Sunday, May 14, 2006

Making decisions, Part 3: losing the battle but winning the war

We've gone over the spectrum of emotion in Part 2, and we can see how Mormonism operates almost always within the spectrum of emotion. We know that this is not a balanced approach to making decisions, and it can leave you open to emotional manipulation.

Losing the battle to win the war

I've had quite a few conversations in the past couple of months with my home teachers about some of the things I'm writing on this blog, and what always struck me was how they would agree with me. And then at the end of our conversation, they would invite me back to church on Sunday. At first I didn't understand why they would invite me; it seemed apparent to me that I had no intention of returning because of the reasons I had gone over, but then I started to see a pattern with the way they would speak, and it is the same pattern that many, many leaders use within the church.

The first thing they do is agree with some of your major questions. They make it seem to you that they understand and that they're on your side, but they aren't even playing your game, and you don't even realize it. They will even build you up and tell you how smart you are, or how you said it just like so and so, but then then their real intent is made obvious when they say something like, "you think too much." And with that, they have started making a chink within your armor of decision making, and that is the begginning of their emotional manipulation.

It is this process where they give up a little ground to make you trust them, but then over time, they will win the war because you will look to them to make your decisions. They lost the battle by agreeing with you, but they won the war in the end because they control you.

What is the pattern of manipulation?

First, they will agree with you. Second, they back up their agreements with examples. Third, they throw in a slight comment that is made to make you question your previous conclusion. Fourth, you start to doubt your own conclusions and believe that they might be right. Fifth, they will keep pounding you with these statements that make you question your own decisions. Sixth, finally, after this cycle is repeated over and over, you will start to ask them what to do and what to think, and then, they have you. You will question all of your conclusions and you will start to believe that you don't know anything, and the only way for you to get out of your problems is to listen to what they have to say.

They understand this process of manipulation, and they instinctually know what words to say to keep you looking to them for answers.

For instance, let me know if you've heard this in Sunday school: We're sons and daughters of god, we have his spirit and his light, we can do anything with his help. But you are a human, and humans, by nature, are flawed. You may be able to do Godlike things, but because you are human, you really are weak. That's right, it's the weakness of the flesh, and because we are weak, we make decisions that will lead us to destruction. How do you stay out of destruction? Well, you listen to God to avoid destruction. What if God's not here right now? Well, then you can listen to me; I'll tell you what to do, and you won't have to worry about making your decisions anymore.

First, they built you up believing that you were the son of god. With that knowledge, you could do anything, because you are in his image and you have his power. But then they start to erode those conclusions with their statements that make you question them: 'you're a human, you've sinned, and you are weak in the flesh". And now they slowly start to unravel that inner strength you have inside to make your own decisions with these statements of self-doubt. Then, when you can no longer make any more decisions because you don't trust yourself, you'll start to give them your decisions, you'll start to call your bishop for every big decision you have to make because you're afraid that your weaknesses will take you into destruction.

This is very, very wrong. The goal is to be in control. The goal is to make your decisions with your own insight and your own understanding. That is the way to true growth. You believe in your conclusions, and if they are incorrect, you will not make the same mistake again and you will have more knowledge for the next decision.

If you are constantly looking to the spirit, to god, or to the bishop to make your decisions, you will never be in control of your life. You will never learn the necessary lessons to help you take on tougher and tougher situations because you've given away your decisions when they've mattered most. And that is what they want, because that is how they stay in power. They have power when they are in control of your life, you do not have power when you give away your decisions for others to make.

Similar patterns with individuals in the church also happen outside of the church

So you can see that whenever an individual wants to try and control you, he will agree with you, then he will say a statement or two to make you question yourself, and then they will work on that self-doubt over and over until you no longer have the confidence in yourself to believe your very own decisions. And then, you are under their control, because you don't trust yourself with your decisions anymore.

This is a very powerful system of manipulation they have created, but it only works if you operate solely within the left side of the spectrum. If you only listen to your emotions, then it is very hard to get out of their system, but if you start to make balanced decisions, their power will be less and less until one day, you would never give away your conclusions to someone else because there is no growth, no control, and no power in that life.


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