Wow, last week’s course with Dr Robert Hare was absolutely amazing! A huge eye-opener on how offending psychopaths are measured and dealt with in the criminal justice system – and also an insight in to the astonishing man who has given so much to so many of us. I’m planning to cover more about that in future posts…
This week I’d like to talk about another subject that came up last week. It was also spelled out loud and clear in the Fishead movie that I know many of you have seen. It’s the point that, even though it’s widely acknowledged that a psychopath cannot ‘get better’ (and therefore it stands to reason that we cannot change the way they behave) it’s also true that the vast majority of the population are inadvertently supporting these types of people as they continue inflicting damage on individuals and on society itself.
I know… that was a pretty strong statement to make. Believe me, it’s not one I make lightly.
The movie, Fishead, made a point that I found absolutely fascinating. Talking about famous psychopathic leaders, it invited us, the audience, to consider whether it is solely the psychopath who is responsible for the bad things that happen. Couldn’t it also be argued that it is the rest of us who are also in part responsible, because we are allowing the destructive behaviour to continue? Albert Einstein said, “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”
Stand Up, Speak Out
I had to agree – it made perfect sense to me. In particular, I could identify with this from my years of experience working with teams and individuals in my professional career. Too often people will choose to keep their heads down, say nothing or let things wash over them in order to keep the peace. They’ll smile and say that everything is ‘fine’… Despite the fact that they may be desperately unhappy with a situation or a person they work with! Everything is far from fine. And no, it’s neither OK nor right that people should be expected (even encouraged!) to carry on regardless. This isn’t what the human race is about! This isn’t how we’ve made so much progress! This isn’t how it’s meant to be! My job, in those instances, is to encourage people to speak out and find a way to openly and honestly address issues in a healthy way that benefits them as an individual as well as the wider team. And it works. Every time.
It was the next part, though, that really made me sit up and take notice. Because just a few moments later, the film explained what percentage of the remaining population would need to do something different in order to have an effect on the rest. Before the answer was given, I had a stab at guessing what the figure would be, and felt confident that they would say around 20 – 30%. But you know what? I was totally wrong. The film said that it would take just 5% of the population to wake up and make a stand against the unacceptable – even just the small things – to make sociopathic behaviours that much harder to stick. Just 5% of us… that’s all. Just that small amount to stand up to actions we know are wrong. To say “no” when we’re not happy. To demand a change when something goes against our values. Because when one of us starts standing up for what is right, then it encourages others to do the same. It wakes people up. It gives people permission to speak out and stop tolerating stuff that is harmful or hurtful to ourselves and to others.
“Having good morals” somebody said in the film “is contagious – just as much if not more so than bad morals!”
The thing is, though, while we block our instincts, shut down our emotions, and glide around in a pretend bubble of “everything’s fine” we are providing the perfect breeding ground for predators. They’re free to fine-tune their approach, hone their skills, and continue with their actions against humankind because we do nothing to stop them or at least ‘call them’ on what they are doing.
Behaviour Breeds Behaviour
Yes, this is a scary world. It is also a world of opportunities and magic. A world where we can make more of a difference than most of us realize. And, in my opinion, the more people who become aware of how little is necessary to make a massive difference, more will join our growing army of fighters determined to do something to stop the predators, warn others against them and help those of us who have already been hurt by them.
It doesn’t take much you know. It really doesn’t. From my own experience, I know that as I have become stronger at simple things like setting boundaries and saying no, then my perspective of the world and, therefore, my experience of the world continues to change for the better. I feel more confident, and more in control. My heart is more open and I can clearly see with love and kindness. Each day I am more joyful, and each day brings more wonderful surprises. Did anything change on the outside? Does it mean that I have managed to rid the world of people who would do me harm? No, it doesn’t. It simply means that what I am now allowing in to my world is a deliberate and conscious choice – and I no longer stand for any kind of nonsense.
Can you imagine what would happen if more of us took the conscious decision to say no to anything that wasn’t useful or pleasing in our life? Can you imagine how inspiring it would be to others? Can you imagine how wonderful things could eventually become – and how impossible it would be for sociopaths to thrive as they have been…?
My friend Rachel pointed out when I was telling her all about last week’s course “Well, we can’t keep all the psychos locked up – so we’ve got to learn how to fight against them!”
So I did some simple sums in my head. Granted we don’t know for sure, but let’s say that 1% of the free population is psychopathic. We all do know for sure that these people will all have many victims – most running in to double figures when you take in to account that they may have hurt colleagues as well as friends and family, let alone the mega-sociopath who may have hatched a scheme that defrauds hundreds or thousands! So, for argument’s sake let’s say that if each has ten victims, then at least 10% of the population has had personal experience of a psychopath – regardless of whether or not they recognize what they were dealing with. That doesn’t necessarily matter. What matters is the fact that they have been hurt. That in some way (or many ways) they have experienced the destruction that these individuals continue to wreak on us, their unsuspecting victims. The original nice guys who naturally choose trust over suspicion.
It Only Takes 5%
So, what do you think might happen if just half of those people could learn how to re-set boundaries? How to speak out? How to stand up? How to reclaim who they are? How to consciously choose a life that’s filled with happiness and positive experiences… ? We’d have the 5% that the film talked about and, as I’ve already said, it’s just as simple to copy the happy stuff – if not easier in fact! The good stuff, the positive results, can be hugely contagious. What chance would the baddies have in such a positive environment where people would no longer stand for negative behaviour? Of course I can’t prove it… but I’m pretty sure that they couldn’t survive.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again because I feel it’s important. It’s up to all of us now. We all have the power to heal and to make a difference – no matter how impossible it may seem at times. Yes, I know from experience that it isn’t easy. I also know that we are all at different stages of our journey and I also acknowledge that not everyone will be interested in reaching out any further. It doesn’t matter. Because either way, all of us here have first hand experience of “the dark side” – we know what it means and we understand the dangers. And our numbers are growing.
I believe that we are the ones who can band together and make a real difference. From where I am standing, it is our painful experiences that make us authentic, giving us the hard-earned power to understand and empathise at the deepest level. We’ve been there, seen it and got the T-shirt, and perhaps have more reason than others to make sure that we find a way to stop these people continuing to hurt us and others.
What do you reckon…?