Pep Talking

A friend of mine was having a really bad day at work. She called me up to vent and to get a pep talk. “You got this,” I said. “Breathe,” I said. “You are one of the most capable and intelligent people I know, and you love your job. If anyone can fix this situation, it’s you.”

I’ve always been a good pep talker. It’s second nature to me. But someone recently pointed out to me that that is not the case for everyone.

I should know that. It’s why I honed the craft in the first place.

I grew up in an emotionally barren landscape. My mother was so depressed and overwhelmed that I was often the very last thing on her mind. She was never abusive. I always had a roof (such as it was) over my head, and food in my belly. She emphasized the importance of education. But I was so starved for love and affection that I’m amazed my heart didn’t atrophy. More than anything, I just wanted to be seen.

Because of that, I spent a great deal of time inside my head in a world of my own making, where people said things to me that I desperately wanted to hear. “You’re going to be just fine.” “I’m proud of you.” “You are a loveable person.” “I have faith in you.” “You can do it!”

So now, when I see that someone is at a low point, I simply tell them what I’d most like to hear if I were to find myself in a similar situation. It’s easy.

So why doesn’t everyone do this? The world would be a much nicer place if they did. But there are a few preliminary steps that you have to take to get to that point, I suppose:

  • Being empathetic enough to realize when someone is going through a rough patch.

  • Having the confidence to know that an encouraging word from you would be helpful and appreciated.

  • Having the generosity of spirit to feel that this is an effort worth making.

  • Being capable of picking up on social cues.

  • Sincerely caring about others.

  • Having a genuine belief that people are capable of more than they give themselves credit for, and the ability to creatively articulate that at a moment’s notice.

  • Pulling your head out of your own butt long enough to see what’s going on around you.

Help raise someone up today! Can you do it? Yes! I have faith in you!

pep talk

Attack of the Lizard People

If you read anything about psychopathy or watch documentaries on the subject, you quickly learn that contrary to popular belief, most of them are not serial killers. In fact, they comprise about 1 percent of the population. They walk among us.

According to the article “Psychopaths: how can you spot one?” by Tom Chivers in The Telegraph, the common traits of a psychopath are:

“Glibness and superficial charm, grandiose sense of self-worth, pathological lying, cunning/manipulative, lack of remorse, emotional shallowness, callousness and lack of empathy, unwillingness to accept responsibility for actions, a tendency to boredom, a parasitic lifestyle, a lack of realistic long-term goals, impulsivity, irresponsibility, lack of behavioural control, behavioural problems in early life, juvenile delinquency, criminal versatility, a history of “revocation of conditional release” (ie broken parole), multiple marriages, and promiscuous sexual behaviour.”

In the past I’ve been taken in by people that have many of these traits. Just read any of my blog entries about Andy Johnson or My Friend the Psychopath and you’ll see what I mean. I have to admit that I really do tend to have a hard time accepting the fact that people can take genuine delight in ruining someone’s life, or that they can know right from wrong and yet not care. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume the best of them until they prove me wrong, and by that point it’s often too late. The damage has been done.

So to help me be a little more self-protective, I now think of psychopaths as human lizards. And they’re not just the cute little lizards you might find in your back yard sunning themselves on the garden wall. They have no emotions. They are predatory and highly focused on getting what they want.

They are the Komodo dragons of lizards. They’ll eat you if given half the chance. And most importantly, they are never going to change. Their brains are just not wired normally. Once you start looking at them through that lens, it’s much easier to avoid their manipulations.

I got to observe one of these people close up many, many, many years ago. I worked with a guy who gave me the creeps. I could never quite figure out why. I just knew I wouldn’t want to get on his bad side. Maybe it was the smug look he’d get on his face when he thought no one was watching. Like he was a fox among the chickens. Thank goodness he never focused on me. He was too busy ruining the lives of his family.

His wife had a baby boy and named it after him. Let’s call the kid John Doe Junior for the purposes of this story. Right after he was born, John Senior came home and told his wife that not only was he having an affair, but the woman was pregnant. The next day he brought home a trailer, put it in the back yard, and had the pregnant girlfriend move in. When she had the child, it was a boy. And what did he name the kid? John Doe Junior. Who does all that? A cold, unfeeling lizard who does not care who he hurts.

Psychopaths can be your friends, family members, neighbors or bosses. You could even be married to one. It’s important to be aware of how they operate so you can avoid being the person that they choose to operate on. Beware of the lizard people.

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[Image credit: thedictionaryprojectblog.com]