“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” - Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda of Nazi Germany
What do you think about when you hear the term mind-control?
Perhaps some scenes from science-fiction movies may flash into your mind, and you may not consider it having any relevance in your daily life.
But what if you have been mind-controlled since the time you were just a child? Starting from your parents, school, media, society, religion and advertisements ...
As founder of Mindvalley, Vishen Lakhiani puts it
“Long before we could develop them on our own, the majority of our opinions and beliefs were implanted in us by our family, culture and the media without our knowledge or consent”.
A milder and more innocent way to refer to this process is social conditioning or programming. But what happens essentially is nevertheless a form of mind control.
Everything starting from what you should think, who you should be, what you should do, what you should believe are all told to us by others.
During our most impressionable years, the message that’s conveyed is to blindly conform and imitate what everyone else is doing without asking any questions.
To quote Lakhiani again,
“Get a good GPA (grade) so you can get into a good college, so you can get a good job, so you can make lots of money, so you can afford a nice house, car, etc, so you’ll have money saved to do all the stuff you really want to do after you retire”.
However, this one size fits all solution propagated by society is terrible advice and isn’t suitable for everyone.
Because irrespective of how much society tries to make us like everyone else, the truth is we are all unique individuals with different inclinations, talents and desires.
Society’s standardised message is comparable to providing a size eight shoe for everyone in the world and expecting them to fit into it.
While it may fit perfectly for a small part of the population, it would prove to be terrible for most people, and some wouldn’t even want the shoe in the first place.
This conditioning from society goes on throughout our whole lives and is shaped by our,
Movies & TV Shows
Culture & Tradition
Some of this conditioning can be completely harmless and even useful. But the problem is much of what society passes on as truth and facts tend to be false and limiting beliefs which inhibit our growth rather than promote it.
You must understand society doesn’t care about what you want. It only seeks to make you like everyone else.
And that is why it’s extremely important to learn to tune out the noise of society. But how can you begin to do that? Here are a few steps you can take to reduce or eliminate its negative impact.
Awareness and Acceptance
“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
We can assume that social conditioning doesn’t affect us in any way, but we would be only fooling ourselves, since all of us are influenced by the society we live in, albeit to varying degrees.
Therefore when it comes to letting go of limiting conditioning it is first important to be aware and accept that fact our mind can be susceptible to influence from others.
Apart from having plenty of other benefits, having a daily meditation practice can be one of the best ways to let go of negative conditioning.
Meditation puts us more in touch with our inner mental dialogue and brings to light many limiting subconscious tendencies and behaviours that we have picked up as a result of social conditioning. It will also help you to become conscious and live your life less on auto-pilot.
Also Read : Easy Ways By Which Anyone Can Mediate
Listen to your heart and intuition
Our mind can be muddled with society’s fearful conditioning.
But there is however a gift all of us have access to which is free of any conditioning and magically knows what's right for us — our intuition or sixth sense.
As Steve Jobs rightly said, “Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become."
Also Read : How To Use Your Sixth Sense ?
Slow down and spend time by yourself
If we are rushing through life and always intent on always keeping ourselves occupied, we are going to have little time to think and reflect on our lives.
Take time daily to spend some time by yourself where you set aside your electronic devices and are free of any external stimulation.
This will give your mind the freedom to relax, turn inward to sort your priorities and shed clarity on what you want rather than become caught in the trap of subconsciously following what society expects of you.
Be selective about the content you consume
“The American motion picture (Hollywood) is the greatest unconscious carrier of propaganda in the world today. It is a great distributor for ideas and opinions. The motion picture can standardize the ideas and habits of a nation." - Edward Bernays, Pioneer in the field of propaganda
It would be naïve to assume what we watch, read or hear has no influence on shaping our thoughts, beliefs and behaviours.
Studies have shown that watching TV shows and movies put you in an altered state of consciousness similar to that of hypnosis.
In this state, your logical reasoning is suspended to a large degree, and your subconscious mind is highly impressionable. Due to the hypnotic-like trance we enter into while watching movies and TV shows, they have a tremendous ability to shape the way we think and the beliefs we hold.
Become aware of how you spend your time consuming content and slowly let go of exposing yourself to content which is not serving you beneficially.
Also Read : Is Your Mental Diet Helping You or Limiting You?
Think for yourself and ask questions
“A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth. Authoritarian institutions and marketers have always known this fact.” Daniel Kahneman
We, humans, are a species gifted with the ability to think and reason, but ironically we are also a species that is too lazy to think.
Most of us prefer somebody else to tell us what to do or go along and follow what the majority does (whether it makes logical sense or not). The following story illustrates this point perfectly,
A newly wed husband noticed that every time his wife cooked a pot roast she would first cut an inch off either end before putting it in the oven. When he asked why, she said “Because that’s how you are supposed to cook pot roast.” Unsatisfied with her answer he pushed until she admitted that she had learnt it from her mother.
Waiting until a visit with his wife’s mother, the husband “Your daughter tells me you taught her to cook pot roast by first cutting an inch off each end?” To which the mother replied, “well of course, that’s how pot roast is cooked.” But the husband was not to be deterred, and after pressing his mother-in-law on the subject she finally admitted that she’d learnt it from her mother.
This meant the husband had to ask the wife’s grandmother. When he finally got his chance he asked: “Your daughter told me you taught her to cut an inch off each end of a pot roast before cooking. She swore it was a requirement, but I’m dying to know why? Is there any sane reason to throw away two inches of perfectly good meat in order to cook a pot roast?”
Laughing, the grandmother said “Oh, heaven’s no! You see in those days we were very poor and didn’t own much cookware. I cut the ends off the pot roast so it would fit in my only pan!”
As you can see from the story, people from one generation to the next carried out an evidently senseless action due to blind imitation. The way things are in our society isn’t much different.
Adopt a child-like attitude and be curious and question everything. Question your recurring thoughts and examine WHY you believe what you believe.
What if many of the thoughts and beliefs you were handed down by your parents, schools and religions despite their best intentions weren’t the truth?
A day may come when you realise the absurdity of some of the social conditioning (mind-control) that has been inflicted on humanity.
But our need for social acceptance and validation from others can be so strong and compelling that it can be hard to break free from it.
Therefore breaking out of limiting programming will require the courage to not conform especially since those who blindly follow society’s messages may see you as strange, weird or different.
But remember their views, though they may not realise it, will often be just a reflection of their conditioning, nothing more. As writer and philosopher, Suzy Kassem says,
“We have been programmed since our earliest school years to become followers, not individuals. We have been conditioned to embrace the herd, the masses, popular opinion -- and to reject what is different, eccentric or stands alone.”
I'd encourage you to take a closer look and examine the impact social conditioning has had on your life.
Liberating yourself from its limiting thinking and belief systems could make all the difference in how your life turns out.
If you found some value in this post, kindly consider supporting my work with a small tip — it means and helps more than you can imagine.
For simple and practical wisdom on how to live better and be happier, enter your email below to join the mailing list.