You want to believe in the best of everyone, give people a second chance, and take them at their word, right? So it isn’t easy to do the opposite. But with some people, that’s what you have to do.Read more: Are your alarm bells ringing?
We’ve only lately come to recognise the damage that bullies cause and even more recently to understand their relationship to the sociopath (those with ‘antisocial personality disorder’). Both terms are often misunderstood: bullies are generally thought of as loud, aggressive, and rude, while we imagine sociopaths to be those more extreme characters we see in the movies or on the news. Some are like this. But only a few. The rest are less noticeable – and more successful.
It’s estimated that around one in 25 people is a sociopath. Many of these are in positions of power but by no means all. You will know some. They could be friends, family members, colleagues or your boss.
It’s challenging to identify a sociopath. Contrary to common thinking, they usually hide behind a charming mask. They know how to manipulate their way into lives, hearts, minds, purses and positions of power. They bully subtly through coercion. They have no conscience, no empathy, and no moral compass. They fool people. If you express doubts about them, others will likely not believe you.
If your alarm bells ring, listen to them. Whoever they’re ringing about.
If your alarm bells ring about someone, only get further involved once you’ve had time to observe them, if that’s possible. Sociopaths tend to give themselves away before too long. And you’ll recognise the red flags once you know what behaviour to look out for.
If you’re already involved with one, you must take steps to protect yourself, depending on your situation. You might be dealing with a bully at work. Or a personal relationship that seemed so sweet has started to feel threatening. Maybe you realise that an old friend has always manipulated you. Or you’re seeing a therapist who you feel uncomfortable about. The sociopath is likely to make it hard for you to extract yourself from the relationship; they need to be in control. Be warned; they don’t play by common sense or decency rules.
The antidote to this extreme kind of behaviour is trusting yourself:
- Trust your intuition.
- Trust that events happen as you experience them, not as someone else interprets them.
- Trust your assessment of someone – not what others tell you you should think.
- Trust that someone is as they are, not as you would like or hope them to be.
The sociopath will use all your best, most human qualities against you – your conscience, the desire to give people a second chance, an instinct to help, a sense of connection to others, and your belief in the essential goodness of human beings.
What are the best ways to protect yourself? Please do some research into sociopathic behaviour so that you can recognise it. And listen to your alarm bells when they ring! Remember, trust yourself.