Introduction

The Abracadabra Effect makes the case that the world is sick. It is suffering profusely and getting sicker. Most people sense something is wrong with their world, your world, and the world, but many of them remain unconscious about the nature of this sickness and what to do about it.

Maybe you don't believe this is a sick world. Perhaps you don't think we all could use some degree of healing. Look around you. Notice the people in your life where you live, work, play. Most of you will see marriages in shambles or people living with a partner they wish they weren't with. You may see a child out of control or a neighbor struggling with a career they don’t want. You might notice people with a life in disarray, feeling stuck, frustrated, or unfulfilled.

It’s time to learn about what we’ve identified as the “Abracadabra Effect”: how it works and how to use it to benefit the general health of us all.
Listen to the people around you. You will hear evidence that we have become a world of complainers, blamers, and disowners. Many of us talk as if we have no control over our own thoughts, beliefs, or actions. We speak as if we are entitled to have what others have, regardless of our involvement in obtaining or maintaining it. We act and sound like victims.

It’s beyond time to put the Abracadabra Effect to work to heal the planet and ourselves.

The 13 verbally transmitted diseases detailed in the pages that follow have worked their way into our occupations, our schools, our homes, and even our leisure-time activities. We have all seen the results. The dis-ease these diseases produce manifests in a partner who denies the effects of his or her infidelity on their primary relationship, a coworker who blames others for her mistakes, and a public official who promises one thing and does another. The results of this dis-ease show up in the teacher or administrator who shames and ridicules students, a parent who doesn’t set healthy limits with his children, or a college student believing her professor is responsible for her low grade.

Look at the increasing number of people who are obese. Notice the number of men who hit their wives or girlfriends each year. Road rage, gossip, child abuse, and stress-related disorders abound. Countless numbers of people solve problems with power and force instead of negotiation and encouragement. Substance abuse and smoking cigarettes with warnings on the package are further indications that the lack of health is prevalent today and increasing. Examine your own medicine cabinet.

Perhaps you've heard children make excuses instead of making amends. Probably you have seen them or their parents cut corners, ignore rules, judge others, and stay unconscious of how their choices affect others. Many young people sit on a couch, drink soda, eat chips, and play video games for a good portion of the day. It is no accident that it often takes thirty years to create a twenty-year-old.

Guess what? It’s time to use the Abracadabra Effect for the benefit of all.

This book will make the case that we are indeed living in a world of dis-ease. That world is one in which we continuously use the Abracadabra Effect to infect each other, our children, and ourselves without even knowing it. Current infections are being passed from person to person and back again. Our personal dis-ease reinforces the dis-ease of others and cycles back to us. This lack of wellness is being handed down through the generations. Sadly, in our opinion, the disorders are growing stronger, continually affecting our physical, emotional, and mental health, both as individuals and as a society.

In The Abracadabra Effect we describe the infectious nature of 13 invisible maladies and detail ways to prevent and/or cure them. This book will describe ways we inflict sickness on ourselves by robbing ourselves of joy, harmony, peace, well-being, self-esteem, love, and an active sense of personal power.

In the Preamble, the Abracadabra Effect will be defined and explained. Here we show how this powerful effect has helped us create the dis-ease that permeates our culture and how that same effect can be used to eliminate it. Are you tempted to read ahead to find out what the Abracadabra Effect is? If you’re waiting for our permission, you are already creating dis-ease for yourself. Seriously.

Chapter 1 describes how our language patterns—how we speak—spread dis-ease through our culture in unsuspecting ways. In this chapter we demonstrate the importance of the everyday words and phrases we use as well as the necessity for vigilance in our choice of language. We explain why our style of language is the perfect carrier for dis-ease and make the case that it is difficult to detect. Because dis-ease is embedded deeply in our familiar language patterns, most of us remain unconscious about the role we play as carriers and spreaders of sickness in our world.

Chapter 2 shows how the seemingly innocent phrases "makes me" and "made me" rob us of our understanding of how the world really works. It reveals how this language affects our thinking and ultimately influences our behavior, creating a major disconnect between our view of the world and a sane path to emotionally healthy living. The major disease, which we describe as the “Makes Me” Psychosis, invades our thought process, worms its way into our belief system, and shows up later in our lives as a lack of responsible behavior.

Chapter 3 reveals a wide range of alternative delivery systems for the “Makes Me” Psychosis that has reached epidemic proportions in the world today. Common language patterns carry and promote this dis-ease and many of them are exposed here. Strategies for preventing and curing this sickness are also presented.

Chapter 4 takes you on a trip into the future to look and listen to what it would be like to live in a world free of the “Makes Me” Psychosis. It compares and contrasts the dis-ease we are currently creating using the Abracadabra Effect with what optimum health would look like and sound like if we used that same effect to provide a cure.

Chapter 5 offers a clear description of how we limit ourselves and give our power away by using self-limiting language patterns. This serious infection, which we call “Unableism,” invades the subconscious mind, is reinforced through repetition, and affects our beliefs about ourselves. Later, it manifests in ways that evade our conscious recognition.

A plethora of “I can’t” variations is examined in Chapter 6. Here you will learn whether you put yourself at dis-ease by creating imaginary and often unrecognized limits that affect your behavioral choices. Do your language patterns choke off possibility in your life? Are you suffering from Unableism without even knowing it? You will find out here.

Chapter 7 details the self-limiting, rationalizing, preventing, defensive ways we use the word “too” to create the dis-ease of “Preventarrhea” in our lives and the lives of others. This section will explain how “too,” if used regularly, structures our beliefs and alters our behavior in unhealthy, dysfunctional ways.

Preventarrhea continues in Chapter 8 and Chapter 9. Little-known strands of this disease will be exposed so they can be subjected to rigorous treatment. “Dead Enders” and the use of “but,” both highly contagious forms of Preventarrhea, may be unknowingly binding you and preventing you from reaching your potential.

Chapter 10 shares the language forms and effects of “shoulding” on ourselves and others. “Have to,” “got to,” “should,” “should have” and similar verbal expressions create the discomfort of time urgency and anxiety while reducing our effectiveness and sense of personal power. “Shoulditus” is the diagnosis. Choose here from several prescriptions designed to combat it.

Chapter 11 contains information on how we were taught to rate, rank, and evaluate and have become unsuspectingly ensnarled in the judgment trap. Without our conscious awareness or full consent, comparison and the rating game have become a way of life, and most of us aren't even aware of how debilitating its confining influence is. This dis-ease, “Judgmentalillness,” limits our vision and narrows our perspective in ways that lead us into the unhealthy beliefs of superiority and inferiority.

“The Rightabolic Syndrome” is the focus of Chapter 12. Here we reveal a common dis-ease that helps us feel good about ourselves temporarily. Long term, however, needing to be right doesn't work. A preoccupation with being right distances us from others. This "better than" stance is one more way we get to feel superior at the expense of others and sabotage our own emotional, mental, and physical health.

Chapter 13 exposes the game of “Blameopoly” as one more way we use language to spread dis-ease by assigning responsibility to someone or something else for the present conditions in our lives. Blame is a common technique that keeps responsibility off our own backs, a strategy for which we pay a heavy price in terms of mental and emotional well-being. When we use it, we give up our power, render ourselves impotent, and leave others in control. In short, we diminish our ability to be response-able people.

Chapter 14 describes a condition called “Needatonin” that pushes our heart's desires further from our own grasp. Needing, longing, and hoping are symptoms of this dis-ease which functions to keep us stuck in a place of perceived need while keeping attainment securely at arm's length. This silent consciousness invader often does its infectious work without our permission or awareness.

“Fungatious Feedback,” described in Chapter 15, shows how indiscriminate praise can be unhealthy, harmful, and even destructive to us, our relationships, and our world. You might be surprised to learn that the most commonly used style of praise often works like a drug, producing praise junkies. In this chapter you will be exposed to a style of praise that leaves the recipient in control of the evaluation and the conclusion.

“Corrective Fungatious Feedback” is the main theme of Chapter 16. You will learn that criticism is fungatious. It creates disabling distance between people. It does not work to move an employee, friend, or family member forward. Instead of feeding forward, it feeds stuck. This chapter presents a style for giving corrective feedback that is free of dis-ease-spreading agents and is likely to be heard and acted upon.

Chapter 17 concentrates on “Personal Fungatious Feedback.” Here you will be able to determine the health of your self-feedback. Do you provide feedback to yourself in a dis-eased way, making it less likely that you will choose positive action steps? Or do you send healthful messages to yourself that eliminate dis-ease progression and move you toward self-responsibility, confidence, and personal power? Find out here.

A condition that leads to regular impairment of present-moment living, “Presentphobia,” is covered in Chapter 18. Two related symptoms of this illness are the “Someday Soon Syndrome” and “Pasting.” Victims of the Someday Soon Syndrome  sabotage their present moments by delaying action until later. Procrastination or postponing produces endless suffering and misery. Lethargy and inaction are often the debilitating results of this dreaded condition.

Pasting, the other side of the Someday Soon Syndrome, keeps us attached to the past and ineffective in the present. The language of regret keeps us focused on opportunities lost and blinds us to those that exist now. Our eyesight suffers because of the blinders we create with both forms of avoidance of present-moment living.

Chapter 19, “Degenerative Confidence,” helps you determine your level of confidence. Is it robust and healthy, ready to serve you in energized ways, or is it weak and diminished through neglect and dis-ease? Take the eighteen-question confidence quiz to find out. Make the necessary corrections and you are on your way to a healthy, maximized belief in yourself.

You may have noticed that we have used the word dis-ease in many instances in this introduction. We will continue to do that throughout the pages that follow.Disease, a condition that impairs normal functioning, often invites us to be at dis-ease; that is, uncomfortable, stressed, anxious, irritated, or violent. Likewise, stress, anxiety, irritation, and the like invite our bodies to be more receptive to disease. We believe there is a strong correlation between dis-ease and disease, so strong that we often use the words interchangeably.

The material for this book is drawn from our own experience, Thomas as a twenty-five-year psychotherapist and Chick as a fifty-year professional educator. We have been husbands, fathers, friends, and more. We coauthor and copresent. All of our life experiences have led us to this time and place. Our intention is not to create just another gentle self-help book that you can read and implement sporadically. Our goal is to invite you to shake yourself to your core, to bring you face-to-face with the notion that we are living in a dis-eased world that requires healing, to challenge you to leap out of your comfort zone and begin to do something about it immediately. If you change yourself, you change the world.

You are the one. Today is the day. Now is the time. No more excuses. Read on.