9 Signs We’re Being Shamelessly Brainwashed
People don’t need magic or hypnosis to manipulate others. There are a bunch of simple tactics people can use to get others to do or think what they want. Because of this, it’s important for you to make yourself aware in case you find yourself in the middle of a mind game.
We at Bright Side want to help you avoid these manipulative tactics and let you think your own thoughts, so we’re sharing a list of various “brainwashing” schemes. Don’t forget to check our bonus section where we go over tips you can use to avoid being manipulated.
1. There’s too much distraction from the big issues.
When the media focuses too much on sports, entertainment, mysticism, or things that people can live without, it might be intentional. This might be done to distract people’s attention from more serious and controversial issues, like politics, economics, psychology, neurobiology, and cybernetics.
2. Your fears are being played with too much.
Give people a problem, like violence or attacks in cities that are spiraling out of control, and people will want solutions here and now. Even when you infringe on people’s rights, people can be convinced this could be a “necessary evil” meant to fix whatever problems they fear. In some severe cases, doing this can also distract from bigger issues, like we mentioned above.
3. Unpopular ideas get implemented little by little.
There’s something called “graduation” and we’re not talking about moving up in school. This term also refers to the idea of introducing an idea only partly and once you get people hooked, you slowly introduce more little by little until your full idea is accepted. For example, a new law might be implemented with loopholes, but they’ll likely get revealed as time goes by.
4. People try to make you feel like a child in order to control you.
One popular way to control people is to talk to them as if they are children. They use rewards and punishments and make things seem like they are talking about black and white issues when things can get too complicated. Ultimately, they make issues seem too hard for the everyday person to understand.
5. People make you feel like you’re alone in your feelings.
Let’s say a movie franchise you’ve never seen or cared for gets advertised in a way that makes it seem like it’s part of everyone’s childhood. Or that the characters represent something important for our society. It’s almost like they’re criticizing you for not being part of the pack. You might believe that you are weird or strange for not enjoying it...even though everyone’s entitled to their own opinions.
6. Your emotions get way too much focus.
Take your pick. Make people feel special or loved. Make people feel afraid. Or just make people feel a little bit of both, and they will be eating out of the palm of your hands. We all want to be happy and free and will do anything to get that. Tell people that a certain degree or license will help them get a decent job, for example, and they’ll apply for it like they are morally obligated to do so.
7. People make you feel guilty about the pettiest things.
Mothers (and fathers) have been using this tactic since the dawn of time. When using guilt, people bring up the bad things you do even though what happened is long in the past. Even if you’re being guilted over something in the here and now, like enjoying an extra piece of cake, often you can be made to feel seriously bad over something that’s really insignificant.
8. People act as if they know you better than you know yourself.
With advances in science, we know more about the human body than we did years ago, but that can be a dangerous thing if used unwisely. If someone can convince you into thinking they know more about you than you know about yourself, whether it’s true or not, they might be able to control your decisions.
9. You are forced to be alone in this world.
Once again, this is a bit more drastic than the usual tactics. To catch your prey, cut them off from anyone who could help them. Cults do this often, keeping people from their loved ones in the outside world, preventing them from getting the community they need. Prisons around the world have also been known to use “solitary confinement” as a serious punishment; in severe cases, isolated inmates might be cut off from educational or therapeutic services available to other inmates.
Bonus: How can you save yourself from being manipulated?
We’ve warned you of how to be aware of situations when people are manipulating you, but if you want to be safe in your own mind, that’s just the start. There are a few things you should make a habit of to ensure that you have the right to think for yourself.
- Always make sure to get a word in when you are having a conversation.
- Keep your distance from people who make you feel less in control.
- Ignore long monologues. Anything important can be explained without all the prose.
- Whenever possible, avoid relationships with people who do not make you feel respected or force you to self-blame.
- When people try to manipulate you, hold up a mirror by asking investigating questions, like “Do I have any say in this?” or “Are you asking me or telling me?”
- Know your legal rights and bring them to light when people try to cheat you out of them.
- Be informed about the world around you and always ask for a second opinion when making a decision.
- Learn to say “no” to people.
What are some other ways you feel people use to control and manipulate others? Please share with us in the comments.
Illustrated by Daniil Shubin for BrightSide.me