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The Drama of Scottish Independence…

September 13th, 2014

 

Scottish-Flag-1

 

So….Scottish Independence…Don’t you just love it eh? The two words guaranteed to initiate an argument no matter where you go in the UK. In fact, you don’t even have to leave the house! Just log into Facebook and join one of the many heated cyber space debates. Nothing gets the blood pumping faster than having an internet argument with a complete and utter stranger over your computer screen.

 

Never in my life have I known such drama in Scotland, never have I seen us being pushed so much into the limelight. The whole thing has certainly captured the imagination of not just Scotland and the UK but further afield throughout the globe. What the heck is going to happen? It’s all too close to call really…One thing’s for sure, both sides are most certainly going to some unbelievable lengths to convince you to vote their way.

 

Now…Just to be clear, this is not a post asking ‘Which side you are voting for?’ and it’s not a passionate plea to try and get you to vote the way I’m going to vote.

 

What it is about is an observation regarding one of the basic psychological principles that’s being used very cleverly by both sides to influence and manipulate your vote and how you can de-sensitize yourself a little from it and make a clearer decision.

 

On one side we have ‘operation impending apocalypse’ (otherwise known as ‘the Better together’ campaign). If we vote ‘Yes’ then obviously the largest swarm of plague infested locusts ever to be known in the history of human kind will instantly descend upon Scotland and attack you and your family. All the businesses will leave, the country will instantly go into recession and we’ll experience apocalyptic doom all before breakfast of the 19th of September.

 

I’m exaggerating obviously but the picture painted by the Better together campaign is ridiculously bleak. It’s designed pure and simple with a couple of aims in mind – To shatter the confidence you have in your own country’s ability to manage and scare the utter and absolute beejeezus out of you.

 

The Labour leader in Scotland even went as far as to say that Scottish people are to quote “not genetically programmed to make political decisions” (and she is Scottish by the way). I’m guessing that was a bit of an unfortunate slip of the tongue but it certainly shows you how far the BT campaign are willing to go to create the idea that apocalypse and evolutionary death of the Scots clearly awaits following a ‘Yes’ vote.

 

Sure there are some facts and figures thrown in for good measure and a bit of emphasis on the alleged extra powers we’ll get but their campaign has largely been all about creating the idea of massive potential future pain…All, of course, avoidable if you vote ‘No’.

 

On the other side we have ‘operation utopia’ (otherwise known as the ‘Yes’ campaign). If we are to completely believe Alex Salmond then, by voting ‘Yes’, we are well on our way to becoming some kind of cash rich, independent super power. All of Europe…no, all of the world! will bow down to our superiority, foreign countries will look on in envy at our massive cash reserves created through Oil and Gas and pretty soon we’ll become like the Nordic banking equivalent of Switzerland. We’ll live in a fairer society where we look after the sick and the elderly while at the same time dropping corporation tax and attracting the world’s most successful businesses.

 

All of this will also happen seamlessly, with no teething problems what so ever and without any kind of ‘bedding in’ period. Utopia awaits…For us, our children and our children’s children. All of this, of course, can be instantly acquired simply by voting ‘Yes’.

 

If the ‘BT’ campaign’s preferred method of influence is fear and potential pain then the ‘Yes’ campaign’s is more about potential pleasure. They have done everything they can to build a positive vision of how they imagine it might be. Sure, they have thrown a bit of potential pain in the mix as well by mentioning ‘Trident’, Tory governments and the alleged potential privatisation of the NHS but their main method of persuasion has been more about creating the idea of potential future pleasure.

 

Like the BT campaign though their vision  isn’t entirely realistic. It’s based on future predictions, elements of truth with a massive dollop of artistic license thrown in for good measure.

 

What we end up with is essentially a battle between two massively exaggerated visions – One of potential locust eaten pain and another of potential utopian pleasure.

 

On one hand we’ll have people who will vote ‘No’ because they believe the vision of impending doom (or at least bits of it) and want to move away from this potential pain and on the other hand we’ll have people who vote ‘Yes’ because they are inspired by and identify with the positive vision of pleasure and want to move towards it.

 

It’s obviously not as simple as this for everyone. Lots of people will vote ‘No’ because they feel a strong positive affinity with the union, lots of people will vote ‘Yes’ because they don’t like the Tories, many people will sit down and examine the cold facts and make as rational a decision as they possibly can and there will be many other variations in between. These things obviously have many complexities but at the heart of the methods used by of each side to influence you are the basic principles of pain and pleasure.

 

The bizarre thing is, most likely neither of the two visions are true. The truth most likely exists somewhere in between the two. I’m under no illusions that we’ll become some kind of cash rich, independent super power with low taxes but I do believe we have a lot going for us as a country and have the potential to make things better and more in-line with our cultural ideals.

 

I don’t believe for a minute many of the scenarios painted by the ‘BT’ campaign will come to fruition but I do think that, if we become independent, there WILL be big teething problems. It will most likely take quite a few years to make significant improvement and progress and there will be problems and troubles on the way.

 

No-one can predict the future but usually things fall somewhere between the two dramatic extremes. Which one it will eventually sit closer to, I guess is the real question we want to be asking ourselves.

 

So I’d suggest, if you want to de-sensitize yourself a little from the potential plague infested locusts and the mesmerizing vision of blissful utopia and make a clearer decision, then step away from the two dramatic extremes. Take a deep breath, let go of all the intense drama for a moment and make an assessment based on as much information as you can find.

 

You can still listen to your heart (in fact it’ll probably be impossible not to) but I do think this is a decision to be made with both the head and the heart and not just one or the other. Most of us know what our heart feels and the two campaigns are certainly doing their best to manipulate this but we also need to step away from the drama for a while to figure out what our head thinks.

 

When we blend both ‘head’ and ‘heart’ together that’s when we start to make decisions that are both rational and ones that fit with our personality and experience. By doing this we increase our chances of making a much more informed decision that also feels right.

 

It’s a tough one that’s for sure, but it’s important, and one that could potentially send ripples through the world.

 

All the best with it…I’ll see you on the other side!

 

All the best

 

Steve

 

Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

June 11th, 2014

 

She burst into tears. I replied “Interesting!”.

 

Have you ever considered how liberating it would be to not get involved in any emotional drama…especially your own!?

 

Here’s my version of the drama process; an emotion happens because of something daft e.g. trains, work, relationship, money whatever. A wee voice inside our heads starts asking over and over again something along the lines of ‘Why me? Why does this always happen to me?’.

 

This begins to turn the volume up on the emotion at ever increasing rates and, before we know which way is up, we are wrapped up in an emotional drama which, of course, only serves to make the emotion worse, the voice louder and the drama complete! Sound familiar?

 

One concept I remember being taught a long time ago, by an excellent Yoga teacher, was the concept of witness consciousness; the understanding that the dramas of the physical world, both positive and negative, were not who you are. You are more than all of this and if you could meditate and connect enough with ‘spirit’, or whatever you personally call it, you could attain a state of witness consciousness, realise that ‘life’ as we know it is a transient phase of your existence and, therefore, you could watch your physical life unfold before you without ever getting involved in any drama.

 

Why would you, the dramas are mind stuff and the mind isn’t who or what you are?

 

It doesn’t fit me to take it quite that far but that doesn’t change the fact I loved the concept then, I still love it now and I’ve worked with it ever since albeit I’ve twisted it a bit.

 

So let me ask you, what would happen if you became a witness to your own thoughts? What would happen if, rather than losing yourself in your daily dramas, you stepped back as they began and just witnessed their emotional roots from a position of curiosity, like an emotional David Attenborough, fascinated by the curious behaviour of the creature that is you. What would Sir David say if his next epic programme was all about you?

 

The word ‘interesting’ is one of my favourite words and its one I use with myself and my clients all the time because, in my book, it’s a word of a witness. You see when I help someone hit an emotion, either positive or negative, it means we’ve discovered something together, maybe we’ve found something new, maybe it’s something old but I know we’ve discovered something! Now the fun is finding out what it is and how to make it do what we want!

 

So here’s a wee task for you tomorrow, or tonight if you still have time to fit in a drama before bed (if you’re in one just now even better!), feel what you feel as it starts, inside your mind step back from letting it consume you or acting on it (that doesn’t mean the feeling will go away, just you’re doing nothing with it) and just witness it. Watch it, see what it does. Don’t ask ‘why me?’, ask ‘why do that? What does it achieve?’.

 

One thing the great Sir David would think if he was studying the average person today? He’d be fascinated why, at times, they put so much energy into things they can’t change and so little into the things they can. But it wouldn’t bother him. He’d just think it was interesting.

 

After all, he’s only a witness. It’s not his drama.

 

Brian

 

Have you ever been bitten by a wolf?

June 2nd, 2014

 

I finally got round to watching Scorsese’s ‘The Wolf on Wall Street’ the other week. I loved the film and thought Dicaprio was amazing as the conniving stockbroker Jordan Belford but I couldn’t stop myself from feeling more than slightly unsettled by the story. It wasn’t so much the glorification of debauchery, drink and drug taking it’s been criticised for that bothered me it was more the devastating demonstration of how unethical influence can negatively impact on people’s lives.

 

There are certainly lots of people using their power, status and skills to do amazing things and contribute positively to people’s lives but there are also plenty of wolf’s out there looking to get as much as they can from you with little sense of morals or empathy.

 

I think the film acts as a very entertaining warning to those frantically chasing wealth and ‘the good life’ and as a lesson to those easily persuaded by charlatans and shysters. I do think you have to allow yourself to be influenced in life but I also think holding a healthy amount of scepticism is always a good thing.

 

So just how do you recognise a Wolf? How can you tell that someone is out to manipulate you without much care for your well being?

 

Well, it can certainly be tricky. Chances are they’ve been a wolf for a long time so they’ve became highly skilled at covering their tracks.

 

There are a few telling signs though. Here are some I’ve noticed over the years:

 

 

Excessive use of status…

I don’t think we realise or like to admit how much a person’s ‘status’ can silently but powerfully influence us. The higher your status the greater the level of default influence you will naturally possess before you even say a word.

 

It doesn’t mean you’ll have influence over everyone, some people are naturally suspicious of those with high status but, in general, your words will mean more than someone who is perceived to be of lower value and status. Every social, work and business group has its own ‘ladder of hierarchy’ and those at the top possess the most default power and with that power comes responsibility.

 

I think it’s perfectly okay to use the power of your position if your intention is to genuinely add value to people’s lives and you do have some substance behind the spin but if you find that someone frequently ‘milks’ their status then it could be time to take a reality check.

 

Ask yourself – If this was Joe Bloggs off the street and they were saying the same thing would it be good advice? When you strip away their status what’s left? Is there any substance or is what they’re saying mostly spin and smokescreens?

 

It’s amazing what status can make us believe and do so it’s well worth taking a glimpse of the situation as if it wasn’t there.

 

 

Blatant dishonest attempts to elevate their status…

 

If a wolf is using status to create the illusion of power and influence they may also employ the tactic of making blatant dishonest attempts to elevate their status in the eyes of their peers. Again, I don’t think there is anything wrong with elevating your status but to do it with less than honourable intentions and blatant dishonesty is inexcusable and a likely sign you’re in the presence of a wolf.

 

If, for example, someone updated their Facebook status saying they had ‘Just landed in New York and about to meet Richard Branson for Coffee’ when in actual fact they’re doing a work out in a gym in Glasgow this would be a blatant dishonest attempt to elevate their status to gain more power over their peers.

 

I’m exaggerating a bit with the post but it’s not far from the truth! :-) There are many more subtle examples of attempting to elevate status dishonestly and I think it’s only good sense to be even more wary than you normally would of those in ‘apparently’ high profile positions.

 

Are they really that successful or is it mostly smoke and mirrors and they actually live in a council flat? (I don’t think there’s anything wrong with living in a council flat btw but it’s a bit suspicious if you do while giving off the image of being rich, famous and successful)

 

If status is the means a wolf uses to increase their illusionary power over people so as to achieve their intentions then there’s a good chance they’ll employ dishonest tricks to try and elevate it. Be wary and always question their claims with healthy scepticism.

 

 

Continually painting False Blue skies…

 

We all occasionally make promises we don’t deliver. In an idea world it’s good to always over deliver but sometimes people make bad calls or external factors get in the road. That’s part of life but if someone is frequently painting exciting blue skies that don’t materialize then it’s time to sit up and take notice.

 

One particular wolfish tactic is to offer a huge carrot (something the person would love to have happen), get something in reciprocation only for the big carrot to then not materialize due to apparently ‘unavoidable circumstances’.

 

This is also called a ‘bait and switch’. Perhaps you’ll get something out of it but it’ll be nowhere near as useful and big as what they got from you. You might even convince yourself afterwards that you hadn’t been swindled but the truth is you’ve just been bitten by the wolf.

 

 

Believing people to be a means to an end…

 

In truth this can often be the case. We all use each other to a certain extent and most relationships are ones of a reciprocal nature to a certain degree. The wolf takes this further to the point where people are really just a means to an end with ‘the end’ usually being their gain.

 

If you find that someone has a distinct lack of empathy and pleasure for human contact that doesn’t involve personal gain then it’s worth taking note. Do they like you for who you are? Or just what they can get from you? If it’s the later then you could be in the presence of a wolf.

 

This Wolfy intention can often be hidden in the early stages.  There’s a good chance they’ll be charming and interested when there is the potential for something to be gained from you but once they have it, they’ll usually lose interest very quickly.

 

 

Positioning themselves as the opposite of what they could be criticized for…

 

Out with fuelling their own selfish needs, one of the prime concerns for a wolf is being detected. If their less than honourable intentions become noticed then the game is up…or at least the game is up until they find someone else to play.

 

One of the classic ways a wolf avoids detection is to position themselves as the opposite of what they could be criticised for. If, for example, they are worried people may suspect that their integrity is in question they might go on about how important ‘honesty’ is to them. By assumption the unsuspecting sheep is a lot more likely to accept that the wolf is also honest because they value honesty in others.

 

By the way, in case you’re wondering...Jordan Belford, one of the most widely publicised dishonest stockbrokers and unethical influencers is now a motivational speaker selling……..wait for it……an ETHICAL PERSUASION PROGRAMME!

 

I don’t know about you but that simply blows my mind.

 

To protect yourself don’t always assume that what someone values in other people is necessarily what they themselves value. They could be just doing it to trick you. Also don’t assume that because you value something (eg like honesty) that everyone else also values it. You’ll be playing right into the wolf’s hands.

 

So above all, I would say allow yourself to be influenced but do question things with a healthy scepticism. Being a cynic is of very little use but there is a lot of value in screening people to make sure their intentions are honest and positive. There are lots of great things out there but every now and again you will encounter a wolf…Hopefully you’ll now be ready for them :-)

 

All the best

 

Steve

 

 

How do you like your Change – Fast or Slow?

May 12th, 2014

 

At the end of our recent NLP Practitioner course one of our students asked a wonderfully crafted question. I can’t remember it exactly but it went something like this –

 

 

If you were to cast your mind back to when you were on your first NLP course assuming you had the knowledge and experience you have now, what advice would you give that ‘younger you’ to help them as they embarked on their journey as an NLP Practitioner?

 

 

Apart from the fact that it put me in a seriously DEEP state of trance! I thought it was a terrific question.

 

On further reflection I think the following advice is what I would give. (I also think it’s useful advice for people who have a casual interest in NLP but have not yet done an NLP Practitioner course)

 

The advice is this —

 

 

Change doesn’t always HAVE to happen fast!

 

 

There’s a bit of a myth in the NLP world that some people seem to have bought into that change HAS to be super fast or NOT AT ALL. Almost like a boom or bust, black and white kind of mentality.

 

Now don’t get me wrong here, I love and believe in fast change and think it firmly has a place in NLP. Phobias can generally be overcome in about an hour and emotional issues can often be released in anything from one session to five depending on the person and situation. Fast, flashy change is great and one of the reasons why NLP attracts the huge attention it does.

 

Without negating the usefulness and validity of fast change, I personally think the most useful and powerful type of change is the gradual and more sustainable one you make over a longer period of time. For me, who you become over a matter of months and years as a result of deepening your NLP skill and applying the tools and techniques to your life on a continual basis absolutely kicks the ass out of fast change any day.

 

I found out recently that in pretty much every culture there’s a variation of ‘The story of the fast and the slow’, ours in the UK being that of ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’.

 

The moral is of course that in life there can often be two types of people. Those who sprint off in a blaze of glory stealing all the limelight and those who take their time, not appearing to be doing much at the micro level, but in the grand scheme of things making steady consistent progress.

 

The former in the story, as we know, starts to believe in their own hype, rests on their laurels and eventually becomes complacent. The later continues to plod along making gradual but significant progress until, to everyone’s sudden surprise, overtakes the sprinter and finishes first in the race.

 

Stories like this aren’t just cute little parables that families all around the world tell their kids at night time. They are cultural memes that act as vehicles for passing on important and useful historical learnings. Story telling acts as a ‘time-binding’ function, helping pass on the learnings of the past to the next generation and the fact the story of the ‘The Fast and the Slow’ has been told for many generations across many different cultures suggest that there could be something important to learn from it.

 

I know we live in a time where people want things NOW! In fact sometimes YESTERDAY! But it’s simply not useful to invest so much of your energy into the concept that change HAS to be super fast or not at all. A far more useful approach is to look at where you want to head over a longer period of time and then make gradual but significant progress towards getting there. Sometimes you’ll get a big breakthrough and sometimes it’ll feel like change is taking a little longer. Sometimes you’ll want to make a quick, dramatic impact and sometimes you’ll find it works better to steadily work away at making more subtle improvements.

 

Hey sometimes it’s fun to be the hare for a while. To arrive in a blaze of glory, to show off and bedazzle. It’s exciting and dramatic but if that’s all you’re about then you’ll wake up one day and realize that there’s a whole bunch of tortoises staring back at you from the finishing line with contented smiles you can only pretend to have.

 

Making an instant impact is important but don’t forget the longer and ultimately more important game. Life is as they say – A marathon not a sprint.

 

All the best…

 

Steven Burns

 

 

What’s beyond your problem is most likely your truth…

April 7th, 2014

 

Imagine for a moment that you completely unlearned your biggest psychological problem. Might stretch your imagination a bit but just imagine that you clicked your fingers and ‘hey presto’ it was gone, exposed as an illusion, as if by magic.

 

If that was possible and you stepped into the space beyond, what do you think would naturally be there without you having to do a single thing?

 

Chances are you’d be massively relieved and just pleased that you don’t have to feel bad any more but once the dust had settled what would you notice to be there without you necessarily having to create something new?

 

A sense of peace, purity, happiness, freedom, pure potentiality perhaps?

 

It’s funny, we often think that we have to create positive alternatives to our problems from scratch – ‘Out with the old and in with the new’ so to speak. The assumption being that, when we change, we always have to create something new to put in the old problem’s place.

 

Well have you ever considered that there is already something special and pure sitting behind the problem, in the background, only you can’t see or experience it yet because you’re too pre-occupied with all the turbulence?

 

What if you were to go beyond and catch a glimpse? What if you stepped fully into it and then looked back at the problem…how do you think that might change things?

 

I know this probably sounds a little strange and possibly a bit esoteric but stop and fully consider it for a moment…

 

 

If your problem was to suddenly be exposed as an illusion and you stepped beyond, what would naturally be there without you having to create or do anything other than simply notice?

 

 

I think when you honestly do this you start to get an appreciation of your truth.

 

When I first learned NLP I was told that when you quote ‘remove’ a limitation you are left with a void that needs to be filled. If not then the client (or you) would be left confused and may end up falling back into their old ways of thinking.

 

Unless you strongly suggest this to them then I don’t think this is what actually happens when we resolve a problem. I think, in the absence of the problem, something pure exists behind and it’s more a case of ‘unblocking’ things to allow the natural energy and emotion to flow.

 

That change is often more a case of ‘unlearning the not so useful stuff’ so that we can ‘re-tune into’ our natural sense of pure potentiality rather than ‘removing limitations’ and ‘installing new stuff’.

 

Sure, sometimes we need new strategies and learning brand new ways of looking at ourselves and the world is an essentially part of being Human but to suggest that change is always about creating something entirely new is a bit of an insult to human nature.

 

It’s a bit of a trick of the left hemisphere really, creating a kind of narrow focus, spotlight type thinking that stops us from having an appreciation of the layers behind.

 

It operates from the utterly false assumption that we are born as complete blank slates and that without our ‘learnings’ our ability to experience the world would completely collapse. It’s just not the case and there is plenty of beauty naturally there that we start to re-connect with in the absence of our problems.

 

I remember talking to a Yoga teacher who told me that, throughout his training as his body gradually returned to something resembling its default form, he started to experience pure, positive emotions he hadn’t felt since he was a child. He wasn’t even really doing anything other than getting his body back into a healthy place, human nature did the rest.

 

There’s something about the process of unblocking the body that allows you to experience a once felt purity that you perhaps haven’t felt for some time and I think a similar thing happens with psychological change. When you resolve a big issue and then step beyond, it feels different but it also feels kind of familiar, like you’re recapturing some of the purity of what it felt like when you were a kid. At least that’s what it feels like for me and I know from talking to people that it’s also like that for many others.

 

So have a think about it again as you rarely get the full appreciation of it on first reflection –

 

 

If you snapped your fingers and suddenly realised that your deepest psychological issue (and we all have one!) was an illusion, what would naturally be there in its place without you having to create or do anything other than simply notice?

 

 

Because when you honestly step beyond into this place, what’s naturally already there is most likely your truth.

 

 

All the best

 

Steve

 

Do you see the world in HD?

November 14th, 2013

So I finally decided to bite the bullet and go for a long overdue eye test today and I am now the proud owner of a lovely pair of designer prescription specs. (I look super intelligent btw)

When I tried them on for the first time the words that instantly came to me were -

 

“Ahh, so this is how the world is meant to look!!”

 

My eye sight wasn’t that bad but seriously…it was like suddenly seeing the world in HD!

 

I spent at least 10 minutes staring at this tree in the picture. I couldn’t believe all the details I’d been missing and how beautiful it looked.

 

 

tree

 

 

It goes to show that you really don’t know what you’re missing until you’re suddenly made aware of it again.

 

I guess it can be a bit like going for a massage to release a knot in your back. You don’t know how physically tight your body has been until you experience the release.

 

It’s the ‘Law of Familiarity’. When we’re in pain our body and mind finds a way to manage and cope with it and we sometimes start believing that’s the way it ‘should be’. Everyone has their burden to bear in life right?

 

It’s only when we resolve the pain and experience the relief and benefits that come with it that we realise how much we’ve actually been struggling and just ‘making do’.

 

I think it’s the same with psychological change work.

 

You don’t fully realise how much you’ve been struggling and ‘just getting by’ until you experience resolution.

 

You really don’t know what you’re missing out on until you’re suddenly made aware of it again.

 

I guess it’s also relevant to your potential. You don’t know what you’re capable of until you let go of the things that hold you back.

 

So the question to ponder is this – What’s the thing you ‘manage’ or ‘just make do with’ and what steps do you need to take to start making it better?

 

Perhaps it’s a physical thing you’ve been dealing with, perhaps it’s psychological or maybe both…

 

Perhaps there’s a quick simple solution to it or maybe you have a journey of healing ahead of you. Whatever it is, now is the time to start.

 

If you’re already on that path, what’s the next step? The journey of a thousand miles always begins with the first step and then continues with the next one. What’s the next step for you that will make the biggest difference?

 

Think about it…

 

What do you need to do to start seeing the way the world is meant to look? To start seeing it in HD again…

 

Take Care
Steve

 

Top 3 Myths of Hypnosis

October 15th, 2013

 

Look into my eyes, look into my eyes…and sleep! You are now under my complete control and will do everything I say…

 

It’s funny how, when you ask people about their opinion on hypnosis, you get a lot of responses that are close to or in some way related to this.

 

I first trained as a hypnotherapist when I was 22 and ever since then, when I’ve told people about it, I’ve had some pretty weird looks and often some even weirder questions.

 

The all time most popular question from the men (usually asked in a kind of ‘half joking, half serious way’) has to be: “Can you use hypnosis to get girls into bed?!” Closely followed by a genuine request to ‘Make Darren dance like a chicken’ (Act like a tumble drier is one of the stranger ones)

 

My female friends tend to ask a lot more intelligent questions…Usually ones involving the practical applications like relaxation, weight loss and confidence while remarking how fascinating a subject it is.

 

However, I did get asked by one woman at a party if I had ‘brought my watch with me’because she would ‘love it if I made her stop eating!’ I said I could but asked if she realized that stopping eating would in fact lead eventually to death!”

 

She looked at me kind of strangely and re-stated with complete conviction that she really needed to stop and I had free reign do my ‘voodoo magic’ on her…

 

I think the general perception of hypnosis has improved a lot over the years but there are still lots of misconceptions about what it actually is and how it works. Stage hypnosis certainly doesn’t help but I think it would be a bit rich to criticize given that the high level of intrigue surrounding it is probably one of the biggest factors in making hypnosis so widely recognised.

 

It does lead to a lot of misinterpretations about hypnosis though that can sometimes get in the way when you are either working with a client or training people how to use it.

 

Here are what I consider to be the 3 main myths of Hypnosis and hypnotic trance. Hopefully it will clear things up a bit and help give you a better understanding into what is, in my opinion,  one of the most useful therapeutic and personal development tools we have available.

 

 

Myth number 1 – When you are in a hypnotic trance you are zapped, zonked out or in some weird unnatural state.

 

This is a favourite…That idea that when you are hypnotised you ‘get put under’ and that you are in some weird, zonked out state of mind as if your brain has been stopped in some way. The truth is hypnosis can feel a little strange (in a very pleasant way) but it is by no means unnatural.

 

Hypnotic trance is a perfectly natural state that we go in and out of at various different times of the day. It can often be like a ‘deep daydream’ or similar to the feeling you get when you becoming so absorbed in what you’re doing (like reading a book, watching a movie or playing a video game). An hour can go past and it feels like it’s only been ten minutes, people can walk past you and you don’t notice them and the world around you can almost feel like it’s disappeared because you’re so engaged in what you were doing.

 

There are lots of different examples of ‘naturally occurring’ trances we experience on a day to day basis. For example, have you ever driven your car on a routine destination (perhaps to your work) and then, when you arrive, you can’t fully remember how you got there? You don’t consciously remember every turn, road sign and roundabout but you know you managed to navigate the journey safely. Perhaps you kind of went into auto pilot or maybe even a little daydream while at the same time feeling comfortable that you didn’t have to have your full conscious attention on the road. We all experience this from time to time, sometimes everyday and it’s a common example of when we drop into a hypnotic trance.

 

A more comical example is the ‘elevator trance’ (one that I frequently succumb to). You step into an elevator, punch in your floor number and patiently wait for your destination to arrive…The doors open and you walk out only to notice that you are, in fact, on the wrong floor! The turn back round with your tail between your legs (while checking to see if anyone noticed) and head back in the lift.

 

It’s an understandable opinion that hypnosis is a weird, unnatural state of mind but it is utterly misinformed and untrue. It’s a perfectly natural, enjoyable and useful state of mind that we all go into at various times of the day and the hypnotist’s job is to guide the person into this state of mind, deepen it and then put forward suggestions so that they get the changes they want.

 

Myth number 2 – The hypnotist had complete control and can get you to do things you don’t want to do.

Again this is a common myth that can often concern people when you mention hypnosis and one that is definitely born from stage hypnosis. Let me be clear about this…hypnosis is very powerful and can most definitely influence people to change deeply held emotions, behaviours and mind sets. However, the power it has is held by the hypnotic subject rather than the hypnotist.

 

There’s that phrase we often use that ‘there is no such thing as hypnosis only guided self hypnosis’ which is very accurate about what really goes in the trance process. As a hypnotist you are a guide that helps the hypnotic subject through an exploration of their own mind to find different ways of thinking, feeling and behaving.

 

You may be thinking though - ‘Well that’s all fine and dandy but what about stage hypnosis?’ ‘Surely that gets people to do things they don’t want to do?!’ Well, I know it seems that way but the truth is a bit different. The hypnotic subjects know fine well what they are getting themselves into when they volunteer. They know it’s an entertainment show, a performance and that they are going to be asked to do things they wouldn’t normally do. By walking on the stage and volunteering they are essentially saying ‘I am okay with this’ at a subconsciously level and possibly a conscious one.

Stage hypnotists also go through something called a ‘selection process’ where they work their way down from a large number of volunteers to just a handful. This process is designed to highlight the ones who are highly suggestible and deep down feel the most comfortable with going along with pretty much everything the hypnotist says. There are also a lot of other psychological factors involved such as crowd psychology that add to what is already a very persuasive hypnotic environment.

 

The kind of hypnosis that is used on a one to one basis shares some similarities but is not the same.

 

Essentially the subject is the one who makes the shifts and changes and the hypnotist acts as a guide. The more skilful a guide you are the better a hypnotist you are…The trick is to weave your words in such a way that the person being hypnotized attaches their own meanings and reaches their own solutions as opposed to you ‘just telling them to do something’. It’s a highly skilled craft and can be truly mesmerizing to watch and listen to when it’s done well.

 

 

Myth number 3 – Not everyone can be hypnotized…

This one has probably been covered already indirectly but I think it still merits its own mention. I’m not exactly sure when and where this popular myth was created but I think it may have come from a time when the main style of hypnosis was ‘Authoritarian hypnosis’. This is where you are very direct about how you induce trance and give suggestions for changing behaviours, emotions and mind sets. This type of hypnosis can work with a small percentage of people and is certainly worth doing as part of the hypnotic process but if it’s the only approach you have then there will be a large number of people who will not respond. (Both in going in trance and making changes)

 

Modern day hypnosis is about utilizing the hypnotic subject’s experience of the world to guide them into trance and then allow them to explore further. It’s about recognising that trance is a naturally occurring state and that everyone goes in and out it at some point during the day. Given the discovery that trance is, in fact, not some weird unnatural state this myth should really be confined to the bin.

 

People are often a bit confused, however, after they are hypnotized as to whether they were in fact in trance. Some will even convince themselves that they weren’t because it didn’t feel that much different than relaxation, meditation or being in a daydream. This is more of a reflection on public perception of what trance is than the reality. Because trance is something we have all experienced then it does feel similar to experiences we have already had. That doesn’t make it any less useful though it just leads to people mistakenly jumping to the conclusion that they ‘ couldn’t get put under!’

 

For more information on hypnosis feel free to comment and/or get in touch. We’re always happy to chat about it. If you fancy learning hypnosis check out our weekend seminar that’s coming up soon:

 

The Art of Hypnosis Glasgow

 

Take care

Steven

Are you ready to make a REAL decision?!

June 17th, 2013

 

How good are you at making decisions? If you are still pondering the answer to that question then you already have your answer…let’s move on!

 

Making decisions is actually, in most cases, really easy to do. You know what to do, more importantly, you know what you *want* to do, you decide to do it and, as has already been said, you move on. Decision made.

 

But that’s not what happens for many of us, is it? In fact what actually happens is we know what to do, we know what we want to do…then we look to see if there is an easier or less scary way to do it, we ask some other people in the hope they will make the decision for us, we worry about it for a bit, we procrastinate, worry, ask about, worry and then we then make a half ar$ed, safe decision that goes just some of the way, but never all of the way, in the hope that ‘it will do for now’ and then, when it all goes t!ts up, we decide we’re crap at deciding because we didn’t do what we knew we wanted to do in the first place and the whole cycle becomes even more difficult next time.

 

Sound accurate!?

 

The two places I see this strategy carried out most often is giving up smoking and losing weight. Both of these things are big things. Especially with weight loss, it can take time and both require lifestyle changes. But they are things that people all around us want. So why don’t they get it?

 

My opinion? It’s simply because they never truly decide to do what needs to be done.

 

I totally promise you, when you truly decide to lose weight or give up fags, you will. The biscuits will stop miraculously jumping in your shopping trolley and even Jim in accounts offering you a fag on that night out, when he should have known you were two weeks into giving them up, won’t be enough to make you go ‘aye, alright then, just one’. But to make these changes, it takes YOU to decide.

 

A decision is a moment of certainty. A moment when you draw a line that you want go back across. It is a moment of power where you gain a clarity and focus, where a switch flicks in your head and you just know, you don’t know how you know but you know, something has changed.

 

You don’t have to fight it, you don’t have to be told, you don’t need to feel good or ever feel like you’re cheating, you just choose, completely and congruently, to live life a certain way and, from that place, I promise you, even changing the big stuff is easy.

 

I know if you think about your life there will be times when you made a decision like this one. You’ll recognise that nothing would have ever undone it even if the results of that decision were painful or sore. You will remember just being focused on keeping yourself safe, happy or free and that made even the sore bits easy to cope with. So, you have the ability, now all you need is some practice!

 

Try it on. I dare you! Give it a shot tomorrow. Just for one day, decide to make a change. Doesn’t have to be a big one, but make is a good one. Decide right now that you are going to stick with it. Feel free to post it here in the comments if you want all of us to see how well you did tomorrow. But decide.

 

There’s a wee phrase I remember picking up a long time ago; baby steps lead to miracles, miracles don’t lead to baby steps.

 

Time to just find your feet tomorrow. Than maybe the next day you can decide to walk a little further. Who knows where you’ll be by the end of the week…

 

Do Good Things

 

Brian

 

 

How to handle Public Speaking Nerves

June 14th, 2013

 

Have you ever been asked to deliver a talk or presentation and found yourself spiralling into an abyss of nerves and uncertainty on the run up?

 

Perhaps it was the 10 minutes before, the hour or maybe even the whole day or week?!

 

It might have been a wedding speech, a meeting you had to take or a more formal presentation in your job. There really is nothing like a bit of public speaking to get the blood flowing for most people.

 

One of the most commonly asked questions we get regarding public speaking is how to handle the nerves. How to be more confident and comfortable….How to stop the million and one voices shouting in your head on the run up to starting speaking!?

 

While there are lots of NLP techniques and ways you can use your imagination to prepare your frame and state of mind that really help, the main thing for me is experience. The techniques really help let go of the deep seated fear to let your natural, confident self shine through and the experience cements all these changes in place.

 

Another aspect that a lot of people forget though is being able to speak calmly and confidently even while you are feeling nervous.

 

Of course, the end goal is to reach the place where you don’t feel the nerves or (what is more often the case) where they are at such a minimum they hardly affect you. At the same time it’s equally if not more important to be able to get up and deliver a confident, killer talk or presentation while you feel nervous.

 

Most people forget about this middle ground but it actually makes up most of your early experience as a speaker (and a lot of the time for more experienced ones even though they probably don’t want to admit it!)

 

About 3 years ago I was asked to be Best Man at one of my mates wedding. When he first asked I was more than a little cocky. I had a lot of experience delivering training and also, being a member of the public speaking organisation ‘Toastmasters’, I knew how to design and deliver short talks and presentations.

 

An  8- 10 minute best man speech would be a piece of cake right? Ehm, not really…

 

In actual fact it has to rank as one of the most terrifying talks I’ve ever given.

 

Well, that’s not strictly true. It ranks as one of the most terrifying and nervous ‘run ups’ to a talk I’ve ever had. The actual speech was easy but the build up was wobbly to say the least.

 

On the morning of the wedding I was very confident. I’d done all my preparation and I knew my speech inside out. I knew the content was good and was convinced it would get both some good laughs and, at the same time, touch a few emotional nerves.

 

During the ceremony everything was fine. I felt comfortable and relaxed and pretty certain things were going to go well. It wasn’t until just after that the nerves kicked in.

 

The problem I had strangely enough was that everyone knew I had a fair amount of public speaking experience. It’s amazing how as human beings we generalise and distort information (I think the drinks also had a fair amount to do with it).

 

What started as people saying to me “Hey I hear you run training courses so this should be a bit easier for you”  quickly changed after multiple drinks to “Hey I hear you’re an after dinner speaker! And do some stand comedy so this should be a breeze!”.

 

Where the heck did they get that from!

 

That’s when the nerves started…suddenly the pressure was on. Not only was the speech being filmed and all my friends were going to be there it seemed the audience were expecting a super polished, hilariously funny after dinner speaker!

 

It amazes me what nerves can do to you. The walk out to the top table was like some weird dream where I was dissociated from my body. As I sat down my legs had turned to jelly, my mouth was like sand paper and my mind was a blur. I don’t use any notes when I speak so i’d decided to do the full 10 minutes speech completely from memory. In that moment though I was cursing myself for not bringing a piece of paper to read from and, more importantly, hide behind.

 

The strange thing was, even though I felt as nervous as I’d been since I started public speaking and giving presentations at some deep level I knew I’d get through it. I think this is where the experience comes in. Once you’ve given a few talks and presentations irrespective of the nervous feelings you feel you start to realise that you will live actually through it! In fact, you can in fact still get the job done pretty damn well!

 

You learn how to feel solid and strong at the same time as feeling nervous.

 

A lot of people think you are either nervous or confident. That it’s like a digital switch that’s either on one side or the other when that’s simply not the case. You can actually feel confident, strong and comfortable at the same time as feeling nervous.

 

Obviously it’s much nicer when the nerves aren’t there but I think it’s a much more useful skill to maintain strength and balance while feeling nervous. Unless you speak a lot then this will make up a large part of your speaking experience.

 

So anyway, back to the speech. After the groom finished his speech and kindly told the audience that I had started taking acting lessons so they should expect an impressive showing (thanks Derek!) I stood up and started talking. The first line contained a joke and, when I spoke it, the audience burst into laughter. I knew right then that, despite my anxious fretting, it was going to go well. It was such a friendly vibe and you could tell everyone was willing me to be funny and entertaining.

 

What I had convinced myself was going to be one my toughest audiences actually turned out to be one of the easiest and most compliant ones I’ve ever spoken to.

 

The speech went down a storm. I like to think I did my duty well and suitably humiliated the groom in a respectful manner while complimenting the bride and touching a few emotional nerves along the way.

 

When I think back it certainly stands out as one of the biggest buzzes I’ve had from public speaking but the main learning was how important it is to get experience standing firm irrespective of the nerves.

 

So if you’re asked to give a talk or presentation and find yourself slipping into the nervous abyss, realise that no chasm is bottomless. An ‘Abyss’ doesn’t really exist, it’s just a word created for fantasy novels. Every hole or pit has solid grounding within it and around it. Go ahead, look around and reach out…You’ll catch a hold of something solid and regain your balance soon enough.

 

Take Care

 

Steve

 

Public Speaking – The wonderful place where Creativity, Freedom & Bliss exists

June 6th, 2013

 

I remember reading a book on Creative Public Speaking a few years ago and a comment the author made jumped out at me. She said that there’s a wonderful and natural place where creativity exists that massively improves your Public Speaking skills yet most people have almost completely forgotten about it. She said that this wonderful natural place is not just about creativity or becoming better at Public speaking, it’s about freedom, bliss & being and that people would be a lot happier and content if they allowed themselves to go there more often.

 

She also said that it’s not somewhere you can go by forcing or doing, it’s a place you get to by letting go and allowing. That when you reach that place of trust it ‘just kind of happens’ without you trying to consciously make it so.

 

At the time I was utterly confused by it. What the heck was she talking about!

 

At that time I was very much a ‘get out there and make it happen’ type person. If things weren’t working then it must mean I’m not trying hard enough. Clearly I wasn’t putting in enough effort. I operated very much from the mindset that the more force you put into something the more you get back out.

 

If you think about it though, the more force you inject into something the more you run the risk of pushing it away or even worse causing it to spiral wildly out of control.

 

Now obviously things don’t simply materialise by reading ‘The Secret’ then spending all your time in a dark room asking the universe for better health, happiness, wealth and opportunity. Contrary to what some people think you do actually have to get off your butt and physically DO something!

 

There comes a point though where effort starts to seriously counter act the good work you’re putting in. If you’ve ever heard someone tell you that you ‘just try too dammn hard!’ then you’ll know what I’m talking about. Everyone has their own ‘effort threshold’ that, when they go over it, creates a tension and neediness that actually prevents them from getting closer to the goal.

 

Obviously you have to put the effort in but you also need to let it go.

 

It’s like working out in the gym. You don’t build a bicep by working it every day for several hours. Your body needs time to repair and it’s this ‘repair time’ that causes your muscles to grow bigger. The amazing thing is you don’t have to consciously do anything during this period (other than eat!)…your body does it for you.

 

I used to be soooo guilty of this in the early days when I was giving presentations.

 

I would plan everything out to the nth degree. Almost every minute was scripted, every pause and joke planned ahead of time and I used to practice out loud for hours on end before a training. It was a heck of a lot of work and pretty stressful, especially if I was asked to deliver something with little preparation time.

 

When I look back it seems almost ludicrous because, as soon as I started to speak, changes in the environment meant I had to go ‘off script’ anyway.

 

Then I did an improvisation class and it opened me up to a space I hadn’t considered for a long time, probably since I was a kid. It opened me up to place that massively improved my public speaking and my sense of happiness (and sanity!). It opened me up to this wonderful place where creativity, freedom and bliss naturally exist.

 

You see, the main purpose of improvisation is to take you to a place where you feel comfortable not knowing what’s going to happen next. It’s a place of trust that often produces a level of effectiveness and results that simply can’t be matched by trying to consciously force it. Some of the stuff we produced in that improvisation class was pure comedy gold. The kind of standard I could never have matched if I was trying to force it out consciously.

 

In NLP we make the distinction between ‘Proactive’ and ‘Reactive’ thinking styles. Proactive thinking is where you like to plan ahead of schedule. Reactive is where you say “To heck with planning, I’ll just figure it out at the time”. Proactive is where you like to know and plan step by step how an event is going to pan out and then prepare for it. Reactive is where you allow yourself to respond in the moment to whatever comes your way.

 

There are advantages and disadvantages to both and everyone has the capacity to do both. The problems arise when you become ‘stuck’ in your preferred style and forget how to do the opposite.

 

Public speaking is a great example. Imagine you were someone who felt they had to plan everything to an almost obsessive degree and you were asked to do an impromptu presentation…There’s a good chance you’d be freaking out right now!

 

On the flip side, a lack of planning can also create problems. If you don’t have some kind of plan and know your content ahead of time you run the risk of being seriously caught out even if you’re skilled at ‘figuring it out in the moment’.

 

This is actually one of the fundamental skills of Public Speaking…being able to balance proactive and reactive thinking styles. Being able to plan ahead of schedule and have a structure but then also being able to let it go and go to a place where you’re in ‘the now’, responding to feedback from the audience. You master those two then you can pretty much deliver presentations anywhere to any audience with confidence.

 

In fact I’ll go one step further…when you pan the camera back, balancing these two thinking styles is actually a vital skill in life!

 

Sure, it’s incredibly useful to set goals and create step by step plans to achieve them but it’s equally if not more important to let them go and be ‘in the now’. How else will you spot and take advantage of the opportunities that’ll get you there in the quickest possible time?

 

We often forget that life is mostly reactive by nature. Things change every minute of every day and it’s probably a more important skill to be able to respond and react to the changing conditions rather than attempt to control and dictate them ahead of time. There are few things that will help your levels of confidence and well being more than trusting that, no matter what happens, you’ll manage to figure out a way to make it work. When you really get that the future becomes a much friendlier place.

 

So if you are frequently attempting to control and plan things ahead of time then perhaps it’s time to let go a bit more and see where the tide of life takes you. You can still have your plans, just allow them to loosen a little bit and improvise as you go along. If you’re the kind of person that never plans and just blissfully floats from moment to moment then maybe it’s time to start planning. Again it doesn’t mean you can’t be ‘in the moment’. It’s not about swinging entirely the other way, it’s about finding the balance that works for you. At the end of the day there’s nothing more satisfying than knowing you’ve put plans in place to allow you the time to enter that wonderful place where creativity, freedom and bliss naturally exists.

 

Take care

Steven