leaving the cult mindset?
Posted by: Brynhild Tudor ()
Date: November 23, 2010 03:24PM

Hi all,
My name is Brynhild Tudor, and I was involved in the new age for 5 years. I'm having trouble getting out of the mindset, and was referred to this thread, as many psychological tactics used in the new age movement are apparently used in SGI. I posted and replied to threads in various topics on the RR board, so if you want to read those to get my background, please feel free.

Basically, I tried every guru in the new age arena you can think of. You name it, I did it. I joined in an extremely vulnerable time in my life, but after getting in so deep I feared I'd never be able to get out, I came here, and these kind people are helping me recover.

Here's my problem: I still half believe some of the new age stuff, namely this thing called ascension, which basically says that Earth is going to be transformed, through various natural disasters always shown in a positive light, into a glorious new eutopian world. The people that are journeying with earth into "the golden age" are called lightworkers, and you must think in certain ways to be one, as prompted by the various channeled spirits (get rid of fear/doubt/negativity, forgive everybody, be a love-and-light person, etc.) It says, humanity is all one but not everybody is going to or is willing to ascend, and you don't *have* to because it's your free will, they imply that bad things will happen to you if you don't. Like, you'll go to another 3D world of violence, greed, all the bad stuff, to continue learning lessons. But they don't make it sound bad. They say you shouldn't have any fear and they say God/universe loves you unconditionally even if you go to this place. If you don't ascend you'll get bad karma in the next life, although they don't call it bad, because according to them, there's no such thing as good and bad. It's all good...

That's the new age in a nutshell. There are other whacky things I'm trying to stop believing, but this is a big fear one for me, and I was told many of you moved past this. How did you get over the fear of "you don't *have* to ascend/whatever but if you don't, bad things will happen."? I did not know how deep-ceited this fear was until I actually tried to picture a scinario and realized I half believed this, and was utterly terrified.

I can't afford exit counseling so thought I'd come here and it was suggested maybe you could help. I did not give money, but more than gave my time and energy to the New Wage movement, as a postered affectionately likes to call it.

Thanks so much,

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Re: leaving the cult mindset?
Posted by: solea13 ()
Date: November 25, 2010 12:01AM

Hi Brynhild,

I understand what you're talking about. It sounds in your case that you weren't exactly in a 'cult' per se, but that you picked up a mixture of New Age beliefs over the years that have become an integral part of your own belief system. I think what you're experiencing is called 'cognitive dissonance'. In this belief system you're not supposed to have fear. But ... if you don't believe, then a horrible fate is waiting for you. But ... don't be afraid because it's all good.

So, long story short, you're really afraid that you'll be 'punished' if you don't continue to follow this belief system. I felt the same when I left my cult. I had many fears and phobias connected with leaving. That was three years ago, which tells you how long recovery can be right there. In fact, there is part of me that is still in 'half a mind' as you describe about my cult. There were many beliefs that are so much a part of me that I can't seem to let them go. I still wouldn't publicly speak against the group or the group leader, for example. That is really out of fear of making a permanent break between myself and my friends in the group.

I guess I've found a middle ground in a way. I simply don't practice the 'techniques' I was taught. Do I believe in God, or in 'energy-healing'? Right now I just accept that I don't know. Is there such a thing as 'ascencion'? Will there be a golden age? Am I a 'lightworker' ? Was my teacher the reincarnation of Jesus? (Yes, I know, crazy!) I don't know. So I just focus on being a good person, which for me means helping others. I found work that's meaningful to me. I focus on being kind and helpful to the people around me, taking care of my husband and my daughter ... just normal stuff really.

I also read a LOT. Educating myself about cults, cult mind control became very important to me. Steve Hassan's book 'Releasing the Bonds' was the book that helped me leave my group. Margaret Singer's 'Cults in Our Midst'; 'The Guru Looked Good' by Marta Szabo; Enlightenment Blues by Andre Van der Braak. Look for books that relate to your own particulr situation. The thread here on Byron Katie helped educate me TREMENDOUSLY, even through it wasn't about my specific guru, lots of the information is incredibly helpful. A good place to start is Skepdic.com. You can search whatever topic is troubling you and get a good healthy dose of reality about it.

So it takes time to heal. I didn't have an exit counselor but I did get some regular counseling for a while. Just BE careful! Strangely, a lot of counselors also have a lot of New Age beliefs and might end up guiding you back to books like "Love is Letting Go of Fear" (as mine did) which is based on a Course in Miracles, which you DON'T want to get involved in! Some of the things I do ... try to stay practical as possible, stay in the moment; do my work to the best of my ability; spend time with my daughter; bake good stuff!; enjoy my family and people for who they are without having a hidden agenda to 'help' them; exercise (I took up hatha yoga); listen to music I like; journal about my fears and my goals for the future. I went back to school, it keeps me busy and focused on real-world problems and solutions ... not fantasies of sending energy and being a 'lightworker'.

I hope some of this helps ... ???

Disclaimer regarding Steve Hassan

The Ross Institute of New Jersey/May 2013

See [www.culteducation.com]

The inclusion of news articles within the Ross Institute of New Jersey (RI) archives, which mention and/or quote Steven Hassan, in no way suggests that RI recommends Mr. Hassan or recognizes him in any way.

News articles that mention Steve Hassan have been archived for historical purposes only due to the information they contain about controversial groups, movements and/or leaders.

RI does not recommend Steven Hassan.

RI has received serious complaints about Steve Hassan concerning his fees. Mr. Hassan does not publicly disclose his fee schedule, but according to complaints Steve Hassan has charged fees varying from $250.00 per hour or $2,500.00 per day to $500.00 per hour or $5,000.00 per day. This does not include Mr. Hassan's expenses, which according to complaints can be quite substantial.

Steven Hassan has charged families tens of thousands of dollars and provided questionable results. One recent complaint cited total fees of almost $50,000.00. But this very expensive intervention effort ended in failure.

Dr. Cathleen Mann, who holds a doctorate in psychology and has been a licensed counselor in the state of Colorado since 1994 points out, "Nowhere does Hassan provide a base rate and/or any type or accepted statistical method defining his results..."

Steve Hassan has at times suggested to potential clients that they purchase a preliminary report based upon what he calls his "BITE" model. These "BITE reports" can potentially cost thousands of dollars.

See [corp.sec.state.ma.us]

Steve Hassan runs a for-profit corporation called "Freedom of Mind." Mr. Hassan is listed as the corporate agent for that business as well as its president and treasurer.

RI does not recommend "Freedom of Mind" as a resource.

RI also does not list or recommend Steve Hassan's books.

To better understand why Mr. Hassan's books are not recommended by RI read this detailed review of his most recently self-published book titled "Freedom of Mind."

See [www.cultnews.com]

Steve Hassan's cult intervention methodology has historically raised concerns since its inception. The book "Recovery from Cults" (W.W. Norton & Co. pp. 174-175) edited by Dr. Michael Langone states the following:

"Calling his approach 'strategic intervention [sic] therapy,' Hassan (1988) stresses that, although he too tries to communicate a body of information to cultists and to help them think independently, he also does formal counseling. As with many humanistic counseling approaches, Hassan’s runs the risk of imposing clarity, however subtly, on the framework’s foundational ambiguity and thereby manipulating the client."

RI has also learned that Mr. Hassan has had dual-relationships with his counseling clients. That is, clients seeing Mr. Hassan for counseling may also do professional cult intervention work with him.

Professionals in the field of cultic studies have also expressed concerns regarding Steven Hassan's use of hypnosis and Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).

Based upon complaints and the concerns expressed about Mr. Hassan RI does not recommend Steve Hassan for counseling, intervention work or any other form of professional consultation.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/10/2013 09:08PM by rrmoderator.

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Re: leaving the cult mindset?
Posted by: Brynhild Tudor ()
Date: November 25, 2010 03:43AM

Hey Solea13,
Your advice will help me a lot! Thank you. Yeah, right now I dropped all religion and spirituality and decided to be just a regular, normal, secular person. Of course, in the cognitive dissonance I experienced (it's not a cult per se, but thank you for helping me find the words), being a regular, normal, secular person with no focus whatsoever on spirituality is detremental to you in new age circles. I guess I just take things at face value, take people's word for it, you know? For example: I would like to believe there's an afterlife, and people say there is, but others say no, so which one do you pick? I don't know if there's a God. I provide evidence there isn't, based on the state of the world, and the majority of people say "that's inadmissible evidence, use scientific evidence" even though science has never interested me. Other people say "God existed in spite of the state of the world because..." and they justify it. So which is correct? God either exists or he doesn't.

I'd like to believe ascension doesn't exist and that new agers are crazy for believing it, but they justify it somehow. And if you try to state a tangible, physical explanation for things (electrical charge, as opposed to a rock giving off metaphysical healing energy) they say you're missing out. Yet they say, let's all have dialogue with each other and our own beliefs. But that dialogue isn't very friendly.

See, God either exists or he/she/they/it doesn't. There's either an afterlife or there isn't. Ascension is either happening or it's not. It's frustrating when people say "dire consequences will happen if you do or don't do these actions, feel/think this way, but don't be afraid." Isn't that controlling a person's feelings then? They say no, but I disagree. And if you look at what you just said, "don't be afraid" you'd recognize that, because it's telling you not to do something, and that's control. But people say, "that's not control, you have the wrong definition" so I think, if the majority say that, maybe I do. But then the minority people say how courageous you are and say how proud they are of you for standing up for what you believe in. But if the small minority had a point, the majority would recognize that and catch on to it. But they don't.

To me, the table is either brown or blue. Someday it might be revealed to us if there's an afterlife or a God, and some people are going to be proven wrong, maybe. It's kinda sad when you have to research every single little thing and do background checks on people. It's strange when everybody talks about unity conciousness and helping others and yet there's underlying conflict as to what everyone believes. How the new age says diversity is bad and unity is good. Yet I think unity is boring. But I seem to be in the minority. That doesn't mean I love conflict, though. I like diversity, not conflict. But there some things that I wish we could all agree on.

They say, "sort out your own beliefs" and congratulate you for having them, and standing up for yourself, but nobody seems to want to admit there's strength in numbers, and nobody seems to want to admit that a belief is stronger when it's held by a majority of people. The fact that a lot of people believe something is proof of its validity for me. All the freethinkers criticize me for that, but that's how it is for me.

I'd never heard of love-bombing until the forum told me about it, so when I watched a couple of Byron Katie's videos and thought I recognized it but wasn't sure, I thought I'd ask the group and see if they agreed. Someone said I was correct, and I thought I'd made progress because I'd gotten it right.

But when I posted a warning about a destructive belief and a possible dangerous guru, and thought I'd post it on the board just to help, because it looked like some of the beliefs were destructive, I was criticized for it and told it wasn't dangerous at all. I was only trying to see if I could recognize what looked like a destructive belief, but as I hadn't gotten this one right, I thought I couldn't.

It helps when a majority of people share an oppinion. It might not help anybody else, but it helps me. Some of these people, I don't know how they do it, have time and desire to research the history of belief systems, read books and things. It helps me if people give me resources, and if I don't understand something, I ask them to clarify. Some do, and some are just like "we're not going to help, do it yourself." which I think is harsh. There's all these different responses, beliefs and oppinions, and it's extraordinarily difficult to sort them out for yourself and have your own beliefs when nobody else shares them. People say "you have a right to your oppinion" but they say it in a voice that clearly states "I'm right and you're wrong" but when you point that out they say you're reading into things. When you stand up for yourself and say you know what you're talking about, but nobody stands up and agrees with you, it makes you feel like you're wrong. Because in this culture, majority rules.

I do see why religions have survived for so long. Even new agers seem to flock together, and that validates and strengthens their own beliefs. They're like a building and you're like a blade of grass.

So when they say that dire consequences will befall you, it's difficult not to believe them, because you don't know what to believe. Either consequences will be fall you or they won't. But I don't want to find out the hard way, you know?

And until you get stronger in your own convictions that nothing will happen, you're sort of floating around with no majority to anchor to.

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Re: leaving the cult mindset?
Posted by: Brynhild Tudor ()
Date: November 25, 2010 04:58AM

Hey Solea13,
Thanks so much for your support. I really appreciate it. I read your response at the other forum and there are electronic books, but I think you have to pay for them. I read a lot of internet articles, referred to me by posters, because the internet is so full of information I don't know what to read. So it helps when they reccomend articles to me, and provide links to them.

3 years... that's a long time! When you decided to be just a secular person, done with spirituality, how did you heal from the belief that something bad would happen if you didn't follow the teachings, especially when that belief is so prevalent? What did you do? I'm trying to tell myself that God/universe loves me unconditionally and doesn't care what I do, but it's not helping. The new age unconditional-love thing, their version of it, is engrained in my brain. You know, the one that says "you're unconditionally loved even when bad consequences befall you for not ascending/following us/whatever."

Added to that, noone can define love anyway!

Your friend,

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Re: leaving the cult mindset?
Posted by: solea13 ()
Date: November 25, 2010 12:21PM

Well, Brynhild. It certainly sounds as though you have a lot going on in your mind! You have lots of questions and not enough answers. When I say that I've been out of my group for three years, my point was just that it can take a long time to sort those things out ... that I'm STILL sorting things out! I hope that’s not discouraging, I don’t mean it that way. In fact, I hope to encourage you that you’re not alone, that it might take a while but it does get better.

You wrote that you don't know how some people here "have time and desire to research the history of belief systems, read books ..." Remember that some people here have probably been studying these subjects for months, maybe even years. So I hope you will continue posting on the board and learning. People here are helpful and will try to answer your questions, but they are a little wary of newcomers sometimes.

In answer to your question … I don't know if I have completely healed from the belief that something bad will happen to me if I don't follow the teachings. It’s a process for me. I do know that it's much easier now than when I left three years ago. I don't expect something awful to happen every day, or every week. The thoughts of bad things happening just slowly became less obsessive. I did confide in my counselor about my fears. She helped me look at them in a rational light. I remind myself that bad or difficult things do happen for no reason. That’s just a part of this human life. Good things happen for no reason too!

My counselor sometimes used to recommend me just to read a book for pleasure now and again instead of always reading, thinking and looking for answers about deep subjects like cults, mind-control and so on. Enjoying my family and friends, doing things just for fun was (and is) a positive part of re-claiming my life. That might not be a bad place to start on a Thanksgiving holiday! I hope you can enjoy it!

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Re: leaving the cult mindset?
Posted by: hertford65 ()
Date: January 15, 2011 04:22PM

I was interested to read this posting about leaving cults. You said "either there is a god or there isn't a god"? Therein lies the problem. I was a part of SGI, on and off, for 20 Years. I left this year. I struggled with many things in my mind that didn't sit right. It seemed to me that you either believed or you didn't, in what they were telling you. I think many human beings are searching for reasons as to why we're all here and where we're going? I have certainly been on a spiritual quest for some reason unbeknown to me. Yet, my sister hasn't been. I felt that I needed to find something that would fulfil me spiritually but also explain all of this, earth-life-universe-cosmos! WHY? That was and still is my big question. But now I'm learning to accept that perhaps everything that exists just "IS". Many humans find solice in religious bodies, groups, cults. It helps them to have a better quality of life and answers questions for them. Why was I so scared of accepting that there may not be a reason for life on earth, that there isn't some higher power that created all of this, and it's all going nowhere. I don't know the answer to that and to the best of my knowledge through all of the explorations into space and science and technology that we have noone has yet come up with a solution to the mystery of where we go after we die? There is speculation and many theories but no actual proof or evidence? Correct me if I'm wrong? I, for one, am happy now to accept that what I see in front of me is truth and proof of the existence of life. Beyond that perhaps I don't need to know. I try and be the best human being I can, help others, show compassion, try to be selfless and live a meaningful existence. I don't know whether I'm doing it right but joining some group, which seemed key at the lowest points of my life, is no longer relevant for me today. I don't seek validation and approval from others. I am sceptical and I cannot just read and listen and believe. I have too many questions that are probably never going to be answered by any religious body, group, person or cult.
Thank you for posting. It did provoke a few thoughts. :)

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