A client asked me, “What would you do if your ex was playing mind games?”
1) Respond not react
Mind games are about ’emotional power”. They’re like a puppet and puppet master, and the string is your emotions. The more your ex can manipulate your emotions, the more they can play you. They literally “own” you!
Learning to respond rather than react to your ex’s words and actions gives you more control of not only your responses but control of your emotions as well. When they can no longer control your emotions, they can no longer manipulate you.
2) Tell them you know what they’re doing
The power of any mind game lies in the other person not being aware of how and when they’re being played. The person playing mind games assumes they’re smarter than the person they’re playing. If you know that your ex is playing mind games with you, the best antidote to mind games is to tell them that you know what they’re doing and do not like it or approve of it.
A person who truly values a relationship with you (and is mature/emotionally healthy enough to be in a relationship with you) will feel bad and stop the mind games. The other type will just try and find another mind game to play, or give up and move on to somebody else.
3) Don’t play them back
We all have the capacity to be manipulative. When tempted to “give them a taste of their own medicine”, remember that the only person whose time and emotions you waste playing mind games is you.
I know that now, but back then before I became a love coach, I played it back to the best of them. My thinking was “Play the Player!”, but the more “I played the player” the angrier I got (with myself) because not only was I wasting my time (and blocking love), but I was doing the very thing that I resented in the other person.
4) Work on improving your self-esteem and self-value
We’re all vulnerable to being manipulated, however, some people are more vulnerable than others. That is, they have something about them that mind game players are able to take advantage of/exploit to advance their needs, goals, interests or agenda. It could be fear of rejection, fear of abandonment, fear of not finding someone else, feelings of inadequacy etc.
Since you can’t change someone else and can only change you, it’s up to you to assert your value by taking away whatever it is that makes you more vulnerable to mind games.
5) Walk away
Mind games players have one and only one motive, and that is to advance their needs, goals, interests or agenda at the expense of the person being played. Most people are intuitive enough to realize when and how they’re being played and walk away, but even where the mind games “succeed”, the relationship will become troubled over time.
Someone who takes advantage of you and exploits your greatest fears, weaknesses and vulnerabilities does not “value you” (even if they tell you over and over that they love you). Your decision to enter or continue a relationship with someone who is into mind games (the game playing can at times offer some kind of “excitement” and edge to the relationship) should be weighed against the long term effects of the mind game playing – especially if you give in to the “head games” and the other person learns that playing mind games with you works.
In other words, refuse to play the game and there will be no game to play.