Everyone can be manipulated. It’s a fact. No one can completely escape it, no one is immune to it. Even the greatest manipulators have been manipulated in the course of their lives. It’s natural. It’s not something you should be ashamed of. Many people believe that when they get manipulated (and become aware of it, and, let’s face it, the first step of getting out of the clutches of a manipulator is to become aware that you are being manipulated), it’s something that only could have happened to them. No one else in the entire world would ever allow people to manipulate them. When written like this, you may think it’s ludicrous to believe it because there are almost 8 billion people on Earth so, one human can’t be totally different from the rest of humanity nor their experiences can be completely unique. However, this is exactly how we all feel when we feel stupid for allowing something bad to happen to us. We feel alone. We genuinely feel that no one else in the world would understand us nor that they are that stupid/naive/with the bad luck to have others manipulate us and that is exactly the problem. We think it’s our problem that we got manipulated. It’s not. It’s the problem of self-image.
It is clear that not everyone is prone to be manipulated in the same way but it’s also worth noting that everyone, even those who have a healthy self-image and are self-confident can be manipulated. It’s one of the negative sides of being a human. Or being a living being, for that matter, because, as you can observe from the natural world around you, every living being can be manipulated one way or another. So guess what? Not only you are not the only human on this planet who got manipulated, you’re not the only living creature who got manipulated either. Does that make you feel better? Probably not. Why? Because you’re still too wrapped up in your head that you can’t escape feeling bad (or the worst). It’s also very natural, as we feel our pain more than we feel other people’s pain which leads us to the false perception that our own pain is the worse in the world. Again, it is not.
While upbringing and self-image have a lot to do with the propensity of being manipulated, biology can’t be completely overlooked. Simply put, some people are born more sensitive than others. It has nothing to do with upbringing and life circumstances, though these can drastically (and even dramatically) increase the natural sensitivity to the world. Note here that I’m not talking only about sensitivity to criticism, but sensitivity in general.
Here’s the thing – sensitivity is not only oriented towards criticism, it has to do with how you relate to people and their emotions and how you relate to your own emotions. Some people are naturally more attuned to the world of emotions. Others are more focused on their own needs and see what they want as being more important than what people may think about it. It doesn’t mean that one group feels empathy and the other doesn’t, but that we are just born differently and that some people are naturally more concerned about other people’s feelings than their own.
It would all be good if things could stay on this level – we are who we are by birth and can’t change (no, it’s not always the good things, nor the best ones). Here is where upbringing comes into action – the way a child is brought up has a significant impact on whether they will be more or less prone to manipulation, i.e. whether their innate personality traits will be stirred in a positive or negative direction.
Parents often think that what they are doing is for the benefit of the child. If they are not very sensitive in nature, they won’t be able to understand that their child may be sensitive. Parents may not even think that their words and actions can hurt their child’s confidence and deride self-esteem. To most parents, words are just words, and they don’t see how they can affect their child in any significantly negative way.
Moreover, every culture in the world values parents over children, so the children don’t dare to contradict their parents in any way. Nature doesn’t help either, as every child naturally loves their parents unconditionally and believes that they wish them well and that everything they do is for their good. If the parents are manipulative, the child will grow up to be easily manipulated. The degree to which a child can be manipulated depends on the child’s own character and whether they are naturally more sensitive or not.
All in all, the reasons can be found in both nature and nurture. However, parents play a significant role in the emotional development of children and their conscious and subconscious influence on a child cannot be stated enough.