Sunday, October 18, 2009

Self-Brainwashing and Radical Acceptance

My oldest buddy, who this week is going by "Mr. Stupid," posted this blog:

True or Untrue?

Here's my reply:

For me the big "Wow, I could be brainwashed" moment was watching V for the first time. I knew that if a bunch of aliens showed up saying they were friendly and offering a "Visitor Youth" program, I'd have been the first in line to sign up! Would I be willing and able to see what was really going on, or would I have swallowed their explanations because it was what I wanted to see?

I think we all have the power to brainwash ourselves. It's easy to see things how we think they should be, and then categorize everything we see as either true or false based on that definition of "should." Then what we see that matches with "how things should be" reinforces our definition of true, and what we see that doesn't match reinforces our definition of untrue.

I think that's a big part of why we, as a country, have become so politically divided-- between the pundits and the blogs and the biased news channels (FOX News and MSNBC, specifically) we all now have people appealling to that sense of "should."

My DBT therapy says that "should" is a word that signifies a judgment. By saying "Well, they should know not to do that!" or "I shouldn't have to deal with that!" you're trying to fit the world into what you WANT it to be, and not accepting it for what it really is. And so when we listen to Rush Limbaugh or Al Frankin, they reinforce our shoulds or shouldn'ts, and we help brainwash ourselves because we've got them telling us we're right. (For the record, I won't listen to Air America or watch MSNBC for this very reason... I'm naturally liberal enough on my own, I don't want to have it reinforced!)

DBT calls the answer to this "Radical Acceptance"-- being willing to see a situation for what it simply is or isn't, without our assigning values to what we feel it should or shouldn't be. It doesn't mean you're giving approval to it; you're refraining from approving or disapproving, and trying to see it simply for what it IS. From there you can make a more rational decision, rather than just reacting from your gut. I think it helps us to break through the self-brainwashing that we've been unconsciously doing to ourselves our entire lives.

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