Since the worldwide Covid pandemic, obtaining a better work-life balance has moved up our list of priorities. A global survey of more than 21,000 adults in 27 countries in September 2020 revealed seven in 10 people wanted their life to change significantly rather than returning to how it was before the Covid-19 crisis.
So, if there’s anything positive that has come from this pandemic, it has been the fact that people have had a chance to think about what their priorities are.
But, it’s no use just wishing this will magically happen. We have to think about what we want and acknowledge it every time we notice or experience anything that makes us feel happy.
This reinforces abundance in the subconscious and opens our minds and eyes to the opportunity that is all around us. Have you ever thought about, say, buying a particular car and then suddenly you see that make of car everywhere? You have subconsciously set up a filter to see it, whereas in the past you would have probably missed it.
In the same way, when you are in a positive state, the world looks good, you start to see opportunities and you are fun to be around – and so you get more of the good stuff.
One of my favourite quotes is from Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, who said: “Purpose is the cornerstone of good mental health.”
Yet if you are anxious, your sole purpose is survival. When the volume has been turned down on anxiety, or it’s gone, you have more room to find other things that you can enjoy. That could be becoming financially independent, creating something that helps lots of people or it could be something as simple as being a good friend, caring for your pet or doing random acts of kindness.
Often when I’m working with an anxious person, they’re sceptical and wonder if the techniques will work. But as they stay with the process and keep using them, they always start to see results. One patient I treated for insomnia came back to see me two weeks later and told me: “I’m not cured.” I asked him how much better he was and he replied: “Only 80 percent.” I looked at him and said: “Listen to yourself!”
At which point he realised he was looking for failure not success – for what he hadn’t achieved, rather than what he had.
There is a Japanese word called “Karoshi”, which literally means working yourself to death. There is also a book by Maria Nemeth called The Energy Of Money that describes it as “Busyholism”. This sums up a lifestyle where people feel the need to work all the time because they “need the money” or “can’t bear to be bored” – but often they are actually addicted to the buzz they get from chemicals produced as a stress response.
It’s really important that whenever you look into the future you envisage yourself healthy and happy – as that makes it more likely to become your reality.
Havening is the granddaddy of all of the psychosensory techniques that can be used to tackle anxiety. Until you have seen its almost miraculous power for emotional healing, it’s hard to believe it’s real. During the pandemic, I’ve used this amazing technique at the sharp end as a tool for doctors, nurses and technicians. At first, they were completely sceptical – they didn’t believe a word of it. However, the convincer for them was when they could think about something that was traumatic or upsetting and within a few minutes, they could no longer get upset about it. Recently pop star Justin Bieber’s therapist Dr Buzz Mingin revealed that he had used Havening with Justin to relieve his anxiety.
You should practise this sequence of eye movements, body touches and visualisations several times until you know it off by heart. Then you will be able to use it anytime you need to get rid of unhappy feelings and swiftly feel calm and relaxed.
- Pay attention to any stress or traumatic memory you wish to re-code and notice what it looks like in your imagination and how stressful it feels.
- Now, rate its strength on a scale of one to 10, where 10 is the most powerful and one is the least. This is important as it lets you measure how much you are reducing it.
- Now, clear your mind, or just think about or imagine something nice.
- Next, stroke your forehead and the cheeks of your face repeatedly.
- Stroke your hands down the sides of your arms from the top of your shoulders down to your elbows, and keep doing this downward stroking motion, again and again, throughout this process.
- As you carry on stroking the sides of your arms, imagine you are walking on a lovely beach. With each footstep you take in the sand, count out loud from one to 20.
- Still stroking the sides of your arms, imagine you are walking outside in a beautiful garden. With each footstep you take in the grass, count out loud from one to 20.
- Now, open your eyes and check how you feel on your scale from one to 10. How much lower is the stress level now? If it is way down the bottom of the scale, congratulations – you have personally changed your own state. If you think that the unhappy feeling is not yet reduced enough, just repeat the Havening sequence until it is reduced as far as you want.
Many people experience remarkable positive changes immediately after a Havening session. However, even if you are one of those people, I recommend you do this Havening exercise as often as you want.
Once you’ve learned Havening off by heart, I’d like you to use another incredible exercise – The Apex Technique – straight afterwards. Inspired by Zen Master Genpo Roshi, this is a way to recalibrate emotions.
Using Havening and then Apex back-to-back resets your emotional ecosystem once you have reduced your anxiety. It counteracts all sorts of uncomfortable feelings including stress, anger, guilt, grief and frustration. It is based on a technique from Neuro-Linguistic Programming known as “Collapsed Anchors” as when two opposing emotions are experienced at the same time they rebalance. This process gets you to summon an uncomfortable emotion then counter it with its opposite emotion.
You then move your attention above your head, which has the effect of distancing yourself from the feelings. This begins the reset. It’s a bit like a graphic equaliser that sounds shrill as only the treble is turned up.
When you turn up the bass, one balances the other out.
- Place your hands out in front of you with your palms turned up.
- Next, let yourself focus on the feeling that is bothering you, whatever it is. It could be fear, anger, or something else.
- As you notice it, ask if there is anything that feeling would wish to say to you. If there is, make a note of it – if there is not, that is absolutely fine, too.
- Now imagine holding the feeling in your left hand, in front of you and get in touch with it.
- Now I’d like you to think of the opposite of that feeling – for example, peace, calm, comfort.
- Bring that opposite feeling to mind – peace, calm, and comfort – and notice how it feels.
- Now imagine placing that opposite, positive feeling in your right hand, in front of you.
- Now move your attention up to a few inches above your head and, keeping your attention in that position, experience both feelings at the same time.
- Continue to feel the two emotions simultaneously with your attention above your head. As you do that, your emotional system will recalibrate so that you can experience that difficult emotion at a lower level as it re-integrates into your emotional intelligence.
The word “genius” is overused these days, but I feel fortunate to have met a number over the years from the fields of art, science, business and sport.
Dr Richard Bandler is one of my favourite geniuses. Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) – where touch and visualisation transform the way you feel – is the name he has given to his life’s work: a psychological and behavioural technology that has significantly changed the world for the better. Part of Richard’s genius is that he observes things that other people miss. For example, he once explained to me that all feelings start somewhere in our bodies and then move somewhere else.
When people are talking about fear, you often hear people say things like: “I have a feeling in the pit of my stomach.” That is because for nearly everyone, fear starts in the bottom of the stomach and moves upwards. So, I’d like you to try this experiment. Think about something scary and notice where the feeling starts. It will almost certainly start at the bottom of your stomach and move up to your chest! The amazing news is that through visualisation you can get the feeling to go in the opposite
direction, reduce it and then switch it off.
- Think of something that really scares you and notice where the feeling of fear starts and moves to.
- Give it a colour.
- See it as a wheel spinning.
- Float the spinning wheel out of your body and see it spinning in front of you.
- Flip it over, so it’s spinning in the opposite direction.
- Change the colour.
- Pull the new spinning wheel back into yourself and feel it spinning in the opposite direction.
- Keep it spinning inside yourself until you feel completely calm.
Adapted by Matt Nixson from Freedom From Anxiety by Paul McKenna (Welbeck, £14.99). Visit expressbookshop.com or call 020 3176 3832. Free UK P&P on orders over £20. Paul McKenna will be touring the UK and Ireland next month with his Instant Confidence show, for tickets and information, visit MindBodySpirit.co.uk