Let me start by saying this is simply a theory. A theory is just an idea that hasn't been proven right or wrong. Until tests have been done to get proof it is just an idea.
What we know:
- JWs are systematically taught to think within the narrow constructs of WTS teachings. Independant thinking is considered wrong and even a sin against the spirit (aka The organization)
- JWs are taught to not read or investigate othert religious teachings other than what the WTS provides within the literature. Reading apostate literature or literature from other religions is a punishable sin.
- JWs are taught to censor their own thoughts which limits the ability to think in new and different ways.
Given these two rules (of course they never call then rules but rather "priniciples") few JW allow themselves to think outside of the WTS teachings.
What we also know:
- Once we leave the WTS/JWs many of us find a need to understand what has happened to us. Redefining the WT teachings is an essential part of our recovery.
- WT teachings are deeply ingrained and sometines can take years to sift through everything we were taught and find what works best for us.
- The world is filled with all the colors of the rainbow and not just the black and white thinking of the WTS
What we need:
- We need to explore many thoughts, ideas and beliefs.
- We need to stop censoring our thoughts.
- We need to learn to teach our minds to think ways that were forbidden.
- We need to realize that there is no one absolute thruth when it comes to theology/religion.
- We need to allow ourselves to accept parts of many beliefs to find what works best for us.
Researchers know that the mind can be retrained to do many things. Studies have shown that the damage done by traumatic brain injuries (i.e.strokes, accidents, lack of oxygen) that result in damage to some parts of the physical brain can result in a person having to relearn many skills lost because that part of the brain was too damaged. People have learned to teach other parts of the brain to do the work of the parts that were lost. There are hundreds of websites dedication to rehabilitation of people with acquired brain injuries.
While people exiting cults don't have acquired brian injuries many feel limited in their ability to think "outside the box."
A couple of examples.
- A few years ago I took the Alpha course that was given by the Anglican Church. (Other churches offer the same course and I would recommend it for those who are searching for religious beliefs. There is no obligation to join). While I was taking the course I had several issues to deal with.
- Almost everything I believed before the course was through the WTS lens. I had adopted some differing beliefs but the WT perspective was still strong - much stronger than I would have liked.
- It was hard to simply believe what they were teaching. For me, everything had become "someone's theory" and therefore not absolute truth. This is a positive most of the time. After being deceived once I wanted proof. The down side of that is that I have becone quite sceptical when it comes to religious thought.
- I have attended several different churches. I have this strong need to "belong" but I have an even stronger need to be independant.
- I strongly resist the idea of being forced back into the box by accepting one belief over others. I don't want anyone to tell me what to believe.
Bear with me. This will all link up (I hope) and make some kind of sense.
Last night and this morning I found an interesting game to play on the internet called CHAINZ. It is a Tetris-like game. In the usual Tetris-type games you have to line up 3 or more similar items to remove them from the board. This game however has a twist. When you do get 3 similar colors together you have to twist them to make the links go in the same direction and "join" to make the chainz.
It has been a challenge to make my eyes and brain "see" the difference in the game. I keep thinking the colors are enough to remove them. I have to force my brain to work differently and twist the links to make the chains.
So I started thinking.
- What if this is the same kind of rehabilitation that acquired brain injury patients have to do?
- What if this is the same kind of process that ex-cult members have to go through when they leave the group?
Perhaps this theory (and it is just a theory) is the kind of thing we need to do to stop thinking inside the little box that the WTS imposes on its members?
So: a test:
- Wander out on the internet and find the games you like and have done before and enjoy.
- Wander out and see if you can find a similar game but it has a twist that forces you to think in a different way. My CHAINZ game came from the RealArchade.
- While you are doing the game consciously check to see how well you are adapting to the new game.
- Have fun and report back.