It surprises me how people dread poison, but only few actually hedge themselves against it. There are different ways one can be poisoned or take a poisoned substance, food being the most popular. Strangely enough, the most dreaded of poisons is that which has the potential to corrupt, distort, or even permanently incapacitate the mind. More strange is the fact that only few people have the capacity to fortify themselves against the sting of this deadly pill. This is why St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians cried out “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you…?” This cry still resonates till this day when our minds have been poisoned, corrupted or polluted against the truth. A simple survey reveals that most of us “foolish Galatians” innocently or consciously took this dreaded pill in several ways.

As social creatures, we are hardly insulated from other people’s opinions. For instance, I have seen some women tell a young expectant mother the horrible experience that waits her in the months to come. They confidently tell her the complications that await her overnight, and other terrible experiences the pregnancy portends for her purely normal and natural condition! These women delight in telling the expectant mother – the optimistic one, the inexperienced one – the mistake she got herself into by getting pregnant!

Some of these women even go as far as digging deep into the family ancestry. They remind the young lady of few or isolated instances of still births that occurred in their family lineage. She must never trust the positive diagnosis of the physicians. Woe unto the young mother if she takes in a dose of these poisons as administered by these hopeless counsellors!

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Let us look at the modes of administering the poison on this young lady. The first was the audible suggestions by the careless statements from the “expert” women. They, though with “good intentions”, advised the young lady to prepare her for the challenges ahead. Secondly, this young lady must have seen or heard about the natural pains of pregnancy. This is what she had used to justify the “expert” opinions of these careless women. She is also subtly aware that the family has a remote history of young ladies like her having still birth. So based on her own faint experience; she took the opinions of the “experienced” women as true. Nothing else would matter to her. Thirdly, her own now coloured, distorted mental or pictorial evidence which can only imagine the worst tells her about the unknown. This expectant mother is left to imagine the worst even before child birth! This is how the poison is administered.

To give another illustration, I have heard people who are yet to take an examination talk so pictorially about the difficulty level with much logic that a new candidate for the exam is made to be scared to death. If you ask these people, they will tell you they had a relative who once took the same exam and failed. These people will never admit that there are other candidates who sat for the same exam and passed in flying colours. These people are happy to corrupt the mind of the young, ambitious, and optimistic candidate with their own distorted view. They are glad to see the candidate go on in sad mood worrying about the “toughness” of the paper, even before he sits for it.

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Woe unto this candidate if he takes a dose of this pill being administered on him! This candidate begins to analyse the results of previous sets that took the exam. Alas! Mr Counsellor was right after all. Can you now see how failure is projected? This is exactly how most of us have been made to take the poisoned pill, either voluntarily or forcefully. What then are the antidotes to these poisonous pills?

First of all, surround yourself with positive people. This doesn’t mean you should always talk to people that always agree with you. It only means you should avoid altogether those that are outright critical and irrationally negative. This is why the Good Book severally admonishes us to avoid the company of evil people. Keeping company of such people can be contagious. People that gossip, slander, backbite, and the likes are companies you must reject, without apologies.

Second, you must do away the tendencies to worry about anything. It is foolhardy to worry about something if you have control over it; just like it is unwise to try to control what is not under your control. In the worst case situation take it to God and leave it there. This is why Jesus Christ seeing the vanity of worrying advised: “…do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is life not more than food…?” (Matthew 6:25). You must never give worry even a minute free rent in your mind!

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You must always pay attention to the instruction “Fear not”. Bible scholars revealed that the admonition, “Fear not,” appears in different forms about 365 times in the Bible. There are 365 days in a year. From these figures, do your mathematics and make your deduction! No matter how gloomy the situation may look, the instruction is “Fear not”.

So when St. Paul cried out to the Galatians he meant to ask who poisoned their minds. So my own advice to you today is: Do not take the poisoned pill! It is for your own good.