One gap between your capabilities and the repetitive tasks that can cause you discomfort over time relates to the placebo effect.

You’ve heard of the placebo effect: a percentage of test subjects get better when they’re given a sugar pill. The reverse can also happen. The nocebo effect causes subjects to get worse.

Although they’re dismissed by researchers as uncontrollable variables, placebo and nocebo are neither random nor unexplainable. And their power extends far beyond scientific studies. They’re part of an intricate ergonomic feedback loop that sends very precise positive and negative signals throughout your body every moment of every day.

Placebo-nocebo is happening all the time. But you’re not aware of it (or why it’s occurring) because this feedback loop is so complex and hidden inside your body.

You often think about what you want: what you can get now, what’s impossible to get (but you still want), and what you could get if you’re willing to stretch and grow. However, each of these desires can bring up conflicting thoughts of fear, mistrust and self-doubt. Here are two examples.

You see someone who seems to have everything going for them: they’re smart, talented and good looking. But their life is a shambles. Their career is at a standstill; they can’t get a date. You shake your head and wonder why they can’t get ahead.

You also see the opposite: someone with average intelligence and minimal talent who rises to wealth and success. You wonder how they pulled it off—and keep it going.

In my opinion, the main difference between the two is confidence: how strongly they trust their ability to create a fulfilling life.

If you generally trust yourself, your optimism will trigger more placebo effects. Conversely, less confidence triggers nocebo effects.

You see, in each moment, multiple signals are crisscrossing in your body and often will contradict each other. Your thoughts are the source of every one of these signals, both positive and negative.

Your body is an intelligent, dynamic processor of your thoughts. Your life experiences—the physical manifestation of your thoughts—depend on which choices, beliefs, and expectations flow from your mind to every cell in your body.
For instance, your thoughts can stimulate or repress your immune system. In other words, more negative thoughts = more nocebos = more illnesses.

We’ve also recently discovered that your thoughts interact with your genes, causing some genes to be expressed, while others aren’t. What you choose to think about can turn a gene on or off. This means you’re constantly manipulating your genetic expression, whether you’re aware of it or not. Powerful stuff.

Ultimately, only you determine how your thoughts will affect the dynamic feedback loop that is your body. Just because you smoke, that doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get cancer. Conversely, daily exercise doesn’t ensure that you won’t get cancer (or any other dreaded disease).

The most significant improvement in your quality of life comes from making your well-being a primary consideration in each part of your day. Do you only take time for your well-being when you can squeeze it in? Instead, do you focus on work, distractions, escapism, and the accompanying feelings of stress, frustration, worry, fear, anxiety, depression and resentment?

By creating as many positive states of being as you can, the net effect over time will be a state of well-being.
Each positive state is a type of placebo, because you expect a pleasant outcome. The point is to expand your sense of well-being, sending more life-affirming signals to your body through activities like:

Meaningful social connections: friendship and love
Finding a balance between giving and receiving
Expressing appreciation
Having contact with nature
Cultivating inner peace, compassion, resilience and openness
Eating healthy foods
Getting enough rejuvenating sleep every night
Enjoyable exercise
Fulfilling work that expresses your passion
Balancing work with play and resting time
Enjoying the arts, music, dance, and literature
Stimulating your brain by learning new things
Tuning in to your body and heeding the messages it’s sending you
Expanding your self-knowledge through self-reflection
And dozens more.

Anything that affirms your life.

As for nocebos, or negative thought habits, what do you think will cause any type of negative outcome? This includes thought patterns like cynicism, judgment, self-doubt, mistrust, perfectionism, denial, avoidance, resentment and close-mindedness.

As you notice your nocebos, replace them with placebos. For instance, when you feel resentful of someone who asks for a big favor, find a way to balance giving to them with receiving something (from them or someone else). Another example is to choose open-mindedness instead of judgement for someone you disagree with philosophically. Search for the common ground where you can agree.

Today’s Coaching Question: What’s one nocebo you could replace with a placebo today?

Author's Bio: 

Judy Widener is a Certified Life Coach and author of Power For A Lifetime: Tools You Customize to Build Your Personal Power Every Day Of Your Life. You can sign up for Discovering Your Values, a 5-day e-course at no cost at Her passion is assisting her clients to discover what is most important to them, then to create more balance and satisfaction in their lives. She offers a comprehensive program that teaches clients simple ways to build their personal power and overcome obstacles to achieving their dreams. Judy has coached more than 600 people over the past 13 years. Her website is