The Power of Convictions and How They Shape Our Lives – What are Yours?
Are you aware of how important your convictions are in your life? They rule what you do. They can be conscious or unconscious. They have the power to decide between healing or illness, success or failure, great relationships or mediocre ones. The power of conviction is tremendous, and we all exercise it, to varying degrees. Mahatma Gandhi changed Indian politics forever and inspired global civil rights movements through his practice of non-violent disobedience. Adolf Hitler’s convictions changed the face of the Earth forever through totalitarian terror. The power of conviction itself is neutral – it works the same, for good or ill. We all carry the potential of a Mahatma Gandhi and an Adolf Hitler within us.
I would like to share three examples of how powerful convictions are. Then, I encourage you to take stock of your own, and to see how they help or hinder your life (relationship, work, healing, etc.) experience.
Conviction & the Mind Body Connection
Mr Wright suffered from advanced cancer. With tumors the size of oranges and having received maximum treatment, time was running out. There was only one untried option: a brand new drug, still under testing, and only open to people with a life expectancy of at least three months. Mr Wright besieged his doctor – who thought his patient was not going to last another week – to make an exception and let him try the drug. All of his hope hung on receiving this new treatment, of which he was thoroughly convinced that it would help him. The doctor finally gave in and injected the drug on a Friday. When he came back to the hospital the following Monday, Mr Wright walked about the room. His tumor masses had shrunk to half their size. Only ten days after the first injection, Mr Wright left the hospital, apparently cancer free.
His bliss lasted for two months – until he read an article about the inefficacy of the drug he had received. Believing in what he read (and not in his own factual healing, regardless of the written words!), Mr Wright fell into a deep depression. His cancer returned.
This time, recognizing that Mr Wright very competently engaged his self-healing ability without realizing it, his wise doctor gave him a placebo (something without medicinal capacity) – he injected plain water under the guise of a very pure form of the drug used previous. He also told his patient that the drug they used the first time had deteriorated during shipping and thus was nowhere near as effective as this highly-concentrated, very pure form they now had available. Mr Wright took to the well intentioned bait and healed himself – again – only by way of conviction that the ‘high quality drug’ would help.
Two healthy months passed. Then, sadly and much to his detriment, the American Medical Association announced that a nationwide trial proved his wonder drug ineffective, once and for all. This time, Mr Wright lost all faith in his treatment, the cancer returned, and he died within days. –
As mentioned in previous articles, it is the belief in the method we apply that heals us, and not necessarily the method itself (and there are good methods, don’t get me wrong). The unequivocal belief in something helping engages our innate healing capacity. Mr Wright demonstrated that marvelously. His is such an amazing example of the reality of the placebo (conviction that something helps you) and also the nocebo effect (conviction that something doesn’t help you or is harmful) – and thus the mind body connection. Also, this story may remind readers of another recent article on the power of suggestion, which plays right into this: had Mr Wright chosen to ignore the messages he read about the drug not working (ie the suggestion), or at least paused to see whether that’s actually correct for his situation, instead of immediately accepting it as true, he could have happily survived.
The “Spontaneous Remission Bibliography Project” database includes some 3500 citations from the medical literature, reporting stories like Mr Wright’s (Institute of Noetic Sciences). Doubting the mind body connection? Start reading and set yourself up for doubting no more. =)
Mind over matter?
When Robert Koch, a German physician, first co-developed what’s known today as Germ Theory (the idea that bacteria & viruses cause illness), this subject was highly contentious. One of Koch’s critics thought the notion of minutely tiny things to cause harmful diseases in humans so absurdly ridiculous that he swallowed a glass of Vibrio cholerae, the bacteria Koch thought to cause cholera, to prove his point. To everyone else’s amazement, he remained completely unaffected by what, according to Germ Theory, should have rendered him violently ill with diarrhea and vomiting. Did his conviction of the falsity of Koch’s theory override any physical ill effects? Mainstream science continues to this day to dismiss such episodes (DiRita 2000), instead of finding out how the man avoided falling ill, as most people probably would, when swallowing Vibrio cholerae.
Conviction allows to accomplish the ‘impossible’
‘Conviction’, an important movie I watched recently, is based on a true story from 1980’s America: Kenny, a man from a tough social background, is convicted of murder. He goes to jail for life, without parole. Only he did not commit the crime. Losing his appeal, his outlook is bleak. His sister Betty Anne, convinced of Kenny’s innocence, decides to become a lawyer to exonerate him. Her family life suffers, and she eventually loses her husband and their two sons over her pursuit of Kenny’s freedom. Eighteen years later, she succeeds. Her brother walks free. It is an amazing love story. How did she accomplish this feat?
Betty Anne knew her outcome. She was 100% committed and pursued her goal without any doubt of her brother’s innocence. She did what it took. While she was not certain to succeed in the end, she knew her brother was in jail for nothing, and that became her driving force for 18 years. She never lost sight of her goal. She defied the odds. Very much so. Her conviction of Kenny’s innocence saw her through and freed him.
This, by the way, is no rare single case in the US, as one would hope. Wrongful convictions are disturbingly common. There have been 316 post-conviction exonerations since 1989, some of them posthumous (Innocence Project 2014).
Another lady played a huge part in this. She shaped the lives of others to no small degree. How? The acting police officer’s convictions drove her to arrest somebody who was innocent. Her conviction and desire to be right led her to pressure witnesses into falsifying their statements in court. She was convinced of Kenny’s guilt and intended to prove it. The actions of this one officer deeply shaped the life of Kenny and his family. Convictions can blind us to truth. Due to the Massachusetts statute of limitations, this cop was immune from criminal prosecution….
Find out more about Kenny & Betty Anne’s story.
Watch or download “Conviction” online.
Now it’s your turn: what are YOU convinced of?
It helps to define the term: while a belief is a thought you keep on thinking, a conviction is that belief chiseled in stone. Pretty much. Once that happened, we may even become unconscious of our convictions and just act them out…until we sit down and ask ourselves a few questions: what am I convinced of in the context of __________? What do I believe around________? What benefits might I experience when I let go of this belief/ conviction? What would I rather believe?
It is fun to explore your own biography for patterns of thought/ belief/ convictions – it may be one of the most valuable exercises to undertake. Because once you found those patterns and made them conscious, you can act on that insight and change your beliefs & convictions from something detrimental or hindering into something supportive. And that may make all the difference! Remember: our life is what our thoughts (beliefs, convictions) make it. Choose your convictions well. They drive your actions or in-actions. As we have seen, convictions can help you accomplish the ‘impossible’, regardless of what others think. What YOU think matters most in your healing process, and in your life.
DiRita VJ. 2000. Genomics Happens. Science 289:1488-1489.
Klopfer B. 1957. Psychological Variables in Human Cancer. Journal of Projective Tech- niques, Vol.21 No.4 (December 1957), pp.331–340. (contains Mr Wright’s story)
The Innocence Project website: http://www.innocenceproject.org/know/
The Institute of Noetic Sciences “Spontaneous Remission Bibliography Project” database:
See here for free pdf downloads of chapters pertaining to specific illnesses: