Have a Positive Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
Not a Negative One
In my opinion, giving up hope is a dysfunctional coping mechanism to deal with the pain. Unfortunately, it suggests incorrectly that there is nothing constructive that can be done. If family members and friends no longer believe that the person will reestablish contact (if they have disconnected) or leave the group, then at least they will no longer be angry, frustrated, sad, disappointed and even depressed. Some people have actually told me that they have grieved their loved one as if he had already died. I say, “If the person is still breathing, then they are still alive! Therefore, there is hope!”
Do what is within your control to do to educate yourself, get advice, network with others, including former members, pray, if you are spiritual, and do positive things to promote change!
Negative beliefs can often become self-fulfilling prophecies. A “self-fulfilling prophecy” is when one predicts an outcome and then inadvertently acts in a way that brings about the very result predicted.
People become depressed when they can’t imagine what can be done. Perhaps they falsely think they have tried everything: maybe they tried to talk with the person; maybe there was a failed rescue attempt years before; maybe the cult member married within the group and had children; maybe they do not even know where their loved one is or if he is alive?
Family and friends must find a way to adopt a new belief: that their loved one will inevitably leave the cult. Hope will sustain and motivate you through the many ups and downs of the rescue process. Build a support system and make sure to include others who have successfully helped their loved ones after long-term cult involvement.
One such way is by using my Strategic Interactive Approach. The goal is always to empower people to think for themselves and make independent decisions. Together, with family, friends, ex-members, and others, we do an ethical influence campaign with a respectful, loving, nuanced approach which is totally customized to fit that client’s unique situation.
Personally, I have encountered innumerable people who have left destructive cults after decades of involvement. There are many examples that come to mind.
Ray Franz, after sixty years, and a member of the Governing Body (the highest level of leadership) left the Jehovah’s Witnesses and wrote a book about his experiences. Mike Rinder left the Church of Scientology after forty-six years and has spoken out against all of their abuses. Also, John Dehlin, a life-long Mormon, left when he realized the policies of the LDS conflicted with his morals.
Before you give up hope, I urge you to find long-term ex-cult members to speak with. Despite the many problems they have when they finally get out, they are always glad to be free. There are ex-member online support groups on Facebook and Reddit, as well as in-person groups on MeetUp.
Many ex-cult members tell their personal stories on YouTube videos, or in writing by blogs and books. This is a helpful avenue to learn how many do wake up and leave, even if it seems highly unlikely.
Remember, as long as the cult member is alive, there is a reason for hope.
What’s the Next Step?
To determine the first logical step, review the facts:
- How long ago did you talk to your loved one?
- What were the circumstances?
- Were you practicing goal-oriented communication?
- Did you have information about destructive mind control?
- Did you have the resources of former members?
Even if you do not know where your friend or loved one is living right now, you can be a part of the solution by learning how to implement the SIA method. Every person in a cult is someone’s relative or friend. You can make time to interact positively in the lives of other cult members—individuals in the same group as your loved one, as well as people in other groups—even if you have lost contact with your loved one. The person you help today may help you later when you have found your loved one.