Any communication is invariably a form of manipulation, some of it is benign in nature, well-intentioned, some of it just happens, and some of it is purely malignant. We are constantly trying to convince others of our viewpoint, of our way of life, of our way of relating to the world and to other people. Not just what you read online, hear on the news, or get marinated in through commercials and ads, it’s part of every conversation. To some extent, some more, some less, we are all predators who have our own best interests at heart. Our reptillian brain knows only to discern between flight or fight situations, use or destroy, nurture or abandon…

You need some protective armor to stay true to yourself and stay your own course. Here are some tips:

  • know what you stand for. Write down your values and remind yourself daily
  • adopt mantras, repeat again and again what you want to do, what you are about, what you represent, what you allow in your life and what you reject
  • surround yourself with symbolic reminders of your core values and your goals. I have a windmill as a keyholder, to remind me that I promote the Dutch language, but also a lot -perhaps not all- good practices and values of the Netherlands. My clock has a quote by Abraham Lincoln written on it. I have figurines of Don Qui Chote to remind me about the publishing house we have and to remind me that anyone who’s trying to offer something different is facing an uphill battle and will be considered crazy from time to time. Those are just a couple of examples.
  • have daily rituals that bring you back to yourself, rituals to prime you for the day as YOU want to live it
  • keep a diary in which you unabashedly blurt out everything that you are really feeling and thinking, let it out
  • lock people who are obstinately trying to mold you to their preferred image out of your life or -if your temperament allows it- give them a real good shock so they realize they have to respect your boundaries

‘Trying to be someone else is a waste of the person you are’, Kurt Cobain