Emotional blackmail, you think it is obvious? We all experienced it, and it is highly toxic. It is vital to identify it early enough, or you might hand over all of your life to the misery of chasing after your self-worth.
Emotional Blackmail is a word that has been invented by the psychotherapist Susan Forward. People use manipulation to control the behavior of people. We all have used emotional blackmail on one point. We might have told our children to eat their food, or they get punished or maybe told a loved one when we do not agree with their behavior that it is an indication that they do not love us. However, there are people who use it to bring people into constant submission, and it is highly toxic. It can destroy your self-esteem. People will use emotional blackmail to get what they want; they might use it very subtle or sometimes even with straightforward language to tell you if you do not do what they want you to do that you will receive some form of punishment.
How does emotional blackmail work?
You will hear sentences like:
If you do not do what I want you to do, I will take away from you, ignore you, exclude you or punish you with… People will also tell you that if you do not do what they want you to do they assume that you are against them, do not love them or are an enemy of them.
It is based on your fear.
People who emotionally blackmail you know about your fears. Maybe you are scared to lose a relationship, job, money or reputation. They will use your fear and attach what they want you to do to your anxiety. They might say: If you do not do what I want you to do, I will end the relationship, take away money from you, fire you or will spread rumors about you. An emotional blackmailer will make you feel guilty to take care of your own needs. Your individual needs will be questioned; you might be left feeling guilty and selfish. People are more prone being emotionally blackmailed when they are caring, loving, compassionate, forgiving and do not set and protect their boundaries very well.
Why do people use emotional blackmail?
It is their insecurity and a shortcut for them to get things they want quickly. They might have experienced emotional blackmail on themselves and realized that people have success with it. They might have a fear of losing control and use emotional blackmail to gain back the power they lost.
What are the consequences of emotional blackmail?
If you do not stop this, you very likely end up feeling depressed, anxious and get panic attacks. Your self-worth and self-esteem will be continuously attached to the outcome of the person who blackmails you. By the way, you will never achieve your goals you have set for yourself because you are entirely focused on fulfilling the demands of the blackmailer. Emotional blackmail is a form of bullying, controlling and is present in Domestic Violence.
How to stop it?
Emotional Blackmail only works if you feed into the behavior of the blackmailer. Which means you either show fear or give them what they want. A person who will use emotional blackmail will continue to blackmail you when you give them what they wanted. You reward their behavior; they will not stop, in some cases, they will up their game and will demand more and more. They will turn your strengths into weaknesses. In some cases it is easy to stop them, they will give up when they see they get nowhere. Unfortunately, it can escalate, and this is when you need to walk away and cut this person out completely. In Domestic Violence and Addiction, you will find a lot of emotional blackmail. Get professional help, talk to someone you can trust and who has no emotional connection to the situation or the person who is blackmailing you.
Do not be afraid to walk away. A professional blackmailer can use terrifying tactics to get to where they want to get. Understand that they work with your fears. Surround yourself with friends who are positive and nurturing, do not let a blackmailer isolate you. In severe cases speak to professionals about it. Get help.