Mind Control

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

Here is a form of communication that quite literally invites the emergence of mental health problems. The invalidation comes in a particular form that you may have witnessed. It may even have happened to you. It looks like this…

You are talking to someone you trust and you are expressing a concern or a grievance about someone in your life. You are in a very unpleasant emotional state. You want to be heard. You want your experience to be witnessed and validated.

Then, the person you have confided in goes into a particular state of mind and says…

‘Have you considered what’s going on for the other person? Have you stepped into their shoes? If you appreciate what they are going through then what you are experiencing will make more sense, and you will be able to feel compassion for the other person.’

And the message received by you, the person with the concern?

‘What you are feeling is not as important as, may not be important at all, compared to what the other person is experiencing and feeling.’

This invalidation has consequences, and the more consistent it is the more harm it does. One particular consequence is to shut down from the person who has invalidated your experience as you learn that what you experience and feel is less important than what others experience and feel. You know they will invalidate your emotional experience if you confide in them again.

You may recognise this as…

‘You should put others before yourself.’

This is harmful as it demands that we do the impossible. We cannot put others before ourselves as that would require us to put them before ourselves, that is, do something first which is to think about putting someone else first. The intent and action must come from us first because it is our choice, something we want to do for ourselves! It demands that we disassociate from ourselves. This is the beginning of personal mental ruin.

The ability to empathise with another, to step into their shoes, to explore their perspective and their perceptual position, has become a useful psychological ‘tool’, and yet it is a part of our very being. It is one of the primary functions of our right brain hemisphere and our mirror neurons. The last thing we need to be told is to empathise with others, consider what is going on for them, when we are experiencing an unpleasant emotional state. That is the worst time to explore another’s perceptual position.

We are innately capable of empathising with others, are compelled to do so, when we are in a resourceful state of mind. No unsolicited suggestion is required. That would be like reminding someone to breathe in and out.

‘You should put others before yourself.’

Make sure you leave the last piece of cake for someone else!

Quite possibly the single most harmful mind control technique ever conceived.



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Keith Gilbert

Keith Gilbert

Neuro-Linguistic Programming Consultant. Author of a few books including ‘Perl’ and ’neuro-linguistic programming: Liberating Parents’. klgilbert001@gmail.com