One of the challenges of healing from spiritual abuse, will be to shed indoctrination and become your own thinker. Many leave the cult or other high-control group and maintain their rigid ideas. This must be overcome, I propose, because abusive groups specialize in either or thinking. They cannot and will not allow their adherent to be moderate. Their either or thinking serves a purpose. It becomes isolating. It is controlling.
Either you’re one of us or you’re not.
Either you’re with us, or you’re against us.
Either you’re pro-life or you’re pro-abortion.
Either you’re Republican or you don’t care for Jesus.
Either you agree with us or you are persecuting us.
These lines in the sand are divisive and limiting. They utilize false reasoning. Abusive groups don’t want members to think. They want obedience and group cohesiveness. When you are on the outside, it feels like they spread hate.
You can leave the cult, without the cult leaving you. That’s why people can be expelled and still defend what they were taught. They are physically out, but mentally in.
To counter this tendency of either or thinking, it can be helpful to begin by researching. What is a moderate position on abortion? What is a moderate opinion on the second amendment? Why do some Christians accept LGBT people? You already know the group’s position, but it is an extreme and conservative view. They also have likely told you a perverted view of how the other side thinks and what they believe. But what’s the truth? What does the other side think?
The truth is, there’s no one truth to be found. Only a controlling person will tell you everything to think and to do. There is a lot of middle ground that never gets discussed.
For example, you might personally rethink your position on abortion after considering personal accounts and researching. You may end up thinking it’s needed under certain circumstances, but never okay under others. Your position reflects your thoughtful consideration and what makes sense with your education and integrity.
You may decide to error on the side of grace and not condemnation. After reading various scriptural interpretations, you may decide that LGBT people must be included, and that it’s none of your business what they do or do not do. Instead of a hard line, which comes across as hate, you decide to be accepting. It takes a bit of humility to say, “I don’t know, but I am going to end on love.” In a lot of matters we can decide to end on love.
Moderate views can be liberating. Brene’ Brown speaks of the isolation of being holed up in “ideological bunkers.” She describes standing in our truth as “Braving the Wilderness.” She talks about forming true connections that transcend rigid ideologies. It takes the pressure off to say, “It’s a grey area, and I don’t know how I feel yet.” It’s freeing to be able to listen. It takes maturity to change your thinking and hold on loosely to opposing beliefs; it can change from either/or to “yes, that, and, also this.” It starts with the recognition of our shared humanity and a desire for true connection.
My blogs take on all topics related to recovery, including commentary on the intersection of spiritual abuse and current events.
Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1(800) 273-8255