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Nudging: Whose Thinking?
The doors we open and close each day, determine the kind of life we lead. Some people make clear and quick decisions while others sit on the fence for a while before making their decision. While others are slow to deliberate, and take into account their partner, spouse, child, neighbour, teacher, sports coach, doctor before making a decision. Then there are those people that make a default decision. They make no decision and thereby let others shape the course of their life through their decisions.
While we make our decisions, we are also covertly or overtly subjectively influenced by the needs and desires of advertisers and the media. Not to forget our ruling bodies who now want a slice of the pie, by combining economics and with psychology to forming community nudging units so the ruling body can manipulate the behaviour of their population to act in certain ways or take up certain directions to their likings.
When we make a decision, what is involved when we make a decision; and what factors can influence us when we make our decision/s?
These 7 factors can influence our decision-making process: -
1. Past experiences
2. Cognitive prejudices
3. The amount of successes and failures we have experienced
4. Our age
5. Our social, cultural and economic status
6. How committed you are to your desired outcome
7. How susceptible you are to either overt or covert influences
We are making decisions every day that affect our lives. We make domestic decisions, relationship decisions, career decisions, financial decisions, health decisions, recreational decisions and political decisions.
How Do We Know If We Have Made a Good or Bad Decision?
We feel happy or satisfied with a good decision. While with a bad decision we feel a sense of regret or just horrible inside.
If We Made a Bad Decision, How Can We Make a Better Decision?
1. Make sure your stomach is full so that your mind doesn’t become distracted by your biological needs.
2. If you can, make your decision in the morning before 11 am. You are then at your sharpest. If, however, that is not possible, allow yourself time to rest or meditate just before making a significant decision.
3. Where you can, take the pressure of your brain. Simplify. Cut down your options to two options and then make your decision.
4. Place yourself in a physical space that is light and well ventilated. It will give you that added feeling of clarity and therefore, edge, as you make your decision.
5. Do your best to full proof leaking personal boundaries
My Personal Boundaries
How Susceptible Are You To Another's Influence?
At this point in time, I want to focus on how susceptible we are to another’s influence when we are making a decision. This can be when we are in a one to one relationship; or, when we are in a one to group situation. This includes those times our ruling body covertly or overtly releases nudging mobs/gangs to alter the behaviour and attitudes of its population. I want to look at how we can reduce the effects of manipulation and deception by plugging up our leaking personal boundaries so that we can be aware of where our thinking begins and ends; and when another’s thinking begins and/or ends.
Is it your thinking? Or, is it their thinking? (partner, parent, employer, ruling body, media, advertisers, psychologists)
How do you know where you begin or end; and where another begins or ends?
To me, personal boundaries are the unseen emotionally felt and recognized barriers/lines that we put into place to protect our bodies, heart, mind and behaviour from the requests or invasive demands from others. These personal boundaries enable us to either live a life due to chance, conflict and high drama, or, one that is more moderate, peaceful, balanced and harmonized.
One definition of personal boundaries is: “personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them and how they will respond when someone passes those limits”.
As my eyes and thoughts lingered over this definition, I began to question my knowledge or understanding of what “reasonable” means to me. I felt the definition of reasonable was a huge slippery slope. What is unreasonable to me may be thought of as reasonable to another. To decide what is reasonable we would have also had to be cognizant of what our thinking is, versus, whose thinking is influencing us, together with determining what possible remedies are available to us within the limited scope of our set of circumstances.
Who is influencing you today? Your partner? One of your family members? A friend? Your Employer? A leading community member? A government leader? Each of these people will to some degree influence us whether that be truthfully or falsely.
Boundary lines can be in a perpetual state of flux. Sometimes more openly or grandly when compared to others. But if our personal boundary lines are leaking, we allow the space for the dominators, the disruptives and chaotics as well as those in a very vulnerable place, to swim into our lives, leading to great power imbalances in the relationship. If such people start to show up in your life, take note of the Red Flags. Your boundary demarcations are going to be questioned or thoroughly tested, whether you are ready for them or not. You will recognize that the doorways to being ill -treated have opened wide. The depth of your pain and anguish which you will feel in your heart, body and mind, will signal to you, that this is going to be one major life lesson. And you won’t know whether you will make it out dead or alive.
Identifying Leaking Personal Boundary Lines
To help you identify the leaking boundary lines, take a look at these dynamics and see if you can relate to them or not. It is a good starting point to get you thinking about the state of your own personal boundaries in your relationship at this minute. So, do you: -
Hold your thoughts and feelings back when you have a personal view to express?
Feel guilty when you say “No”?
Adopt another’s idea so you can be accepted and belong to that lover; partner; family group; employer; organization; community or country?
Not speak out when someone exploits or maltreats you?
Not remark or stop the action of when someone interferes, disrupts, detracts, distorts you in order to conform to another person’s immediate wants?
Give too much?
Find yourself enmeshed in another’s problem?
Not call people up when they say or do things in front of you that make you squirm or feel demeaned/humiliated?
Have you ever in your lifetime experienced any of these events? Yes, I have too. You are not alone. And that is okay, in the sense of, we are all learning how to combat life. And living life is about trial and error. The key though is to learn from your mistakes or fall downs so you can either stop it before the person or event takes place. Or, avoid it in the best possible way for you.
With trial and error situations? The pendulum of life can also swing in an equal and opposite direction. So, what does that mean? It means that our own leaking boundary lines can serve to undermine the love or the life we have or have desired to have. When this happens, Red Flag alerts will occur and people from all walks of life will gladly volunteer to undermine you or dehumanize you to secure their own sense or need for bravado. As a consequence, you will either knowingly or unknowingly find yourself in an unbalanced power relationship or situation. It seems somehow we are wearing the Learner’s L Cap which is beeping out signals of “target me”. This can occur in a one to one relationship, or, a one to group relationship.
4 Reasons to Make It Okay
Determining boundaries is not a new issue or concept. It is though, a constant life struggle for some of us. We need to mark out our limits to others because not everyone we meet will have our best interests at heart. In fact, some may just gain sheer pleasure at breaking your Will, your Spirit. Here are 4 points as to why it is okay to have boundaries, to have limits and say “NO”: -
1. You are a human being. Thus, you have inherent worth like every other human being on the planet. And that is to say we are all born of the same cloth and therefore have the inherent right to have personal boundaries in place and having them respected.
I know from being a female brought up in a traditional household, I was taught to put everyone’s needs before mine. Some now call that a psychological development of Altruism. Some may say that it is the development of a Doormat-a Fool.
2. You love everyone to be happy, just like the simplistic need of a child. Therefore, you want everyone to get along and feel good together. Well, according to some, this is not a good way for you to be. Why? Because you won’t be able to say “No” and stick to it.
For the soft at heart? You must learn to say “No” and mean it. Not only for you but for others healthy emotional boundaries, too. And? You don’t have to be cruel to get your “No’ across. You may just have to be repetitive at times before the message sinks in for a reasonable person to comprehend.
3. You do not need to justify yourself with endless explanations as to “why”. Just say, “Yes” or “No”. That is enough. Now in saying this, it sounds so easy to do. Well it wasn’t for me until one of my Employers gave me the only piece of advice I ever received from an Employer. She said, “you don’t need to justify. Just say “yes” or “no” and that is all that is needed.” Now, for some reason this was a huge lesson for me to learn. And I remember it as if it was yesterday. I am forever grateful to this Employer for that one personal piece of advice.
4. Having leaking boundary lines could very well indicate you are feeling uncertain about things or yourself at this point in time. If you do feel this way, find techniques to relearn to trust your instincts and conclusions about people or matters. Together with accepting the good, bad and ugly outcomes of any decisions you make using your instincts. Remember, it is trial and error learning with your instincts. However, being an accountable adult means accepting the outcomes you produced or co-produced. Then? Try to detach and move on. Move on to the next incident or situation at hand.
Once we strengthen the above areas and we are dealing (hopefully) with reasonable people (not psychopaths, sociopaths or narcissists), you can develop decent and stable relationships in your life.
…. “Having boundaries in place will create emotional healthiness, which in turn is created by people with emotional health” ….— Anonymous
Some say that, everything is manipulation. Yet, what if we saw the effects of influence in terms of a metaphor of a see-saw? If manipulation was a see-saw, then at one end of the continuum, we would find ourselves allowing ourselves to be influenced because our values and our rights have been respected. At the other end of the spectrum, we have destructive influences (manipulations) that subtract or deprive a person of their sense of self, their financial, emotional independence and/or ability to think critically.
At the destructive end of the manipulation (influencing) see-saw, we find gangs, mobs and cults. Here deception and manipulation tactics (brainwashing) are used to extract information about your weaknesses and your strengths as a person. Under this umbrella, can come the one to one relationship with a lover, spouse, parent, employer, pastor, teacher, therapist, sports coach…. In this cult one to one relationship, a power imbalance will reign. You will have one person taking advantage of the present power to exploit, deceive and manipulate the other.
The cultic effect is when a system of influences majorly alters and disrupts another person and it changes their basic makeup, their core, in terms of identity which is made up of their relationships, decisions, behaviours, values, beliefs and preferences. Creating a new false identity. Now this “transformation” can be positive or negative. One use of this technique which some say has produced good outcomes, is when dealing with addicts.
1971 Stanford Social Prison Experiment
The unethical destructive use of this cult brainwashing technique was seen and employed by psychologist, Philip Zimbardo, who conducted the well documented 1971 Social Prison Experiment of Mind Control. Here, one’s freedom to choose, was negatively altered by agencies that distorted another’s motivation, perception, cognition and behavioural activities and outcomes. The psychologist Philip Zimbardo said, EVERYONE is susceptible! That means, YOU and I. And, do we want that happening in our life? In our communities? In our countries?
Zimbardo says there is no magic formula except the use of “words and group/gang pressures” placed in a format that allows the authouritarian manipulator to create dependency on him or her. The use of “words and gang/group pressures” will make the target think they are making their own decisions independently; and that they are free to decide, when that is not the case at all. The targeted is not aware of the influencing process, nor, the changes occurring within their own psyche.
How Can You Tell If It Is Brainwashing or Mind Control?
If your partner, parent, employer, therapist, sports coach, doctor, pastor, teacher has the ability to destructively influence you, how do you distinguish between covert brainwashing manipulation and mind control?
Steve Hassan (former Cult member of Unification Church) says you know when you are being brainwashed, as the other person is known as an enemy to you. With mind control manipulation, the manipulator has deceived you into believing they are your friend so that you do not protect yourself against them. You may also believe this friend has your best interests at heart. However, the mind control manipulator will extract information (your weaknesses and strengths) to use against you, to continue the deception and manipulation.
This technique is said to be more powerful than using physical coercive methods, Why? Because physical coercion only changes behaviour while coercive persuasion (mind control) will change BOTH behaviour and attitude. And what is surprising to the target, is they are happily and actively participating in the coercive changes. You then ask why then, when a person is treated cruelly by another person, they just don’t get up and leave? Well, it is because they find it hard to believe that the person they once trusted and loved has deceived and manipulated them. It is very hard to take. The key psychological effect is that the target/victim doesn’t want to believe they were “tricked by their friend”, their lover, spouse, pastor, sports coach, teacher……
If someone is using either of these deceptive or manipulative tricks, you are more than likely in the hands of a psychopath, sociopath or narcissist.
Nudging Units: Is This Okay?
Now…what happens when your country decides it is in their best interest to combine economics with psychology to create coercive tactics so that you WILL do the ruling body’s wants and without noticing you are being manipulated or deceived?
In 2013, the Australian Coalition government announced it would privatise the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) so that the civil servants responsible for policy decisions would be privatized. The idea being, to make or save money for the country by way of the effects of the BIT. That is the BIT’s (Nudging Units) function was to coerce/manipulate the population to do the governments bidding unknowingly.
The positive results produced by the BIT’ s are: -
1. Reducing Medical Prescription Errors
BIT redesigned the medical prescription form (study at Imperial College London) to make it easier to distinguish between micrograms and milligrams. Options now to be circled, instead. Results? Significant improvement of dosage entries
2. Giving a Day’s Salary to Charity
The BIT ran a trial with the Deutsche bank to ENCOURAGE people to donate a day’s salary to charity. The control group received standard, broad-based emails/leaflets encouraging people to participate. This approach was tested against a range of techniques to make the email more PERSONALIZED. The latter was found to be highly effective in increasing the uptake
3. ENCOURAGING people to join the organ donor register using reciprocity. In 2013, BIT collaborated with the Department of Health, the National Health Science, Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency with the Covenant Digital Service. To increase organ donation, when people received their car tax on-line, they received a message asking if they wanted to join the organ donor register. For 1 month, eight different messages were introduced to get them to sign up. By changing the structure of the question/message, they added another 100, 000 organ donors per year relative to the control.
These are some of the positive examples of subtle coercive deceptive and manipulative psychological techniques used to control the outcome of the ruling body’s desire/s.
What if these privatised governmental bodies went out into the community to shape the values and beliefs of the people that inhabited the neighbourhood, community, town and city? Using us, or those that are in a vulnerable situation, (i.e. who doesn’t have the resources to fight the ruling body back) as live lab rats. What if BIT groups became mob groups, gang stalking groups and applied these coercive techniques of “words and number pressures” via methodical organized constancy in the form of spying, stalking, intimidation, psychological harassment, together with gas lighting the environment, in order to produce the outcome of having a compliant, non- questioning population? What if such BIT groups affiliated with local law enforcement groups? We have the potential for psychological violence on our immediate doorsteps. What would our lives be like then? A Democracy? Or a little WWII Germany in the making?
I ask you, is it your thinking? Or, their thinking?
Thank You for Reading
© 2016 ThreeKeys