The Voice

WRITER INTERVIEW IN THE VOICE MAGAZINE, DECEMBER 2015

Adam Dickson puts some questions to author David Lawrence Preston

How did you start out as a writer?
I started by writing papers for academic journals. I had several dozen published. One was a case study on Aldi in 1990 (before they came to the UK) that won me an award for European Business Case Study of the Year.

In 1993 I started collaborating with a holistic health practitioner to put together a course in living we called the Dynamic Living Programme which was purchased in 27 countries around the world. We also published three books together – Creating Confidence and Awaken Your Inner Power (Element Books) and Decide to Win (Cassell) on sports psychology.

Our partnership was terminated in 1997, and since then I have published four more – on Confidence Building, Life/Self Coaching and Spirituality. The latest – 201 Things About Christianity You Probably Don’t Know (But Ought To) – examines the Christian religion from a historical/factual point of view.

I also produce a regular blog – blog.davidlawrencepreston.co.uk – covering my interests in health, spirituality and personal development.

How did you become an author for Hay House?
I approached them with my latest book. They referred me to their imprint, Balboa. Balboa embraced it enthusiastically.

Your most recent book has a controversial theme – can you tell us about that?
Ever since I was a child dragged to Sunday school every Sunday I have questioned the validity of many of the Christian teachings. The New Testament (Old, too) is full of contradictions and untruths and much – while acceptable to earlier generations – simply doesn’t make sense in terms of our modern scientific understandings.

Front cover 201 things

What are your writing aims for the future?
My next book will present a 21st Century version of progressive Christianity – compatible with scientific discovery – in which the old myths are discarded and deeper truths about the nature of the infinite and spirituality are discussed.

I also write on health and, in particular, energy medicine and the biofield. Some of my material finds its way onto my health and energy website, www.davidlawrencepreston.co.uk.

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The Power of Suggestion

Suggestions have a big influence over our lives. Tell anyone something convincingly enough and they’ll accept what you say. Tell them over and over again and sooner or later they’ll start to believe you.

Unfortunately it’s often the suggestions of others that we allow to control us. For instance:

  • Advertisers use them to persuade us to buy their products. Promotional suggestions are often recalled years after they ceased to be used.
  • Politicians use them too with catchy phrases (whether or not they’re true) as we’ve recently seen with the election of Donald Trump and the Brexit referendum.
  • Parents use them all the time. Young children tend to believe everything their parents say. E.g. when a young child gets hurt and Mum ‘kisses it better’ it does feel better, even though there’s no logical reason why it should.
  • Placebos – pills and potions with no active ingredients – can cure illnesses for no other reason than the patient believes they can. Placebos were once treated as a bit of a joke – as if the patient were ‘fooled’ into getting well -but now they’re taken very seriously indeed.
  • Suggestions don’t necessarily have to be direct: parents who receive a letter from school about head lice in their child’s class often feel itchy!
  • Nor do suggestions have to be verbal. Non-verbals (gestures, facial expressions and so on) can be even more powerful, and verbal suggestions backed up by visual, taste, tactile or olfactory stimuli can be extremely compelling.
  • Some hospital radio stations do not play certain records because of the effect they could have on patient recovery. For example, ‘My Way’ (‘And now the end is near, and so I face the final curtain’), ’ ‘The First Cut Is The Deepest’,  ‘I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight’ and ‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’ contain some unhelpful suggestions!

You’ve used suggestion many times, and it has also been used on you. You can learn to make good use of this vital tool to:

  • help internalise your goals.
  • replace negative attitudes and beliefs with positive ones.
  • relax and combat stress.
  • cultivate better relationships with yourself and others.
  • change unwanted habits and personality traits.
  • build confidence in yourself and your abilities.

… and for many other purposes.

Suggestion, Affirmations and the Law of Attraction

Affirmations are simply suggestions made to ourselves – statements that represent how we are or how we want our lives to be. They help bring into effect the great Universal Law of Attraction:

Whatever your mind dwells upon, with feeling, you attract into your life.

Think about it – do you know anyone who is always talking about their illnesses and who is always ill? Or anyone who is always running themselves down, and who consequently never achieves very much?

Affirmations are powerful tools that use the power of structured repetition. One of the best known was formulated by Emil Coué in the 1920’s: ‘Every day in every way, I’m getting better and better.’ He helped many people to heal themselves using this simple phrase. Try it for yourself!

Properly phrased affirmations make a big impact on your unconscious, but be aware you must observe certain rules, otherwise they may backfire.

The following rules apply to affirmations. They’re even more effective when used in conjunction with deep relaxation (this is called ‘autosuggestion’) – but slightly different rules apply.

Personalise your affirmations

Affirmations which attempt to change other people are totally ineffective. Repeating ‘Jim loves me’ does not work, because only Jim can make this choices. But you can affirm ‘I am attracting a wonderful person into my life who has… (all the qualities you’re looking for)’ You may not win Jim over, but you will find someone to your liking.

A simple way to personalise your affirmations is to use the first person pronoun, ‘I’. For example:

  • I accept, love and approve of myself.
  • Every day, I am becoming more calm, peaceful and relaxed.
  • I am whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving, peaceful and happy.
  • I am a positive person. I think, act and talk positively at all times.

Another way to personalise – and strengthen – your affirmations – is to use the ‘first, second and third person’ technique. Let’s suppose you want to be a calmer and more confident person. Add your first name and affirm:

  • I, Chris, am a calm and confident person.
  • You, Chris, are a calm and confident person.
  • Chris is a calm and confident person.

Use positive words and phrases

It’s important to always use words and phrases that express what you want, not what you don’t want. Otherwise you might inadvertently end up with the opposite of what you intended.

The unconscious often overlooks a negation if it occurs in the middle of a sentence. If you affirm, ‘I will not fail’, only the word ‘fail’ registers. It’s far better to affirm, ‘I am a success’.

I recently heard a woman telling how she stuck little notices all over her house one morning reminding her not to forget her son’s team’s football kit for the match that afternoon. The notes said, ‘Don’t forget the kit’. Guess what happened!

Make your affirmations credible

This is one of the biggest secrets for using self-suggestion. The purpose of self-suggestion is to impress your unconscious with empowering beliefs which reflect the way you want to be. This is why some writers recommend stating all your affirmations in the present tense, i.e. beginning your affirmations with ‘I am’, ‘I can’, ‘I have’, ‘I do’ etc.

The problem, though, is that an affirmation which totally contradicts your current belief system alerts a mechanism in the brain known as the Reticular Activating System (or ‘Critical Censor’). It can assert itself in many ways, such as an uncomfortable feeling in the chest or solar plexus or a quiet but persistent voice in your head saying, ‘Don’t be ridiculous.’ This is your old programming and conditioning trying to reassert itself.

How do you get round this?

Firstly, consider affirmations as a tool for change rather than statements of absolute truth. Think of them as planting seeds. You won’t see the results immediately, but have faith in the technique, and you will.

Another way is to choose your wording carefully so the suggestion will bypass the Critical Censor. This is how:

  • Put all weaknesses and limitations in the past tense.
  • Affirm your willingness to change.
  • Affirm that you are making good progress towards your goal, and this continue.
  • Affirm your determination to do whatever you can to improve.

A useful form of wording is:

‘I used to be… but all that is changing. Now I am becoming more and more… ‘

For example, if you’re shy, affirm: ‘I used to be shy, but all that is changing. I am becoming more assertive every day. I know I can and I will continue to improve.’

More examples:

  • I used to believe that I was weak, but all that is changing, and I am now becoming stronger and stronger each day.
  • I used to be negative, but that attitude is now behind me. Nowadays I think, talk and act positively at all times.
  • I used to be judgemental, but that is now changing. Every day, I am becoming more open and accepting of myself and others.

Say your self-suggestions as if you really mean them

The Law of Attraction is widely misunderstood. Just wishing or hoping – even believing – are not enough. You must invest some energy into the conditions you wish to create. In other words, you must do something.

As a first step, invest some emotional energy into the affirmations themselves. Say them out loud, enthusiastically. Mean what you say. A thought alone has little power, but when expressed with genuine feeling, it has real impact. Emphasise your words with passion, a strong tone of voice, movement and firm intent.

For maximum impact, also:

  • Write them out every day – this reinforces them in your unconscious.
  • Look at yourself in the mirror as you speak them.
  • Jot them down in your diary, list them on cards, programme them into your mobile phone, carry them with you and read throughout the day.
  • Record them onto a recording device and listen frequently.
  • Write them on sticky labels and place them anywhere you routinely look.
  • If your goal is something tangible, carry a reminder of it with you and affirm that it is yours every time you look at it.
  • You can increase the effectiveness of your affirmations by adding, ‘This, or something better, I accept for myself, for my greatest good and the greatest good of all’.

Keep at it

The unconscious loves repetition. The more you use self-suggestion, the more effective it is.

It takes about a month to change an old thinking pattern, so don’t give up. Affirm whenever you can, wherever you are, especially during those times when the mind is naturally most receptive. Last thing at night is a good time – give it something uplifting to work on while you are asleep. Another good time is first thing in the morning. If you can find a few moments during the day to relax and unwind – terrific!

 

© David Lawrence Preston, 23.11.2018

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Adventure before dementia

Saw a sign on the back of a camper van today. It read ‘adventure before dementia.’ It made me think. I know people who have played it safe, stuck to the same profession for forty years and even worked in the same building for several decades. Some of them are retired now and living very comfortably on a good pension where they do the garden, read the newspaper, go out for Sunday lunch and watch the detective dramas on ITV3.

My life has been completely different. I’ve worked as a market researcher, university lecturer, hypnotherapist and life coach, tutor trainer, training manager, tour guide, marketeer and mail sorter. I’ve pursued by interests in health, spirituality, happiness, energy medicine and wellbeing to the nth degree. I’ve visited every inhabited continent except Africa, stood for Parliament, taught in Moscow, North Carolina, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands. I lived in Brazil for a while, have been married three times, had four beautiful children (all grown up now and thriving) and published eight books. All of this while having undiagnosed Aspergers!

I’m 64 now, still taking risks and show no signs of letting up. There’s no sign of dementia (yet), but still plenty of adventure! And I hope it stays that way until the day I die!

 

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Why not ask for what you want?

You’d be amazed how many opportunities open up when you ask for what you want. Often, asking is all we have to do, but many of us don’t bother.

Why don’t more people ask for what they want more often? There are six main reasons:

Six reasons why people don’t ask for what they want

  1.  It doesn’t occur to them. E.g. many shops and businesses are only too happy to give a discount for cash if you ask – but they won’t offer unprompted.
  1. Mistaken beliefs, e.g. that it’s not polite, that others ‘should’ know what you want, asking is a sign of weakness, it puts other people out, it’s demeaning, embarrassing etc.
  1. False pride, e.g. some people (usually male!) would rather drive round in circles than ask a stranger for directions. ‘Real ‘men are supposed to be self-sufficient and would look foolish asking. The irony is, of course, people love to be asked for help – it makes them feel useful and valued.
  1. Fear: of being refused, looking stupid, of rejection, humiliation, the other person becoming angry. Sometimes there is an explanation for these feelings. Perhaps they’ve had a bad experience in the past – but not always.

If you ever feel this way, ask yourself: ‘ What’s the worst that could happen? Could I handle it?  (tell yourself – ‘yes!’). What’s the best way to ask?

  1. Low self-esteem: People with low self-esteem don’t feel worthy to receive. Good askers know they deserve the best. They find out what’s possible and what they’re entitled to, and simply refuse to settle for less.
  1. Not knowing how to ask: This won’t be a problem for you if you take on board the next few paragraphs!

How to ask for what you want

  • Make sure you have their full attention.
  • Ask the right person – someone who is able to grant your request.
  • Choose the right time and place. This can be crucial. Choose a time and place where you’re most likely to succeed.
  •  Ask with positive expectations. Believe without question that you’ll get it and as if it were impossible to fail.
  • Know what you want. Focus your mind on it. Mentally picture/sense yourself getting it.
  • Mentally rehearse. Work out what you’re going to say, anticipate their reaction and work out a strategy in advance.
  • Be straightforward and specific. Don’t waffle. If you want more, how much more? If you need help, what kind of help? From whom?
  • Don’t apologise. Avoid phrases like: ‘I’m afraid’ and ‘I’m sorry but…’ These immediately undermine your position.
  • Consider softening your request. This may appear to contradict the previous point; however there may be occasions when it is best to soften your request, e.g. ‘I realise this is inconvenient, but I would like…’ If you choose to soften a request it is important that your voice and non-verbals express your intent
  • Think of the benefits to the other person – and if it helps your case, point them out.
  • Don’t be sidetracked. If necessary repeat the request as many times as necessary. ‘Let me say it again….’ ‘You may not have heard me but…’ But the point is…’
  • If this doesn’t work, ask for the reason for their refusal. Bear in mind that the explanation given at first may not be the real reason, so keep asking ‘Why?’ ‘Why not?’
  • If this still doesn’t work, try showing that you understand the other person’s point of view before repeating the request.

I realise that… but I still want you to…

  • If you still don’t get what you want, reflect on the experience, go back to first principles and apply what you learned next time.
  • Be gracious. Leave the other person with a good feeling whatever the outcome.

Three more ways to ask for what you want

  1. Ask for information. Sometimes it is better to ask for information rather than make a demand. E.g. ‘What would it take for… (state your requirement)?’ ‘What do you normally do in these circumstances?
  1. Pacing and leading. Pacing and leading is asking a series of questions (or making statements) that lead to ‘yes’. This is an advanced technique that needs practice, but is very effective when done subtly.  One approach is to finish your sentences with phrases such as ‘Don’t you agree?’ Give a warm smile, a little eye contact and a nod of the head.

Children are very clever at this. Take, for example, a young boy asking his mother to buy him a new toy. After this build-up, most parents would find it hard to refuse!

‘You love me, don’t you Mummy?’

‘Of course I do darling.’

‘You’d rather I didn’t spend all my time watching TV, wouldn’t you?’

‘That’s right.’

‘You had one like that when you were a girl, didn’t you Mummy?’

‘Yes, I did.’

‘They’re only £4.50. That’s cheap, isn’t it?’

‘Mmmm….’

‘Will you buy me one?

  1. Make a suggestion

‘May I make a suggestion…’ is an excellent way of making a request indirectly. It wins people over because it is empathic and respectful.

You’re now ready to use these techniques to ask for what you want so practise, practise, practise, and if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!

©David L. Preston, 20.6.2016

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Managing your money – ten golden rules

  1. Know where you stand

Be aware of your financial position. How much do you have? If you owe money, how much do you owe? If you’re in trouble, acknowledge it. Acceptance of your situation doesn’t necessarily mean liking it, but it does put you in the right frame of mind to do something about it.

 2. Put some of your earnings aside

After the various government bodies, the bank, building society, supermarket, utility companies etc. and your family have taken their share, keep some for yourself. Open a special savings account. Deposit 10% of your income there. If you can’t afford 10%, save 5%, but specify a future date on which you will increase it, and stick to it.

Putting a proportion of your earnings aside in this way is the first step to accumulating wealth. Interest accumulates. If you place regular sums in an interest-earning account, before long a stream of wealth flows in your direction.

  1. Avoid borrowing

Borrowing has its place as long as it is for long-term purposes such as a house. Never rely on it to cover short-term consumption. I know a man who made this mistake. He borrowed £10,000 at a high rate of interest, secured on the family home. He told the finance company it was for ‘home improvements’, but spent half of it on a foreign holiday. Five years later, when he lost his job, he could no longer afford the repayments, and the family lost their home.

4. Control your outgoings

Make a list of necessary expenditures. Budget for the essentials – food, accommodation, heating and lighting, clothing, transport etc. Examine your list to see where savings can be made, and take the necessary steps. Then, if possible, allow a little for pleasure.

5. Pay off your debts

Include in your budget provision to pay off any debts. Start by destroying your credit cards. These pernicious pieces of plastic give the illusion that you’re not really spending, but of course you are, and at a very high rate of interest too.

Remember, money is a form of energy. If you’re in debt, you have been taking more energy from others than you have been giving. You will never have security and peace of mind until you’ve paid it back.

Making small, regular payments builds trust. Don’t hide from your creditors and don’t make false promises.

Money

  1. Invest prudently

Make each £, € or $ work hard for you. Invest it where it will earn a good return within taking unnecessary risks. History shows that the best long-term investment you can make is in land and property, especially your own home.

  1. Protect your assets

For example, if you lend money, ask for security and make sure the borrower can repay. If investing in a business, be realistic. Stick to products and services you’re familiar with at first. Invest only where you can reasonably expect a fair return, where the principal is safe, and where you can recoup your investment if you need to. As you gain experience, you may be prepared to take greater risks, but do your homework thoroughly. Never gamble more than you can afford to lose, and research the risks before you invest. There are plenty of schemers and con artists around!

  1. Insure wisely

Insure your home and possessions against fire, flood, burglary and theft, etc. Prepare for your retirement by taking out a pension plan (which is, incidentally, a tax-efficient way to save). Make sure your family will be provided for in case anything happens to you.

Make a will: should anything happen to you, this will ensure that your wealth is passed on to your loved ones as quickly and efficiently as possible.

  1. Magnify your earning power

 Use the Eight Steps to Success to magnify your earning power. Identify your financial goals and implement changes. Acquire new knowledge, personal qualities, and marketable skills. Use the I-T-I-A Formula to assimilate your goals into your consciousness. Then take action and keep going. Nothing works if you don’t.

  1. Keep your own counsel

Your financial affairs are your business, and no-one else’s. Discuss them with no-one (other than properly appointed professional advisers and officials). No matter how well off you are, never boast. You never know who might be listening, and there are plenty of people willing to help you part with your money once they know you have some: witness the thousands of begging letters received by lottery winners, sports and rock stars and other wealthy people.

Observe these ten ‘rules’ and you can rest assured that you are making the most of your money, and your future prosperity will be assured.

©David Lawrence Preston, 18.6.2016

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