What are you expecting?

The last blog post was about the placebo effect, which is essentially, a strong belief in a positive outcome.
Have you heard of its opposite? The Nocebo Effect? I know, it even sounds negative.

Nocebo Effect

Experiencing the negative effects after being told about their existence.
Researchers have found that simply suggesting that a medication may have some side effects actually brings about those negative effects in the patient.
But, Dina, how do we know it’s the mind and not the actual medicine’s effect, I hear you ask?

Good question.

Nocebo is a pain in the back

Well one study did an experiment with 50 people who suffered from chronic back pain and took them through a simple flexibility test.

Half were told that the flexibility test wouldn't hurt (control group).
And the other half (experimental group) were told that the test might cause a slight increase in pain.
Might. They didn’t say it would. They said might. So, a mere suggestion.


The experimental group reported a higher amount of pain than the control group even though they performed the same test.
They also reported experiencing more fear, AND they didn’t perform the movements as robustly.
This is because the anticipation of the pain…believing it was coming…caused the participant to restrict their behavior...fear-avoidance behaviour. Which makes sense- they were expecting the pain and were trying to protect themselves.

But it didn't actually save them from the pain. They reported experiencing more pain than the other group anyway!
Fascinating no?
So how am I going to swing this round to you and to coaching?

Relevance to you


What do you expect to happen? What suggestions have been placed in your head over your lifetime?

We’ve all been told a number of things in our lives. Some examples you may have heard:

  • After 30 it’s much harder to lose weight
  • You can’t be successful without a university degree
  • Therapy is for people with something seriously wrong
  • You never really get your body back after pregnancy
  • You can’t get a job without experience
  • You need money to make money
  • You have to work very hard to get rich

Some of those you can counter-argue immediately. Crowd-sourcing and the 4-hour work-week spring to mind for the last two.

For the others, I have seen many cases to prove otherwise, but you may still believe them because you yourself haven’t seen the evidence or stopped to question them.
Well, now you know that if you believe it, you expect it, and if you expect it, it shall be.

So what can you do. 

Coaching you away from limiting beliefs

Some beliefs may be so deep-rooted that you aren’t even aware of them. So you need an outsider to spot them.

A coach raises your awareness of these by questioning certain statements you may say and together you see if you can find evidence to argue the opposite.

It’s much easier to believe in something freeing, rather than limiting if you find evidence for the positive. So go do placebo and say no to nocebo.
And expect to have a wonderful and inspiring week.
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