In my book A Journey of Creative Healing, this step has to do with my rejection of the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. In the 1960s little was understood about the disease and its prognosis was grim. My refusal to believe I had a disease of that magnitude stood me in good stead as I viewed my illness as a physical and emotional breakdown caused by shock of the loss of my young husband. But if I had accepted the diagnosis I believe the outcome of a return to good health may well have been very different.
This step of refusing to buy into the fear of the unknown is just as relevant in our COVID 19 world today. There is no other news that fills our screens, blasts from our radios and fills our newsprint than this virus.
Government and health authorities discuss the plight every hour, every day. Hypothesising that if we keep on this trajectory there will be no beds for other medical needs, there will be a dire shortage of respirators. And it does not stop there, so many in our community are joining the long agonising queues at welfare offices and face dire financial stress.
You would have to be living under a rock to not to be fearful.
According to science our primordial part of the brain has an appetite for bad news. In fact this reptilian part of our brain is constantly scanning our horizon looking for anything that will threaten us. If it finds a nub of juicy danger it doesn’t send this through to the neo-cortex of our logical thinking. Instead lizard-synapses-firing it retains it, constantly edgy ready to initiate our fight or flight response. Put simply we are addicted to bad news.
Which, very nicely thank you, plays into our potential for the nocebo effect. Nocebo, (from the Latin I shall harm) is the counterpart to Placebo (I shall please). The Placebo has many ‘pleasing’ studies that show the benefits of a sugar coated pill but the Nocebo challenges even the most radical researchers for the obvious reason they could harm patients. But it is well recognised by the medical world that people develop symptoms or an illness by either suggestion or our own negative conditioning. In other words be careful what you wish for!
The answer is simple make a real effort not to dwell in adversity. We know what we need to do to keep us safe, social-1.5m-distancing, washing your hands repeatedly and stay home.
Restrict the amount of news you listen to. Try not to workshop with your bubble folk every questionable step those in authority make. Set your intention to embrace mindfulness and practice gratitude. Indulge in light-hearted movies, especially anything humorous, sex (if you are still up for it, okay double-entendre weak but hey hey) exercise, dance, sing or anything that will release the good chemicals into our systems.
It was Franklin D Roosevelt, no stranger to adversity himself, who said ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself’