How to turn presentation nerves into an effortless performance

Presentation NervesI often work with highly competent professionals who want to rid themselves of the fear and panic involved in public speaking. What usually brings them to see me is a building feeling of anxiety about an upcoming presentation with all the associated physical symptoms of sweaty palms, tight throat, pounding heart and fast breathing.

Hypnotic intervention for panic responses experienced during presenting is very effective.
The goal for me is always to help the client bring their physical response back under control by uncoupling the negative experiences, beliefs and emotions they have associated with presenting. But, I don’t seek to take that physiological response away completely – here’s why…

When I’m not in the therapy room, I spend my time learning and performing trapeze. I know the incredible power of a natural shot of adrenaline before a performance. That anticipatory load of chemicals makes me strong, strong enough to perform moves that I sometimes struggle to complete in rehearsal. These chemicals also slow time right down, which allows me to have the luxury of ensuring my hand is positioned perfectly on the bar so I can execute my next move with confidence.

This heightened state of consciousness experienced by performers is called Flow. The term was originally coined in the 1980’s by positive psychology researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi when referring to an optimal state of performance. Flow is a state of focused or concentrated attention. In that state, time distorts – seconds stretching and slowing down during a performance or hours washing away in an eye blink as you’re completely immersed in a piece of work that you’re creating.

A ten-year study conducted by McKinsey found that top executives in flow are 5 times more productive than out of flow. In the New York Times bestseller, The Rise of Superman, author Steven Kolter explains that in the flow state the brain’s prefrontal cortex is shut down. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that houses the inner critic. When that critical voice is silenced we are no longer self-conscious or self-critical, and we are free to create and to perform.

Kolter describes the path to attaining flow:

The first stage of the flow cycle is known as struggle, which feels really unpleasant most of the time. Struggle gives way to release… and that triggers the actual flow state itself.

The key message here for those seeking optimum performance – whether that is in the athletic, artistic, creative or intellectual arena, is to realise that those early tingles which in the past you may have labelled as nerves, anxiety or fear are actually the precursors to flow. Those tingles are telling you that if you stick with it, holding a clear belief and vision of a successful outcome, that you can step through the doorway into flow where you can “be swept up by the river of ultimate human performance”.

So the next time you have the opportunity to take a risk by speaking up, I encourage you to recognise the opportunity that is available to you, the opportunity to step through the doorway and experience yourself in flow.

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Self-confidence can increase your earnings by 56% p.a.

Improve Self Confidence

Confidence, its like money, we can always enjoy more of it!  A study conducted in 2008 has shown that confidence can actually generate additional income too.

The 25-year longitudinal study by Judge and Hurst at the University of Florida found that people who reported higher levels of self-confidence in 1979 earned $3,496 or 28% p.a. more than their peers with lower self-confidence.  They also found that over the course of the 25 year study this earnings differential continued to grow so that by 2004 these same, more confident, individuals were earning an additional $12,821 or 56% p.a. more than their less confident peers.

In addition, the researchers also found that higher self-confidence was correlated with better health.   When evaluated in 2004, participants with low self-confidence were 3 times more likely to have health problems that interfered with work than those participants with high self-confidence.

Throughout this year I’ve talked about a number of techniques that can improve your confidence.  The article on Power Posing showed you how certain physical postures can significantly change your body chemistry and how you feel.   In November I introduced you to EFT as an incredibly powerful tool that can release those less-than-confident feelings about certain situations.  And in May I showed that by using the power of visualisation you can give your unconscious mind a clear blueprint of a future confident you, changing your way of thinking, feeling and behaving for the better.

Should you wish to spread the sparkle of self-confidence amongst your near and dear ones this December, you can purchase a gift voucher for a session with me.  Click here for more details.  Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and a healthy, confident and prosperous new year.  See you in 2014!


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Shift negative emotions in minutes with Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

EFT Circle

This month I’d like to introduce you to Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which is one of the other tools I regularly use with clients.  EFT is known as an energy meridian therapy, which means it is explained using the principles of Chinese Medicine.  Meridians are the subtle energy lines that travel the body and, according to Chinese medicine practitioners, when the energy is flowing well we enjoy good health, when it is blocked we experience ill health.  Clinical Psychologist, Dr Roger Callahan PhD, originally developed EFT in the 1980’s.  Stanford engineer Gary Craig further refined the technique.

A large number of studies have been made into the efficacy of EFT in overcoming problems such as anxiety, depression, pain and physical symptoms, athletic performance, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder, weight loss, cravings and addictions.  I personally have used this technique and count it as a huge contributor to overcoming seven years of clinical depression.

EFT can be learned in just one session and can then be applied either on your own or in on-going work with me.  A third option is to experience the power of EFT in a group.  Click here to watch an introductory video on the basics of EFT and to find out dates and locations for group EFT.

Group EFT can be very effective.  A clinical study of college students at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila transformed the treatment group’s Beck Depression Inventory score from 23.44 indicating moderate to severe depression to 6.08 indicating the subjects were non-depressed after just four 90-minute group EFT sessions.

If you have any questions about EFT or the EFT Group, feel free to get in contact to experience this transformative technique for yourself!


Image Credit: Agustín Ruiz


Increase your chances of achieving your goal by 33% with a whisper!

Sharing goals increases achievement

Did you know that by sharing a goal with a friend you are 33% more likely to achieve that goal than by simply thinking about it?

Research by Dr. Gail Matthews at the Dominican University of California tested various scenarios in relation to goal setting: from simply thinking about business-related goals, all the way through to undertaking a full spectrum of accountability activities (writing goals, writing action commitments, sharing those commitments with a friend and providing weekly progress reports to that friend).  She found that those participants that did all of those accountability activities achieved 76% of their goal compared to only 43% for the group that simply thought about their goals.

Back in August I was faced with an obstacle, my business was growing but I was juggling client bookings and inconsistent room availability in my current offices.  So I set a goal to find a modern, friendly and professional clinic to make my home, and then took action to make that a reality.  The exciting news is – I found two!

Hypnotherapy room at Canonbury ClinicI now have a regular clinic on Monday nights in the charming Canonbury Natural Health Clinic at 265 Upper Street, Islington, N1 2UQ.  Clinic hours are from 5pm – 9pm (last appointment is 8pm).  This lovely clinic is a convenient 4-minute walk from Highbury & Islington station, giving easy access from the Victoria Line.  Alternately, it is an enjoyable walk up thriving Upper Street from Angel Station on the Northern Line.

Hypnotherapy room at ClerkenwellbeingOn Thursday evening Clerkenwellbeing at 178 Goswell Road, EC1V 7DT hosts my clinic in Clerkenwell, the creative heart of London. Clinic hours are 4pm – 8pm (last appointment 7pm).  This newly refurbished building, which includes Pilates and Yoga Studios, is 7 minutes walk from Barbican Tube and in easy access of the City.

How are you tracking with your goals?  Are you feeling the desire to set some new ones for the autumn?  As always, I would be delighted to assist you to continue to craft your life into a true expression of how you want it to be.  I invite you to share your goals and commitments in the comments.  Should you wish to book an evening appointment at either of these lovely new locations, please contact me.

Do you know of someone else who would benefit from the work I do?  Send them the link to this article.

Wishing you a wonderful, inspiring, productive autumn season!


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Is your language influencing your behaviour?


In 2012 in Edinburgh Ph D. Keith Chen shared macro economic analysis of 25 years worth of data that shows that the language we speak affects our ability to save money.  Through extensive analysis Chen drew out an unbreakable relationship between the savings rate of particular groups of language speakers that were significantly different to speakers of other types of language.

Chen focused on the distinction between two groups of people.  One group spoke a language that had a different future and present tense (futured languages); the other group spoke languages that did not differentiate between tenses (futureless languages).

English is a futured language, which differentiates its tenses between the past, the present and the future.  For example: “yesterday it rained”, “today it is raining”, “tomorrow it will rain”.  Mandarin Chinese is a futureless language where these three phrases would translate as “yesterday it rain”, “today it rain”, and “tomorrow it rain”.  Chen’s hypothesis was that by verbally and grammatically distinguishing between the present and the future, us futured language speakers dissociate ourselves from the future, making it less important than the present and that this has an unconscious effect on our behaviour and choices.

From detailed analysis of 25 years worth of OECD data he was able to show that futureless language speakers are 30% more likely to report having saved in the last year than futured language speakers.

This is a tangible illustration of the great influence language has on behaviour.  We may not be able to strip out the future tense of the English language to improve our savings rates, but by modifying our linguistic habits, we can influence our behaviour in other areas.

Let me introduce you to “Modal Operators of Necessity”, the linguist’s term for words of obligation.  Words such as “have-to”, “must”, “should” and “ought-to”.  These words pepper our everyday speech and imply a lack of choice.  Have you ever said “I have to call so-and-so” or “I should do the dishes”? Subtly, these words create feelings of powerlessness and servitude within us, robbing us of our enthusiasm and self-determination.

Modal Operators of Necessity are deliberately used by the hypnotherapist within the trance state, to infer a lack of choice.  For example, “you can’t access that old problem in quite the same way again”.  Within trance, I use these Modal Operators of Necessity for the benefit of my clients.  The intentional use of these words is a powerful tool in my toolbox.

If you would like an alternative to Modal Operators of Necessity in your everyday speech, let’s look at Modal Operators of Possibility.  These are words such as “can”, want to”, “choose to”, “able to”, “get to”.  Notice how it feels to say, “I choose to do the dishes”, “I get to call so-and-so”.  These words create a sense of optimism, choices and alternatives.

I invite you to take this new linguistic pattern for a test-drive.  What changes do you notice in your body, your energy and motivation when you speak in this new way?

You can choose to leave me a comment and share your findings!

You can watch Keith Chen’s fascinating talk in full here.


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On Food and Decision-Making

On food and decision-making

In Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw said, “Before 10am, everyone is guilty”.  It turns out she wasn’t far from the truth!

A recent study at Columbia Business School and Ben Gurion University[1] found that Israeli judges were 65% likely to parole an inmate at the beginning of the day or after a lunch break, but 0% likely to approve parole in the cases seen in the slot immediately before a food break!  The data shows that their clear thinking and impartial judgment was affected by their hunger.

I have become aware of how my energy levels, my ability to navigate challenges and my emotional robustness directly correlate to my blood sugar levels.  Just like those judges, in the days before I’d sorted out my nutrition, on a difficult morning I was at risk of falling back into less than optimal behaviours.  These days I have built good nutritional practices into my life to ensure I am able to be the most calm, clear-headed, positive version of myself I can be.

At 7pm on Thursday 1 August I’ll be hosting an information session on stress, energy and nutrition with Dr. Rupal Naik in Islington, London. Dr Rupal has been a practising GP and partner in one of the UK’s largest surgeries, with 26,000 patients.  She is now in private practice using her twenty years’ plus experience to consult on stress, nutrition and well-being.  In the session we’ll be talking about the importance of correct nutrition in support of excellent mental and emotional function

We will cover:

  • Why traditional breakfast choices are like punching a hole in your fuel tank each morning
  • How macro and micro nutrients are essential to creating energy molecules to fuel your morning
  • How excellent nutrition will ensure you remain clear headed and in control
  • A practical solution to excellent nutrition that won’t have you wasting your busy morning in the kitchen

Do you feel that your diet could use a boost and you could benefit from more energy and better nutrition? Then click here to RSVP or simply drop me an email.

[1] Shai Danzigera, S., Levavb, J, Avnaim-Pessoa, L., “Extraneous factors in judicial decisions”, PNAS April 26, 2011 vol. 108 no. 17 6889-6892

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Cultivate dreams into reality

People who’ve worked with me or spent time with me will recognise one of my signature questions: “How will you know?

How will you know when you’ve achieved your goal?

How will you know when you’ve made that change?

How will you know when you’ve left that habit or behaviour behind?

The answer to this question is termed the Evidence Procedure – it’s the proof to yourself that you have achieved your result.

Imagining and describing with visual and auditory detail (the things you’ll see and hear around you when you achieve your goal) and feeling the feelings that you’ll feel when you are in that moment of achievement primes the unconscious mind to rehearse your end result.  The simple act of asking this question already begins the process of implanting this future vision in your unconscious mind, bringing it to life, and therefore planting the seeds of its fruition.

In addition to giving your unconscious mind the blueprint of the future result you wish to achieve, research has found that visualising the future also increases your propensity to invest in it.

A Taiwanese study[1], published in the British Journal of Psychology, examined savings decision of two groups of participants.  The first group was primed by a visualisation exercise where they were asked to visualise their future in four years’ time.  The control group were asked to visualise the present.  After the priming visualisation exercise the two groups were presented with 42 sets of binary choices between receiving a sum of money in the present, or a larger one a week later.  Participants primed with future imagery were statistically more likely than the control group to wait for a larger payment in the future than to accept a smaller payment now.  The future-primed participants were willing to delay a monetary payment in the present to receive a higher payment of a compounded weekly interest rate of 11%.  The control group would only delay gratification when the compounded weekly interest rate reached 15%.

The results of this study suggest further benefits to goal setting and mental rehearsal of the end result in addition to setting the direction of the sailing ship of your unconscious mind.   It seems spending time visualising the future also makes you more likely to delay short-term gratification for the longer-term dream.

What results have you created in your life by using future visualisation techniques?  I invite you to share them in the comments below.


[1] Cheng,Y-Y., Shein, P.P. and Chiou, W.-B. (2012) “Escaping the impulse to immediate gratification:  The prospect concept promotes a future-oriented mindset, prompting an inclination towards delayed gratification” British Journal of Psychology, Volume 103, Issue 1, pages 129-141.

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The Power of Beliefs

Last month I attended a presentation by Dr Raj Persaud at King’s College London about the importance of belief in the therapeutic process.  Dr Persaud, listed by the Times newspaper as one of the top 20 mental health gurus in the world, spoke about the continuum along which humans find themselves in terms of what they believe about their destiny.  On one end of that spectrum are those termed External, meaning that they believe they have no input, influence or control in creating their destiny.  These people see themselves as tumbleweed, blown about at the mercy of the wind and other uncontrollable forces.  At the other end of the spectrum are Internals, those who believe that it is through their hard work, diligence, practice and tenacity that they affect their destiny and shape their future.

Dr Persaud’s argument is that the first step of successful therapy is always to move the client along the spectrum from External to Internal.  According to him, it is only when the client believes they are in control of their destiny that behavioural change can begin to take root.

Beliefs, despite being invisible, colour the lens through which we view our world.  Dr Persaud quoted studies that showed Internals are more likely than Externals to vote, to work for achievements, to tolerate delays in rewards and to plan for long-term goals.  Internals are also less prone to learned helplessness and serious depression[1].  This is a wonderful example of how the beliefs we hold to be true are expressed in our behaviours, our action and therefore our achievements in the world.

What is incredibly exciting is that in separate research Dr Bruce Lipton, a genetic scientist from New Zealand, has shown that our beliefs can not only effect our behaviour, but can actually affect our physical bodies at the cellular level too.

In his lecture on the Biology of Belief[2] Dr Lipton gives a step-by-step explanation of the process by which proteins inside the cells are activated by the signals from the cells’ external sensors.  Based on the cells perception of what is going on in the external environment, specific proteins are activated within the cell or even created from the genes inside the cell.

The exciting concept that ties these two academics’ findings together is the real-world impact of our beliefs.  Changing a belief can normally be a difficult thing to do.  People can be quite attached to their beliefs – wars are fought over them!  And yet, when you decide that your current beliefs are no longer serving you and the results you want to achieve in the world, you can quickly and easily transform them by communicating in the language and structure of the unconscious mind.

What beliefs are you carrying around that no longer serve you? What would you prefer to believe about your ability to affect your health, your finances and your relationships?  Now you’re ready to become the pilot of your own destiny!

Would you like to know where you are on the spectrum?  Take an online Locus of Control test here. 

[1] Gershaw, D, “Locus of Control”,  adapted from Simons, Irwin and Drinnin’s Psychology: The Search for Understanding, West Publishing, 1987, pages 493-495.

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Freedom from your genes

I recently attended a lecture by Oliver James, clinical psychologist and author of “They F*** You Up: How to Survive Family Life”[1].  The subject of the talk was “Not in Your Genes” in which James argued that decades of genetic research has failed to show evidence that mental illness is genetically inherited.

James disputes the widespread view that mental illnesses are hereditary, as this view is based on flawed research from twin studies – the methodology and conclusions of which he and other authors[2] call into question.  Genetic research, to date, has failed to identify any genetic markers for the major mental illnesses of: schizophrenia; bipolar disorder; anxiety or depression.  For me, the argument that there is no conclusive proof that mental illness is hereditary, backed up by the research he presented, is liberating.

My own battle with prizing the vice-like grip of depression from my life was hard-won.  It was made possible by loving therapists, inspiring teachers, my avid consumption of hundreds of books on the subject, and my relentless determination to dig myself out of that hole.  But there was always a part of me that thought that this was my genetic burden to carry, passed down through my family lineage like some kind of toxic heirloom.  I was always looking out for its shadow around every corner, waiting for it to catch up with me again, reclaiming me as its bloodline descendant.

This concept that depression and other mental illnesses are not hereditary breaks that threat of recurrence that had been lurking in the depths of my mind.  To know that the DNA umbilical cord has been cut and I am free to run my mind with the tools that I have learned fills me with a sense of freedom.  If I am not genetically cursed, then it was the environment of my early years that programmed me to react to the world with depression.

Through the use of cutting edge tools of the mind that I practice, I can now be confident that those silent programs that were installed in my formative years have been eradicated.  Now that I am free from the threat of a genetic switch that could re-activate those programs, I can move forward, feeling the lightness and liberation of being the one in charge of my mind and my life.

What challenges and personality traits do you ascribe to genetics? How does this new information change your view of how you can choose to feel, behave and achieve in your life?

[1] James, O., They F*** You Up: How to Survive Family Life, 2nd edition, Bloomsbury, London, 2007.

[2] Joseph, J.,  ‘The “Missing Heritability” of Psychiatric Disorders: Elusive Genes or Non Existent Genes’, Applied Developmental Science, 16(2), 2012, pp.65–83.

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