Do you see yourself as a ‘free thinker’? Would you know if you were being ‘brainwashed? Do you really know your own mind?
I believe freedom of mind to be the core freedom that underpins nearly every other type – the ability to truly think for yourself. This means being aware of your conscious decisions but also understanding the subconscious beliefs that underpin them.
With this freedom you could be said to both know your own mind and, in a sense, own your mind.
However, to achieve this state of awareness can make an individual incredibly powerful. It is therefore no surprise that, since the dawn of civilisation, humans have learnt that gaining power over each other (or certain groups of people) is primarily a matter of ‘mind control’.
The ‘Battlefield’ of Mind Control
From my experience, the core driver of human behaviour is the subconscious mind and the beliefs and programmed responses contained within it.
The subconscious could be viewed as the ‘battlefield’ upon which control of an individual’s mind is won or lost and their conscious behaviours subsequently influenced.
This is also a battle that you cannot ‘opt out’ of or avoid. We live in a world of suggestion, signs and symbols, which all have the power to reshape the programming in this deepest part of the mind.
Unless you are planning to move to the moon with no internet or phone access (and no human company!) then you are going to be exposed to suggestions with the power to ‘change your mind’, whether you are aware of it or not.
Born Free (of Mind)
The good news is that you were born with freedom of mind. However, this state lasts for a very short space of time indeed.
Rapidly you were exposed to a preferred language to speak and, of course, you very quickly received a given identity in the form of a name. This is the starting point of the process of programming the mind with the beliefs that an individual holds about themselves, others and the world around them.
It is important to make clear that this is not a bad thing in itself. Practically speaking, you do need a name and some highly important positive beliefs are installed throughout our formative years.
For example, most children will learn very early in life that stealing is wrong and this is a supportive belief to function healthily in society.
Overt and Covert Suggestion
When it comes to curtailing our freedom of mind then direct suggestion offers very little to be concerned about. Most people can easily identify, reject or ignore a direct suggestion designed to re-shape their beliefs and alter their behaviour.
However, covert suggestion is the real tool used by those looking to control minds – the undetected process of changing beliefs at a subconscious level, without a person even knowing this is occurring.
This is precisely how ‘brainwashing’ works!
Continuing the example of a young child learning the belief that stealing is wrong. If you try to deliver this as a single direct suggestion, it will most likely be met with opposition or an endless cycle of ‘why’ questions.
Instead, it is more likely a child is still directly told stealing is wrong, but also hears many stories where the main theme may appear to be something else, but the ‘moral’ of the story is that stealing is wrong.
Perhaps a hero who doesn’t steal is rewarded and a villain who does is punished. The subconscious learning here is that stealing is a bad act and will lead to an unwanted outcome. When faced with the opportunity to steal in the real world, the child will not act in that way or, if they do, they will feel guilt and shame by acting in a way incongruent with the programmed belief.
This type of learning, through stories and metaphor, is an example of covert suggestion, but with a positive outcome for the individual and society as a whole.
Suggestion and Intention
As seen above, suggestion itself is best viewed as fundamentally neutral – it is the intention and outcome that determines whether suggestion is negative or positive.
If a suggestion is being made to a person, the key is whether it is designed to influence (to guide them to a belief that will benefit them, either primarily or in addition to the person or group making the suggestion) or manipulation (primarily benefiting someone else, either with zero benefit to the receiver or even to their detriment).
In my work as a clinical hypnotherapist I use suggestion in the positive sense, to influence or persuade a person at a deeper level to re-shape their beliefs and ways of thinking to achieve a desired outcome.
As I also explain in my skills training sessions and workshops, covert suggestion is simply a tool – it can used for positive influence or harmful manipulation, depending on the user’s intention.
Identify and Re-evaluate Existing Beliefs
Since we are not born with beliefs, they come from somewhere, so a key step in attaining freedom of mind is to identify, analyse and question the validity of the beliefs that influence your decisions and behaviours.
Where did these beliefs come from, do they benefit you and are they limiting or supportive?
You might also work backwards from an unwanted outcome or source of emotional disturbance and try to identify a belief that may be contributing.
If such a limiting belief is identified you could then take both conscious and subconscious steps to challenge and remove it. This could be working with a professional using deeper level techniques or ‘self help’ using affirmations and self hypnosis.
Naturally, if a belief is working out great for you and those around you, then keep it!
Making the Invisible Visible
There is a reason governments use propaganda and businesses spend fortunes on advertising – it influences the subconscious mind through suggestion and nudges individuals and groups towards certain behaviours or ‘choices’.
An important aspect of freedom of mind is therefore becoming more aware of suggestion and the influence it can have on your beliefs and behaviours.
As I have stated before, I believe a great way to train the conscious mind in this type of awareness is to follow a simple premise. If you are receiving a suggestion then someone has invested time and/or money in the process of sending it.
That is the first ‘why’ that I ask – why am I hearing about this? Is this suggestion trying to influence me? If so, then it could be positive. If it is suggesting that I try a certain soda and I then really do like that soda, then it may be a win-win outcome.
However, you will also identify suggestions designed to manipulate, for example, using emotive language to persuade you to vote in a way that superficially may appeal, but in fact could be to your overall detriment.
Such manipulation methods are explored and explained in my skills training sessions and workshops.
Free Thinking – A Work in Progress
Freedom of mind is a daily aspiration of mine – to make better conscious decisions aligned with subconscious beliefs that I am satisfied are supportive.
When a person shows resistance to this approach it tends to be in the form of the following two types.
Firstly, a person or group who actively uses covert suggestion and psychological manipulation will not want their victims to be empowered with freedom of mind. They will dismiss the concepts, even as far as playing down the impact or denying the existence of the subconscious mind.
The same applies to any person benefitting, directly or indirectly, from the status quo created by the manipulation of others.
The second type will be those people who have a sense that they may not be making up their own minds, but their ego and aversion to doing any work to change things is the real obstacle.
Things might turn out okay for them, but that’s leaving a lot of power in the hands of others, hoping that they are benign, or at least neutral, in their influence and not harmful through manipulation.
If it does turn out to be the latter, this can be doubly upsetting – you have been hurt by the manipulation of others plus you had a hunch it was happening too!
Freedom of mind is not about becoming anxious or overly self-analytical about every single decision or belief. It is most important for the ‘big stuff’ in life, but the more work you put in, the more you achieve it, then the more personal power you will have in your life, leading to better choices and outcomes.