What you can achieve if you believe
Have you ever known someone who didn’t buy a car because they failed to pass their driving test? Or someone who tried to learn how to drive, then totally gave up driving after failing several times?
That scenario is unlikely. Almost everyone who starts the process of learning how to drive ends up being able to drive. Although not everyone becomes a driving expert, still, everyone who tries eventually learns the basics of this complex skill.
The question is, why? Why has almost everyone succeeded in driving and not done so well in achieving their other goals? How come you succeeded in learning how to drive yet you have given up achieving some of your other goals?
The answer is very simple: It is because you believed you were going to be able to drive long before you sat in that driver’s seat.
You saw everyone around you succeed in doing it and you were convinced that there’s nothing to it, even though it really is a complicated skill.
Believing you can do something is the first step in achieving it
Billions of people in this world fail to live the life they have always wished to live. They fail to realize their ambitions and give up on their dreams, big and small, as soon as they encounter the obstacles that inevitably come with life. One of the main causes for this failure is that people do not believe in themselves.
Believing in yourself is all about being sure you are going to do whatever you set out to do against all odds; even the discouraging views of others. Usually, when you decide to take on a big challenge or try to do something that others have failed to do; you will find that not everyone is as optimistic as you are. Under the pressure of this negativity, many of us begin to doubt their own abilities and eventually give up. The few who believe in themselves and who continue upon the path they have chosen are the ones who succeed. Look at these examples:
- John Grisham, the American lawyer turned author, who loved to write, took 3 years to write his first book, A Time to Kill . The book was rejected by publishers 28 times until he got one yes for a 5,000 copy print. He has since sold over 250,000,000 total copies of his books.
- Multiple academy award winning director, Steven Spielberg applied to the prestigious University of Southern film school and was denied two times. He persevered in his dream and went on to direct some of the biggest movie blockbusters in history. In 2015 he was worth $3.7 billion and in 1994 got an honorary degree from the film school that rejected him twice.
- Alex Haley the author of the fantastic book ‘Roots’ received 200 rejections before it was published. When it was published it rose to the top of the best seller’s lists and has since been published 37 languages, won the Pulitzer Prize and became an award-winning television mini-series.
The same also holds true even when doing what you believe in, goes against the tide.
During the Dot Com boom, practically everyone was into buying internet stocks as they were the in thing. One of the few people, who could have bought, but who didn’t buy was Warren Buffet. At the time, everyone criticized Warren for his extreme skepticism and caution when dealing with these new stocks. A few years later, after the Dot Com bubble burst, the ‘crowd’ lost a lot of money, while Warren Buffet came out unscathed and is among the top 5 richest people in the world!
These examples are not of people with extraordinary abilities: No! They were just normal people like yourself; the only difference is that they believed in themselves and therefore succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. If you want to be like these people and if you want to learn to believe in yourself, then read on.
THE EXTRAORDINARY FEATS OF THE MIND
While we often see our minds and bodies as two distinct entities, it turns out they are much more entwined than we might have thought.
Studies are continually finding indications that the brain has a distinctive power to manipulate the body’s physiology.
As some of these examples below show, the mind/body connection can either work in our favor or to our detriment, depending on our ability to control our thoughts.
Multiple Personality Disorder
Dissociative identity disorder or multiple personality disorder (MPD), is a mental condition that’s intriguing on many levels. Perhaps most interesting of all is how some sufferers not only exhibit behavior and personality changes as they switch between their different personas, but some also have measurable physiological variations between each identity.
For instance, one of a MPD patient’s personalities may need spectacles and the other won’t. Or, one identity might be diabetic and the other will have perfect health. In these cases, it is not simply a matter of the patients believing they need eye glasses or insulin, their bodies actually go through genuine alterations, such as differences in intraocular pressure in the eye or blood sugar levels.
In one published case by the American Psychiatric Press, a doctor noted how medications prescribed to a MPD patient had different effects depending on what “personality” took the medicine. For example, when a tranquilizer was administered to the person’s ‘childish persona’, it made the individual relaxed and sleepy. However, when the ‘adult personality’ was given the same drug it made them confused and anxious. Comparable results were found with other patients and with a variety of different medications.
This phenomenon is especially captivating since no one, including the psychiatrists, claims mysticism is at work. On the contrary, it is an authentic example of the mind altering the body.
The Placebo Effect
A placebo is an inert substance which produces real biological effects in humans. This is so widely accepted as fact that a placebo variable is almost always included in most medical tests as a way of showing if a drug works on its own merits, or because the person taking it “thinks” it works.
There are numerous experiments proving the placebo effect, but here is an amusing test done by a group of Princeton University students who decided to throw a non-alcoholic beer party for their unsuspecting classmates. The experimenters covertly filled a cask with a very low-alcoholic beer (containing about 0.4% alcohol while regular beer has around 5% alcohol) and then watched as their mates proceeded to get ‘drunk’, slurred their words, slept on the ground, and generally behaved ‘high’.
Although it’s practically impossible to get intoxicated on 0.4% alcohol content, these students had such a strong belief they were drinking standard beer that it affected their behavior.
Interestingly, researchers have discovered the placebo effect is somehow gaining strength, and some drugs that have been on the market for years, such as Prozac (the anti -depression drug), are now proving less effective than placebos. Unsurprisingly, this is a big concern for big pharmaceutical companies, which has left them scrambling to conduct numerous studies in an effort to come up with new safeguards for their billion dollar industry from ordinary sugar pills. By the way, Big Pharma is currently more profitable than Big Oil, so there is a lot at stake.
While placebos are generally associated with positive outcomes, like curing an illness or getting drunk on a non-alcoholic drink and having fun (if you consider that positive), the nocebo effect produces negative results.
Examples of these are like a cancer patient vomiting before chemotherapy starts or someone breaking out in a rash because they believe they touched stinging nettles, even though it was merely an ordinary plant.
One of the most common examples is found in many societies that practice voodoo or black magic. This is the effect on an individual when an evil spell is cast on them. Believing the witch doctor’s power these people begin to wilt visibly.
Scientists are just starting to understand how cultural beliefs can lead to psychological induced stress, illness, and even death. Reports on the potentially fatal consequences of these intense beliefs were being observed around the world with unprecedented frequency.
In South American Tupinamba men, condemned by witch doctors died of fright.
Among the Hausa people in Niger, individuals withered away after being told they were bewitched.
Fierce Aboriginal tribesmen in Australia, upon seeing an enemy pointing a hexed bone at them, went into convulsions and passed away.
“Voodoo” death was proving real: This strongly held belief became a fatal power of the imagination working through unmitigated terror to totally incapacitate and kill a previously completely healthy person.
Many athletes claim they perform better when they ‘race’ in their minds before set foot on the track. While we may assume doing so is just a mental exercise that enables them to better focus on the race, there might be more concrete changes happening inside their bodies.
An Air Force colonel George Hal, was locked in a tiny, dark North Vietnamese prison for 7 years.
While most people would lose their minds in such circumstances, Hall would focus his mind on his happy place by mentally playing a round of golf every day of his confinement.
His visualizations were extremely detailed and included everything from striking the ball off the tee, raking back the sand on the sand traps, feeling the wind, and of course tapping the ball into the hole.
Regardless of being weak and 40 kilos lighter than before his capture, one of the first things George Hall wanted to do upon his release was play a real round of golf.
In honour of his service he was invited to the Greater New Orleans Open where he astoundingly shot a 76. This for the golf illiterate, was a very decent score for a person who had not been practicing regularly.
So, despite his physical condition having deteriorated and not having stepped on a course in over seven years, his body had developed muscle memory based simply on his visualizations of playing golf while imprisoned.
Block Out Pain
A Dutch Jewish writer, also lived in appalling conditions while in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. Jack Schwarz like so many others, was starved, beaten and tortured beyond what most of us can comprehend.
To cope with his circumstance, he earnestly began the practice of meditation and prayer. This he developed to a point where he could block out the pain and subsequently withstand the situation.
After his release from the camps, Schwarz continued his mind control over the physical practice and occasionally would demonstrate his skills by pushing a long sail-maker’s needle through his arm without showing any signs of pain.
He also displayed an ability to regulate his body’s blood flow by controlling the puncture hole in his arm to bleed or stop bleeding at will.
Researchers who studied Jack Schwarz found that he indeed could regulate many of his bodily processes with only his mind. Additionally, through an electroencephalograph, they determined his brain exhibited different electrical activity as compared to most other test subjects.
Positivity and Meditation
The phenomenon of a positive attitude has been clichéd to the point that it has lost its allure. Unfortunately this overuse of the term has effectively thrown the ‘baby out with the bath water’. In this eventuality the impact of a positive attitude on situations is underestimated. Unquestionably it’s difficult to maintain a positive attitude when you’re facing a life-threatening disease, but, based on a variety of medical research, doing so may make the difference between living and dying.
For instance, Dr. David Spiegel of Stanford University in 1989 conducted a study on 86 women with late stage breast cancer. Half of those women received standardized medical care while the other half were given weekly support sessions in addition to the medical care.
During these sessions the women talked with other patients, shared their feelings and in essence had a positive outlet where they could cope with their illness. At the conclusion of the study, the women attending the support group lived twice as long as those not in the group.
The study revealed that terminally ill patients who have feelings of hopelessness and helplessness have a lower chance of survival.
Boosts Weight Loss
It seems a paradox that an increasing numbers of people are claiming to put a greater effort into eating a nutritious diet and exercising, yet there are more obese people around than ever before. Some researchers think a positive attitude is the missing variable in the weight loss equation, and a lack of it is what’s keeping people overweight.
To prove that the mind has a major impact on the body, Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer conducted a trial on a group of predominantly overweight hotel housekeepers, who judging by the level of their daily activity, should have been lean. Despite basically exercising all day long through their work, Langer discovered through a survey that 67% of the housekeepers did not feel they did any type of exercise.
Langer hypothesized the maids’ perceptions were hampering their weight loss. She then took half the maids aside and, in addition to taking their weight and physical measurements, explained to them that through their cleaning work they were exceeding the health experts general’s definition of an active lifestyle. This information was not given to the other half of the maids.
A month later, Langer’s team reevaluated the maids. In the newly educated group they found an overall decrease in weight, waist-to-hip ratio and in systolic blood pressure. The other group had no significant physical changes. While it may be said the mere discussion of exercise in some way altered the women’s behavior, Langer clarified there was no indication any of the maids modified their routines, and she felt that the results were due simply to a change in mindset.
Why the power of mind over the physical is important
Have you ever pondered how powerful your own mind really is?
Have you ever considered that if one human can achieve the most amazing feats then you too may possess the same potential?
We have just seen amazing feats of the mind over the body.
These cases, and others involving circumventing the material world like cases of extrasensory perception (ESP), are usually viewed as paranormal events. However, these seemingly incredible phenomenon have become more widely accepted as we better understand the implications of quantum mechanics.
The science of Quantum physics has proven that all matter at the subatomic level exists in wave form, and that matter only appears solid when as observers, we use our senses to decode and perceive the wave patterns in space and time. Pointedly, thoughts, especially concentrated thoughts, also form measurable wave patterns.
You know that uncanny sense in a crowded room that someone is staring at you and when you turn round you instantly make eye contact with the culprit. Thought waves have proven to affect observable matter in the physical world.
If our thoughts have the power to manifest changes in the physical world, then controlling our thoughts would seem to be of utmost importance. Thoughts can manifest into reality. Simply put, thoughts become things; even negative thoughts. The manifestations most talked about involve people attracting wealth, health, or relationships to themselves through positive thinking and visualization exercises.
Extrasensory perception (ESP), is now a statistically measurable phenomenon on average humans. This is so much so that a recent Cornell University study suggesting we all would seem to possess these great powers of the mind, has been published in the prestigious Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a peer- acclaimed journal published by the American Psychological Association.
Did you enjoy reading this? Make sure you come back for chapter two next week…