The second reason muscle needed is the awareness muscle, which enables us to observe areas of actual personal wrongness. Having this muscle, the reasonable person’s stance is, “I see where I’m wrong.” They see their strengths but also understand their weaknesses. Manipulators have ruled out the possibility of wrongness, so the stance taken is, “I only see where I’m right.” Manipulators are notoriously lacking in self-awareness, not seeing the flaws in themselves that others so clearly see. Therefore, when problems occur, they automatically assume that others caused them.
This part of the personality serves the same function as a press box on a football field. It enables us to make big picture self-observations. For manipulators, the wires connecting the press box to the sideline phone are severed. They don’t have press box conversations and are, therefore, lack the ability to self-monitor and self-correct.
And relationships are like mirrors in which we catch glimpses of the good and bad parts of ourselves. Reasonable people make use of the feedback that relationships provide. But manipulators catch no reflections of their flaws in relational mirrors.
The following statements may reflect an atrophied awareness muscle:
- She points out your part of the conflict problem but demonstrates little awareness of her own.
- She’s unaware of her negatives that are observable by you and others.
- She defensively resists and makes no use of the feedback given to her by you or others.
- She relishes being the center of attention.
- She’s convinced that she’s the normal one.
- She denies having certain emotions (i.e. anger) while clearly displaying them.
- She shifts the focus to you if one of her negatives is exposed (i.e. “OK, what about the things you do?”).
- She demonstrates little concern about the negative consequences of her words and actions.
- She demonstrates little awareness of your buttons, her reactions, or of how she pushes your buttons.
- She may seem insightful to people who don’t know her well.