Bait And Switch Blame Game
You’ll know you’re in a bait and switch game when you’ve been arguing about something that’s upsetting you, and rightfully so, then all a sudden you’re defending yourself for something completely irrelevant. Turning the tables on you like that is a deflection method that puts you in the hot seat instead and takes the spotlight away from them.
Their reaction to what you did three years ago may even be more extreme than whatever it is that you initially had brought up, just to cancel you out. All the sudden everything is your fault, again.
The Rollercoaster Game
Katy Perry made a song about it once singing “you’re hot then you’re cold, you’re yes, then you’re no” and she probably had no idea that she was describing the epitome of a toxic relationship. Healthy relationships shouldn’t be filled with ups and downs, they should be constant. While arguments are normal and even sometimes necessary, the way they’re handled should be calm and they should be solved through effective communication.
Blow-ups that turn into screaming matches, then are followed by intense makeup sessions are signs of toxic manipulation. Be wary of a person who can change their behavior in a matter of minutes, without warning. This is a mind game that makes you constantly walk on eggshells and monitor your behavior.
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Higher Perspectives Author is one of the authors writing for Higher Perspectives