This I Believe

Karen - Montpelier, Virginia
Entered on October 2, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

Simply put, I believe in belief. It doesn’t so much matter what I believe in, but that I believe it: and the more strongly I believe it, the more powerfully that belief will manifest in my life and the lives of those around me.

I have been a nurse since 1990, working in the operating room for the last 15 years. There is a commonly-held belief among those who work in the OR that if someone is convinced that he or she is going to die during surgery, there is a good chance their fear could very possibly kill them. I have even heard of one patient who “knew” absolutely that she would die if she underwent surgery, and the moment the anesthesia hit her bloodstream, her heart stopped and none of the valiant efforts of her OR team could bring her back to life.

Now this may sound like an “urban myth”, but around the OR we take it quite seriously. I have seen surgery canceled more than once because the patient believed they would die during the operation. Given a choice, even scientifically minded, generally rational doctors don’t take chances when a patient’s life is at stake.

Belief is also behind the “placebo” effect, a person magically getting better because they believe that little sugar pill will help them. Maybe we should do more research on belief instead of on drugs to help people get well. Maybe people believe in the “healing power of prayer” because it is their beliefs that give prayer its power.

Believing in myself hasn’t always come easily. I needed new beliefs to counteract the negative ones I absorbed as a child. With undiagnosed ADD, I knew I was smart, but failing to “live up to my potential” because I just couldn’t stay on track. And believing I was a failure, how could I possibly succeed?

I guess I did believe in my “potential” enough to search for ways to successfully overcome my problems and become the nurse I wanted to be. I found that many strongly held beliefs can be so taken for granted that they feel like undeniable truths: that’s just “the way I am”, “the way things are”, “the way the world works.” Until we recognize at some point we chose to make these beliefs our own, we have no control over their power over our lives.

And what we don’t believe in can also hold us captive. Raised in a very intellectually oriented family, I wanted to examine the intangible spirit world and unseen God under a microscope, to prove it/he/she(?) even existed. But if you don’t believe something is at least possible, you’ll never be able to experience it, because it won’t even show up on your radar screen.

So, now I choose to believe in magic, in miracle cures, in a healing touch, in a hopeful future, in guardian angels, in the power of love, and in many more possibilities, but first of all I believe in belief.