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Has Someone Hijacked Your Thoughts?

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Studies prove that simply believing something will help or harm us . . . may be enough to produce that result.

What if some of our thoughts aren’t really ours—yet, we’ve been carrying them around for years, maybe even for decades, as though they originated in our own mind?

Here’s an example of how that might be possible.

Suppose the chronic pain in your knee miraculously disappears after taking a new medicine. But then, you discover you were actually in the clinical group that was given just sugar pills.  In other words, you were given a placebo, not the actual drug that was being tested.

So here’s my first question. Is there a subconscious positive or negative association with the word placebo? When I answered that question myself, I realized that I viewed placebos in a not-so-positive light.

Then I asked that same question to a random group of people. Every person, but one (who said the word was neutral to her), also viewed placebos in a negative way.

When I prodded a bit more to learn what was so negative about placebos, people said they associated the word with “being duped” or “proof that a problem was just in your head” or “to fall for a placebo, you couldn’t be very smart” or some other framing that did not paint a pretty picture of the word.

So, the second question was: Who may have imprinted placebos as negative—and without our awareness? The latter part of the question was interesting because of those I questioned, no one could recall a specific person or situation that actually caused them to think that way.

And yet, we all “got” the same message: Placebos aren’t viewed as something positive.

So then, who put that message out there? Well, I can only guess. For one, pharmaceutical companies can’t be thrilled with scientific studies that prove people can get better  . . . on their own, right?  That fact certainly doesn’t sell drugs.

And doctors who have gone to medical school for more than eight-plus years also aren’t going to be high on the list to imprint the idea that our very own minds might trump all their schooling and experience. And, in truth, we may have been very willing to believe that someone else needs to heal us because handing over all the power to someone smarter and more experienced then absolves us from taking personal responsibility to heal ourselves. (Note: This blog is not to challenge conventional medicine, so stay with me to get to the main point.)

But here’s the important part. I started thinking . . . what if I wiped out prior imprints about placebos from my mind?  In such case, what do I, Nancy Green, really think about placebos?

Well, I was floored.  Turns out that I actually think placebos are AMAZING!  Heck, they’re scientific proof that our very own minds can heal!  To me, that’s a happy dance, ten times over!

In fact, if I’m ever part of a formal study, and I improve with the placebo effect, I’m now going to think that I did even BETTER than those who did well by taking the actual medicine.  After all, that would mean I could get the same results as those taking the drugs, but without ever paying a dime or putting anything foreign into my body that may have potential side effects.  That would be awesome!

Again, the point here is not to forgo all medicine or to never to see a doctor.  I’m just using placebos as an example to encourage people to pause and ponder how many of their thoughts . . . may actually belong to someone else.

In other words, what if it’s someone else’s imprint that we’re not smart enough to (fill in the blank) or we’re not worthy enough to (fill in the blank) or we don’t even realize we’ve been carrying around other people’s fears and judgments?

So, why not take inventory of our thoughts? Which do we truly believe—and which may have been passed onto our subconscious mind?

Here are some common thoughts that we may certainly believe, or . . . did we inherit them from others, and they’re now masquerading as our own?

  • You need to go to college to get a good, respectable job.
  • It is a wise decision to become a home owner.
  • If my child has (fill in the diagnosis), he will never (fill in the blank).

Note that none of the above is a universal truth, meaning that not every person absolutely believes those statements as fact.  But what if we now decide such thoughts (or other thoughts from our inventory) do not truly reflect what we believe (i.e. they were ideas imprinted on our subconscious mind)? How might that then change what we are doing, right now in our life?  After all, it would really be a drag to continue to do this or that because we are acting on someone else’s beliefs.  That’s why becoming aware of other people’s imprints on our own subconscious mind can bring about such powerful changes.

So then, all that got me thinking . . . if positive thinking can improve physical symptoms, then could negative thoughts, in turn, create undesirable physical symptoms?

Well, it turns out the answer is yes. While not as well known as placebos, there is something called nocebos, where a negative imprint on the subconscious mind now has an adverse affect on someone’s health or well-being.

For example, when patients in clinical trials were warned of a drug’s potential side effects, approximately twenty-five percent of those taking just sugar pills actually experienced those noted symptoms!  In other words, the mere suggestion that patients may experience negative reactions to a medication may be a self-fulfilling prophecy—even if they are just taking sugar pills. There are even documented studies where patients were given nothing but saline (although they were told it was chemotherapy) who actually threw up and lost their hair!

Hmmm . . .  so just believing something negative is enough to create an undesirable outcome. So then, how might negative imprints be affecting us in ways we may not even realize?

Suddenly, having more positive than negative people in our lives seems really important. So, if you ranked the people you interact with most often, how many would you give a 10 (on a 1-10 scale), where a 10 score indicates a very positive, optimistic person? And, what ranking would others give you?

The latter answer is important, especially if we’re parents. That’s because our own subconscious minds are communicating with our kids’ subconscious minds almost 95% of the time!

That staggering fact is cause enough to ask ourselves: Each day, do we imprint positive or negative messages on our kids?  For example, do we imprint fear of failure, or do we imprint anything is possible?

Now, if you immediately find yourself thinking, well, not everything is possible– is that really your thought, or has that, too, been imprinted on you? (See, how crazy this can get?)

After all, once upon a time, people probably thought it was IMPOSSIBLE to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, let alone land on the moon. Yet, how many of us still carry the “it’s impossible” imprint, rather than this imprint:  Anything is possible, but we just haven’t yet figured out how to do (whatever).

It comes down to this. No, we can’t change that we have a subconscious mind or that we imprint and receive such messages all the time.  But we can decide whether we make our subconscious our best friend by reducing the overall negativity in our lives. Doing that then increases the probability that more positive than negative imprints enter our mind.

Here’s a short story that illustrates that point.

A bunch of frogs were given the challenge to climb to the top of a summit.  Along the way, onlookers were yelling:

 “You’ll never make it!”  

“That is way too difficult for you!”

“Who do you think you are . . .  to even think you can accomplish that!”  

In the end, only one frog made it all the way to the top.  But later on, the people discovered that this lone frog was actually hearing-impaired, and so  . . .  he never heard the naysayers.

Well, it sure is good to know that we don’t have to be a frog or hearing-impaired . . . to tune out those who do not move us forward.  But we do have to decide that we’re no longer willing to allow others to hijack our thoughts if we want to act in ways that truly reflect what we believe.

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