Growing Up Means Extracting The Beliefs That Were Placed In Your Head By Others

Caitlin Johnstone
5 min readJan 4, 2023

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Most people never grow up. Not really.

Growing up means maturing. It means becoming independent. It means developing into your own person and standing on your own two feet.

Few people really do this. Because few people ever get around to extracting all the beliefs that were placed in their heads by other people.

Most people have similar beliefs to their parents about life, society, politics and religion. If it’s not their parents it’s other influential figures in their lives like friends, teachers, or the media pundits they follow.

More significantly, most people hold a lot of beliefs about themselves and their place in the world that were put in their heads by people they care about. The average person goes from cradle to grave without ever seriously examining their beliefs about who they are, what they’re like, or any of the other ideas about themselves that get inserted into their minds by the verbal and nonverbal communications of the people around them.

For most people, a huge amount of their personality is pretty much locked into place in early childhood by the life experiences that they have with other people during that time. They’re still essentially who they were when they were kids, but we call them grown ups just because they’re a certain age and can have kids of their own.

Really growing up means doing the hard, earnest work of extracting all the bullshit that was placed in our minds over the course of our lives by people who were just as immature, traumatized and confused as us. It means really excavating our beliefs about ourselves, about life, and about our world, all the way down to the old subconscious beliefs that are buried so deep inside us that we don’t even normally notice them.

This isn’t easy. It takes work, it takes dedication, and it takes courage, because truly relinquishing long-held core beliefs is like a kind of death. But unless we’ve done it we can’t really say we have matured as human beings, because we’re still existing in more or less the same state we were in when we were children: sponge-like imitators who soaked up whatever was placed in our minds by trusted authorities.

And to make things even harder, it turns out that there’s a whole other category of people who’ve been placing beliefs in our minds, and they’re complete strangers. It turns out that powerful people have been pouring massive amounts of wealth and effort into manipulating the way the public thinks, speaks and behaves in order to manufacture consent for agendas and status quo policies which benefit them.

It’s obnoxiously unfair, if you think about it. You go through all the hard work of uprooting all the dopey nonsense that was put into your head by your parents, preachers and teachers since you were small, only to find out that you’ve got a bunch of other garbage in your head that was dumped there by the news media and the manufacturers of mainstream culture for the benefit of a few powerful assholes. Just as you put down your shovel and got ready to relax, you’ve got to pick it back up and get right back to shoveling.

But hell, that’s the job. That’s what it takes to become a mature human being. You’ve got to rip out all the crap that was placed in your mind over the course of your life by confused elders and corrupt manipulators if you want to live a life that’s grounded in truth instead of bullshit.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t have beliefs, or that you can’t have beliefs that came from other people. Humanity has been full of brilliant minds with great ideas, and the world is full of true and helpful information. The difference is that you are consciously choosing as a mature adult to take on board whatever you take on board for however long you find it useful, rather than mindlessly ingesting it into your worldview because someone told you to.

And you can’t do that until you’ve cleared everything out. Stripped your worldview bare of everything that was put there before you were mature enough to lucidly interrogate its truthfulness, including your most fundamental assumptions about self, life, and reality. From there, you can consciously construct your own worldview based on what you have independently found to be true.

Again, this isn’t something most people tend to do, including the powerful people who are destroying our world and driving us toward disaster and annihilation. Our world is being steered by confused psychological infants who have not done the work of becoming true adults, and it’s going about as well as it sounds like it would go.

Humanity needs to mature if we are to avert disaster and begin creating a healthy world. We are each singularly responsible for our own role in that maturing process. Every mature human brings humanity as a whole that much closer to maturity, and provides one more voice that can help orient the world toward truth. The work starts here and now, beneath our own feet.


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