As people ‘wake up’ the first stage is often depression, and many people get stuck there. Successful people on the other hand are able to face the realities of our cruel and selfish world, without letting it drag them down. Here’s three tips for finding a healthy balance.
When does a cynic become a conspiracy theorist?
Take me. Am I a conspiracy theorist? I believe that politicians would sell their own mothers for campaign donations, and lie through their pretty white teeth to us on tv about it. I believe the main-stream media is full of nothing but mind-candy and advertorials promoting the agendas of their corporate masters.
And I believe that the economic system is rigged against the poorer folks (the 99% of us), and big money always trumps noble notions of fairness, democracy or human rights.
But does that make me a conspiracy theorist?
Where does healthy scepticism end and wrap-your-head-in-alfoil crazy begin?
It probably doesn’t matter where the line is (I’m sure I sound like a conspiracy theorist to a lot of people), but I do think we have to watch how we engage with our sceptical natures.
For those of us looking to take control of our own lives and build our own ladders to wealth and financial freedom, we need to question the narratives we’ve been given, but there are a few traps to watch out for.
There was some interesting research I saw the other day in the field of ‘conspiracy theory psychology’ – yes, that exists. They found that people with lower senses of self-worth and self-esteem, especially in terms of their agency in the world – were more likely to believe in conspiracy theories.
But they didn’t say which way the causation ran. Do conspiracy theories make you depressed, or does being depressed make you more likely to believe in them?
My theory is it’s the former.
As I’ve written about a few times, one of the big challenges in writing your own financial destiny, is keeping the right mind-set. You’ve got to stay positive, keep believing in the abundance of the world and that anyone can make it, and have a little faith in others and your own abilities.
These are treasures that can be hard to hold on to.
Conspiracy theories, or even a strong sceptic muscle, can make it even harder.
There are a couple of ideas bundled up in conspiracy theories that we need to be careful not to let worm their way into our core-beliefs. Even a healthy sceptic needs to be on guard against these ideas. We’ve just got find a healthy way to manage our scepticism.
Anyway, let’s unbundle them:
- We live in a malevolent world
A lot of conspiracy theories seem to be based on the idea that there is a malevolent clique / world government / alien race that is trying to poison / stupefy / enslave the rest of the human race. Their agenda seems to be pure evil.
I think it’s probably naïve to believe that there aren’t organisations out there trying to manipulate the world to their advantage – though I think they’re probably driven more by greed and selfishness than by any mindless love of evil.
BUT – we can’t let that blind us to the good there is in the world. We arrange ourselves into communities and families and charities and NGOs. Many people give up many hours a week for nothing – other than to make the world a better place for others. We’ve come a long, long way from warring tribal times – all because humans are fundamentally good and just and loving.
There is evil in the world for sure. But it is not an evil world.
- We are excluded from what’s actually going on
Conspiracy theories also place us outside of what’s actually going on. There are vast networks of organised agents of evil, or puppet-master overlords pulling all the strings, and we’re totally in the dark
I think this probably overstates how competent an organisation of greedy and selfish people can be. All history of kings and queens (and Game of Thrones) shows us that you can’t sit on a throne of swords for long. In ancient Macedonia, around Alexander the Great’s time, no king in their recorded history had ever died of natural causes.
So it seems improbable to me that any group, driven by greed and ambition, could rise above the collective weight of individual greed and ambition.
The thing we have to watch for though is that a sense of exclusion and alienation doesn’t drive us into depression and disempowerment.
- We are powerless
In the face of an organisation powerful enough to fake the moon landing or cover up the government’s role in the AIDS epidemic, what power can any individual have? It’s overwhelming.
I think it’s this power imbalance – ewoks vs the death star – that causes the correlation between conspiracy theory belief and a sense of personal disempowerment and therefore depression.
What to do about it?
As our awareness expands, and we realise that a lot of the narratives we’ve been told are simply fairytales, and our scepticism grows. We recognise the deceptive duplicity and evil there truly is in the world.
But we have to stay strong and not let it drag us down. Then evil really wins.
We need to constantly challenge the core beliefs wrapped up in conspiracy theories.
We need to keep faith in the abundance of the world and the fundamental goodness in people. We need to stay engaged in the world, and recognise that we do have the ability to shape our own lives. And we need to remember our own power, and that we are the authors of our own experience.
If we can’t do this, then scepticism becomes a slippery slope to depression, and you can forget about the challenges involved in building financial freedom.
Like all things in life, it’s about balance.