Reply To: Hi – I'm a sociopath.

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I don’t think empathy is black-or-white, that either you have empathy for everyone or no one. Also, there are different reasons for lacking empathy besides sociopathy. PTSD and depression will affect a person’s ability to feel empathy – often because they cannot even feel it for themselves. It is not easy to diagnose someone as sociopathic when we all at times can manifest sociopathic traits. We can all be selfish. We can all be cruel. These things are not just characteristically sociopathic – they are within the range of all human experience for everyone. And there are times when it is necessary to act that way – for instance, to save our lives.

It is more empowering to live life from the inside out than the outside in. In other words, instead of focusing so much energy wondering what the other person’s diagnosis is, just ask yourself how you feel around that person. Do you feel happy? Diminished? Controlled? Shut down? Excited and energized? These are the best clues for whether a person is good for you or not. If they are not good for you, you can simply cut them out of our life (in sociopathic discard style) without looking back. You do not need to have empathy or compassion for someone who hurts you. But if you do (as most of us do), it’s okay to feel it but not act on it. Eventually, you can just direct your energy to other people who are healthier to be around. It’s not that you stop caring. It’s just that your time and energy goes elsewhere. It’s natural to have residual feelings for exes. But you can limit those feelings to “whenever the thought of them crosses your mind.” I still think about some of my exes from time to time with mixed feelings. There are one or two that I analyzed to death but could never figure out what they are about or why they hurt me so much. Oh well. I may give the memory a few minutes of my thoughts. But then I move on to other things.

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