Mind Over Sports

Avoiding Issues In Our Lives

Posted on: March 12, 2008

People with low self-esteem will generally back off from any self-image type of training because they will do anything rather than look inside themselves and face issues they have been avoiding. It’s almost like holding a cross up to the proverbial vampire — the vampire shields himself — or herself — and recoils in horror. Some people will even choose death rather than deal with and resolve important issues in their lives.

A well-known professional football player had enormous personal issues in his life but because of his stature in the community refused to confront them publicly. He considered himself a role model for children, and felt going public with his problems would reflect badly on him. He kept his secrets bottled up inside himself and subsequently, he created his own stress, which affected his immune system — and he died of cancer. He was a wonderful, kind human being. But sometimes when we are famous, it becomes a two-edged sword, because our perception of how we believe we are being viewed by the community — or even the nation — may keep us from taking action necessary to save ourselves.

At a dinner attended by 400 people where this athlete was introduced from the audience, the emcee conveyed the feelings of everyone in the room when he announced that “we are all pulling for you to get well.” As the emcee pointed out, and everyone knew, the athlete had cancer and was fighting for his life. This was an excellent example of how we unknowingly create negative expectations for people with an illness. What the emcee should have said was — this individual was really no different from anyone else in the room since we all have cancer cells in our bodies, but he was putting his cancer aside and was working on enhancing his immune system to make it stronger so that he would eventually put his illness into remission as so many other people had done successfully.

The opposite is also true. A young attorney, while putting in 70-hour weeks at his office, was diagnosed as having a malignancy. He cut back his work week, which lowered the number of hours he was able to bill, resulting in less income for the law firm. His partners, being greedy and avaricious, complained he wasn’t pulling his weight. They wanted him to either work more hours or reduce the amount of money he drew from the firm. Because of their greed, they showed little mercy. But the benefit was, they did not display a solicitous attitude, feeling sorry for him, thereby creating a nocebo effect, or an environment of negative expectations. Subsequently, by following his doctor’s recommendations and using some of the ideas discussed later in this chapter, he put his illness into remission and was able to extend his life for a few years. His partners’ greed, and the way in which he was treated, I believe contributed directly toward extending his life.


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