Your negative beliefs could be affecting your health
The University of Cincinnati conducted an experiment with some student volunteers. The students were informed that the experiment was to test the effects of stimulants and sedatives. They were randomly given either blue or pink capsules.
Shortly afterwards half the students reported feeling drowsy and over one third of them reported feeling stimulated.
There were physiological changes too
The ‘stimulated’ students pulse rate averaged a 61 percent increase and there was a 71 percent increase in systolic blood pressure! Pulse and blood pressure dropped in the ‘sedated’ students, though to a lesser extent.
The capsules seem to have worked
However the capsules contained nothing that would impact mood or physiology in any way.
They were completely inert placebos.
It was what the students believed that made the difference
Similar studies have taken place around the world over many years and with a variety of groups. They illustrate that what you believe has a huge impact on what you experience – because your beliefs affect your perception.
You’ve probably heard the saying, ‘I’ll believe it when I see it.’
The opposite is true
You see something when you believe it.
Even on the news here in NZ recently many doctors admitted they had given placebos to their patients. Remember placebos contain absolutely nothing that can impact your health in any way. Yet people still got better. Why? Because they believed the ‘medicine’ would cure them.
A belief is as powerful as medicine.
So, if it’s not the placebo that’s causing someone to get well, then it must be their belief that it will. The positive belief that they’re taking something to help them get well, sends powerful messages from their brain to their bodies that causes them to get better. But what happens when the belief isn’t positive? Beliefs, like habits, can be good or bad.
Beliefs aren’t things
We talk about beliefs as if they’re things. But beliefs aren’t things. Beliefs are just thoughts that are repeated. The more the thoughts are repeated the stronger and more entrenched they become. They attract other similar thoughts. The thinking process becomes a habit. And eventually you end up with a belief. Beliefs can also come about because of some trauma or incident, or through programming – being told something so often that it becomes ingrained.
But for this article let’s stick with ones that have developed over time.
Given this, you might have some negative beliefs you’d like to change!
So how do you change a negative belief?
Well because many beliefs are just repeatedly thinking the same or similar thoughts, the first thing is to recognise that any thought can be changed. Thinking is an ongoing process. And it’s your mind doing the thinking!
The secret is to turn the belief back into a process
What do I mean by that? Well, let’s say your belief is, ‘Things never go well for me.’ I mean that, rather than saying, ‘I believe things never go well for me,’ which makes it sound like a fait accompli, bring that sentence into the present, active tense by saying, ‘I’m believing things never go well for me now.’
In the present, it’s under your control
You can probably see how making your negative belief an active process gives you back control, because it’s something that’s happening now! If it’s occurring in the present moment you can change it.
Now challenge it
By talking about the belief in the active tense, you can challenge the truth of it by asking yourself a question. The question to ask is:
‘How am I believing things never go well for me now?’
This question challenges you to think about how you’re structuring the belief; how you’re putting it together in your mind.
You could answer:
I’m believing it because:
- Other people have more luck than me.
- I had a puncture this morning.
- Some things haven’t gone well for me in the past.
- I never win anything.
- I’ve told myself things never go my way.
- I’ve believed people who’ve said things never go my way.
Then you can challenge your answers.
- How does the fact that people have more luck, mean things never go well for you?
- Do things ever go right for you?
- Can you list some of the ways things have gone right for you?
- Do you believe everything that people tell you?
- Can you think of one thing this week that has gone well for you?
This exercise will help you identify the other negative thoughts that have contributed to locking your negative belief firmly in place. Then, in future you can identify those thoughts as they crop up and choose other, more empowering thoughts.
The exercise will also throw up examples that prove your belief is inaccurate which will kind of loosen the grip it has had thus far.
Now is always a good time to challenge a negative belief. (There’s a belief!)
So, if you have a negative belief that you think might be holding you back, now’s the time to deal with it.
- Get out a pencil and paper. Write out the belief.
- Write it again in active tense; ‘I am believing (insert your belief) now’.
- Start challenging it and writing down your answers. Better still, enlist the help of a friend.
- Get a friend to ask you some questions and write down your answers. Then swap roles.
I think you’ll find it a fun, useful, enlightening and freeing process.
There is another way
Of course another way you could change things is to get some ‘Happy Pills.’ As long as you believe they’ll work, I’m sure they will.