How To Deal With And Detach Yourself From Manipulative People | Dr. Isaiah Hankel | How To Deal With And Detach Yourself From Manipulative People | Dr. Isaiah Hankel |

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How To Deal With And Detach Yourself From Manipulative People

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“When it comes to controlling human beings, there is no better instrument than lies. Because you see, humans live by beliefs. And beliefs can be manipulated. The power to manipulate beliefs is the only thing that counts.”

Michael Ende (Author, The Neverending Story)

“The world is not fair, and often fools, cowards, liars and the selfish hide in high places.”

Bryant H. McGill, (Author, The Voice Of Reason)

“Liars share with those they deceive the desire not to be deceived.”

Sissela Bok (Swedish Philosopher& Author)


His only son.


In a way, it was his fault.

Actually, in most ways it was his fault.

He should never have been so trusting.

All the indications were there, but he couldn’t see it.

He wouldn’t see it.

And now his son was gone.

He would have his revenge, of course.

But revenge was something he should have exacted years ago.

It would have saved him and saved his empire from misery and turmoil.

The Roman Emperor Tiberius always knew that his top general Sejanus was ambitious.

But what’s wrong with ambition?

No one ever got anywhere in Rome (or in life) without ambition.

Sejanus wormed his way into Tiberius’ house, befriended his bodyguard, and schmoozed his family.

Sejanus manipulated the emperor.

He poked around in Tiberius’ life until he found the emperor’s weakness—his son.

That’s when Sejanus attacked.

But Sejanus didn’t attack out in the open.

He did it secretly.

Like all manipulators do.

He quietly hatched a plot to overthrow Tiberius and become emperor himself.

Sejanus didn’t expect Tiberius to find out about his manipulative actions.

He didn’t expect Tiberius to recognize his deceit.

But Tiberius did find out.


After many warnings from his sister-in-law Antonia, Tiberius had Sejanus arrested and executed.

The Roman Senate and the populace rejoiced as Sejanus’ body was dragged through the streets.

(Intense story, right?)

The history of General Sejanus and Emperor Tiberius is an extreme example of what a manipulative person can do in your life.

Yet, it teaches us many great lessons.

The story shows the effect of maintaining a manipulative, or possibly manipulative relationship for too long.

Not everyone was meant to be in your life forever.

They might serve you well for a while.

They might be a loyal friend for a season.

But seasons change.

If you don’t change with the seasons, you will be hurt.

After all, Sejanus was good for Tiberius for a time.

As general, Sejanus even saved the emperor’s life on more than one occasion.

But Tiberius was too naïve to recognize when Sejanus was no longer satisfied with their current relationship.

He wanted power and Tiberius was too naïve to see it.

I can relate to this (on a much smaller scale of course).

I’ve had falling outs with friends in the past.

The same sequence of events happened every time.

First, I started changing my life in some way that made these friends uncomfortable.

Then, these friends started to subtly undercut my achievements.

They started telling me all the ways in which I was going to fail.

They started mocking me.

But like Tiberius, I decided to turn a blind eye to their actions.

Eventually, these friends started attacking me.

They started actively trying to hold me back from my goals.

That’s when things blew up.

Looking back, I should have said goodbye to these people long before the falling out occurred.

How To Recognize Manipulative People In Your Life

There are manipulative people in your life right now.

You probably know who they are, too.

Even if you don’t want to admit it.

You know who they are because they popped into your head the moment you read the words “manipulative people.”

Act now to remove these people from your life.

If you don’t, you’ll pay for it.

You’ll pay because, over time, it gets harder and harder to recognize and remove manipulative people from your life.

A study in the Hellenic Journal of Nuclear Medicine shows that the older you get, the lower your social cognition becomes.

Likewise, the longer you stay in the manipulative relationship, the harder it becomes for you to recognize it as manipulative.

As the study shows, you’ll have a harder and harder time recognizing indirect language.

Your brain will process manipulative events slower and slower.

This is why so many people get manipulated by their friends.

It’s also why expert con artists befriend their marks for an extended period of time before conning them.

The bigger the con, the longer the friendship.

Don’t wait to identify and remove the manipulative people in your life.

Be on the lookout for these people in your life now, not later.

Don’t be paranoid.

But don’t be lazy either.

dealing with manipulative people | Dr. Isaiah Hankel | how to remove someone from your life

5 Strategies For Removing Manipulative People From Your Life

Manipulative people are everywhere.

There are people close to you who want you to fail.

There are people who stay close to you, not to help you, but to hurt you.

There are people in your life who take more than they give.

You know—the ones who beg and cry for your attention, but disappear as soon as you need them.

Why are you keeping these people in your life?

Some of these people lack emotional intelligence, and are easily spotted and eliminated.

Others, however, are harder to sniff out.

These are the ones who pretend to always be there for you.

The ones who use the power of suggestion to get you to do things to their advantage.

The ones who plant seeds of self-doubt in your head without you realizing it.

You must learn how to recognize these people and remove them from your life.

The problem is that some of these people are very close to you.

They may be lifelong friends or family members.

You may love them.

Yet, they don’t have your best interest at heart.

So, how do you know who is really in your corner in life?

How do you decipher the manipulative, negative people from the positive, supportive people?

More importantly, how do you remove them once you identify them?

Here are 5 strategies for recognizing and removing manipulative people from your life…

1. Walk away from people who claim to have your best interest at heart.

Everyone in your life is selfish.

But this isn’t a bad thing.

These people may be in your life for the selfish reason of enjoying your company.

Or for the selfish reason that your goals align with theirs.

They are selfish in a good way.

Likewise, you keep some people in your life because they make you happy.

Or because you learn from them.

On and on.

But what about the people who claim to be in your life only for your benefit?

What about the people who claim to have your best interest at heart, not theirs?

These are the people you should walk away from.

It’s in your best interest to do them a favor.

It’s in your best interest to do their work for them.

It’s in your best interest to put in the extra hours.

It’s in your best interest to keep them happy.

When someone tells you that they have your best interest at heart, what they’re really saying is…

I want you to do this for me, but I want you to pretend like you’re doing it for yourself.

The reason manipulative people want you to pretend that their interests are your interests is because it frees them from both obligation and responsibility.

If you do something for them under the disguise of it being for you, they don’t owe you anything.

If you do something for them under the disguise of it being for you, they’re not responsible if things go wrong.

They’re not responsible if you get hurt.

Instead, you’re responsible.

Instead, you owe them.

Do you see the trick? 

Stay away from people who claim to be thinking, talking, or acting in line with your best interest.

If it really was in your best interest, they wouldn’t have to tell you.

They wouldn’t have to make a show of it.

They would just help you and move on.

2. Turn the tables on people who make you feel guilty and see how they react.

Keeping manipulative people around is a risk.

You might think that sometimes, this risk is worth it.

Maybe the manipulator has some endearing qualities.

Maybe he or she is fun to be around.

Don’t fall into this trap.

Manipulative people will always cause some part of your life to unravel.

Have the guts to get rid of them as soon as you spot them.

One of the easiest ways to spot them is by paying attention to who makes you feel guilty.

Who makes you feel bad about yourself?

Who makes you feel like you’re never quite up to par?

These are the people you need to eliminate from your life.

Of course, other people are not responsible for your feelings.

No one can make you feel guilty without your own permission.

So, how can you tell if someone else is trying to make you feel guilty?

How can you ensure that you’re not being too sensitive?

The fastest and most effective way to tell is by turning the tables on the person who is making you feel guilty.

If someone close to you subtly reprimands you for being too confident, too successful, too pretty, too rich, too oblivious to other people’s feelings, or too whatever—throw it back on them.

Ask them why they’re trying to make you feel guilty.

Ask them why they’re trying to make you feel obligated.

Ask them what they think you owe them.

These questions are difficult to ask, but they will quickly clarify whether or not someone is trying to manipulate you.

Direct questions like these throw manipulative people off balance.

The best they can hope to do is label you as overly sensitive.

That’s when you know they’re using you to get something.

That’s when you know they’re trying to guilt you into doing something for their gain.

3. Stop accepting help from people who have a history of using their favors against you.

Giving a recommendation to a colleague.

Helping a friend start a new business.

Introducing two like-minded people.

These are things that positive, successful people do.

These are things you can do to build your social capital.

These are favors that can come back to help you in the future.

But, some favors can come back to bite you.

Manipulators use favors as weapons.

They use small favors, like a piece of advice that happened to play out well or a chance introduction to someone you would have met anyway, as leverage to control your actions.

You know these people.

They’re the ones who will remind you over and over again about how your success wouldn’t have been possible without them.

They’re the ones who will take credit for giving you your best ideas.

They’re the ones who will whine and complain when you don’t acknowledge them, or don’t tell them something first, or don’t ask them for permission.

Stop allowing these people to do you favors. 

Stop giving these people leverage against you.

Realize that manipulative people will use even the slightest positive incident against you.

They’ll irrationally enlarge the tiniest of favors into some gargantuan monstrosity that you have to pay penance for FOREVER.

Let it go.

Let them go.

Don’t make the mistake of giving these people a free pass.

Once they take credit for something you accomplished, or try to tie your achievements to some meaningless action they took years ago, get rid of them.

4. Cut questionable people out of your life temporarily and see if your life gets better or worse.

Manipulative people with keep you from fulfilling your purpose in life.

You only get one life—one chance to achieve your biggest goals.

No one is worth sacrificing your dreams to.

Especially not manipulators.

It sounds harsh but it’s true.

When you start suspecting that someone close to you is a manipulator, the time to act is now, not later.

The reason most people fail to act is because they feel bad.

Instead of getting surgical and cutting the negative person out of their life, these people get emotional and keep the negative person in their life.

This is always a mistake.

Look—the only way to keep making progress in life is by leaving manipulators behind.

You were meant for something more.

You just can’t see it because you’re surrounded by the wrong people.

The only way to start seeing clearly again is to step away from these people.

You need to physically remove yourself from your current environment.

You need to gain some emotional distance.

You need to spend some time alone.

Stop going out with the same negative people every weekend.

Stop attending the same sad little events that drag you down one minute at a time.

Instead, get away for a few days to a few weeks.

Distance creates clarity.

Realize that cutting someone out of your life doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you a better person.

After gaining distance and clarity, you’ll be in a strong position to decide if the relationship is right.

You’ll have the perspective you need to determine whether it’s time to step away from the other person for good, or if it’s time to repair the bond.

5. Never trust anyone who asks you to trust them blindly.

Everyone wants to have friends.

Everyone wants to be well-liked.

There’s nothing wrong with this.

But some people want to be liked by everyone.

Some people want to be liked unconditionally.

These people think the world owes them friendship, unconditional love, and a free pass to do whatever they want.

Don’t be one of these people.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that other people owe you friendship.

Wake up—not everyone is going to like you.

In fact, if you’re living well, most people won’t like you.

The more successful you become, the more you let your happiness show, the more enemies you will create.

The problem is that some people will try to convince you that everyone should like you.

Even worse, these people will try to convince you that you should like them no matter what they do.

They’ll try to convince you that they deserve your loyalty, friendship, and favor despite their negativity, laziness, and bad behavior.

Don’t trust these people.

Don’t let them convince you that caring about them unconditionally is the moral thing to do.

It’s not.

When someone wants you to support them unconditionally, what they’re really asking you to do is to turn a blind eye to their manipulative actions.

They’re asking you to turn off your brain and play dumb.

Anyone who wants you to trust them unconditionally is toxic.

Sure, you should give people the benefit of the doubt.

You shouldn’t hold people’s mistakes over their heads forever.

But you should be discerning.

You should be a smart judge of character.

Without judgment, your life would be a disaster.

Without judgment, the world would turn into a cesspool.

Judge people appropriately and never give manipulative people a free pass just because they ask you to.

Stop allowing manipulative people to stay in your life. Stop giving people who subtly cut you down the benefit of the doubt. Sooner or later, these people will ruin your life. The time to recognize manipulators and remove them from your life is now, not later. Always be aware of the people in your life who say they have your best interest at heart and who work to use their favors against you. Refuse to blindly trust people who ask you to support them unconditionally. Be discerning and be smart. Until next time, live like a lion.

To learn more strategies for eliminating negative people from your life, and to get instant access to exclusive training videos, case studies, insider documents, and my private online network, get on the Escape Plan wait list.


You Comment, Isaiah Responds

  • Andrea Robinson

    #1 is RIGHT ON!! The pity is that these people are often experts at lying. They may have been practicing for years. Over time, they may actually talk themselves into believing their own stories. But if you become aware that they think they’re doing you a favor by being your friend, you don’t need “friends” like that. I’ve learned.

    Also, be aware that outsiders looking in at your relationship won’t necessarily see the disguises, lies, and manipulation. To outsiders, it might appear that the person is really a good friend. Ignore the outsiders. The manipulator is a master showman and is good at hiding unpleasant realities about themselves and blaming everything on others. Just detach and get on with life. It’s really not worth it to try to “heal” the relationship. 🙂

    • Dr. Isaiah Hankel

      Very well put, Andrea.

      • Andrea Robinson

        Thanks, Isaiah. I’m just glad I’m finally *getting* all this stuff. Thanks so much for reinforcing it! 🙂

  • Theo

    I used to have a friend that said, “Trust me,” a lot. Over time, I became aware that this friend was generally lying every time he said that! Fortunately for me, he didn’t really do anything that caused me any serious grief, but it was weird to watch him do that.

    • Maggie Sue Smith

      You were lucky you didn’t get sucked in.

    • Dr. Isaiah Hankel

      Glad you picked up on what was going on before any damage was done, Theo. Thanks for commenting.

  • Charisse Cappello

    I generally hang out with pretty positive people, and fortunately stuff like this doesn’t happen too often. I have a kind of radar that warns me.

  • Maggie Sue Smith

    I used to be married to a narcissist. I recognize absolutely everything that you’re saying in this article. All the mind games, crazy stuff that didn’t add up, but no matter what happened, I was always invited to feel bad about myself as if I caused it all. It took a lot of help from some of my friends and a few professionals to help me finally see what was going on and how to get out of it.

    • Dr. Isaiah Hankel

      Sounds like you’ve been through a lot, Maggie. Good for you, getting the help you needed and doing the work to break free. That takes a lot of courage. I have no doubt that you are a stronger person now as a result.

  • Asitha

    This is a great article. In my experience, I have come to know lot people who can do this manipulation brilliantly. You ticked up some characteristics to identify these individuals who can/are manipulate your actions and thoughts. I believe it is so hard to get rid of those people who attached to your life even though you understand they are so manipulative and use you like your best friends and relatives..

    As you said, we can still get rid of these delusional relationships that you think, they got backed up. If we are just focused enough to see ourselves how do we falling into the trap (psychologically) in the particular event? more observations better control.

    I believe that we can enjoy all the relationships as long as we see ourselves in the relationship not get trap by it. If you can’t in control in a relationship, then get rid of it.

    Keep up your good work!

    • Andrea Robinson

      Thanks for this, Asitha. I think it’s really hard to get rid of manipulators once they’re in your life! Much better to pick up on it ASAP and never even develop a deep relationship with them — develop a radar for this kind of thing. 🙂

      • Dr. Isaiah Hankel

        Exactly, Andrea. The sooner the better.

      • Asitha

        Thanks Andrea. I think my life better off without them. It is now.

    • Dr. Isaiah Hankel

      Thanks for commenting, Asitha! The longer you engage with manipulators the harder it will be to get rid of them.

      • Asitha

        sure it is. I had that experience before. I really like you articles. Specially talking about what you should after your phD?

  • Monica and Willy Hill

    When I was a lot younger, it was very easy for me to fall into this trap. I’m so glad that I learned to pay attention to my intuition (although I wish I’d done it a lot sooner). I think this article does a really good job of letting people know what to look out for.

  • Harvey Delano

    This is so true. For one thing, most people really aren’t like this, so a lot of times you won’t recognize a manipulator when you see one coming. For another, I don’t really believe all these manipulating people are necessarily bad. Some of them are, but most of them just learned that they get rewarded for whining and begging and manipulating. So I don’t take offense. I just move on.

    • Dr. Isaiah Hankel

      Love your mindset, Harvey.

  • Francie Eschenower

    I guess history’s been full of people like this, but reading this story really brought it home in a strong way. It’s hard to believe that people were so petty and manipulating even in those days. But then it makes sense too. We just never put it into perspective when we’re caught up in our own lives and problems. I’m just glad I live in this day and age, where things aren’t quite that dramatic – or life-threatening – on a daily basis. And I’m proud to live in a country which changes power by virtue of elections and not military upheaval.

  • Sonja Luther

    I hate ugly stories like this, but it’s a good example of people and how they are. Like some of the other comments, I’m glad I don’t live in such a time. But I still see that people are just as manipulative these days. They just don’t use a weapon to do it most of the time.

    Are things getting better or worse? I don’t know, but I know I’m more sensitive to people trying to take advantage of me since I’ve been reading these articles. It occurs to me that some of us are carrying a lot of weight of other people on our own shoulders, and find it hard to say no or focus on solving our own problems. I feel like I’m getting better. I just need to remember to think of myself and follow my own goals, especially when someone has a really good excuse to drag me away from what I want to do and ask me to help them instead. Thanks, Isaiah.

    • Dr. Isaiah Hankel

      You’re welcome, Sonja. Glad the articles are helping you. I know the stories/truth can be ugly but the important thing is you take away the lesson.

  • Winona Petit

    I would say that being highly successful and letting yourself get manipulated are mutually exclusive. So I agree with Dr. Hankel – the idea is to let go of those manipulators as soon as possible. And yes, they will be convincing, but you’ll know deep down inside that they’re actually not helping you, but helping themselves.

  • Julian Holst

    I actually take it a step forward and make sure that I don’t become the manipulator. If I ever have to ask someone for a favor, I make an effort to be helpful to them in the future or see what I can do that would be valuable for them.