Why am I not able to defend myself, and why is it so hard? This is one of the most common questions I receive from my clients.
When a manipulative person verbally attacks you, manipulates you, or makes you feel guilty, you become paralyzed. It is a mental state in which you do not even think to defend yourself.
Usually, in such a situation, you are desperate and cannot believe it is real. Your brain is running at full speed and tries to find the way how to get out of it. Your mind is full of many “Why?”. Above all, “Why does the manipulator maltreat me?” The fact that you could defend yourself, you usually do not think even long after the attack ceases.
That is the biggest stumbling block – it’s tough to defend yourself unless you even think you can. It sounds simple, but it generates many other questions:
“Why? Why can’t I think that I can defend myself? Why can’t I think that while other people do? “
“So what can I do to get out of the state of total mental paralysis? How can I help myself to be able to start to defend in any critical situation? What is the effective defense, which at the same time does not harm me emotionally?”
It is necessary to look at the issue from the perspective of a manipulator. Or a person with a personality disorder. The fact is that he is not able to reflect that he is harming you and that he crosses your boundaries.
Just as victims for various reasons do not think that they could defend themselves, so the aggressor does not even believe that someone could resist him. He convinces you that he does the best and that he does it for your good even when manipulating or emotionally abusing you.
That is why he is surprised when someone resists him. Just imagine that you are in a relationship with someone who never opposes. Who never says, “Stop!” “Don’t do this to me.”, “I don’t want this.”, “I don’t like this.” and then you will suddenly hear, for example: “Enough! Don’t do this to me anymore!” At that moment, the aggressor is shocked. Usually, there is an even more aggressive reaction and even more intense attack. Depending on how much the victim continues to resist, in extreme cases, the aggression can transform into the physical one.
So, where is the buried dog? Why victims never think to defend themselves?
With my clients, first of all, I try to find out what shaped them and what influenced their way of experiencing. What was the environment they grew up and whether they had any traumas in their childhood?
We usually find out that they have not been respected in the past (often in early childhood) when they tried to define their space and set their boundaries. They were experiencing situations when any attempt to defend themselves followed an even greater attack.
If children encounter such a reaction, they evaluate their defense as an inappropriate strategy because it does not work. The retreat is a more convenient solution for them as they don´t want to risk their parents’ anger or loss of home. Such a traumatized child will not be able to defend himself in the future. He can not communicate that he is uncomfortable; someone is hurting him or that he feels manipulated.
So let’s summarize questions we have answered above:
„Why is it so hard to start defending yourself?”. – Because you don’t even think you can.
„Why don’t you even think you can?” – Because your environment has shaped you in your life and as a child, you have learned that not to resist is the best strategy.
Try to explore your past and reflect on what events or traumas could have caused your inability to defend yourself against aggression and manipulation. In which situations did you prefer to withdraw and not to protect yourself?
In the manipulator’s eyes, you are always the bad one. And you accept it. Whatever you do, it’s usually wrong. He regards your defense as audacity and aggression. Maybe you expect the manipulator to confirm you are right and that he will allow you to defend yourself. Remember: you can protect yourself whenever you remember and whenever you feel threatened. You don’t have to wait for permission. The victims forget this and still expect the aggressor to understand that he is an aggressor. It is the same as expecting the lion to apologize to you for biting off your leg.
Do not hesitate to contact me if you are repeatedly in similar situations or if you are not sure whether your defense is effective. I offer you consultations during which we will analyze your situation. I will help you uncover the origin of your behavioral patterns, which you may be hiding from yourself. You will gain skills to communicate with pathological individuals, to resist pressure and manipulation.
Once you defend yourself, you will see the results very quickly. The aggressor stops attacking you because the attack doesn’t work.