I used to get sick every year like clockwork. Until I noticed, I was accidentally telling myself to get sick on a certain date. I was giving myself permission to do it. This article describes that journey, the observations I made in myself and others, and explains why the mind has such control over our body so that you can take back control and say, “I never get sick”.
As a self-employed photographer, I found that sick days we’re a bit of a luxury that I couldn’t afford. And that was never more true than during the holiday season.
Most businesses see a seasonal trend, but in family portrait photography, the last part of the year is heavily loaded. Starting with fall outdoor portraits in September and October. But then going straight into holiday portraits throughout the rest of November and December.
And of course, holiday portraits need to be edited, printed, wrapped up with a neat bow and delivered right before the big day, otherwise Santa gets a bad rap.
So for the last 3 months of the year, I would typically work 12 hour days, 7 days a week. Culminating in the last few weeks of December, working around 18 hours a day.
This didn’t leave much time for eating, sleeping or relaxing. I would barely see my family. My wife would bring the kids down to the studio to pop in and say “hi”, just so the kids could remember what I looked like 🙂
Cold & Flu Season
Of course those times of the year also coincide with cold and flu season. So very often, I found myself surrounded by families and especially children with runny noses and sticky fingers. And I would spend upwards of an hour in pretty close proximity to all these germ spreading, two-legged bio hazards.
Wearing a mask now during the pandemic seems like a sensible thing all of a sudden.
People would always apologize and tell me some story about how the kids had just got sick that morning and they hadn’t realized. Or they would say, “don’t worry, they’re not contagious anymore.”
I always replied jokingly, “I can’t afford to get sick until after Christmas, I just have way too much work to do.”
What I noticed though, was that, I would always get sick with cold or flu on Christmas day or shortly after.
This happened every year like clockwork. I just figured I was so run down and tired from not sleeping or eating right and I was exposed to so many runny noses that it was just a coincidence.
Self Fulfilling Prophecy
However, I thought about it for a little while, and I wondered if maybe it was a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I kept telling myself I would get sick after Christmas. And I said it often enough throughout the day, joking with clients, that I wondered if maybe I was actually giving myself permission to do just that.
So one year I decided to try something different.
When parents would apologize and say, “I’m sorry about my kids, I hope you don’t get sick.” I would simply reply, “I’m too healthy, I never get sick.” And that was it. As simple as that.
So the first year I tried that, lo and behold I didn’t get sick right after Christmas.
12 months later I tried it again and guess what? I didn’t get sick.
Maybe I was onto something.
This went on for many years and is still true to this day.
Of course this could all just be statistical coincidence and not a real thing at all. But I am definitely going to keep telling people that I don’t ever get sick. I’m not a gambling man, and I don’t have a lucky shirt for my favorite sports team, but it certainly seems to be a wise bet.
Placebo Effect – Healthy Mind, Healthy Body
This could be just another example of the placebo effect in action. Where it seems that, the power of suggestion and a strong enough belief in its success, actually causes a positive response to occur in the human body.
The placebo effect is an observable, statistical phenomena that has intrigued medical experts for years.
A lot of people just discount the placebo effect saying that, “well, they would have got better on their own anyway.”
But isn’t that the point. No medicine was used to make the person better, but merely the suggestion and belief that what they were putting in their body was going to make them well.
I started to look for other examples of this in my life.
I usually tell people that I have a bad memory for names because I forget people’s names right after they told me.
Maybe the same trick will work with that too?
I Don’t Remember, or Maybe I Do?
I stopped telling people I had a bad memory and I started saying to myself that it is going to be easy to remember everyone’s name.
For a photo shoot, I would write the names of all my clients and their family members on my left hand. This way I could sneakily look at my hand during the shoot without taking my eye off the camera. People were always impressed I could remember so many names.
I found that after I started telling myself I had a good memory, I still wrote the names on my hand out of habit, but I no longer needed to keep referring to it throughout the shoot. And I quickly found that my memory really did improve.
So I guess all those years of telling myself that I was bad at remembering names just made that a reality.
Seeing the Cycle of Sickness
I have a few friends that always seem to be sick. And what I noticed was that they seemed to take delight in telling everybody about their symptoms and how terrible they feel and how it effects their life.
I have one friend in particular that always tells me she has to be careful around people with colds because when she catches it, it always turns into bronchitis. And guess what usually happens? That’s right, she gets bronchitis more often then most people get a headache.
I also have a friend that seems to perpetually live in the Doctors office. He also seems to enjoy telling everybody about his war stories. Almost as if he wears his run-ins with health issues like a badge of honor to show how tough he is.
However, I suspect in both cases, that by constantly expressing their ongoing relationships with health, that they are inadvertently telling their body what they would like to happen.
It’s like doing a daily affirmation, but instead of it being for a positive outcome they are accidentally undermining themselves by using a negative narrative.
I tried explaining my little mental experiment to my friend who constantly gets bronchitis. I told her how I changed my story to tell people, “I never get sick”. But either I explained it badly, or she didn’t understand. Either way, she said, “that won’t work for me because I always get sick no matter what I try.”
Well, I guess you can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink from the fountain of health 🙂
Don’t Mind the Drama
So this whole website is dedicated to dealing with the mind and the ego. So it’s only appropriate for me to try to fill in the blanks a little bit with what is going on, and why my, “I never get sick”, mental attitude works.
Our egos like drama, and they like problems because it gives them a reason to exist. Without a problem to solve, the mind has no use. So if it can create drama in your life that gets you complaining and grumbling, then it can stick around for a little while longer.
We don’t realize how much our physical well-being is connected to the mind, and therefore how much damage can be done to the body by the mind if we let it.
Believing that you will get sick sends that subliminal message to your body.
Sympathy or Hero Worship
When you feel that, talking about being sick, will get you sympathy, compassion and understanding from others is a great way for your mind to create drama and remain in control. It checks the box for wanting to be loved.
Telling someone how sick you feel generally creates a compassionate response from the person you’re talking to. That’s love right? Somebody cares for me and loves me.
Feeling like “defeating an illness makes you a hero” is another way your mind has power over you. But it’s the same check box of wanting to be loved. “People will admire me if I give illness the middle finger and triumph over cancer. Especially if I struggle and have terrible symptoms to talk about.”
The other thing to note is that, telling yourself you’re going to get sick is an example of a “self-limiting belief.”
Sort of like believing that when you get to a certain age you can’t do certain things anymore.
Self Limiting Beliefs
There are a lot of stereotypes that quite simply aren’t true. But we are shown them on TV and social media often enough that subconsciously our minds believe that to be true. And hold that power over our body.
As we get older we’re supposed to slow down, take it easy and get arthritis. Is that really true? Or do we just get told it often enough that it becomes our reality?
Even simple stuff like. If you believe you’re not going to enjoy something, then there’s a really good chance you won’t.
How many people do you know that tell you they’re not good at math whenever it’s time to split the bill in a restaurant?
Or, how often do you hear things like, “I’m not good with technology. I can’t draw. I’m not very creative. I’m an insomniac.”
Just saying things like, “I’m not the sort of person that does X”, or, “I don’t enjoy Y”, instantly excludes that possibility from your life.
You’re missing out on a lot of things when you allow your mind to limit yourself in such a way.
If your mind knows that it can keep you wrapped up in drama related to your health, then it has such a firm grip on you that it will likely stay in control. It will keep making you sick, because it knows you will gripe to your friends about how sick you are. And how awful it feels. And how the world is against you and this and that.
Conclusion – Why I Never Get Sick
I will write another post on positive affirmations and positivity in good time. I’ll also write about self-healing. Both of which are lengthy topics in themselves and certainly too long to get into here.
But I really just wanted to share with you some of the insights into the mind-body connection. And how it affects our health in a very real way.
Don’t ever give yourself permission to get sick. And if you do find yourself in the position of being sick. Remind yourself that your body is able to heal itself and that you are getting healthier and stronger all the time. But most importantly, believe that wholeheartedly with every cell in your body.
Silence your mind and you will see this article is true. Stay positive. Stay strong. Never get sick.
Stay healthy and strong my friends.
Events & Workshops
August 26 – Mindfulness & Unconditional Love - Denville Senior Citizens Center
August 27 – How to Silence Your Mind