I listened to a friend, and I noticed a pattern. And it wasn’t a pattern in isolation. I recognized the pattern as something I’ve seen over time and across situations. If we have limited interaction with someone, we might not notice right away, but we need to be aware, cautious, and wise.
People will often deflect responsibility or connection when it won’t benefit them but take responsibility when no link exists—both connected to the same situation over time. For instance, someone fractures a relationship but rationalizes reasons it was okay, explains how they were justified, and perhaps even projects blame onto someone else. They distance themselves from the fissure, chaos, and gap. But over time, some sort of credit becomes available. Perhaps someone they distanced themselves from or even blamed is in a good place. Something happens that invites some sort of recognition, and while it’s not the person’s to take, they do anyway. They might claim, “If I wouldn’t have ___________, they couldn’t have ____________.” Exactly where the blame was deflected, the credit is grabbed.
Most people see through it. The two aren’t mutually exclusive—in others or in ourselves.
This post isn’t an invitation to pause to assign blame or credit. It’s an invitation to be wise in how we deal with such situations over time and in how well we notice how others deal. When we notice the discrepancies, we need to be cautious but determined to deal with the discrepancies. We’re not solving a mystery and coming to a conclusion, standing in an authoritative position to judge and determine—as much as engaging in the process enough to authentically see, hear, and respond well.
Manipulation is not always purposeful, but it is always damaging. It erodes character, relationships, and faith. Manipulation will always exist around us, but it doesn’t need to exist within us.
Be aware. Pursue honesty. Respond wisely.