I stumbled into some F-A-S-C-I-N-A-T-I-N-G research recently. The information hangs in my brain while I oooohhh and ahhh thinking about the possibilities. The studies come from different areas of health research but they all have a common element: The way we think about something influences the outcome of the situation.
“Okay” you say, “We already knew this.” …maybe placebos come to mind.
But these studies show that placebos only begin to reveal the level of influence our thoughts can have on our lives. They expose how our thoughts literally form our mental and physical reality. Here are three quick summaries:
- One study I heard about demonstrated the level of hunger hormone in a person’s blood significantly changes based on whether or not they think the drink they are drinking is “indulgent” and high in fat or a “smart choice” with low calories. It is the same drink with a different label, yet the physiological response is different based on what they think they are consuming.
- In another study, people were shown a short video on the harmful effects of stress. They were then put in a mock job interview with critical interviewers. Their stress hormones were measured and found to be significantly higher than a second group of people who were shown a short video on the positive side of stress and then put through the same critical interview process. Study participants experienced a different stress response based on how they viewed stress.
- A third example comes from therapy outcome research. As it turns out, therapy is significantly more effective when the person seeking services believes it will be helpful. They think it will help and, wha-la, it does.
My excitement about this research comes from the opportunity for us to use this super power with everyday challenges, big and small. In this way, we take the wheel. We become skilled at choosing how we think about a situation, which leads to problem solving and empowerment, rather than being stuck or alone with it. Love that.
It all starts with embracing the enormous gravity of our own perspective. Seriously. Open to the possibility that you can influence your situation. You can change your footing, your experience of something, and all that happens 100% right within YOU. No one else needs to agree or validate or even know you are changing anything.
The goal is to modify YOUR part in whatever it is you are facing. Obviously, the facts stay the same but don’t let that rob you of finding peace for yourself. After all, the research is screaming at us how important our view is to our own wellbeing.
Once you are armed with the determination to see your situation differently, begin to dis-identify from your thoughts. In other words, see them as separate from “you” and be objective with them. Get to the bottom line so you see your interpretation of good/bad or right/wrong. Writing down thoughts helps us separate from them.
Finally, discover gold with curiosity. Ask yourself:
- What else might be true?
- How could I change the way I see this?
- How might someone else see it?
- How can I see this more positively?
- How could I see this in a way that benefits me/everyone involved?
Make sure you resonate strongly with the new perspective. Repeat it out loud and see how it feels. If it doesn’t quite fit, leave it. Keep looking until you say, “Yes! That works.”
This medicine is available to you anytime you need it. However, fear and anger will stop the show. Let those emotions have their moment and, once they have settled, take the time to slow down and evaluate your thoughts. Cultivate an understanding that works to support you. When you connect with new meaning, everything shifts effortlessly into place.
May you know the gifts that changing your thoughts provides…