Rejection. Nobody enjoys being turned down or ignored – not you, not me, nobody! But what if there was a way you could simply stop caring? Perhaps you’d say only a psychopath would think that like. Well, you’re right.
In a recent Vice article, neuroscientist (and self-described psychopath) Dr James Fallon, makes his case for why being a little psychopathic can do wonders for preventing feelings of rejection from taking over.
In 2006, Dr Fallon was researching the brains of murderers and patients with psychopathy and schizophrenia, as well as those with Alzheimer’s disease (in which he happened to be a control subject). He discovered that his brain has the “imaging pattern and genetic make up of a full-blown psychopath”.
Dr Fallon rates as a ‘pro-social’ psychopath, meaning he feels empathy and can enjoy a normal social life, but he lives without the worry or hurt that drags us all down from time to time. So how does he do it? And more importantly, can you do it too?
In short, yes. As a professor and scientist, Dr Fallon says that it’s all about thinking rationally about a situation. When you want something, he says, you have to adjust your expectations.
“Everything for me is a percentage. For example if I think something’s against me at about 20:1, I’ll put in 20 different proposals or versions to make sure I get what I want. Doing that trains your expectations too. If your chances are 20:1 and you only put in one attempt, then you can’t get upset if it doesn’t work,” he says.
That makes sense; the harder you work the more chances you have to succeed. But how do you manage feelings of rejection?
When you’re turned down for a date, miss out on a job or have your text messages ignored, Dr Fallon’s advice is to reframe the way you might usually look at the situation. For example, he says, “I always ask myself ‘why did this happen?’ I never ask ‘why am I not worthy?’”
Instead of attaching your failure to attain something to your skill or identity, consider that perhaps you went for the wrong opportunity or person, or that it was just the wrong time.
In a big way, Dr Fallon is lucky to be psychopath. His brain is wired to feel no rejection, probably as a result of genetics. Furthermore, he grew up to be one of those blessed people for whom things seem to come easily: “I was a really good athlete, funny, and smart. So I was lucky in that way. Then I was just able to put those traits together and get what I wanted.”
What Dr Fallon teaches us is that it’s not just about being lucky. Sure, he has the brain circuitry of a psychopath and the personal characteristics of a demi-god. But you don’t need to have every one those if you have a positive frame of mind about yourself and a determination to succeed, despite the inevitable setbacks.
Basically, the take home lesson is to never give up and believe that you’ll have everything you want.
As Dr Fallon said, “I discovered that if I really had the will to get something, I would always get it.”
All this gets you thinking: maybe we’d all be better off as psychopaths.