10 Ways to Avoid Brainwashing

If we don’t own our minds, we’re like pawns in a game where we’re not the player. We’re being played. Corporations, governments, advertisers and even religions (oops, I said it) have gone to great lengths to control your mind. Sometimes their tactics are obvious, but most of the time they are downright sneaky.

If we want to ensure that we’re living for ourselves and not serving some corporation’s agenda, we have to put on our mental armor. We have to arm our minds so we can first know when their is an assault on our sovereignty.

Here are 10 tools you can use to avoid brainwashing and retain the ownership of your mind:

1. Decrypt media spin.

The media uses many different tools and angles to sensationalize things that aren’t inherently sensational. “Experts generally agree” can mean a community college professor and “recent surveys find” can mean the polling of 10 people.

Be wary of any claims where the sources aren’t explicitly stated. (See this article for understanding media spin.)

2. Break through the hype.

Have you ever noticed that the most genuinely talented people don’t feel the need to convince you of their ability? If something is authentically awesome, it advertises itself.

All hype isn’t necessarily bad, but having some man scream at you about the amazing cleaning power of OxyClean is most likely an attempt to scare you into believing something.

3. Don’t buy into scare tactics.

This approach is most popular among the military. This is for an obvious reason: to make you conform and adhere to the purpose of the larger whole. On one hand, I understand why they have to do what they do. But on the other, I am wary of any group the discourages questioning the command. If you don’t think the purpose of your troop’s mission ethical, sorry, you don’t get an opinion. If you don’t agree with the chain of command, too bad.

Sometimes we think there is no other choice but to follow the leader with our heads down. But if we just look a little further, there’s usually another way we didn’t see before.

4. Survey says.

Surveys and statistics are often skewed to support the agenda of the presenter. Just because a survey says something, doesn’t mean you have to believe it. Even if it’s from a reputable source, keep in mind that everyone has an agenda. Even Green Peace. Even Obama. Even your mom.

5. Be conscious of subliminal messages.

Advertisers have cleverly discovered that they can sell you something much easier if it’s associated with a certain lifestyle. A Mercedes equals luxury and high class; a Jeep means you’re rugged and adventurous. Cut through the BS. You define the way you live; your lifestyle doesn’t define you.

6. Don’t be a sheep.

The word “authority” derives from the word author, which simply means the one who originated the idea. It doesn’t mean they are right, or that they are the end of the line. Get as many different opinions as possible before making a decision and trust your common sense.

7. Be certain, or circumvent.

Have you ever noticed that extremely enthusiastic people have an uncanny ability to sway others? Their unshakeable certainty lures others into follow them, simply because they don’t have a strong opinion one way or the other. If you don’t know, don’t let someone else’s certainty force you to make a choice. Do your own research and come to your own conclusion.

8. Listen to your gut.

Follow your gut/intuition. If you think something’s shady, chances are it is. Your mind will usually want to prolong making a decision until it gets all the facts straight. You’ll usually find that after you’ve sorted everything out your gut was right all along. Save yourself some time and trust yourself.

9. Avoid groupthink.

Following the crowd is fine if you’re making that choice consciously. We’ve all heard the saying “if so and so told you to jump off a cliff, would you do it?” I always thought that that was the most idiotic question. That doesn’t prove anything. That’s just stupid. And it’s not what I’m talking about here.

What I mean is following the group because you’re afraid of standing out. You’re afraid of being seen, being heard. Because, geez, if you do that you might actually have to defend your opinion.

Don’t be afraid to be different. Ghandi was different. Einstein was different. People used to think they were crazy, radical and had possible birth defects (just kidding). Now they are considered geniuses.

10. Don’t be a trend-junkie.

“Newly reformulated” shaving cream is often just a newly reformulated packaging design. If you have to buy a new version of your camera, phone, or iPod every 6 months, are you buying it, or is it buying you? Do you really own your things, or do they own you?

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Reply

61 Comments on "10 Ways to Avoid Brainwashing"

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Writer Dad

Listening to our gut is so important. Too often, we ignore our internal voice because it’s too quiet or nagging. This is almost always a mistake.

Nathalie Lussier from Billionaire Woman

I think it is easier to see when other people are being brainwashed when you are “outside of the system”. This is all very matrix-like, but there’s a reason that movie really resonated with all of us. We need to get out of the system to realize we were in it.

The Internet helps us learn how we might have been brainwashed. But be careful of getting brainwashed by internet marketers, too. ;)

Jenny Mannion
Hi Jonathan, GREAT list. Many of the tools you recommend also will keep you in a MUCH happier and positive space as well as avoiding brain washing. The media, scare tactics, surveys spun to someone’s advantage (which also means someone’s disadvantage)don’t serve anyone well to dwell on. I believe following your gut is key as long as it is your conscious intuition and not some part of your ego that has already gathered views on issues. Also furthering education (research as you mentioned) on alternative views. In this day and age I find this an important list! Stumbled and enjoyed!… Read more »
Evelyn Lim

I like the idea of breaking through the hype. It’s easy to get swept away when everyone else buys into something and you don’t. More importantly is that you make your own assessment if the hype is justified in the first place.

Sara at On Simplicity

I love this! There’s no way to be happy if you aren’t in control of your own definition. Incidentally, it’s probably hard to be wealthy or successful in any great measure either if you’re following the crowd.

Jarrod - Warrior Development

I’d like to add, watch for thoughts that pop into your head.

If a thought pops in with an opinion or a recommendation of ask, stop and check if that is really what you want or think is the right thing to do.

The more you watch the mind the more you can quickly pick up on the tricks mentioned in the post too!

Hunter Nuttall

Statistics can be used to prove anything. 13% of all people know that.

But seriously, this is good. Many people really need to awaken to rational thought.


you could safely condense this to “don’t ever watch television again.” 99% of the really good tools to slip a Big Lie past the audience’s critical thinking require lots of noise and animation. and of course TV is just brain damage in a box anyhow.


It is important that we own our minds (and souls). Number eight, intuition, is great and it helps with the other nine.

A good way of thinking is that if it sounds too good to be true, then it most likely is wrong/false.


Funny thing is, people who don’t realise the things on this page themselves and have to await the instructions of this page, let’s face it, are always gonna be targets. The catch-22 here is that if you need telling this stuff, it’s too late!

Peter James

I believe the only way to achieve success in this life is to be unique. The only way to be unique, is to listen to the voice no one else can hear…the one inside.


tonya james

I really like what I have just read and thankyou Ms. James


A good top 10 to run through when considering options and making decisions. #3. “I am weary of any group…” – you are either leery or wary, not weary; weary means tired.

Andrea Hess|Empowered Soul

Great article and great advice. #3 really resonated with me … there is so much fear- and lack-based hype out there!

I think most importantly, we have to know our own intentions and be our own authority, without letting the world decide what is and isn’t possible for us. We either live intentionally, or life happens “to” us.


Seamus Anthony

awesome, but if I listen to my gut too much I end up eating too much cake ;-)


Wonderful list. Unless we’re on a deserted island, we’re all so flooded with information (in numerous forms) that it’s too easy to just readily accept what feels right or sounds right. Taking time to step back and actually THINK is key to holding onto ourselves, at least that’s what I think. ;)


Completely agree with the listening to your gut point – to add to that, think it’s also important to know WHEN to listen to your gut and when to use your mind…. I was reading ‘blink’ recently (ironic, as it’s been a much-hyped book and as we just learned, hype = evil :p) but it has fascinating anecdotes counselling us to use our gut for BIG decisions, and our mind for minute, everyday decisions… with that being said, I still find it tough to wean myself off of overthinking things!

Jason Simon

In his inaugural address, Franklin D. Roosevelt said:

This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.

In my opinion, being afraid of that which is different can lead people to beleive what is in fact far from the truth. Nevertheless, truth like beauty, lie in the eye of the beholder.

Mike Stop
At the risk of ‘daring to think for myself’, I would like to hypothetically argue against most of what you just said. Firstly, there’s no such thing as “thinking for yourself”. Every action you take is informed by all of the infinite causes that have driven you to this very moment. Rebels are only rebels because the norm exists. Your true choices are to be a sheep or a sheep in wolf’s clothing. And let’s just say that the majority donned the wolf’s clothing. Let’s just suppose that everyone was doing something radical… and everyone was “thinking for themselves.” Doesn’t… Read more »
Karmah Bush

I think those who don’t accept that this world has never been for them, but to crush them, are weak. All weakness leads to cowardice. This leads to the loss of who you think you are. Is this world even real or is it just a lie you’re told so you’ll shut up and be a good robot? Weak people, all weak people, do not have the right to exist and yet the strong hand their strength to those who don’t deserve it or even know it. If you are weak, get strong and question. No questions no power.


@ Mike:

I am with you on working together. My main point here wasn’t trying to convince people to be disparate and at odds with each other. The argument I was placing is the need to question agendas and question authority. As well as questioning materialism and main stream media. I think we could all do with a healthy dose of that.

I also don’t think individualism is so bad, if we still remember our unity. The key is respecting each others differences and not putting each other down because of them.


What about “Don’t let anyone convince you that you’re less worthy without them.” or to put a different spin on it, “Your worthiness does not depend on anyone else but you.”


#10 rings particularly true nowadays where the “latest and greatest” is constantly pushed. I brings to mind my favorite lyrics from a Papa Roach song
“…And your pocketbook stressin’, you’re a slave to the system
Workin jobs that you hate, for that shit you don’t need
It’s too bad the world is based on greed, step back and see….”
I’m sure there are oodles of people working to pay for crap they don’t need, they bought into the hype.
Sad really.

Mike Stop

I’m with ya, new friend Jonathan.

I went for three years as a hermit–absolutely NO news, TV, movies, books, music, etc.–for the very reasons you describe…

But just take a look at the 17 comments before mine. I only wish that the people who ACTUALLY disagreed with you were here to read your blog, ya know?

Marc and Angel Hack Life

Never follow the herd unless you know why they’re doing what they’re doing. Loved the article! ;-)


It scary to see what a group of people can talk themselves into that, if you separated the people, none of them individually, would have made the same decision.


Thanks for a very interesting post, Jonathan.
I would like to add to the list. My suggestion is this:

Avoid common sense; use uncommon sense instead :-)

It’s the only way to be creative. ‘Common sense’ is the social norm of each society at a particular time. Just imagine how people like Da Vinci or Edison defied ‘common sense’!


I came across your website via Stumble, and after reading just one article bookmarked the page to my toolbar. I’ll be coming back often, and have linked here from my new blog. I wanted to thank you for giving me the kick I needed to begin a long and tough journey. Your words give encouragement and motivation; they’re inspiring and uplifting.

Again, thank you. You’ve impacted me greatly already.


As Tyler Durden puts in Fight Club: “The stuff you own ends up owning you”.

Tom Volkar / Delightful Work

“What I mean is following the group because you’re afraid of standing out. You’re afraid of being seen, being heard. Because, geez, if you do that you might actually have to defend your opinion.”

Jonathan if you could go into the middle schools and teach our kids this you’d be performing an outstanding public service.

Bobby Rio

funny i was just thinking about this the other day…

i was on a flight and noticed that as soon as the stewardesses came around with the food… everyone woke up to eat… whether they were hungry or not… any we all know how awful airplane food is.

I found myself doig it I woulnd’t even be hungry yet i would be up and about as soon as the trays around me started going down.

It was right then I realized how sheepish I was without realizing it

thanks for the tips


I disagree.

A person is born free or with a tendency on accepting brainwashing. A stupid person that reads your article will just turn into a stupid person that has read your article.

Not that stupid-brainwashable people are unnecessary.

SRinivas Rao

So true. WE live in a world where most people are completely brainwashed. As Morpheus said in matrix “These are the minds of the people we are trying to save, but they are not ready.”


a very interesting approach..I tend to agree more on the ‘group thinking’. Group thinking is good as long as it does not abandon your own thoughts and views.



[…] at Illuminated Mind writes about 10 Ways to Avoid Brainwashing and 7 Rules To Re-Claim the Ownership of Your […]

David T

The funny thing is most of the people here (including the author) sound like they’ve been brainwashed. I guess it’s easier to see it in others than it is in yourself.


This is such a great list! It should be required reading for everyone. :) It reminds me a lot of a book I just read, Living Life As If Thinking Matters by R. L. Wysong. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, I think you’d really enjoy it.

Spurwing Plover

Beware when dirty underhanded grens use kids in their fruadulent TV ads especialy the ENVIRMOENTAL DEFENSE their up to no good


We really seem to be on the same page with the topics we write about. Just today I did a post about the advertising industry having created the reality for Americans in the USA. They’ve literally created it. Really enjoying your blog…


This was a great quote…

…keep in mind that everyone has an agenda. Even Green Peace. Even Obama. Even your mom.

I liked that.

I find that I’m at odds with people I meet that have an agenda straight away. I don’t enjoy talking to them, probably I’ll leave them hanging in some uncomfortable space as they come to grips with knowing that I had them figured out after the first few minutes of knowing them.

I have that ability to see an agenda really quickly… it’s a great tool to have! Again, great quote.


nice blog.

keep open to new streams of information is the key for me. Books, videos, podcasts – anything to shake up your assumptions.

but beware: prejudices can be deep seated. And one resists taking on board new information. That’s where the inner work comes in. Self-transformation.

here’s to exiting the Matrix my friend.



[…] Para visualizar, clique aqui. Para visualizar a versão traduzida para o português, clique […]


[…] Click here to continue reading >> Rate this Article (No Ratings Yet)  Loading … […]

Once again, I think this is great website compared to many others. Please keep up the good work. Good post also! On the brainwashing subject. A dehypnoses is 1. Get away from TV and constant ridiculous music. It flashes and impresses your subconcious to the point that intuition cannot be heard. Instead of living Life, one will live in a box, and the mind never gets a chance to calm down. It really isnt healthy, just addictive and mesmerizing. Meditation is helpful for dissolving all of the illusion of false needs imposed by commercials. 2. Trust your comman sense and… Read more »

Thankyou on the Brainwashing article. A friend of mine said to me that not following the crowd is being different. She does not want to be different because other people don’t like different. What ever happened to being unique. I am unique. Hell, who in their right minds wants to be the same as everyone else.


Turn your mind to your gut. It never lies to you. Don’t do more than 3 consecutive things with your gut. Rest for awhile before continuing. Your gut answers will be skewed if you do more than 3 in a row in a short period of time. Your gut is the best decision maker in the whole wide world barr none……..James


“…As Morpheus said in matrix “These are the minds of the people we are trying to save, but they are not ready.””

..but so Neo succeeded, so there is hope ;}


@radioman Thats why Morpheus died.

Rosanna Carroll

Why? are we all born into this world of a lifetime of conditioning only to realize how little time left to un-condition a lifetime. Since time is “created” I can only hope to have learned enough Here, to graduate into the next!.

Jean Bodie

If a person is brainwashed, do they know that they are brainwashed if they are brainwashed not to know that they are?


I think you got your initial list of entities wrong: “Corporations, governments, advertisers and even religions”. It should be (in order of their motivation to control your mind) Religion, Advertisers, Governments & Corporations.

Sandra Hendricks
This is an awesome list! Advertisers and marketers play on our emotion. Marketers must make you feel the need to have something if they are going to succeed. We feel the need and this lead us to want what they are selling. Without first aligning needs and wants, there is no desire. Advertisers are very clever; they are skilled at making you feel the need for something, which develops your desire. Marketers seem to conspire. However, they simply understand the human mind and how it connects to emotions. Knowing your own mind helps you refrain from the manipulation of the… Read more »

ACCEPT YOURSELF FOR WHO YOU ARE!! IF YOUR NEW TO MATRIX AMERICA, STOP!! STUDYING MIND CONTROL TECHNOLOGY OR TACTIC WILL ONLY COME BACK TO BITE YOUR ASS IN THE END. PLEASE…Im begging you. Dont even entertain your curiosity on the topic of being mind controlled. “See no evil, Hear no evil, say no evil.” or in other words, “read no evil, think no evil…hear no evil”

Previous post:

Next post: