In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to discuss brainwashing and control, and reveal ways to protect yourself from brainwashing.
First a quick update:
**** Take the stress test – The link between life changes and illness & injury – Major life changes contribute to stress but multiple major life changes within one year correlate with a higher risk of injury or illness. Life changes alter a person’s social roles and relationships, such as marriage, divorce, job change, serious illness, or the death of a loved one, and thus, they increase a person’s susceptibility to stress, and in turn contribute if not directly cause a host of physical, mental and emotional ailments and illnesses. The ripples of stress will often last for a year or even longer. Take the stress test here: http://patrickwanis.com/blog/stress-the-link-between-life-changes-and-illness-injury/
Now, let’s talk about ways to avoid being brainwashed.
“It’s a timeless formula for brainwashing: convince people that they are lacking something and you are the only one who has the answer” is what I told HLN television news (sister station to CNN) when being interviewed about the dangers of gurus and specifically the case of James Arthur Ray who was sentenced to 2 years in prison for the deaths of 3 people in a sweat lodge.
The formal definition of brainwashing is a forcible indoctrination to induce someone to give up basic political, social, or religious beliefs and attitudes and to accept contrasting regimented ideas.
However, brainwashing also refers to mind control or the manipulation of one’s thoughts or behavior. The result or intended result is to subvert an individual’s sense of control over their own thinking, behavior, emotions or decision making.
When we think of brainwashing, we often think of either totalitarian regimes (Nazi Germany that appeared to succeed in systematically indoctrinating prisoners of war through propaganda and torture techniques), or conversions to new religious movements and cults.
But brainwashing (mind control, indoctrination, and manipulation of thoughts and behavior) occurs every day.
“You must constantly ask yourself these questions: Who am I around? What are they doing to me? What have they got me reading? What have they got me saying? Where do they have me going? What do they have me thinking? And most important, what do they have me becoming? Then ask yourself the big question: Is that okay? Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.”
These are the words and admonition by Jim Rohn – famous motivational speaker and author. (Tony Robbins, Mark Hansen, Brian Tracy and Jack Canfield cite Rohn as one of their key inspirations.)
But Jim Rohn wasn’t referring to totalitarian regimes, extremist religions or cults.
Rohn was referring to what we expose ourselves to in our everyday life.
Notice that Rohn refers to “they” – what have “they” got me reading, saying, thinking, doing, becoming, etc. Most of us firmly like to believe that no one else controls us; we control ourselves.
That is false.
Everyone around you influences and impacts you.
Just our desire to please others, be accepted, gain their approval or not rock the boat leads us to giving up some control of ourselves and handing over our power, our self-image or our thoughts to someone else. Read my article “Saying ‘No’” – http://patrickwanis.com/blog/saying-no/ and “How to say ‘No’” http://patrickwanis.com/blog/how-to-say-no/
However, there is another way that we are brainwashed and our thoughts and beliefs are reprogrammed. And it is highly deceptive because it is not as obvious to us as deliberate attempts designed to reprogram us.
I am referring to the information we feed into our minds on a daily basis, and without conscious knowledge of it.
We have about 65,000 thoughts every day. Most of them are subconscious thoughts i.e. we are not fully aware of them.
What are you thinking in each moment and from where do those thoughts come?
In one study, college students completed a scrambled-sentence task, in which some words repeatedly mentioned the idea of aging – sentences contained words such as “wrinkled, gray, retired, old and wise.” Researchers then watched the way the students walked out of the room, and the students who had engaged in the task involving the words of aging walked out much slower than those students who did not receive the same sentences. Interestingly, the students said later that they were not consciously aware of the words and ideas about aging. Thus the message and influence occurred at a subconscious level. Read my article “Secrets to persuasion and influence” –
The same principle applies to the images, thoughts and information we feed ourselves on a daily basis via the media – television, commercials and the internet.
I teach that the primary message of all advertising is “you are not good enough, there is something wrong with you or something missing, and, you need to buy this product.” Accordingly, the more you expose yourself to advertising, the more you will begin to believe (and at a subconscious level) that there is something wrong with you and that you are not good enough; it automatically transforms into a self-perpetuating and self-destructive thought and belief i.e. brainwashing.
I also teach that nothing we do is neutral. It either gets us closer to our goal or further away from it.
The latest research reveals that the Average Xbox user is online 84 hours per month (21 hours per week) and the average time spent online now is 60 hours per month (15 hours per week) – up by half over 2006.
How would your life be different if you spent 15-21 hours per week working on your goals? That is an average of 2-3 hours you could devote on a daily basis to creating the life you really want, rather than being a victim to constant propaganda and useless information.
And that is the key point, most of the articles and sites that people surf and read online are generally useless information, or worse, they are reprogramming you.
Unknowingly, we become glued or transfixed to videos, images and articles of violence, crime, war, rape, murder, abuse and other events and stories which seed us with negative beliefs, images and expectations of life.
We are not immune to those images or thoughts.
When I lived in The Gambia, West Africa, I never met one person who had an eating disorder; I never met one person who criticized him or herself for her body. I never met one person who was concerned about her wrinkles or chest size. In other words, even our body-image disorders come from our exposure to society’s beliefs and expectations.
Your external world affects and infects your internal world.
Unless you consciously control your external world (what you see, read and hear, as well as the types of people you hang out with), it will control and brainwash you.
For more on the dangers of gurus, watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvMyoFLdQQ0 or listen to the interview where I reveal the techniques used by cults and gurus for persuasion, mind control and brainwashing: http://patrickwanis.com/RadioInterviews.asp#guruscultbrainwashing
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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”
Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist