Placebo : a medicine or procedure prescribed for the psychological benefit to the patient rather than for any physiological effect.
I know many people who are inherently suspicious of the placebo effect. They want a proper medicine complete with side effects that does stuff to your body and mind. They don’t like the idea that they could be “fooled” by a powerless pill and that, if it works, it suggests they were making it up in the first place.
My personal opinion is that if it works, it works.
I have long been aware of my placebo relationship with visiting my GP. I am generally robustly healthy and do not use much of their time. There are occasions, however, when I experience symptoms, real symptoms, and I need to get them checked out. After a brief consultation, and my trusted GP advising me that I am not actually dying, it is amazing how the symptoms go quite rapidly. They were real enough but someone taking an interest, listening to me and reassuring me is often enough to see them disappear.
I see the placebo effect as a super booster for whatever I wish to commit to.
I am aware of and embrace the placebo effect in personal and psychological development. In fact I see it as a super booster for whatever I wish to commit to.
When I commit to do something that could possibly impact my mental or emotional health positively I am already starting the placebo effect off. The moment I start whatever initiative I have in mind I am already choosing to do something positive for myself. The placebo effect likes that and uses that to good effect in my mind. It increases the immediate impact of whatever I decide to try, and increases my chances of following through thus helping to build a healthy habit.
Awareness and being mindful
I am not necessarily talking about mindfulness, as in meditation. I am talking about being mindful and aware of why I am doing something.
I am very good at building healthy habits. There is, however, a danger that as they become habitual they simply become just something I do each day. As a result I become less aware and less mindful of the change I was making and why I made it. If that becomes the case then the placebo effect reduces and I increase the possibility of discontinuing something that was going to have a positive effect.
In our workshops we teach many practices and strategies that we hope will become healthy habits. Our mental health development site, Inner Calm, is packed with them. As I have written about before, we always start with awareness. Awareness then gives us choice and then we can start to build habits.
Awareness comes first.
So if you want to make a change. If you want to build a new healthy habit in your life, start with awareness and welcome the placebo effect in. It’s all good.