FMM 8 14 15 The Placebo Effect

“Keep your face to the sunshine

and you cannot see a shadow”~Helen Keller (a blind woman!).

How do you start your day, your week, your month?  Do you jump out of bed, smiling and greeting the opportunity to live life to the fullest?  Or do you moan and groan, resenting, fighting, complaining and counting the hours till it is over?  What message to you send to your brain, your immune system, your body in general, when that is your approach?

I encountered just such a person this week.  A person with a legitimate complaint against injustice, but a person who had allowed that resentment to affect her mood to such an extent that she was creating the opportunity for all manner of illhealth to develop.  You could see the blood pressure rising, the stomach acid churning and the volcano slowly building to red hot lava level.  It took me a long time to learn that there are things in life we can change, and some we have no control over.  And when we encounter those things that are out of our hands, the only thing we can change is the way we respond to it.  That may be easier said than done.  But when you feel as if your hands are tied; that you are in a situation you cannot escape from, but it is making you crazy, then your only choice is to change the way you see it.

And I am not suggesting that that is easy.  If you feel as if you are being taken advantage of, or abused, or taken for granted, one choice is to walk away.  And that is never easy.  For if your bills depend upon your next paycheck, you may not have the freedom to walk out the door.  And if your actions will affect people other than just you, you may have to sit and dwell with a bad situation for a while.  So what can you do?  How do you change that response, that reflexive urge to kill, or desire to curse, or wish to throw something?  Sometimes by using imagery, you can see things as funny, instead of anger inducing.  Can you visualize an offending person as a cartoon character?  I remember an old TV show in England, whenever the man thought about his mother-in-law, you would see an image of a hippopotamus on the screen.  Not very flattering, but it was a release for him, and so long as he didn’t call her a hippo, hopefully he didn’t offend anyone!

But our brain is very susceptible to the messages we send it.  And since human beings are blessed with a vivid imagination, we are not dependent only upon the actual sensations that the outside world provides us.  We can conjure up positive or negative images at the drop of a hat.  Most of us parents are experts at imagining the worst.  I had an example of that just this week.  My son had borrowed my habanero (orange) car, don’t ask me why it’s habanero!  And at work my coworkers were so happy to see me, as their students were asking if I was ok.  They had seen an orange car in a horrible accident.  Of course until I spoke to my son, my stomach did a flip and I had activated my fight or flight response.

We can choose the messages we send to our brain.  Some practice daily affirmations, reminders to ourselves of the thoughts we wish to have.  Positive statements that assure us of our abilities, our talents, our beauty.  And although they may sound like clichés, sometimes they are very necessary.  We have absorbed so many negative messages about ourselves from a society that has very rigid ideas about beauty, about perfection, about what is expected of us that we can beat ourselves up on a daily basis.  Changing the messaging is an important step towards self-acceptance and self-love.  And that then creates a fertile ground for all of the potential that we have.  It was Marianne Williamson who challenged us to be our best.  She said:  “We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’  Actually, who are you not to be?”  We often place ourselves in pigeonholes, unaware that we are the ones holding the key.

I was researching the side effects of a drug yesterday, and came upon the drug trial statistics.  I was flabbergasted.  When they test drugs, they of course have to compare it with a placebo.  The best trials are called ‘double blind’ trials, where neither the person receiving the drug, nor the person who administers it knows whether they are getting the drug or the placebo.  The recipient is then asked to report the effects of the drug, to determine whether the drug is effective at doing what they want it to do, and to see what the side effects are.  It was amazing how many times (according to their chart) that more people who received the placebo experienced side effects than those who received the actual drug!  Insomnia, constipation, involuntary movements, headache, in some cases twice as many people who received the placebo experienced these side effects!

What does this tell us about the power of the mind?  If you give me a pill and then ask me to check off on a list the side effects it caused, I begin to look for things!  And these negative effects are caused solely by my mind!  So flip that over and imagine how many positive effects you can create through the power of your mind!  What message can you give yourself today that will change the way you see the world, change the way you react to things, and bring about amazing results?  What little thing can you experiment with today, and see how it changes things?

Let us unleash the power we have, let us not be made small by the events of life or the people around us.  Imagine if we all were the best that we could be, how would the world be different?  Have a fabulous Friday, family! And a wonderful weekend.

One Love!


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