Getting into your head: 11 mind games played by a master manipulator

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Have you ever met someone who effortlessly manages to get their way? Someone who can twist things to their favour so easily, it leaves you scratching your head?

Well, there’s a good chance they’re playing mind games.

These folks are experts in psychological tricks and can manipulate situations without you even noticing.

We all encounter these people in our lives, and most times, we’re not even aware of the games they play.

In this article, we’re going to shed some light on nine mind games often used by these master manipulators.

Let’s get started. 

1. The Guilt Trip

Ah, the classic, the all-time favorite, the guilt trip. This is one game manipulators love playing and boy, are they good at it. 

Imagine this: You’re happily going about your day when suddenly someone casually drops a comment that makes you feel like you just kicked a puppy.

You’re left feeling guilty and find yourself bending over backward to make things right.

Here’s the truth: It’s not your fault. Master manipulators are experts at using guilt to get what they want.

They know exactly what buttons to push to make you feel bad so that you’ll do their bidding.

When you find yourself on a guilt trip, remember this: You didn’t pack for this journey, so why should you go on it?

Stand your ground and don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for something you didn’t do. 

2. The Silent Treatment

Ever been met with a wall of silence from someone when you’ve done something they didn’t like?

Welcome to the ‘silent treatment’ game, a master manipulator’s favorite weapon!

Here’s how it works: You do something that they disapprove of, and instead of talking it out like adults, they shut you out.

They give you the cold shoulder, refuse to talk to you, and act like you don’t exist. It’s their way of saying, “You’ve upset me, and now you have to pay for it.”

The manipulator’s aim here is simple – to make you feel anxious, left out, and desperate enough to do anything just to get back into their good books.

The best way to handle this game? Don’t play into their hands. Instead of groveling for their attention, give them space.

Everyone has the right to express their feelings, but using silence as a punishment is not cool.

3. The Gaslighting Game

Gaslighting is a form of manipulation where the person makes you doubt your own reality, memory or sanity. Trust me, I’ve been there, and it’s not fun at all!

Here’s how it went down: I had a friend, let’s call her Jane. Jane had this habit of borrowing things from me and then conveniently ‘forgetting’ to return them. The first few times, I let it slide. But then, it started becoming a pattern. One day, I decided to confront Jane about it.

Instead of apologizing or even acknowledging it, Jane turned the tables on me. She insisted that she had already returned my stuff and that I was being forgetful.

She even went as far as to suggest that maybe I was ‘losing it a bit’.

The funny thing was, for a moment, I actually believed her! That’s how good she was at this game. But then I realized what she was doing – gaslighting me.

If you ever find yourself in such a situation, remember: Trust your gut! Don’t let anyone make you question your own sanity or memory. Stand your ground and trust in your own experiences.

4. The Victim Card

This one involves a manipulator presenting themselves as the victim, no matter what the situation.

They manage to twist the narrative in such a way that they end up being the ‘poor, innocent victim’, while everyone else is out to get them.

People who consistently see themselves as victims tend to have a specific personality type. They exhibit traits of neuroticism, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.

This doesn’t mean everyone with these traits plays the victim card, but it’s a common pattern seen in those who do.

So, the next time someone always seems to be the ‘victim’, remember this fact. It might just help you see through their game. 

5. The Love Bombing Game

This is a game that’s often played at the beginning of relationships, and it can be both intense and confusing.

Love bombing involves showering someone with affection, compliments, gifts, and promises of a perfect future together…only to withdraw it all once they have you hooked.

It’s like being hit by a tidal wave of love. It feels wonderful at first, but when the tide recedes, you’re left feeling used and confused.

The sad part is, many people fall into this trap because who doesn’t want to feel loved and cherished?

But true love isn’t about extremes or playing with someone’s emotions. It’s about respect, understanding, and consistency.

If you ever come across someone who seems too good to be true, take a step back. Take your time to get to know them better before you dive in headfirst.

Real love is not a game to be won or lost; it’s a journey to be shared.

6. The Blame-Shifter Game

Ah, the blame shifter. I’m sure many of us have encountered one in our lives. I know I have.

In my case, it was a former colleague, let’s call him Mark. Mark always had a way of shifting blame onto others when things didn’t go as planned.

I remember once when we were working together on a project, and he missed an important deadline. Instead of owning up to it, Mark blamed me for not reminding him about it!

I was taken aback at first, but then I realized what was happening. He was manipulating the situation to avoid taking responsibility for his actions.

If you ever come across a blame shifter like my old colleague Mark, remember this: Their inability to take responsibility is not your problem. Don’t let them pass their burden onto you. Stand your ground and hold them accountable for their actions.

7. The Fear-Monger

Some manipulators use fear to control others. It’s as raw and brutal as it sounds. They prey on your insecurities, amplify your fears, and create scenarios that leave you feeling anxious and scared.

The aim? To make you so fearful that you’d do anything they want just to feel safe again.

People who genuinely care about you won’t use fear as a weapon. They won’t manipulate your feelings or try to control you by scaring you.

If someone in your life is using fear to manipulate you, it’s a massive red flag.

Recognize it for what it is – a dirty game – and distance yourself from it.

No one has the right to make you live in fear. You deserve better.

8. The Projection Game

Have you ever been accused of behavior that the accuser is clearly guilty of? Welcome to the projection game, where manipulators project their own negative traits onto you.

Projection is a defense mechanism that people use to avoid uncomfortable feelings or thoughts.

They push these onto someone else as a way to avoid confronting them within themselves.

If someone is constantly accusing you of something they themselves are guilty of, remember this fact. It’s not about you; it’s about them trying to deal with their own issues. Don’t let their projections define who you are.

9. The Flattery Game

This is one game I’ve had personal experience with, and let me tell you, it’s a tricky one to navigate.

The manipulator will shower you with compliments and praise, making you feel special.

But their flattery often has an ulterior motive – to get something from you or to make you more susceptible to their influence.

In my case, it was an acquaintance who would always compliment me on my work ethic and dedication.

It felt great until I realized they were only doing it to get me to take on extra tasks they didn’t want to do themselves.

If someone is constantly flattering you, be aware. Praise is wonderful, but not when it’s used as a tool for manipulation.

Trust your instincts and remember: You’re awesome, with or without their compliments. 

10. The Overwhelmer

This is one of those mind games that leaves you feeling drained and exhausted. The manipulator, or the ‘overwhelmer’, will bombard you with demands, problems, or tasks until you’re overwhelmed and can’t think straight.

They’ll make you feel like you’re responsible for their happiness, success, or well-being. The sheer weight of their demands can make you feel like you’re drowning, leaving you vulnerable to their manipulation.

Let’s cut to the chase: It’s not your job to solve someone else’s problems or meet their every demand.

You have your own life, responsibilities and needs. Don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise.

11. The Pretender

This one’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. They’ll pretend to be kind, caring, and understanding to gain your trust and get close to you.

Once they have your trust, they’ll use it to manipulate and control you.

True kindness doesn’t come with strings attached. Genuine people won’t use your trust against you. If someone is using their ‘kindness’ as a manipulation tool, it’s time to rethink your relationship with them.

Being aware of these mind games is the first step in protecting yourself from them. Stay alert, trust your instincts, and don’t be afraid to set boundaries. You deserve respect and honesty in all your relationships.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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