Are you being brainwashed? 10 warning signs of indoctrination

Do you think you might be indoctrinated?

Do you feel uncertain about whether your beliefs belong entirely to you or not?

If so, don’t worry because we’ve all been there.

People are indoctrinated every day in all sorts of ways. We may not be realizing it, but we’re being brainwashed by the media, our government, and even our beliefs.

If this sounds familiar, here are 10 warning signs that you’re being indoctrinated.

10 possible signs of ideological indoctrination

1) Your behavior isn’t controlled entirely by you

Be honest.

Do you understand why you do what you do? Are you really in charge of your actions?

Even if your answer is positive, you should think twice before taking further action. Why?

Because your behavior might not be completely under your control. And if that’s the case, then chances are you’re being indoctrinated.

But wait a minute. How is this connected with indoctrination?

It’s pretty simple. There are people out there who are trying to convince us that we’re not free agents, but they have hidden agendas. And they use various ways to achieve their goals.

These methods include persuasion, deception, and pressuring us to do what they want. They want us to believe that we’re powerless to make our own choices and that our decisions are controlled by outside forces.

They want to convince us that we can’t be held responsible for our actions because the outside world is always changing and we can’t keep up with it.

These people will tell you that:

You are not in control of your own mind. Your beliefs are not yours and you cannot change them. You can only accept or reject the thoughts of others.

You cannot make rational decisions without their guidance. You must use their methods to achieve success or happiness.

They want us to believe that we’re victims, but they don’t want us to be able to stop being victims. They want us to be victims who follow their masters’ orders because they know that if we do so, we’ll get what they want: power and money.

But you know what? The truth is you’re the one who’s in charge of your actions. And you should take that responsibility.

So, don’t forget to keep track of your actions to avoid being brainwashed.

2) Your beliefs have drastically changed

How do you feel when you read your favorite news source? Do you feel angry, sad, or happy?

Do you consider yourself rational? Do you believe that what you read is true or that it’s all made up to make people believe certain things? Do others think the same way as well? Or do they disagree with what they read in your favorite news source?

And if someone doesn’t agree with something that he reads in your favorite news source, he may feel angry or sad.

Does this sound familiar?

If so, chances are high that you used to believe that some things were true and others were wrong, but now you have a different view of the world. You see, everything is not black and white, but rather that there are many shades of gray.

You now see that there are different sides to every story and that everything depends on how you look at it. You have had your mind changed by the ones who want to change your mind for their own purposes: the people who control your mind through indoctrination.

Still not convinced?

Then, let’s get a clearer idea of what indoctrination truly is.

Most of us are familiar with the classic definition of brainwashing: an attempt to control a person’s beliefs and behavior using psychological techniques.

Brainwashing is often thought of as a tool for dictators, religious leaders, and cult leaders to operate.

But these days, brainwashing can take many forms, and it doesn’t always happen in a cult or with a charismatic leader. Sometimes people might even do it to themselves. Sounds scary, right?

Believe it or not, it’s the truth.

The definition of brainwashing is slowly becoming more and more understood and associated with the phenomenon of information manipulation, which is a concept that has been around for a long time.

Information manipulation can be used to control people’s thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors.

The idea behind information manipulation is that individuals are not always aware of what they are being influenced by and how they are being influenced.

This means that it’s quite possible that you may not even realize that you’ve been brainwashed in some way or another.

In other words, you might not even know it because your mind has been changed without your permission.

This is why it’s important to always be aware of what you are being influenced by.

3)You are rewarded for your devotion

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Admit it. You enjoy receiving various types of rewards.

What was the last thing you got for your devotion?

Was it a reward for doing something you enjoyed doing?

Was it a reward for being a good friend? Was it a reward for being nice to somebody? Was it a reward for helping somebody out? Was it a reward for spending time with your family and friends?

Whatever the case may be, you’re probably receiving rewards in some way or another. And that’s fine. It’s natural. It’s okay to get rewarded.

But is there such a thing as too much of a good thing? Is there ever such a thing as too much of anything?

Well, I’m afraid there may be: over-indulgence in rewards.

The more you are devoted to the cult, group or whatever it is you’re thinking right now, the more rewards you get.

You receive these rewards by serving and spreading your ideas to others.

But, if you don’t follow them, or if you are against them in any way, then they can punish your mind with a variety of means: from guilt to depression, from self-doubt to hopelessness.

4) You’re punished for contradicting values

This is a common feature of small groups or cults.

They may punish you for contradicting their values. This is usually done by making you feel guilty. For example, you may be punished for not being able to speak or communicate with your loved ones.

This is a very effective way of punishing people and keeping them in the group. One can be punished for contradicting their values and beliefs.

Let’s take an example from one of my favorite movies, “Fight Club“. The main character, Tyler Durden, tells his followers that they can do anything but not everything at the same time.

This is an example of a very cult-like rule. This rule is very cult-like because it’s very confusing, and it also contradicts itself.

That’s what real groups tend to do in real life. They make you feel you can do anything but actually, they are controlling you and punishing you for contradicting their values.

Wait a minute.

Isn’t it something fascist authorities used to do?

You’re right.

The cult does not have a monopoly on this kind of manipulation.

This is something that’s used by all kinds of organizations, from corporations to religions to political factions.

This is why it’s important to always be aware of what you are being influenced by.

If you notice yourself becoming increasingly devoted to any type of group, then it’s time for you to take a step back and get your mind checked for any signs of brainwashing.

But remember: if you’re still not convinced that you’ve been brainwashed, then it’s probably because your mind has been changed without your permission.

5) You’re financially manipulated

Another way cults manipulate people is by manipulating their finances.

Now you might think that I’m joking, but actually, that’s the truth.

Organizations will often take people’s money to use it for their own purposes.

This is done by taking money from them without their consent or knowledge, or by blackmailing them.

For example, a cult may take all the money you make and then demand that you give it to them, or else they’ll destroy your business and make your work for free for the rest of your life.

And this is an effective way of controlling people.

Now I want you to think about it. Are you really willing to give your money to people you don’t even know?

And most importantly, it’s not like they’re in need of this money. They’re just manipulating you.

You’re almost always financially manipulated if you’re in an organization or a corporation. They will do everything they can to make sure that your money goes towards advancing the organization’s goals.

6) You’re being emotionally manipulated

Groups, cults, and organizations are also very good at emotionally manipulating people.

They will do anything they can to make you feel guilty and make you feel like you’re a bad person if you don’t follow the cult’s rules and values.

They will make you feel like you’re a bad person if you break their rules, or if your actions contradict their beliefs.

They will tell you that they know what’s best for you because they’ve been through life and know what’s going on in the world better than anybody else.

But I hope you can understand that none of this is true. Why?

Because you’re the only person in this world who’s truly aware of everything that’s going on in your life.

7) You have to obey other’s rules and norms

Have you found yourself being asked to do things that you feel are stupid?

Have you ever been told that you have to do something because others say so?

If this is the case, then you’re probably being indoctrinated. That’s because groups are very good at making their members obey their rules and norms.

In psychology, we call it the effect of groupthink. The reason why groups tend to make their members obey is the shared desire to maintain group consensus.

This is usually done through peer pressure or subtle manipulation. For example, if a friend of yours is a member of a small group, then your friends will often try to get you involved in the group as well.

Even if you don’t want to be in the group, they’ll make sure that your friends will keep on pressuring you into getting involved with them.

8) They try to make you internalize their values

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Let me say this straight.

Groups try to make their members internalize their values. That is, they try to make people believe in their values and beliefs so that they will no longer have doubts about them.

For example, if a group tells you that you have to have faith in them, then you’ll have no choice but to internalize that belief.

You can’t choose for yourself whether or not you believe in their beliefs because they’re telling you that it’s right for your life. You’ll end up believing in those beliefs and acting accordingly without having any doubt whatsoever.

Do you entirely understand the meaning of the word “internalization”?

In the social sciences, internalization means that the individual accepts a group’s values and norms. Needless to say, it’s another warning sign of being indoctrinated.

9) They try to make you dependent on them

Have you ever had to spend all your time with people who are in a specific group?

For example, do you have to go to their meetings every week? Do you have to attend their retreats and seminars on a regular basis? Have you been told that if it wasn’t for them, you’d be lost?

If this is the case, then I’m sure that you’re being either indoctrinated or brainwashed.

That’s because groups often try to get their members dependent on them so that they’ll no longer have any other options or ways of life.

This is done by making the members rely on the cult for their daily needs. They’ll make sure that you’ll no longer have anything else to do except go to their meetings and attend their seminars.

10) They penalize members for leaving

Have you ever been told that if you leave the cult, you’ll be punished?

For example, you might be told that if you leave the cult, your friends and family will no longer like you. You might even hear that if it wasn’t for them, you’d be dead.

If this is the case, then it’s yet another warning sign of being controlled by a cult.

Cults often try to make their members feel guilty if they decide to leave the cult. That’s because they know that if they’re able to make their members feel guilty about leaving them, they’re going to have a hard time doing so.

Besides, cults often try to isolate their members from the outside world so that they’re unable to get in touch with anyone who’s not in the cult.

And guess what? That’s one of the most negative sides of the cults.

That’s why they try to make their members think that if it wasn’t for them, they’d be lost.

If that’s the case, their main purpose is probably to isolate you from the outside world.

Don’t let anyone control your actions

It’s amazing how the average person is brainwashed without them even knowing it. Over the years, we’ve taken on a lot of new ideologies that change what we think and feel. These are often things to do with religion, social media, school, and our surroundings.

Now you know that some people might try to convince you that what they’re saying is true for your own good. They might use fear or guilt as a tool to get you to believe their message.

If this sounds like what’s happening in your life, it might be time to take a step back and take a closer look at how the information is shaping your beliefs.

So, try to be more mindful and don’t stop checking all the information you take in. That’s how you can avoid being indoctrinated.

Picture of Nato Lagidze

Nato Lagidze

Nato is a writer and a researcher with an academic background in psychology. She investigates self-compassion, emotional intelligence, psychological well-being, and the ways people make decisions. Writing about recent trends in the movie industry is her other hobby, alongside music, art, culture, and social influences. She dreams to create an uplifting documentary one day, inspired by her experiences with strangers.

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