Personal development author Polly Campbell shines a light on ‘suggestion’…

‘Ever had someone tell you that the procedure would “really hurt” or that the test was “really hard” or that the boss was “impossible to deal with” and then had those scenarios play out just as predicted?

Turns out those early suggestions probably shaped your reality. Psychological scientists Maryanne Garry, Robert Michael and Irving Kirsch explore this phenomena in an article in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science and found that deliberate suggestions can influence how well people remember things, how they respond to medical treatments, and even how they’ll behave.

The reason, they say, is attributable to something the bigwigs call “response expectancies.” This means that the way we anticipate our response to a situation influences how we will actually respond. In other words, if something is suggested or you expect an outcome, your behaviors, thoughts, and reactions will actually contribute to making that expectation occur.

If someone suggests you’ll ace the interview, you’re more likely to do a good job. If you think you’ll win the race, you’re more likely to train and prepare and perform in a way that gives you a greater chance of winning the race.

Using suggestion in this way can be a powerful tool in accomplishing our goals. But, it can also sabotage our success. If you internalize a suggestion that you aren’t good at math, or don’t have a clue about parenting, or probably won’t ever make much money, you’re more likely to create those scenarios too.

Making Good With Positive Suggestions

The influence of suggestion and our expectations is so far-reaching that scientists are now looking at how they can influence medical treatment, criminal investigations, policy decisions and educational processes.

“If real treatment and suggestion lead to a similar outcome, what differentiates between the two?” says Maryanne Garry, one of the authors of the journal article. “If we can harness the power of suggestion, we can improve people’s lives.”

I’m becoming more aware of the power of suggestion in my own life when it comes to accomplishing my own career and health goals and while helping to raise my daughter.

Before going out to a social event, for example, I’ll say to my daughter: “I know you’ll be polite and respectful because that’s just how you behave,” instead of suggesting that she better NOT be a pill. She’s a good kid, with good behavior, is that because of the suggestions we make around here? Who knows, but it can’t hurt.

I do this for myself too, particularly when it comes to exercise. I am constantly suggesting that I will feel strong and healthy during my workout. Does it always play out? Nope. But, if nothing else, it almost always helps motivate me to head to the gym. Suggesting that I’m too tired or wimpy, doesn’t inspire me at all.

This is all a little law-of-attractiony, but I don’t think it matters how this stuff supports us — or even why — just that it does. We are exposed to so many thoughts, ideas, beliefs, influences. When we take charge of our experience and choose those that actually help us, those that actually empower, motivate, engage, enliven, and inspire us, good things are bound to happen.’

If you want to work with the power of suggestion in your own life, personal development specialist Polly Campbell shares her top three tips in this Huffington Post here:


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