I can’t promise you that Abraham Lincoln really did utter these words, but they have been attributed to him as far back as a 1914 newspaper column, and I agree with Honest Abe—or whomever really said them. And I can promise you that our minds can have an amazing impact on our bodies.
I got chemo every Wednesday for six months and that evening we would take our girls to Shoney’s Restaurant for supper because kids 12 and under (of which we had three!) were free. I was always pretty nauseous, so while my family enjoyed the buffet, I sipped a cup of cream of broccoli soup and munched on saltines.
A couple weeks after I finished treatment, we decided to go to Shoney’s again and I was anticipating being able to enjoy the array of food, but guess what? I felt so nauseous I thought I was going to be sick just standing at the buffet. My mind was telling my stomach it had just gotten chemo and my gut was going along with the charade. I remember standing there holding on to the edge of the buffet willing myself not to throw up.
My sweet husband said we didn’t have to go to Shoney’s anymore, but I was determined not to be beaten by a mind trick. It took two or three more trips to the restaurant before the buffet nausea totally passed—and about two or three years before I could eat cream of broccoli soup again!
Obviously, the connection between mind and body is real and the effect on our body can be positive as well as negative. And while I don’t believe our thoughts can guarantee a positive outcome for our health, I do believe they can influence it.
“Psychoneuroimmunology” is the fancy label attached to the subject of mind-body healing, which is being studied increasingly by therapists and researchers, some of whom say they have discovered a hard-wire connection between the body’s immune system and the brain’s central nervous system.
So, if your brain has the ability to send messages to your immune system, “what you believe and tell yourself can become a powerful medication in your personal pharmacy,” according to the late psychologist Dr. William Backus.
He advocated not just positive-thinking, but telling ourselves the truth about our situation. He gathered many examples of truthful healing beliefs embraced by those who have survived life-threatening illnesses. Here are a few he discovered:
- “I refuse to believe my diagnosis is an automatic death sentence.
- I believe treatment is effective against this illness, especially the skillful efforts of scientific medicine combined with my strategies for replacing lying thoughts with the truth.
- I believe my hormones and immune system were created to be on the side of my healing and can work to overcome this illness.
- I believe God is on the side of my healing because His unbreakable Word says so.
- I believe I am personally responsible for my treatment and for managing it.
- I believe hope is a choice. I choose hope, not hopelessness.
- My main goal is to have a mind fully yielded to the Spirit of God and His truth, not just to see better lab results or improved physical symptoms.
- I believe I’m on earth to share Jesus, hope, and joy with others. I’m here to love others, regardless of my physical condition.
- I believe that God’s will is good. I believe that He loves me and wants only the best for me—no matter what He is allowing me to experience right now.
- I can recover from this illness and live a rich, productive life. But whether I recover or not, I am going to leave this life someday regardless. Until then I can live a full life of service every day for as long as I am given.”*
I’m grateful for medicine that doctors can prescribe to heal us or a least make us more comfortable. But why not add some, or even all, of these truths to your mental pharmacy? These prescriptions for your mind won’t cost a cent and always can be refilled—no insurance coverage needed!
Take your “mental medicine” and make your mind up to be happily at peace no matter what today brings—or doesn’t bring.
A sound mind makes for a robust body,
but runaway emotions corrode the bones. Proverbs 14:30 The Message Bible paraphrase
When anxiety overtakes me and worries are many,
Your comfort lightens my soul. Psalm 94:19 The Voice Bible
You will keep the peace, a perfect peace, for all who trust in You,
for those who dedicate their hearts and minds to You. Isaiah 26:3 The Voice Bible
*William Backus, The Healing Power of the Christian Mind (Minneapolis: Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 1996) 96.
(If the music video doesn’t load, please use this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTDoDA-1lsE)