top of page

A FEW OF MY FAVOURITE THINGS | Sharing the stuff I use myself in my Life Path Design method

I'm asked so often about what my top tips, favourite techniques and tools are. Over in my private Facebook Group (by the way, if you haven't joined me there yet, why not?), I share a huge amount already but I want to get more specific for you so that you can get what you need...quickly.

This time, I want to talk Affirmations. I know, I know, you hear these things talked about a LOT but listen up. I used to be sceptical about the effectiveness of just repeating things over and over to yourself in the mirror. I mean, I grew up involved in a pretty extreme religious environment (you know by now that my Mother was a Jehovah's Witness, right?) and repeating things parrot fashion was a thing. It always seemed so vacuous to me. So lacking in meaning, emotion and real intention. So, I turned by back on it - not just the repetitive stuff but religion altogether for a lonnnnng time. I turned to science to understand things instead and then bam....guess what I discovered?

I started to study neuroanthropology - basically the study of human behaviour - and what was one of the first things I learned? Repeated language changes behaviour and therefore experience. Then I met my late precious friend Stephen Russell (aka The Barefoot Doctor) and we had many a juicy conversation around all this. I was fascinated in his Taoist spiritual approach to behaviour and change and he was just as interested in my sciencey approach. I realised I was kind of 50/50 science and spirituality. More importantly, I realised that was OK, that I didn't have to choose. I realised that the two support each other. Who knew? Well, actually lots of people who weren't me did, particularly Stephen. He would giggle endlessly at my childlike excitement each time I made a similar discovery.

So, with Barefoot holding my hand (sometimes metaphorically, sometimes literally), I began to explore my spiritual side and to look at how it aligned with my science learning and research. It did! It isn't an either/or. The two walk side by side, informing and supporting each other on the journey. One of the first things I agreed to try with Stephen was Affirmations. Like I say, I was sceptical, partly based on my experience of repetitive claptrap but he was my friend and mentor and I trusted him because, well, it seemed to be working OK for him. So, let me share what Barefoot and science both taught me about Affirmations. First to step up to the mic is Mr Stephen Russell...

1. Affirmations are just a statement of intent.

2. They must be stated in the present, the here and now

3. They must be in the positive - no "Don’ts", "No longer's" or "Stop's"

4. You have to feel fully connected to what you're affirming. No half measures. (This was the key difference for me between repeated babble and something that might just make a difference).

5. Repeat six times over with gusto at least once a day every day for at least 6 weeks (though in truth, it becomes such a powerful habit that you'll definitely want to continue).

Note: At Stephen's request, I didn't question the '6 times with gusto' thing.

I just went with it. Trust is a big part of...well, everything really.

Here's what neuroanthropology and science taught me about affirmations...

1. Neuro plasticity, the stuff in our brains that forms skills and habits - a bit like forming plasticine - is only formed and altered by repeated actions and behaviours.

2. The brain (not the mind by the way, the mind exists in other parts of our bodies too) only recognised and registers the present time. The 'brain' doesn't understand past tense or future tense. That's stuff for our minds, the thing that allows us to dream and plan. We're talking 'brain' here. So, when you say "I no longer eat junk food.", pretty much all the brain registers is " junk food." It's like a giant search engine that only picks up keywords.

3. There's a specific part of the brain called the somatosensory cortex, that alters with repeated behaviour. Think learning an instrument or a new language. Learning any new skill or behaviour requires repetition. Who knew? Oh yeah, Barefoot and probably a whole load of neuroscientists too. What is the collective noun for a group of neuroscientists I wonder?

4. The spotlight vacuum cleaner method. The brain absorbs what it focusses on. This is described so well in Ruby Wax's book 'No Brainer' where neuroscientist Ash Ranpura says "

5. We really are all a continuous, lifelong work in progress, constantly adapting and changing and literally becoming our thoughts and behaviours.