What Do You Believe?

I am reading a book called “Transform Your Beliefs, Transform Your Life”, by Karl Dawson with Kate Marillat. As the title of the book suggests, your beliefs are an extremely powerful driving force in your life - whatever you believe, is your reality. Here is an excerpt I hope you find as interesting as I did:

In allopathic medicine, the absolute power of belief systems is shown through placeboes, or ‘fake medicine’. Placebos don’t have to be pills - they can be creams, injections or even surgery - but if we believe in them, they will improve our health. Researchers have measured this by using variables such as colour, dosage and branding. Interestingly, the effect is greater if the dosage is increased. Shiny boxes and a capsule will trump a tablet, and an injection will work even better.1

Health authorities are well aware of the placebo effect. According to the UK National Health Service, 'The placebo effect is an example of how our expectations and beliefs can cause real change in our physical bodies. It's a phenomenon that we don't completely understand. But we can see it working in all kinds of ways, and all kinds of circumstances.2

Take this pain-relief study, where a group of students was told that they were going to take part in a study of a new painkiller called trivaricaine. This was a brown lotion that was to be painted on the skin. It smelled medicinal, but contained only water, iodine and thyme oil: it was a placebo. Of course the students were not told this.

The administrator of the 'medicine' donned gloves and a white lab coat. Each student had the trivaricaine painted on one index finger and the other left untreated. Then each index finger in turn was squeezed in a vice.

The students reported significantly less pain in the treated finger. They expected the 'medicine to kill pain, and sure enough, they experienced less pain. Even though the trivaricaine was a fake painkiller, expectation and belief had produced real results.3

This is only one example of hundreds of clinical trials that consistently demonstrate the power of the placebo. Essentially, what we believe can make us well. The medical authorities know it too. In March 2013, 783 doctors were polled about their use of sugar pills - a treatment they knew had no medical value - to aid patients' recovery. An overwhelming 97 per cent admitted that they had recommended a sugar pill, and one in 100 gave out these placebos at least once a week.4

The power of the placebo is becoming better known in part thanks to Dr Irving Kirsh, a professor at Harvard Medical School. Kirsh challenged the effectiveness of antidepressants, which are worth US$11 billion annually. Following an initial study in 1998, he invoked the Freedom of Information Act and obtained unpublished clinical trial data of antidepressants from American pharmaceutical companies. He found that when these data were included with his original findings, antidepressants outperformed placebos in only 20 of the 48 trials (less than half!) and that the overall difference between drugs and placebos was 'clinically insignificant'5. It was the belief in the placebo that directly influenced the subjects and had an impact on their physiology.

Placebo is Latin for 'I shall please.' Just as strong is the opposite term, nocebo, meaning 'I shall harm.' If we are told something negative, generally by a person in authority such as a doctor or teacher, it can have just as much power as the placebo, because we totally believe what they are saying. Being told that we have a specific period of time to live or are 'at risk of developing a certain disease', for example, may mean we believe it and so it comes true.

(Me again) What do you believe?

Do you believe that you are stupid? That you aren’t smart enough, pretty enough, fast enough, good enough?

Do you believe that money is hard to come by? I’ll never make more money? All relationships fail? The world is a dangerous place? All men are a$$holes? All women are *itches? People use me? People leave me?

What if you could truly believe that you are acceptable, loveable, special, worthy, and deserving, without faking it, lying to yourself, and/or trying to prove it?

What would that be like?

Do you even believe it’s possible?

Whatever you believe, is your reality, but it doesn’t mean it is the truth. When your beliefs change, your reality changes, your life changes. You experience less stress.

You can change your beliefs. It is possible. I’m not talking about just telling yourself to think differently; I mean truly believing something different.

And EFT is a powerful way to do that. EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique, or Tapping) helps you release the feelings and emotions that keep a belief in place, allowing you to form a new, supportive belief.

Ready to learn how EFT can help you? Schedule a free discovery call, here.

Here’s to conquering stress.

With heart,


The Stress Experts


1. Keogh, D., and Harris, L.L. (2009), 'The placebo effect', www.nhne-pulse.org/video-the-placebo-effect (accessed 20 January 2014)

2. UK National Health Service, 'The placebo effect', www.nhs.uk/ Livewell/complementary-alternative-medicine/Pages/placebo-effect.
aspx (accessed 9 June 2013)

3. Montgomery, G., and Kirsch, Irving (1996), 'Mechanisms of placebo pain reduction: an empirical investigation', Psychological Science, Vol. 7, No. 3, pp. 174-6

4. Howick, J., Bishop, F.L., Heneghan, C., Wolstenholme, J., Stevens, S., et al. (2013), 'Placebo use in the United Kingdom: results from a national survey of primary care practitioners', www.tinyurl.com/18h2w3 (accessed 10 January 2014)

5. Cited in Brogan, Kelly, MD (2013), 'A psychiatrist's perspective on using drugs', http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/
01/16/dr-brogan-on-depression.asp (accessed 20 January 2014)

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