I am told I consider other people’s motives more than I should.

Usually, if someone wrongs me, I can understand why they did it, and I get how it made sense to them. This doesn’t mean it’s okay or that I will let them do it again or that it doesn’t hurt my feelings, but it makes sense.

I try to be as objective about my own motives, though I often fail. I think we all want to believe we do the things we do on the level and for the reasons we state we do them, but this is often not the case.

How mindful can we be of our own motives?

I went through a stage of hyper-vigilance of my motives a few years back because I’d come to realize I was a deeply manipulative and self-pitying person, and I wanted to weed these things out of myself. I tried to study everything I did when it came to other people, and if I could not guarantee myself I was doing things in an upfront manner, I just did not do them.

This led me to be a pretty direct person, but it also led me to a place of shock as I learned just how manipulative I was, and how subtly this could manifest. I think I rooted out a lot of the overtly manipulative tendencies during this time of intense focus on my motives, but it is still funny to me to watch how hard my mind tries to make sure I get my way.

The only way I have found to avoid being manipulative is to be very honest about what we want and what we need, especially with ourselves.

One of the scariest parts of observing our own minds is learning just how much we seek to deceive ourselves with fake debates and straight up lies, how often we say one thing while doing another, even when we are only saying it inside our own head.

Being mindful allows us to observe all of this without judgment or criticism of ourselves. This is important because judgment and criticism serve no purpose, and only create suffering that will foster more manipulation and deception. We have to have compassion for ourselves because manipulation is nothing more than a way of seeking to meet our needs, it is just an unskillful and ultimately destructive one.

Examining how often we do one thing while hoping for a different outcome or say something indirect, hoping the other person will pick up on what we really mean is important. We have a great capacity to recognize when we are being manipulated, if only intuitively and subconsciously, and we don’t like it.

When we manipulate, even to meet our needs or to seek connection from someone else, we actually drive them away if they are healthy and good for us.

Explore your own motives today, ask yourself exactly why you are doing what you do.

Are there things it might be better to simply ask for directly?

If you do not feel you can ask directly, what (if anything) does this tell you about your relationship with the other person?

What (if anything) does it tell you about the thing you are wanting/needing?

Is there a way to live without being manipulative at all?

What would that look like?