How often do you hold back from doing something positive, perhaps making a change that has the potential to make you happier or more successful, all because you’ve convinced yourself another element of your life needs to be perfect first?
This could be something relatively inconsequential, like delaying wearing a new dress or jacket until a really special occasion comes up – only it never actually does.
Or more impactful, such as not applying for a much-wanted promotion until you feel certain you’re ready for the extra responsibility. Maybe you’re fed up with being single, but keep resisting getting back in the dating saddle until you’ve lost some weight, or put on a bit of muscle at the gym, or until you just feel that bit more confident.
Either way, this becomes a pattern of behaviour. Meaning that weeks, months, even years pass by and those smart clothes continue to hang unworn in the wardrobe, or you stick in a job that no longer fulfils you, or you spend yet another Saturday night at home on your own.
As human beings we’re brilliant at getting in the way of our own success, putting up mental barriers that stop us from achieving our true potential, usually without even realising the extent to which we’re doing it.
Hypnotherapist Paul McKenna says ‘anchoring’ – by pinching your thumb and middle finger together – can help you access the seven pillars of success
We let our own minds dissuade us from making life better, whether that’s connected to relationships, work goals or self-improvement. We become our own worst enemy.
But it doesn’t need to be this way. Instead of letting your thoughts hold you back, you can actually use them to help you become the very best version of yourself – someone who is fulfilled, happy and supremely successful. All by harnessing the extraordinary power of your own mind.
And I am going to show you how in this exclusive series taken from my new book, Success for Life: The Secret to Achieving Your True Potential. I will be sharing with you tips and techniques to boost your confidence, to push beyond your own personal boundaries and stop sabotaging your own chances of happiness and success.
In my experience, there are two main reasons behind why people endlessly postpone their own opportunities for success. And they might surprise you.
One is that human beings have a tendency simply not to think big enough – they don’t dare push themselves beyond their everyday boundaries and limitations, because they lose sight of their own worth.
Just think how easy it is to get stuck in a rut – whether that’s in your personal or professional life. You’re not ecstatically happy, but nor are you utterly miserable. And so you plod along without it particularly occurring to you to imagine just how amazing your life has the potential to actually be.
The other is self-sabotage – where your subconscious persuades you that you’re undeserving of success; or that realising your dreams is too frightening an idea to put any real weight or effort behind, because of how it could end up changing your life.
That sounds on the face of it, completely counter-intuitive. But hear me out. Your mind might rationalise that whatever you accomplish will bring with it more responsibility, greater expectations and the potential for failure and even danger.
Usually, limiting thoughts are constructs of our own mind, behind which is almost always an unconscious drive to protect ourselves from harm.
The new year has only just got going. But I wonder how many of the big ideas you had at its start, when you were focused on your resolutions and what you wanted to achieve in 2024, have already been forgotten.
I get it. Life has a habit of getting in the way of even our most heart-felt intentions. But you don’t need to wait a whole other year before you allow yourself to imagine a bigger, better and more successful life for yourself again.
Over the next three days, using a series of techniques from the world of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), I’m going to fire you back up, so that you discover exactly what it is you want for yourself – and then, instead of relegating achieving that to some unknown future date, you will see that you can start living your very best life, starting right now.
The seven pillars of success
Throughout my decades of working with super achievers, I have found that there are seven key super states that become the psychological keys that unlock their ‘A-game’.
These pillars of success are: self-belief, clarity, determination, connection, creativity, energy and health, and happiness.
When you stack one on top of another, it’s like having an inner super power. Combined, they create what athletes and business super achievers call ‘being in the zone’, while musicians and those in creative industries call it ‘being in flow’.
It’s important to address each in order – that way you build up to a crescendo of confidence that will catapult you towards success.
Creating your anchor
But first, I want to teach you one of the simplest yet most effective NLP techniques for making strong connections to these seven super states. It’s called anchoring and it works by linking physical touch (in this case the simple squeeze of your thumb and middle finger) to empowering feelings or behaviours you want to to call upon at will. It is a type of associational link, which becomes one of the brain’s shortcuts.
Think of an anchor as one element of an experience that can bring back a whole experience, just as a song on the radio can remind you of an old romance or a holiday, bringing back in your mind’s eye that whole experience.
Through the repetition of squeezing together our middle finger and thumb where indicated after many of the exercises below, we can really cement powerful positive associations with the hand gesture, making anchoring an invaluable technique to literally have at your fingertips whenever you need motivation. It works because you are hardwiring yourself to the fabulous feelings summoned by my exercises in one empowering loop.
To install self-belief, we need first to clear any psychological obstacles that are standing in your way.
This is because if you think you can’t do something you won’t.This exercise (which comes with the written permission of Dr Richard Bandler) will speak to your subconscious mind, helping you resolve any internal conflict, self-sabotage or unnecessary hesitation you may be feeling about becoming truly successful.
- Put your hands out in front of you, palms facing up
2. In your dominant hand (the one you write with) put the part of you that wants to succeed and fulfil your true potential
3. Next, in the other hand, put the part of yourself that stops you or sabotages you
4. Now, bring your hands together and let the two parts sit together for a while so they can figure out, at the unconscious level, how they can both achieve their positive intentions for you without being in conflict with each other. Take all the time you need.
5. Eventually, it will feel like there’s a click, or a feeling that it’s possible that these two parts can work together.
6. Next, bring your hands towards your chest and integrate this new super part into you.
7. Now, start to imagine how your life will be so much better, free from self-sabotage leaving you able to fulfil your true potential.
Having installed self-belief, you now need clarity. When you get a laser-sharp focus about what you want in life, you suddenly feel much more motivated to work at attaining it.
But first you must distinguish between your goals and what truly matters to you by drilling down to your values.
To get in touch with your core values, decide what is most important to you, such as family
Getting in touch with your core values
Answer these questions to work out what matters to you.
1. First, ask yourself: ‘What is most important to me?’ It could be your family, your career, fame, money, health or relationships.
2. Now, choose the five most important things in your life. Take each one in turn and ask yourself, ‘What it is it about this that is important to me?’
3. Keep asking, “What is it about this that is important to me? until you reach the value that drives it.
For example, if money is important to you ask, “What is it about money that is important to me?” The answer might be ‘security,’ or ‘status,’ or ‘freedom.’ That would show you that the values which are important to you.
4. Go through each of your most important things and write a list of all the values that underpin them. These are your core values.
There’s an enormous difference between motivation and determination.
Motivation is when we think: ‘I want to lose weight, because it’ll improve my health and my looks.’
Determination is several notches up from motivation. It’s that moment when the cards are stacked against you and you think to yourself: ‘I’ll show you.’
It’s like a superpower of invincibility.
My earliest memory of such a life moment was during my childhood. I have dyslexia and was told in my school report: ‘You will never amount to anything’, Reading that could have crushed me. But it didn’t. Instead, I thought to myself: ‘I’ll show you’, and I have. Because determination is a state of mind and body, I will now take you through a process called The Determination Switch, which will enable you to shift into a state of intense focus and spring from motivated to determined.
The determination switch
Read through each step before you start.
1. Think about something you would love to be really determined to do
2. Now, remember a time when you felt really, really determined in the past. Fully return to it now – see what you saw, hear what you heard, and feel how good you felt.
3. As you keep going through this memory, make the colours brighter, the sounds richer, and the feelings stronger. Tell yourself to ‘Go for it!’ in your most confident inner voice!
4. While you are feeling these good feelings, squeeze your thumb and middle finger together. From now on, each time you squeeze your thumb and middle finger together, you will begin to relive these good feelings.
5. Repeat steps 1 – 4 several times, adding in new positive experiences of determination each time until just squeezing your thumb and middle finger together summons those good feelings and has you raring to go.
6. Still holding your thumb and middle finger together, think about that situation in which you want to feel more determined. Imagine things going perfectly, exactly the way you want them to be. See what you’ll see, hear what you’ll hear, and feel how good it feels to get into action and make things happen.
7. Now, while you are in this peak state of mind and body, squeeze your thumb and middle finger together and hold them together. Take as long as you want in order to fully experience and remember the amazing feelings that go with it. Do this several times to create a strong associational link.
This simple visualisation process will enhance your ability to connect with people. You will feel differently about other people, suddenly finding greater opportunities to connect with the right people and with the world. In turn, other people will want to connect with you.
Enhance your connections
Read through every step first.
1. Remember times in the past when you felt connected with people, with the world, and with life.
2. If you can’t remember a time, then think about someone who you believe finds it easy to connect to other people and the world and imagine stepping into their shoes.
3. When you begin to get a feeling of being connected, give that feeling a colour in your imagination.
4. Now imagine spreading that colour up through your neck, into your head, all the way down through your torso and into your legs, until you are fully immersed in that colour.
5. Now double the brightness of the colour.
6. Next, while glowing with that colour, imagine taking it with you into various environments in your life – your home life, work life and social life. All the time you will be glowing with this colour.
7. While you are in this peak state of mind and body, squeeze your thumb and middle finger together and hold them together while you feel this good. Do it several times to create a strong associational link.
Creativity is key
Creativity is a mind and body state, just like love, anger, apathy or optimism – and that means everybody has it. It’s important to harness your creative brain as it will help you design a bigger, better and richer life for yourself.
To boost your creativity, think of someone creative, such as the British inventor James Dyson
Boost your creativity
1. Remember a time when you felt creative and inspired.
2. If you can’t remember a time, then think of someone who you consider to be creative. It might be an inventor like James Dyson.
3. Next, either return to that time you felt creative or imagine floating into your role model. 4. Now, as you experience that creative feeling, squeeze your thumb and middle finger together on one of your hands. Do this several times until just the action of squeezing brings back the feeling of creativity.
5. Now, while you are in this peak state of mind and body, squeeze your thumb and middle finger together and hold them together while you feel this good. Take as long as you want, in order to fully experience and remember the amazing feelings that go with it. Do it several times to create a strong associational link.
Energy and health
Practising self-hypnosis is a good way of giving your mind and body a deep way of relaxing and an instant energy boost. You will emerge from it as if you have recharged your batteries.To achieve this state, I often relax into a trance where I imagine myself sunbathing on an exotic beach.
Given that the nervous system doesn’t differentiate between a real and a vividly imagined event, when I awaken from it, I feel as though I’ve just been on holiday. As far as my nervous system is concerned, I have!
Enhance your wellbeing
Read through each step first.
1. Imagine a cinema screen in front of you.
2. On that screen see a movie of you in perfect health.
3. Notice your posture, the expression on your face, the light behind your eyes and the glow of radiant health.
4. Look at every detail.
5. Now float over and into that super-healthy you.
6. See the world through the eyes of your super-healthy self, hear your internal dialogue saying, “I feel healthy, I feel great!”.
7. Notice where you feel the best feeling in your body and imagine giving it a colour.
8. Next, imagine moving that colour all the way up to the top of your head, down through your shoulders, chest, legs and all the way to the tips of your toes.
9. Now double the brightness of the colour and then double it again and double it again until you are glowing with this healthy feeling.
10. While you are in this peak state of mind and body, squeeze your thumb and middle finger together and hold them together. Do this several times to create a strong associational link.
It’s time to add the icing on the cake by adding the final super state required to achieve great success by connecting with your inner state of happiness.
Imagining a cinema screen can help you to connect with your inner state of happiness
Increase your happiness
1. Imagine a cinema screen in front of you.
2. Next watch a movie on the screen in your imagination of a really happy you.
3. Notice your posture, the expression on your face and the way you radiate happiness.
4. Next imagine floating into the screen and step into your happier self.
5. See through the eyes of your happier self and feel how good it feels to be really happy.
6. Imagine giving this feeling a colour.
7. Now spread that colour up through your neck and around your head, down through your chest, arms and legs, to the tips of your toes.
8. Double the brightness and intensity of the colour and double it again until you are glowing with happiness.
9. Now imagine taking this wonderful feeling of happiness with you into your everyday life, your home life, work life and into the future.
10. While you are in this peak state of mind and body, squeeze your thumb and middle finger together and hold them together. Pause, and take as long as you want, in order to fully experience and remember the amazing feelings that go with it. Do this several times to create a strong associational link.
By now you will be feeling fantastic about your life. As long as you remember to put your thumb and middle finger together to connect with your anchors, you can tap into your ultimate state of being at will. Take a moment to truly imagine your future through the eyes of your ultimate state. See what now looks possible and the world of opportunity that awaits you. Really take your time to experience how fantastic it feels as you will be living from that dazzling place from this day forward.
It’s an exciting prospect, isn’t it?
Tomorrow I will reconnect you with the happy, joyful person you were born to be, while also showing you how to conduct a ‘happiness audit’ that will remove the energy vampires that drain the happiness out of your life. Then on Monday I will help you find your inner genius, and quash any self-doubt that threatens to hold you back.
His new book can help you access the seven key super states that unlock your ‘A-game’: Self-belief, clarity, determination, connection, creativity, energy and health, and happiness
- Success For Life by Paul McKenna (Welbeck Publishing Group, £14.99). To order a copy for £13.49 go to www.mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3176 2937. Free UK delivery on orders over £25. Promotional price valid until 17/02/2024.