We’ve all heard about the power of belief-that what we believe to be true can have a huge impact on our lives and on our health. But how many of us actually take this to heart? Especially when we’re facing a disease like cancer, which feels so scary and powerful?
“Once, we believed that it was the ‘doctor’s job’ to help us get better,” says Whole Science writer Kerry Needs. “Now, research shows that we play a part in that too. Our belief, our attitude, determines the outcome of our health.”
What else but belief can explain the “placebo effect,” in which a sugar pill helps people get better? “In the health industry,” writes Connie Saindon, MA, MFCC, CTS, “studies showed that treatments later found to be misguided, worked 70-90% until they were no longer believed.”
Many people fighting cancer benefit from believing in the best outcome. Talking about the power of belief and cancer, unfortunately, can sometimes lead us down a slippery slope toward self-blame and negativity. After all, if what we believe affects our health, then did we create our own cancer in the first place?
David Eliot, author of “You Don’t Have to Die When your Doctor Says,” explains: “If you are suffering from cancer, then the suggestion that you could have created this condition can be very threatening, insulting, and insensitive….One doesn’t need to go into this depth in self responsibility, however….Taking responsibility isn’t about looking for fault, it’s about managing your beliefs in the present moment so you can focus as much creating energy as possible on the outcome you choose to experience: being a survivor.”
Eliot says situations are the result of multiple causes-for example, your cancer could have been caused by lifestyle, diet, environment, chemical exposure, genes, or a combination of these and many other variables. However, changing just one-your attitude and beliefs-could alter many of the rest. “What you believe is the most powerful contributing cause to any personal situation,” he says. “Diet, health, and habits may also be contributing causes, but each of them stands a good change of being managed just by managing your beliefs.”
For example, if you believe your body is healthy and pure, you’ll be less likely to put harmful things into it, like greasy, unhealthy foods and harsh, potentially dangerous chemicals. If you believe you deserve only the best, you’ll be more likely to seek out the best treatment, the best doctors, and the best alternative therapies. One positive belief can set into motion a whole avalanche of benefits.
Anne Harringon, chair of Harvard University’s history of science program, agrees with Eliot that attitude can effect other variables: “If a person is positive, he or she is more likely to show up for all the treatments and have a better diet.” She warns, however, that patients not be afraid when they feel negative emotions, or feel they have to cover them up with false positive ones. The key is to healthfully process those emotions, so that one can get to feeling truly positive and hopeful again.
If you’re fighting cancer, or want to prevent cancer, don’t be afraid to examine your own beliefs and habits and look for areas where you might help yourself with a more positive view. Here are some changes to consider (from xswebhealth.com).
Belief: I am powerless, a victim of circumstance. I must find someone else to blame.
Change to: I’m responsible and in control of my life. I can’t control circumstances, but I can control my attitude toward them. The world is not what it is, but what I believe it to be.
Belief: Life is a struggle. Something must be wrong if it seems easy or I’m having fun.
Change to: Life is full. Life is potential. It’s good to relax. It’s okay to have fun.
Belief: I’m not important. My feelings and needs are of no consequence.
Change to: I’m a valuable and important person. I’m equal to anyone, but above no one.
Belief: I should always look my best and be happy, no matter how I feel.
Change to: It’s okay to be who you are. You are unique and that shows. Be yourself.
Belief: If I worry enough it will help.
Change to: Worrying creates a negative energy that eats the one who worries. Actions change problems. Worry is exhausting. Create energy, don’t destroy your energy.
Belief: I’m not strong enough to cope with this.
Change to: Whatever life deals me, it also deals me the ability to overcome the situation. Balance is a fact of life. Everything can be accomplished by taking small steps.
Have you experienced healing from positive belief? Please share your story.
Photo courtesy Vitaliy P. via Flickr.com.