Hijacking the Mind

In the June 2001 ezine, I introduced you to the idea of memes - thoughts that replicate themselves by jumping from mind to mind. In the wake of the WTC bombings, many people wonder how terrorists can get a pilot's license, hijack a plane and fly it into a building, killing themselves and everyone else. I'd like you to consider that long before they committed these acts there was another hijacking: an idea hijacked their minds.

The hijackers believed that they would "attain immortality in paradise" according to experts on apocalyptic groups. They believe that world destruction will result in renewal-a return to power that has been corrupted by Western values. But the Koran teaches that "paradise is earned by saving people, not killing them." In essence, the minds of these terrorists were hijacked by a corrupted version of their religious beliefs.

Similarly, Islamic, Christian and Jewish fundamentalists share the view that Western societies have become decadent. They long for a return to a time when they believe society was purer and free of moral decay. In contrast, I believe that we can "move forward" to a better society that embraces ethnic, religious, and political diversity.

None of these beliefs are "right." They are merely thoughts that, through repetition, have become beliefs, which have become our reality. Beliefs form an invisible shield around us that screen the information we receive, filtering out conflicting information and letting in all supporting information. They encourage delusion and denial.

As Americans, we think we have a great society. Terrorists see the same thing and think of it as an abomination. Our belief allowed us to become convinced that anyone who came to live here would be seduced by capitalism and democracy. It blinded us to the possibility that people living among us would use our own technology to attack us.

What Can You Do To Thwart Mental Terrorism?

First, become aware of thoughts or ideas that may be trying to hijack your mind or those of your employees. Put up your own "security screen." Is the economy really in a recession? Are your boss or employees difficult? Is your spouse or teenager "hard to understand?" What seems to be hopeless, helpless, useless, worthless, or blameless in your life? Do you want to stay in the cult of blamers or join the cult of problem solvers and creators?

Second, reexamine these "beliefs" to see if they support or limit you in some way. Do they take away your power and put it somewhere else? Realize that these are merely ideas that have hijacked your mind and you can take back control anytime you choose. It's up to you.

Third, commit to changing what you think about any particular limitation. When I was single, I used to jokingly say that "there are three perfect women for me, but they all live in South Dakota." After a long dry spell, I decided that maybe that wasn't the best thing to say. I started saying: "Denver is full great single women." Not too long after that I met my wife.


  1. Repeated thoughts become beliefs that can hijack your mind.
  2. Reexamine your existing beliefs. None of them are "true;" they just seem true. They are just thoughts that have infected your mind. Revise the ones that limit you.
  3. Overly positive beliefs can become too brittle and snap too easily under pressure. Expand your empowering beliefs so that they integrate new information and adapt to changes.
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