How to Recognize and Stop Being an Emotional Hostage

How many times have you been fired from a job? An ex-friended? A boy/girlfriend moved on? All of us have, at one point or another in our lives, felt like an emotional hostage. 

The pain, anger, and rage that takes over can only be described as soul-crushing. But it doesn’t have to be this way forever. The first step to dealing with this is recognizing it’s a problem. So let’s talk about some tips that might help.

7 Signs That You Are an Emotional Hostage

Emotional hostages are people who other people manipulate. They feel like they have no choice but to comply with the wishes of their captor. The person who has taken them hostage is usually someone close to them, such as a parent, spouse, or friend. 

Emotional hostages are often unaware that they’re in this situation. They may deny the abuse or be so accustomed to it that they don’t even see it as abuse. So, if you have any of these signs, you might be an emotional hostage:

1) You need someone else’s approval to feel okay about yourself. You often engage in self-defeating behavior because you’re afraid of what others will think of you if they don’t like what they see or hear.

2) You have trouble saying “no” when people ask for things from you because it feels too uncomfortable. As a result, you end up doing things they should be doing for themselves or that don’t serve your best interests.

3) You often find yourself apologizing or feeling guilty after saying something that could offend someone else, even though they said or did something offensive first (or second).

4) You can never do anything right, no matter how hard you try. It doesn’t matter how much effort or thought you put into something; somehow, it will always fall short of what was expected of you.

5) You can’t let go of the past. If you constantly dwell on old events or situations, you may be an emotional hostage. When we can’t let go of the past, it often means we are holding on to negative emotions that keep us stuck in our current situation.

6) You blame yourself when things go wrong. You believe that whatever happens is your fault because it makes you feel better about things than feeling helpless — even if it does no one any good at all!

7) You find yourself making excuses for the other person’s behavior. For example, “He didn’t mean it when he called me names! He was just stressed out and had a bad day.” Or, “She didn’t mean it when she yelled at me for not doing what she wanted right away! She was under pressure and didn’t mean to take it out on me.”

Being an emotional hostage is not about how much love or care you have for someone else. It’s not about the type of person they are or the things they do. It’s about how much power you give them over your sense of self-worth and happiness.

How to Stop Being an Emotional Hostage?

When you’re an emotional hostage, you allow others to control your feelings, decisions, and behavior.

The problem with this is that it creates a wall between you and the world. If you’re constantly being told how to feel by someone else, you won’t have time to figure out what’s going on inside yourself. When someone else dictates your emotions, it also means they have power over you — because they know how to push your buttons to get what they want from you.

So if you find yourself in a situation where you’re feeling controlled by another person’s emotions, here are some things to consider:

1) Ask yourself why you’re feeling a certain way. Are they trying to hurt or upset you? Or are their emotions just affecting yours? Is there anything that would make sense of their behavior?

2) If so, try talking it through with them — but don’t accept any form of abuse or manipulation as an answer. If they won’t listen or respect your feelings and opinions, then there’s little point in continuing the conversation!

3) Take a moment to acknowledge your feelings. The first step is acknowledging what’s going on inside of you. You might feel angry or sad or guilty — whatever the emotion may be, recognize that it exists and accept it as part of who you are.

4) Set boundaries with toxic people and stick to them no matter what happens next. This means not letting them talk down to you or disrespect your opinions and feelings. It also means not letting them guilt trip or manipulate you into doing things for them or giving them money when they don’t deserve it — even if they do something nice for you first (like buying dinner).

Related Read: How to Set Boundaries in a Relationship

5) Don’t take anything personally. Most of us have been taught that it’s terrible to say “no” or stand up for ourselves because it might hurt someone else’s feelings or make them angry with us. The truth is that people do and say things based on their own experiences, memories, and emotions — not yours! If someone asks you to do something that doesn’t feel right, tell them so without apologizing. People will respect your honesty more than anything else!

Related Read: How to Stop Being a People Pleaser

6) Decide whether it’s worth it. If the other person is making your life miserable, it’s better to end the relationship. If you decide that this person deserves another chance, then work on improving the situation by talking about what bothers each of you and what makes each of them happy so they can both be more satisfied and happy in their relationship together instead of feeling unhappy all the time because everything seems like such a struggle for each other all the time!

7) Recognize your value. When we are in a relationship with someone emotionally unavailable, it can be easy to forget how amazing we are as individuals. To stop being an emotional hostage, we must first recognize our values. We must remind ourselves how great we are before we expect others to see those same qualities in us.

In a nutshell, there is a way to stop being an emotional hostage. You have to take responsibility for your feelings. Realize that you are responsible for your feelings and not other people. You can’t control what others do, but you can control how you react. When someone makes you feel bad, instead of reacting emotionally, react rationally.

Related Read: How to Deal With an Emotional Terrorist

Final Thoughts

Emotional hostages are people who live with a partner or family member and use them as an excuse for their bad behavior. They often use this person as a scapegoat or cover-up because they have no self-control. They are often codependent and enabling, which means they tend to enable others’ bad behavior. Emotional hostages need support and encouragement as they go through the healing process.

That said, there are support groups that offer this type of help by providing a safe place to share their stories with others who understand what it feels like to be emotionally abused and neglected by someone close to them. These groups also give people an opportunity to offer encouragement by sharing their feelings about what has happened in their lives so far and helping each other deal with their feelings about the future and their current situations.

Hi, I am Happy. I'm a professional writer and psychology enthusiast. I love to read and write about human behaviors, the mind, mental health-related topics, and more.