Friday, September 01, 2006



Been dumped? How to get over it fast.

Just like death and taxes, everyone experiences getting dumped at some time in their lives. As with suffering any loss, the more emotion invested in the relationship when it ends, the more painful the result. The feelings of loss are natural and reflect back to us our attachment to our ex. Now, the common misnomer is that the pain has to stay with us, that the only way to move on is with time, nope not true. I was speaking to a friend of mine the other day and they quoted me their formula for how long it takes to get over being dumped. They told me that it takes a third of the time that you are with the person to get over them. It‘s true that time will normally lessen the degree of hurt, but why wait? The only reason we believe there is no way to break out of those feelings is that no one told us that there was, in fact we are mostly told to “give it time”. Well, if you’re fed up with waiting, then read on as I’ve got some good news!

Okay, well we know that the reason we feel the pain is because we had invested emotional energy in the other person. We probably had plans for the future, shared moments and feelings of intimacy which are now disrupted. We then tend to make things worse by asking the wrong kind of questions, like “why did he/she leave me?”, “What’s wrong with me?” and “What if I never meet anyone else as wonderful as they were?”

As with any question you ask yourself, your brain will give you an answer (which may or may not be true). If you ask a lousy question then expect a lousy answer.
Q: “Why did he leave me?” (lousy question)
A: “Because you’re fat and ugly!” (lousy answer)
When in a down state we tend to answer on the negative side anyway, add to that the cutting self critical inner voice then don’t expect a good and truthful answer. If a friend or even an enemy spoke to you half as badly as the way most of us speak to ourselves then I reckon they’d find themselves with a slapped face.
So, the upshot of this is that the first thing to do is: Ask better questions.
What would be a better question? Well, make sure they are framed in the positive, e.g. How can I enjoy being single even more? Or What can I do now that I couldn’t do before? Ask a better question and you get a better answer. .

When working with clients who want to get over someone in this way I tend to go through 5 steps with them. I won’t go through all the steps now, although I’ll cover them in other posts

Get into a good state.
The state or mood we are in affects the way we think, so the first thing to do is get into a good state.
2. Start asking better questions
As I mentioned earlier, start asking better questions and getting better answers.
3 Interrupt the mental movies
One thing that causes the most problems is reliving the painful moments over and over again. We play in our minds a mental movie showing all the bad points and highlighting the losses. Ever seen a depressing film? Now, imagine watching it again and again on a loop. No wonder people can feel bad. So, in this step we use techniques to scramble up the mental movie so it loses its power.
4 Recode the mental associations to the other person
Now you have split up there is no need to attach such feelings to the other person. Over time they will fade but like I say, why wait! In this step we change the mental representation that we have of the person and replace them with more neutral feelings or even feelings of gratitude. Once the association is changed the feelings change.
5 Make plans for an even better future.
Finally, we build some wonderful plans for the future and then imagining they have come true, we look back on now and see how the break up was necessary in order to live the life we dreamed.


Your Biggest Critic

Who is your biggest critic?

Is it your boss? Your husband, wife, girlfriend or boyfriend?

Who gives you the most negative feedback? Whatever it is you’ve done and how ever well you’ve done it?
Just take a minute to run back through your memories and see if you can name a name.
Have you got one?
Is it you?
Okay, may be not “you” but a part of you. The voice inside. The voice with a thousand critiscisms. Remember them?

How great would it be to just shut them up for a while? How much better would you feel if you could take the sting out of their comments?

Well, read on, as I’ve got some good news for you. You can do just that.

Research has shown that the actual words we say contribute only a small amount in the message we are trying to communicate. Tonality is much more important than the actual words. Think about this phrase: “What did you say?”
How many different ways could the same phrase be said and mean something different?
A few examples:
1. In an angry way.
2. A softly spoken loving way, perhaps in response to hearing “I love you” for the first time.
3. In a shocked way, when a small child says a swear word.
4. In a quizzical way.

There are many more you could imagine too. All very interesting but how does this help?
Well, why keep trying to shut the little voice up when you could have an even better effect by just changing the way it talks. It’s your little voice after all, you can control how it speaks.
Try this: Just talk to yourself, silently, for a moment. Say all the things you say to yourself when you’ve messed up and messed up big. Don’t hold back, let yourself have it! Doesn’t feel too good, does it? Now, do the same thing again, except this time say them in a silly high pitched cartoony voice. Say all the same things but change the voice. How does that feel? Not quite the same, is it? Perhaps even quite amusing. This time, say the same things again but say them in a husky, sexy voice. “You’ve messed it all up again”, doesn’t seem to have any bite when it’s said seductively, in fact you may find yourself smiling and wondering how you can mess up some more!

So, the next time you are all set on unleashing your inner critic, let them go for it but from now on give them a voice that amuses rather than upsets!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Why diets fail and you keep on smoking

As you’re sat there reading these words, your brain is being assaulted by over 2,000,000 bits of information per second! This information is flooding in through your various senses. Your eyes and ears, the nerves throughout your body, your taste buds and your nose are all sending messages to your brain. It is all coming in but you’re only aware of a very small fraction of it. Most of it is totally discarded. So, if you have all this information coming in, where does it all go and what determines what you get to be aware of?

Can you notice the feeling of your feet inside your shoes? Can you feel the pressure of the shoe against the sole of your foot? I’m willing to bet that before I mentioned it, you hadn’t noticed it. The shoe was there, as was your foot. Why didn’t you notice this feeling previously?

What determines what we pay attention to and what we ignore? Well, a number of things, including what you are interested in right now, what is relevant to your current beliefs and values.

Can you remember a time when you bought a new outfit or a new car that you really liked and then on the way home, suddenly, they were everywhere, everyone had one or seemed to? Well, they were always there but until they were relevant to you, you completely ignored them, or rather, your unconscious mind deleted them before you had chance to be consciously aware of them.

You did know you have a conscious mind and an unconscious mind, didn’t you? Well, you do. Your conscious mind is the part of you that analyses, plans, makes decisions and that you witness the world with on a daily basis. Your unconscious mind is the store house for your memories, the source of your emotions, your intuitions and your reactions.

The conscious mind and the unconscious mind work totally differently. They enhance and complement each other, but because they are independent, there can be problems.

Have you ever been on a diet?

How did it go?

Here’s how it always went for me. I would start the diet and be super strict. Nothing would get passed my lips unless its name was on the authorized diet list. I would walk passed the chocolate section in the supermarket with my head held high, not even a twitch or grimace. I could go out for dinner, pick a suitably diet worthy main course and happily refuse the sweet trolley. This would last for a few days. You see, I was focused. I was consciously guarding my mind from any thoughts about forbidden foods. The thing is, that’s hard work and after a little while I started to lose a little of that initial focus. My concentration would wane a little and with my concentration out the way, stray little thoughts would sneak on by. Perhaps just one piece of cake and I can make up for it by walking home….tomorrow. Before I knew it I’d be knee deep in chocolate cake, pouring out excuses and feeling guilty.

Why did I cheat on my diet and how can I make sure I don’t in future? I didn’t get it. I knew what I wanted to do. I felt dedicated to the task. I managed to go for a while, I had my will power turned right up, but I couldn’t keep it up. Is it the same for you?

The answer is delightfully simple. My conscious mind was leading me in one direction but my unconscious mind was heading in another. It’s like pulling an elastic band in two different directions at once, eventually it’s going to snap.

So, I’d give myself a hard time, accuse myself of not having enough discipline and will power. Then I’d try again. I’d struggle and suffer, craving all the bad foods until finally I’d buckle.

Why didn’t it work?

I was trying to use my conscious mind to control something in my unconscious mind. It doesn’t work. It’s like trying to drive your car whilst sat in the bathroom. You’re doing the right thing but in the wrong place.

The same rule holds for stopping smoking, conquering a phobia, changing a limiting belief (like “I’m not good enough”). These are all held and run by the unconscious mind and trying to use will power to get rid of them has about as much effect as trying to knock down a house with a kipper.

So, how do you solve this? The answer is simple and I'll go into it in another post.

Friday, August 25, 2006


Persuasion: Who Frames Wins

The frame of a conversation is the context of it, e.g. If I asked you how overly expensive you found product A, then you would think about product A in terms of how expensive it was and answer based on that. If I asked you how remarkably inexpensive and cheap product A was then you would evaluate and answer in these terms. I am basically asking for the same information (your opinion on the price of product A) but I am setting two different frames (expensive, inexpensive).

The frame of the question determines the type of answer I will get. This fact is often used to manipulate surveys and questionnaires.

As humans, we need a frame to operate in. We always compare and contrast. The thing is, depending on the frame we are in, we can come up with different answers to what is the same question. This is just the classic: Is the glass half full or half empty. Both are true but depending on which perspective or frame you use will make a great difference to how you view the glass and more importantly, how you will feel about it.

Notice how differently you can feel given the following two situations:
(the below situations come from work done by Kahneman, Slovic and Tversky [1982])

Hmm, notice the difference?

In situation 1: 84% choose option A
In Situation 2: Only 31% choose option C.

Both situations are effectively the same except from different frames.

So, becareful to check the frame that is being set before you accept it and answer a question. If you don't set the frame yourself, someone else will be setting it for you. Remember, whoever controls the frame controls the meaning.


Marketing: What's Viral Marketing?

Viral marketing is a fancy name for a marketing technique that is derived from the classic "word of mouth" marketing approach. It was noticed that the way product information spreads when the marketing system is set up in a certain way is similar to the way a biological virus, like the common cold, the flu etc, spreads in a population.
As an example, my friend sends me an email. I open it and it contains a really funny joke. I like the joke and forward it on to my other friends. If they like it then they spread it further. The joke email in this case is our viral agent.

So what does a biological virus do? well, on its own it is inactive, its basically just a list of instructions and a delivery mechanism. The virus will find its way to a potential host. Once there, it will cut a hole in the cell's wall and inject its instructions (DNA/RNA) in amongst the cell's own (DNA). These new instructions will hijack the cell and change the way it operates. The new instructions will tell the cell to:

  1. Keep doing what you're doing (don't die, carry on being an active living cell)
  2. Start making copies of the virus
  3. Something else. The something else could be to make a cold sore, as in the case of the herpes virus or to attack the immune system as in the HIV virus, etc.

Viral marketing uses the biological virus as a metaphor. In viral marketing you have three things: 1) Delivery mechanism 2) Viral mechanism 3) Message.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Marketing: "Why Don't Ads Work No More?"

Why don't advert in newspapers, yellow pages and even on TV etc work very well any more?

Marketing is all about getting and holding your attention long enough for you to take in the designed message. The problem is that we have a limited amount of attention to give and nowadays there are more and more candidates for this attention. What happens? We ignore more.

George Miller in 1956 determined that we can only consciously hold 7 plus or minus 2 chunks of information at a time. Any more than that and you experience overload, you forget or don't even notice information. Have you ever tried to remember a telephone number? You repeat the digits, think you know it and then poof, its gone and all you remember is that it started with a 7!

We now have so many tv stations, radio station, web pages, magazines, etc all plastered with adverts. Our brains have a set of powerful perceptual filters that control what we become aware of. Until I mentioned it, you were not even aware of the feeling of your feet inside your shoes were you? In a few moments you will stop noticing them again. Even though those nerves are continuously sending the signal to your brain, it is not relevant enough for you to give it some of your limited attention credits.

So how do you get your advert to get attention? Well attention is received in one of two ways. It is either given freely or it is taken. Most tradional advertising media try to take it. Newspaper headlines that you can't miss, loud, bright, TV advertisements, all trying to grab your attention and force feed a message before you block them out and move on. The other method is to attract your attention. This is where some of the newer forms of marketing come in, e.g. information based marketing and viral marketing. I'll discuss these two in more detail later.

Monday, August 21, 2006



One day there was a pond and on the surface of the pond were many ripples. Who knows where the ripples came from, perhaps something was dropped into the pond or perhaps the wind blew across its surface, but ripples there were.

One of these ripples was called Reflec. Reflec spent every day worrying. He would worry about the ripples near by, whether he was spreading out quick enough and a whole range of other worries that bother ripples every now and then. Reflec's biggest worry though, was what happens when a ripple fades away. Where would he go? What happens to ripples when they fade?

Reflec had heard about the waves on the sea and how they crash majestically into the shore. Now, that would be a way to go! To pass away in a blast of spray and noise! How exciting! But not so for a ripple. No spray or noise for him, just a gradual fade away into nothingness.

Whilst the other ripples would be laughing and joking, Reflec would mock them for wasting their precious time on such frivolity. He became stern and mirthless, his laughter replaced with bitterness. He saw the newly formed ripples and envied their newness, mocking how little they knew of what fate awaited them.

Reflec studied the ancient teachings, looking for a loop hole, a way to dodge his fate. No fading for him! He would beat it. Whilst the other ripples enjoyed their time, Reflec spent his trying in vain in his search for immortality.

Then, against all his precautions, his studying, his pleas, threats and bargaining, Reflec started to fade. Slowly at first but then faster and faster.

"No! It can't be!", he cried to the sky above, "I've still got so much to do! Still got so much to see!".

No answer came back. The world was silent and seemingly unconcerned with his fate. He cried, he screamed, he swore and issued threats and promises. All for naught. He faded. More and more.

Finally, his fight run out, he accepted his fate. He took a long look round and laughed to himself. Laughed at himself. He laughed for all the time he had wasted, for all the things he had missed out on because of his fears and worries. As he laughed he faded away, back into the nothingness from whence he had come.

But wait, it doesn't end there. Not for Reflec. As he faded, a ripple no more, he realised something that he had never noticed before. He was never just a ripple, he was a part of the pond and now as he returned back to the pond, he started to remember who he really was. Not just a lone ripple but every ripple. Not just drifting along the surface of a pond but he was the pond. As he returned back to the source he laughed again, remembering the many ripples he had been and the many more he could be again.

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