“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”
― Henry Ford
We have all probably heard about the placebo effect which is an amazing phenomenon, where an inactive substance like a sugar pill improves a patient’s condition simply because a person believes and expects they are going to benefit from it. This can be witnessed through actual improvement in their symptoms.
What may be less known, is the nocebo effect which is an equally amazing phenomenon, where that same sugar pill can degrade a patient’s condition simply because a person believes and expects they are going to be harmed from it, often experiencing damaging side effects.
Usually, the attitude, disposition and choice of words used by the physician providing the pills or medical prognosis will strongly influence which effect we experience. This is because the power of suggestion is very strong, and can unconsciously bring about the outcome we are told to expect.
For instance, if we are told in a kind and comforting way about our prognosis, and what we can do to enhance our well-being than we will respond quite favorably.
Conversely, the foreboding and negative delivery of a medicines side effects, health prognosis or length of time to live can be quite detrimental by removing hope, even though miracles happen every day.
This is not to say that we should only look for those who tell us what we want to hear or that others are responsible for what we choose to believe. However, it does encourage the importance of being discerning, and putting ourselves around those who are more mindful in their communication style, and believe all things are possible.
Though much is not fully known about all the psychological workings of either the placebo or nocebo effects, it does illustrate the power of the mind.
It reminds us to never underestimate the power of our expectations, beliefs and what we choose to focus on or whom we choose to listen to.
Filling our environment with positive people, places and things will inspire optimism, and encourage us to keep the faith while expecting only good results in all areas of life.
Ask yourself if you expect good things to happen or are regularly expecting ‘the other shoe to drop’ instead?