When you think of independence, you may think of having a job, maybe a family, and having hobbies at your discretion. Throughout history humans have had dominion over other humans. This brings thoughts of the conqueror and the conquered. Believe it or not many people still think in these terms where it comes to personal relationships. These tend to be sociopaths, but it could also be a cultural attitude in some places in the world. To the empath this is a killer. The empath is likely to be the one who is conquered and owned by someone. A slave to serve the master. I am not talking specifically about race, though in modern times that is also a factor. The enlightened individual understands that people are equal and adapt their behavior to reflect it. The empath can easily get into a trap of ownership by the sociopath if they are not careful. It doesn't matter if the empath is male or female. It doesn't matter if the sociopath is male or female, the result is the same. I would like what I mean when I refer to sociopaths. There is a list of sociopath characteristics on answer.com. For the purpose of this essay, anyone who displays sociopath like behavior is considered a sociopath. Sometimes these are learned and not part of the person's real makeup. In order to counter the sociopath's trap, the empath would do good securing his/her independence. You can secure your independence by owning your time, avoid sociopaths, and/or using persuasion to control sociopaths.
Time is an important and necessary evil. We are riding on this river of time down to the future. Our personal time has to be just that, personal. Keeping a schedule is important. That is, having a time to sleep, to wake up, to go to work, to get off work, etc. Sociopaths will try to veer you off your schedule. Don't let them do it. One of the ways to value yourself is to value the schedule you set up for yourself. You must take care of yourself before you can take care of others.
If you can avoid working directly for a sociopath. Having at least one supervisor level between you and the sociopath boss is a good idea. If there someone who is handling the sociopath, that is even better. In extreme cases, you might want to find another job. Working for people who appreciate your work is the best environment. A sociopath will not appreciate anything that is outside his goals and ambitions.
If you have to be with a sociopath, you can persuade them with your ideas by stating how your idea or thought will stroke their ego. Sociopaths hate to look bad. When they become groveling messes and seemingly vulnerable, don't believe it. They only want to feed on your empathy. Keeping emotional distance and disconnection is important. Heed your intuition, it will tell you when your being manipulated.
Well, keeping your schedule, avoiding direct contact with sociopaths, and learning how to handle them are just a few ways you can keep your independence. All too often in my life I've been subject to a sociopaths ownership of me. Every time I had to break away after realizing what was happening. I have even been direct at times with them saying I was not theirs. Surprisingly that works. There are sociopaths who truly mean you no harm, and there are the predators and dangerous ones. If you suspect foul play, don't hesitate to bring out the big guns and get authorities involved. The sooner you get away or deal with a sociopath the better for all.