Be Wary the Power of Suggestion

I’ve been cursed. At least, I think so. And if I think so, that likely makes it true.

I recently returned from a two week vacation in Hawaii. Those of my fellow New Englanders that bore the brunt of our late February weather are already cursing me. Hold that thought.

We walked around in a warm haze for most of the trip, just happy to be away from blizzards and freezing temperatures. Having lived in Hawaii as a child, it was a great experience for me to share with my son, who rarely gets to see places where mom grew up.

We are all influenced differently, by our upbringings, culture, and surroundings

Hawaiian Shells

Hawaiian shells are of the ocean, and safe from curses. Pumice? Not so much.

Hawaii is different from the rest of the United States – not just in geography. Hawaiians have a proud history and their own language, both of which I learned in grade school.  They also have their own religion with amazing stories of gods and goddesses.

One of their oldest is Pele – the goddess of volcanoes. One legend says that Pele’s sister chased her across the seas, putting out her fire everywhere she went. When she arrived in Hawaii, she was able to spread her fire too far for her sister to extinguish, so she made her home at Kilauea.

Pele is said to protect the islands still, and that she will curse anyone who removes anything from their lands.

The power of suggestion may encourage an otherwise rational person to think irrationally

I heard these Hawaiian legends as an impressionable child. Though grown and fairly logical and rational, I warned my family quite harshly about keeping any lava or sand when it was time to leave.

The day before our departure, I went through our shell collection with a hard eye. All grains of sand or lava were removed, or the shells returned to the beach. I was that paranoid.

I thought we were safe. Until we got home.

Do we make our own luck?

The home appeared fine when we arrived. We started our post-travel routine by preparing laundry and getting the kiddo ready for sleep.

When my husband went to turn the water back on, however, the valve was frozen shut. Once he got it open, the water did not flow into the house. Uh oh.

As the days passed, the fun continued. We had internet interruptions, a broken thermostat, smart phones acting up. The list goes on and on.

We each determine our own perception, which directly controls our version of reality

The brain is a very powerful, and often mysterious, machine. So much of what we think occurs without conscious thought – sub-second conclusions and decisions based on patterns, prior experience and existing knowledge.

If our sub-conscious is driving so much of our actions and reactions, what about our conscious thoughts?

All thoughts have power. Just consider a few famous quotes about the power of the mind.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

“If you’re afraid to fail, then you’re probably going to fail.”

“What you give power to, has power over you, if you allow it.”

What do you give power to?

As a leader, I must get up every morning believing I can affect a positive outcome to any challenge ahead. However, there may be subtle influencers that I’m giving away power to without realizing.

Influencers could be inherent beliefs that guide my decision-making. Decisions that I would make differently if I was evaluating consciously instead of sub-consciously.

As leaders, understanding the inputs to our decision-making – including a push to understand the sub-conscious – helps us create the best outcomes for our teams.

The power of Pele

Our pipes finally thawed out with no destruction to the house. However, when I looked through our shell collection, it turns out there was some pumice that should have been left on the island. Oops.

While the rational part of my mind believes there’s no validity to the Pele curse, there is a part of me (albeit a less than rational one) that needed the pumice back in Hawaii as soon as possible.

My inner child definitely has the louder voice…the pumice was on its way as soon as I could manage.

It may sound silly, but if any part of me is wondering what ill will may befall us by having the pumice in our home, it needs to go.  Oddly enough, as soon as it was out of my possession, the strange occurrences stopped.


This story is an extreme case of a belief I’ve held since childhood being thrown into stark evaluation as an adult. How many other beliefs do I have that are not so easily identified and dismissed, but may be no less unrealistic in the light of day?


What beliefs are influencing your reality?