tranquilityseekers: blue angel staff (education)
I have been steadily doing self-therapy through quality psychological books and workbooks since the age of 17, and maybe longer. Right now, I'm going through the Emotional Resilience book by David Viscott, M.D.-- a psychiatrist. After reading the intro I was a little disappointed, because it seemed that his solution for over-sensitivity was simply to tell people the truth. I took a bit of umbrage to that, because I'm already pretty well-versed in expressing myself honestly, and I quite often get very badly burned in retaliation.

I finally picked it up and continued after skimming more through the pages a bit. Dr. Viscott does explain how speaking your mind can go wrong and what to do to avoid that more and so forth.

Okaaay....

Anyways, the point of chapter one was the process that occurs when we don't express our feelings at the time something happens and instead hold them in. Over time, your memory and the self-talk about the situation gets exaggerated and distorted, creating a situation ripe for "toxic nostalgia"-- which sets you up perfectly to seek repeating situations where you try to resolve the original issue OR you find yourself over-reacting and out-of-control when things finally do get blurted out later. Which makes everything worse, then you get rejected and angry at yourself-- so you hold it in next time until you can't anymore and the cycle starts again.

He also discussed how not being honest with yourself and others makes it easier to play victim and blame others for your own mistakes. Also, that often when people are unhappy they distract themselves with incidental trivialities to avoid dealing with what's really bothering them. People are so afraid of being rejected for expressing their true feelings that they cause themselves real pain, through guilt, anxiety, and repressed rage--.


I can totally see what he means with all that, and have studied such things in self-help work before, so none of this comes as a surprise. I've been trying to work out that "express and get rejected" thing in particular. I've learned to be honest, but gently honest-- most of the time. And for the most part it works out pretty well for everyday misunderstandings and grievances. But the sticking point seems to be power issues. For most people, if I get rejected, my life isn't thrown into disarray. But for dealing with issues with, say, my husband-- there is always this THREAT hanging over me that his moody reaction will lead to worse problems. He has his frustrations too, of course, and that doesn't help.

I'm pretty good at owning my own shit, though-- so that's a good thing! NOT, mind you, that I get much credit for it from others! In fact, one of the down sides of having insight is that you get to be very aware when other people are projecting their shit at you and playing victim (Mira, for example) and using any fault you admit to as ammunition and permission to just go on some relentless attack.

My issue now is that I have deep feelings of sadness and distrust towards others when it comes to deeper relationships. I can work on my own side of things, but I can't make other people do the same, and its reached a point where I don't expect anyone to even want to... which means I don't have the power to help the situation beyond a certain point. And I expect that point to be reached in almost every relationship, and thence to be rejected unfairly.

Yet the only advice for this situation from experts is "forgive and move on." Or, in extreme cases, dismiss and move on as I say! The part where I have been losing hope comes from the perception I've come to have that I will be be eventually letting go and moving on in every relationship prematurely due to irreconcilable differences. It doesn't seem as if there is such a thing as life-long relationships anymore. And that BOTHERS ME, dammit!

My expectations lower more and more over time the more psychological work I do on myself. That may sound the opposite of what you'd expect, but its true. The more I realize what goes on in people's minds and how to counteract it to be a healthier person, the more I realize the gulf that lays between those of us who make an effort and everyone else wallowing in their delusions and distortions. Since I have no power over anyone but myself, all I can do is try to explain things but be prepared to bear witness to other people's assholery!

I must confess a stark truth: I have no RECIPROCAL deep and meaningful relationships in my life.

I have deep attachments. I have great love for a few other people. I have respect and appreciation for everyone I associate with on every level. I do my best to be real and truthful and caring and playful with others. But I have nearly zero expectation of emotional reciprocation, beyond basic respect and affinity. (I know my husband, for instance, is trying-- which is why I'm not giving up there and why we're still friends and family to one another, despite ongoing issues.)

You might well ask me, "What does 'deep and meaningful' mean to you?" I think its pretty simple: a relationship where there is mutual respect and trust, leading to spontaneous expression, sharing of thoughts, and ongoing curiosity and concern for one another's personal sphere, and a willingness to engage on a level deeper than the everyday trivialities and distractions of life.

We're all time-crunched and limited with what we can offer others, but everyone needs at least a few people, maybe 2 or 3, in their lives that invest that much into growing with us as a friend and/or lover. I don't seek nor expect every relationship to be at that level of depth and investment. Of course not! There is room in every life for many different kinds of relationships. I'm dissatisfied, however, because I don't have even ONE that I feel meets that basic desire. Not one. I don't think its asking too much, but I begin to despair that its ever going to happen.

I put all this work into myself to be a better person and have a higher quality of life, but then I find I am pretty much alone for it and can't use it for much of anything except expressing myself in blogs where a few people peep in, read, and sometimes even comment. I would LOVE for there to be a 'real life' person near by who would simply listen to me about the sorts of things I write about here! Just that would transform my life. But there is no one in my 'real life' who cares to hear it. I haven't given up attempting to share these types of things with others. But having your thoughts and feelings met with polite indifference most of the time just fucking hurts and I get tired of it.

I would accuse myself of being too demanding, except that I'm not asking for anything I'm not offering. The result, I'm coming to witness over time, is that I'm ending up being something of a rescuer-- one with few material resources, some kind words and insight, but stretched to the limit with how much time and energy I have to dole out. I don't mind having some connections or relationships like this-- people have hard lives, face crisis, need emotional support and new ideas and I'm happy to offer what I can.

However-! I need a mutually supportive relationship. Where giving and taking is more equally shared or traded back and forth as we meander our way through life. Apparently, I'm not appealing enough, attractive enough, interesting enough or SOMETHING enough to persuade anyone else that the investment would be worth it. At least that's how it appears to me at this time.

My dilemma is how to handle the deep sadness that results from this. Do I continue to struggle and strive for better someday with someone? Or do I just accept this as my fate and settle into an existence of unmet longings? I go back and forth-- but over time, I'm giving up.

I just don't know how to give up without the sadness hanging on. I either need to learn to accept and not be sad about it, or make a friend who is more at my level of personal development. Until one or the other happens, I'm just going to be in a funk, apparently-- a years long funk.
tranquilityseekers: light being gifts (benevolence)

The last post of the series on emotional and social self-defense. Hope this series proves valuable to everyone and you may consider it my heartfelt gift to you, my readers. Thanks for taking the journey with me.


The last few tips are all about what to do when you find yourself in a dispute with a sociopath and their minions. You've put yourself out there, kept the personal stuff close to the chest, dared to live fully, stayed alert and paid attention, learned the system and found your place, and cultivated support-- yet someone comes after you.

One thing you'll notice right away? Gossip is both your worst enemy AND your best friend in these situations. Yeah, you heard me right. People talking to other people is how most of these things go down, so refusing to participate in keeping up with personal news between people will always put you in a very poor political position. Note that. Embrace that. Learn more about that below.



A Good Person's Guide To Living In A Bad Person's World


10.  Always keep your options open and refuse to be cornered.

If we've been doing what we're supposed to, we already know who the sociopath is likely to be, and who they're playing against us. We know how things work in the group we're in and who is likely to back us in a dispute. Now that trouble is brewing, we're aware its on its way and we've hopefully got a little time to prepare. Now what--?

I'm going to add that this goes for whenever we find ourselves dealing with apaths that could be turned against us. Sociopaths are at their most powerful with the most helpless. We must do everything we can to NOT be at the mercy of them! Being trapped is what we have to avoid at all costs. That means giving up our implicit trust in anyone we haven't tested in certain situations before.

Perfect example? When my husband and I moved to Ohio to help his apath/minion father who had cancer and needed help with his business. Not a bad guy when he's with good people-- but capable of complicity when paired with or surrounded by bad people. Mona was a sociopath, so guess what ended up happening to us? Yeah-- SCREWED. Our mistake was in putting ourselves at the mercy of this pair before realizing what they were capable of-- a mistake I never intend to make again.

Point is, it would not be possible for someone like Mona to have tormented us so thoroughly for so long had we had a Plan B going in. Taking stock of every situation where we may be vulnerable is crucial-- and yes, it takes some raw cynicism to implement, but the consequences for neglecting this step are too high. Always have a Plan B, and C and even D if its possible.

One way to do this is implement "if-then" scenarios. If the sociopath takes tactic X, I will respond to it via A. If they implement tactic Y, I will react with my B plan. If Z, then C and so forth.

Which leads to our next step...


11. Always have a plan and play big, not just long, in implementing it.

A recent anonymous commenter pointed out that in her experience with narcissists, she learned they can never plan ahead more than a couple of steps-- because they rely so much upon watching your reaction before implementing another step. That's good to know for the rest of us. We can cover our butts if we're smart. Always be looking for more options in case things go wrong. And if they do start to go wrong, start to implement your own plan right away. Assume you're being targeted and line up your evidence and your support people.

Speaking of lining up support people..! One grim lesson I learned during personal disputes that clobbered me until I changed my tactics: other people tend to believe the first version of any story they hear. Its not right nor fair, but its how most human beings operate. Once they decide upon a side-- they will then tend to cling stubbornly to that side because to change their mind would require admitting being WRONG to begin with and most people's egos simply can't bear such a challenge. That means that when trouble starts, you need to make sure your side of the story is known EARLY. I always felt that getting other people involved in my business with another person meant I was stooping to playing dirty. Well, let me tell you, playing fair meant I lost every single time. I've come to the conclusion now that telling my side of a dispute is okay as long as I am scrupulously truthful. I don't advocate gossip (which is other people's business) but telling my own business is justified and even necessary.

We must be willing to see the Dark Game (that we never wanted to "play" in the first place) through to the end. If we're targeted by a sociopath, one of us is going to be leaving the organization in most cases. We must plan long term so that person isn't us! This means taking that set of contingency plans and then creating another set for whatever happens next, and then yet another set of plans for what happens after THAT and so forth! Staying flexible (see #10 and don't get cornered) and adapting our plans as we go, and we can remain several steps ahead and come out on top for a change.

Further, we shouldn't just plan long-term, we should also refuse to be meek about dealing with being targeted. Sociopaths win by virtue of surprise and because good people tend to hesitate to accuse, let alone strike back-- by the time most empathic targets are actually outraged, the "game" is all but over already. This is another reason why gossip is one of those things we not only have to deal with, but must embrace as a part of life. When you're plugged in to your group's "information network" you will have several benefits:

1- You'll cultivate sources of information and soon be able to assess the accurate ones versus the self-serving ones.
2- You'll hear whispers of trouble brewing long before it actually strikes you.
3- You'll have a way to get "your side" out there should trouble erupt.

Social scientists have figured out that gossip actually evolved as a strategy to empower people to defend against sociopaths. NOT KIDDING! It creates and enforces social "norms" like not stealing from your neighbors, not cheating on your significant other, and not hurting people for fun. Again, gossip is one of those things I used to avoid like the plague-- how could I care about all those silly dramas going on all the time in the social background? And of course that means I missed early clues and had no one on my side when I was targeted. Sociopaths use gossip like champions to find, cultivate, and recruit followers-- and then to turn the social tide against their targets. By avoiding gossip, we just give all that power away to them when we don't have to.

I definitely think this is a skill that takes time and practice to hone, but rest assured oh empaths-- you'll get targeted multiple times and soon have ample opportunity for said practice if you haven't already!


12. Recognize and use the ego and greed of others to create a path to success.

Its true that being empathic means having some vulnerabilities that can be exploited by the unscrupulous. However-! The good news is that the sociopaths and apaths of the world have their own list of weaknesses. Empathic people put the general welfare and doing what's right above serving our egos, so we are not as prone to the fallibilities of hubris and desire as the other types. Knowing this can help up even the score and even tip the scales in our favor should we choose to use that knowledge.

For example--! I have a sociopathic niece who targeted me when I was in my 20s and she was a teenager because she didn't want to lose control of Gerick. She even started dating a guy who was a friend of mine to make me jealous (which I wasn't because I never thought of that friend romantically.) When she showed her true colors to me (giving away her plans during a fit of rage) I was in a quandary because both my boyfriend Gerick and my male friend really fell for my niece's charm and to start with they disbelieved my reports of her changed and hostile secret behavior towards me. (I mean, she was vicious!) But I also knew she was touchy about certain things, because her ego was so caught up she couldn't take the slightest shallow criticism, even something imaginary, so I barely tweaked her on those things (during normal conversations and such) knowing she would over-react. She did, and eventually outright attacked me in FRONT of my boyfriend and friend and outed herself for me. They both realized she was psycho and she was dropped out of our collective lives. I had never before operated in such a manner, thinking 6 steps ahead to 'help' someone reveal their true hatred of me publicly, but my long-term plan (took 5 months) worked and I was able to live my life in peace without her having influence over 2 people in my life I had become close to. I used her ego weakness against her. Her attempts to do the same didn't set me off, however, because her opinion of me had no bearing on my opinion of myself. I was immune to something she was very vulnerable to. (Lest you feel sorry for her, all this went down nearly 20 years ago and she DID turn out to be a life-long sociopath, so...)

Greedy people often make stupid mistakes. Narcissists often make stupid mistakes. Narrow-minded people make stupid mistakes. The idea is to open an opportunity for them to make that mistake to begin with! Tempt them into ruin, in other words, while making sure they out themselves either publicly or to authorities or at least to those we care about (boss, family, friends). Exposure of the sociopath is the best way to win when they come after us-- let them show others who they really are so we don't need to prove we're right about them. If they do the work for us, we can stop their plans and injure their reputation enough that others no longer blindly follow them.

This step is a hard one for most of us, I think, because we'll constantly doubt that we're doing the right thing. Even when we know we don't have a choice if we're going to stop someone who is coming after us-- it can feel very hinky. In the end, such a step is up to each individual, but when we find ourselves in a personal war we didn't start, sometimes its either THIS option or unconditional surrender.


13. Pick your battles and never let your opponent have control.

If we've got a long-term assertive plan going, and we're seeing it through, we just have to stay focused. Mini-dramas related to the main issue with the sociopath will erupt and we might find we're tempted to get into it over trivial distractions. But we can't get drawn in-- those things the sociopath sets up will be looking for our REACTION. At that point, they've taken control of things yet again. Pull back, reassess, and continue with your original objective while tweaking it as necessary.

Ideally, we can see where its prudent to peddle our influence and watch things come out in our favor. Where an outcome in our favor is less likely, we may choose to duck and cover for a while. Sometimes letting the sociopath think they're winning for the short term will buy us time or help to illustrate to others what the sociopath is capable of (if we are certain their actions will be witnessed or recorded in some way-- legally of course!)

Pick your battles where we have witnesses to their behavior. Pick the battles where they leave evidence of wrong doing. Choose to engage only when we are reasonably assured of a "win."


14. Once the sociopath is exposed, strive to cut off as many avenues of influence and contact as possible.

This is going back to Martha Stout's advice again in her book The Sociopath Next Door.  Once we realize a person is a sociopath, its best to protect ourselves and our loved ones by staying away from that person. Even if they're family, we don't allow them to come to our home or to have contact with our kids. Even if its not "proper," we should refuse to invite them to weddings and holiday gatherings. Avoidance is our best initial plan, as sociopaths tend to go for what's right in front of them and convenient.

However, at work or in neighborhoods that may not be possible. It may also be too late to prevent repeated contact (as in families or in wider social groups) and so we may well find ourselves victimized or targeted and forced to strategically plan a defense as indicated in the above steps. Once we've managed to expose the sociopath and/or helped them get themselves into trouble once more we have to pull back and deny contact.

This can be hard. The sociopath is not likely to take defeat well, and may be intent upon revenge. Of course, socially, once exposed most sociopaths are outed from the group, and the same may be true at work. We might have to take legal action if things escalate further. But regardless, not communicating or continuing contact is crucial. The more a sociopath can say, the more they'll strive to make us react to them to try to draw us back into their Dark Game under their rules once more. Don't fall for it! Resist the temptation! Get away and stay away! If that means we have to change residence or jobs, then so be it. Few sociopaths will keep up a campaign over a victim or target that bites back. They'll likely move on to newer, easier prey. However, exposing them means they may be more likely to get exposed again so we can feel good we've done our part at least! In most cases, cutting off contact WILL work eventually. Often swiftly with the lazier ones or the ones who wish to avoid punishment.

Personally, I would add that its probably a good idea to keep track of our former enemies for at least a little while until it seems likely they really have moved on (or gone to prison, or died). Sometimes someone from our past will pop up and surprise us (witness Veg Hag!) and we should be prepared for another round if necessary. I suppose I've learned that none of us should ever be surprised when it comes to sociopaths or apaths bent upon revenge, and just skipping the profound shock part would be for the best.



AND THAT'S IT for now!

I feel sad to think of how much we all have to do just to keep on our toes in case assholes come after us. What a bunch of wasted energy and concern! Its not fair in any way, shape, or form! Yet the truth is that, realistically, peace is always and ever a temporary gift that we must treasure. We would like to think peace is normal and dealing with psychos is abnormal, but maybe that's not realistic all the time. If we can face the truth and learn to be "pro-actively defensive" then perhaps we stand a chance of winning ourselves more peace down the line compared to most.
tranquilityseekers: light being gifts (benevolence)
A couple more thoughts about yesterday's tips for getting ahead of the bad guys, especially points #3 and #5...

I have had several discussions about revealing one's talents and passions (especially non-religious and non-political) with several people, and found many who greatly hesitate to share with others. Some have admitted outright that they want to hide themselves from those who might feel inclined to attack them for even daring to stick their neck out enough to show they like something, let alone do something well! Its difficult to convey my deep sorrow for this state of things in society. I'm sure ours is not the only culture to sanction that we hide what makes us happy and, yeah, maybe a little special-- but I'll never be able to stand behind such an attitude.

But not because I don't get it. Rather, because I spent most of my life hiding myself and what I love from the world and it was a miserable way to live. Being able to push yourself forward despite fear of the assholes of the world is, by contrast, highly satisfying. Do I "invite" abuse because of it? Sure. But I did when I hid as well, and-- if anything, my very meekness was more of an invitation than any talent or treasure I could imagine.

From another side of things, when someone opens up to me about their own passions in life, they instantly become more "real" to me. I suspect that is why #3 is advised to begin with. When we know a person's joyful, fully engaged side, we view them differently. They stop being a person in theory to us, and become more 3-dimensional. We can't help but appreciate them more and see them as more precious. We may even share some of those passions. So it makes sense to reveal our strengths in this way to the outside world because when we become more REAL to others, it becomes far more difficult for a minion to be played against us. Most minions/apaths have limits-- they're aren't sociopaths, after all! Making ourselves seem less "deserving" of whatever it is our tormentors have cooked up for us is a part of how we beat them.

So, please-- don't hide thinking you'll protect yourself from abuse. Hiding is what makes abuse more possible. Grow it. Show it. And BLOW IT for the sociopaths who would otherwise have a much easier time painting a target on your ass! And to think that's just a positive side-effect of simply doing part of what you were born here on this Earth to do! How sweet is that?!

As for #5-- keeping an open mind and insisting on dealing with any truth you find... well, I think perhaps nothing inflames my passion against injustice more than dealing with someone who refuses to see what is plain before them simply because its too negative for them to deal with. I say this fully knowing it for the hypocritical statement it is because I've done it too!

But I've avoided and prevented terrible things when I've studied people and situations and faced what I found, regardless of the "ick factor." I've been able to grant assistance and pursue justice only when I faced the truth. Being raised by a mother who did the "see no evil, hear no evil" thing really forced me to deal with the negative consequences of feel-good supposed "neutrality" early on. REAL neutrality means waiting for the facts before making a conclusion-- it doesn't mean neglecting to do anything about a critical problem that needs addressing!

Not only will this help us to defend ourselves directly from sociopaths after US, but it will allow us to become supporters of others who are being victimized and targeted by sociopaths. Truly a win-win strategy!

Moving along then on----


A Good Person's Guide To Living In A Bad Person's World


6. Become "essential" & know your real currency.

Oh LOOK! We're getting into the nitty gritty of politics now! And for those of us who aren't big on political games-playing, these types of things are required learning, even when it feels faintly ridiculous. (Which it does to me. I despise social games.)

You know how a lot of us don't like putting our necks out for fear of getting our heads chopped off? Well, bad news-- this is once again advising directly against that turtle-like strategem!

Becoming essential means finding our place to fit, our role to fill, and then doing a great job at it so that others need us close by! If we know where we can excel at a job, a social group, in our family, etc., then learning where we can fit and then making the most of it benefits everyone. If we're not so easily replaced, we're not as tempting a general target because all those selfish apaths and minions are loathe to take any action which spells more work and headaches down the line for THEM!

Knowing our real currency likewise means understanding and utilizing our own special brand of talent or style that others value. This can be our sense of humor and ability to put others at their ease. It could be our eye for detail, spotting problems so they can be fixed early. Everyone has those areas where they excel. Once we know our own, we can put it to use in situations where attacking us hurts more than just us. Once again, thwarting the sociopaths and their potential minions becomes a happy side effect of just doing what we'd like to do anyway-- our BEST.

Did you notice that, again, this is taking the bad guys' playbook and turning it to use for good rather than evil? Two can play the game of "you need me." Why should the jerks be the only ones to take advantage of this?


7. Create a passionate nucleus of supporters.

You know who's hard to attack? People with fans. When others are likely to stand up for you whenever someone starts launching verbal grenades in your absence, personal campaigns are difficult to get rolling.

Machiavelli in his 52 Laws of Power had a rule along these lines. He said, in so many words, "People protect you better than walls." Your best defense isn't hiding and locking down, its coming out and opening up!

How to do this? I see this as a 2-part ongoing process: Firstly, you have to keep your eyes open for other empathic people-- and start supporting THEM. Watch and listen and wait and you'll see who the truly good people are. Find them and spend time with them, befriend them, and be there for them-- and especially pay attention to make sure they are naturally inclined to reciprocate-- not keep tabs on who owes who a favor! Fellow empaths will not take easy offense, will not have overly precious egos, will extend empathy and understanding, and seem willing to go out of their way for you and others.

Secondly, once you find these treasures? Keep them as friends and positive contacts for as long as you can-- forever, if possible! In our super busy distracting world, its easy to let the non-trouble-makers get lost in all the chaos of day-to-day life. The squeaky wheels get the grease, while your most powerful potential supporters, causing little drama, get forgotten. Do NOT let this happen!! The older I get, the more I realize how precious and valuable good people in our lives really are! We can't drop people due to distance, lack of excitement, or our own colorful personal lives! When the chips are down (and they WILL BE, inevitably, for everyone at one time or another) its your wonderful empathic friends who show up and help you make it through.

Chances are, a lot of good people out there are just as lonely, frustrated, and feeling taken advantage of as we are- so when they meet us and find that they aren't alone in the world, they're going to feel very passionate about protecting us and keeping us going. This is an amazing gift-- the ability to love and become attached-- that only WE possess. No sociopath in the world can garner this kind of support-- and so we need to stop neglecting those like ourselves in this world. We used to watch one another's backs in our history-- and we're going to have to get in the lifelong habit again if we're even to have a future.

Mutual admiration and affection is the most powerful force in the world-- never fail to appreciate that!

....oh, and we shouldn't let pride stand in the way of our asking for help from our supporters either. That's another mistake too many of us make.


8.  Master the system and figure out a way to make it work for you.

Every social group, every workplace, every organization, every family-- have an established method for doing things. Knowing that system is key to making sure we have knowledge we can use to get ahead and/or prevent disaster.

And again we see a page from the assholes' playbook! But its true that its easier to use what's already in place to protect ourselves or get a crucial point across than it is to rebel against what's likely to change only very slowly and painfully. The jerks of the world study up on the social systems of things in order to take advantage of it (which I can confirm from grim experience once more) and so should you.

The good news is, most organizations have policies for dealing with problems-- they have to, because problems are common and have to be dealt with lest they bring an organization to its knees. And we shouldn't just learn the overt rules, we need to study in depth the "unspoken" rules -- they're the ones liable to trip us up. For example, its generally not a good idea to go to the Human Resources department except as a last resort, because it tends to get you labeled a troublemaker and get you put on that invisible "first to go during a layoff" list!

Other things to study-- who really calls the shots. Its not always the boss. Who helps who and when and why. What gets noticed and by whom. Once we begin to figure out the ins and outs of a group, we can insert ourselve into that system and become a part of it (see #6 above.)

Its true a lot of systems are unfair and set up that way-- but if we don't know how it works, by whom, and why, we'll never make it better down the line (and we can often do more than we think at first.) Even if we see ourselves as subversive operatives we'll need to know how the system works. Becoming a secret agent, if only in our own mind, is often essential to not being blindsided by others who have knowledge of loopholes and exceptions we never knew about.


9. Stretch your way to success-- don't be afraid to try new ideas and methods.

Once we know how the system works and how to get it to work for us, then we can push the envelope a bit to make improvements. In life, this is even more true as we establish ourselves and our reputations.

Too often, we get caught up in habits --in roles we take on without thinking and fail to fully evaluate and test. Keeping ourselves adaptive and dynamic is very important. It means we can't just duck our heads down and pray for the storms to blow over though-- in that lays the path of the apath! Don't be sucked into the ennui and apathy most others fall prey to!

I'm not advocating we all go out and start a revolution. Rather, I'm stating that creativity (as threatening as it can be for many) is often our only way to "beat" an unfair system, whatever form it happens to be taking in our lives. If one strategy doesn't work, perhaps another can. This is another reason why being fully awake, aware, alert, and engaged is so important. If we're just going through the motions, we're unlikely to have the impact its gonna take to best our next encounter with a sociopath!

Finally, don't be afraid to reach for success to begin with. Again, too many make this mistake. Life is hard enough without out holding ourselves down and pretending abject mediocrity. Who does that serve besides our detractors, critics, and enemies? So why are we being so self-effacing again!?

Exactly!
tranquilityseekers: light being gifts (benevolence)
At last! The final set of posts for this series!

We know there are assholes. We know most people will choose to follow the assholes, or at least turn away when assholes play. So what are the rest of us to do? For too long, we've been struggling to get by knowing the odds are against us when it comes to assholes and their slack-jawed followers and the supposedly neutral "see-no-evil" types who still take the asshole's side by refusing to take sides.

Once again, some great advice from Phil McGraw and his book, Life Code: The New Rules For Winning In the Real World.  The listed items are his entirely, maybe a little tweaked, but explanation and commentary is mine. I had to look outside my own life experience for some clues, I admit it-- I have too often been entirely flummoxed. So I'm hoping to start with this list, see how it works, and maybe a few years from now revisit and revise if needed. I'm not sure how well this will work, but I'm willing to take it under advisement and see if it does me any good.

McGraw calls this list "the Sweet 16"-- but I'll call it...


A Good Person's Guide To A Bad Person's World

(Because we all know who has been winning right? Not us, that's for sure.)


1. Keep things “close to the vest.” Learn to cultivate a little mystery for yourself.

As we learned in a previous post, one problem in the sociopath-victim dynamic is that sociopaths and many minions are out actively looking for our vulnerabilities. Good people don't often keep a lot of secrets because we don't feel we have a lot to hide, but assholes are looking for all sorts of things to exploit. These days, its harder than ever to be discreet, but apparently well worth some effort.

You'll notice that this is taking a play directly out of the bad guy's playbook and using it for self-defense against the bad guys. This isn't just about raw facts, but about admitting to what really bothers us and where our vulnerabilities lay. Giving away too much too early makes things too easy for the bad guys to nail us later-- and not in the fun way.

Most trustworthy people are too trusting themselves, assuming that trust is a given until one proves they don't deserve it. Instead, we need to assume that ANY new person we're dealing with should not be trusted until they've proven they've earned our trust.

Read that last sentence again carefully. Mind-blowing, right!? How could we all have missed this one? But we did, didn't we?

A little mystery just means being courteous without spilling your life story after knowing someone for 2 days. Empaths LOVE to connect to people, and we LOVE to share who we are and compare notes about life with others. This is a wonderful gift that we need to offer to people further down the timeline, and probably in bits and pieces, rather than all at once. Sociopaths aren't very patient (see: Impulse control issues) and will be unlikely to hide their true character for long. We must WAIT until we know a person a little before sharing. Our more Mysterious selves are likely to be embraced over our Too Much Information selves anyway!

* THIS I should have branded backwards on my forehead so I wake up to the reminder every day when I look in the mirror!


2. Have (and reveal) a defined image of your character.

So we know we need to play it close to the chest, at least to start, and not give away our personal details quite so quickly-- but how do we fill that social gap?

One mistake most good people tend to make is that we assume, rather incorrectly, that because we give other people the benefit of the doubt and try to play fair-- that others will do the same for us. That's projection in a more positive light, basically. Unfortunately, since the majority of the human race is NOT good (or evil) we're actually leaving too much room for misinterpretation.

The solution to that is-- in a nutshell, and as squicky as it seems-- to subtly advertise what kind of a person we are. Good people who try are too modest, while assholes and sociopaths brag away. As pathetic as it seems, advertising works, and people believe what they hear repeatedly. We assume we shouldn't have to tell people that we're decent, but guess what? WRONG. This isn't just about beliefs that are subjective, its about what kind of person we are and who knows about it.

Other people besides us have had to learn to play the game of life defensively. They're looking to know who to count on and who to keep an eye on-- and if they can have a better idea of our worth as someone who is not going to cheat or bully others, we may have another potential supporter of our own. People believe a sociopath's lies because they want to believe them. Maybe its time we give them a truth they want to believe a little sooner than TOO DAMN LATE.

I think another reason its important to have a well defined 'image' of our character is for ourselves. We need to tell ourselves, and reaffirm to ourselves, that- damn it- we are honest, hard-working, fair-minded people who believe in reasonable treatment and freedom for everyone and will stand against anything that threatens that. Too often people like us are put down and told that doing the right thing is too scary, too embarrassing, and too much for us for handle. Reminding ourselves that- damn it- we're not going to be talked out of being better people is good self-affirmation for a world that doesn't tend to support us except in self-congratulatory theory.



3. Allow others to perceive your uniqueness, and refuse to undervalue yourself.

Another way to fill that social gap when it comes to being polite, discreet, and yet keeping a defined image of our character is to refuse to hide our best qualities. Personal information can stay under wraps for better times and better people, but there is no reason to hide our sense of humor, our can-do attitude, our cleverness, our sweet disposition, or our joy in life! This is all about revealing our genuine strengths by demonstration, rather than our vulnerabilities by report.

Once more we see how modesty, especially artificially sanctioned false modesty, can really do damage to our place in the world. I don't think this is about bragging about accomplishments or traits so much as it is about allowing ourselves and who we are to come forth. Don't talk about your joy-- show it. A person can brag about how wonderful they are (and sociopaths do!) but that will NEVER have the impact of showing that you actually possess those unique traits that make you a valuable and special person.

If you have a talent, enjoy it and share it with others --maybe teach some skills or find others of like-mind to collaborate with. If you have a passion, follow it. Too often, we assume that others won't appreciate what we bring to the world, or are worried that we'll make others feel bad or envious, and so we hide those very things that make us interesting and cool to know. Our quirks and passions are a part of our existence that no sociopath could ever bring to the world-- and when we share them, we give others a chance to know us better, and thwart the sociopaths just a little by default.

I know so many empathic artists, dancers, writers, musicians, chefs, interior decorators and singers who may not ply their passions professionally, but nonetheless have fabulous contributions to make through their hobbies. Modesty and shyness ensures the rest of the world misses their gifts. This is one area where pretenders and fakirs just can't cut it. I truly believe one reason we get targeted is because the assholes know that other people might well be intrigued and appreciative of what we can bring to them and the world as friends, peers, and citizens. If we share our creative, passionate, and unique selves, we've already cut into those nefarious plans before they can prevent that from happening!

We've been fooled for too long into believing that if we don't make money at it or win contests with it our passions and talents just don't matter. By undervaluing ourselves, we allow others to undervalue us. Why make it easy for them? Seize our joy in life and our unique way of being in the world, and we bring value to others and create another incentive for people to understand who we are and perhaps hesitate in undervaluing us themselves. Hiding modestly to prevent attack is exactly the opposite of what we should be doing. Bring it OUT and PROUD and attack becomes much more difficult. You may attract the attention of the envious, but you attract far more supporters who will back you. If you're already daring to be YOU, you're already ahead of those who wanted to prevent that from taking place.

* This is a piece of advice I can vouch for because I've played it both ways and for sure hiding not only didn't protect me, it curtailed my very reasons for living. Nothing feels better than being yourself completely. It may take practice and getting used to-- but its well worth the effort.


4. Learn to claim and accept praise, and acknowledge it in a gracious way.

This took a while for me to master, because I grew up in a home of ceaseless criticism. I rarely heard praise, and so never learned how to react to it. Eventually, I realized that denying another person's praise of me was cruel to both them and myself. It didn't help growing up with a con man who only and always lied when he flattered others to manipulate them. But there is a difference between flattery and praise-- a big one.

People don't go out of their way to praise others too often, so we should always pay attention. Regardless of how its given, we need to accept it graciously. If the intent was to control us, we'll know because its too effusive or not accurate or coming from a known or suspected liar. If we know our own value, we'll know when others are genuinely in admiration and we'll be able to accept a compliment properly and even enjoy it a little.

Though many of us may have been trained to undervalue ourselves (especially women) and to believe little in our own worth, shrugging off a compliment will do us no good. All it takes is a sincere thank you and a smile. Is that so hard? Okay-- maybe to start, but its a little habit well worth improving.

* Also from experience, I can say that denying others' praise means they'll eventually give up supporting you. Sincere praise is an acknowledgment that someone believes in you at least a little. Never spit on that!


5. Always keep an open and investigative mind. Seek to know rather than to assume, and deal only with the truth.

Once more we peer into the asshole playbook for tips to use for good rather than evil!

Its all about not giving away trust that should be earned. And its about not being so certain about people that we stop paying attention. Keeping an open and investigative mind means not assuming people are either good or bad, but rather quieting our projections and letting ourselves observe and take notes.

Good people tend to believe the best of others because they want to believe it. How is this better than bad people believing the worst of others because they want to? Both are totally screwed because they're putting their expectations OVER reality!

What we need to do is stop believing anything about anyone!! We rather need to start looking for, acknowledging, and dealing with the truth of what we find. No more wishing people to be better or worse than what they are and making decisions based upon either overly optimistic or pessimistic viewpoints. We need to assume we know nothing and that any given person we meet could be good, bad, or somewhere in between. Then we need to watch, listen, and evaluate. As we've seen in previous posts, sociopaths and their minions give themselves away before too long. The signs will pop up and we'll know where we stand.

* This is another one I really, REALLY need to work on. I have denied negative signs from people I WANTED to like before and always to my own detriment. One thing I learned was that my own intuition tends to be ahead of my rational mind in this. I tend to instinctively not like people who are too negative. My mistake comes when that makes me feel guilty and I talk myself out of my own bad feelings. What I should do instead is note: "Hey, I'm not liking this person. There is often a reason for that. I shall pay close attention and see where this is coming from."

An excellent example-- the ONE person at my last job I never liked, a co-worker, stumped me because I couldn't figure out why I didn't like her. She was a little lazy and self-pitying, but nothing that stood out in any way. It was years before I discovered she was basically spying on the employees for her mother, who was on the corporate board of the company! I don't know what my intuition picked up on-- but it was on the money from day one while the rest of me was scratching her head!


More to come in next 2 posts! This is running long as it is!
tranquilityseekers: ecstasy (trancendence)
The article cited: www.sott.net/article/268449-Empathic-people-are-natural-targets-for-sociopaths-protect-yourself

The next section worthy of commentary, also reproduced in full, bold emphasis mine:


"THE SOCIOPATHIC TRANSACTION

Often empaths are targeted by sociopaths because they pose the greatest threat. The empath is usually the first to detect that something is not right and express what s/he senses.

As a consequence, the empath is both the sociopath's number one foe and a source of attraction; the empath's responses and actions provide excellent entertainment for sociopaths, who use and abuse people for sport.

The world of the empath is not for the faint-hearted. In the context we are discussing, empaths often find themselves up against not only the sociopath but often a flock of apaths as well. Apaths are afforded pole position in the sociopath's intrigues.

But this prime spot comes at a price for, in what we call the "sociopathic transaction", the apath makes an unspoken Faustian pact with the sociopath, then passively or otherwise participates in the cruel sport.
"

COMMENTS: I love how this is putting responsibility square where it belongs-- upon not only the sociopathic ringleader, but also on their followers, who sell their soul in exchange for any number of selfish benefits. Anyone who has been the target of bullies knows this dynamic first hand, and it can drive us crazy. There are tons of people out there who SEEM nice, who SEEM okay-- but we've watched those types be turned into minions and it crushes trust and faith in people. Often the people we least expect to turn into a minion will shock us by doing just that. When that happens one too many times-? Its difficult to resist harsh cynicism.

I think its important to understand the WHY behind targeting-- empaths pose the greatest threat. They refuse to play along as apathetic minions, being the types to protest bullying, and they're the most likely to not only suss out the sociopath in their midst-- but to SAY SOMETHING and out the sociopath! Please note this because I think its very important.

Empaths are not targeted because they are weak, but because they are less able to be manipulated. They're targeted because they're more likely to see through the bullshit games of the sociopath. And because they're more likely to SAY something and out the sociopath and put an end to their cruel sports. Empaths are targeted because they are STRONG. They're better than the masses of minions around them. They speak out on behalf of others, even when it means putting themselves on the line.

Also-? As empaths tend to be sensitive people, they REACT. Its those pronounced reactions that sociopaths especially get off on. I lose my temper quickly and powerfully in the face of cruelty. You CANNOT get away with it in my physical presence! I've made my husband stop the car when we passed teenagers surrounding 1 guy who was obviously being bullied in full view of the public, got out and just screamed about how disgusted I was by the jerks. They were always shocked, sometimes talking back, but always broke up and left and I'd make sure the kid getting tormented had a safe way home. I've confronted people who smacked their dogs or kids in public. But I couldn't just pretend it wasn't happening, which is what it seemed most people around me were doing.

For someone like a violent sociopath, an empath's outbursts of outrage against injustice must be delectable on a whole new level...

I've learned over the years that in longer term relationships where you can't get away easily, spouting off about some injustice isn't always the best way to go about things. Sometimes you have to play things a little closer to your chest and take stock and then come up with a plan. My reactions are now much more muted with strangers for most areas. I will still lose it if I see someone abusing a child or animal or part of the earth, but I'm more likely to take down information, follow people home, and then report them to authorities nowadays rather than confront them in public-- unless there's an obvious emergency (like a kid being surrounded) that requires a witness to step in. Still, I get involved because I can't bear not to. The few times I haven't followed my conscience have always haunted me...

Its something of a revelation to me to learn that sociopaths look for kind people with a stout sense of justice to torment especially. It makes sense now, but perhaps I didn't envision it before because I assumed sociopaths aren't that perceptive or something. Big mistake!

Next part of the article to comment upon:

"SOCIOPATH-EMPATH-APATH TRIAD

The usual set-up goes like this: the empath is forced to make a stand on seeing the sociopath say or do something underhanded. The empath challenges the sociopath, who straight away throws others off the scent and shifts the blame on to the empath. The empath becomes an object of abuse when the apath corroborates the sociopath's perspective.

The situation usually ends badly for the empath and sometimes also for the apath, if their conscience returns to haunt them or they later become an object of abuse themselves. But, frustratingly, the sociopath often goes scot free.

Sociopaths rarely vary this tried-and-tested formula because it virtually guarantees them success.

Sociopaths draw in apaths by various means: flattery, bribery, disorienting them with lies. A sociopath will go to any lengths to win her game.
The best way to illustrate the interplay, and the ease with which apaths are pulled in, is by another short story.

'Steve and Robin' were microbiologists at a prestigious university, collaborating on an important vaccine trial. The department head, Ben, hoped to gain substantially; success could see his status in his field rise and prove the catalyst for a glittering career.

His colleagues worked relentlessly collecting data, then Ben drafted a paper for submission to a respected journal. He decided that the outcome didn't look tantalising, so falsified key results in order to present findings in the best light. On completing the draft, he sent the paper for comment to his colleagues. Steve replied by email that he was happy with the manuscript; he used the opportunity to suck up to his boss. But Robin was aghast, noting colossal errors. With great urgency, he rattled off an email to Ben.

Receiving no response to this or a phone call, Robin went to find Ben in person, discovering him in the cafeteria with Steve. But he was too late. Ben had poisoned Steve's mind, saying that Robin had challenged him over the accuracy of the results, due to a longstanding grudge. Ben said he had to pull Robin up about his own work several months back. Steve was different, Ben implied. He intimated Steve would be on course for promotion "especially if we get this paper out and secure funding for the next-stage trials".

By the time Ben joined them, Steve, though initially shocked, had been won over by Ben's swift flattery and insinuations

Robin crossed the cafeteria to them. "Hi, you two got a moment?" Briefly there was an awkward silence. Steve exchanged a look with Ben, who gave a slight conspiratorial smile, now that the transaction was done and the sport under way. "Yes, we were just talking about the paper. By the way, I did see your email, but if you look at the paper thoroughly, I think you'll find that everything is correct." Steve replied with a smug look that "I'm with Ben on this one". Robin was floored. "You can't be serious? You're happy for it to go off to be reviewed with all these serious errors? Our reputations will be left in ruins."

He decided to make a stand. He asked for his name to be removed as a co-author but was exasperated to learn that it was sent off to the journal anyway. More frustratingly, it was published. Meanwhile, the workplace became a source of stress for Robin as he struggled to cope with the backlash from colleagues who saw his intervention as an attempt to sabotage their work. People avoided him and, when they did talk to him, the conversation was stilted.

Eventually Robin arranged a meeting with Ben to have it out once and for all. But Ben took control of the agenda. "Robin, I have to be honest with you, many of your colleagues are unhappy about the way you handled things and some have made complaints. They don't trust you to conduct yourself professionally after you attempted to sabotage their hard work. Mercifully the reviewers saw what a fine trial we'd conducted and didn't get wind of your attempted slur.

"We can't afford to have a saboteur on the team. So I've discussed this with the dean and he agrees there is no future for you here, and there's no other way to deal with this. You've got to go." 

Any phase of this story sound familiar?
"

COMMENTS:  Um, DUH!!

I've had this dynamic pop up at work as well as in school, or in the context of family or in a social group. I bring up a concern, often confused and hoping I'm wrong about a problem, hoping its an honest mistake rather than an underhanded plan with malice aforethought. Maybe at the moment I'm mollified by a reasonable sounding excuse, but soon after that--? Suddenly I'm getting accused of being "power hungry" or "judgemental" or something, and I'll end up bewildered as to where all the personal attacks are coming from. I generally figure it out pretty quick, but it seems like never quickly enough. The minions all line up behind the BAD person in the scenario and agree collectively that I'm this villain who has secret motivations to hurt people. No one can actually accuse me of hurting anyone, because I don't hurt anyone. Yet the mere suggestion that I might seems to be rallied behind, with a "stop the devious Lucretia before its too late!" mentality and suddenly a group of people I thought of as allies or friends are no more. Often, there's a split, with some taking my side and others taking the sociopath's side.

But every time it happens, my heart is broken. Not by the sociopath who I find myself actively hating and eager to be rid of, but by their minions, who so disappointed me in being so eager to believe the worst of me, and in being such weak patsies, following the asshole or bitch rather than have faith in me-- who never did anything wrong at any point to begin with! The frustration of the repeated scenario is massive.


Final section of the article:

"THE GASLIGHTING EFFECT

In the story above, the actions of Ben and Steve have a 'gaslighting' effect on Robin. Gaslighting is a systematic attempt by one person to erode another's reality.

The syndrome gets its name from the play and films of the same name in which a murderer strives to make his wife doubt her sanity and get others to disbelieve her.

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which false information is presented in such a way as to make the target doubt his/her memory and perception. Psychologists call this "the sociopath's dance". It could involve denial or staging of strange events.

This is Machiavellian behavior of the worst kind. And anyone can become a victim of the sociopath's gaslighting moves: parent and child, in-laws, friends, groups of people including work colleagues.

Psychotherapist Christine Louise de Canonville describes different phases that the abuser leads the relationship through:
  • the idealization stage, where the sociopath shows herself in the best possible light - but this phase is an illusion, to draw her target in
  • the devaluation stage begins gradually so the target is not alert to the sociopath's transformation to being cold and unfeeling, but will begin to feel devalued at every turn; the more distressed the target becomes, the more the sociopath enjoys her power, and her abuse can become more extreme
  • the discarding stage - the target is reduced to an object to which the sociopath is indifferent, seeing the game as won; the sociopath rejects any connection, moving on to the next target.
Gaslighting does not happen all at once so, if you suspect in the early stages of a relationship that you are being gaslighted, you can protect yourself by walking away.

To learn more, including how to recover from exposure to a prolonged sociopathic transaction, buy The Empathy Trap: Understanding antisocial personalities by Dr Jane and Tim McGregor (Sheldon Press, ISBN 978-1847092762)
. "


COMMENTS:

This last bit is very, very important to know. How the game of the sociopath is played...

I know how gaslighting works, and for psychopaths its a huge part of their abuse. Women too focus on this type of psychological warfare rather than more obvious and easily outed behaviors. Also, the more sly sociopaths in professional roles and in organized social groups.

Gaslighting definitely seems easier to spot from the outside in, because though I've actually known about this dynamic for ages, I'm still too often blind-sided by it. I think things are one way, and they are-- for a while, but then SURPRISE! Actually, things have been operating at this under-the-surface level for several weeks and I never see it.

I'd like to think I'm more alert now, but my confidence has been so shaken when it comes to certain things. I don't know that I want to deal with this dynamic again. Its what's holding me back from either joining or creating a new social and/or spiritual group. Dirty politics disgusts and distresses me so much that I don't know that any social venture is worth the bother anymore! 

Maybe someday I'll feel ready to face it again. At the moment I'm not. Regardless, education is definitely worth it-- and becoming aware of this dynamic, which I've borne witness to countless times yet never seen labeled officially-- is vital in my ability to carry on and feel some sense of mastery over these issues.
tranquilityseekers: ecstasy (trancendence)
This is a continuation of my writing series on emotional self-defense for everyone. Check out previous recent entries for more!  =^)

The article (cited in last week's post, see link there) continues, bold emphasis mine to highlight discussion below:

"SEE THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES

To deal with sociopaths effectively, you first need to open your eyes. In The Emperor's New Clothes by Hans Christian Anderson, two weavers promise the emperor a new suit of clothes that is invisible to those who are stupid and unfit for their positions.

When the emperor parades before his subjects, all the adults, not wishing to be seen in a negative light, pretend they can see the clothes. The only truthful person is a child who cries "But he isn't wearing any clothes!".

You, too, need to see sociopaths as they really are. We are conditioned to keep quiet, which often means turning a blind eye to or putting up with abuse.

The boy in the tale represents those who see the problem behavior for what it is and find the courage of their convictions to make a stand. Sight becomes insight, which turns into action. Awareness is the first step in limiting the negative effects of contact with a sociopath.

INTERACTIONS OF THE SOCIOPATH

Let's look at what we term the Socio-Empath-Apath Triad, or Seat. Unremitting abuse of other people is an activity of the sociopath that stands out. To win their games, sociopaths enlist the help of hangers-on: apaths.

The Apath.

We call those who collude in the sport of the sociopath apathetic, or apaths. In this situation, it means a lack of concern or being indifferent to the targeted person.

We have highlighted the importance of seeing the problem for what it is via the tale of the Emperor's New Clothes, which represents the collective denial and double standards which are often a feature of social life. The apath in this context is someone who is willing to be blind: ie, not to see that the emperor/empress is naked.

Apaths are an integral part of the sociopath's arsenal and contribute to sociopathic abuse. Sociopaths have an uncanny knack of knowing who will assist them in bringing down the person they are targeting. It is not necessarily easy to identify an apath; in other circumstances, an apath can show ample empathy and concern for others - just not in this case. The one attribute an apath must have is a link to the target.

How apaths, who might otherwise be fair-minded people, become involved in such destructive business is not hard to understand, but it can be hard to accept. The main qualifying attribute is poor judgment resulting from lack of insight. They might be jealous of or angry at the target, and thus have something to gain from the evolving situation.

At other times, the apath might not want to see the 'bad' in someone, particularly if the sociopath is useful. Or they might choose not to see because they have enough on their plate and do not possess the wherewithal or moral courage to help the targeted person at that time. Usually, be it active or passive involvement, the apath's conscience appears to fall asleep. It is this scenario that causes people blindly to follow leaders motivated only by self-interest.

Readers might know of Yale University professor Stanley Milgram's experiments to test the human propensity to obey orders, as participants gave increasingly large electric shocks to subjects. Afterwards, he wrote an article, The Perils of Obedience: "Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process".

Apaths are often fearful people. They are the ones most likely to go with the flow, to agree that the emperor/empress is wearing new clothes. They might also fail to perceive the threat: a danger is of no importance if you deny its existence.

An apath's response to a sociopath's call to arms can then result from a state of 'learned helplessness'. Apaths behave defenselessly because they want to avoid unpleasant or harmful circumstances [including the sociopath turning on them]. Apathy is an avoidance strategy.

The Empath.

Often, the person targeted by the sociopath is an empath. Empaths are ordinary people who are highly perceptive and insightful and belong to the 40% of human beings who sense when something's not right, who respond to their gut instinct. In The Emperor's New Clothes, the empath is the boy who mentions the unmentionable: that there are no clothes.

In the 1990s, researchers suggested that there was a positive relationship between empathy and emotional intelligence. Since then, that term has been used interchangeably with emotional literacy.

What this means in practice is that empaths have the ability to understand their own emotions, to listen to other people and empathize with their emotions, to express emotions productively and to handle their emotions in such a way as to improve their personal power. People are often attracted to empaths because of their compassionate nature. A particular attribute is that they are sensitive to the emotional distress of others. Conversely, they have trouble comprehending a closed mind and lack of compassion in others. *

Very highly empathic people can find themselves helping others at the expense of their own needs, which can lead them to withdraw from the world at times. **

It is odd. Most of us enjoy watching films and reading books about heroes who refuse to go along with the crowd, which suggests there is something admirable about people who make a bold stand.

But in real life, watching someone raise their head above the parapet often makes the rest of us feel queasy. Most - the 60% majority - prefer the easy life. It was interesting to discover, when doing the research for this book, how often people see empaths in problematical terms.

Empaths use their ability to emphasize and to boost theirs and others' well being and safety. Problems arise for empaths, however, when there are apaths in the vicinity. Empaths can be brought down, distressed and forced into the position of the lone fighter by the inaction of more apathetic types round them. *** "


COMMENTS:

We are conditioned not to "rock the boat," to "mind our own business" and otherwise not get involved. However, because of this, a great deal of abuse goes on unchecked. I agree that being aware and alert, and refusing to keep silent is what is needed. That's always been my personal stance, mainly in rebellion and in protest to the way my own cries for help were ignored when I was a child and teen. I promised myself I would never be one of those  people, and I've lived up to that promise.

It gets interesting when the article explains the Sociopath-Apath-Empath Triad-- a dynamic that gets used over and over again to up the ante of abuse into a team sport.

"Apaths" are what several of my friends who commented on the article called "minions." Those types of people who were willing to be used by someone to hurt someone else. Apaths can be very hard to identify because they're not always apathetic-- just when motivated to be so. They may have something to gain from the abuse to the target, or they might be afraid of the sociopath, or benefit from their association with the sociopath-- and so they refuse to cross them. These are the people I have often called the "lazy and cowardly majority" in previous writings. They don't often set out to harm others, because they prefer to avoid punishment- but in a group they can turn vicious, feeling more powerful and righteous the more safe they feel. They also refuse to go out of their way to HELP others, except perhaps in the easiest or most self-serving ways (to look good, or "vainglory"). They tend to be quietly selfish, even if they have a warm personality in general.

Which is what makes them dangerous. When the chips are down and you need someone at your back? They CAVE. I don't want to make excuses for them. I hate cowards who seek only to keep their comforts. Flat out HATE them! I've seen and experienced too much bullshit from these jerks who let the world down because they just don't want to deal with it, or because they get off on the drama and feeling like they're on the "winning" side. I definitely see how the majority of people fall into this category, and its one reason I have developed such a cynicism towards most people. I've learned the hard way how easily people turn into minions!

I shall never be a minion. Not if I can help it!

I've come close a couple of times. Fooled, at least short-term, by sociopaths like Mona for instance, who tried to turn me against members of her family who were irritating her for one reason or another. However, I asked questions and directly spoke to the people she targeted and heard out their side of the story before choosing a side. That made all the difference. Once I realized there was a good chance Mona was lying (this was before I realized fully what a fucking cunt she was) I stopped even listening to Mona's campaigns against others. That's all it took-- asking questions!

Funny how few people actually take the tiny step of getting the OTHER SIDE'S perspective before jumping to conclusions. But like the article says, its often because there's a selfish reason behind it. They may have an issue with the targeted individual where the sociopath gets to do all the dirty work so they feel as if their hands are clean. They may enjoy a false sense of being protected by the sociopath, and refuse to confront their protector. They may just not want to deal with all the DRAMA! (That's a great excuse I've heard from one former friend, who-- in her quest to justify herself-- decided that people who get targeted must deserve it by getting off on drama. There! Problem solved! Now she can get back to concentrating on the positive! La la la!)

And I've said it before-- it does seem as if I get targeted more often than most. Some of it may be proximity in some cases, but seriously-- there is an issue with this. I've lamented and raged by turns trying to understand why, WHY!?!?!

Here now perhaps we have our answer at last:

Empaths.

Note the paragraph with the single * at the end. Empaths, according to this article, are "highly perceptive and insightful...who sense when something is not right, who respond to their gut instinct... they have the ability to understand their own emotions...to listen and empathize with others... to express their emotions productively... to handle emotions in such a way as to improve their personal power... compassionate to the distress of others... yet conversely have difficulty comprehending closed minds and lack of compassion in others." 

OH MY GODS!! Ding-ding-ding-ding!! This is so me! My writing over the years of blogging are proof enough of that (and several of my flisters would qualify as well beyond any doubt.)

** We empaths are also willing and likely to reach out to help others in distress. But we can do this to the point of burn out. Again-- witness what I did for "Rose" and how I needed a lot of alone time during and afterwards for a while. Others fear putting too much effort and energy in because of what suffering they may bring on themselves. But I think for people like me, suffering personally is nothing next to the satisfaction of helping others in genuine need. We withdraw until we're able to deal again-- but that's a small price to pay compared to the guilt and self-censure we'd undergo if we dared to turn away. When an effort to help succeeds (like getting Rose away from her abuser and supporting her during therapy) the relief is great. Not for myself, but for the person I helped. I like knowing the bad guys lost for once.

The last 3 paragraphs are among the most powerful for me in the article. We SAY we admire good people. Our heroes and stories are all about the fight of good versus evil and the greatness of those who stand up for what is right, who defend the weak, who pursue justice. Yet it turns out most people are complete hypocrites, because when it comes down to it-- they can't withstand the rigors of the Hero's or Heroine's Quest: To do the right thing. Most are too weak, too selfish, too lazy. I'm sure most like to think they're special and worthy, yet fail this real life test time and again. To me, THIS quality is the most important aspect of humanity to measure for status. I admire as above me only those who take up the Quest to do right in a compassionate manner and love other (worthy) people and the world we live in. Needless to say, its rare for me to be in awe of anyone. Dark, but true.

While an empath's motivations are to "boost the well-being and safety of both themselves AND others" -- the vast majority of apaths aren't exactly helping matters. They're too easily turned into minions who assist in bringing down the Hero or Heroine. They advise the good person, the empath, to GIVE UP, to GIVE IN, to stop being so damned DRAMATIC.

And this: " Empaths can be brought down, distressed and forced into the position of the lone fighter by the inaction of more apathetic types round them."

YES YES and I say YES again!!

Again, so much of the melodrama and bullshit I've written about and put up with over the years are exactly my extreme personal distress when yet another person reveals themselves to be an apath. When a person I thought was my friend or a family member disappoints me by insisting I relent my ideals and surrender to the sociopath who is currently circling either me or someone I care about-- I freak out. If I push others around me on any level, I push them to be Heroes and Heroines. I advocate others standing up for themselves or others to live a better life, to deny abusers their prey, to lessen the impact of dark trials in life... When I realize that yet another person has chosen "the middle path" of going along to get along, no matter the cost, I am beside myself with anguish.

Looking back, I realize one reason I became so enraged at "K," back when I asked her for short-term emergency help and she denied me, was because at that moment I realized she was not a Heroine or Empath, but an Apath. I had suspected it before, from her telling me how she told a very ill friend (who had the AIDS virus) to "stop feeling sorry for himself." She also called a couple of very interesting, deep, sensitive people I liked "too high maintenance." Yet I wanted to think I was wrong and she just had a few callous moments. When a true test came up -- she utterly failed me. There were other issues going on of course, but the breathtaking selfishness of refusing me a few hours in a safe place when I really needed it was so shocking to me I reacted very powerfully.

My own deep issues with minions or apaths--- goes very far. I have serious baggage because my mother is one of those people. Her indifference and incredible selfishness caused me so much agony over the years. Being forced to equate someone I loved so much as a friend with someone like my mother made me lose my shit. It was an accident that she read my rant right after I posted it-- I would have handled things far more diplomatically had I not "outed" my anger to her. But that moment was the official end of the friendship. I won't ally myself to apaths. They're too dangerous to keep around if you have a choice about it.

Its true I'm a stubborn idealist. But I LIKE that about myself and am unwilling to give it up despite the pressure. And I've been pressured by so many people, including my husband, to not get involved, to not embarrass myself, to not draw attention. Who cares about THAT!? Well, obviously, MOST people. But not me. Never me.

Last bit of article and commentary on it next week.
tranquilityseekers: scarf lady (wisdom)
 I have been reviewing the subject of what I need to look at and acknowledge and learn from my past in order to have a more positive future, specifically avoiding being victimized again. Forewarned is forearmed after all, yes? My recent posts review what I have discussed so far regarding the subject.

Point 1: I have been targeted especially by sociopaths and people who take tips out of the sociopathic playbook because I am a threat to some on some level. I really feel this is true because I get sabotaged and targeted a LOT more than most people seem to. Partially it may be my background or my socio-economic status puts me in the path of bad people more often. However, I think its more than that. I think I'm special to the bad people out there. They want to crush me. I did a series of posts called "What's So Right With Me?" talking about my positive qualities that may anger or frighten petty, envious people. (Which I will post here if anyone wants to read them. The point is that I have many enviable qualities that seem to invite some to want to destroy me.)

Point 2: There are truly BAD people (sociopaths) that actually get off on destroying people just for kicks. These people cannot be reformed. We can't wish them away by ignoring what they do. They exist and we all need to face that in order to prevent their schemes from causing more harm.

Point 3: Our culture's prevalent attitude of "blame the victim" benefits not just the sociopath, but also those so-called "neutral bystanders" who back the sociopath against their victims because its EASIER and they want to avoid punishment/retaliation by the sociopath and/or get rewarded or otherwise benefit from these actions in some way. For many, finding a rationalization to avoid having to get involved is a big deal. Whether for reasons of cowardice, greed, or simple ennui and sloth-- a great many people add to the problem by refusing to take responsibility for their part in evil schemes.

At last, a new book has come out that actually backs up my personal premise with plenty of studies and academically formulated hypotheses. An article based upon that book came out and a friend posted this and I was thrilled to see it.

Here is that article:
www.sott.net/article/268449-Empathic-people-are-natural-targets-for-sociopaths-protect-yourself

I want to examine this in detail before getting on to my 4th and final point--

Point 4: People who are a threat to me have certain characteristics in common. Not just sociopaths, but those who are most vulnerable to being swayed by a sociopath. I need to be able to identify assholes and minions early to either avoid them or make sure not to trust them in any way. That will be written about very soon!
tranquilityseekers: stone head (strength)
On another site I wrote a reaction to an interview I listened to, and one thing I mentioned was how the 'negative people have negative experiences and positive people have positive ones' viewpoint drove me insane. Its not ethical, but its also just plain not true. Regardless of this, there are those who will insist upon their opinion (in the face of evidence, a case of stubborn stupidity if ever I saw it) that people have the momentous power to choose which way their lives go in all areas.

I'm going to quickly preface this by saying, for those of you who don't know, that I've been actively working to pull myself up from a very abusive and neglectful homelife as a child, on top of managing and trying to alleviate chronic illness issues and poverty always licking at my heels. I'm very motivated to improve my life (and have, in countless ways) and eager to take responsibility (and therefore power) for this life.

Likewise, I have also been in the magickal communities. I was a Priestess of a Circle for 10 years. I've rubbed elbows with, gone to festivals with, had meetings 20 times a year for over 15 years, and read more books and tried more variations of spells, rituals, rites, and prayers than you can imagine. I have a very active spiritual life. SO! I'm very familiar with the ins and outs of magical theory and practice. I GET IT. I have many years of experiences and experimentation to discover what works and what the limitations are of 'the power of positive thinking' and WAY beyond that.

I say all this-- not to brag-- but to establish that I have really looked at this IDEA of controlling your experiences using whatever means you can imagine and put most of them to the test. And I've done this for years. Years. Therefore, I think I get some credit for assuming that I know what I'm talking about with this sort of thing.

Having someone comment in one of my blogs or approach me in person (say, in support groups or meetings for magickal practitioners) and declare that they KNOW for a fact that if I'm having negative experiences or bad luck that it must be my fault in some way because they're certain that I'm simply choosing incorrectly or something... blah blah... ??

Yeah, it can make me splutter a bit!!

What one comment recently said as an example:

"Actually...
You can stop having these experiences... not through religion, but through conscious understanding of what the experiences are for you (you need to know what you do not want and will not allow) and of your authority as the ultimate sovereign of your own space. There is a universal contract between you and "all that is" that exists over and other any other "contract" or "victimization" or "situation" or "powerlessness" that you feel in regards to others - no matter how frustrated you are by your relationships - in the final analysis - you have free will, and you can consciously re-write your contract, victimization, situation or powerlessness - (whatever you will allow the idea of a personal life storyline/script to be called...) and stop having these experiences and stop being on THEIR schedule. Or you can choose to have the experiences on your own terms... which can still be "Not at all!" You are sovereign in your own space. Just because you are convinced you are not, does not mean you are not."

But then I have to stop and take a moment to think. Its so easy, when you've been a victim too often throughout your life, to go into defensive mode. And that's sometimes right where a person making such an assumption wants you to be. What I need to do is get curious instead. There is usually an emotional reason why people believe what they believe. Not a logical reason-- despite what they may have fooled themselves into believing. That's part of why people look askance upon stark materialistic skeptical types-- we know they have a reason to not want paranormality to bleed into normality. They have no expertise on the the weird. No domain. No power...

So let's ask ourselves: What are the real motives behind WHY a person WANTS to believe that bad experiences and bad luck could only happen to bad people?

Its not so hard to pin down. Most people want to believe that somehow, someway, the universe makes sense. Ethically more than in any other way. We want to believe in heaven, hell, karma--  SOMETHING that proves that it actually matters if you do the right thing instead of the (more rewarding) wrong thing. We want to think there are rules. That we're protected. That things are fair somehow down the road even if they're not so fair now. Am I right? Its a very human need, and most of us have that sense about things.

But what do you do when your own personal world or even the greater world around you presents you with clear cases of injustice?

We all face this at some point. And most of us many, many times. And how we answer that question pretty much sets the stage for being one of 3 types of people: good, neutral/lazy/cowardly, or evil.

A good person (and yes I've said this before) will take it as a challenge to make the world a better place. Maybe they go after and punish the wrongdoer (we have laws and systems for this which sometimes work) or maybe they stand up for the victim. It can be thankless and it can be scary, and its amazing how many people shit on you for being a good person-- but some people do it anyway because the idea of bad things happening in their territory is just an affront and they have to address it somehow.

A bad person will look at the situation and only wish they could have been the one to have pulled it off and run away with the reward. They think of course the world sucks so get what you can while you can. Maybe they consider themselves a victim to make it okay to victimize others. Maybe they're a sociopath with no wiring or chemistry in their brains to be truly human.

But the hardest thing to face for most people who actually fall in the middle somewhere is the fact that they don't get to give themselves credit for doing things it takes actual compassion and bravery to do: stand up for what's right and offer support to those who have been hurt. To cover for this LACK of what it takes to be good, they RATIONALIZE. That's a standard defense mechanism. You basically come up with very logical sounding (and often feel-good sounding) reasons WHY you don't do the right thing. Deep inside, I think most people know they're not stepping up when they should, but if they can convince themselves that they really are then maybe they can live every day with the inner contradiction.

Why do so many mothers of incest victims do nothing to protect their own children? I've been up close and personal to this one from both sides (friends, not me-- thankfully!) and the answer is: They rationalize. Their kid was REALLY a slut and asking for it (never mind that he or she was 4!) They really need a man in the house for protection (from what? evil is there already!) They can't live on the money she could bring in (because things are more important than safety?) You see where I'm going here.

When you have a group of people saying, "Here are these good people being abused and tormented in a world where we like to believe you get what you deserve!" then you have to ask yourself how to meet this challenge.

Sometimes when we hear of some awful thing happening, we just hope that it could never happen to us-- so we start to imagine what WE would have done differently to avoid the same fate. Women do this all the time when we hear about rape cases. I don't even think most of us try to blame the rape victim, we just seek so desperately to avoid the same fate that we will grasp onto anything, "She was drinking! She was too flirtatious!" to help us think that if we had been there, we would not have been a victim. Being helpless and assaulted is not where anyone wants to be. Even in our imaginations, we try to distance ourselves from being in the position of being harmed.

Finally, providing support to victims of any crime can be exhausting. More and more of us are being brought up to believe its all about US and our comfort zones and our self esteem. Thinking about and caring about other people's issues and problems is very burdensome to selfish people who just want to feel safe, happy, and pursue their pleasures without being interrupted. Who need contradictions?

And so some very strange rationalizations creep up.

Whether its Xtians who say, "God wouldn't allow this to happen to righteous people. You're a sinner attracting demons!" or its New Agers who say that really, we all actually control and agree to everything in our lives-- ergo if it happens to you then its your fault... The victim is blamed so that the person can avoid feeling sympathy. The victim is blamed so that they can avoid facing the stark truth that they themselves are not one of the good people.

Indifference is what you get when people don't want to care. Selfish people need things to be very convenient for them, and will reject that which upsets their limited worlds too much. As a child and teen who was both abused and neglected by very human parents, my cries for help (sometimes literally) were most often just... IGNORED. People didn't often hurt me (although the bullies scented blood and perked their ears when I walked by) but very few who understood my situation would step in to help. Out of dozens I reached out to-- there were 3. 3! -- who actually attempted to help me. The rest? Couldn't be bothered.

That's why evil is allowed to flourish-- because most people turn away. I'm not saying everyone has to be a warrior or a healer. You can be an advocate. A counselor. A friend. A neighbor. Family the way family is supposed to be. That's all-- just don't make excuses for the liars, cheats, criminals, and dogs and give a damn about the devastation the bad guys leave behind.

A long time ago I made the decision that at least I wouldn't be neutral, lazy, or cowardly. If I see it-- if it steps across into my territory, I meet it. And yeah, that gets scary. But fuck it. I couldn't live with myself any other way. I'm not very good at rationalizing. I grew up with the best rationalizer I ever knew: my mother-- and I can't believe my own bullshit any more than I could believe hers or anyone else's. I learned something else too:

Smug self-righteousness is a good cover for an empty person.

And thank you, but I prefer to live my life FULLY. That means facing uncomfortable truths-- like the truth that we can't and don't have the power over the world (universe) that we'd like to or the other beings living in it. You accept that you're not under God's protection and that you're not the special exception. You face it and you deal with it like an adult.

Try it sometime. Its not so bad.
tranquilityseekers: touch goddess (invocation)
This is from comments I made in response to things said to me in my personal blog. The controversy revolves around the idea that perhaps I am too harsh in my approach. This critic told me I needed to forgive an abusive mother-in-law and love her more. I disagreed and here is what I said to explain myself:


I hear what you're saying, and I've fully considered most of what you're suggesting for years. For what its worth, I offered Mona love. I tried making room for her, speaking to her, accepting her, I was affectionate towards her. Like I said, I GENUINELY LIKED HER even with her faults and prejudices for months until her treating me like shit just made it impossible.

I totally understand where you're coming from. I do.

However, I think loving people who are hateful is a waste of time and energy that could be better spent on those who are good (or mostly good) people who deserve my time, attention and heart. Love towards hateful people does not solve all problems. In fact, it often helps perpetuate problems.

I grew up with a mother who preached LOVE to me for my alcoholic, abusive father. She's a Buddhist. I've heard this before for many decades ad nauseum.

My challenge is NOT to love those who hate me, my challenge is to love myself and other people despite being hurt for daring to love the wrong people in the first place. I agree I need to "let go" (which I call "dismissal" as opposed to "forgiveness") but loving from a distance or pretending to feel warm towards someone I detest (and it would be pretending because I totally detested Mona) is inauthentic and damaging to my heart.

My journey tells me to learn to accept anger and hurt, and then learn to move on with life. My journey tells me I don't have to embrace those who hurt me with malice aforethought. My journey has taught me to express the TRUTH of sometimes very ugly feelings, even if I know I'll get judged and lectured for admitting to going through often awkward periods processing these emotions.

I do not think loving the hateful is the right thing to do. It invites them to hurt me again (and when I have forgiven prematurely this has ALWAYS proved to be the case) and it encourages them to continue behaving badly because they don't face consequences for it.

I am allowed, as every person is, to place a limit on how people treat me and say, "NO MORE!" I am allowed to fill my garden with flowers and herbs and fruits rather than weeds and brambles.

I do love often. I do love hard. There is nothing wrong with how I love-- except sometimes I don't love myself enough to protect myself. This is why its so important for me to process these feelings I've had towards those who have maliciously attacked me, who have purposely tried to ruin my life and that of my husband. I'm allowed to be angry. I'm allowed to turn away. I'm allowed to NOT love.

Love which is OBLIGATED is not love at all, but merely the pretense of it-- and for what? To impress whom? This is why I am not Xtian because there is this martyr mentality when it comes to making mean people with power answer for their bad behavior. The pressure is on the underdog to forgive, rather on the one taking advantage of their power to behave. That's not a philosophy I can ever get behind. Yet-- oddly, I have found I am IN ACTION more charitable and tolerant of others than almost any Xtain I've ever met. Go figure.

There are many ways to be at peace. One way is to give up. Another is to give in. And still another is to take that conflict and see it through to the other side and release it. I have chosen the third option in my life. It means I don't lie about my true feelings, even if I don't look so good to others in admitting them. It means I deal with my own very real issues underlying some often strong emotions. It means that when I find peace "on the other side" of conflicts it is therefore REAL and LASTING. It has meaning and value above and beyond simply not being in conflict for the moment. The peace I seek does not come easily and it may be messy to get there, but it ends with strength, true love, and self-respect.

If it seems I take umbrage at your very thoughtful, heart-felt comments, it is because I feel you aren't understanding where I'm coming from in this. You may simply think I'm wrong, and if so-- I adamently disagree with you. For some reason, people have it in their heads that we should love the hateful, but sometimes the most loving thing we can do for EVERYONE, including ourselves, is to abandon the hateful to their fate. Its one thing to make honest mistakes, its another to purposely TRY to hurt another repeatedly. Why is that mean person worth MORE than ME, because that is what you're asking me to do here-- put a horrible person's well-being ABOVE my own.

My journey has taught me that this is not the answer. It's not.
It's NOT.

As for the rest-- she's gone, I'm relieved, I'm moving on. I had a momentary emotional reaction which is already passing. Life continues. I'll be fine. I just took a moment aside to re-examine my feelings and attitudes to see what was still pertinent and what wasn't, and I'm entirely satisfied with what I've found.

But I will not accept that I'm not a loving enough individual for daring to express these highlly improper emotions. I'm allowed to feel any way I want to feel. Its what I DO, not what I FEEL that matters. I worked out my issues with my husband and I'm okay now. I know myself well enough to know I should not go to that funeral, and I won't.

You didn't offer me a snack tray on that-- you wagged your finger at me, "Tut tut!" I found your advice to be patronizing. I know you were trying not to sound that way-- but... yeah.

I'm looking for understanding, not advice. If you wish to offer a new perspective that's okay-- but your words are not new to me. I grew up hearing them and realizing how much they contributed to hurting ME over and over and over and over and over again. Let us instead offer our hearts to people who genuinely try to do right. We all mess up sometimes, but our time and our love is valuable-- and not to be wasted upon those who would use it against us and those around them.

I think one of my biggest issues I've been trying to come to terms with is not about loving hateful people... its about dealing with my utter bitterness towards those who advocate loving hateful people. I would like to not let these sorts of people get under my skin because I know they're wrong. It may feel very self-righteous to say, "Love everyone, even the awful people." And you CAN, in THEORY, from a DISTANCE. But real love effects lives, up close and in person. And offering yourself (which is what love is) to someone who revels in smashing your heart helps no one.
tranquilityseekers: meditation girl (Default)

One problem I've had regarding being victimized or even just profoundly disappointed, repeatedly throughout my life-- is that I don't like to believe that people can be so disturbing or damaging. I want to believe the best of people. I want to offer the benefit of the doubt.

That is a problem. That is a mistake. I can see that now.

Approaching everyone with such openness and vulnerability... treating everyone I meet as if they merit my trust... is not a smart strategy. Yet I use it over and over again.

Okay-- well, I will give myself some credit for spotting certain types early on. Pushers and Players I am able to identify and treat with extreme caution right away. I can thank my father for that. Watching a con man at work (and I have!) has allowed me the educational opportunity to see through that game. Because that is what it is to them, a GAME.

Players: What we call men who are continuously making a play for sex. Womanizers. Dogs. Seduction-artists. These are the guys that believe and treat women (or men if gay) that the objects of their sexual desire are not worthy of the honor of being treated with respect. They play upon the narrative of romance and the symbols of "a successful man." They like to sweep a woman off her feet with compliments and even gifts. They make a lot of effort to look "sexy" and act suave. Whenever I see a man like this, I blanch. I'm disgusted by their blatant behavior, treating fellow human beings like toys to use and toss. And I'm embarrassed for whoever actually falls for the game. Rudeness is the answer to this problem if approached, because no other reaction will discourage them once they set their sites on you.

Women with lower self-esteem and a great need to be SEEN, to feel SPECIAL, to "FALL" in love-- are what they look for and how they get their "in." Any woman so hungry for attention she'll take almost anyone who gives it to her tends to be very open to this sort of exploitation. Also note that many domestically abusive men have strong aspects of the Player in them, as well as massive control and aggression issues. The only difference is that a Player will use for sex and move on, whereas an Abuser doesn't want to give up his toy/servant. Both see their lover as a THING, though, whose thoughts, feelings, and sovereign self-hood don't matter. Date-rapists fall under this category as well.

Pushers: What I call high pressure salesmen. Anyone who has to PUSH their idea or good for sale (like drugs, hence "pusher") knows that by itself, what they're selling is NOT worth buying. You don't need to convince anyone to trade money in for a worthy purchase or offer. Things that hold value intrinsically don't need much advertisement-- let alone a sales presentation. So whenever you get ANYONE telling you some long story that in the end means you part with your money--? Walk away. And get RUDE. Because pushers will use every strategy they have to change your mind. Your greed. Your guilt. And yes, even your need to think of yourself as a polite, civilized human being. Pushers are con men, whether they go for it personally or because another person pays them to get your money

The aspects these 2 types have in common is the use of subterfuge and CHARM to convince targets that they should give up something of value to them-- as if they (the Pusher or Player) were also in it sincerely and would be reciprocating. But they're not. They get their "mark" (what confidence men call their targeted victim) to trust them and offer what they're holding of value, be it sex or money. They are TAKERS who refuse to give. Giving, these types believe, is for suckers

Another big RED FLAG warning about these types is that they won't take no for an answer.  Whenever anyone refuses to honor and respect your "no," there is a massive problem going on right in that moment that you CANNOT afford to ignore! Someone is challenging your right to refuse, and that is actually dangerous. To your pocketbook or bank account at the least, and maybe to your safety, well-being and even your life.


Few people know this, but there is a sort of shallow camaraderie among such people. They recognize one another when they're working their marks. In bars or other social places where strangers meet, or in sales during day to day interactions. There are ways of playing marks, and there is an attitude, an aura of confidence and slick sparkle they give off that is unmistakable to any who know the game.

They like to gather together from time to time and brag about their conquests. How many women they fucked-- and to what extent.. ("This one time I got some 19 year old to actually let me shove a carrot up her twat-- man! Younger women are so goddamn easy!!"  <-- That is a verbatim quote one Prince Charming offered with great guffaws of self congratulations.) How to set up a con, different techniques that play on human vulnerabilities they've discovered, that sort of thing...

These guys don't feel guilty. They don't feel pain or angst or loss. They don't want or need therapy. As far as they're concerned, there is nothing wrong with them. They're GIFTED with a great insight. They "know" that people are just there for the taking. They aren't burdened by the same behavioral limitations the rest of us are-- and they love it! They think its funny. They derive great pleasure from their conquests, because they feel that all of life is a game of winners and losers, and they like to win. But to win, their marks have to lose. Game-- set-- match.

I grew up in a home with a man like this. My father wasn't a total sociopath, he wasn't physically cruel to animals or people for example. He could form attachments. He felt guilt (if only a limited amount of it) when he hurt someone he cared about. But he also felt that softer feelings were weaknesses that SURELY other people would exploit in him, so he beat those feelings down hard. Its like he was born normal and got sucked into the philosophy and lifestyle of a sociopath that brainwashed him.

And, as a matter of fact, that is kind of what happened to him... he started out a ballroom dance instructor. Poor, but he loved dancing, and music, and he even liked to sing bass for men's vocal groups (late 40s/early 50s). He grew up abused by his dad and neglected by his mother (gee, I wonder what that's like?) and left home with a LOT of baggage. His life of crime began when rich women paid him for sexual services beyond the dance instruction. He thought that was awesome, but it didn't happen often enough to support himself. He tried college, but was too scattered to get beyond a year-- and he drank too much. He tried the military, but couldn't take the authoritarian, regimented life-- and he drank too much.

At some point, he ended up homeless and ran into some guy playing chess in a city park somewhere in California. My father was good at chess and the guy stunned him by beating him quickly in a short handful of moves. My father lost all the money he had left to a chess shark. But instead of getting angry, he was intrigued and asked questions.

I don't remember the name of the man who took my father under his wing, but I remember the story. My father was in AWE of this guy and said he turned his life around. Basically, the Shark guy was a con artist who was bored and a braggart. He enjoyed teaching this early 20-something the ropes because he got off on having a follower. He gave my father ideas on how to seduce more older, rich women. And also how to cheat at EVERY game that people gamble money on-- like dice, cards, chess. He taught him how to cheat in Vegas until the mob chased them both out. (This was the 50s/60s when the mob still ran Vegas openly.) He even taught him how to join a multi-man con game to take one or more rich guy's money. (I saw at least 7 pyramid schemes like this growing up.)

The Shark had truisms that my father repeated to me growing up like, "Never play any game unless you can cheat." Over a span of a year or so, they hung out and my father was introduced to the world of the Confidence Man. And that's the way he lived his life forever after. He traveled the world on other people's money several times over, and even got free plane rides with con schemes (just running last minute to board a plane waving an old ticket.) The largest con they ran at the end of their time together-- he set my father up to lose all his money from a big score to the Shark, with a note that just said, "That's your final lesson, Mark"-- which is like the worst insult in the fraternity of liars, being called a 'mark.' The lesson of course, that it wasn't safe to trust anyone, even if they didn't take you the first time you trust them-- its always a set up to make the mark trust you more later for a bigger score...

My father never got caught. He only did jail time for unpaid PARKING TICKETS and in small towns for hanging out and being a stranger (its called "vagrancy", its basically bogus-- but they were right to do it because my dad was up to no good, small town people aren't savvy like city folk!) Towards the end, my father added gem smuggling to his repertoire because who suspects elderly, well-dressed men of that sort of thing? My family didn't live on that money after I was 8 or so, though, because his alcoholism led to too many mistakes to count on rent money. But he kept it up until he had a series of strokes while in Hong Kong smuggling rubies. We were poor and the asshole was smuggling rubies..! *rolls eyes* But at that point, he did it for the thrill, and the all-expenses-paid travel.

Getting back to my point, there was some real advantage in seeing the Players & Pushers "behind the scenes"-- and I'm talking about the professionals, here. Once you've heard them talk to each other, listened to them plan out a game, brag about a score, compare stupid marks to one another-- it changes the way you view anyone who reminds you of these types of people. There were some women who did it, too, by the way.

So--! I identify the obvious Players and Pushers (out for sex or money) easily and consistently, and have avoided many troubles that way. I taught my husband (who was SUCH an easy mark when we met! OMG) and now he's really good at seeing it most of the time as well. There's a vibe they give off I seem to smell, if that makes any sense. And personally, I have never been used for sex or had my money conned out of me in my entire life. And who can say that-? Like I said, I give myself some real credit for this.

My problem is that when it comes to people who have an agenda that is NOT about sex or money, I don't always see it coming. I don't see the ego issues, the power players, the copy cats and cheaters. People that are not obvious sociopaths, but who take some tips from that playbook, are the ones I need to identify more quickly... and that is what I'm going to talk about next.
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