It’s an odd concept. And it’s also true.
Initially, the thought of connecting to ‘pity’ being ‘powerful’ seems counter intuitive. “Pity is bad, Jed. Power is good!” Or, “No, no – Pity is something you DON’T want while it’s great to have POWER.” The 2 words just don’t seem to jive well…but they’re actually easily connected. And here’s how.
Power is – at the beginning, middle and end of the day, the ability to get what you want by getting others do what you want. Pity does the same thing just in a sneakier way. Think about it. As humans, the VERY large majority of us have a little thing that we’re born with; compassion. We innately want to help. We actually feel discomfort when we see someone in need which is why commercials show starving children in Africa when asking for money. The thought of children being neglected is uncomfortable so we give money. Your desire to make yourself more comfortable is reflexive; like when you hit the bottom of your knee and kick automatically...and this is where the power (or the ability to manipulate) comes to play.
Here’s something fun. I’m going to bring up someone who you really pity. Who do you think I'm talking about??? Right away, your mind goes to someone in DIRE circumstances. Someone who’s been oppressed. Someone who's been dealt a bad hand. Someone who needs help…would you be surprised that it's the United States of Americas President Trump?
President Trump is a master of using pity. A real artisan, if you ask me. Oh wait, let me preface this by saying that I’m not that political. The topic just doesn’t interest me and this is actually great for us both. Great for me because I get to view things in a non-bias way and great for you because you know that I don’t really care so this info will be more accurate. Now, where were we….Oh yes. We were just about to discuss how Pres. Trump has gained and kept so much POWER by way of PITY. Let me explain because this is actually pretty fun to talk about. I just love awareness.
Right off the bat, I think about the way he plays (manipulates) his audience via saying things to portray that he’s the underdog. Let me google this real quick and -- presto! Way back in 1999, he’s in an interview with Larry King and says, “I’ve often said, the rich people hate me, and the workers love me”. Now let’s jump to 2016 and he still is using the line, saying “You wanna know why they hate me – why they really hate me? I let all of you in on the game. That’s why they hate me!”
Do you feel the compassion? People HATE him…and he’s trying to help us! We need to help him because the poor guy needs us! He’s alone in this. What a brave person, to expose them for us.
Pity = manipulation = power.
It’s really the ultimate power if you think about it. Anyone can be turned with pity because of the innate sense of compassion we possess. One of my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE pity/manipulation/power plays I’ve heard Pres. Trump verbalize was around the time of the “me too” movement. Remember that? You should, it’s still going on but just in case you’ve been in a man-cave for the last year. The “Me Too” movement is all about women being honest, brave and vulnerable about being sexually assaulted and harassed. I love it because it’s led to many men being held accountable for their deplorable/predatory and demeaning behaviors towards women. But wait, that’s not how everyone feels.
Ok, here’s just the best pity play that I may have ever heard in my life. It happened back in Oct. of 2018 and I actually heard the speech and for a split second I actually FELT the pity…for men. Right? Crazy, huh. Even with the decades of harassment going on against women, I felt pity for men as I heard this phrase come out of the Presidents mouth. “It’s a very scary time for young men in America, where you can be guilty of something you may not be guilty of.”
These poor men. They have been dealt a bad hand. It’s unfair. We need to help them.
Do you feel it? Do you feel the pull of compassion with this sentence? Do you see how powerful pity can be?
This is victim thinking and manipulation at it’s best. It’s powerful. It’s used to control you…even more impressive, the pity/victim tactic is sparking part of your core being in order to get what they want. Ugh, compassion! Why must you be there?! Well played, those of you who know this and do it anyway. Well played.
Wanna try this 'poor me' power play out for yourself? Don’t actually do this, but think about it. Next time you need something from someone, give them a good ole’ fashion sob (poor me) story…one where they HAVE to feel that reflex of compassion and see - what – you - can - get.
And now that you know, I wonder what you’ll do.
Hope you enjoyed the read. Maybe I’ll do a youtube on this. https://www.youtube.com/meaningtolive
Till next time, live well!
Jed Thorpe, CMHC