Could a suggestion kill a man? The answer is “yes” according to Joseph Murphy and his book “The Power of your Sub-Conscious Mind.” According to him, both autosuggestions, i.e. suggestions originated by your own mind, and hetero-suggestions, i.e. suggestions originated by others can have an incredibly strong impact on you and your life. Negative ones can cause diseases and even death. According to Prof. Luther Lee Bernard, suggestions are one of the basic concepts of Social Psychology as they greatly affect our behaviour.
Let’s start with hetero-suggestions. With hetero-suggestions it all depends on your perception. For example, if someone tells you that you cannot do something and you believe them then you will certainly be unable to do it. On the contrary, if somebody suggests that you are capable of doing certain things, even if you don’t believe them, it stays in your memory (conscious or unconscious) and the chance that you’ll succeed in doing these things is much higher (as hetero-suggestion balances your lack of confidence).
Take the story Murphy tells of his relative for example. His relative visited a crystal gazer in India who told him that he was going to die at the next new moon because something was going to go wrong with his heart. The man believed her and began telling everyone around him that he was going to die. He even went so far as to arrange his will.
When the next new moon came around, he died; however, it was not because he was predestined to die in any means. His relatives insisted on autopsy and his heart turned out to be absolutely fine. Instead it was because he had caused his own death, not through suicide, but through destructive thought. He had told himself over and over that he was going to die, effectively sabotaging his own body.
Before the fortune teller, the man had been perfectly healthy. Afterwards, though, he became frightened and constantly dwelt on the idea that he was going to die. If he had ignored the woman’s suggestion than it is most likely that he might still be alive.
Murphy repeats that we have the right and the ability to choose what we want out of life. Others can give us suggestions, but we have to entertain them for the thoughts to have any impact on us. Due to his fear and confidence in fortune teller, Murphy’s relative effectively chose to die.
The best way to protect yourself from hetero-suggestions such as the aforementioned man’s fortune is through autosuggestion. Autosuggestion means that you suggest something definite and specific to yourself.
For example, Murphy relates the story of a young singer who had an important audition. She, however, had failed her previous three auditions due to her fear i.e. her autosuggestion of failure. A friend suggested that she is really a very good singer and all she lacks is confidence. It is hard to say whether this was true or not, but the singer was able to overcome her negative autosuggestion with another one triggered by her friend’s hetero-suggestion. She started telling herself that she could sing well and that she could pass the audition. She passed an audition and got the job, because she was able to reverse her original autosuggestion that told her she could not succeed into the one that told her the opposite.
Most of the world’s population is at one point or another given negative suggestions. They may be told that they will fail, that they are wrong in their beliefs or actions. Many parents do this to their children when there is a disagreement with parent’s views. If one accepts these hetero-suggestions as truthful statements they may develop into autosuggestions and one may begin to believe that these things are bound to happen. Child psychologists believe that negative suggestions by parents is a leading cause of anxiety and lack of confidence when children grow up.
We can all counteract negative hetero-suggestions through our own constructive autosuggestions. We can tell ourselves positive things for an extended period of time until they become regular thoughts and condition us to think positively.
It can be hard, however, to do this. People tend to set up obstacles in their conscious mind that prevent the subconscious from overcoming these negative autosuggestions and hetero-suggestions. Our subconscious will accept the things that our conscious assumes and believes to be true.
For example, if you believe that you will never amount to anything, your subconscious will believe this as well and prevent you from achieving your dreams. On the other hand, if you believe that you will amount to something, your subconscious will allow and help you to do so.
By changing your negative autosuggestions into positive one’s you are able to do much more. It takes work, however, to do so. Murphy talks about a woman who was diagnosed by doctors as having short term memory problems. This women decided to fight mental decline and she told herself each day over three weeks period that her memory was working and improving. By the end of the time period, her memory was back to normal.
Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/viejozapato/2691485099