How To Protect Yourself From The Power Of Suggestion And Psychological Warfare
“Nobody should be whipped. Remember that, once and for all. Neither man nor animal can be influenced by anything but suggestion.”
Mikhaíl Bulgakov (Russian Author & Playwrite, The Master and Margarita)
“Competition is what keeps me playing the psychological warfare of matching skill against skill and wit against wit.”
Lou Brock (MLB Left Fielder & 8X Stolen Base Leader, Chicago Cubs)
“If you don’t like what is being said, then change the conversation.”
Don Draper (Played By Jon Hamm, Mad Men)
“You won’t have many friends.”
I was sitting across from my boss at a hotel coffee shop.
We were at a conference in between sessions.
My job was to stand behind a product display table and kiss up to customers.
Her job was to float through the halls like a queen gliding on a magic carpet while distributors kissed up to her.
Her job was better than mine.
But she earned it.
She had developed several multi-million dollar medical products from scratch. She was a success story.
Now she was sharing her secret to success with me at this coffee shop.
You can only be successful by not having many friends.
That was her message.
My brain rejected it at first. But then it started to sink in.
She was very successful. She didn’t have many friends. She contributed her success to not having many friends.
A to B to C.
She stated it. I accepted it. It became a belief.
I believed I couldn’t be very successful and have many friends at the same time.
It wasn’t until many years later that I realized I could have both.
One conversation over coffee affected my life for years.
How did that happen?
The Power Of Suggestion And Psychological Warfare
Your expectations affect your behavior.
And suggestions affect your expectations.
These suggestions can be deliberate or non-deliberate.
A report by Current Directions in Psychological Science shows that suggestions create response expectancies, or the ways in which we anticipate our responses in various situations.
These expectancies set you up for automatic responses that actively influence how you get to the outcome you expect in any situation.
Once you anticipate a specific outcome will occur, your subsequent thoughts and behaviors will help make that outcome happen.
For example, if a normally timid guy expects a few beers will help him get a girl’s phone number, he will feel more confident after he drinks the beers, approach more girls, and get more phone numbers.
Though he may give credit to the beers he drank, his expectations of how the beers would make him feel played a big role.
A deliberate suggestion influenced his expectations, which influenced his behavior.
But this guy could have been influenced by non-deliberate suggestions as well.
If his friend was watching him try to get a girl’s phone number, he might act more confidently.
If his friend told him that he had a good feeling about tonight, or told him that tonight is a particularly lucky night for him because there’s a full moon out, he might believe something lucky would happen and subconsciously act more confidently.
Studies reported in Psychological Science confirm that these kinds of non-deliberate suggestions can make people more successful.
For example, golfers make more successful putts when they are told that a golf ball is lucky, participants solve motor-dexterity puzzles better when experimenters make a “good luck” hand gesture, and patients perform better on memory games when they’re in the presence of their lucky charm.
Subtle suggestions from your surroundings affect you.
These suggestions can change your behavior in a positive way.
But, if you’re not careful, the power of suggestion can also change your behavior in a negative way.
5 Psychological Strategies To Guard You Against Negativity
There will always be someone in your life trying to influence your actions.
Very often, this person will try to influence your actions in a way that benefits them but does not benefit you.
Negative people at home or at work will try to use the power of suggestion and other psychological strategies to throw you off balance.
Once you’re off balance, they will work to surpass you or keep you beneath them.
The only way to protect yourself against these psychological strategies is to develop strategies of your own.
You must learn to master how to use the power of suggestion and psychological warfare techniques, or be consumed by those who have mastered them.
Here are 5 strategies that will guard you against the suggestion psychology mind games negative people play…
1. Consolidate your forces.
Everyone is distracted.
Most people have 10 or 20 things they are trying to juggle at the same time.
This is why the most common response you’ll hear when you ask someone how things are going is, “Busy!”
Busy people can’t get anything significant done.
These people are not a threat.
They are like tiny hammers trying to hit 100 different nails at once.
They tap, tap, tap without ever making a solid blow.
But, at the same time…
These people are incredibly distracting.
They will tap, tap, tap you on your shoulder or in your ear until you are completely distracted too.
They will try to suck you into their drama. And…
Once sucked in, any progress you’ve been making towards your goals stops.
Instead, you start spending all of your time trying to explain yourself or trying to show somebody else that they’re wrong.
The people who are constantly trying to get your attention are baiting you.
They want to distract you.
They know that when you are distracted, you are not a threat.
They know that when you’re spread thin, you are weak.
If you find yourself getting split into a thousand different directions, the best strategy is to aggressively consolidate your forces.
Go back to your core priorities and start putting first things first again.
Channel all of your energy into doing just one thing until it’s done.
If you consume yourself entirely on a single purpose, you will complete it.
In the meantime, everything else, including the negative people tap, tap, tapping you, will go away.
Consolidating your forces is also the best way to confront negative people.
Remember, these negative people are naturally distracted.
They’re busy diving headfirst into drama and annoying other people with their woes and complaints.
By channeling all of your energies against them, you can defeat them quickly and permanently.
2. Change the conversation.
Drama needs energy to survive.
When somebody in your life makes a negative suggestion or paints you in a poor light, the worst thing you can do is try to explain yourself or show the other person they are wrong.
Defending yourself in this way only extends the conversation they started.
A better strategy is to change the course of the conversation.
For example, if someone is pointing out one of your supposed flaws, don’t fire back a defensive comment about how you don’t have any flaws or about how this other person has flaws too.
Instead, ask the other person how they overcame one of their own flaws.
Or, ask them how things are going at home or how close they are to finishing a big project at work.
Ask them the score of the big game that was on last night.
Refocus them on something insignificant or on a pressing issue in their own lives.
Or, put them in the driver’s seat by asking them for advice about something and then tune out when they start to blab.
In a similar way, you can make your weaknesses irrelevant by focusing entirely on your strengths.
If you channel your energies entirely into what you do well, your resulting successes will be so overwhelming that they will completely obliterate your shortcomings.
Now, whenever someone brings up your meager weaknesses, you can quickly and easily redirect the conversation towards your giant victories.
3. Create a void.
When someone challenges you in life, your first reaction will be to challenge them in return.
You’ll want to stand up for yourself and fight them with logic.
You’ll want to seek justice by holding a mirror up to their face and showing them why they’re wrong.
This is a complete waste of time.
No one thinks they’re wrong ever. No one plays a villain in their own lives.
By immediately retaliating against someone, you add energy to the situation and strengthen their resolve against you.
You also expose your position.
A better strategy is to sit on your hands and let things marinate.
Don’t show any signs of weakness or distress.
Instead, slowly phase yourself out of the situation. Then, wait to see how the other person responds.
Create a void and see what fills it.
This will give you perspective and clarity over how to best use this situation to your advantage.
This strategy will also help you dissolve negative energy.
Negative people need you and your aspirations to channel their frustrations and failures onto.
They need you to keep tabs on. They need you as a target.
You give them energy and direction.
But, when you disappear, you force these people to carry the full weight of their own troubles.
You force them to waste their time attacking empty space instead of you.
4. Question limiting beliefs.
Everyone around you is trying to infect you with their limiting beliefs.
The person next to you doesn’t think it’s possible to be successful and have integrity at the same time, so they try to make you feel guilty for your success.
Your parents believe that borrowing money is the only way to get ahead in life, so they convince you to do the same.
Your negative colleague doesn’t believe you deserve a promotion, so he works to make you doubt yourself.
The best way to fight against the power of other people’s limiting beliefs is by creating a new belief.
And the best way to create a new belief is by asking a new question.
Questions control your focus, which control your expectations, which control your beliefs and behaviors.
Have you ever had someone say, “You don’t look well” or “You look tired,” and then ask, “How you are feeling?”
If so, you probably said, “No, I’m fine” and then secretly looked in a mirror to see if your face really did look sick or tired.
Then, a few minutes later, you started thinking…
“Man, I do feel a little tired.”
This is the power of suggestion.
You can use this power to your advantage.
When people start infecting you with their own limiting beliefs, question their beliefs.
Ask the person next to you, “Are you sure no one in history has ever been both successful and had integrity?”
Ask your parents, “Are you sure borrowing money is really the only way to get ahead in life?”
Ask your negative colleague “What might be one reason why I deserve this promotion?”
Or, “Is there any reason why you don’t deserve this promotion?”
When you do this, you suggest that other people’s negative beliefs may not be true.
You plant a seed that eventually grows up and overturns their negative belief.
It may not overturn the limiting beliefs in other people’s heads, but it will overturn these beliefs in your head.
It will make sure that these beliefs never take root in the first place.
You can also use this strategy against yourself.
Whenever you identify a limiting belief in your own head, like I’m too old, or I’m too young, or I’m too slow, or I’m not smart enough, or I don’t have enough money, or I’m too busy, create a better belief by asking a better question.
Why am I smart enough?
Why do I have enough time and money?
Why am I NOT too old?
By asking questions that lead to positive answers, you will influence your own behavior positively.
You will also prevent other people from influencing your behavior negatively.
5. Be what you want to see.
When other people challenge us, we often want to fight fire with fire.
They act dramatic, so we act dramatic.
They get angry, so we get angry.
They get sly and manipulative, so we get sly and manipulative.
This is foolish.
It’s impossible to put out a fire with more fire.
If someone goes banana sandwich on you, don’t try to go banana sandwich on them.
This will only escalate the situation and force you to use up more of your time and precious mental energy to fix it down the track.
A better strategy is to fight fire with water.
Instead of behaving in the exact same way as the person you are dealing with, behave in the opposite way.
Behave in the way you want them to behave.
Behave in a way that mimics your desired outcome.
Foreshadow the result you want, not the result you’re trying to avoid.
If a negative person is trying to drag you down, don’t get negative and try to drag them down.
That’s what they want.
Instead, be what you want to see.
You want things to remain positive so be positive. You want things to move forward, so keep moving forward.
If one of your colleagues is freaking out about a deadline, don’t freak out too.
Instead, breath. Smile. Relax.
Your positive behavior will influence the people challenging you.
Your positive behavior will dissolve their negativity and help center the situation.
Always be intensely aware of how other people’s emotions and actions are affecting you. Do not fall victim to the power of suggestion or any other psychological warfare strategies. Guard your mind by consolidating your forces toward your personal goals and changing the conversation when things get off course. Create a void when necessary and use questions to instill positive ideas that will challenge and override other people’s (and your own) limiting beliefs. By behaving in a way that is aligned with the outcomes you want to achieve in life, you will keep other people from getting in your head and continue moving forward towards your biggest goals.