The first time I became aware of that reality was when I met with a group of professionals in the publishing business. We held a variety of jobs, but all of us were involved with that industry.
We met in a restaurant, where we sat at tables and got to know each other, and later we heard the organizer’s message. Within minutes, I realized the other seven people at my table were hesitant to speak up, so I took charge by introducing myself and then asked each of them to do the same. After that I threw out questions and kept the discussion moving.
At one point, a couple of them opened up about personal problems connected with their jobs. After a pause, I made a humorous comment and moved on to asking why they came to the meeting.
Afterward, I realized I had taken charge of the group, not that it was wrong, and someone needed to do it. But I also realized I had manipulated the conversation to keep it on safe subjects—in that case, away from personal problems.
Over the next few weeks I was able to admit that at times I manipulated others and dominated the decision-making process. It was still a long time before I had the insight into my motivation.
Eventually, I faced the reality: I needed to be in control—not that I used that word. I would have said, “I needed to feel safe.” As a child I had been helpless and powerless and I had that deep, unconscious need not to be dominated by others.
I still struggle to manipulate the outcome. The more secure I am inside, the less I need to dominate.
As I grow more secure,
I manipulate others less.