Protect Your Mind: Be Careful of Advertising and “News”

Emotional manipulation is the modus operandi of today’s media. Buying decisions are often emotional decisions, so advertising campaigns intentionally appeal to emotion probably more often than they appeal to reason. When you watch TV, go to the movies, or browse your favorite websites, you are basically paying, through cable/internet packages or movie tickets, to be manipulated by the companies who create the content you are experiencing.

 

In some cases this manipulation is not harmful. For example, we can tell by previews when a new movie is out that we know will be a moving human-interest story. Movies like that can help us regain perspective on life and get in touch with emotions we may have become dull to.

 

However, most movies aren’t like this. They thrive on either raising adrenaline or appealing to our baser selves, the part of us that wants to do life our way instead of God’s way, through all manner of lewdness, degeneracy, and violence. As movie genres have developed, we can tell by the preview what kind of movie the newest flick will be, whether action, comedy, sci-fi, horror, drama, or a family movie, and we choose to go see it based on whichever appeal(s) we decide to respond to.

 

But to me, even most movies are less harmful than modern advertising, which is far more manipulative. A movie preview can get us to spend $10-15, not counting a $6 box of candy, plus, the investment is up front, assuming it’s not a movie known to have a sequel in the works. Video games are the same way. You watch a trailer on YouTube or see a commercial, and you decide before using the product whether or not you’ll spend the money. But with TV and internet ads, it’s both a front-end and back-end investment. For example, there are no commercials during a movie. You’ve already spent the money, and now you just get to enjoy the product without the need for further appeals, assuming it won’t have a sequel. But with TV, not only do we have to pay up front, we are paying to watch ads we don’t want to watch while using the product. Facebook is free because there are ads. TV has ads, yet it’s not free. And the ads on TV are, I would argue, much more potent than online ads because they promote big-ticket items more often. TV commercials are designed to motivate us to spend thousands of dollars on big-ticket purchases we don’t really need and may not be able to afford without going into debt. That debt then hangs over us like a cloud, affecting our mood and stress level for the worse. Sometimes we’re so stressed out by finances that we just plop down and…watch TV. The cycle begins anew, and we pay money to even be in this cycle, via our cable subscription.

 

I’m not saying don’t have TV. I’m saying we need to be more self-aware regarding advertising. Like I said, ads are specifically designed to manipulate you—especially your emotions. Yes, I’m a capitalist, and yes, sometimes ads alert you to a product that will actually enhance your life for a reasonable cost. But most ads on TV don’t do that, or you would buy everything you see on TV. There are plenty of things you would have never bought if you didn’t know about, and your life would have probably been just fine, with around the same happiness level as after you bought the item. Heck, you might actually have been happier because you had fewer possessions to manage…less “clutter” and certainly less debt. In the marketing world, the term demand generation or demand gen is used for certain types of advertising. To me, that phrase in itself is very revealing. Marketers know they have to create demand that didn’t previously exist, meaning they have to convince you that your life isn’t good enough they way it is—you need their product. This is obviously a form of manipulation.

 

If a product was really that great, why would they need to use emotional appeals to get you to buy it? Manipulating someone else’s emotions is not a good way to treat another human being. Also, it’s become acutely evident to me that most TV shows (as in, series) are designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator, by which I mean people who seek escapism and don’t want to entertain much of an inner thought life. Sure, the producers of these shows are answering a consumer demand (one they probably “generated”). But by doing so, they exacerbate the problem because the human brain always seeks the easiest route. This is part of how addiction develops—the more an action is repeated, the more defined specific neural pathways become and the more your brain wants to travel them. Useless, degenerate programming on TV, Netflix, Prime, YouTube, or anywhere else capitalizes on this constantly and has seemingly no qualms about it. I never even heard the term “binge-watching” until about six years ago. Was this really something our society needed, on top of all our other dysfunction?

 

Also, there’s the news. Setting aside the “fake news” meme, much of what is reported on the news is done to drive ratings. News stations trade on heart-wrenching emotional stories on one end of the spectrum, and gruesome, heinous crimes and terrorism on the other. The former is relatively benign, as long as you’re OK being manipulated into sticking around to watch a few more commercials, but the latter is really an issue. The net effect of all these crime and death and destruction stories is simply an increase in paranoia among the population. News broadcasters don’t care about this. They want to drive ratings, and they know people tune in to what is shocking (see previous paragraph). When we see a gruesome news story about what some serial killer did, don’t we think to ourselves upon noticing the slightest deviation in our neighbor’s normal behavior, “they could be a serial killer“? In reality, such incidents are extremely rare and a lot of extra stress is spent on precautions, like not being able to trust anyone, that ended up being unnecessary. Many other countries do not have this problem, and America’s media is somewhat unique in its level of devoting so much coverage to such harrowing news stories. Overall, this is one of the problems associated with having a for-profit news industry. I don’t know what the answer is (it’s certainly not state control of media), but my advice would be, unless it’s a news story about a heinous crime in your own city or region, it’s probably not worth watching because you’ll just freak yourself out, and something that had nothing to do with you will have a sizable negative mental and emotional impact on you.

 

In summary, my suggestion to the reader is to be way, way more thoughtful about what you put into the complex computer known as your brain. Instead of being manipulated and taken advantage of by opportunistic media companies and purveyors of expensive, unnecessary, and debt-ridden purchases, which you pay to see the ads for, take a step back and evaluate your media intake. Even movies should be considered from the perspective of desensitization, in light of the neural pathway phenomenon in the brain. Movies have gotten more coarse, violent, and gruesome over the years because last year’s content no longer shocks the audience enough to create a thrill (adrenaline rush). “The envelope” must be continually pushed to maintain the same shocking effect. The question is, where does it stop? How far will we go in search of entertainment? Ask yourself how and why you are allowing yourself to be manipulated, and if there is something more healthy and constructive you could be doing with your leisure time—and even more relaxing, because as someone pointed out, no one really feels relaxed after watching seven shows in a row on Netflix.

 

Don’t be a cog in these media master manipulators’ machine.

Living Above the “-isms”

In previous posts I’ve written about the futility of political outrage as well as about the evils of political correctness and how to be free of it. In this essay, I want to approach these topics from a different angle and expound on why both political outrage and the political correctness liberals thrust upon us are not worth anyone’s time, including yours.

 

Instead of focusing our attention on the true problems in our lives, we tend to distract ourselves with political arguments that provide no net value. I don’t mean discussing political ideas as a hobby, I mean emotional arguments over politics. Our society’s biggest problems are not even on the election ballot, either in the form of a candidate or referendum, so in arguing about politics we are majoring in our minors.

 

Take two examples: Americans are drowning in debt and unhealthy foods. When was the last time you saw either of those issues on the ballot or heard a candidate address them in a speech? I know in New York they passed a law limiting the size of soda cups a few years ago. Examples like that seem few and far between, though, and they’re generally local issues only. At the national level, our politicians don’t talk about Americans’ personal debt or the obesity epidemic in our country (even though healthcare costs would probably be lower if we were a healthier country).

 

Debt, health, and even broken relationships are three of the things most likely to keep the average American up at night. But instead of focusing our energy on these problems, we waste it arguing with each other on social media about things that have little to no effect on our everyday lives, sometimes creating more broken relationships in the process. The only reason I can think of that we do this is because it’s far easier to argue on social media than it is to try to fix our problems. It’s as if getting mad about politics is an outlet for our emotions, even while it prevents us from addressing the issues putting us in that emotional state to begin with.

 

An integral piece of these political fights is the set of political, ideological, and philosophical labels we attach to ourselves and to others. I call these “-isms”—basically any word that ends in -ist or -ism. While an -ism has utility as a way to summarize a set of ideas, we spend a lot of time labeling ourselves with -isms, defending them, or labeling others with -isms and then attacking them. To me, a lot of -isms just boil down to theories about abstract “boogeyman” forces somewhere out there in the ether trying to “get” us. When you take a step back and look at it from a high level view, it looks ridiculous, and the average person simply doesn’t live their life with this kind of unhealthy preoccupation.

 

For example, I consider myself a capitalist. I believe that capitalism is the most effective economic system available. The only reason I would need to use that word, though, would be to summarize my views in opposition to other views. In reality, most Americans live like capitalists but see no need to publicly identify themselves as such. Now suppose someone tells you they’re a socialist. Socialism has its textbook definition of government ownership of the means of production of goods. But what does them being a socialist actually look like? They vote for far left candidates, argue on social media that socialism is better, go to protests, and engage in other political activities. But what about their enormous student loan balance, the broken relationship(s) in their life, and their health problems? What does their being a socialist, or my being a capitalist, do about those things? Even socialism doesn’t purport to improve medical care, it just purports to make it free or less expensive. And medical care is only one aspect of your health. In reality, all their exertion about being a socialist has done nothing to improve their life (other than maybe meeting like-minded friends). So my point is that it’s basically a huge waste of time to go around touting our chosen -isms or putting labels on others. Why are we doing this when there are much more important things we could be doing with our time, and even other, more effective forms of R&R in case we’re just doing it because we’re bored?

 

This leads us an inherent flaw of liberalism: It needs perpetual outrage in order to survive. Anger is its lifeblood. That alone shows that liberalism is fundamentally unnatural, because human beings are not designed to live in a state of perpetual outrage. Liberals have devised an entire zodiac of oppressive forces, but if you listen to them explain it, it just sounds like abstract theories about something “out there.” Rarely can they cite a personal experience of oppression at the hands of malevolent forces. In reality, their everyday lives are not much different than anyone else’s except for all the time they spend arguing about their political beliefs. Imagine what they could accomplish if they stopped caring and spent that time and energy solving the problems that keep them up at night, like finances, health, and relationships. And to be fair, there are plenty of conservatives and Trumpists making the exact same mistake by making everything about politics.

 

Most things in politics can’t hurt us unless we believe they can. That’s practically the definition of an illusion. But in the ivory tower of liberalism’s thought leaders, oppression must be invented and exaggerated in order to generate sufficient emotion among the rank-and-file to keep the movement going…and to continue providing liberal academics with posh positions… and reinforce the self-licking ice-cream cone of liberal media elitism… and funnel money to Democratic politicians. So the ivory tower liberal elites invent or exaggerate oppression, funnel it down to the grassroots level, and eventually it ends up in your News Feed, where the greatest achievement of humanity—Facebook arguments—can then begin making the world a better place…not.

 

Like I wrote about in my essay on freeing yourself from political correctness, you must learn to care about politics less. For anyone like me who enjoys the intellectual stimulation of politics, you must learn to keep it as a hobby instead of as an overlord. The key is how emotionally invested you are or aren’t. I wrote my recent essay on Singapore and multiculturalism because I enjoyed doing so, not because I was angry. That’s a big difference between politics as a hobby vs. an emotional flashpoint in your life. When I was going to GW, in one of my classes we were making observations about how angry people were getting about the 2016 election. One of my (liberal) classmates complained that this anger was unnecessary and unhelpful. “I get on social media to get mad,” he observed, in a moment of honesty that made us all laugh because we could all relate.

 

I could get really upset about liberal shenanigans if I really wanted to. I’ve been quite angry about it before. And I really do believe that if Hillary Clinton had won, we’d be well on our way to devolving into a corrupt, quasi-socialist, third-world banana republic. But my political anger has never accomplished anything except elevating my stress level and worsening my mood. It makes no sense to do this to ourselves when we a) already know how we’re going to vote next time, b) have volunteered if we wanted to, and c) have donated money if we wanted to. Voting, volunteering, and giving money are the main ways to affect a political campaign. If we choose not to do those things, great, but it makes no sense to complain if there’s more you could be doing but you aren’t doing it. If you don’t care enough to do those things, why are you complaining? I thought you didn’t care? And if you have done those things, there’s no use getting stressed out then either because you’ve already done all you can do. So you see that it never really makes sense to get stressed out about politics, and the same logic applies to our “-isms” or the “-isms” we affix to others or that they affix to themselves. Our society has a lot of problems and we sort of look ridiculous spending so much time arguing with each other about politics when it’s not the main culprit of our unhappiness. Politics has become a way we distract ourselves—just another form of quick & easy entertainment, and one that reaches across all our devices.

 

In conclusion, you can live above the “-isms ” by not stressing out about politics and, just as importantly, by not letting others project their “-isms” onto you. Consider “-isms” to be figments of the imagination until proven otherwise. (Although, don’t say that to their adherents.) Just don’t let it affect you and live freely with a free mind. Don’t be a cog in the outrage machine.

3 Ways to Free Your Mind from Political Correctness

“If you want to know who rules over you, find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” – Voltaire

 

Political correctness is a fancy term for censorship of thoughts and words in the name of not offending liberals. It is such a powerful force that it has morphed from censorship by society to self-censorship. Those imprisoned by political correctness police their own thoughts, not because their thoughts are necessarily evil or sinful, but because they breach political correctness. What is self-censorship of political viewpoints if not a perfect control strategy?

 

Most conservatives and even some independents readily bemoan political correctness in our society. However, few people if any talk about how to free your mind from it, other than by being unafraid to offend people. For more pensive types (like myself), this is not a good enough solution because we keep most of our thoughts to ourselves anyway merely as a function of our personality. However, the same arguments over politically incorrect ideas can then take place in our mind. So what’s needed, and what I offer here, is a way to excise political correctness from our minds.

 

In general, politicians sail with the wind. They know how hard it is to change the direction of the wind, so most don’t try. Instead, they become the embodiment of our views, prodding us along the way to make sure we show up to the polls. One of the key factors underpinning our two-party system is the basic divisibility of Americans into two sides on Election Day. For rising politicians, who themselves nearly always align with one of the two sides, there is no concern that their views might make them an outcast in their career. All they have to do is pick the side they agree with, and there will be a fertile field of voters waiting. Sure, there are the independent voters, which are more costly for politicians to win over, but on Election Day the vast majority of independent voters vote either Democrat or Republican. The only difference is the fact that they might vote for the other party next time.

 

Political correctness is a comprehensive, multi-pronged climate of social censure developed over decades by liberal ideologues in their “long march through the institutions” of society. Conservatives and independents are the target, and while I said we now police our own thoughts, some top-level action is still needed by politicians to keep the political correctness regime humming by capitalizing on offenses. There is a cycle of political outrage that occurs at calculated moments when someone on the conservative side, or perhaps some hapless individual who has no interest in politics, says or does something that could be offensive to any particular group that liberals claim to represent. The politicos on the liberal side have learned when a reaction would be overblown, and when they can ride existing momentum (sail with the wind) and successfully kick off the cycle. Most of the time, they are quite effective at striking at the right moment. The end goal of the political outrage cycle is to get the target to recant of his or her misdeed and to dampen the will among the public to do, say, or most importantly, accept, anything similar. As Saul Alinksy taught his leftist disciples, expose the target, freeze them in place, and make an example of them.

 

Remember that I wrote before that no one can control you—you are in control of yourself. So how does the average person take back control of their thoughts from political correctness? How can we live free of the politically correct mind-prison?

 

I offer three steps. These steps require no external action. They are all done in your mind, because that’s where the illusion of control lives.

 

Step 1: Care about politics less. I’ve written about this in my past posts. A person who doesn’t care about politics at all has little concern for political correctness. They will still have some, because even they can sense the winds of the environment around them, but they’re far more independent of the constraints of the Left than someone who, say, reads politics every day. The latter, who is familiar with the ever-increasing demands of the Left, will, if not careful, experience a psychosis caused by their fear of liberal condemnation clashing with their die-hard commitment to their own beliefs. The key to avoiding or curing this psychosis is to care about politics less. Then you can keep your commitment to your beliefs (although it will feel a little less die-hard because you’re investing time and energy elsewhere), and the fear of punishment is greatly reduced. The less immersed you are in politics, the less of the shenanigans and demands of the Left you will be aware of, and the less punishment you will fear.

 

“But,” you say, “liberal policies may destroy America whether I’m paying attention or not!” Actually, political doomsday scenarios are less likely than you think (take it from someone who intensely researched this during my journey into amateur prepping, which I wrote about). Politics affect your life in very few ways besides by taxes and…by people talking at you about politics. Most of our problems in America are cultural, not political. As I said, politicians sail with the wind. They are mostly a mirror of us and the culture we have created. If you really want to change politics, the best way—and the hardest—is to change the culture.

 

Maybe you have voted Republican your whole life. If you take a few steps back from politics, as Step #1 prescribes, you can still vote Republican every cycle if you want to. But how much value is there in being emotionally invested in politics in between elections? I myself follow politics fairly regularly because it interests me, but I have learned where the boundaries are and what the signs are that I’m spending too much time and energy on it. Plus, like I wrote about in one of my previous posts, “staying informed” does not actually do anything to further your political ideas; it just gives the illusion of doing something. If you really want to make a difference in a specific political race, you should vote, volunteer, or give money.

 

Step 2: Don’t fall for duality. This is a big one, and it’s similar to my previous post about how political parties exploit our emotions on social media. By “duality” I mean the constant animus that accompanies the liberal/conservative “us vs. them” paradigm. This animus becomes reflexive and can even cause a person to compromise their beliefs in support of a political end. For example, if you watch President Trump’s rallies, he can say practically anything to the crowd while on stage and very seldom does anyone who isn’t a protestor boo him. The attendees generally just go along with whatever he says, even cheering it, even when it’s something they probably don’t fully agree with. Yet because it’s Trump that said it, they support it. Trump is “their side”, and everyone not allied with Trump is therefore the enemy. This is duality in action, and of course liberals are guilty of it as well, whether with Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders or whomever. The weird thing about it is that no one is making these people embrace this duality; they do it to themselves. While I generally have supported Trump pretty strongly, I have no problem saying that he has said and done things at times that I disagreed with, even policy decisions. Someone who is absorbed in duality will never admit something like that unless strongly pressed.

 

Also, when absorbed in duality, you will experience elevated stress in the form of anger toward that other side that there is really no constructive way to express other than by voting, volunteering, or giving money. Posting on social media is the guilty pleasure of political “dualists” because it’s easy. However, it causes stress for others, causes arguments, and doesn’t really relieve even their own stress. Does someone who angrily posts something political on social media suddenly become freed of their anger? Of course not. They just released some of the pressure, but it will build up again. You can never be free of political correctness without letting go of the “us vs. them” mindset, because in the back of your mind you will always be aware of the outrages and potential outrages of liberals regarding something you said, did, or thought. Free yourself of this! I’m not saying to stop being a conservative, nor am I saying to never express your opinion on social media; I’m only saying that to be free, you have to get outside of the “us vs. them” mentality (which will also improve your social media experience). After all, most people aren’t very political—they just get more political during election season. In fact, those who work in politics know that a lot of voters don’t even make up their mind until Election Day, regardless of the ads and yard signs they have been seeing for months.

 

Step 3: The past doesn’t matter. This speaks to one of the deadliest weapons in the political correctness arsenal. Getting this one right won’t help if you can’t complete Steps 1 & 2, but I strongly recommend this third step in order to complete the picture.

 

The left-wing position on many issues revolves around historical injustices, whether real, exaggerated, or perceived. You must train yourself to think: “I didn’t do it, so I’m not the problem.” This is probably the default mindset of most people around the world, but in America, if you’re a conservative, then in the Punnet square of race/religion/gender, you probably fall into an “oppressor category” according to hardcore liberals. Someone, somewhere, who shared your race, religion, or gender wronged people of another race, religion, or gender. Do you know who the person who committed that wrong was? Of course you don’t! That’s why it doesn’t matter. You can’t be guilty by association over someone you aren’t associated with.

 

So if it’s so obvious, why does this favorite political correctness tactic work? Well, I will never accuse hardcore liberals of not being smart. They use our textbooks in school to indoctrinate us as kids that white people and Christians have perpetrated the worst crimes in Western history. The insinuation is that these groups can’t be trusted not to do so again if given the chance. This is, of course, a completely one-sided and imbalanced view of history, not to mention it passes judgment on entire groups of people (something liberals are supposed to abhor), but it explains why so many in my own generation, the Millennials, are so politically correct. We’ve been brainwashed with this nonsense since grade school, before our critical thinking capabilities were developed enough to question it. In other words, we were young and impressionable, and liberals figured out how to strike while the iron was hot.

 

If you’re in one of the “oppressor” demographics, you’re trained by the liberal triad of academia, media, and usually government, to believe that anyone outside your oppressor demographic is automatically right about everything. This is wrong, wrong, wrong. No one is always right. The foundation of this false belief lies in, like I said, grade school indoctrination that your demographic is guilty of crimes against humanity. Either that, or if you’re a conservative who is outside the “oppressor” demographics, you’re nothing more than their lackey by supporting conservatism. All of this is nothing but a psychological manipulation tool devised by left-wing zealots in academia, which is where the research that goes into our textbooks comes from. Liberal-dominated school boards and Department of Education officials (I think state level is where textbooks are decided) have no problem adopting such imbalanced curricula because it serves their ideological purpose for society. These are people who have nothing better to do with their lives.

 

When I say the past doesn’t matter, I’m not saying to be ignorant of history. If you were ignorant of history, you would have no understanding that some topics are sensitive for some people, and to be insensitive or careless is usually unkind. But avoiding carelessness is not the same thing as thought-policing and speech-censoring, which is the standard hardcore liberals expect you to conform to.

 

So remember, in politics, the past doesn’t matter and you aren’t the problem. We don’t drag our own past around with us every day, so why would we drag around someone else’s past? You’re not guilty by association, and you can let such charges roll off your shoulders because they don’t apply. It’s all a trick designed to manipulate the electorate. You are responsible only for the choices you make, not for the choices someone else made.

 

I hope these techniques have helped you begin the journey of freedom from politically correct mind-control. It will take time, especially the younger you are and the more indoctrination you have suffered. But keep at it, because the stress and mental health benefits are worth it. Rise above, think freely, and don’t be a cog in the politically correct machine.

No One Makes You Do Anything…You Make Yourself

One of the hallmarks of a stressful life is the feeling of not being in control. Whether relating to job, finances, relationships, or even world events, feeling controlled instead of feeling in control causes a sense of powerlessness that drags down a person. Those who feel in control of their lives have far less stress than those who feel they are not in control.

 

What most people don’t stop to think about is that no one actually makes you do anything. You make choices that help you achieve your desired goals, even if they are subconscious goals. There is no one walking around dragging you by the hand from task to task, forcing you to complete certain actions. You make the decisions you make based on the options you are aware of and their known consequences.

 

Even God himself doesn’t control us, if you think about it. God gave us free will, and lets us use our free will to choose whether we will love him or not. We can either follow his son Jesus or we can choose not to. We can choose to do what is right or we can choose to sin. We aren’t robots who have no choice but to love God. If God forced us to love him, it wouldn’t be real love.

 

Now, there are a few times in the Bible where God essentially took control of someone through the Holy Spirit, but those examples are pretty rare. For the overwhelming majority of our life experiences, he does not force us to do anything. Also, there is demonic possession, but that’s something that can only occur because God allows it. Ultimately, Satan and his demons are defeated by Christ and know they are destined for hell. Until judgment, though, they are just trying to take as many human beings down with them as they can.

 

There’s also hypnosis, which I’m sure most of us have seen in action, but as far as I know it’s only possible because a person has agreed to let themselves be hypnotized.

 

So generally, not even God himself controls us or allows other powers to control us. So if not even God himself controls us, why do we feel like other people control us? God has given us control of ourselves—another word for that is self-control. Ordinarily that term is applied only to the choice to abstain from something, but logically, it applies just as much to the things we might choose to do if we didn’t feel controlled.

 

I saw a video on YouTube recently where someone had written in and asked how to stop being a “wage slave.” The response of the producer of the video was that no one is making you be at your job…but yourself (4:21). This guy seems kinda out there and I haven’t watched any of this other videos, but I wanted to give him credit for what he said.

 

Let’s analyze his statement. Our first reaction is to think, but if I don’t go to work, I’ll get fired. That’s probably true. But that doesn’t mean your boss is next to your bed every morning, dragging you out of bed so you can go to work. Okay, but I have bills to pay. That is also true, but the electric company or bank isn’t sending people to your house to cart you off to work. In reality, you are making choices because the consequences of doing things differently are unacceptable.

 

Why is this important? Because until you feel agency in your life, your stress level will be higher, toxifying you with unnecessary stress, and you will not have the vision to see other options in life. For example, if you believe you have no choice but to go to the same job you don’t like every day, why would you ever think of finding another job? Most of us understand that you do have a choice in where you work, and that’s why we look for other jobs. But to take the logic further, we all have the choice of whether to work at all. We must accept the consequences of getting fired and the electricity getting shut off, sure. But once you realize you could stop working any time you want to—although odds are you shouldn’t—your stress level decreases because you no longer feel controlled by your boss, or your landlord, or the bank, or the utility company. You have simply opted for one set of consequences (getting paid) over another (going broke and getting evicted). But it is your choice, not anyone else’s. You have just as much free will as your boss does.

 

How many times have you heard someone described as a “controlling” person? “He/she is so controlling…” Actually, that’s not true because that person can’t control anyone. They can persuade, but the person being persuaded makes a choice to accept the authoritativeness of the person doing the persuading. In other words, the person being attacked by the “controlling” person has chosen one set of consequences—appeasing that person—over the consequences of defying them.

 

One of my favorite books is Don’t Let Them Psyche You Out by Dr. George Zgourides. There is a great chapter on the utility of silence—non-responsiveness—when dealing with difficult people. His basic point is that you are not required to respond to anyone, and that there is an unwritten social rule that if someone says something to you, you have to respond, but actually you don’t have to. That rule is really just a courtesy, not an actual rule. You choose to accept the consequences of not responding, which can sometimes be a socially unacceptable option, but most people take for granted that they must respond every single time and therefore miss out on the times when silence is truly the wisest option. This is just an example of how control by others is an illusion.

 

If you don’t feel in control of your life, you will never be happy, no matter how successful you are. If you feel controlled, your success is not up to you, it’s up to your controller(s). You must do everything you are doing because they control you, and you have no choice in the matter. Living without a choice is not living though, something we can clearly see by the most basic fact that God gives each of free will. The most important question in the universe is whether or not we have decided to believe in his Son Jesus. If in the most important question of all time, God gives us a choice, how much more do we have free choice in every other aspect of life?

 

So, take responsibility for yourself and realize that the control by others that you feel is an illusion. Dispel the illusion with the truth. The title of this website says to not be a cog. A cog has no choice but to turn in the machine. You aren’t that cog—you can turn if you want to, or not turn if you don’t want to. But either way, you are in control.