Whether it's our political leanings or our idea of success, we are constantly being fed information that dictates how we should think, live and operate. Especially in moments of vulnerability, it's easy to fall prey to unconsciously adopting groupthink into our own belief system, living by it and being blinded to our own brainwashed tendencies.

In order to avoid a life lived for another and to experience true success, you need to know how to avoid being brainwashed.

Jim Rohn, an American author, entrepreneur and motivational speaker famously said, "You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with." If you agree with Rohn, then you already understand where and how your belief system has been built. What you may not be aware of is how often you are unconsciously adopting messages that are being created by others, rather than thinking through your belief system for yourself.

Here are 4 ways to avoid being brainwashed in life or at work:

1. Know yourself.

All too often, we often don't take the time to know ourselves well. Invest some time to think through your value system, who you are, what your Zone of Genius is, what is important to you and what is not. In absence of this, it's easy to get swayed into a direction that is not right for us.For example, maybe you have a parent who impressed upon you that you should be a doctor. But if you don't know what is required to be a good doctor and how your own strengths compare to that, you may blindly strive to be a doctor only to find out later that it's not the right job for you.

The stronger the delivery of the message, the more likely you will adopt it. When joining a group, job, or school, look to see if that environment is a true reflection of who you are, heart and soul.

2. Have a vision for your life and your career:

When you are clear on a vision, it's hard to be swayed from it. If you don't have a vision, you are more vulnerable to be swayed by unique ideas or particularly charismatic leaders. Take the time to craft your vision and make sure you revisit it often to make sure it's the right one for you at each moment of your life.

3. Think and to be curious. More often than not, we don't really think about our lives. We wait until something is obviously going wrong before we stop and realize that something has to change. Rather than putting this off, start making it a practice to think about your life and your career. Use your curiosity to think out of the box--whether it's finding a solution to a problem or embracing a new path for your life.

4. Be open but stay grounded.Being open means you recognize that you don't know everything--and that's a great thing. Seek out new information, and stay grounded in how you digest it. Do research, read, watch movies or find information in a way that excites you. Focus on the things that truly interest you. If you feel particularly swayed by someone or something, use that as a sign to dig into it deeper. Go beyond the surface when sifting through information.

 

The bottom line is that it's easy to get lazy about staying true to ourselves and doing the work to keep from being brainwashed by others. It's part of being human: we want to be included, and the more we agree with those around us, the more likely we will be considered part of the group. The key is to be aware of it before or as it's happening. Spend the time to get connected to yourself. If you do that, it will be much harder for anyone to convince you to be someone you're not.