People who prey on other people, to abuse them for personal benefits and gratification, can be labeled as “emotional sharks.” But in reality, they are worse than sharks. Animals are without much choice over their actions. They have an instinct to eat and survive. However, Emotional Sharks CHOOSE to manipulate, hurt, and do whatever it takes to “win” at the expense of others.
Luckily, there are things that you can do to reduce the chances of becoming a victim. I say “reduce the chances” because whatever you do, there is no guarantee that you will not fall for one. However, one can and should try to protect self from these dangerous predators that live among us and unfortunately their numbers are on the rise.
One way to protect self is to be more emotionally independent. It is normal to want support from others. Who does not? But like everything else in life, there are extremes in depending on people emotionally. One should try to be more self reliant. Meaning, try to generate your own happiness and confidence. This is doable with ample practice.
So what are the things that can help you bring happiness from within, without relying too much on people? Prayer, yoga, Tai Chi, exercise, healthy lifestyle, discipline, and healthy routines (like cleaning chores, cooking, etc.) Even breathing right can help you produce your own positive reinforcement. These techniques are hidden treasures. Many shrug them off saying they do not work. But actually they need practice and patience for them to work. Do not assume that your first practice will be a mind blowing experience. These things take time.
Regardless of the level of emotional independence one has, it is bound to happen: You will encounter the “Emotional Sharks.” It can be at work, at home, or among friends and relatives. What to do then? Of course you have to defend yourself. Now, if you are confident in your abilities to fend off the attack, then you can stand your ground, and push the shark away. However beware! Few have the expertise and the abilities to do so. It also depends on the type of the predator and on your emotional state. Some sharks are masters in their game of manipulation. They catch you in your low emotional state. As if they smell it. You are lucky if you can spot the manipulation. Sharks are very subtle, and hide behind circumstances, so they are seldom caught. They attack you but without you knowing where the attack came from. They might even look innocent and helpful, when they are attacking you ferociously.
To spot the manipulation one has to be “in tune” with emotions and feelings. Observe how others make you feel. Some people make you feel uncomfortable. You do not know why. They are kind and nice, but you do not feel comfortable after sitting with them. You have to do a check on your emotions and see why this is happening. I am not saying dismiss people right off hand just because you were not feeling comfortable during a single conversation. Sometimes what is causing the feeling is shyness on your or the the other person’s part. Maybe you or them are preoccupied with something else. Sometimes, the person brings up a painful experience you have had because of her demeanor or looks. The mind works in strange ways. So, be in tune with your emotions, and accept them, rather than try to suppress them. However, If someone, CONSISTENTLY, makes you feel inferior, not worthy, or make you feel less confident of yourself, this MIGHT BE a sign that you are dealing with an Emotional Shark.
Another word of caution, sharks look calm and non threatening all the way until they make their attack. So, be careful of people who seem so kind and considerate, until they are provoked. Then they attack you with personal insults and hurtful comments and behavior. After the attack they usually come back and apologize. Again, you need to be aware of consistent behavior. Some have a rule like the “three strikes you’re out”; they would not let hurtful action from someone hit them more than three times, then they start building their defenses not to be hurt from that person or action again. Some major attacks need to happen only once for you to decide to retaliate, or to stay away. You have to decide what works for you and nothing can replace human judgment in these cases. The important thing is not to doubt yourself and observe your emotions.
Sometimes you have to live among sharks. Meaning you cannot get away from them, or fend them off, because of a binding relationship or obligation. Of course everything has a limit and nothing is black and white. So, even the strongest of relationships must be broken when hurtful action becomes abuse that seriously affects your health. However, in some situations, you feel you have to stay in the same area with the shark. Especially if they are a relative, or a colleague at work, and you are able to manage the relationship without being permanently or seriously scarred. Then you have to cope. I have a few tips on how to deal with these predators in a couple of YouTube videos. The first is on how to deal with difficult people (Click Here to Access Video 1). The other is on how to deal with cunning deceitful manipulators, who have gone beyond difficult into becoming dangerous predators or sharks (Click Here to Access Video 2).
Finally, an important point to think about: just because there are predators out there should not prevent one from mingling with people and have trust in them. To the contrary. Most people are not predators. Most of them are trying to get by, and do their best. So, secluding self from others is not a solution. It actually might make one more of a target; Usually emotional predators prey on lonely people. Just like a shark, they target the secluded prey, as it is easy to hunt down, without it ever getting help from anyone. So,getting involved with people and surrounding self with friends is a better approach to prevent being preyed upon. Remember friends do not have to be perfect. But at least they have your best interest on their radar, and are willing to extend a helping hand when you need it. More importantly they might alert you if and when you become victimized by an emotional predator, and become your supporters during such ordeals.