Before you can accurately assess other people, you must know yourself and the blind spots you don’t realize you have. They’re called blind spots because you don’t see them – and we all have them. Your blind spots prevent you from seeing Emotional Predators clearly and, just as important, from knowing things about yourself that make you vulnerable. An Emotional Predator will see emotional vulnerabilities in you that you don’t notice, and he’ll use them against you. As you become more self-aware, you reduce the leverage he can apply. So it’s essential to know yourself better than an Emotional Predator does.
Without noticing it, we create our emotional experience out of the beliefs and stories we choose, and those choices create emotional vulnerabilities. Once you recognize the stories and beliefs you’ve chosen, you can choose to rid yourself of the self-victimizing core stories and naive beliefs about yourself and others that Emotional Predators exploit.
Self-victimizing beliefs can come in many forms, but in a nutshell, they are beliefs we hold without knowing it that leave us vulnerable to being manipulated and victimized. We all inhabit stories about who we have to be in order to be lovable, valued and safe with others – about what it is to be a “good” person. These stories can trap us and leave us undefended. Self-victimizing beliefs make a person low hanging fruit for Emotional Predators.
My book, Protecting Yourself from Emotional Predators goes into detail about specific self-victimizing beliefs – and it offers you alternatives that protect you. Briefly, they include things like: I’m not good enough (an expression of perfectionism); a martyr complex (in which we believe we have to suffer in order to feel worthy of love or anything else we want); confusing enabling with helping (taking responsibility for something another person is responsible for); people pleasing (conflict avoiding, accommodating, yielding to social pressure and doing almost anything to make things all right for everyone else), the meritocracy myth (that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people without regard to randomness) and altruism to all (squandering your kindness and generosity).
One other self-victimizing belief people struggle with is the common mistaken belief that we can cause other people to feel the emotions they feel. In fact, the emotions a person feels are generated by that person out of the assumptions and interpretations he makes about the meaning of events. Two people faced with the same circumstance can have opposite emotional reactions: one laughs while the other cries. Each person’s feelings are generated by how they choose to interpret events; they aren’t caused by someone else.
Emotional Predators will use guilt to manipulate you by telling you that you’re “making” them feel bad. Don’t believe it. Act responsibly and let others take responsibility for their feelings.
I’ll put up a separate post about self-victimizing beliefs and positive, protective alternatives. If you don’t see it soon, shoot me an email to remind me.