How a Suggestion Can Change Your Life
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 actually shaped the reality.
A deliberate suggestion can influence how well people remember things, how they respond to medical treatments, and even how well they will perform and behave, according to research by psychological scientists Maryanne Garry, Robert Michael and Irving Kirsch. (link is external)
The reason, they say, is attributable to something called “Response Expectancies.” This means that the way we anticipate our response to a situation influences how we will actually respond. In other words, once you expect something to happen, your behaviors, thoughts, and reactions will actually contribute to making that expectation occur.
If you think you’ll ace the interview and expect it to go well, 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, many of us get caught up on the other side thinking only of our limitations. The power of suggestion works just as well then—to actually sabotage our success.
Think you’ll struggle with the job? Then, you’ll likely feel more negative and create less-favorable outcomes.
Has it been suggested that no one in your family knows how to have a healthy marriage? Then, you may unconsciously do things to sabotage your own relationship.
When you expect to get that cold—because everyone is getting it—you’re bound to be ill.
In fact, the influence of suggestion and our expectation is so far-reaching that scientists are now looking at how the power of suggestion and expectancy to can aid in medical care, criminal investigations, policy decisions and educational processes.
Using the Positive Power of Suggestion
But, you can use it right now to take charge in your own life and create the experiences you desire. Here are four ways to do it:
1. Tune in to the moment. This is good advice for just about anything. But as is with so many things, awareness is required to help us identify the suggestions that are coming our way in the first place. If you are not aware of the messages you’re sending or receiving from others, it’s tough to counteract the negative suggestions you hear.
Tune into what’s going on around you. Get curious about it and the suggestions that are influencing you will be easier to spot. Then you can give special attention to those that are helpful or encouraging.
2. Create a network of support. Find the people that believe in you and stay close to them.
Psychologists have shown that we are influenced by both deliberate and non-deliberate suggestions. (link is external) How people talk to us, their gestures, tones, and implications matter just like their words. Positive influence begets positive suggestions.
Think about whom you spend time with, and make sure that they are bringing good energy—that alone will create positive outcomes in your life.
Think too about how your behavior is suggestive. When you are parenting or interacting with others, you are making non-deliberate suggestions (link is external)with your body language, attitude, and attention. Those subtle suggestions can also build people up and inspire them or tear them down, all without you saying a word.
3. Maintain a flexible mindset. When we are locked into a fixed mindset we tend to take failure personally and see little opportunity for improvement. This is limiting. Instead, remain open to any outcome and when suggestions or influences come into your life consider those that take you closer to your goals.
With flexible thinking (link is external) you continue to learn and grow and improve and draw things into your life that will influence your progress.
4. Understand that the power of suggestion is always working. Another way to tap into this potential is just simply to remember that the power of suggestion is always working. If you expect something to happen—if someone or something suggests to you a specific outcome—your expectations of that outcome play a major role in its occurrence. The expectation or suggestion alone changes your behavior (often unconsciously) and your responses to help bring into reality the outcome you are expecting.
Knowing this then, don’t expect anything less than the best. I suggest you deserve it.
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