Thoughts affect biology, and this is well established in the fields of medicine and psychology. This phenomenon is called a belief effect. As examples, look at both the placebo and nocebo effects, which I’ve highlighted on this platform before. In a nutshell, a placebo is when a patient expects a medical outcome to be positive in some respect, and it is, even though they got a fake treatment. And the nocebo effect is when a patient expects some kind of negative outcome due to a treatment they receive, even though the treatment is not bad or unhealthy in nature.
There is another powerful belief effect that is worth understanding and implementing into your daily life. And that is called the Pygmalion effect. This refers to the idea that our beliefs about a person can influence their performance or a particular outcome. For example, higher expectations can lead to better outcomes. It is not so much what we believe about ourself, but rather, what we believe OTHERS believe about us.
To be more concrete, if a teacher believes a student is smart and capable, and the student knows this or realizes this, the student can perform better and get better grades as a result of the teacher’s expectations. The same holds true for coaches and athletes in sports, managers and employees in the workplace, and even in relationships.
This is why it is critical to be a positive, uplifting influence on the people in your life. Not only can it benefit their well-being, but it can also lead to improved performance in their careers, their extracurriculars, their academics, and so on. But it is also important to be as positive and uplifting to yourself as well.
Self-Analysis is Key
Make sure to do some self analysis everyday with respect to your belief structure, your thinking, your emotional well-being. I’m certainly not saying to ignore the stress or the bad times or pretend things are hunky dory when they aren’t. Quite the opposite – lean into the bad times and believe you can overcome the challenges in your life, because you absolutely can.
You can change and improve your brain, crush that presentation, or win that race. You can have that tough conversation and fix that relationship. But if first starts in the brain and with your thinking. It starts with understanding just how powerful belief effects are and how much thoughts affect biology. And also recognizing your beliefs about other people affect their well-being and their outcomes as well.
Work on your thoughts everyday. Be mindful of your beliefs and your ways of thinking. Constantly challenge them and look to improve them. The key to improving or achieving anything in life first starts in the brain and with your thoughts.
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