You’re Being Brainwashed

I have a standard morning routine. 

I read, journal, list affirmations, do visualizations, go for a walk, and listen to a self-development podcast on that walk. (Yes, I also do the standard stuff of brushing my teeth, washing my face and drinking coffee.)

This morning, on my walk, it hit me: I am being brainwashed.

That’s right.

It’s not a matter of IF I am being brainwashed. It’s a matter of choosing HOW I am going to be brainwashed. 

Now, if you think that is hyperbolic, let’s think about what washing means:

  • When we wash our hands, we run them under water. 
  • We immerse our clothes in water in a machine when we wash them.
  • When we wash our dishes, we immerse them in a sink or expose them to a barrage of water inside a machine.

Every moment of every day, our brains are being washed with outside information and inside thoughts. Over time, that information and those thoughts wire the connections in our brains through neuroplasticity. Ultimately, this leads to how we view others and our world.

So yes, we are all being brainwashed.

This is not a new phenomenon, but some methods used to wash our brains are relatively new. Smartphones opened the door for software engineers and designers to manipulate vast quantities of time–by making apps and algorithms with addictive attributes.

And the technology in my smartphone is excellent. It contains a map, a phone, my electronic mail, my favorite music playlist, my podcasts, my camera and even a flashlight. And that’s just on my home screen. 

But I also know that when I get my weekly screen time report, I am stunned about how much time it took from me the preceding week. 

I wish I were smart enough to solve our cell phone problems. I am troubled by how often I see people scrolling while driving. I don’t like that when people feel bored; they instinctively reach for their phone to distract their thoughts and feelings. (It is worth noting that older people seem to be as addicted to their phones as the younger generation. Maybe more.)

I am not. 

I am smart enough to know that I choose how my brain is going to be washed.

I choose the podcasts that I listen to. I select the apps I place on my phone. (And where they are located. Last month, I buried my NEWS app, and it has been great for my mental and emotional health.) I choose the books I read and the videos and shows I watch. 

As a leader in my family, community and work, these small choices impact how I show up every day.

  • They change how I view my neighbors and strangers.
  • These choices raise and lower my levels of optimism and pessimism.
  • They encourage me to be a victim or a hero in my own story. 

So I must choose wisely for those I love and lead. More than for myself. 

And you have to, too. 

After all, It’s not a matter of IF YOU are being brainwashed. It’s a matter of choosing HOW YOU are going to be brainwashed.


Brian Rutherford

Brian Rutherford is the Chief Operating Officer for Leadercast. Brian has been telling stories professionally for twenty-five years. Stories that inspire people to see themselves and the world differently. Stories that challenge people to take meaningful action in the world.

More Articles