On my post improving self confidence I mentioned I had recently joined and started contribtuing to the “Personal Development for smart people” forum, part of Steve Palina‘s site. Steve has probably the most popular personal development website around – although ironically the most recent post when I found it was about living in Las Vegas! However, there is plenty of good, relevant stuff on his blog and some stimulating posts on the forum. But, returning to the forum, in my opinion there is also an awful lot of nonsense. Erin Pavlina happens to be a psychic & intuitive reader, and on her site says “When I was 15 I had my first out of body experience. I learned how to astral project at will, and I was already an accomplished lucid dreamer.” Without going into great detail, it does mean that within the forum, there is room for the psychic and paranormal – which covers “Psi skills, psychic energy, dreams, lucid dreaming, astral projection, paranormal phenomena, non-physical entities, extraterrestrials, channeling, mediumship, clairvoyance, clairaudience, clairsentience, claircognizance”
As this forum is titled “personal development for smart people” I feel I need to make a few points. Having stressed the importance of positive thinking, the use of affirmations and goal setting, I’m a great believer in the power of the mind to help us improve ourselves and develop. But this is grounded in what is scientifically proven. For instance there are numerous studies on the power of the “placebo” or even “nocebo” – expectation of sickness begets sickness. The positive power of palcebo has well been proven. In my own field of mental health, trials for anti depressants have shown that those taking a dummy pill also feel better.
With nocebo, trials have shown that patients have experienced negative symptoms when told they were side effects of a particular drug, even when given a dummy. I must confess I experienced a similar thing myself only this week. Having to undergo a physical investigation for an enlarged prostate (don’t ask how they investigated!), as I was about to leave the treatment room, the doctor said that occasionally men went into urinary retention, following this procedure, and had to be recalled and kept catheterized for two days. Yikes!!!!!!!!
Suffice to say, four hours later I was still “unable to go” and on the verge of phoning the hospital to arrange my readmittance. Fortunately, my wife (who is a nurse) arrived home at this point and suggested logically why I was “unable to go” (lack of fluid, profuse sweating during procedure and taking paracetamol, plus high anxiety). She suggested I have a bath, and even before I got in I was suddenly able to “go”. Talk about relief!!
But the moral of the story is:- At 4pm last Friday I was believing I was in “retention”. And my thinking made it so. It took a rational person I believed in (who I had been unable to contact previously, exacerbating my state) to change my belief.
In the UK, the most highly paid writers on national newspapers are astrologers. People buy papers just to follow the “Stars”. Is this wrong, just like is it wrong to take advice from a Tarot reader, a Medium, or a Psychic Reader? Ultimately these things “work”, in my opinion, because people believe they work and the time, authority and sincerity of their respective practitioners reinforces that belief. I think the moral dilemma comes in when money starts changing hands, when scientifically proven remedies are cast aside in favor of these “alternatives”, and a larger scale when government funding for unproven alternatives is made at the expense of the proven (as happens in the UK).
I will return to the subject of belief and positive thinking over the next few posts, as it really is central to building great self confidence. But what do you think?