From Jim:

In 1960, when I was 19, an abscess developed at the back of my upper left jaw such that I had to have three teeth pulled. The dentist administered Lidocaine numbing my jaw and with pliers and some effort extracted all three teeth during that one visit. As he finished he warned me that I would experience serious pain when the drug wore off.

“The pain you will feel will be worse than anything you’ve ever felt before,” he said and he handed me a small vial of 8 white tablets. “These are pain pills. Take them when it gets to be too much. And because of what I had to do you’ll for damn sure feel it.”

I shrugged.

“Don’t be a hero,” he said not breaking eye contact. “And don’t be stupid,” almost growling. “I know what I’m talking about.”

He’d treated me before and always gently. I was impressed by his stern demand. I stuffed the vial into my pocket, and with my face half numb, I left.

On the way home I felt my resistance rise. I resented his strong-arm approach and I knew, no matter what, I wouldn’t take the pain pills. And even more, I decided I wouldn’t feel any pain. I just wouldn’t.

As the Lidocaine began to wear off, however, I focused in high alert watching for any sign of even the slightest pain. But as I more and more felt my face return to normal my confidence wavered. Then I was startled by a twinge of pain and I felt fear. I hated feeling that fear and I convinced myself that pain was nothing to be afraid of. So I strengthened my determination to feel no pain. And I didn’t. None at all. Not the most frail, paltry throb. Nothing. I’d done it.

Four days later I went in for my follow-up appointment.

“How’d it go?” he asked.

“You said it’d be the worst pain, right?”

“That’s right.”

“You were wrong. I didn’t feel a thing. Not one bit.”

“So you didn’t take the pills?”

“Not one.”

“Good,” he smiled.

“What’s funny?”

“Do you know what a placebo is?”


“It’s a powerful trick. I told you you’d feel pain. I gave you the pain pills. But they weren’t pain pills. They were sugar pills. They wouldn’t have stopped any pain because they wouldn’t. I wanted you to do the job.”

“What job?”

“Jim, it’s called a placebo. I took a risk. I gave you the pills to make you believe there would be pain so you would use your own mind and will to make sure there wouldn’t be. You did that. Given the procedure, three extractions at once, there should have been pain, and a lot of it. But I know you well enough that you wouldn’t let that happen if I challenged you. And I was right.”

I was confused. Why did he do it? What if I had felt pain, and a lot of it? The pills would’ve been meaningless. But I was also proud. He’d challenged me and I came through.

He saw my pride and smiled. “Remember this. It’s very powerful. It’s a power we all have.”

I’ve never forgotten him. Because of his challenge I convinced myself there’d be no pain. I believed it and there was none. That was my first conscious experience of the power of... you’ll see it when you believe it.

This is neither mysterious not supernatural. It’s the basis, usually unspoken, of any power of vision or visualized determination that is then manifested into reality. Any great discovery of invention is motivated by believing and then seeing.

The idea, which is believed by most people, that if I can't sense it with one or more of my five senses then it is suspect. Carried further, if I can’t sense it---see it---then it doesn’t exist. Moreover it can’t exist. Tell that to Columbus, or Einstein, or Jack Kennedy when he demanded that America put a man on the moon which we did a mere ten years after he spoke.

Our perceptions supported by our passions are the result of our beliefs---jumping back when you see a snake and upon a second look it turns out to be a twisted stick---an example seeing what you believe.

So what’s it going to be: Waiting to see before believing or believing and then seeing?

Let me know your experience.

Author's Bio: 

Judith Sherven, PhD and her husband Jim Sniechowski, PhD have developed a penetrating perspective on people’s resistance to success, which they call The Fear of Being Fabuloustm. Recognizing the power of unconscious programming to always outweigh conscious desires, they assert that no one is ever failing—they are always succeeding. The question is, at what? To learn about how this played out in the life of Whitney Houston, check out

Currently working as consultants on retainer to LinkedIn providing executive coaching, leadership training and consulting as well as working with private clients around the world, they continually prove that when unconscious beliefs are brought to the surface, the barriers to greater success and leadership presence begin to fade away. They call it Overcoming the Fear of Being Fabulous