“Our culture somehow reveres and celebrates (ruthless thinking). It’s like ‘it doesn’t matter how you win the game as long as you win’. That kind of thinking is becoming more and more normative. And people with this pattern of antisocial personality – psychopathy, sociopathy etc.- they’re advantaged in that situation.
Which means that there’s less empathy at the top, there’s less value on things that make us human and connected and have each other’s backs, and its just sort of every man/woman for themself, rather than a sense of community. I as a psychologist have a problem with that”
Dr Ramani Durvasula
We have emphasized on this site many times the top tips on spotting toxic personality types, and the cast iron rule of getting away from these predators as quickly as possible in a work or personal setting. Those that do this will avoid or greatly minimize the suffering and damage they can cause.
However, in the process of getting rid of one person and taking a deeper look at our lives, we often find that our whole life and mindset has been infested with negativity from being around negative and toxic people. We may also even find that we have taken on some psychopathic traits ourselves from being around them so much in a work or personal setting.
We have also covered how large areas of Western society and culture have been psychopathized through the blind acceptance of ruthless and psychopathic tenets and modes of thinking, and through cultural and media influences. Here are some basic examples of this:
- “Nothing personal, just business”. The separation of identity into work and personal to justify the poor treatment of others. See our article on this.
- “Doesn’t matter how you win the game, as long as you win”
- “Do what you gotta do to get to the top”
- The glorifiying of psychopaths in films and popular culture.
- The glorifying of psychopathic traits, where the poor treatment of others is somehow glamorized and even seen as humorous.
- The glorifying and putting up on a pedestal of people who have got to success by ruthless means, trampling over and mistreating others.
- The glorifying of ego filled and materialistic celebrities, who have no substance or depth of character at all.
- The deletion of empathy through violent video games and films especially, where the death and killing of others is just seen as normal and meaningless.
So how do we go about more clearing out our entire life of psychopathic people and influences? We may really want to be thorough about it and get rid of all toxic and inauthentic influences from our lives. “If I’m going to sort one major thing out, I might as well sort everything else out while I’m at it”, some of us may think.
This article is designed to provide some broader resources and options to look for to identify and eliminate all psychopathic influences from our lives, not just one person we may have got tangled up in. We offer a broader scope to really root out pernicious influences in all areas of life to make for a better and more holistic way of living.
In general we are looking to actively seek out certain kinds of people, occupations, traits, influences, and remove others. Here is a quick summary:
Seek out – People with positive human traits, positive occuptions and employers, authentic relationships. Positive traits like empathy, integrity, decency, kindness.
Avoid – Toxic and inauthentic people, occupations, companies, relationships, cultural influences. Negative traits like manipulativeness, ruthlessness, dishonesty, coldness etc.
Let’s look at some different areas of life we can work on in turn.
Avoid & Escape Psychopathic Companies and Occupations
This is one of the most crucial areas of our life which can be susceptible to toxic influences. Being stuck in a psychopathic company or line of work can be truly soul destroying, but we all need to earn money to survive. Earning money to pay the bills in a way which also keeps us fulfilled and satisfied is one of the biggest challenges in modern life.
At the very least, though, we need to avoid and get out of companies which are psychopathic in terms of their culture and workforce. Here are some red flags that you are working for a toxic company:
- Purely commerical, soulless and exploitative lines of work, with no vocational or charitable aspects whatsoever, and where people are treated poorly. Lines of work which require a suspension of morality to conduct them with enthusiasm.
- Lines of work with high staff turnover and poor worker morale.
- A high concentration of psychopathic, narcissistic and other toxic and insincere characters in positions of power in the company.
- Strong culture of backstabbing, two facedness, throwing each other under the bus. Relentless politics and drama.
- You observe poor treatment of workers by middle and upper management in general. Even if you are not the target yet, you will be sooner or later.
- A prevalence of the “nothing personal, just business” mindset being used to justify and rationalize away the poor treatment of others.
- Related to this, an amoral approach where blatantly toxic and manipulative people are tolerated and allowed to fester, under the excuse they “do a good job” for the business, or bring in a lot of money.
- Rampant hyprocrisy and double standards, where these “in” people are allowed to get away with whatever they want, whereas others are ruthlessly punished.
- See our article on psychopathic companies for more signs to look out for.
Any of these scenarios, or anything else where you get that sense of “hey, something isn’t right here”, needs to be acted upon and not ignored, and we need to find another company or another line of work altogether.
A crucial mistake some of us make is to spot these red flags, but we ignore them because it isn’t us who is suffering or being treated poorly. Then later on down the line, when we are the ones who are being mistreated by management or who have been set up by the psychopath’s scheming, we are angry with ourselves for not doing something earlier.
This is why it is very important to not overlook and rationalize away clear signs of a toxic culture or toxic people in our midst in the workplace. We need to pay attention to, but also act on, the warning signs, document everything we see as suspicious or inappropriate, and seek a better environment once it becomes clear that toxic troublemakers are not going to be properly dealt with.
Check For The Authenticity of Your Relationships
“You’ll become the average of the 5 people you are around the most”
This is another huge factor we need to address if we have sunk to a place where we are really not living authentically and following a true mission or purpose. We may find on deeper inspection that we don’t have just one, but quite a few toxic or inauthentic people in our lives that need to be let go.
One crucial and defining characteristic of relationships we need to test for in getting rid of toxic people is to check whether someone values us as a person, or only the feelings, experiences and stimulation they get when they are around us.
Do they value you for your virtues, integrity and kindness, or do they only value the “buzz” and excitement they get when they are in your presence? There is a huge, huge difference here, and testing for it will right away help you root out toxic personalities like psychopaths, sociopaths, narcissists and borderlines, since it is a defining feature of them.
If the person values you, then there will be a healthy “back and forward” and openness. They will stick around and help you out when things are on a downer. If they only value the feelings they get when they are around you, they will be gone in a flash whenever the fun times stop, or will drop you cold if you ever dare question or challenge them about their self absorption or treatment of others.
Therefore it is important to test why people are in your life if you have any doubts about them. What are they in a relationship or friendship with you for? Are they in it because they value and care for you as a person, or are they in it only for self serving needs?
Here are some ways to test for this:
- Does this person only seem to be kind, warm or receptive towards you in certain scenarios eg. making them laugh, giving them sex, paying their bills, entertaining them? How are they towards you when these things are absent?
- Does this person really “have your back”? Will they help you out in times of need. Do they ever do generous things for you without asking for anything in return?
- Does this person support you and offer kindness and sympathy when you are suffering or going through a bad time? Or are they gone as soon as the fun times stop?
- Conversely, think about who did stick around during the bad times. Who was there to help you out when difficult things happened?
- Look out for people who “flip” suddenly whenever you burst this bubble of “OK-ness” or “fun times”
- Also look for sudden flips if they are even confronted on something they did wrong, or on obvious signs of selfishness. Toxic characters don’t do open discussion when you burst their bubble; they just turn toxic and nasty.
- See our full article on what psychopaths value in a relationship for more on this.
“If for whatever reason you are met with some legitimate suffering in your life, something in your family, or something is bringing you down…..you will definitely not be met with any sense of care or support from a psychopathic character.
In fact you’ll be met with the sound of bags being packed and taxis pulling up outside and ‘adios amigo’……..They don’t value you; they value the feelings that are awakened in them when they are in your presence…….You’ll find they’ll be gone from your life faster than the Roadrunner, the moment (these positive feelings they are getting off you) starts to head south.”
Unslaved Podcast – see here.
In summary we are looking to value people who value us.
Create a Vocational, Authentic Life
“So many people feel they don’t have the right to (living an optimal life). It doesn’t have to be anything grandiose. It could just simply be living life in a serene way, in a peaceful way. You don’t have to follow anyone else’s formula….
Unfortunately when people get into these kind of toxic relationships, it’s often because they’re not living authentically. They’re not living honoring their inner voices. Because I think then at those times people would give themselves permission to walk away.”
There is a huge differences between living life to an authentic mission, vocation or purpose, and being stuck solely in cycles of work and play, or else living life solely for power and control over others as the psychopath does.
We may have slipped into one of the latter two types, or be stuck around too many people who embody this mindset, and find we need to reshape our lives so we are living more authentically, in a way which truly helps and makes a difference in the lives of others, or just embodies more positive traits.
This may mean finding another occupation if we are stuck in a soulless, dead end, toxic work environment as we mentioned above, and finding a more authentic way of making a living which is in touch with a passion or purpose we actually want to get behind, as opposed to working in an exploitative or amoral industry so someone else can get rich.
This may be the motivation many of us need to try working for ourselves, or we may simply seek out a more vocational line of work if the occupation we are in at the moment is too commercial and filled with drama and politics.
It may not even be that much to begin with for some of us, and just simply involve surrounding yourself with a small circle of genuine, empathic, authentic people who are supportive of your growth. It may simply be building a quality of life which means living calmly and without stress, politics or drama.
However it looks for each person, the aim here is to simply live more in a way which is embracing and enhancing positive traits and people, like empathy, vocation and compassion, and reducing or eliminating negative traits like manipulativeness, politics, ego, and poor treatment of others.
Make Amends With Anyone We Have Mistreated
Another important part of this process for some of us is reconnecting with and making amends with any people we may have mistreated in our life. Our mistreatment may not have been on the level of a psychopath – never expect one of them to feel guilty or apologize – but any flawed but normal person will realize when they have treated someone badly. It will stay inside of us and we will feel the need to make amends.
This could be a number of different things. Here are some examples:
- We lied to someone about something repeatedly, or in a way that had bad consequences for them.
- We bullied others, out of envy or because we had ourselves been bullied and were passing on the hurt.
- We stood by when someone was being bullied or victimized and did nothing to stop it. Or we joined in with bullying instead of standing up against it.
- You were suffering in life for whatever reason but took your frustrations and anger out on someone else, projecting all your hurt onto them.
- Nasty breakups and fallouts where you now accept some ownership and blame that you didn’t at the time.
- A scenario where you allowed a psychopath or other toxic person to manipulate and play you off against someone by telling lies. You now realize what was going on and want to apologize to the person.
- We may have treated others badly in a work scenario as a manager, rationalizing it away as “just business”, but we now realize that doesn’t cut it and want to make amends.
- Any other scenario where you feel bad about the way you treated a person, or about something you did or didn’t do, and want to make amends.
In these cases, seek out these people we have wronged in the past and apologize to them for things you did or said which you felt were unacceptable. You may have treated someone poorly in the past – maybe you were projecting hurt onto others after a toxic relationship.
Whatever the context, it is good to do what a psychopath will never do and admit you made a mistake and apologize to the relevant people.
There is no guarantee of the reaction you will get – some people will welcome and accept the apology; with more serious transgressions the person may still not forgive us tell us to get lost. Others may not even know what you are talking about because they let go of and forgot about the incident years ago! If we are genuine in the gesture, we have to accept their reaction, whatever it is.
In general, we are getting ourselves back on the wavelength of treating ourselves but also others kindly, and moving away from all these rationalized forms of treating others poorly or not empathizing that have seeped into so many areas of modern Western life and work. We are re-internalizing the belief that the way we treat others matters in all walks of life.
Developing Self Care
In summary, in this whole process you are looking to add positive influences to your life and remove negative influences, and you can extend this to all areas of your life, including your physical as well as mental health.
This is where good self care can come in. In other words, don’t just seek out others who treat you well; also treat yourself kindly psychologically and physically. Here are some obvious ways you can do this:
- Exercise regularly
- Eat well
- Get proper rest and sleep
- Undertake regular mindfulness meditation, especially if recovering from toxic relationships
- Other holistic practices like yoga, reiki and massage can also be useful.
- Develop or rekindle a proper relationship with nature, animals and the environment if this helps you feel more peaceful inside.
In summary, to de-psychopathize your life, you are looking to engage with yourself, others and the world in a way which (re)embraces positive, evolved human qualities like empathy, vocation and generosity, and rejects negative qualities like excessive ego, power games, poor treatment of others, dishonesty and manipulation.