This subtle force of the repeated suggestion overcomes our reason, acting directly on our emotions and our feelings, finally penetrating to the very depths of our subconscious minds.
This is the basic principle of all successful advertising the continued and repeated suggestion that first makes you believe, after which you are eager to buy. In recent years we have enjoyed a vitamin spree.
For centuries tomatoes were looked upon as poisonous. People dared not eat them until some fearless person tried them and lived. Today millions of People eat tomatoes, not knowing that they were considered unfit for human consumption.
Conversely, the lowly spinach nearly went into the garbage pail after the United States Government declared that it did not contain the food values attributed to it for decades. Millions believed this and refused to honor Popeye`s favorite dish any longer.
Clearly, the founders of all great religious movements knew much about the power of the repeated suggestion and gained far-reaching results with it. Religious teachings have been hammered into us from birth, into our mothers and fathers before us, and into their parents and their parents before them.
There`s certainly white magic in that kind of belief.
Such statements as What we don`t know won`t hurt us and `Ignorance is bliss take on greater significance when you realize that only the things you become conscious of can harm or bother you. We have all heard the story of the man who didn`t know it couldn`t be done and went ahead and did it.
Psychologists tell us that as babies we have only two fears: the fear of loud noises and the fear of falling. All of our other fears are passed on to us or develop as a result of our experiences; they come from what we are taught or what we hear and see.
I like to think of men and women as staunch oak trees that can stand firm amid the many crosscurrents of thought that whirl around them. But far too many People are like saplings that, swayed by every little breeze, ultimately grow in the direction of some strong wind of the thought that blows against them.
The Bible tells how he developed spotted and speckled cattle, sheep, and goats by placing rods from trees, partially stripping them of their bark so they would appear spotted and marked, in the watering troughs where the animals came to drink.
As you may have guessed, the flocks conceived before the spotted rods and brought forth cattle, ring-straked, speckled, and spotted. (And incidentally, Jacob waxed exceedingly rich.)
Moses, too, was a master at the suggestion. For forty years he used it on the Israelites, and it took them to the promised land of milk and honey. David, following the suggestive forces operating on him, slew the mighty, heavily armed Goliath with a pebble from a slingshot.
Joan of Arc, the frail little Maid of Orleans, heard voices and under their suggestive influences became imbued with the idea that she had a mission to save France. She was able to transmit her indomitable spirit to the hearts of her soldiers and she defeated the superior forces of the English at Orleans.
William James, father of modern psychology in America, declared that often our faith in advance of a doubtful undertaking is the only thing that can assure its successful conclusion. Man`s faith, according to James, acts on the powers above him as a claim and creates its own verification. In other words, the thought becomes literally father to the fact.
For further illumination of faith and its power, I suggest that you read the General Epistle of James in the New Testament.
Actually, everyone who has ever witnessed a football or baseball game has seen this power of suggestion at work. Knute Rockne, the famous coach at Notre Dame, knew the value of suggestion and used it repeatedly, but always suited his method of applying it to the temperament of the individual team.
On one Saturday afternoon, Notre Dame was playing in a particularly grueling game, and at the end of the first half was trailing badly. The players were in their dressing room nervously awaiting Rockne`s arrival. Finally, the door opened, and Rockne came in slowly. His eyes swept inquiringly over the squad.
Oh, excuse me, I made a mistake. I thought these were the quarters of the Notre Dame team. The door closed, and Rockne was gone.
Puzzled and then stung with fury, the team went out for the second half—and won the game.
Other writers, too, have explained the psychological methods Rockne used and have told how Fielding Yost of Michigan, Dan McGuin of Vanderbilt, Herbert Crisler of Princeton, and dozens of others used the magic of suggestion to arouse their teams to great emotional heights.
Before the Rose Bowl game of 1934, the wise tipsters rated the Columbia team as underdogs. They hadn`t counted on coach Lou Little and his stirring talks to his players day after day. When the whistle blew for the end of the game, the Columbia men were the top dogs over the superior Stanford team.
In 1935, Gonzaga University beat powerful Washington State 13 to 6 in one of the biggest upset games ever seen in the West. Gonzaga was a non-conference team, while the Washington State team, because of its great record, was thought to be unbeatable. Newspapers at the time reported assistant coach Sam Dagley as having declared that Gonzaga played inspired football.
Years ago, Mickey Cochrane of the Detroit Tigers literally drove a second-division-minded group of baseball players to the top of the American League by using the power of the repeated suggestion. I quote from a newspaper dispatch: Day after day, through the hot, hard grind, [Cochrane] preached the gospel of victory, impressing on the Tigers the `continued thought` that the team which wins must go forward.
You see the same force actively at work in the fluctuations of the stock market. Unfavorable news immediately depresses prices, while favorable news raises them.
The intrinsic values of stocks are not changed, but there is an immediate change in the thinking of the market operators, which is reflected at once in the minds of the holders. Not what will actually happen, but what security holders believe will happen causes them to buy or sell.
In the Depression years—and there may be years like them in the future—we saw this same suggestive force working overtime. Day after day we heard expressions such as Times are hard, Business is poor, The banks are failing, Prosperity hasn`t a chance, and wild stories about business failures on every hand until they became the national chant.
Millions believed that prosperous days would never return. Hundreds, yes thousands, of strong-willed men go down under the constant hammering, the continuous tap-tapping of the same fearful thoughts. Money, always sensitive, runs to cover when fear suggestions begin to circulate, and business failures and unemployment quickly follow.
There will never be another business depression if People generally realize that their own fearful thoughts literally create hard times. They think hard times, and hard times follow. So it is with wars.