RitualI was mesmerized the other day listening to a story on NPR’s Radiolab about a woman suffering from chronic pain. She had entered an experiment that hooked her up to an EEG where she could see her brain activity as it unfolded. The areas that showed her pain centers were visible in a flaming red.

In the experiment, she tried to soothe herself by remembering and identifying with the fate of certain spiritual people she admired. As she was able to calm herself down, she saw with astonishment how some of the red spots in her brain were extinguished.

Excited and motivated by what was unfolding right before her eyes, she continued her visualizations until all the red spots on the image were gone.  For the first time in years she was pain free.

The main thing that struck me when I heard the story was how powerful our beliefs are. Initially, the woman’s belief in her religion and spirituality made her calm down. Then, when she saw on the computer screen how it visibly helped her with the pain, her trust in science reinforced just how effective the method was until the pain was fully gone.

As they say, faith will move mountains.

The same goes for believing in yourself. If you are capable of having such strong, immovable faith in yourself, you will be able to achieve many things.

But, alas, we don’t always have that. As much as we try to tell ourselves how gifted and strong and talented we are, we don’t always believe it.

Wouldn’t it be grand if we could just walk up to our crazy boss and let him have a piece of our mind? Wouldn’t it make everything so much easier if we could just say how we felt without having to consider someone else’s feelings?

But we can’t. When we are low on confidence and have worn out all our self-esteem, we can’t make ourselves feel better.

That’s when we have to resort to other people.

It’s the power of someone else’s faith in us that makes us move mountains. Maybe not just about anybody. But someone we respect and admire can easily change our minds.

When a parent or a sibling we look up to reassures us of our worthiness, that is when we can start to feel more confident. The same goes for a teacher, a coach, a priest, or simply a good friend.

As soon as someone who has our respect and love is convinced that we can pull it off, that’s when we go and make things happen.

At least it’s a good start.




photo credit: Achint Thomas