Why do we call it brainwashing when it clutters the mind?

Who's in Charge?

We all tend to think the thoughts in our minds belong to us alone. When we start looking at them carefully we realize how often other people leave their stuff in our space. How free are we really?

Most of us have mental and emotional instruction manuals from our moms, pictures of what we should look like, rules for social engagement, and notions of good and evil. Some of that information was put there by our parents for our own good, but is probably long past its expiration date. Some was projected onto us by institutions or employers who want us to behave, again, for our own good. But we may not have examined who really benefits from our behaving as prescribed.

What is troublesome is the information we accept from others that keeps us in the personal control of a partner, friend, parent or other relative. Love is supposed to support what is best for the loved one, but in truth, most of us have insecurities and want others to help fulfill us in some way.

Even though I have been making distinctions between thoughts which are mine and not mine, I was shocked to discover recently, that I had subscribed to a belief that belonged to a family member. I had not really examined it to notice that it wasn’t mine. This belief made me responsible for a fellow adult’s continued existence, so it served him well to leave it in my space like a cuckoo’s egg, where I would nurture and cherish it as my own.

Then one day, someone pointed out to me that this belief did not make sense and did not look like any of my other thoughts. I felt positively illuminated! I also felt intensely relieved to absolve myself from a responsibility I coudn’t fulfill. Life became much easier. Once I got rid of the cuckoo egg, I was able to hatch some of my own creations!

Of course, the thoughts of others don’t affect us unless we buy into them in some way. Our buying into them camouflages the foreign thoughts so finding them is like a find-the-hidden-object-in-the-picture game, but it is a game worth playing. The more we release other people’s stuff, the more room we have for our own creations. Put more plainly, we will more often have experiences and things that we want.

We are always taking in information from others, but it is possible to distinguish that which controls you.  When an idea or belief seems to really tie you down, then it is one to examine.

Sometimes it is appropriate to be tied down by, say, caring for small children or aging parents, or being responsible to a job you wish to keep. But sometimes the thoughts that tie us down do not stand up to scrutiny. Will the sky fall if you don’t do what your partner demands? Will your children really be happy if you give in to their every whim? Will your mother die if you do not drop everything to visit her this Saturday?

Often, all that is needed to deal with insidious control thoughts is to notice them and they start to untangle and release.

However, an abusively controlling person will often mete out unpleasant punishment those who refuse to be controlled. So, if you are in a seriously controlling relationship, you may need to get help dealing with other’s thoughts.

The best kind of freedom is freedom of thought.  At least I think that’s what I think.

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1 Response to “Why do we call it brainwashing when it clutters the mind?”


  1. 1 Rose October 24, 2013 at 8:44 pm

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