For those of you that do not know what the Psychopath Manifesto is, it was a paper written by Kevin Dutton that was meant to give neurotypicals a better look at how psychopaths think, and how we think might assist neurotypicals have a better more beneficial life. He also did a video discussing more tips that were not included in the article.
I am going to go through both of his lists of recommendations and attempt to elaborate on them from the perspective of an actual psychopath. We will start with the video content:
Act like you know what you're doing in every situation, and ninety-nine percent of people will leave you alone.
This opener is actually not from Dutton, but still relevant. Yes, doing this works. The issue that I have seen with neurotypicals when they try to implement this is that a lack of confidence can make this fail.
I know based on discussions with neurotypicals this is not always the easiest thing to do. Self-doubt seems to plague them, so they struggle. They don’t feel confident, therefore they don’t perform confidently. However, if you can master this, people generally will either leave you alone or look to you for answers when things go sideways. More often than not the people that you rely on to give you answers are just winging it. Sometimes they know what they are doing, but a lot of times, they don’t. They are just responding to the situation the best way that they can.
On to Kevin Dutton, and his suggestions. They will be in quotations, and my elaborations will follow each point.
“There are three very simple psychopathic principles that can make an immediate effect in our everyday lives.
The first thing is to fail fast. That sounds crazy, but a lot of people are frightened of failure, but actually, the quicker you fail the quicker you find out what is going to succeed. So, don’t take failure personally. That’s the first thing I would say.”
This is unbelievably true. Failure is something to extract information from, not dwell on. Lingering in some emotional fugue state because you failed at doing something provides you no benefit at all. It simply feeds to your lack of confidence that will prevent you from trying whatever it is you failed at again or attempting something new in the future. Failure is a teacher, so let it teach you. Failure is not an indictment on your entire being. Stop feeding it that much of your energy.
“The second thing I would say is decouple emotion from behavior. Most people think that in order to be able to do something you need to feel like doing it. Well, if that were the case, you wouldn’t even get out of bed in the morning, alright. None of us would even be here right now."
So when you’ve got something difficult to do, like you’ve got to pick up the phone and give someone bad news, don’t keep putting it off, don’t procrastinate, because actually all you’re doing is storing up the pain, aggregating the pain for later on. Next time you’ve got something to do. Stop. Think to yourself since when did I need to feel like this in order to do it? And then, just crack on and do it.”
People ask me all the time, where do I get the motivation to live from, or the motivation to do things from if there isn’t emotion behind it. I often wonder what they mean, because I see people use emotions constantly to avoid doing what needs doing, doing things that they want to instead of what they have to.
My motivation for living is that I like life, and my motivation for doing things is they either need to be done, or I want to do them. I can make myself do what needs to be done by predicting what I want to do with making sure I adhere to my responsibilities first. I don’t give myself an option. So long as what I have to do is handled, I get to do whatever I want to do. That time is mine.
For instance, I want to play video games right now. I have been replaying Red Dead Redemption 2 again, and I would like to go get Arthur into a gun battle. However, my writing takes precedence, so I am working on the article I promised Tom I would write. No worries, Tom. I expect myself to write before gaming, regardless of the topic, I would be writing anyway.
Prioritize what you have to do, do it, and then do the stuff you want to do. Which leads us to his next point:
“And the third one is, just be a little bit more self-interested. There’s nothing wrong with putting yourself first. How many times has someone asked you to do something, you looked in the diary, and it’s clear, and you said yes, and it’s two or three months hence? Only, for when it comes round to the point where you’ve got to do it, it’s always the wrong time?
Oh my God, why did I agree to do that?
Well, here’s a way of stopping that happening and putting more fun in your diary. Next time someone asks you to do something in two or three months’ time, stop and think. Would I drop what I am doing tomorrow in order to do that? Is it interesting enough for me? Is it beneficial enough for me? Are they paying me enough for it?
Because in two or three months’ time, it will be tomorrow and you’re going to have to face exactly the same problem.”
Seriously people, you need to have a little more self-interest instead of making everyone else’s requests of you more important than your own. I see people do everything for everyone else and not place any of their needs first. Stop that. You can’t give away what you do not have.
“There are three very simple psychopathic principles that will make a huge impact in both your personal and your professional life. It will make you more confident, it will make you more efficient, and it will make you more effective.”
The timestamp for that particular part is two minutes and six seconds in the video below:
Now for the Psychopathic Manifesto. This paper is really difficult to find. I know I found it once, because I have the text of it, but I have no idea where it was, and apparently, in my infinite wisdom I did not think to bookmark it.
Focus on the positive.
Practice realistic optimism by focusing on the positive in every situation. It will help you to stay motivated and find the ability to spot new opportunities all around you to learn, grow & be challenged.
This goes hand in hand with not taking failure personally, and to fail fast. If you look at a situation and see it as entirely negative that is what you are going to remember. Look for the positive, the lessons, pick those out, and discard the rest. You can use that information in the next undertaking you embark on, and you will have a better chance of having a positive experience if you aren’t mired down in self-doubt and criticism.
Have the courage to stick to your beliefs.
Commit to what you believe in and don’t let others’ opinions or “should’s” influence your behaviour (as long as your beliefs are not having a negative impact on your health & happiness, or the health & happiness of those around you).
The herd mentality is really easy to fall into from what I have observed. No one wants to be the tall grass, because they don’t want to get cut down. Following along with the group because it protects you is going to make you miserable. There is no doubt about this. It either makes you miserable, or it makes you sacrifice who you are in order to adhere to a narrative that falls apart with the slightest critical thinking skills.
I get it, it’s scary to stand out, and people telling you that you’re wrong, despite you knowing that you aren’t, that isn’t pleasant. However, it is far more unpleasant to cut out parts of yourself in order to not be ostracized. You might be thinking, “Athena, isn’t that exactly what you do with your mask?”
No, the mask is just acting, but even with the mask, I do not follow the crowd. I never have, and no one that knows me would expect me to. I am the person that they come to upset about something only to have me point out the flaws in their thinking. I mask to blend in, not become a voiceless compliant person.
Don’t take things personally.
Associate setbacks or challenges with unfortunate circumstances, not as something tied to your inability to perform. Reposition rejections as learning opportunities and as something which simply wasn’t meant to be at that point in time.
I have never understood why people look at themselves with so much negativity. It is completely outside of my understanding. Even when you are wrong about something, suck at something, do something foolish, I don’t have the wiring that makes those events a personal crisis.
I also don’t understand why people fear rejection so much. For instance, if you have a crush on someone, and don’t tell them, you will never know if they are interested. However, if you do tell them and they say no, you literally haven’t lost anything. You are in exactly the same place when you started. Sure, now you know that they aren’t interested, and that fantasy ended, but a fantasy isn’t reality, and now you can find someone else that is actually interested.
Failing is a good thing, and rejection isn’t something that needs to be taken personally. It should simply be a “no” and that’s the end of it.
Don’t overly analyse or criticise yourself.
Learn to be self-compassionate. It’s great to learn from the feedback you receive but don’t overdo it. Naturally humans already have the negativity bias which means negativity sticks longer & stronger than the positive, so really make an effort to find the good in what you do by asking, “What did go right? What did I do well?“.
This one falls in line with the one above. I can’t imagine any of these things crossing my mind. They are all strange thoughts. I make mistakes all the time, but none of them change my opinion of myself. If I see something I need to improve that just means that I have a roadmap of what I need to do next. I don’t get angry at myself for where I am. Why would I? If I crossed someone, I apologize, but I am not going to beat myself up over it. What on earth would that earn me?
Stop putting yourself on the rack and cranking it tighter. It doesn’t accomplish anything. As I mentioned above. Pick out the lessons and learn from them. The rest of it is a waste of your time and energy. Imagine what you could get done if you weren’t inside your own head, and instead were engaging in the world with the mentality of, there is nothing I can’t try, many things I can’t do, but many more that I can. All I will ever have is this lifetime to find out what all those things are.
When you find something that you cannot do it provides you the opportunity to meet people that may have a different understanding than you do, that can help you connect the dots and learn what it is that was barred from you previously. You will never know if you shut yourself up in your criticism closet.
Be fearless. Just do it.
Procrastination is one of the key drivers of being unproductive, which in turn drives frustration and other negative emotions. In the end, you’ve got to face your fears and the only way to overcome them is through action. So the quicker you adopt a fearless attitude, the quicker you’ll be able to act, and the more enjoyable your journey towards your dreams will be.
If you have a list of things that you are avoiding, stop reading this and go do them. Yes. It really is that simple. Your procrastination about acting is not a real barrier, it is a self-inflicted one that you can overcome by simply acting even when you would rather not.
I don’t know that you need to go fully psychopathic with this one, because in my mind the question of, “what’s the worst that can happen?” is usually met with, I dunno, but it looks like fun so off I go. It doesn’t matter if the worst thing that could happen is death, I simply don’t care. Maybe… don’t go quite that full bore with it, but seriously, what’s the worst that can happen? Unless you are looking at death, dismemberment, or prison, what are you waiting for? Life is out there, and it goes by quickly. Your death bed can be about a life well-lived, or a lifetime of regrets. That’s up to you.
Stay in the present.
Be mindful of where are you are and what you do. The more you are able to live in the moment, the more you will be able to cherish the positive emotions and keep hold of them for longer.
I see people paralyzed by things that happened in the past, or the terror of the uncertain future. In doing so they are ignoring what is. For me, there is no emotional coding to my memory, and there is no ability to be concerned about the future. I can make practical moves to be sure that I live well when I am older, but once those things are done there is no more thought about it.
If you are constantly thinking about the past and how it could have gone differently, how you should have made different decisions, or that you have many regrets that you wish you didn’t have, let me ask you this. If you are consumed with regrets about the past, how are you being a good steward of your present? All you are doing for yourself is constructing more regrets for future you to get all pissy about, so knock it off.
I get it, you wish the past went better. Suck it up, it didn’t. You can’t do anything about that. What you can do is live the best life right now. The past is over, the future hasn’t happened yet. Literally, all you have is this moment because nothing else is promised to you. How you use it is up to you, but be in it because it’s the only one you get.
My life philosophy is this;
The past is over, the future hasn’t happened yet, and all you have is this moment.
I think that is the meaning. It is all you have really.
Life is a fleeting thing. It will be over before you know it, and that sets a lot of people to worrying. They fear not getting where they want to get to, they worry about being a failure, they concern themselves with what other people think, and in the meantime, they miss life altogether.
If you don’t do yourself the service of enjoying life and finding meaning in that enjoyment, I’m not really sure why you are alive in the first place. If all a person does is worry about external things, and have a miserable time, what was the point?
Life’s meaning is in the breath you hold in your body right this second. The past is over, and the future is an unmet promise. All you have is now, so you might as well get on with enjoying it.
That’s the value of life.
Lost - yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever.