How I’ve Made it Easy for People to Manipulate Me.

Lisa Benson
4 min readSep 29, 2021

‘You’d hate it. You can’t smile at anyone, you have to stay completely still, and you can’t even go to the bathroom.’

I felt tingles rise from the nape of my neck. But I really want to be on the security team.

It was 2016 and I had volunteered to be on the crew for Unleash the Power Within. A live event (with over three thousand attendees) for American entrepreneur, author, and philanthropist, Tony Robbins. Each volunteer had to choose from dozens of roles. I wanted to challenge my anxieties and do something where I would be extending myself, so I put security team down as my first choice.

The lady who took my papers instantly drew a big red cross over my selection.

‘You’ll be great in the promotional shop and on the registration desk. You have the right look.’ She added.

I was shocked at how quickly it happened. I grabbed my papers and walked away. Tears welled in my eyes as I looked down at the huge cross. I was disappointed I hadn’t stood up for myself. Like many times in my life, I felt I had no choice. I’d been judged and categorised. Other people continued to dominate my decisions.

On my first day, I was unfulfilled. I felt guilty because although I was there to serve, I had also hoped the experience would be one of personal growth.

That evening, I talked to my partner (now husband) about my predicament.

‘I feel as though I need to prove something to myself. That I can step up and do things that are hard.’

‘Just talk to them tomorrow and let them know how much it means to you.’ He suggested.

But I felt as though I’d missed my opportunity. My stomach was churning. I continued to beat myself up. I am a failure. Why do I always let people walk all over me, I’d thought.

Thankfully, I woke with a new attitude. What have I got to lose? I explained to my supervisor how I’d really wanted to take on the security role, and I arranged to meet the team leader.

‘If you really want to give it a go, come out the back when you have a break and talk to the rest of the team. We’ll give you a run down.’

It seemed too easy.

The security team were friendly and welcoming and we agreed that I’d start the following day. My stomach was still unsettled, but it was from excitement now, not regret.

I was dressed in black. I did the training. I wore an earpiece. The boss told me that there were six stations on constant rotation. I would be put on all of them except the ‘box.’ What the hell is the box? I found out later it was the front and centre of the stage. The vulnerable position between the audience and the speaker. There were also armed bodyguards in the room. I felt nervous, but ready.

As I stood on my first post, I felt many eyes on me. I took a calming breath. I had a sense of pride for not accepting what was expected of me. I stayed focused on the job and did the full rotation.

The boss said, ‘You have a great presence. On the next rotation you can have a turn on the box.’

I was thrilled.

So often I have listened to the voices of everyone else, and done what others believed I ‘should do,’ instead of what my heart has craved. Sometimes being unsettled is needed, to allow space for growth and fulfilment. I am certain my remorse would have stayed with me, if I hadn’t had the courage to speak up.

I take full responsibility for not being assertive. The reason people have been able to control me this way is because I haven’t had enough conviction or belief in myself. Trying to please others and gain approval has meant I’ve been easily manipulated.

In many areas of my life, I needed to set healthy boundaries and communicate my intentions. I couldn’t expect others to automatically know where I’ve come from, or the source of my motivations. I learnt something important from this experience — that if there is something I feel I ‘must do,’ I am the one who has the ability to make it a reality.

If you take a moment to think about your own life, I’m sure you can recall a time where you’ve felt powerless — when others were directing the way. Next time you are faced with a choice, think about what you ‘must do,’ instead of listening to all the voices telling you what you ‘should do’.

Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts. If you want to hear more from me, please like my ‘Lisa Benson Author’ page on Facebook or follow me (lisabensonauthor) on Instagram.