As we continue to find our place in the world, to seek out meaning and ultimately find happiness for ourselves, it can be easy for a lot of people to be drawn into a group, a person or experience that seemingly offers all of this in one go. This is where cults can lure you into a false sense of safety and clarity.
One thing that has been a constant in our society is being able to seek out these things, and unfortunately this can be taken advantage of for gain, including money, power and fame.
Cults have a very enticing nature. Even though the term ‘cult’ has an infamous reputation and we all well know that the risks outweigh the benefits, there are a surprising amount of offerings out there that do possess elements of a cult.
There are many reasons why people can be lured into their beliefs and even if you may think that you could never, ever in your wildest dreams fall for something like that, I thought it would be interesting to pick apart what exactly is the allure of these groups and to ask yourself if you have ever been a part of something similar.
Cults can be enticing for several reasons, despite their potentially harmful and manipulative nature.
1. Fulfillment and belonging
Cults often make grandiose promises of personal fulfillment, spiritual enlightenment, or a higher purpose in life. They offer happiness, success, or salvation, which can be enticing to you if you feel dissatisfied or lost.
You’re also part of a group who share common goals, values, and beliefs. This sense of belonging can be particularly appealing to those who feel isolated, lonely, or disconnected.
2. Emotional support and a feeling of certainty
Cults often offer emotional support and a support system that members may lack in their personal lives. They also offer a sense of certainty and stability. In a complex and uncertain world, the simplicity and clarity can be comforting.
3. Personal transformation but control
They offer a way to overcome personal flaws or achieve enlightenment. This desire for a seemingly easy path to personal growth and change can be appealing if you are seeking a fresh start.
Yet a cult’s success is also built on this need for many people through manipulation. They use tactics such as love bombing (excessive affection and attention), exploiting vulnerabilities, a sense of dependency, or even fear and guilt.
Once you take these elements, you can apply them to popular and even mainstream groups, businesses and belief systems including:
- Any Multi-level marketing structure
- Fitness cultures such as Bikram Yoga
- Conspiracy theorists
- Large media fandoms or fan-groups
There is no guarantee that everyone is susceptible to these types of groups, but it is a common misconception that joining a cult or a group of its kind is the result of naivety or stupidity.
When you feel lonely, lost or depressed you can have the urge to find instant relief and fast solutions to how you are feeling. This is when an offering of community and acceptance becomes the most enticing.