We are all familiar with the research concept of the placebo effect. According to The Harvard Health Letter, the placebo effect is a favorable reaction to care and attention from people who patients believe can help ease their suffering and distress. The key word here is belief. The patients believe that it can help. This belief is important and powerful. In fact, the newsletter from Harvard goes further to encourage the medical community and patients to utilize the placebo effect as part of medical care. The patient's belief is based upon an expectation that there will be an improvement in their condition and in fact appears to have a lot to do with the effect. “There is also evidence that some of the placebo effect is a favorable reaction to care and attention from people who patients believe can help ease their suffering and distress.”
What an amazing and important fact! If we believe that the care or attention from people we believe in can ease our suffering, it helps achieve that outcome! Then by all means we should have more of the placebo effect acting in our lives. Who are these people in our lives? Only you can answer that type of question, but they should be positive, caring forces, people who hold our best interests at heart and only want the best for us. These people are people who know us and are honest with us.
We suggest that there is a single person who ought to be at the top of that list: ourselves. Belief in ourselves need not be based on some false bravado or conceit, but simply from the fact that we exist. René Descartes is often quoted as stating “cogito ergo sum – I think therefore I am.” The quote attributed to Antoine Léonard Thomas, and which seems to better capture Decartes real intent is “Dubito ergo, cogito ergo sum – I doubt, therefore I think, I think therefore I am.” The difference is important, because it begins with doubt over his own existence. Since he doubts he exists, the doubt is the evidence of his thought and because he thinks, his existence is proven. Moreover, his very existence makes him the equal of every other person in existence, has existed or will exist. There can be no false bravado because he has doubted his own existence in the beginning and then has come to know his existence. He also has learned that he has power over this existence, his doubt is evidence of thinking and drawing a conclusion. He has exercised free will and transcended. Descartes has re-invented himself in a sentence!
Belief in ourselves must be grounded in self-knowledge of who we are and our value-set. We must come to know ourselves well and according to the Oxford dictionary, have trust, faith and confidence in ourselves. This self-knowledge is essential and not always so difficult to obtain. However, we must be honest with ourselves. In order to know ourselves, we must know our values. What are our values and how are those values revealed in our behavior? We must at first get comfortable with who we are and respect that person, value that person, care for that person.
How do we develop belief, this trust, faith and confidence in ourselves? We have free will. With free will, we can exercise choice in our decision making. We can make choices to benefit ourselves and choices in line with our values. This free will gives us power, power over our lives and power over ourselves. Recognizing that we have power over choices, power over our decisions, power over our lives, shows belief in ourselves. This belief in ourselves through the exercise of free will helps ease our suffering and helps achieve a desired outcome! Belief in ourselves is a powerful agent in changing our lives.