“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.”
Warren Buffett (Chairman & CEO, Berkshire Hathaway)
“A man is hindered and distracted in proportion as he draws outward things to himself.”
Thomas à Kempis (German Clergyman)
“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”
Socrates (Classical Greek Philosopher)
I dated a very gorgeous, very evil girl in college.
(Okay, not evil, but definitely a master manipulator.)
Let’s focus on the gorgeous part first.
She was so pretty that everyone would just stare at her.
Other guys would stare.
Other girls would glare.
I’d get slow motion beer commercial nods from my friends when I walked into a room with her.
It felt great.
I felt powerful.
So, like the powerful man I was, I crawled around on all fours to keep her happy.
I maxed out my credit card (which had an impressive $2,000 limit back then) to buy her things.
I dropped everything to run errands for her.
One day, I missed class so I could fill up her car with gas because she didn’t like to touch the gas pump (not kidding).
She kept me running in circles.
But these circles made me feel needed.
Being busy (for her) gave me a sense of purpose.
I felt focused, confident, and aligned.
In reality, I was completely out of whack.
I was confused and misaligned.
I was a joke.
And it was 100% my fault.
This was all exposed the day she dumped me for some bro with more money.
Looking back, I still can’t believe how much of my life, my goals, and my daily routine I sacrificed.
I had become busier than ever, but somehow, less productive than I had ever been.
Why Busyness Makes You Easy To Manipulate
Being busy makes you very easy to manipulate.
Busy people are distracted and distracted people get taken advantage of.
Everyone claims to be busy, but the topic of busyness has always been subjective and relative.
We know that being “busy” can actually enhance cognition.
After all, smart people are often busy.
Being engaged and active in our lives is good for your brain: keeping it young, sharp and healthy.
This correlation exists for all ages.
Successful individuals with high cognitive function tend to be busier, and busier people have higher levels of cognitive function, especially in memory and reasoning.
But busyness has its drawbacks.
Namely, increased stress and increased distractibility.
In other words, busyness makes you inefficient.
Being forced to stay busy actually decreases your productivity by 25%.
When you allow others to keep you busy, you’re allowing yourself to become unproductive.
Whether or not being busy benefits you comes down to who is in control.
If you’re actively chasing your dreams and ticking off your personal goals, being “busy” or active is a great thing.
But, if some manipulative boss or fake friends are keeping you busy by bullying or guilting you into doing their tasks for them, then busyness will destroy you.
Never confuse busyness for productivity.
Never confuse busyness with self-importance.
Are you engaged and active in your own life, with a full and productive schedule that’s aligned with your goals?
Or are you distracted and disorganized, and easily sidetracked by every complainer and manipulator who wants your attention?
If you’re the latter, you’re opening yourself up to manipulative people who have nothing better to focus on than YOU.
These people have nothing worthwhile in their lives to pursue.
So, instead, they consciously (or subconsciously) put their energy into distracting you from reaching your goals.
Very often, they do this subtly and quietly.
Very often, you don’t notice.
Then one day, you realize you’re surrounded by people who are taking you away from your success, instead of supporting it.
Now, you’re busy because of them.
Now, their neediness is filling up your time.
Now, you’re more distracted, more stressed, and less productive.
The only way to protect yourself from this is to understand how manipulative people keep you busy and distracted in the first place. Here’s how to deal with manipulative people…
1. They play the victim.
When you’re busy, it’s easy for other people to make you feel like you only have one choice.
When you’re busy, it’s easy for other people to make you feel like you need them to be successful or that they need you to be successful.
When you’re busy, it’s easy for other people to make you feel like it’s your duty to take care of them.
Help me, or I’ll die!
This is the message they’re sending.
As though you were placed in their path to be their caretaker.
To hold their hand and pat their head and make them feel okay about their little life and their need for attention.
They don’t really need you… they probably need a therapist.
Look—distraction turns people into pushovers.
Pushovers are vulnerable to the demands of everyone and never get their own needs met as a result.
Start dissecting your schedule and look where you’re spending your time.
When do you feel the most scattered and who do you feel the most obligation to?
Weigh these against where you should ACTUALLY be spending your time.
Look at the realities of your busyness in black and white and get strategic.
What’s the value of each hour of your time?
Time is money.
Do you give away money the way you give away your time?
If you do, why are we still talking?
Stop reading now.
Start thinking and organizing yourself in terms of value.
Why are you sacrificing your needs for others who can’t be bothered to take responsibility for themselves?
It doesn’t make you benevolent… it makes you an enabler.
If you keep it up, you’ll become just like them and other people will step on you to get ahead.
Stop being reactive and start planning out your time and attention.
Be disciplined about creating a schedule that protects you from manipulative time thieves.
2. They guilt you into saying “yes”.
“No” is a complete sentence.
It’s not a bad word and it’s not something to be afraid of.
When grown men and grown women try to make you feel guilty for not spending time with them or not doing what they want, it’s simply a power play.
These people know that you have a thousand other things going on and would rather you give in to them instead of feeling guilty.
This is how they feel important and valuable in life.
Through monopolizing the time of other people.
They use how busy you are against you by making silent threats to play the victim or suck you into drama.
If they can distract you, they get the power – and they cling to it like it’s gold.
In the moment, saying yes seems like the fastest way out.
As a result, you say “yes” to everything.
You have to say “yes.”
If you don’t, you’ll have to deal with emotional blackmail.
Yes. Yes. Yes.
On and on it goes.
You’re like a “yes” factory.
You roll right over and agree to everything manipulators want you to do.
With every “yes” your time loses value.
As the obligations pile up, you become busier and busier.
As you become busier, you become more of a pushover.
It’s a vicious cycle.
The only way to escape the cycle is to start saying “No”.
As a complete sentence.
If it feels uncomfortable to say “no”, you’re already stuck in the cycle.
You’re already powerless.
Be uncomfortable – it gets easier but you have to start valuing your time more than your discomfort.
Value your time and future more than your discomfort.
Manipulators don’t add value.
Their need of you isn’t the same as them valuing you.
These people have no value.
They are worthless.
Start saying “no” to manipulators who are distracting you from your personal goals and who are keeping you from achieving true fulfillment.
3. They make you forget yourself.
Start being self-aware enough to reject busy, meaningless activities and to instead, focus on the one or two things that really matter to you.
Self-awareness means taking your ego out of the equation.
Sometimes that means realizing that you might have actually encouraged the parasitic, “mooching” behavior of a manipulator.
You encouraged it because you liked the attention.
The attention makes you feel like you matter.
It makes you feel like you’re doing something worthwhile.
Does giving in to the demands of toddler-like stunts for attention make you feel important or prestigious?
Maybe you’ve even found yourself bragging about how busy you are and how everyone is clamoring for your time and keeping you so busy.
This happens – you feel validated by being busy.
And now you’re too distracted by your own magnanimousness to get anything real done.
The only way to fix this is to take a step back from people who chronically attach themselves to your time and attention.
They just need.
All. Day. Long.
Manipulators are preschoolers begging for your reassurance and attention.
(No, that’s speaking too highly of them.)
Manipulators are like existential mosquitoes feasting on your soul.
It’s true – the manipulators in your life are grown-ups who haven’t had anyone put a stop to their pattern of behavior.
But guess what – it’s not your job to put a stop to their behavior.
It’s simply your job to walk away.
Cut them off.
Instead, redirect your attention to people and tasks that add to your productivity.
Focus on like-minded people who allow you to chase your personal goals without distracting you with nonsense.
Look—you are defined by the people you spend the most time with.
Start surrounding yourself with the right people.
But remember, the right people will not come into your life until the wrong ones – the manipulators – are gone.
Start setting some non-negotiables in your life.
Will you put up with emotional blackmail every again?
Will you put someone’s goals above your own ever again?
Protect your focus and your time, and never forget that it’s your job to choose what’s important to you and deliver your attention to those key areas.
Get rid of the self-importance of being busy and sought after by needy people.
Only then will you be free of the chronic busyness that is keeping you distracted and keeping you from achieving your true goals.
Align people and your focus with the goals you want for your life. Be disciplined and focused about this. Stop bowing down to the requests of just anyone for your time and attention and stop giving in to their dramatic pleas. Cultivate and protect a schedule that is busy in healthy, productive ways that you control. Stop enabling weakness in others by saying “yes” to everything to avoid passive-aggressive bullying. Realize the value of your time and be committed to your goals so much so that you simply no longer entertain the manipulative attempts of others at all. Fill your schedule and your life with people and pursuits of value, that matter so much that you won’t allow anyone to infringe upon it.
To learn more about dealing with manipulators who take advantage of you, 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.