Sociopath-Psychopath Awareness

Did you know that an estimated 4% of the population have no conscience?  That means 1 in 25 people have no feelings of guilt or remorse, that thing that often keeps your behaviour in check.  They also feel no love or empathy for others.

Apparently sociopaths (for me ‘sociopath’ and ‘psychopath’ are interchangeable terms) are masters of understanding and mimicking human emotions.  So if a sociopath plays their cards right, you’ll never know that something is amiss.

Many psychopaths have a superficial charm and are good with words, things that make them seem very attractive.  They also don’t feel fear, making them appear to be very calm even under very stressful situations.  Every once in a while, you might notice a little discrepancy in their expression of emotions.  Something just doesn’t quite feel right.  They also can be deceitful, impulsive, parasitic and pathological liars.

Many people associate ‘psychopaths’ with those people who kill their mothers or are mass murderers.  But killing isn’t every psychopath’s cup of tea (and even if it is, they wouldn’t feel guilty about doing it).  Just like everyone else, psychopaths are individuals who have different wants and needs in life.  Many will just want to live a normal life and work.  Quite likely you already know some psychopaths but have no idea of what they really are.  So what’s the problem if some people have fewer emotions than others if they’re not likely to try and kill you anytime soon?

There are many other potential issues bar imminent death, including financial issues, emotional issues and being taken advantage of.  The problem is that many sociopaths will have no problem with manipulating others for their own benefit.  Most people would feel guilty for using or manipulating someone, sociopaths will not.  Manipulation can be subtle, you probably won’t even realise when it’s happening.

And it will especially become a problem in your life if you inadvertently end up in a relationship with someone who suffers no remorse or guilt.  Like that poor frog being boiled in a pan, you won’t know what’s happened to you until it’s far too late.  This kind of relationship is a form of emotional abuse and it will follow a pattern: love bombing, idealisation, devaluation and discarding.  They’ll make you fall in love with all that charm and all the right words, love will be blind so nothing else in the world will matter, and then you’ll end up in a really weird alternate universe where the person you love obviously really loves you, except for all the lying and cheating… and you’ll find yourself wondering why you don’t just leave… but you can’t, because you’re convinced this is real love.  In the mean time, your partner is probably eyeing up his next victim to take advantage of.

Anyway, my point was, that everyone should educate themselves on psychopaths.  Unfortunately, I have been that frog in the boiling pan, and I wish so much that I had known about psychopaths before I fell in love with one.  It didn’t even occur to me that there are people who fake their emotions and don’t feel guilt or remorse.  As a normal human, you just assume that everyone has the same range of emotions as you do.  That just isn’t the case.

Whether this behaviour is ringing bells for you or not, whether you think you might know a psychopath or not, my advice is the same.  Find out more, and be prepared for the day a psychopath crosses your path.  Ideally, you should just avoid these people and keep them out of your life.  But if it’s a family member, your colleague or even your boss, avoidance might not be an option.  So the next best thing is to know the score and try to keep an upper hand through awareness.

There’s absolutely loads of information on the internet.  I also found the following books very helpful (with links):

‘The Sociopath Next Door’ by Martha Stout (very good overview)

‘202 Ways to Spot a Psychopath in Personal Relationships’ by Adelyn Birch (specific to relationships)

‘Psychopath Free’ by Jackson MacKenzie (aimed for those recovering from toxic relationships, but also very informative)

It’s also important to be aware of your personal boundaries, so you realise when someone is actually pushing your boundaries and potentially being manipulative.  I found this book particularly helpful for that:

‘Boundaries After a Pathological Relationship’ by Adelyn Birch (also beneficial to avoid such relationships)

Wishing you a psychopath-free day!

Stoicism with video links

I didn’t really know much about what stoicism is, so I thought I’d have a little look into it. It’s a philosophy that works to control negative emotions, like anger and anxiety, by changing expectations and being aware of what is and isn’t under your control.

Interestingly, it has similarities with Buddhism, such as encouraging mindfulness.

Here are some great videos that provide further explanation:

PHILOSOPHY – The Stoics (5 minutes)

Stoicism in 6 minutes (6 minutes!)

10 Themes of Stoicism (15 minutes – interesting but a bit monotone, good for background listening)

‘The 4-Hour Workweek’ by Tim Ferriss – book review

Having recently written about Tim Ferriss’ TED talk about Fear Setting, I thought it might be a good time to write about his awesome book ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’.  This book is about setting up systems of passive income and ways to save time by outsourcing, and how ultimately you could be working a mere 4 hours per week with all the income you need.

4-hour-workweek-tim-ferriss-book.pngI love the idea of passive income and becoming financially free (where your passive income exceeds your expenses so you don’t have to work at all).  Although the norm is to be employed and work 9-5, it’s refreshing to know there is an alternative way to living life.  If you can achieve it.

Ferriss put in a lot of hard work in setting up his business, and figuring out what works and what doesn’t.  Having spent many hours on maintaining his business, he found ways of ‘stepping out’ and outsourcing so that things could run well without him.  This includes spending money to save your own time and effort, for example by using Virtual Assistants or outsourcing your business’ customer services needs to a call centre.

The book discusses potential business ideas, products, finances and provides many recommendations on how to get started and companies that can assist.

As well as offering lots of time-management solutions, this book is really inspiring for those who would contemplate making the leap to have a life with more free time to travel or do whatever they love.  Or maybe even keep their full-time job and start a side-hustle for some extra income.

I have a friend who started a side-hustle in selling electronic equipment (that he loves) worldwide, mainly for fun and to pursue his own hobby.  It turned out to be so successful that he left his job in the city, moved to Turkey with his wife and kids and now lives in a beautiful home in the sun and runs his business from home.  I don’t know if he actually read this book, but this is the kind of book that would propel this kind of business to be streamlined and make as much money as quickly and with as little effort as possible.

Ferriss’ strengths are in making complicated processes simple, finding the easiest and most efficient ways to achieve the desired results.  The prospect of starting your own business can certainly be daunting, but a bit of guidance and some successful examples can be all the inspiration you need.

Fortunately, this book probably won’t leave you quitting your job the next day, but it will leave you full of ideas of all the things you could do and achieve if you were willing to step out of the box.

You can find out more about the ‘4-Hour Workweek’ by Tim Ferriss by clicking here.

 

Define your fears instead of your goals – Tim Ferriss TED Talk

I didn’t realise that Tim Ferriss, writer of the ‘4-Hour Workweek’, had contemplated suicide when he was 19 years old, or that he suffered from bouts of depression.  I have a lot of respect for Tim and his book that, in a way, focuses on making life more simple and encouraging people to consider a different type of working lifestyle.  One that doesn’t involve spending most of your week at the office.

tim-ferriss-ted-talkIn this Ted Talk, Tim speaks about a written exercise called ‘Fear Setting’ and analysing the worst case scenarios for things you are worried about doing.  By looking at the potential things that could go wrong, you can consider what can be done to prevent or repair these problems.

By writing this out, you can get a more realistic overview of how obvious pitfalls can be avoided or that the worst case scenario may not be as bad as you think.  The exercise also includes looking at the benefits of partial success and the cost of taking no action at all further down the line.  This process helped him to take a life-changing trip and later write the 4 Hour Work Week book.

There are three parts to the exercise, which should be written out and are described in detail in the video:

1. What if I…?

  • Define what you fear and what could go wrong
    e.g. go on holiday and miss a tax letter
  • Prevent – how can you prevent or decrease the likelihood of this?
    e.g. change the address at the tax office, so letters go directly to your accountant
  • Repair – if the worst case scenario happened, how could you undo the damage?
    e.g. speak to a friend who is a lawyer about how to resolve the situation

2. What might be the benefits of an attempt or partial success?

3. The cost of inaction – emotionally, physically, financially, etc.

  • After 6 months
  • After 12 months
  • After 3 years

In this way, you are having to think about not only the negative outcomes and how to avoid them, but also the potential short-term and long-term benefits.  Tim also mentions stoic philosophy, and how sometimes difficult decisions and conversations need to take place to progress in life.

The Ted Talk video can be seen here:
https://www.ted.com/talks/tim_ferriss_why_you_should_define_your_fears_instead_of_your_goals#t-844802

If you want to find out more about the ‘4-Hour Workweek’ book, you can click on this link.

‘Be Your Own Life Coach’ by Fiona Harrold

I read this book when I was around 20 years old and it had a major positive impact.  It made me think about my own ‘self talk’ for the first time, and I realised how negative and harsh I was with myself.  I still have the book now, over ten years later.

Life-coach-book.pngIt’s easy to read, down-to-earth and full of positivity.  The biggest thing I took away from this book was to treat myself as a good friend.  Instead of beating yourself up over something or always focussing on the negative, be kind to yourself.  Like yourself as a person.

You know when a good friend goes through something ‘bad’ like a break up?  You take the time to make them feel better and reassure them that they are wonderful and everything will be ok.  You don’t beat them up about it or tell them that they deserved it and they were an awful partner.  You’re nice and supportive to your good friends, so be nice and supportive to yourself too.

This is the first ‘self improvement’ book that I remember reading and having an impact on me.  It discusses self-confidence, self-reliance, work and what you want from life.  I also recommended it to a friend who loved it just as much as I did and says that she refers back to it every once in a while.

Sadly, there is no manual to life, but it’s good to know that there are resources available to us for improving our lives and the way we see ourselves.

You can find out more about ‘Be Your Own Life Coach’ by Fiona Harrold by clicking here.

 

Humans are wise… but cruel

Humans are a cut above all the other animals on the planet.  We have bigger brains, opposable thumbs and the ability to create medicines and perform surgery to heal each other.  We are able to ponder how life exists, perform experiments and dissect bodies to understand how ‘life’ works.

Humans, Homo sapiens, are a species of animal just like every other animal.  Rats, cats, dogs, wolves, pangolins, zebras, bears, orang-utans, gorillas, humans.  Sometimes it’s difficult to think of us as animals.  Our lives and mental capacities are so different to ‘theirs’.  We are the ones who were able to take over and populate most of the land on earth with our amazing ability to communicate with each other, work together and take away the need to hunt or gather food.

We build machines like washing machines and cars to make our lives easier, and televisions and games consoles to entertain ourselves.  We build amazing homes and skyscrapers, and planes that fly across the world.  I can’t imagine any other animal capable of doing even a fraction of what us intelligent humans have achieved.

However, we use and abuse the animals around us without a second thought.  We don’t think of raising battery hens and milking cows as use or abuse… but I think it is.

It’s one thing if your hens and cows live happy lives in the green fields and you occasionally take eggs and some milk.  This is mutually beneficial for the hens and cows to some extent – they have space to run around, food, safety and good lives for the price of some of their eggs or milk.

It’s another thing when those chickens and cows have no quality of life.  Chickens raised in battery farms have their beaks cut off, don’t have space to move, never see sunlight, have their eggs taken away and are then killed for us to eat.  The male chicks that hatch are killed straightaway.  Cows are often raised in small pens, artificially impregnated so they become pregnant to produce milk, give birth and have their babies taken away so we can then steal their milk continuously.  We pump cows full of chemicals to make them produce unnatural volumes of milk so we can have more.

There is no quality of life for these animals.  I doubt this is a deal that any animal would agree to, be it a chicken, cow or human.  There is no mutual benefit.  Only the humans benefit from the lives of these animals, who get nothing good from the deal.

When did it become ok to take babies away from their mothers?  Why is it so normal for humans to drink the milk of another animal when most people would baulk at the thought of drinking human breast milk?  I assume the cruelty came about as the demand for eggs, milk and meat at a low price increased.  The logical solution was to mass produce using the smallest amount of space, and it turns out you can’t have chickens or cows mass produced in factories for less like you can with smart phones or clothes.

But cows and chickens are not plastic gadgets to be mass produced.  They are live animals with eyes, hearts, instincts and pain receptors … the same characteristics as humans.

There are some things that we have been doing for so long that it becomes absolutely normal in our minds and we forget to look at things objectively.

Admittedly, every hen will die one day, just like every cow and human.

But just because humans will die one day doesn’t mean we sit in a prison all of our lives awaiting death.  We go out and live rich and fulfilling lives as much as we can.  A right that the animals we use don’t get.  They are confined to prison with horrible conditions until we are ready to eat them.

I have a lot of respect for vegetarians and vegans who choose not to eat meat.  Personally, I think it’s ok to eat meat.  Humans are omnivores so eating meat is natural for us.  I would never hate a cheetah for catching and eating its prey.

But for our ‘prey’, aka chickens, cows, pigs, sheep… I think they still deserve a life worth living without cruelty before their untimely deaths.

I think humans like to think that animals are dumb and stupid, so that gives us the right to control them and do as we please.  We are ‘detached’ from animals, they are not like ‘us’ so we don’t need to care about their lives and we can kill them as we please…

It scares me how humans act so psychopathically towards these other living beings.

‘Other’ animals may not be AS intelligent as us, but they have many characteristics similar to humans and are intelligent enough to survive without humans.  I’m sure the earth would be teeming with wild animals without humans to interfere, particularly the ones that we have pushed to the brink of extinction because they got in our way or might have killed us.  Or we wanted to kill them for their ivory or beautiful fur coats, which we believe are ours to take.

There’s no denying that humans are the most intelligent and successful species on earth, but I wish we would use our intelligence AND let all animals enjoy a good life. Not just the animals we choose to keep as pets and pamper in our own homes.

It shouldn’t be us vs. them.  We are all on this planet together.

 

Here is a link to BBC’s ‘Carnage’, a comedy documentary by Simon Amstell that raises a lot of interesting points about how animals are treated in the food industry:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p04sh6zg/simon-amstell-carnage

Religions are like trees

I believe that religions are like trees.

People miss the forest for the trees.

Everyone focuses on which type of tree is the best and disliking all the other trees.

There’s no point in favouring one type of tree over another, it shouldn’t be divisive. They are all part of the same forest and share things in common.

It’s the forest I believe in.