Have you heard of the nocebo effect? Nocebo is when our expectation of a negative outcome, results in the occurrence of said negative outcome. Worse, we perceive a negative outcome to be much worse than it was. Nocebo can also manifest itself by confirming our belief that we cannot do something or that we do not have enough control over our body, life or our environment to achieve what we want.


Nocebo effect arises from our unhelpful thinking and, insidiously, is reinforced when things go wrong often as a result of the unhelpful thinking. Furthermore, because of nocebo, our failures look far worse than they were. Is it any wonder then, that Nocebo is a great mental barrier towards our empowerment?


Empowerment is about having control of ourselves, our bodies, our minds and our environment. We undermine our empowerment though nocebo because we say to ourselves, but “I do not have control” or “I cannot control…” resulting in us not even trying to exert control over aspects of our lives we would like to change for the better. A great example of nocebo in action is why most people fail to keep their New Year’s resolution. We make the resolutions we do because we want to change. But after the giddy feelings associated with the New Year wears off, nocebo kicks in. We tell ourselves that we cannot do it. We remind ourselves that we have tried in the past and failed. Worse, we recall our past failure in a harsher light. So we do not try at all, or we start to try but quickly abandon our efforts when nocebo makes our short-term failure seem like insurmountable odds. But, we can overcome our nocebo by pushing past nocebo when it rears its head.


We can decide not to let nocebo hold us back.

First, we have to change our nocebo thinking. We have to decide and believe that “Yes, I am in control”. Next, we have to plan and start to implement the changes we want to see in our lives. Then comes the most important part. It is not unusual to have setbacks or to have to deviate from our plan. This is the time to go one step further to overcome the biggest obstacle nocebo tends to put in our path, the obstacle of making us believe that we cannot keep going.


We need to push through our setback; we need to stop ourselves from perceived them as insurmountable failures. To beat nocebo, we need to take the step to pick ourselves up after a setback, dust ourselves off and continue on with even greater determination.


When we do, we feel empowered because we are.
What NY’s Resolutions have you already broken?
Watch this video from Jimmy Kimmel:


Written by S. Choudhury