“There is apparently some connection between dissatisfaction with oneself and a proneness to credulity. The urge to escape our real self is also an urge to escape the rational and the obvious. The refusal to see ourselves as we are develops a distaste for facts and cold logic. There is no hope for the frustrated in the actual and the possible. Salvation can come to them only from the miraculous, which seeps through a crack in the iron wall of inexorable reality. They ask to be deceived. What Stresemann said of the Germans is true of the frustrated in general: “They pray not only for their daily bread, but also for their daily illusion.” The rule seems to be that those who find no difficulty deceiving themselves are easily deceived by others. They are easily persuaded and led.” – Eric Hoffer
Sometimes as we find ourselves needing to heal from unwanted external influence and interference, we need to take a moment to reflect upon what may have made us easy prey for such undue influence and manipulation. Lay sociologist, Eric Hoffer, rightly suggests that a refusal to accept ourselves or our lives as they are, can make us vulnerable to being seduced by the deceptions of others.
This means that the foundation of healing from deception and manipulation begins with working on acceptance of self. This is not always easy, especially if we are angry at ourselves about being seduced, deceived, controlled and manipulated.
Try this simple technique derived from Gary Craig’s Emotional Freedom Technique, also known as EFT:
Probe gently around on the upper left quadrant of your chest. Note where you find a tender spot (we all have one), then rub that “sore spot” (gently and in a clockwise direction) while saying the following: “With all my problems and limitations, I love, accept and forgive myself.“ Do this for a minute or two and repeat often – every day.
By doing this technique, it is claimed, you are undoing any blockages in the energy meridian that governs self-acceptance. You are not aiming at removing the tenderness from the spot. It will remain tender.
If you notice yourself thinking negatively about what you did or didn’t do in your life, take a moment to do this gentle technique to acquire more self-acceptance and self-love. Everything else you undertake in your healing journey needs this self-acceptance to underpin it.
“. . . this revolutionary act of treating ourselves tenderly can begin to undo the aversive messages of a lifetime.”
― Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha
This book by Ellen J. Langer is not about the Buddhist take on mindfulness, but rather about a more secular perspective of getting off automatic pilot and taking the time to discover our many options and reconfigure our life using fresh perspectives.
Before Langer explains how to cultivate mindful attention, she describes the many ways that humans exhibit “mindlessness“. I am struck by how her depictions of mindlessness paint the perfect image of how cults render their rank and file into robotic, controlled clones.
Below I’ve listed some of the ways which Langer describes mindlessness and you will see how “mindlessness” definitely applies to how cult members are groomed to perceive and think.
Here are some ways that Ellen Langer describes mindless people. She says they:
1. Accept or create categories and become trapped by them
2. Are caught in automatic behaviours
3. Act from a single perspective, thus compartmentalizing their lives
4. Allow others to create context and are blinded by power of that single context
5. Believe in or act with limited resources
6. Educate themselves for the outcome their single context requires
7. Accede control to experts or higher authorities
8. Display learned helplessness
9. Co-operate with stunting of their own potential and live from a limited self
10. Are suspicious of new information
11. Are committed to one predetermined use of incoming information
12. Are caught in predetermined mindsets
13. Not used to listening to own intuition and treat it as suspect
14. Limited ability to discern or understand nuance, metaphors or analogies
15. Think in only “right/wrong” or “either/or” categories
16. Are easily primed by constant cues in their closed, controlled environment
17. Do not exercise critical thinking skills and eventually lose touch with them
18. Accept the stereotypes fed to them
19. Easily dismiss information that runs counter to their assumptions and beliefs
20. Become comfortable not moving beyond already determined categories
21. Allow their ability to think creatively to atrophy due to lack of use
22. Assume the limits of past experience should determine present experience
23. Dismiss variables that contradict what they already believe
24. Don’t think to ask questions that would shake up context or categories
25. Rarely consider being innovative with beliefs, choices or behaviours
26. Do not know how to approach life or decision-making playfully
27. Follow unproductive routines and unquestioningly follow senseless orders
28. Never question the personal or group cost of their mindlessness
29. Live in a shared, limited reality they do not question
30. As children made premature cognitive commitments to beliefs and practices
With the constant input of a single-minded perspective (in a tightly-controlled context) from a cult environment, many of Langer’s above depictions of mindlessness actually reveal how cult leaders create powerful controls over so many normally intelligent people. Again, I encourage you to read Ellen J. Langer’s book “Mindfulness” to reinforce ways that you can truly and finally break free from any lingering effects of undue influence and mind control and become mindful instead of mindless.