“That’s the way it’s always been”… “That’s not normal”… “You’re not going to fit in if you do that”…
I bet these words sound familiar. We’ve all been heard them one time or another, and maybe you felt trapped or inhibited from being yourself or doing what you really wanted to do.
Remember when you were a child and you felt free to do whatever you want and be whoever you were without the worry of judgment?
Once you grew into an adult, you learned. You learned how to fit in and check all the boxes to make sure you were accepted by your community. No one wants to stick out like a sore thumb. Maybe you’ve repressed or suppressed feelings, ideas, or skills that wouldn’t fit into our cookie-cutter society.
We have been hypnotized. Think about nature vs. nurture. We are born with our own unique and innate personalities, but we forget the strong effect our nurture has on who we are and who we become.
Besides our families and loved ones, our culture and community nurture us too. In today’s world, we have been bombarded with so many messages and corrupt belief systems, stemming from social media, the government, television, movies, music, everything!
What have we been told?
Here are some of the messages we receive in Western culture:
- You’re not good enough until you have X, Y, or Z.
- You must fit into society’s boxes: being different is bad.
- You must follow customs, traditions, and social norms.
- If you’re not always busy, you’re not doing enough.
- Get a 9-5 job, get married, have 2.5 kids, mortgage your home.
- Do the same as everyone else and you’ll be safe.
We feel the effects of these messages and we put so much pressure on ourselves to do whatever we can to stay a part of our tribe. We want a tribe, and we want a community!
That, in turn, affects the way we perceive ourselves. We place ourselves on a scale, and we rate ourselves as either “good enough” or “not good enough”, “accepted” or “unacceptable”.
The desire to be accepted into a community and to feel that sense of belonging is totally natural. Many years ago, loneliness literally meant death. If you were separated or outcast from the tribe, you were almost certainly going to die. The desire to be accepted is a part of our genetic wiring.
Have we paid a high and dangerous price for that acceptance in a community? Have we forgotten our true selves? With 300 million people worldwide suffering from depression, this may be the case.
Triggers of Cultural Hypnosis:
- “It is how it is”: Think of cultural tradition – marriage, divorce, monogamy, dietary choices, religious observances. Just because something has always been one way, does not mean it can never be another.
- Words create culture: Words have more power than we even realize. And the people we look up to have the most power to heal or injure with their words. They also have the power to influence culture and what people will believe and how they will act. Think about who we read on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
- Music: Music uses a hypnotic state to influence our minds. What are the lyrics you hear most? Do they have a positive message? Do they convey pride, ego, boasting? Do they uplift, connect, unite? Think about the music you listen to. Our music can tell a lot about us and what we hold dear and what we believe.
- TV and movies: Trends begin, memes are made, and characters are stereotyped. Being surrounded by TV, soap operas, or even the news can send messages we don’t even realize. We may start to lose sight of what’s really valuable. TV can make us feel like something’s wrong with us, and we need to change to fit in.
- Standard Western education system: Our education system was standardized over a century ago, and it’s hardly changed since. It is designed to remove critical thinking and create sheep. Some personality traits are valued, others scorned. We are told that our worth lies in academic performance: something we’re not all made to excel in.
- Fear Of Feeling Out: Everyone knows what FOMO is, but FOFO is that fear of feeling outcast, with no belonging. Fear of loneliness.
- The government: This is an obvious one: of course the lawmakers of the land want to have an integral part in culture and culture shifts. Our government system controls us and makes us fear the consequences of our actions. In some ways, this is detrimental to spiritual beings.
Can We Wake Up?
Hypnosis is defined as: “a state of consciousness in which a person is highly responsive to suggestion or direction.”
Sometimes you are aware of what areas of your life are hypnotized, but sometimes you’re not. It may come across in ways you didn’t expect. I remember how I used to believe that Western medicine was the best way to treat illness, and modern pharmaceutical science had all the answers. I soon realized that is not the case.
So, how can we wake up from our time “asleep” to live life freely and authentically?
- Reflect. Spend time with your mind to find what was given to you from culture and try to release it. What do you really and truly value? What baggage have you been holding on to? See what you find.
- Love yourself. We hear this in our culture, but the phrase doesn’t really get applied well. Buddha says, “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” Let that love wash over you as you begin each day.
- Question. Practice the art of questioning and thinking. Don’t accept things blindly anymore. Find the roots of issues and challenge old ideas and “firmly-based” rules and traditions.
- Change your environment. Perhaps your current community and environment are holding you back. You might feel controlled and subdued, instead of free and valued. Find yourself a new community and environment if you need to.
It’s time to break the cycle and escape the hypnotizing power our culture has had over us. Break the chains of those messages you’ve received as you’ve grown up in a Western culture, and free your mind to find true satisfaction, contentment, and peace in this life.
“The mind is everything. What you think, you become.” –Buddha
10 Awesome Buddha quotes that will inspire and motivate you. (2017, September 16). Retrieved from https://www.daimanuel.com/2013/09/10/10-awesome-buddha-quotes-that-will-inspire-and-motivate-you/
BRIEFING #5: Cultural Hypnosis. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ppiweb.com/cultural-hypnosis/
Depression. (2017, July 04). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/mental_health/management/depression/en/
Hypnosis | Definition of hypnosis in English by Oxford Dictionaries. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/hypnosis
Team, K. B., Clement, J., Ashleigh, Ormsby, P., Siddiqui, M., Walsh, . . . Brown, M. (2018, July 25). The Many Origins of Depression. Retrieved from https://kellybroganmd.com/the-many-origins-of-depression/
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