Source: National Institute of Mental Health
Brainwashing, by definition, means persuasion or forcibly inducing someone to give up old beliefs and attitude and accept new contrasting ones. These beliefs and attitudes could be religious, social or political. This is a systematic process of instilling new ideas into a person’s mind till the time they become a part of the person’s new belief system or psyche. It is basically a thought reforming process that falls into the realm of “social influence”. This happens every second of the day when you collect ways to change people’s beliefs and behaviors there are some methods with which this process is carried out. These are:
- Compliance method:
This is called the “Just do it” approach. This method is targeted at reforming a person’s behavior and has got nothing to do with his beliefs and attitudes.
- Persuasion method:
This method, on the other hand, aims at changing a person’s attitude or in other words it can be taken to mean, “Do it because it will help you feel happy/good/successful.”
- Education method:
This is also called the “propaganda method” and it aims at changing a person’s beliefs in sync with the lines, “ Do it because you understand that this is the right thing to do”.
Because brainwashing is a thought reforming process with the help of social influence, we often take a combination of all the above three mentioned methods to affect a change in person’s behavior mostly against his will.
How brainwashing works?
Because brainwashing is about inducing a change in the person’s behavior, it is important that it is carried out in compete isolation. This is why we hear brainwashing being mostly prevalent in prison camps where the brainwasher has complete control over the target, so much so that the brainwasher’s will is used for a person’s eating, sleeping and basic human behavior. When the brainwashing process is carried out, the brainwasher tries to completely break the target’s identity so that new beliefs are accepted and the old ones do not work anymore at all. The most important thing is that this process is carried out under the right conditions. Definitions of brainwashing, sometimes also use the ways of physical harm. However, other psychologists use the non-physical coercion methods. Whatever, definition you use; it is believed that the results of brainwashing are short-lived and temporary. For a short span of time, new beliefs will work for the person as the brainwasher demands but after some time, the person’s old personality will take over and return.
Adapting new thoughts and ideas is not a cakewalk. It requires a lot of transformation and cannot be expected to happen overnight. It may take you as much time as the time from your birth till date to transform your identity because you have been brainwashed every single minute of your life since birth; by your parents, friends, relatives and your own circumstances. This process, in other words, calls for unlearning the thoughts and ideas that you have accumulated in your mind till now, to take up new ones and form a new identity and belief system. The process is made easier by brainwashing yourself with positive thoughts. Some of the techniques that are helpful are stated below:
- Write affirmations: Affirmations are basically a set of new thoughts and ideas that you want to think for yourself. For e.g.: It can mean to say “I am so happy that so people around me love me for the way I am” or something like “I am so intelligent that everyone around me wants to work with me”. When such affirmations are written and read and thought about everyday, it reinforces positive thought on the mind and helps in the process of thought reform. Once you have written down affirmations, it is important you keep reaffirming it everyday by reading it again and again. Moreover, these affirmations are helpful when you have carefully thought about and written them. Things that make it powerful are when these thoughts are filled with a lot of enthusiasm, big thinking, discarding any kind of disbelief and saying it loudly everyday.
- Compliment yourself: When you start complimenting yourself about the good things you have, your mind will automatically reinforce positive behavior.
- Get a coach to help you: A coach can be any person in your environment who truly motivates and inspires you with his thoughts and makes sure you stick to them. This technique is very helpful in the brainwashing process.
The most important person who can control your mind is you. Keeping this fact in mind, it is clear that no one can be the biggest brainwasher for yourself except you.
Taking the above discussion a little further, let’s see how you can brainwash yourself to study well while being bored. As easy as it may sound, it is a strenuous process to push yourself each time to study well. You come across a lot of mental barriers, pain and frustration to accomplish this objective. And this situation worsens if the subject of study is boring and uninteresting. Following are some techniques for how you can still study well when you are bored:
- Make every thought help you to move forward
This technique is basically a shift from “I can’t accomplish this” to “I am making an effort and progressing”. As long as you keep telling yourself that you are making an effort to accomplish victory at a boring subject, your thought process will positively move forward in that direction. So, that positive shift in thinking is very essential.
- Imagine yourself taking action
As Jesse Jackson says, “If my mind can conceive it and my heart can believe it, I know I can achieve it”. When you imagine yourself working towards accomplishing your goals, you will eventually make it happen. If the subject of study is very boring, you still have to imagine yourself studying it, making notes for it and learning it. When you do this exercise, you condition your mind to positively move toward the end result of achieving your goal.
- Small actions that add up
When the task to be achieved seems enormous, start by taking small but sure steps. Don’t ever get bogged down by the enormity of your task. Let’s say you are writing a thesis of 10,000 words, which is a huge target. It can seem like you can never be able to accomplish it given that the thesis is not your area of interest. However, if you convince yourself to start doing even one paragraph a day, you would start moving closer to your target. Eventually you can decide to do like 500 words a day and in a matter of 20 days, you will be through with your thesis. Thus, actions created today manifest their results in the long run.
- Spend time with comrades and talk about your issues
When you know the topic of study is really boring, what can make it interesting is have fun sessions with other students who have either accomplished it or are doing the same. This is because some seniors can guide you with some really motivational pieces of advice and help you make a boring subject seem fun. All you have to do is stick to it and you will feel great once you achieve it.
- Always remind yourself that this won’t go on forever
What students can do is plan interesting things that you would want to do once your study of the boring subject is over, once you have this motivating factor in front of you, you have something meaningful to look forward to once your study is complete. This will help you work towards you goal even better.
Thus, from the above discussion it is clear, that with diligent efforts and continuous conditioning/brainstorming the mind, nothing is impossible to achieve. All you have to do is keep taking actions and moving forward.