“A little bird told me last night that if I hold my breath and do everything right you might come back.”
~Kasey Chambers, Little Bird.
Human beings can be manipulative creatures; blackmailing those they’re in cahoots with at the slightest hint of not getting their own way. Of course, it’s the rampant co-dependency of a threatened person who’ll say, “A little bird told me to tell you to do/not do [the condition].”
The main trouble is most of us don’t want to go against convention and we only need one piece of negative feedback before options are seriously reconsidered. This is even against those whom may not think that way—the silent majority.
Identifying Those Prone to Placing Conditions
Blackmail is a kind of manipulated extortion, though it’s generally not illegal; but it is immoral. And blackmail might even be too strong a word for how subtle people’s manipulation is... that fact, however, makes it all the more insidious.
Many of the ones resorting to manipulation or blackmail aren’t even aware of it, and they’ll be quick to deny the charge as it comes. This further threatens our confidence as it becomes their word against ours.
The test is does it feel like secretive manipulation? Proper disciplinary action is not underhanded. It can be accounted for and is considered ‘just’ by the prevailing majority. Cases of manipulation tending toward abuse, on the other hand, major on secrecy.
It’s important for us to identify those influences and influencers over our lives that choose such tactics. Once identified there can be boundaries placed around them and their relationship with us. But it’s often not easy to do this; it will take much trial and error in designing these boundaries. In a small number of cases it might be wisest to end relationships that involve significant cases of manipulation.
Where we want to get to in relation to advice is the seeking, consideration and taking of advice from trusted advisers.
Trusted Advisors and True Success
“Without counsel, plans go wrong,
but with many advisers they succeed.”
~Proverbs 15:22 (NRSV).
Unlike the aforementioned advice—veiled as threats for non-compliance—plans made with trusted advisers are secure. Not only do we feel at ease, they tend to work out. And even when they don’t it’s not the end of the world. Our trusted advisers are there to help us pick up the pieces and they won’t be telling us, “I told you so!”
Each of us is less experienced than some that are close by, and besides, we just don’t have the perspective that others have, especially as we consider issues close to the emotive bone.
A trusted adviser is going to give us their advice for free. And they’re not going to be offended if we don’t take it or if we modify it—both through the use of our discretion—for all who wish to grow in wisdom are compelled to practice their discretion. How else are we to learn from our experiences?
Life gets easier and more peaceful when we have more trusted advisers and less manipulating influences in our court.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.
 The “Boundaries” series of books by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend are very good in helping us understand the value and practice of boundaries in protecting our relationships.