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Establishing Who We Are

Seek The Truth Blog

Establishing Who We Are:

Children who were born and raised in a religious cult have a much different experience when leaving the group than those who were recruited later in life. Those who joined later had already formed their individual identities, while those born into the group were trained from birth to conform. Without the freedom to critically examine cult doctrine, many of those raised from birth as a cult member never formed an individual identity. Instead, they developed an identity that conformed to the opinions of the central figure and the doctrine of the cult.

Rather than revert to the individual identity developed as a child as the short-term cult recruits, these former members are faced with the challenge of learning who they are and what they believe. Often, they had never established an individual identity, and have the difficult task of establishing their own for the first time. This can be an overwhelming task; former cult members raised in the group they left feel as though they must establish in a matter of weeks what most people establish in more than 18 years. This, obviously, is not possible.

This results in a painful process. As these former members work to establish their identities, they often make mistakes. As personal convictions form, they are often replaced with new ones that seem more valid. Each time this happens, they suffer a strong sense of failure, having been programmed to believe in a very black-or-white mentality. There was no room for adjusting convictions in the cult, so they feel there is no room for adjustment after having left.

As humans, we learn from our mistakes, and then adjust. Our successes validate the effort that bore both positive and negative results, while our failures tell us that we must adjust and redirect. Former members born and raised in a cult must learn the value of failure, and how to turn it into success.