Do you know that there are benefits of having good friends?
Having supportive people around you, includes family, partners, colleagues. These good friends can have a major impact in your life, health and overall well-being according to Mayo clinic.
Benefits of Friendship
Increase your sense of belonging and purpose
Boost your happiness and reduce your stress
Improve your self confidence and self worth
Help you cope traumas such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or death of a loved one
Encourage you to have healthy lifestyle or habit
Promote personal development
Good friends are good for your health. Friends can help you celebrate good times and provide support during bad times. Friends prevent isolation and loneliness and give you a chance to offer needed companionship, too.
People with strong social connections have reduced risk of many health problems. Studies found that older adults who have good friends and social support are likely to live longer.
Among all the benefits of having meaningful relationships, Emotional support is significant. They listen to your problems, can validate your feelings, and can help distract you when you’re sad or upset.
In one of the lessons I had, Professor Jonah Berger of Wharton University said, ” people are 36% more likely to quit smoking if a friend quits.”
Your friends can support your choices and even promote the right ones. They can cheer you on, motivate you like gym buddies or yoga partners.
Sense of belongingness comes in third on Maslow’sHierarchy of Needs. Caring about others makes life more meaningful. Your self worth increases, knowing you have a support system can help you feel more secure in your own life.
Ive’sNarcissus concept in “Love Dive” became an instant hit since its debut comeback. They even won multiple awards with this song (congrats Ive). Not only it is catchy but the dance choreo (my favorite) is addictive. There’s a particular move – “mirror princess” where members look into a “mirror”. A symbolic of Narcissistic adage.
What is Narcissistic?
– by Merriam-Webster definition, relating to or characterized by narcissism; extremely exaggerated sense of self-importance, marked by or characteristic of excessive admiration of or infatuation with oneself.
Narcissism comes from the story of Narcissus. In Greek mythology, Narcissus was a hunter known for his beauty. He fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water, staring at it until he drowned. At that spot, a flower bloomed which is now called as the narcissus plant or the daffodil.
A tragic story like many mythologies I’ve read, has a lesson worth noting. Pride and self-obsession for Greeks are obstructions to piety and religion. Proving the cruel fate of Narcissus.
Narcissistic personality disorder NPD is a mental health condition in which people have an unreasonably high sense of their own importance. They need and seek too much attention and want people to admire them. People with this disorder may lack the ability to understand or care about the feelings of others. But behind this mask of extreme confidence, they are not sure of their self-worth and are easily upset by the slightest criticism.
A narcissist can have many problems in different areas of life. They are disappointed when they’re not given the attention they believe they deserve. And symptoms are as follows;
Have an unreasonably high sense of self-importance and require constant, excessive admiration.
Feel that they deserve privileges and special treatment.
Expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements.
Make achievements and talents seem bigger than they are.
Be preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate.
Believe they are superior to others and can only spend time with or be understood by equally special people.
Be critical of and look down on people they feel are not important.
Expect special favors and expect other people to do what they want without questioning them.
Take advantage of others to get what they want.
Have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others.
Be envious of others and believe others envy them.
Behave in an arrogant way, brag a lot and come across as conceited.
Insist on having the best of everything.
The hallmarks of NPD are grandiosity, lack of empathy for other people, and the need for admiration. They are described as self-centered, manipulative and demanding. They also have trouble handling criticism. To them, criticisms are just personal attacks.
These people think there’s nothing wrong with them. They are resistant to changing their behavior even when it’s causing them problems. Their tendency is to pass the blame to others.
Narcissists believe they are better than everyone else and often exagerrate their own achievements and talents. They live in a fantasy world that supports their delusions of grandeur. They have a sense of entitlement and consider themselves as special.
For their overly inflated ego that needs to be constantly fed so they surround themselves with people who are willing to cater to them. This kind of relationship is usually one-sided. Since they lack empathy, they often take advantage of others to get what they want.
There are more topics (and medical terms) related to NPD, however I’d like to emphasize the problem with them – they are not even aware of their own behavior. Thinking – what could be wrong really? Yes, it is sad especially when you know someone who is one! but stay calm – real and lasting relationships are based on mutual respect and love.
Since narcissists are not capable of reciprocating your love and affection, it’s all about them as the center of the universe. It is best to set healthy boundaries and don’t take things personally. It’s not about you, it’s them.
And lastly, don’t argue with a narcissist.
Ending with this reminder – spend time and make memories with people who are worth your precious time (and life).
Yes people come and go in our life and they also influence us in one way or another. My constant prayer as a parent is for my child to meet friends who will be of “good” influence to her. I grew up in a traditional manner, raised by strict grandmother and parents, choosing good friends is important.
A motto that marked indelibly in my heart is this saying;
Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are.
There are many versions of this quote but they all mean the same thing. In Social Psychology, this influence is being recognized and scientifically proven. Your closest associates (sometimes called – reference group) can determine much of your success in life. Our friends influence us subtly yet powerfully, and that can either be good or bad.
Research shows we do not have as much control over our thoughts and behavior as we think. We take cues from our environment, especially other people, on how to act.
– Psychology Today
Another powerful quote by Jim Rohn – “You are the average of the 5 people you hang around with.” The first quotation stayed with me since highschool. And recently, studying Psychology out of interest helps me gain more insight in relationships and human behavior.
You can’t choose your family, but you have the power to decide who to be close with. You also have the power to avoid certain people – toxic ones, for they will definitely shape who you are.
From my notes in Managing Emotions (Social Emotional Learning SEL) by Yale University – Humans are social creatures, we are influencing each other’s feelings whether we realize it or not.
Surrounding yourself with good people is not a strategy, it is a necessity. Having family and friends who motivate and help you become better (or best) version of yourself is a blessing.
Brainwashing is defined in the Psychology Dictionary as that which “manipulates and modifies a person’s emotions, attitudes, and beliefs.” It reduces a person’s ability to mentally defend themselves and makes it easier for another person to control them.
Brainwashing (also known as mind control, menticide, coercive persuasion, thought control, thought reform, and forced re-education) is the concept that the human mind can be altered or controlled by certain psychological techniques.
The term brainwashing was first coined in the 1950s when journalist Edward Hunter in his article in Miami Daily News entitled – “Brain-washing Tactics Force Chinese Into Ranks of Communist Party.” He described how Mao’s Red Army used ancient techniques to manipulate the masses. He called this hypnotic process – brainwashing, the process to change the mind drastically (Smithsonian Magazine).
It is a theory that a person’s core beliefs, ideas, affiliations and values can be replaced, so much so that they have no autonomy over themselves and cannot think critically or independently.
In 1956, Albert Biderman studied how prisoner of war camp personnel got U.S. prisoners of the Korean War to give them tactical information, collaborate with propaganda, and agree with false confessions. Biderman stated that inflicting physical pain was not necessary to “induce compliance,” but psychological manipulations were extremely effective for that purpose. His report included what has come to be known as “Biderman’s Chart of Coercion.”
In Biderman’s chart, he summarized the tactics in brainwashing;
Monopolization of perception (fixes attention on immediate predicament; eliminates “undesirable” stimuli)
Induced debilitation; exhaustion
Occasional indulgences (provides motivation for compliance; hinders adjustment to deprivation)
Enforcing trivial demands
Not all eight elements need to be present in order for brainwashing to occur. Each element can have some power to distort reality, interfere with perception, reduce a person’s self-confidence, and gain compliance.
How are you brainwashed?
Based on the mechanisms from Biderman’s chart, you can somehow notice that this person is trying to control you. But first, this person who will try to brainwash you will want to know everything about you in order to manipulate your beliefs. Everything – find out what your strengths are, your weaknesses, who you trust, who is important to you and who you listen to for advice.
They will begin with isolation, it may come in a form of not allowing an access for family or friends. The brainwasher must have a complete control of the target.
In the process, brainwasher will attack the victim’s self esteem, making them vulnerable and easier to control. This can be done through physical or verbal abuse, threats, etc.
you are not who you think you are.
– how stuff works
The abuser denies everything that makes the target who he is: “You are not a soldier.” “You are not a man.” “You are not defending freedom.” The target is under constant attack for days, weeks or months, to the point that he becomes exhausted, confused and disoriented. In this state, his beliefs seem less solid (exhaustion).
Most psychologists believe that brainwashing is possible in the right conditions and settings. Plan must be systematic and relentless making it tiresome for the victim.
While the identity crisis is setting in, the brainwasher is simultaneously creating an overwhelming sense of guilt in the target. He/she repeatedly and mercilessly attacks the subject for any “sin” the target has committed, large or small. The victim now feels a general sense of shame that everything he/she does is wrong.
The ultimate goal of brainwashing is Blind Obedience. The victim follows orders without question. This is usually achieved by positively rewarding the person when they please the brainwasher and negatively punishing them when they do not (indulgences and punishment).
Brainwashing is real.
Yes, it is not just in fictional books and movies. Brainwashing is real!
However, this mind/psychological control should not be feared, and target/prospect having knowledge makes any tactic less effective. Here are some ways that you can do to avoid being brainwashed;
Don’t believe everything that you read
Don’t buy into fear or scare tactics
Watch for someone’s hidden agenda
Look out for less obvious messages, try to listen for both sides of the story
In my previous post, we talked about manipulation and sampled the character of Jin Mu from Alchemy of Souls. Fact check, we meet a gaslighter in real life sometimes unaware of it, and so before falling to their trap let me show you ways to spot a gaslighter.
Gaslighting is a colloquialism, loosely defined as making someone question their own reality. The term derives from the title of the 1944 film – Gaslight. The term may also be used to describe a person (a “gaslighter”) who presents a false narrative to another group or person, thereby leading them to doubt their perceptions and become misled, disoriented or distressed.
Gaslighting is a favorite tool of a toxic person. It is a form of abuse and psychological control. A gaslighter will start with small lies, eventually misinformation increases overtime. Anyone can be a victim of a gaslighting and the most effective gaslighter is the hardest to detect.
Gaslighting can appear in various ways. Here are examples or techniques they use (from Medical News Today);
Countering: This is when someone questions a person’s memory or recall. They may say, “Are you sure about that? You have a bad memory,” or “I think you are just forgetful.”
Withholding: Pretending they do not understand the conversation, or refusing to listen, to make a person doubt themselves. For example, they might say, “Now you are just confusing me,” or “I do not know what you are talking about.”
Trivializing: This occurs when a person belittles or disregards how someone else feels. They may accuse them of being “too sensitive” or overreacting in response to valid and reasonable concerns.
Denial: Refusing to take responsibility for their actions. They may do this by pretending to forget what happened, saying they did not do it, or blaming their behavior on someone else.
Diverting: With this technique, a person changes the focus of a discussion by questioning the other person’s credibility. A great tactic and often use by personalities to divert the attention from them.
Stereotyping: A person may intentionally use negative stereotypes about someone’s gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, nationality, or age to gaslight them. For example, they may say that no one will believe a woman if she reports abuse.
From the examples listed, you maybe able to detect a gaslighter. As a disclaimer, this behavior becomes toxic based on intentions. And we may accidentally use the phrases sampled above without really intending to gaslight someone. It’s all in the intention or motives of a person.
It is different from Manipulation though. Manipulation is a key part of gaslighting, it’s a common tactic. Can be used in marketing strategies, politics, institutions, etc. But gaslighter, they are very rare and much more toxic.
Gaslighting can be psychologically devastating. According to PsychologyToday, it violates trust, upends a person’s view that people are generally good, and can make them suspicious of everyone who is close to them. Falling victim to a gaslighter also erodes a person’s trust in themselves and may make a victim never want to be part of a relationship again.
There are ways to protect yourself from this form of abuse. First to simply gather evidence, write journals, take photos, etc. and use them as your proof. You may also talk to someone trustworthy and if needed, leave that toxic relationship.