Mental Well-Being

Sher-Lock Those Thoughts: The Science Of The Mind Palace

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If that title confused you, here’s a refresher: Sherlock Holmes, the famed British detective, uses this technique to store his considerable collection of memories. Retreating into a virtual palace that exists only in his mind, he sifts through data that includes everything from chemical formulae to chicken breeds.

But is this simply a great plot device, or an actual mnemonic (mental aid) you and I could use?

Let’s take a look at the science behind the ‘mind palace’.

The Invention Of The Mind Palace

This technique is thought to have been created by Simonides, an ancient Greek poet. After fleeing a party where the building collapsed, the poet realized he could recall the identities of his fallen fellow party-goers by visualizing where they were standing before the building fell.

He later put this technique to good use, making it a popular mnemonic device for people in ancient Greece.

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How You Can Create Yours

The idea is simple.

  • You create an imaginary building in your mind. Visualize details like where the windows are placed, where room entrances are located, and how corridors are laid out.
  • The effectiveness of the mind palace lies in the attention to detail.
  • When you use this technique to memorize strands of seemingly unconnected data, use vivid imagery.

If you have to imagine a car, for example, picture it making loud noises in the (say) third floor living room. If the image you create is vivid and detailed, you’re less likely to forget it.

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How Does The Mind Palace Work?

The core on which this mnemonic device works: you perceive space as a kind of image. In 2002, scientists studied the top 10 competitors of the World Memory Championships. Out of the 10 SMs (Super Memorizers), 9 used the memory palace technique.

The study showed that their brains weren’t somehow wired differently. The MRI scans showed that the mind palace users’ brains were more active during the memorizing process.

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And that’s why it’s the secret for you and me: the mind palace doesn’t depend on superior intellectual capacity or IQ. All you need is practice; the people in the study we discussed had all been using the mind palace.

What’s more? You can use it at any stage in life. The mind palace technique has even been shown to improve memory during old age.

References:

https://www.magneticmemorymethod.com/memory-palace/

https://www.wikihow.com/Build-a-Memory-Palace

We Need To Talk About Suicide Prevention

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Thoughts of suicide are common and can happen to anyone. The person you know is still the same person they were before, they are just feeling very distressed and distracted at this point in time. They may certainly be just as scared about the unusual thoughts of suicide as you are for them. You should talk to them about it.

 

How to have the conversation?

 

You can often feel at a loss about what to do when it comes to beginning a conversation with someone who is at the brink of committing suicide.

 

With these 4 simple steps, learn how to help the person through this phase and to get help.

 

Step 1 : Identifying their concerns

 

Observe how the person is looking and feeling. What are they are saying and doing? What is it that indicates that the person may be having suicidal thoughts?

Consider these signs a chance to check in with the person to help or connect with them.

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Step 2 : Ask them

A good time to talk to the person is after you have noticed their symptoms and then express your concern. Empathize with them; tell them that others in similar situations have had thoughts of suicide. This might help them open up. Do not ask directly or they might hesitate to speak about what they are going through.

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Step 3 : Listen

Show them that you are open and willing to listen will help the person to not feel uncomfortable. Remain calm and non-judgmental. Allow them to express their worries. It can be tempting to offer solutions and deal with the problem at this point, but don’t jump to problem-solving. Listen to their concerns and show that you’re taking their experiences seriously.

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Step 4 : Help them

Be honest in telling them that you are concerned and that you are willing to support them even if it may require extra help. Show them that you care and assist them to get extra help if required.

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By starting conversations about suicide, we can all contribute to suicide prevention. Developing skills to respond we are preparing ourselves to protect someone when they are at their most vulnerable.

 

5 Mental Health Myths We Indians Need To Get Over

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Mental health is quite a divisive topic; we all tend to have different versions of what ‘being mentally healthy’ means. However, we all seem to be unified in our belief of certain topics; it also doesn’t help that the whole mental health concept is still sort of taboo in India.

This is why we’ve created this list of 5 mental health myths that need to go away.

Myth #1: ‘Mental Illness’ Is A Poor Excuse For Bad Behavior

Mentally ill people may act out in ways that seem strange to others.

Most people with mental illnesses are ashamed when they act out because of their illness. They aren’t trying to use the ‘mental illness’ plea; they simply lose control when their mental illness surfaces.

In instances like this, it’s important that we understand what they’re going through, and not judge them harshly based on their external behavior.

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Myth #2: You Can’t Recover From Mental Illness

A number of people recover from mental illnesses, through adequate care, medication and the support of loved ones.

When a mental illness is identified early on, it can be treated a little more efficiently than when it is detected at a later stage. Irrespective of the stage or progress of the illness, a number of mental illnesses can indeed be cured.

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Myth #3: Mental Health Is An Adults-Only Issue

To the contrary, mental health issues often start during childhood. This means that a number of children suffer from mental illnesses today.

The sad truth is that we don’t take mental issues in children as seriously as we should. Children younger than even 1 year old have been diagnosed with mental illnesses. We shouldn’t ignore the fact that children may be affected by mental illnesses too.

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Myth #4: Everyone Is Depressed; It’s A Part Of Becoming An Adult

No, they aren’t. And this attitude is a major reason why a number of depressed people don’t seek help. While it is true that older people face depression, this is often due to a change in their social circles and their role in life.

If you get depressed as you get older, you need help, and not a blanket statement saying “it happens to everyone.”

Myth #5: Mentally Ill People Are A Violent Threat To The Rest Of Us

This is categorically untrue. People with mental illnesses are no more violent than people who don’t suffer from such problems. In fact, people with mental illnesses have a long history of being the sufferers of violence.

This misunderstanding causes a nasty and unnecessary stigma. People with mental illnesses are often ostracized from society, even by people who mean well, because of such wrong ideas.

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If we are to make a change in mental healthcare, myths like these need to be eliminated from our collective consciousness. Only then can we make progress and help more people enjoy true mental health.

References:

https://www.thebetterindia.com/118587/mental-health-and-illness-10-myths-busted/

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/health-fitness/health-news/10-Myths-about-mental-illnesses-you-must-debunk/articleshow/55386445.cms

5 Ways To Help Your Child Cope With School Stress

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Kids going to school today take on quite a bit of responsibility: they have to worry about classwork, homework, school and government exams, mandatory activities, bullying and peer pressure.

We often overlook the stress our children go through, laughing it off in the face of the ‘real’ stress us adults experience. However, a number of kids undergo what’s called ‘school stress.’

Here are 5 ways you can help them deal with it.

Method #1: Create A Calm Stress-Free Atmosphere At Home

Often, the most stressing event in a child’s life happens at home, every day: the chaos of getting ready in the morning. When the entire household is rushed, on edge, and losing their tempers, this has an effect on your sensitive school goer.

Make sure things are a little calmer, by planning ahead. Your child’s stress levels are bound to come down!

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Method #2: Talk It Out

Address the situation if you think your child is under stress. The last thing you shouldn’t do is sweep things under the table. If your child is a little older, and doesn’t like listening to you, try to help them come up with solutions of their own.

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Method #3: Be Your Kid’s Stress-Reaction Model

Your child’s lessons in dealing with stress aren’t ones you tell them about. They learn mostly from observing you, and how you react to things that cause you stress.

Imagine you’re telling your child to deal calmly with bullies on the car ride to school. If you lose your head and start screaming because someone almost hit your car, you’re setting a bad example. What’s more, your child is likelier to react the way you just acted, and not how you just explained.

Method #4: Get Rid Of Daily Clutter

We now live in a culture where any moment you’re not busy with something is seen as a wasted moment. Catch yourself choking your child’s schedule with school, sports, fun activities, play dates and more?

Reconsider, reschedule, and make sure your child has room to breathe.

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Method #5: Make Sure They Get Enough Sleep

Children, just like adults, tend to get irritable when they don’t get enough sleep. Set a healthy bedtime through the week, and make sure the relaxation isn’t too much during weekends and holidays.

It’s a good idea to establish a 30-40 minute bedtime ritual. This will help your child get used to bedtime, and will ensure that they get enough sleep to deal with stress.

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Given the way things are for school going children today, school stress is unavoidable. Use these 5 methods to ensure that your child deals well with this.

References:

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/01/19/10-ways-to-help-your-child-handle-school-stress.html

http://www.heysigmund.com/how-to-help-your-child-cope-with-stress/

3 Mental Strength Exercises For Physical Fitness

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Imagine a soldier, carrying a heavy rucksack over hundreds of kilometers. Then picture yourself, worrying about whether you’ll be able to carry that heavy gym bag to your car after leg day.

What makes the difference between a well-built citizen and a battle-hardened soldier, and between someone who runs for fun and professional runners? What separates every wannabe bodybuilder from the competitors at bodybuilding events?

Well, the simple answer is – Mental Strength. Here are 3 exercises that will help you bridge the gap.

Exercise #1: Get Rid Of Those Headphones

Or step out of your air-conditioned, made-for-working-out gym. Do whatever it takes to get yourself out of your comfort zone.

This forces you to develop a mental toughness you might never know you had. When you take away your fist-pumping music, workout partners or co-runners who motivate you, and a gym environment, you’re left with this: it’s you vs. your thoughts which may just be telling you to give up and go home.

Bring yourself out of your comfort zone, and you have no choice but to toughen up on the inside.

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Exercise #2: Stop Sweating Over Things You Can’t Control

Stoic: (n.) A person who can endure pain or hardship without showing their feelings or complaining

Imagine going on a crowded bus ride: you get on, and are greeted by uncomfortable crowding, sweaty people, smells, loud arguments, and heavy jolts. But you stay on because of one reason: you need to get to your destination. You ignore all the other stuff that comes with the bus ride.

We need to implement an attitude like this when we work on our fitness. If you’re distracted/discouraged by every obstacle that stands in your way, physical fitness is going to be quite hard to achieve.

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Exercise #3: Learn To Visualize

Visualization is a powerful tool.

Some bodybuilders and ‘strongman’ athletes picture themselves completing a set even before they lay a powder-coated hand on the barbell. It helps them get through the grind a little easier.

With visualization, you can get creative: some athletes picture their loved ones coming to harm if they don’t complete a particular task they set for themselves. It doesn’t matter what you visualize, so long as it helps you get your task done.

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With these techniques in hand, you’ll learn to push a little harder, lift a little heavier, and run a little harder. By developing mental resilience, you can push yourself to the next (physical) level.

References:

http://www.mensfitness.com/training/build-muscle/mental-toughness-training

https://strategicathlete.com/6-exercises-improving-mental-toughness/

World Mental Health Day: 5 Facts You Need To Know

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Yesterday, the 10th of October, was World Mental Health Day.

This is a day set aside by the World Health Organization (WHO) for one reason: to raise awareness about serious mental health issues. Mental health isn’t something we should sweep under the rug and we hope that this set of facts will help spread the right kind of awareness:

Mental Health Fact #1: The Most Common Mental Health Issues

Anxiety and depression are known to be the most common mental disorders we see today. They may occur separately, or in a combination with each other.

No one is immune to mental health issues like depression and anxiety. The key to dealing with them is first to recognise that there is a problem. Only when you accept this can you think about actually dealing with it.

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Mental Health Fact #2: Student Suicides Are A Pressing Concern In India

NCRB (National Criminal Records Bureau) data shows some worrying stats, especially with regards to suicide.

A significant portion of suicides can be tied to reasons that don’t call for such extreme measures: this includes academic performance and unemployment. These can be avoided by spreading awareness at an early age, and by refraining from heaping pressure on teens and young adults.

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Mental Health Fact #3: There Still Is A Taboo Around Discussing Mental Health

Too often, we see cases where children and adults alike hide their struggles with common mental health issues like depression and anxiety. This is because of the stigma around mental illness: we tend to assume that ‘mental health issues’ means that a person is unintelligent, difficult, or incapable of making decisions.

This only leads to rejection and unnecessary isolation.

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Mental Health Fact #4: Suicides Are An International Issue

Over 8,00,000 people take their own lives each year. This, sadly, happens to be the primary reason of death for most people in the 15-29 age bracket. Alarming.

Even more alarming, though: for every adult that committed suicide, there have been 20 others who attempted it. Wherever you go in the world, suicide is a very real, very common problem. The key is in recognizing suicidal tendencies, and getting the victim treatment.

Mental Health Fact #5: Not Enough Skilled Healthcare For The Mentally Ill

There is a serious shortage of trained/qualified psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, social workers, psychologists, and counselors.

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Mental healthcare around the world desperately needs an upgrade. Initiatives like World Mental Health Day are a great way to highlight the problem, and therefore speed up the development of solutions.

Agree? Share this post to spread awareness!

References:

http://www.who.int/mental_health/world-mental-health-day/en/

http://www.hindustantimes.com/health-and-fitness/every-hour-one-student-commits-suicide-in-india/story-7UFFhSs6h1HNgrNO60FZ2O.html

Schizophrenia: 3 signs of the broken mind

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The name Schizophrenia derives from the early observation that the illness is typified by “the disconnection of the psychic functions.”
It can turn into a serious mental illness if there is stress which itself can be a major trigger. Schizophrenia affects about 1 percent of the population.The disease typically appears in adolescence or early adulthood, it claims many more years of healthy life than conditions like leukemia and HIV. Suspecting or diagnosis of you or someone you love with schizophrenia can be a painful and an emotional experience. This can be managed and the first step to it is to recognize its signs and symptoms.

Here are 3 early signs of the disorder that help you recognize the disorder:

#1 Depression and social withdrawal:

This is the preliminary sign of the disorder. This can result from a number of problems but they are a cause for concern. People often tend to become reclusive and show a general indifference to life.download (18)

#2 Flat and expressionless gaze:

This is yet another attribute of it. An individual can find it difficult to figure out what is real and what is not. Also, they tend to stare at people or objects without any expression.

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#3 Strange way of speaking:

A schizophrenic individual tends to move from one topic to another, in a nonsensical fashion. Some of them even make up their own words or sounds, rhyme instead of talking normally and even repeat words and ideas.

When out of the ordinary behaviour is bothering you or the life of your loved one, immediately seek medical attention. If schizophrenia is the cause, getting early treatment will help.

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References: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia/index.shtml

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schizophrenia

 

5 Simple Activities That Make For A Great Morning

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Waking up against your will. Brushing because you have to. Dressing up, and dragging yourself to work. Grabbing that cup of coffee you so desperately need.

Sound familiar? Because that’s the same ‘Monday blues’ tune everyone seems to be singing- regardless of the day of the week.

What if we told you that you could change your tune, so to speak? There are a couple of simple activities that make sure you start your day well! Embrace these, and you’ll slowly start looking forward to the day.

Activity 1: Making Your Bed

“But how could something as insignificant like that change my morning?”

Making your bed is definitely a small step, but here’s how it can help. It’s easy to do, and one task completed successfully. This can build momentum for more successful activities throughout the day.

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Activity 2: A Cold Shower

No, we didn’t just pick that one out at random.

Cold showers have been recommended by Ayurveda for centuries. They can boost circulation and work wonders on your skin. More importantly, they’ve been known to help with anxiety and depression as well.

Plus, they help with any painful inflammations you may have.

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Activity 3: Take A Hike!

Not feeling so good? Get a pair of shoes on, and go for a walk. It can clear your head, helping you get rid of mental clutter. Leave everything (figuratively and literally) behind, as you treat your mind to a much-deserved short break!

The physical activity releases your feel-good hormones, as do the sights, sounds and smells of an early morning.

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Activity 4: Controlled Breathing/Meditation

An activity that helps you focus, calm down, and beat depression.

Experts suggest practising deep diaphragm breathing for about twenty minutes in the morning. Aside from its mental health benefits, controlled breathing also helps your heart function well, and boosts immunity.

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Activity 5: Put A Smile On Your Face

You might feel a little silly trying to smile while looking at yourself, but embrace the absurdity of it all. There’s a good reason: smiling has been known to help make you actually happy.

Reason enough, we think.

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Practise these simple activities, and you can gear up for a brighter start to the day. With just a little bit of help, you can fight the morning blues away.

No more dreaded sleepy mornings!

References:

https://www.cheatsheet.com/health-fitness/5-things-you-should-try-to-do-every-morning.html/?a=viewall

https://medium.com/personal-growth/10-things-you-can-do-this-morning-to-heal-your-anxiety-d1e320aef4b1

Creative Anxiety is a thing: 9 Expert Quotes

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Did you know that a number of creative people tend to feel anxious very easily? That’s right. If you’re an artist/creator yourself, you’ve probably felt the weight of anxiety yourself.

There is a connection between the gifted artist and feelings of crippling anxiety.

These quotes aren’t magic pills, but they can help the unease.

Somehow, the knowledge that it’s not just you going through anxiety can help. These quotes come from renowned psychologists, authors, motivational speakers and others who know what they are talking about.

#1: On Priorities

“I promise you nothing is as chaotic as it seems. Nothing is worth your health. Nothing is worth poisoning yourself into stress, anxiety, and fear.”

Steve Maraboli, Bestselling Author and Behavioral Scientist

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#2, #3: On The Nature Of Anxiety

“Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.”

Arthur Somers Roche, Writer

“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

Corrie ten Boom, Watchmaker who helped many Jews escape Nazi Holocaust in WWII

#4: On Letting Go

“Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.”

Hermann Hesse, Poet, Novelist and Painter

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#5, #6: On Dealing With Anxiety

“Smile, breathe, and go slowly.”

Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist Monk and Peace Activist

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“Don’t try to steer the river.”

Deepak Chopra, Author, Public Speaker, Alternative Medicine Advocate

#7, #8: On The Matter Of Perspective

“Anxiety is one little tree in your forest. Step back and look at the whole forest.”

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“Let yourself be open and life will be easier. A spoon of salt in a glass of water makes the water undrinkable. A spoon of salt in a lake is almost unnoticed.”

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#9: One That Sums It All Up

“You’re not going to die. Here’s the white-hot truth: if you go bankrupt, you’ll still be okay. If you lose the gig, the lover, the house, you’ll still be okay. If you sing off-key, get beat by the competition, have your heart shattered, get fired…it’s not going to kill you. Ask anyone who’s been through it.”

Danielle Laporte, bestselling Canadian author, inspirational speaker, entrepreneur, and blogger

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We couldn’t have said it better ourselves! Someone you know might need these quotes today. Spread the message, and you might just gift someone a calmer day.

References:

https://blogs.psychcentral.com/hollywood-therapy/2015/08/best-quotes-for-anxious-highly-sensitive-creative-people/

https://blogs.psychcentral.com/creative-mind/2016/09/why-creative-people-may-have-more-anxiety/

Red Flag: The Telltale Signs Of A Sociopath

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Sociopaths characteristically dismiss the feelings of people around them.

They may be manipulative, uncontrollably egocentric, and can lie for their own benefit. Another remarkable thing about sociopaths: they’re everywhere. Some are actually CEOs, while others can be lawyers, surgeons, journalists, and even police officers.

And they’re very good at hiding it.

So how do you tell if someone around you simply has some behavior quirks, or is an actual sociopath? Watch for these signs; they should help you.

Red Flag 1: Blame You For Situations They Create

Sociopaths often tend to blame others for the problems they themselves cause. They often lie and deceive to achieve this.

They may be blame your for the harm they did to you. For instance, your boss could lie about an anomaly in yesterday’s report and accuse you, an innocent party, of lying. If someone in your life is doing something to drive you mad, and calling you crazy for it, chances are that they have sociopathic tendencies.

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Red Flag 2: The Signature ‘Sociopath Stare’

A number of sociopaths have been known to use this as an emotional weapon. They will lay a cold, intense, and blank stare on you. This is designed to manipulate you into submission.

If someone has a habit of doing this, and shows no remorse for the nervousness they cause, that’s a red flag.

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Red Flag 3: An Unchecked Ego

A delusional sense of grandeur and an inflated ego are clear signs of sociopathy.

Pay close attention if someone’s self worth is completely removed from reality. They might think they are a great singer or dancer, or really funny, when they actually aren’t. They may be narcissistic as well.

Sociopaths think they’re better than everyone around them, when reality dictates otherwise.

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Red Flag 4: A Manipulative Tendency

Sociopaths manipulate weaker people around them, often people who may work under them in a corporate setting. They stay away from equally strong people, preferring to exploit weak points in soft targets.

They have little to no empathy, and very low integrity. Sociopaths are comfortable with lying blatantly and using psychological warfare to weaken people.

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What Can You Do?

Sociopaths are superficially ‘nice’, often convincing outsiders that they actually are.

If you’re dealing with one, remain calm when they attempt to use you for ‘emotional entertainment.’ Whatever they get from you through manipulation, let them know—in a non-confrontational way—that you can’t provide it anymore.

Avoid them altogether if you can, and resist their charm. Ignore the self-doubt they will surely throw your way, trying to make you agree with their version of reality. Give up your fear of them.

And, above all, if you know someone else who’s a victim, warn them. Unobtrusively.

References:

http://www.wikihow.com/Spot-a-Sociopath

http://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/11-signs-dating-a-sociopath_n_3780417

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