Being Manipulative – अपना उल्लू सीधा करना (September 2020)

As you know, the current theme for the monthly assignments is to expand on various Hindi idioms and proverbs. In addition to building a better understanding of the Hindi language and achieving deftness in the writing and speaking skills, these topics also help in gaining the deep philosophical teachings in those idioms. And, intuitively, these assignments help in gaining the inherent wisdom. Continuing on the same theme, this month’s idiom is Being Manipulative (अपना उल्लू सीधा करना).


This idiom is used to point to a condition in which someone manipulates people and/or situations. Manipulation takes place when a selfish person makes others give in or do something that only serves the selfish person’s cause. The outcome in such situations is mostly one-sided. That is, only the manipulator wins; whereas, his associates lose. Unfortunately, it is not easy for the person being manipulated to know the reality until after the damage has been done. Most of the time, the manipulators are too smart for others to see their ulterior motives.


It is extremely difficult to find someone who has not been manipulated. With the passage of time – and after making several mistakes – people starts to build the wisdom of identifying manipulative persons/situations. But often it is after too much has been lost. Loss could be of type physical, material, and/or mental. So, it is always sensible to learn it sooner than later.


Question then is how to spot a manipulator. After all, they are the master of their craft. Yes, it is not easy but not impossible either to spot them. There are certain patterns/tell-tale signs that help. You have to be objective and start paying attention to small signs. One of the biggest traits of a manipulator is selfishness. If a manipulator is around you, you will start to notice that the person is extremely selfish. For him, his desires, his fancies, and his wants are of the utmost importance. To fulfill them, he wouldn’t mind hurting others. If you know such a person, be cautious because he is likely a manipulator too. Even if that person has not done any harm to you yet – or at least you think that way – there is a high likelihood that sooner or later he would manipulate you for his benefits.


A manipulator is also mostly dishonest, liar, and secretive. There is always a cloud of doubt and vagueness around him. Another sign is that such a person will also not mind giving you implicit threats, like not inviting you to his party. He will also use a highly potent yet hard to identify approach of being passive aggressive. In this situation, a manipulator will make others feel uncomfortable, confused, and guilty without saying anything directly. That is why it is one of the most difficult signs to spot.


Think of a scenario where you just made a new friend in school. You have clicked with your new friend very well and you are enjoying the new friend’s company. With this change in your life, one of your old friends is quite unhappy. So, rather than saying something to you directly, this old “friend” of yours start to ignore you completely. She is now trying to make you uncomfortable by her acts. Without saying a word, she is continuously making you wonder what you wrong did you do. If you pay attention, you will be able to see many such passive aggressive manipulators around you.


Why is it that you mostly miss to spot manipulators upfront? The reason is the lack of your own objectivity. You are manipulated because of your own greed or fears. It is because of your own decadence of thoughts, you are not able to see the situation clearly. Once you learn to identity and see the wickedness of your own thoughts, you will be able to see people, their intentions, and situations clearly. If your own thoughts are not able to manipulate you, tell me how in the world anybody else can manipulate you.


Also, let’s turn the situation on its head. Are you a manipulator yourself? Be extremely honest with yourself! If you are not honest about your thoughts and intentions in your mind and heart, chances are that you still have wicked thoughts lurking in your heart. And these thoughts will weaken you – and make you prey to others.


First, don’t let your wicked thoughts manipulate you. Know yourself. If you have ever manipulated someone or some situation, try to identify what prompted you to behave that way. And if you feel secretly elated about how you manipulated someone into doing something for you, be extremely cautious. No matter how smart you are in your manipulations, sooner or later your truth will be known. Before you know you will lose respect, relationships, and trust. Then identify your weaknesses that are making you vulnerable. For instance, a desire to be around cool people or fear of missing the fun makes you vulnerable at the hands of manipulators. So, fortify yourself by eliminating those weaknesses and traps.


In this month’s topic, kids will share the meaning of this month’s idiom, its Hindi pronunciation, a few of Hindi sentences using this idiom, their own interpretation of what it means to be manipulative, their own encounters with manipulative people/situations, and what they can and will do to overcome this.


I look forward to hearing insightful interpretations and explanations of this month’s topic.



Harsh Mendiratta