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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The I-T-I-A Formula

I-T-I-A stands for:

Intention

Thought

Imagination

Action

The I-T-I-A Formula takes into account everything known about how mind processes information and brings about change. But you must do all four; otherwise the effects won’t be permanent.

Intention

Personal change starts with a decision – to learn a new skill, to develop a new personal quality and so on. For example, you could decide that from now on you’re always going to treat yourself with love and respect and behave confidently. It’s as simple as that.

Ask yourself:

What do you want out of life?

  • What kind of person would you like to be?
  • What changes would you like to make?
  • What are your goals? Are you prepared to commit to them?

Remember, the clearer your goals and the stronger your intentions, the more likely they are to be realised.

Thought

Step back and observe your self-talk (your thoughts). Are they generally positive or negative? What questions do you ask yourself? What are you trying to achieve by thinking that way?

Examine your attitudes and beliefs. Are they true? Do they serve you well? Where have they brought you so far?

The more positive your thinking, the happier you are and the more likely to succeed at whatever you set your mind to.

Imagination

Learn to use your creative imagination and intuition. They are the key to a successful future.

Imagine achieving your goals. What will they look like when brought to fruition? What will they sound like? Feel like? Do this often, especially when you are physically and mentally relaxed.

The imagination is the fast track to your unconscious mind. You can imprint your desires – and the belief that they will be met – on your unconscious using your imaginative faculties.

Action

Take small steps in the right direction – towards your goals – every day. You may feel uncomfortable, but ignore your discomfort, feel the fear and do it anyway.

Monitor your progress and make adjustments if necessary. Do more of what works and stop doing what doesn’t. Change never feels right, but when you act ‘as if’, eventually the uncomfortable feelings fade.

Keep going until success becomes a habit – every step reinforces your progress. And don’t be put off by others.

The process is a little like the old domino trick where the performer pushes over one domino and all the others fall over in sequence. Every change you make influences the next step, which in turn affects the step after that, and so on. The important thing is to begin. Go on – push over that first domino now. Promise yourself that you’ll give it your best and never give up!

 

©David Lawrence Preston, 2018

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Taking Charge of Your Life

Before we can take charge of our lives, we must acknowledge some basic truths:

Everything we are is the result of ‘causes’ laid down in the past; what we will become will result from what we are now and from ‘causes’ still to be laid down. This is the universal Law of Cause and Effect.

These ‘causes’ are primarily our own thoughts, imaginings, words and actions. If we ‘sow’ the right ‘seeds’ from now on, we change, and consequently our life circumstances change too, irrespective of what has gone before.

We are in charge of what we think, believe, imagine, feel, say and do. Once we acknowledge this, we know we always have choices, and we can use this power once we know how to use certain life transforming tools and techniques.

  •  It’s not what happens out there in the world that shapes our lives, but what happens in here between our ears! This is not what most of us were taught as children, but it’s true. We cannot alter our genetic make up, nor can we go back and change out early programming and conditioning. But for most of us of sound mind, our thinking is within our control.

We can choose what we think about.
We can choose where we allow our imagination to go.
We can choose what we think, say and do in response to what happens around us.

In other words, we can consciously lay down the ‘causes’ that create our future lives and then watch and enjoy the results unfold. Indeed, we are doing it all the time whether we are aware of it or not. So learn to become aware of what you think, say and do in every moment and how it impacts on your circumstances.

Since your thoughts are the prime causes, take responsibility for your thoughts, and you literally take charge of your life.

Once you know this, the door to the best possible future is wide open. Only an idiot believes that thinking, feeling and doing what you’ve always done will bring different results!

That’s why Dr Napolean Hill, author of ‘Think and Grow Rich’, the most influential book on happiness and success ever written, said:

‘The vast majority of people are born, grow up, struggle, and go through life in misery and failure, not recognising that it would be just as easy to switch over and get out of life exactly what they want, not recognising that the mind attracts the thing it dwells upon.’

From the time you reach adulthood, nobody else can make your life happen for you. Blaming circumstances (however unfortunate) and other people (however unpleasant) won’t change anything; in fact, it makes things worse – you become a victim.

See whatever happens in your life as the world’s response to your state of mind

Here’s an illuminating exercise. Sit comfortably. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Relax your body and let go of all tension. In this relaxed state, reflect on the events and circumstances of your life. Don’t judge. Don’t blame. Just reflect on how your thoughts, beliefs, imaginings and actions have created your life and how past decisions have affected you.

As I said,you’ll find this very illuminating!

Copyright David Lawrence Preston 22.9.2018

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The Law of Cause and Effect

The Law of Cause and Effect (sometimes known as Karma) is fundamental to the universe. It is probably most closely associated with the physical sciences, for example, when a snooker cue strikes a ball, the ball moves, and when one ball hits another, the impact made by the first causes the second to move. Their speed and direction can be predicted accurately by applying precise scientific measurements and principles.

In the world of human behaviour, causes and effects are not so easily measured and may not be predictable, but are no less real. With very few exceptions (e.g. purely reflex reactions), every action you ever took and every word you ever spoke began as a thought. Your present has been shaped by your actions, which were governed by your past thoughts and emotions; and your future will be shaped by the actions you take from now on, which will be shaped by your future thoughts and emotions.

The Law of Cause and Effect describes the relationship between what we think, feel and do and what we get out of life. It states that everything we are and everything we have has been shaped by ‘causes’ laid down in the past.

Every action has a cause.

Every cause produces an effect.

Thoughts are prime causes.

Speech, emotions and actions (and their results) are their effects.

Therefore constructive thoughts lead to positive emotions and constructive actions.

Negative thoughts lead to damaging emotions and destructive actions.

Therefore we constantly contribute to our circumstances – both present and future – by the way we think. And when we decide to change our way of thinking – including our beliefs, attitudes and prejudices – and sow different ‘seeds’, we change; and when we change, our circumstances change too, irrespective of what has gone before. The world responds to what we think, believe, imagine, feel, say and do.

Some consider this a frightening prospect, because it means taking responsibility for ourselves, but it’s actually one of the most hopeful things about being alive – the fact that we can turn our lives around by choosing to think differently. Only you decide what to think – if you don’t choose your thoughts, who does?

Some would say there’s little we can do, because our futures are laid out in our genes or by fate – but our genes only account for about a small part of our psychological make up. Others argue that we are merely the product of our programming and conditioning and we can do nothing to change this – but these are learned, and anything that has been learned can be reappraised, un-learned and re-learned.

The only question is – how?

It’s not as hard as you may think!

©David Lawrence Preston 28.2.2016

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Building Self-Confidence in Practice

In-I-T-I-A-te change!

When you apply the I-T-I-A Formula – Self-awareness +Intention +Thinking +Imagination +Action – to confidence building, the shift in consciousness is not necessarily dramatic, more like a gradual awakening. Over time, you cast off your negative conditioning and adopt more empowering beliefs. Then feelings and actions change too.

It’s like climbing a ladder; don’t try too much at once, take it one rung at a time. Small steps are important. Every day, stretch yourself a little further; have a go at something which you would previously have found too daunting, like striking up a conversation with a stranger, asserting yourself, or giving a talk to a local group.

Each time you succeed, you gain encouragement, your attitude changes, and before long it will get easier and you’ll feel better than ever before.

One of the secrets of confidence building is to act ‘as if’ you’re growing in confidence, and ‘as if’ you are the person you want to be. This is what William Shakespeare meant when he wrote, ‘Assume a virtue if you have it not’.

Project an air of quiet confidence, even if you don’t feel it. For instance, if you feel shy in the company of people you don’t know, shake hands firmly, look them in the eye, speak with a confident tone of voice, and smile. It may feel like a big effort at first, but even if you have butterflies in your stomach, act as if you’re confident and you will feel more confident. Eventually the uncomfortable feelings fade.

Many outwardly confident people had to work at it, knowing that if you act confidently and look as if you know what you’re doing, then sooner or later you will feel that way.

If it feels uncomfortable to begin with, remember that it’s only your programming and conditioning trying to keep you to old habits.

It’s important to keep in mind what you’re striving for – reinventing yourself as a calm and  confident person with high self-esteem and a healthy and secure self-image.

Mental rehearsal

Creative imagery is a great ally when building confidence. Mentally rehearse any impending challenge, creating the perfect result in your mind every time to impress this on your subconscious. ‘See’, ‘hear’ and ‘feel’ yourself as a confident and successful person.

Here’s a useful four-stage routine for building confidence. Let’s say you have some goal in mind, such as making a sale, attracting a member of the opposite sex, passing an exam or attending a job interview:

  1. ‘Visualise’ yourself as a confident person and imagine what it would feel like to be loaded with confidence.
  1. Next,’ visualise’ yourself behaving confidently, for instance delivering the talk with assurance, interacting with others confidently and handling difficult questions with ease.
  1. ‘Visualise’ yourself having accomplished your objective.
  1. Finally, ‘visualise’ others’ response to your success, e.g. applauding, congratulating you etc.

Remember also to use the modelling, and anchoring techniques to the full.

Celebrate your progress!

Every time you take a step forward, reward yourself. Buy yourself a small treat, take a weekend break, go on a course – something that will give you a further taste of pleasure and success.

If on the other hand things don’t work out as you planned, don’t chastise yourself. Reflect on what you can learn from it and put the episode down to experience.

Focus on the positives

Every moment, think of all the good qualities you have. Don’t get caught up in what others think of you – or, more correctly, what you imagine others may think of you (because we can never know for sure what another person is thinking). Otherwise you’ll only attract people who demand you to keep them happy.

Instead, keep yourself happy! Be the kind of person you want to be and you’ll attract others who are the same. Remember, like attracts like. The rest follows automatically.

Be patient

If you really believed in yourself, how would you feel? Then isn’t it worth spending a little time each day working on yourself, building your self-belief? Of course it is. With a good self-image, confidence, a clear purpose and a realistic action plan almost anything is possible.

But you’ll have to be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and, if your confidence is currently low, neither is self-belief. So start now, wherever you are at, and never, never give up. It’s open to everyone!

©David Lawrence Preston, 25.8.2018

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Your Inner Power

We all have a unique and wonderful power within us which holds the key to our ultimate happiness and fulfillment. It originates from the way we think, and what we imagine, say and do.

This inner power is non-physical. When we are attuned to it and allow it to guide and support us we are enriched in every way. We are happy, prosperous and at peace. We have the courage to follow our dreams.

There’s a Native American parable about an Indian brave who found an eagle’s egg when out hunting. He took it back to his village and placed it among some eggs being hatched by a hen. In due course, the eaglet was hatched along with the baby chicks. As it grew, it scratched the earth with its claws and pecked at worms on the ground. It learned how to flap its wings like the other baby chicks. It even clucked like a chicken.

Then one day when he was old, he looked up and saw a magnificent bird gliding across the clear blue sky. He was in awe. ‘What’s that?’ he asked the chicken next to him. ‘That’s the Golden Eagle, the king of the birds,’ came the reply, ‘but don’t you try that. We can’t fly. We are chickens.’ The old eagle never gave it another thought and died, as he had lived, thinking he was a chicken.

You are an ‘eagle’. But do you think, feel and act like one? Or do you think and behave more like a chicken?

Oprah Winfrey once said: ‘People do what they know how to do, and when they know better they do better.’ In other words, we all have the means to raise our consciousness, improve our lives, be happier and play our part in making the world a kinder, more loving place.

Some find this a rather frightening prospect. At the start of a recent seminar, I promised participants that they would feel happier, more fulfilled, less stressed and more at peace with themselves if they took on board the ideas presented that day. Immediately a smartly dressed lady rose from her seat and left. ‘I’m sorry,’ she said, ‘I’ve made a mistake. This isn’t for me.’

Down the years I have acquired a vast number of insights and shared them with thousands through my teaching, speaking and coaching. They have worked for everyone who applied them. But don’t take my word for it – find out for yourself. You will soon find out how powerful they are.

What Do You Really Want?

When it comes to deciding what we want out of life, most of us set our horizons low. Generally people want to be happy, healthy, prosperous and secure; to feel good about themselves, have a circle of friends, good family relationships, peace of mind, and work which is personally fulfilling and makes full use of their talents; a variety of social and leisure pursuits, happiness and fun. They also want to be respected by others, to love and be loved, and be free.

Does this ring true for you?

  • Do you love what you do?
  • When you feel frustrated, do you still maintain a deep feeling that what you’re doing is right for you?
  • Is there anything you’d rather be doing?
  • Do you cope easily with the stress in your life?
  • Do you have a positive attitude most days?
  • Are you prosperous?
  • Do you enjoy rewarding relationships with most of the people you meet?
  • Do you feel enthusiastic about life generally?

In the past, a sign of success was having time that wasn’t committed to earning a living. Do you find a deep sense of satisfaction and fulfillment from your, or do you work mainly for the money?  If you work only to earn money, you will always feel poor! There are many unhappy millionaires, and many relatively poor people who enjoy contentment and peace of mind.

Imagine the kind of life you would like to lead. Think about this carefully. Be aware that one of the main reasons why people don’t get what they want out of life is that they’re not clear on what they want.

Which of these are these important to you?

  • Being able to live as you choose and do what you want, making your own choices, not beholden to others.
  • Being able to use your time as you wish.
  • Knowing that life has some meaning for you and that you feel good about what you do.
  • Health – being free from illness and having sufficient energy to carry you through each day.
  • Enjoying the people you live with, including your partner, your children and wider family.
  • The pleasure that comes from an active, varied and fulfilling social life.
  • Interests and pastimes that provide enjoyment and take your mind off the pressures of life.
  • The satisfaction of knowing that you have made a contribution to society. You don’t have to make a global impact –  helping those around you is just as important.
  • Enjoying life and trusting that things work out for the best.
  • Feeling good about yourself and growing as an individual.
  • Being comfortable with yourself as a spiritual being.
  • Have I missed any?

Many people have never given these questions much thought; but without clarity our inner power is stifled, like the eagle that thinks it’s a chicken!

©David Lawrence Preston, 6.5.18, all rights reserved.

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Can We Really Think And Grow Rich?

In the Victorian era success was believed to be about hard work, serious effort, application and persistence, and maybe a slice of privilege or good luck.

Later Deepak Chopra and other ‘New Age writers taught that by raising our consciousness we achieve everything while doing nothing, and it doesn’t matter what our background.

Somewhere in the middle of these two extremes, writing in the 1930s, laid one of America’s most influential and barely recognised authors, Dr Napolean Hill.

I first came across his seminal work, Think and Grow Rich, in the late 80s. At that time I taught in the business department of a university. One day, the secretary of the students’ association invited me to attend a talk given by a former professional footballer who had gone on to make a fortune in the insurance industry. The subject was Think and Grow Rich.  At first, I wasn’t attracted to what I thought (wrongly) was just another book preaching ‘greed is good’. Remember, in this was the Thatcher era. Government ministers showed little empathy for the poorest in society, and every week on TV Harry Enfield’s comic character ‘Loadsamoney’ could be heard mocking the lowly paid as traditional industries collapsed around them.

But I attended. An hour and a half later I was convinced that this was exactly what we should be teaching our students. This was the missing link between academic and vocational success and in many ways the key to happiness at all levels.

Napolean Hill was just starting out on his career in journalism when he met the industrialist Andrew Carnegie, at that time reputedly the world’s richest man. Carnegie, a Scot, had arrived in the USA penniless. He was convinced that the formula for success could be identified and expressed in simple terms that anyone could apply. They made a deal. Carnegie would introduce the young journalist to five hundred of America’s most financially successful men. Hill would interview them and publish his findings. No money would change hands since Carnegie reasoned that once Dr Hill had completed his task, he would need no payment from him.

TAGR was first published in 1937. It was an immediate success. The first five thousand copies quickly sold out despite there being no advertising. Another ten thousand copies were printed, then another twenty thousand, and all sold out within a few weeks. To date, more than fifteen million copies have been sold.

What is the formula that Dr Hill so eloquently articulated? It is based on two sets of ideas – The Six Steps to Riches and the Thirteen Step Programme to Wealth and Success.

Here are the Six Steps:

  • Fix in your mind precisely what you want. ‘Know what you want’, wrote Dr Hill, ‘and you’ll generally get it.’
  •  Determine what you intend to give in exchange. You have to give before you can get, and nothing comes for free.
  •  Establish a definite date by which you intend to have it.
  •  Make a plan and start right away. If the plan isn’t working, amend it, but never give up.
  •  Write a statement of intention on a small card and place it where you can see it. This keeps your goal permanently etched in your mind.
  •  Read the statement several times a day. Let your subconscious mind absorb it.

These Six Steps are complemented by thirteen action points and principles:

  • Desire is ‘the starting point of all achievement, and the first step to riches.’ Dr Hill wrote, ‘All success starts with selecting a definite purpose, the desire to achieve it, and commitment to it.’
  • Faith: ‘a state of mind which may be induced or created by affirmation or repeated instructions to the subconscious mind through the principle of autosuggestion.’ ‘There are no limitations other than those we impose on ourselves,’ wrote Dr Hill, ‘because both poverty and riches are the offspring of thought.’
  •  Auto-suggestion: self-administered suggestion in the form of affirmations to be used morning and night and frequently in between.
  •  Specialised knowledge: Contrary to the well-known maxim, knowledge is not power, but potential power. It only becomes power when it is organised into plans of action and directed to a definite end
  •  Imagination: Everything starts out as an idea waiting to be brought into expression. Imagination may be cultivated through relaxed visualisation, which also strengthens belief in attainment.
  •  Organised planning is the crystallisation of desire into action. To be sure of success, argued Dr Hill, you must have plans that are faultless. You also need a Plan B (and a Plan C and maybe D).
  •  Decision: Lack of decision is a major cause of failure. It causes procrastination, ‘a common enemy which practically all must conquer.’
  •  Persistence: Dr Hill had much to say on this subject. ‘Persistence is to the character of man what carbon is to steel,’ he wrote. ‘No man is ever whipped until he quits in his own mind.’  And ‘every adversity, every failure and every heartache carries with it the seed of an equivalent or a greater benefit.’
  •  The Master Mind: No individual has sufficient knowledge and experience to succeed massively without the cooperation of other people. The Mastermind is the harmonious coordination of knowledge and effort between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose.
  •  Sex Transmutation: Sex energy is the creative energy of all geniuses, but it must be channelled into constructive activity.  This means the switching of the mind from thoughts of physical expression to thoughts of some other nature.
  •  The Subconscious Mind:  Dr Hill wrote that the subconscious is ‘a field of consciousness in which every impulse of thought is classified and recorded and from which thoughts may be withdrawn as letters may be taken from a filing cabinet’. It receives and files impressions or thoughts, and draws upon the forces of Infinite Intelligence for its power.
  •  The Brain: Every brain is capable of picking up vibrations of thought being released by other brains. ‘Our brains become magnetised with the dominating thoughts which we hold in our minds,’ and ‘the circumstances of life harmonise with the nature of our dominant thoughts.’ Dr Hill was teaching the ‘Law of Attraction’ long before it entered the popular imagination.
  •  The Sixth Sense (or intuition) can be understood and assimilated only by mastering the other twelve principles.  This is the receiving mechanism by which ideas, plans and thoughts flash into the mind, and the medium of contact between the finite mind of the human being and the Infinite Intelligence.

So what made Think and Grow Rich the runaway success that it became? Well obviously it offered hope at a time of great economic hardship and was based on thorough research and experience. ‘Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve,’ became his most famous phrase. Since we all have the ability to desire, to think, to imagine, our destiny is in our own hands. Moreover, since the Infinite Intelligence does not play favourites, riches are within everyone’s reach.

But there’s more. Far from being a mere formula, it is a profound work of practical and spiritual philosophy. Hill believed there were universal forces beyond our intellectual understanding and identified the blockages that prevent most of us rising above the daily grind, most of which exist only in our limiting thoughts and imagination. He drew on ancient wisdom, that we accomplish nothing without the Power (or ‘Infinite Intelligence’) that works within us. And he gave us tools that anyone able to think and act for themselves could use.

There’s little doubt that virtually every Western success coach and motivational speaker owes Dr Napolean Hill a huge debt without necessarily acknowledging his influence. Most of the self-help books that I have read merely regurgitate his ideas using modern, NLP-influenced terminology and up to date examples. Many of today’s motivational gurus are slick, polished performers well versed in the persuasive arts (take a look at the YouTube clips of Napolean Hill and you’ll see he was none of these things), but scratch beneath the surface and you soon discover that they add little to Dr Hill’s original work.

But here’s the rub. On the surface, TAGR appears to be about financial success, but look a little deeper and you realise it’s much more. ‘Riches’ do not just consist of money – they are anything just and worthwhile that your heart desires. Dr Hill said so himself.  Health, happiness, friendship, peace of mind, love… all are ‘riches’, subject to the same principles of acquisition.

Can we think and grow rich? Certainly. And as Dr Hill concluded, ‘when riches begin to come, they come so quickly and in such great abundance, that you will wonder where they have been hiding during all those lean years!’

 

© David Lawrence Preston, 22.2.2018

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The only thing we have to fear is fear itself

Fear is at the root of many emotional problems.

  • Fear paralyses; it introduces hesitation and doubt.
  • It creates inner panic; you lose your reason and sense of proportion.
  • Fear looks to the past; it replays images of failure, hurt and disappointment – a reminder that the past could repeat itself.
  • It de-motivates and sabotages self-esteem.
  • Fear can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. You often get what you fear simply because you focus too much of your attention on it.

The irony is that fear is a natural response designed to protect you. It’s a warning, telling you to take care.

When you perceive yourself in danger, your unconscious brings about powerful physical changes. The hormonal glands give your body a shot of adrenaline, your heart beats faster, you breathe more rapidly, take in more oxygen, blood thickens and is diverted to the muscles to give them extra strength. This is the ‘fight or flight response’ – you’re ready for action, and that could be a great blessing. Many people have showed superhuman strength when faced with fear.

Misguided perceptions

The problem arises when the perception of danger is misguided. Many people suffer from unfounded fears; often they know they are irrational, but are unable to do anything about it. For instance, many people are terrified of house spiders, even though very few people have ever been harmed by one. Fear of balloons – the sort found at children’s parties – is widespread. I’ve also come across people terrified of red traffic lights, wheelbarrows, rubber gloves and even going to the toilet! And thousands are held back in their careers by a fear of speaking up at meetings or public speaking, even though it’s hardly life-threatening.

There are over three hundred terms for irrational fears of one sort or another (agoraphobia, claustrophobia, hydrophobia, arachnophobia etc.). What’s happening? These unfortunate individuals are being misled by their own senses. It probably happens to you too sometimes.

Have you ever taken a ride on a fairground simulator, one that promises you all the thrills and spills of a bob sleigh run, a speedboat, glider or Formula One car? Although you know you’re seated in a metal box which never leaves the ground, watching lights flickering on a screen, feeling your seat moving, it’s possible to feel sick with fear. But you’re not really in danger – your brain has merely been fooled into thinking you are.

Realise that, although many fears are instinctive, most are the result of conditioned responses. The perceived danger is not real or of such low probability that it’s not worth getting worked up about. Remember the mnemonic: False Expectations Appearing Real. Fear projects your mind into the future and focusses on what may go wrong. The extent of your fear is directly proportional to your pessimism.

Handling fear

The best way to deal with any kind of fear is to try and understand it. Recognize the fear as soon as it occurs. What’s causing it? Where is it coming from? What’s it trying to tell you?

One of the most debilitating fears is the fear of failure. If you go through life ruled by a fear of failing, failure is guaranteed. When things don’t work out, observe where you are going wrong, make corrections and try again. Don’t call it failure – call it ‘experience’ and learn from it.

Another common fear is the fear of rejection. People go to ridiculous lengths to avoid it. The only way to deal with rejection is to refuse to entertain and don’t allow it to undermine your confidence and self-belief. Other people’s rejection can only hurt you if you have first rejected yourself. Realise that nobody can please all the people all of the time.

Remember, many successful people have been rejected many times, including Colonel Sanders (of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame), actor Sylvester Styllone (Rocky) (both of whom were turned down over 1,000 times), the Beatles, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill and Richard Branson.

All too often, as Franklin D. Roosevelt famously remarked, ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’

Thirty-odd years ago, Dr Susan Jeffers wrote a ground-breaking book called ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’. It’s a must read. Dr Jeffers taught us not to surrender to fear, but harness it. Focus on your goal not the fear, and remember courage is not the absence of fear, but being willing to proceed in spite of it.

©David Lawrence Preston, 27.1.18

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The Law of Attraction is not what it seems

The two great principles that are said to determine what we make of our lives are the Law of Cause and Effect and the Law of Attraction. Some people have always known their significance, and now this knowledge is becoming known to many more. As the Buddha said,  ‘All that we are arises with our thoughts; with our thoughts we make our world.’

We have the power to think. That’s what makes us human. It’s also what puts us in charge of our lives. What we think about and the way we think determine how things work out for us. Life is like a mirror, reflecting our thoughts back to us as the circumstances of our lives.

But it’s not just a matter of playing with words or repeating affirmations parrot-fashion. The Law of Attraction works at all levels – conscious and subconscious, physical, mental and emotional – and to get the most from it you have to believe and feel with your whole being.

Of course, a positive attitude help you to live a healthier, longer life and be more successful at everything you do. When life is tough, pessimists lapse into in negative self-talk and limiting beliefs and quickly become demotivated. Not only does it lower their chances of success, it actually weakens the body’s natural defences.  Optimists, on the other hand, stay focussed, seek solutions and act quickly to put things right. They have the courage to try out new ideas and are more fun to be around.

But – and this is a big but – there are many misconceptions about positive thinking.  If you were to read some of the mass market books on the Law of Attraction, it sounds so easy. But it’s not. You could be forgiven for thinking that all you have to do is focus your thoughts on something you want and it will show up in your life. Then you’ll be happy.

There’s a downside. If you use this Law from a consciousness of selfishness or greed, you may get what you want, but you will also reap the effects of your intentions. You will attract the effects of selfishness, greed and uncaring (yours and other people’s) and like King Midas will not benefit from what you have.

The Law of Attraction only works to your advantage when you align your thoughts with the highest good for all – love, joy, prosperity and health, not just for yourself, but for everyone and all beings.

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©David Lawrence Preston, 24.1.2018

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Forgiveness

I’m often struck by the spectacle of people who’ve just suffered some tragedy – like a close relative being murdered – being placed in front of the TV cameras and being asked one of the most stupid of stupid questions – how do you feel? Soon after the event, they’re usually too shocked to say anything sensible. Often they just burst into tears.

Sometimes they express their anger and their desire for vengeance. They say things like ‘how can I sleep until the killer has been brought to justice?’ or ‘If I could get my hands on them I’d tear them limb from limb…..’ They tell how they can’t sleep, their health has suffered, they can’t work because of the worry that consumes them – a natural response to shock in the short term, but in the longer term a sign they haven’t really dealt with it.

Then time passes, the culprit is caught and the same people say, ‘How can I ever forgive them?’ or ‘No punishment can repay what they did.’ ‘Some even say, ‘I don’t want to forgive? Why should I?’

We all know revenge can’t bring back one’s loved ones or change the facts if a terrible accident has taken place.

Fortunately most of us are never in that situation.  We suffer various lesser setbacks, we perhaps feel someone has cheated on us, stolen from us or done us harm in some other way. Our instinct is to try and get our own back, ‘I’ll show him’, get angry, seek revenge or perhaps cut them out of our lives completely.

But there’s a problem – several problems in fact.

  • Anger clouds or judgement. We find ourselves doing unwise things, and sometimes inadvertently sabotage our own well-being.
  • Anger, bitterness, resentment etc. make us ill; they flood the body with toxic stress chemicals, cause the muscles to tighten, leading to physical problems.

It’s said that acid only harms the vessel that contains it.

There’s an old Chinese saying, ‘If you’re going to seek revenge, you’d better dig two graves.’

But let’s not be glib about this – forgiveness isn’t easy. It’s all too easy to say you’ve forgiven because it’s what people want to hear, even though you’re doing it through gritted teeth and deep down you haven’t forgiven at all. And the reason Oscar Wilde gave to forgive isn’t very helpful either. He said, ‘Always forgive your enemies. Nothing annoys then so much.’

Why forgive

Here are four reasons to start with:

  • When we forgive we heal our pain. Our bodies feel different – less tense. The person or event we’ve forgiven becomes a memory, no longer charged with emotion. You’ll be able to meet the other person as if the situation had never happened between you.
  • Everything we give out boomerangs back on us. Fear and anger come back to hit us. But when we forgive, when we radiate positive energy, negativity dissolves and the boomerang effect doesn’t take place.
  • Forgiveness is not about condoning wrong doing. It is not saying you’re glad it happened or that you would like someone else to change, but about taking total responsibility for your own life.  I often hear people say, ‘Why should I forgive after what they did? How can anyone forgive that?’ But that’s not the point – you don’t do it for them – you do it for you. You do it to get rid of the harmful ‘stuff’ you’re carrying around with you.
  • Above all, you open up the possibility to creating a better future. When you forgive, a transformation takes place in your life. You let go and move on. It brings space into your life for new thoughts and new experiences.

Intention

To say, ‘Just forgive,’ is too glib. There are times when we’re not ready to forgive; when the wrongs we believe we have suffered are too great. We must ask ourselves if we would really like to be able to forgive, if it is something we would like to move towards?

Simply having the intention to forgive – wanting to – sets you on the way to making it happen. That’s why I feel sad for those people who say ‘I’ll never forgive, I don’t want to forgive, why should I?’

The way forward is to create more understanding, more compassion, more wisdom into ourselves. Then over time the pain will ease and the tension gradually fades away.

When we express the willingness to forgive, we’re taking a major step towards letting go.

Thinking

Examine your beliefs about forgiveness. If you believe that you have to get your own back for every wrong that has ever been done to you or it’s a sign of weakness, think about this carefully. Is this belief serving you well?

Work on eliminating unforgiving thoughts. Listen to your self-talk. Tell yourself you don’t want to think this way. Release the energy you’ve been putting into holding on to blaming thoughts.

Use Affirmations – establish in your mind positive attributes such as love, compassion and forgiveness.

Affirm: ‘I now establish forgiveness in my consciousness. Perfect order is now established in my mind. I am at peace.’

Imagination

Make a mental image of the person with whom you are angry and send them love. ‘From this moment on, I send you love and light.’  Surround this image of them in pure white light. ‘See’ yourself as connected to this person. If you cannot yet forgive, imagine yourself looking down on the situation from a higher perspective. Very often the Earth-bound self cannot forgive, but the Higher Self can.

Action

Inwardly or expressly thank those who made life difficult and tested you. They have contributed to your life’s purpose. If you respond wisely, they have aided you in your purpose and your growth.

Stop taking those petty actions of revenge. Extend your generosity and compassion to all. And hardest of all – go to that person and ask forgiveness, or do it in your imagination (they’ll pick it up one way or another).

The Spiritual Perspective on Forgiveness

What about you? What do you need to be forgiven for?

In order to forgive you must have done several things:

  • Judged.
  • Blamed.
  • Experienced fear (or become defensive through fear).

Once you stop judging and blaming, forgiveness is no longer an issue. If you had never judged or blamed another, there would be nothing to forgive.

And don’t forget to forgive yourself – you deserve it as much as anyone else! If you’ve been judging another harshly, you too must be forgiven.

True forgiveness is a permanent state of being, not just an occasional act. Let go and let the universe handle it through the natural Law of Cause and Effect. Others will have to face up to their responsibilities and learn from them, just as we do. We need do nothing. Lessons will be learned. Justice will be done.

Wouldn’t it be good to let those people on the telly have the good news? It would save them a lot of suffering.

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©David Lawrence Preston, 19.2.2017

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How To Books, 2007