A few words from Nori . . .

The ability to set clear healthy boundaries and enforce them will help people who are vulnerable to cults. Cult recruiters are looking for followers who are easily manipulated. If they ask you to do something and you do it, their next request will be larger. For example, if you give a $100 donation, and you lack clear boundaries, they may expect $150 the next time. If they ask you to volunteer for something one Sunday, you might end up saddled with the responsibility every Sunday, even though you may find it difficult to make the time. You must feel free to say "no" or you could be getting yourself into a position where you will be swept along. Remember, when you're dealing with cult leaders, you're dealing with sociopaths who use people, manipulate situations and burn people out.

If you suspect you are involved with manipulative people, please review all the principles posted on this page and watch out for the red flags. If you have recently joined a group or are thinking of joining a group, make sure that you feel comfortable with your level of involvement and that you feel free to back away if necessary. Taking care of yourself will increase your self-esteem. It may feel good to sacrifice to please a guru or someone you look up to, but remember that when you give in to a dysfunctional system, you become part of that system. For more information about gurus, link to gurus.html at this site. - Nori

Healthy Boundaries

1. Have a personal set of values and beliefs that you uphold in all areas of your life.

2. Do not allow others to take advantage of your enthusiasm and cooperative nature.

3. Do not give beyond what you can give emotionally and physically simply because it makes you feel good that you have sacrificed.

4. Notice when someone is trying to make decisions for you or convince you that their ideas are the only way. Listen and then make decisions that are best for you.

5. Do not expect others to read your mind, but rather tell people if you want them to know something.

6. Consider another person's level of interest and caring before opening up to them. Choose the right time and place to discuss your personal issues.

7. Do not overwhelm a person with things about yourself. Let relationships and trust develop first.

8. Ask for support or sympathy when you need it, yet do not expect others to drop what they are doing and fill your needs automatically.

9. Accept kindness, support and help from others without feeling like you owe them something.

10. Put your personal issues aside at work so you can focus on your job.

11. Make friends with people from all walks of life. Never let anyone tell you that you can only socialize with certain people in a particular group, or that "outsiders" are bad.

12. Study a variety of philosophies and note aspects of each that you appreciate. Never accept beliefs that don't feel right. Your beliefs develop over time after much contemplation and life experience. You are free to choose your beliefs.

13. Learn how to listen to others without trying to change their beliefs. Learn how to start friendly discussions with strangers and new acquaintances.

A closer look at what it means to be honest.
Language to Watch for:

Rationalizations for Ethical Breaches
"Everybody else does it"
"If we don't do it, someone else will"
"That is the way it has always been done"
"We will wait until the lawyers tell us it is wrong"
"It does not really hurt anyone"
"The system is unfair"
"Because we can"
"Might makes right"
"You can do anything for god"
"Business as usual"
"That's politics"

Dishonest language says nothing about the "system," but it does say something about the person who uses such language.

Categories of Unethical Behavior
Balancing ethical dilemmas.
Breaking rules.
Buying influence.
Condoning unethical actions.
Engaging in a conflict of interest.
Giving or allowing false impressions.
Hiding important information.
Interpersonal abuse.
Permitting systemic abuse.
Personal decadence.
Spreading slanderous information.
Taking unfair advantage.
Verbal abuse.

[Editor's Note: "Language to Watch for" and "Categories of Unethical Behavior" are based on overhead transparency learning aids published by West Publishing Company, 1995.]

Stages of Recovery from an Addiction
1. I walk down the street. There is a hole in the sidewalk. I fall in, I'm lost, helpless, it's not my fault. It takes me forever to climb out.
2. I walk down the same street. There is a hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don't see it. I can't believe I'm in the same place, but it isn't my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.
3. I walk down the same street. There is a hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I fall in. It's a habit, but my eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.
4. I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.
5. I walk down a different street.

There's a Hole in My Sidewalk by Portia Nelson
Click the title to buy a copy of this classic, wise little book at Amazon.com. It is a collection of thought provoking and inspiring writings, including the poem that begins, "I walk down the street. . . . "

The Twelve Steps
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Editor's Note: I cannot endorse all 12-step meetings, because there is a chance that 12-step groups may turn coercive and dysfunctional. It all depends on how well the group follows the 12 traditions, the level of maturity in the group, and whether the group leaders are in recovery, or if their addictive tendencies still control them. I have sat in groups where people nearly came to blows, where a sponsor was drinking in a nearby strip club after the meetings, and so on. However, I can endorse the 12-steps themselves, and they have helped millions of people. The steps themselves are ingenius because going through one step at a time (substituting your addiction for the word "alcohol") will lead you back to sanity. I recommend that you read about the 12-steps in any book from Hazelden Publishers, or in my writings on the twelve steps. (click here for Cult Survivors Handbook, Chapter 4: The Twelve Steps).


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