“She won’t return my calls or texts because I wouldn’t reschedule the party to a date that works for her.”
“I don’t even want to answer the phone or read his texts because he’s always hinting around that he needs help with something.”
“I really don’t want to go to that dinner, but I’m afraid she’ll be mad if I say no.”
“I couldn’t believe it when I found out all she had done to give management a negative opinion of me and my skills.”
Would You Recognize a Shark?
Do you know when you’re being manipulated or intimidated by somebody?
Manipulation is defined as control or influence (a person or situation) cleverly or unscrupulously; to control or play upon by unfair, or insidious means especially to one’s own advantage, so as to serve one’s purpose.
Some people treat us this way naively. They’re simply motivated by feelings of jealousy, control, insecurity, or anger.
Others do it compulsively.
I call those people “sharks.”
We can all be sharks or demonstrate shark-like qualities from time to time.
But real sharks have the same behaviors consistently. They’re maliciousness isn’t an accident on their part—it’s a habit.
We all like to think we’re the masters of our lives and that we don’t allow ourselves to be manipulated or controlled by anyone, but that’s rarely the case.
Even people’s unwilling social cues can cause us to make decisions we otherwise wouldn’t.
In most cases, we become shark bait by taking false responsibility.
Have You Become Shark Bait?
You’re probably being manipulated or intimidated by a shark if:
1. You have dread.
Dread is often a symptom of being shark bait. I remember a time when I experienced dread every time I had to speak or step out in my calling. I felt like I couldn’t do anything right.
And the reason why? I dreaded hearing the opinion of a specific woman who always gave me her two cents worth on how she thought I did. We were “friends,” so I thought she had my best interests at heart.
I remember talking to Gary one day and saying, “They’re going to think…”
My husband interrupted kindly, “Honey, who’s they?”
I finally took a step back and realized this “friend’s” criticism was a huge source of anxiety in my life.
See, when a shark has influence in your life, it makes you want to stay in the boat. They make you feel intimidated, trapped, can take the fun out of your calling, and, ultimately, make you want to quit or give up.
2. You’ve been doubting yourself.
Another symptom of being shark bait is self-doubt. Sharks make you feel like you aren’t capable, so you want to just give up before you even try. When a shark has influence in your life, you may find yourself quick to turn down opportunities and afraid you’ll invite their criticism and upset the waters.
Self-doubt is like poison—if you tolerate it, even just a little, it will kill your confidence and can even make you feel paralyzed.
3. You’ve compromised on your dreams, or just given up on them.
“The only thing wrong with trying to please everyone is that there’s always at least one person who will remain unhappy—YOU.” —Elizabeth Parker
Once dread and self-doubt consume you, you’ll find yourself surrendering your dreams at the altar of fear. You don’t think you’ll ever achieve your dreams, so you start to settle for what sharks tell you you can do and have.
Friend, only God can tell you what you can do, who you are, and what you have through Him.
Recognize when you’re dealing with the symptoms of being shark bait and get out of the shark-infested waters as quickly as possible. Change direction and swim to free waters!
These are just three out of the six signs you’re being manipulated by a shark that Drenda shares in her book, Shark Proof: How to Deal with Difficult People. She also unpacks:
- The seven toxic mind-sets of a people pleaser.
- The best way to stop caring what people think about you.
- How to end the toxic relationships you want to let go of, and set healthy boundaries in the ones you want to keep.
- The five shark maneuvers you need to know unless and how to combat each one of them.
If we would have known these things sooner, it would have saved us thousands of dollars and years of wasted time.