Do you know anyone who:
1. Is glib and superficially charming?
2. Is proud, even grandiose?
3. Is prone to boredom and in need of constant stimulation?
4. Is a pathological liar?
5. Is manipulative and deceitful?
6. Lacks in appropriate guilt or remorse?
7. Tends to have shallow emotions?
8. Lacks empathy?
9. Doesn’t mind mooching all the time?
10. Has poor self-control?
11. Lacks realistic long-term goals?
12. Is impulsive?
13. Is irresponsible?
14. Never apologizes?
If so, you may have a sociopath on your hands! Marion Trent, who was once married to a sociopath, has put together a remarkable website which discusses sociopathy in detail. Visit http://www.sociopathicstyle.com/traits/classic.htm for a complete list of traits.
One of the key components of sociopathy is a loss of empathy. Sociopaths can’t feel what other people feel. They lack that vital heart-to-heart connectability. I don’t know about you, but this makes me want to cultivate empathy. Here are some things we can all do to encourage the growth and development of this important trait:
1. Start with yourself. Increase awareness of your own emotions.
2. Use reflective listening; when someone speaks, use eye contact and repeat back to them (avoiding acting like a parrot) what you heard them say.
3. Intentionally reach out to children, the elderly, and others you might naturally ignore.
4. Choose good role models; people learn by imitation. Jesus is the top pick.
5. Follow Jesus’ advice to do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
6. Avoid exposure to violent media; constantly witnessing acts of aggression and hostility can birth the same response in us.
Most of all, ask for a new heart, “a heart of flesh,” for God promises that He will, “put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statues,” Ezekiel 36:26.