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Healthy Adjustment

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Healthy Adjustment:

When former members of a religious cult have healed to the point of attending a new church or social group, they often struggle with even the thought of conformity. Having been manipulated into behavior patterns established by a cult leader, former members are overly sensitive to types of persuasion commonly found among places of worship, as well as certain social and support groups. Though the non-cult groups are far from destructive, former cult members recognize both the power of persuasion and techniques used to persuade.

Behavior modifications are not always bad. In healthy environments, behavior adjustment is the result of training and learned experience.
Individuals recognize their shortcomings, ambitions, and desires, then work to adjust their behavior to meet their goals. In some instances, such as reform or addiction, individuals are persuaded to modify their behavior. Unlike manipulative persuasion in a destructive religious cult, however, they are knowingly persuaded.

No matter what the situation, people get upset when they are made aware that their behavior has been unknowingly persuaded. Very quickly, they begin re-evaluating each aspect of their behavior to separate adjustments they agree with from adjustments they reject. This is no easy task. Former cult members who attempt this process try to convince themselves that they will reject all adjustments, starting from "square one". Soon after, they realize that there is no way to determine which of their behaviors were a result of the cult, and which ones were a result of experience. Since their experiences happened while under cult influence, in most cases, both were contributing factors. At this point, former cult members say things like, "I can't believe they did this to me" or "I'm broken beyond repair".

When former cult members understand the techniques used for behavior adjustment, this trail of thought is reversed. They are in full control, and they decide how to adjust.