Today, July 4th, is Independence Day in the United States of America. On this day 235 years ago, the country’s forefathers declared independence from the tyranny of a distant king. Today, let us all declare independence from the tyranny of sociopaths.
Declaring independence, of course, is only the beginning of the struggle. In 1776, the tyrant did not want to lose a prized possession—the Colonies—and retaliated by sending an army. The Colonists who believed in independence had no choice but to fight, even though most had little experience—they were farmers, tradesmen and laborers. But they learned how to fight. It took five years, many battles and many hardships, but in the end, the United States of America emerged victorious.
What can we learn from those Colonists that we can use in our own battles? The early Americans believed in themselves, believed in their cause, and did not give up. Oh, they suffered defeats, but they retreated, regrouped, and fought again. They learned from their mistakes, found allies and kept going.
If you’re doing battle with a sociopath—and make no mistake, any interaction is a battle—here are some strategies that will help you:
1. Know your enemy. Be brutally honest in evaluating the sociopath in your life. Remember: The sociopath never loved you. All you ever were to him or her was a source of supply. Once you get over the shock of their soullessness, you’ll begin to see the patterns of their actions. This will enable you to predict what they will do, and plan accordingly.
2. Never underestimate the sociopath. Do not anticipate that the sociopath will act as you, a person capable of love and empathy, would act. The sociopath has no concern for your emotions, your feelings and your welfare. Without empathy or a conscience, the sociopath is capable of doing anything, even the unthinkable, to get what he or she wants, which is to win.
3. Conserve your own resources. You can’t fight if you are sick or injured, so do your best to take care of yourself. Eat right; avoid drugs and alcohol; get enough rest. If you are suffering from anxiety or depression, a good way to relieve them is through exercise. Be gentle with yourself as you recover from trauma.
4. Plan strategically. Figure out what you really want and need, and figure out a way to get them. Never let the sociopath know your plans. If you are living with the person and need to escape, prepare a getaway bag and leave when he or she is not around. If you are going to court, keep careful records and document everything that happens. Keep in mind that you may need to use subterfuge and diversion to execute your plans.
5. Pick your battles. Determine what is really important to you, and what you can let go of. Your life and health are important; you may need to give up on recovering your money, saving your reputation or seeing justice done—at least for the time being. Only take on the battles that are vitally important at the moment.
6. Use overwhelming force. If you do have an opportunity to serve justice, go after the sociopath with everything you’ve got. Do not play nice; do not hold back. The harder you hit, the more likely your chances of success.
7. Seek peace. Remember, the only life you absolutely, positively can influence is your own. Your ultimate objective should be your peace of mind and peace of heart. Achieving it may mean letting go of material goods, people and past traumas. You may need to redefine yourself and how you relate to the world. If you can get to a place of tranquility, you are victorious.