Month: May 2012

NLP and Hypnosis – What I Do With It And What I Don’t

Someone gave me quite a challenge a few days ago:

“Matt, I bet you couldn’t hypnotise me.”

They were responding to news that I do a bit of hypnotherapy and a bit of NLP – and it was clearly a big deal for them.

My big question, I guess, is Even if I could, why would I want to try to hypnotise you against your will?

I do hypnotherapy – which means that people come to my office asking me to help them. It would be the height of stupidity on their part to pay a sizeable fee to me – and then refuse to be helped. I’m a therapist. I’m not Svengali and not Derren Brown, either.

It’s quite fascinating really. I don’t get people to “do” stuff that they wouldn’t do. The  NLP I’ve learned helps me find more quickly the common ground between myself and the person I speak with, and show them possibilities that might appeal to them, and help us both have a more fruitful life on the way.

I learned NLP partially because I was quite a nervy person myself and rather poor at chatting with others without letting the nerves get in the way. NLP gave me a framework within which to chat with others without letting my nerves rule my mouth!

I make jokes with friends about using “sneaky NLP tricks” from time to time, and it’s something I really should stop. Actually I don’t do sneaky and I don’t use tricks.

I just make sure that I use ways of talking that keep the mood “up” and the direction of the conversation heading where it’s good for them and good for me. After all, it’s so easy to get sidetracked in negative stuff that takes you away from what you want in life. I know that because I’m a past master at it!

For example, I used to be a really “down” sort of person. I had no idea that talking about all my woes and troubles would make people want to avoid talking with me. Nor did I “get” that those cynical little asides that I thought were funny when I was younger could actually offend people. That was way back in my 20s, and I’ve worked a lot on changing that.

NLP has been a part of that work – just to get me to think about changing my communication in order to get more positive responses.  Maturing has been a part of it, too.

I still get it wrong from time to time, and I do get stressed occasionally – but boy – from where I was before, it is a big difference, no doubt about it.

Another example: some friends of mine were recently interviewed on a radio for a show they were performing in. When asked how tickets sales were, a week before the show, they replied: “There are still about half the tickets left.”

Well, it was true. But the tickets were also selling well enough. So, just tweaking that answer and saying: “Ticket sales are going well though there are some left” changes the perception of the event. In the former case, people may well think: Oh, it’s not so popular, so why should I go? whereas the latter equally true statement may get people thinking: Oh, I don’t want to miss out, if so many others are going!

NLP is great for simple stuff like that. Like saying a glass is half full, rather than half empty. Both are true, but one emphasises what is to come, the other emphasises what is missing.

Getting the “mood music” right, when it comes down to it, is not magic, it’s just being more polite and aware of others.

As for negotiating with people by putting them in a trance like I do with clients who come to me specifically when they want to be hypnotised – well, it doesn’t work like that. We talk and we find common ground and identify the good stuff between us.

It sounds like common sense, but I used to be terrible at it!

Keeping the interplay “up” – that’s what I’ve learned from hypnosis and NLP.  I guess I could have learned the same from just watching really good businessmen do what they do.

I hope I can do it, too.  At least more often than I used to. Because it’s true to say that even these days I get it wrong. But I think I strike the right note more often than not! And for that, I am grateful to my NLP and hypnosis training, that’s one thing for sure!

“In The Mood” – The Experience

The Poster for In The Mood
The Poster for In The Mood

Well, the show “In The Mood” that was held on Friday 18th May has been and gone.  And the truth is, it was fantastic!

I look back on the achievement of The Three Belles and I think that what they did is extraordinary. To hire the Guildhall, fill it with around 500 people, organise a cast,  do the sound, a big band, dancing lessons, decorations, programmes and so much more was really something – but to be only a year out from their degree! The world is at their feet…

It was also fascinating to see them the night before the show. They were stressed. Boy. Each said they were afraid. But the fact is that they just faced this major pressure, and won through to the other side.

I confess I was stressed, too. Although I overcame my writer’s block years ago, I never addressed the fear I had of acting, which had been with me since my student days. I don’t know where that fear came from – it just happened one day, while I was doing rehearsals for a stage play.  I never acted again after that until this show.   27 years.

I had a feeling that being in the show would teach me so much and be good for me. So, while The Three Belles had every right to be stressed, so was I. I felt it in my body as the day got nearer, until I could hardly eat.  I used to lie awake at night staring at the ceiling, and my lovely girl, Jackie, noticed that I seemed quite cold and off.

How stupid I am!

Then, the morning of the day before the show, I couldn’t take it any more, and I did a series of NLP mental exercises. They worked, and the tension reduced from then on. Quite strange that I didn’t think to do it before!

At the show, there were cast members who were also stressing, and I helped them with a little NLP pep talk.

Then the show came.  I really can’t fault this.  I played my small part well enough and really enjoyed the acting. It was a change for me. A big change – and I came away from it ecstatic.

When I think back on it, it’s clear that part of the appeal is that the night provides a dream of glamour and heroism all at once. “In The Mood” doesn’t quite fit into anything I’ve experienced before. It’s not a gig, exactly. It’s not a dance.  It’s an experience. A 1940s experience.  I believe The Three Belles have really got something with this. Something that really captures the moment we are in and does something good with it, ironically, by sending us back in time.

I’d say to you now, you should experience “In The Mood” with The Three Belles, wherever you are, at least once in your life!

Find out more about The Three Belles, here:

In The Mood – two more sleeps to go…

The last few months have been rather humbling for me. At the rehearsals for The Three Belles “In The Mood” I have been surrounded by people with so much amazing talent that, to be honest, I’ve been quite gobsmacked.

The Three Belles themselves are extraordinary enough. Smart, funny, pretty – damn it, they have everything and I am so sure that they will go far. How could they not, with the talent they have!?

Let’s look at the cast, too. The beautiful Cathleen (Emily Jane Buck) I first saw guesting in last year’s In The Mood at The Guildhall. She was really impressive. I also saw her playing Rosalind in Die Fledermaus. The thing that I noticed about her on stage was the way she acted and sang with such amazing confidence – and brilliance.

From left to right: Emily Jane Buck, Murray Grindon, Sarah Fothersgill and Tamzin Cormican

Then there’s Lieutenant Jo Maloney, played by Murray Grindon. Murray is a goodlooking charming young man who has the most marvellous, soft American accent. He plays his part with good humour and subtlety, and I have grown to like him a lot.

I first noticed Audrey, played by Sophie Clark, at Die Fledermaus, too.  Some prize comedy singing from her really made the night work – and her slightly nervous character Audrey will make her singing debut at In The Mood. Great voice, and a natural.

There are so many more to watch out for. But I only have a little space here, and I am writing a blog, not a novel. So for now I will mention one more: Tom Cross. Naturally funny, smart, silly and loveable, he’s your man when it comes to compering the show.

It’s going to be a great night at In The Mood on the 18th! You can get your ticket here! Enjoy.

Why I am not left wing…

I was about to write a self-important essay about my political beliefs and why I am not a writer who is left wing.  I’ve been surrounded by a lot of well-intentioned left-wing writers lately, and I confess to getting a little depressed by the left-wing approach to the world – about as much as I do with right wingers.  Then a friend of mine, Amelia Clark, popped up on facebook with the following. It just about sums up my approach to life.

“We are people first – all political religious psychobabble stuff should come second. Why are we constantly forced to try and define ourselves (and asked to fit into neat little boxes)? Creativity should be entertaining and fun and a diversion FROM much of the stuff we have to combat the rest of the time. Why is FUN such a devalued concept? Fun should be taken seriously. I shall write a long diatribe about this immediately. Full of ten dollar words. It bothers me that to be taken seriously in this life you have to ally yourself with a cause, a stand, a political direction etc I would rather spread joy, mirth and love to my fellow able or disabled, gay, straight or otherwise, inc all ethnic minorities man/woman/child. <goes out to buy rubber chicken>”

That’s about it really.  The truth is, deep down, I’m shallow.