Tag Archives: brainwashing

How much do you want to belong? How much do you want to be listened to? How much do you want to be acknowledged? How much do you want to be followed? How afraid are you of being ostracized? Are you fearful of being alone? All these aspects contribute to your susceptibility toward Identity Socializing or having the need to align yourself with a particular group’s values and “rules.”

First, let’s look at where Identity Socializing comes from. In these times our current mindset is one of believing that our lives should be prescribed by our laws, religious precepts, and social etiquette and its expectations. We can easily understand and accept following the laws. If we are in any way religious, we can also understand and accept following religious doctrinal requirements. But when it comes to social etiquette and expected social behavior, it’s a bit more difficult to determine where our inner autonomy ends and outer authority begins. This depends primarily on who and what we have been taught to believe have authority over us. Over the last few generations this point of reference has been shifting.

For the most part, laws and religious doctrines for our behavior have remained relatively consistent. And depending on our culture, family manners have also remained essentially the same. But our responses to each other in public have been undergoing a subtle metamorphosis. This is not so much a reflection of individuals intentionally changing but more from a perspective of indoctrinated change produced and promoted by our changing media and political system. The initiator was and still is the media. The political pattern for change slowly followed suit when it was seen that the methods for media indoctrination could be used as a manipulative ploy for political agendas and the directive potential for its constituency.

When I say media, I am not referring to the news media but to the commercial advertising industry in the initial stages of its clientele’s psychological and authoritative “conditioning.” This was the beginning of their restructuring of advertising style when it first became apparent that TV and radio could be used to sell products to consumers. These first twinges of subversive advertising policies began to occur when the industry first realized that they could make someone believe that they would “need” their product in order to become acceptable, if not desirable, to their peers. This was our first “conditioning” into believing that we are personally not good enough as we are, aka, a real man or a real woman, unless we were using their product. This was the first intentional use of the media in the diminishing of our worthiness suggesting that the authority we should submit to comes from outside ourselves, namely, them.

While we are being raised as young children, we accept the fact that our parents are the authority in whatever we are permitted to do or how we are taught to behave. This is obviously done for safety measures in light of the fact that we have no worldly experience to draw on in handling our lives or the dangers it may present. This is also done to instill in us the rules and expectations of the society we live in. This generally keeps us safe and makes life with others mostly smooth and agreeable. As puberty arrives, a choice comes to the forefront. In us begins the stirrings of the need for autonomy. Peer pressure and competition become apparent. At this point many of us make a choice as to whether we will follow our own drummer or that of others. How much our inner nature we have been allowed to express in our previous upbringing is the major factor determining which choice we will make. If we’ve been over protected, we will most likely opt for following others. If we’ve been encouraged to think for ourselves and make our own choices, or even neglected, we may will likely take our own lead.

There are many other contributing factors facilitating our choices. We may also lead partially and follow partially. The human mind is complicated and responds differently depending on the people and their influence that surround us in our early years. The point I’d like to emphasize here is that, generally, it is at this point after puberty, or slightly before,  when our parents begin to allow us to make some independent choices or even encourage us to do so. But in recent years, and with the advent of technology, another surrogate “parent” has begun to step in and take over our family’s parental duties and influences - the media. Technology has inescapably brought itself right into our living space through television, internet, and now telephones. The deprecating advertising has followed right along with them. And the media has not encouraged us to make our own choices. As a result, many of us move out of the parental “supposed to’s” directly into the media’s “supposed to’s” never even coming to the realization that we might be able to think for ourselves or that we’re even allowed to. Consequently, the opportunity to think for ourselves has been voraciously annexed by the media.

Now, a strange thing has happened. The psychological dependency we had on our parents has been extended to the media and external authorities. As a result, many of us, especially the younger “indoctrinated “generations, cannot decide what we want to do or who we should be without seeking the endorsement and “approval” of the media and its espoused requirements for social desirability and acceptance. Additionally, after the political bureaucracy has gotten involved in media in recent years, the need for that approval has been extended to our social behavior. That has allowed political correctness to move into an acceptable and authoritative position. This became the icing on the cake for our social control by the media. This brings us finally to Identity Socializing. What is it?

Since the media has essentially convinced us of our lack of personal authority and has taken over the last word on what it is appropriate to be, do and say in public, our “surrogate parent” now has gained the control over the personal values of those who have unsuccessfully graduated toward thinking for themselves. If you have learned to think for yourself, this will a perspective that you will likely be unable to relate to. If you haven’t, you may even go as far as to deny this in yourself.

For those of us who have failed to learn how to think for ourselves, it has now become common practice for us to align with specific groups and the principles of socially identified sections of our culture. This way we can know what to do and how to behave. In order for us to feel unthreatened, we must label everyone else according to socially identifiable groups. They must either be a vegetarian, an omnivore, a yuppie, middle class, affluent, oppressed, a leftist, a conservative, a minority, an elitist, a racist, a homophobe, a feminist, and many other classifications that pigeonhole them into a group that can be “standardized” in our dealing with them according to the prescribed and profiled rules of the group we “belong” to. Now we can feel safe and “in control.” Even gender now has a selection of groups.

On first blush this may seem a little excessive or even paranoid. But ask yourself this question. These days, when we first meet someone, what do we ask them? What do you do (where do you work)? Are you married (are you available)? Where do you live (are you affluent or are you struggling)? Do you have kids (can we talk about family)? How about those Gators (do you watch sports)? Almost every question we ask is a gentle, slightly tacit probe to find out what group they classify with, if we should associate with them, on what grounds, what beliefs are promoted, and will we have to defend our beliefs and perceived inadequacies?

In our current culture fear has become much more of a dominating factor. But fear of what? From one perspective, it involves our perception of our safety and privacy. But from a second perspective, and on a more subconscious level, our sense of group belonging has become a much larger part of how we identify ourselves. Why?

With the encroaching of the media annexing our power to think for ourselves, the outside world has become our authority in making decisions. This funnels us into becoming much more conscious of what other people think of us. Additionally, with the breakdown of our family structure over the past four decades, our sense of inclusion in the family has been lost where an assumed unconditional acceptance might be expected to come from. Now, we must look for that inclusion and belonging in the social sphere. With everyone conscious of what groups we do or don’t belong to, our sense of identity has become much more tangled up in the characteristics of the group we wish to belong to rather than our own inner values. To misbehave according to group rules might result in our becoming ostracized or “excommunicated” from our preferred group. This would be disastrous not only for our self-image but for the love and support we might expect to receive from them.

Through slow changes in the family and the media, we now have arrived at a place where we primarily identify ourselves based on external group rules and expectations. Our individualism has been obliterated in favor of the rules of the group we belong to. Our self-image now squarely rests in our social identity. We can only gain a reflection of ourselves from how we fit into the narrow edicts of the group we have chosen to belong to. Any individualism separates us from the group identity and “classifies” us elsewhere. We’ve been homogenized. We now are the masses described in George Orwell’s 1984.

We’ve unwittingly sacrificed our individualism and our ability to think for ourselves for belonging through identity socializing and we don’t even know it. Safety in numbers always results in the death of creativity. Every genuinely great figure in history has seen this and moved past it in forging their own individualism while risking rejection and excommunication from their superficially defined social groups. Can you? Do you even know that this has happened to you?

Prescription-1...if you’re healthy enough to have sex. Really? Have we slipped so far into not listening to our own body that we have to ask an outside authority for permission to indulge in pleasure? What does it mean that we now feel so compelled to rely on others for personal validation?

Our western culture has become obsessed with experts, specialists, licensed professionals and “board approved” authorities. We pay others dearly for bodily assessments, psychotherapy, emotional coaching, career planning, financial and legal advice, dietary recommendations, performance enhancements, chemically extended sexual prowess, tuition for private instruction in career advancement and a whole host of other capacities that we and previous generations used to perform ourselves. Is it just the time that we feel is needed to “educate” ourselves sufficiently enough to be “qualified” to perform tasks for ourselves? Or is there something else that lies beneath the threshold of our Board Certified-1awareness creating fear and apprehension about anything we might choose to do for ourselves that’s not part of a skill or career offered by others and not sanctioned or legalized by some authority or board approval?

One of the factors underlying this obsession is our fear of “making mistakes.” That is, we doubt ourselves so fully that we are not as much vexed by not being able to perform a particular task or function but that we will feel embarrassed when we have to “call someone in” to assess our actions and make “corrections” so we can feel like we’re “back to normal.” But our fear of “making mistakes” goes much deeper than our perceived helplessness and the shame involved in its observation by others. The perceived self-doubt and the feeling of having to consult 404-errorothers comes from an absence of childhood training in assessing ourselves, our situations and our “qualifications” and coming up short in self-assertion and self validation.

Trusting ourselves and our own judgment is a very elusive quality to be able to pinpoint as to the origins of its enabling. For very few of us this confidence may have been innate but for the majority of us it came from building and accumulating experiences in which we performed tasks and received validation from our parents and caretakers for being proficient if not, at the least, competent. The validation comes from our parents and guardians in the form of their allowing and encouraging our personal choices even if they are not in line with what our confidence-2guardians believe are “the right” choices by conforming to their life experiences. Generally, if a parent has confidence in their own value and proficiency, it will be relatively easy for them to acknowledge and encourage their children’s choices without having to impose and have accepted their own values in order to validate their own self worth.

As second factor, and probably the one which has created the most personal damage to our self-image in our process of gaining and maintaining a feeling of competence and personal validation is the media. There is no doubt that there exists a bank of psychologists and sociologists studying the methods in which the retail and service markets could have the most influential effect on us, the general public, to encourage the purchase of their products and services. It is difficult enough navigating our lives in a confident manner after almost or never having received the encouragement that would have enabled our Self-Trust but the media has Mirror mirror on the wall-44taken this handicap one step further. To intensify the effect of this childhood deficiency they have projected an emphasis on us through their assertion that we are not good enough as we are. We need whiter teeth. We need a better education. We need a flashier car, a bigger house, more money, more free time and, most of all, their products and services that will gain the envy and approval of our friends and enemies alike.After receiving little, if not contrary support and discouragement toward building our own self-sufficiency and a self-sustaining life style and compounded by our parents’ inability to allow us to make our own decisions without appeasing their need for our actions to validate and accommodate their approach to life, we’re now hit with advertisements that only bring our learned perceived shame and incompetence directly to the surface of our awareness and potentially for all to see. Now, we’re petrified of exposure. We do all we can to hide our “imperfections.” In the face of the media and its diminished projected standards for us, we begin to believe that we are less than and that others, our parents, caretakers and the media, know better than we about our own lives and personal experiences. After all, if the outside world says it’s true, and they’re only an extension of our parental authority, then it must be true. So why do we believe that we must have others perform the tasks that we used to perform for ourselves? Because we’ve been taught to believe that we are incompetent and need the assistance of others to bring us to a state of being acceptable.

In deference to some of us who are not fully “in the bag” by believing that we are “imperfect” or even incompetent, and there are a few of us who have retrained ourselves and reprogrammed enough of a competent and self-sufficient self-image through long and hard work on ourselves, a third factor encourages us to seek outside assistance. In our very busy and filled up world there are tasks that we neither have the time to fix nor the opportunity to learn how to better manage. Even then we feel we have to “call in the experts.”

Obey-TV-BRAINWASHING-1So, is it any wonder that most of us have been brainwashed so badly that we have to ask our family doctor if we’re even allowed to seek pleasure for ourselves let alone if we are able or “competent” to do so?Our ability to listen to our own body and our faith in our own judgment has been so thoroughly stamped out under the threat of disapproval, excommunication and the withholding of any support or affection that we now believe that our fate and prosperity rests solely on the approval of those to whom we’ve assigned authority over us and our personal accountability to on the chance that we might make a mistake and expose our imperfections. What’s so ironic is that we all make what we perceive as mistakes. We’re human. It’s inevitable. Then, how is it that we have accepted training that says it is possible not to make mistakes? And what is a mistake anyway but the unmet expectation of those to whom we have assigned authority over us?

There is no one at fault for programming us in this way. Generally, our parents and caretakers did the best they could with what they understood about their own validity as adults. They have also become a victim of poisoned media thinking that perfection is possible, so, now, they naturally expect it of us; their children. And if we’re not perfect like Ozzie and Harriet, Father Ozzie & HarrietKnows Best and the TV portrayals of all the other nightly family situational serials from the 50s and 60s (we now call them sitcoms but they we’re deemed funny then) then there must be something inadequate with our parents’ child-rearing abilities; aka, they must feel left to assume that they are incompetent parents. Now, let me ask you. If you feel discouraged about your own competence and validity as a parent, are you going to be able to encourage your children to be independent and competent, especially, if you no longer know how that feels? Of course not. You’re going to instill the same fear of imperfection and making “mistakes” in them. And so it goes on and on. And now we hear an echo from the bible, and probably many other scriptures, saying, “The sins of the father (and mother) become the sins of their sons (and daughters).”

There are many ways to regain our personal power and Self-Trust. There’s not enough space to go into them all in a small article let alone the time. But in our first steps toward redeeming them it’s extremely important to recognize and understand why and how we have given away our power and Self-Trust in order that we may remain in a feeling that we belong, to feel that we are acceptable, even with all our abhorrent imperfections and that if we follow all the rules and Courage-Cat-Liondo what we’re told, we won’t be called out, exposed, withheld from, excommunicated or deserted. What a terrible price to pay for the illusion of being loved and the elusive security of belonging. The courage we can show in trusting ourselves and risking the exposure and possible disapproval of our personal expression and individuality while allowing others to have the choice to reject them are some of our most important components of loving ourselves and the world…as it is.

Obey-TV-BRAINWASHING-1Raising kids in this day and age is no easy task. And as if that is not enough, you have to know that you have very stiff competition. That competition’s main aim is to find what it is that sets them off, maximize their triggers in order to sell them their wares and ways and to keep them as returning customers. That competition is the media. They’re masters at salesmanship and propagandizing.

The most important factor for any salesman is their knowledge of what it is that their customer, your child, is feeling at the moment and what it is that they want to do or become that answers those feelings. Right now, they’re way more ahead of the game than you are. It’s not that they’re innately better at it than you. It’s that they have taken the time to think through how to reach them. Remember, that’s their job. It is their only goal; to make them addicts for whatever it is that they’re peddling. Right now they’re doing a better job at raising your kids than you are. The key that is their “edge” is that they have the time and ability to listen. But you have an edge too. The media knows this. It’s that you’re their parents and that your children want you to listen and care. So, the media’s best ally is the time that they have available with your child that you don’t. If you don’t believe me, just look at all the influence and advertising above and beyond TV, their biggest tool. Your best ally is that your children want you to care. Knowing this, you’re making the time to listen can be your best ally in regaining the control of their futures for them.

Stressing over billsSo, what is it that thwarts your ability to invest the time? Life. Just life. Paying the mortgage, putting food on the table, clothing you and your children, planning their education, finding the means to pay for it and a whole host of other distracting factors that steal time away from you being able to be with and emotionally support your family. All the terrorism, politics, murders, school shootings, pedophilia and a whole host of other things that the media over-emphasizes in their incessant broadcasts only serve to heighten your fear of protecting your family and doing the “right thing.” They’ve got your number too.

Scolding-1So how can we make up for lost ground in regaining an effective rapport with our kids? We must make the time to re-prioritize our lives so we can have the meaningful conversations with our children that answer their emotional needs showing them that we are listening and that we do care. Telling them all the things that we’re sacrificing for them and all the things that they must do in order to make their lives run better (than we did) only serves to make them feel guilty, resentful, obligated and drives them further away. If that’s all they hear, of course they don’t want to listen! How did you feel when your parents told you what they were sacrificing for you, what to do, how to think, what to want and what will happen if you didn’t follow their lead? Your kids are not stupid. They see the stresses you’re facing. Do you think they want to saddle up for that? I think not. They’re looking for something more meaningful than just advantageous survival, although they’re just not experienced enough to realize it yet. Perhaps you are. Perhaps you realize that if you had had conversations with your parents that would have addressed what you felt and you thought, you might have grown up feeling a little more trusting and confident in your own ability to handle life and its twists and turns a little better than you have up to this point. All I’m saying is that, most likely, your Self-Trust and Confidence were never really addressed or encouraged by your parents. They were just doing and reacting to what they were facing in the outer world and protecting you from it just like you’re doing for your kids right now.

So, how do we converse with our kids so that we hit pay dirt in helping them to find value in something more than what the media is peddling? We can ask the following questions that will do two things; show them that you actually do want them to know that you care about them and are emotionally supportive of what they’re feeling and starting the ball rolling in a direction that gives them the Self-Trust, Confidence and opportunity to develop their ability to direct their own lives through addressing their inner urges and needs…what it is that we didn’t receive from our parents. So, let’s start with the list.

There is one parameter or condition I’d like to set here before we begin. Our kids will all benefit from our encouragement beginning at any age but I’ll address the following questions to children beginning around the age of puberty since they’ve had, at the least, some time in accumulating life experience and are in the process of developing some of the rational capabilities minimally needed to think through what they’ll be facing for the rest of their lives…no easy task for a teenager.

Teenage actor1. Ask them what excites their interest. What it is that excites them and arouses their curiosity in life? What and who would they would like to be like and live like? What is it that they long for? I don’t mean getting a fancy car, having a date with their most preferable partner, having lots of money and freedom or being old enough to stay out late. We all know what most teenagers want at that age. It’s what the media has made them fantasize or romanticize about. But what is it they have an inner burning urge to do or learn about? Every little kid wants to be a fireman or an actress. But, are they draw to archery? Painting? Music? Science? Another culture? When they imagine themselves in that role or doing that activity, what do they feel? What do they think it can do for them?

Teenage archeologist-1Once you’ve asked this question and they’ve answered, and they will probably look very surprised that you did, ask them what they think that they could do now or what can they plan in the future that will put them within the grasp of fulling that imagined role. This question alone will open two doors for both of you. First, it will begin to let them know that you truly do care about them and what they feel. And second, they may realize you as an optional resource or sounding board for bouncing off ideas as to how they might be able to arrive at their most private dreams.

Parents-Report-Card-12. Ask them how they think you’re doing as a parent. This question alone may come as a shock to them. The fact that you care about what they feel relative to how they’re being raised will show them your openness to their feelings and perceptions about your parenting. But it does something more. It puts you on an equal footing, person to person basis rather than a parent/child format. This temporarily puts aside the authority/obeisance rapport that parents and children almost always get locked into producing irreconcilable resistance over a developing autonomy. It doesn’t mean that you have to stay in that space always requiring their input, but it lets them know that you acknowledge that they too are growing and becoming an adult which shows your allowance and encouragement of their self-determination which, in turn, will earn their respect for you and that lets them know that you have respect for them. If your parents showed respect for your growing maturity, this will be easy for you to do. If not, you will have to “feel” your way through this domain sensing when the parent or authority role must take precedence over a person to person equanimity. It lets them know that a parent/child rapport is not always necessary and that a shared adult person to person rapport is possible and in the works.

Archery kid-23. Ask them what they would like you to do with them, and then make time to do it. Time is our most valuable and most evasive resource, especially when we’re so pressed into providing the material support required to maintain our family’s survival. We show love by giving our time and attention to another. By asking and following through with your child’s request for your time and attention will do a whole lot in showing them and helping them to believe that you care about them and that they have support. There are way too many “latch key” children in our culture. When children don’t feel like anyone cares about them, they seek their nurturance from peer groups. This accounts for many of the gangs that kids find themselves in leading them toward acquiescing to hazing and rites of passage simply to earn the loyalty, love and comradeship they’ve been unable to get at home. In doing this they earn a pale reflection of their potential personal worth. It is my belief that the obsession many people feel with Face Book substitutes for much of the family love and intimacy lost through our culture’s dissolving nuclear family and prior felt closeness. The loss and inability to initiate and maintain personal intimacy learned in our earlier historical family structuring is a much more serious issue than current day psychologists allow credit for. For many people, feeling unloved and unlovable has escalated to epidemic proportions. The sad part is that we don’t even know that it is such a dominant part of our contemporary emotional landscape. Is it really any wonder why so many people are on anti-depressants and other mood altering drugs or seek to escape themselves through hallucinogenic and illicit drug use? We can’t even name, let alone recognize, the unworthiness so many of us are feeling. Perhaps, even the increasing advent of teen suicide is testimony to feelings of emotional isolation and desertion being on the rise as they come to feel that they’ve no support in handling what should only be considered the natural ephemerality of our feelings. In other words, having feelings of emotional isolation and unworthiness and feeling that they have no support and one to talk to about it is slowly becoming accepted as being “normal.”

6-fear4. Ask them what makes them happy, sad, angry, afraid or lonely. Doing this will do three things. First, it will allow you to assist them in putting into words and thoughts feelings which are natural and often fleeting as their situations change. Second, it will subtlety let them know that you are an avenue for them to process these feelings so they can, third, allow themselves to relax into them knowing that they are temporary and that they have the ability to reframe how they perceive them or if they feel they can’t, know that “this too will pass.” This line of thinking is an underlying current helping us, and them, into understanding that we are much more than what we perceive about ourselves in the moment. Interacting with your children in this way also eases some of your own emotional residue left from early experiences and faulty perceptions assumed about yourself and your worthiness. The more you are able to process your own self-worth and Self-Trust, the better the job you will be able to do with your kids. Raising them is a two way street for self-awareness and emotional understanding.

Ironman-15. Lastly, but I’m sure there are many more variations of what I’ve described here, ask them whom they respect and why. This will give you valuable insight as to where and how they place value on their lives, you and their interactions with the world in general. Respect is a synonym and reflection of the ideals they’re beginning to form. It can be an indicator of both whom they admire and whom they fear, which often can be the same person(s). Our life experience and what we feel about it are prime movers for how we form our chosen beliefs contributing to how Superman-George-Reeves-1will continue to address the world and how we assess our place in it. This is why every generation has had a fascination with super heroes and why the media has capitalized on our idealization of their abilities. It allows us and our children to see how it’s done, believe that it can be done, imagine ourselves performing the same feats and what Self-Trust and Confidence would look like and feel like in action. The question then becomes, can we, and our children, transfer that respect and admiration to those in the real You can do it-1world around us but, more importantly, can we accept and activate those qualities within ourselves? Listening to our children is one of the best avenues for helping them to develop their Self-Trust and Confidence and assisting them in believing that they can become self-determined in their world. This is probably the most valuable gift that you can give them. Can you be secure enough to allow it?

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