What can you tell us about your new book The Promise?
The Promise describes a revolutionary way of thinking about life and its challenges. It provides powerful techniques for eliminating stress, regret, worry, disappointment and other negative thinking. It gives the reader tools for breaking through limitations, moving their lives forward and achieving goals. In short it gives us control over both our lives and the way we experience life.
Why is it that we have negative thoughts in the first place?
Negative thoughts aren't a natural human trait. We learn from others to think in negative ways. Stress, regret, worry, dissatisfaction, disappointment, guilt, self-blame and blaming others are all examples of negative thoughts. One illustration of the unnatural nature of such thoughts is that they're unique to humans. Animals don't think in these ways.
Another is that negative thoughts are always irrational. With the sole exception of worry, all negative thoughts involve wanting something to be already different. Either we're wanting something that's happened not to have happened, or we're wanting a situation that exists right now, not to exist right now. Neither is possible. Nothing can ever be 'already' different. The more sensible way to think is to 'accept what is' (or what was) and focus only on what we can do to improve the future.
Worry is also irrational. When we're worrying we want something to be different in the future from the way we think it may be and we don't believe we can control it. That's about as crazy as wanting things to be 'already' different. The more sensible way to think is to consider how we can gain more control of the future and, if we can't, accept it.
Another illustration of the 'irrationality' of negative thinking is that it assumes things could have been different. They couldn't have been. Few realise that we live in a 'determined' world. All great thinkers, such as Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein, knew this. It's the most profound understanding anyone can gain. Everyone should know it and use it. It's one of many life-changing understandings revealed in The Promise.
What affect can negative thoughts have on your wellbeing?
All absence of, or diminution of, wellbeing, can all be attributed to negative thoughts. Situations are only negative if we think they are. Shakespeare said: "There's nothing good or bad, only thinking makes it so". 'Resisting what is' is the source of all negativity in our lives. This even applies to uncomfortable feelings. Resisting them makes them worse. Accepting them diminishes them and gives us the ability to take actions that will unwind recurring uncomfortable feelings.
What do you mean by replacing negative thoughts with a positive action?
When we learn to 'accept what is' all the time, negative thinking disappears from our lives. There's then only one thing left to think about ... what action can we take to improve the future? Life becomes a combination of acceptance and action.
What is the one way we can manage a challenging situation, despite how big or small it may be?
'Accept what is' and focus only on action! Stuart McGill became CEO of Exxon International, one of the world's largest companies. Earlier in his career I saw him deal with a career threatening challenge in a way that greatly impressed the several thousand who witnessed it. When I later congratulated him, he took the time to share with me the secret of his success. He believed it was his ability to 'accept what is' all the time and focus only on action. His advice changed my life.
What is the first step we can take to banish regret and disappointment from our lives?
Learn to 'accept what is’.... all the time. I've trained thousands to do it. My approach is outlined in the first chapter of The Promise.
What is your professional background?
In my corporate career I've been a project manager, general manager and change management specialist. I've since become a chartered psychologist, accredited psychotherapist, stress management consultant, personal & executive coach, development trainer, relationship coach & trainer and weight management trainer.
You left a successful corporate career to start a new one as a psychologist. What gave you the confidence to do this?
In my early 30s I still lacked confidence. In a few months that dramatically changed. Learning to 'accept what is' all the time was just the beginning. Learning how to deal with uncomfortable feelings enabled me to break through my fear of speaking to groups. This was quickly followed by discovering how to take control of all aspects of my life.
I became confident and gained a sense of being powerful for the first time. In a few months my life changed to an extent it was unrecognisable. I knew I couldn't go through the rest of my life selfishly enjoying the benefits and that I wouldn't be able to look back on my life with satisfaction unless I'd shared those benefits with as many as possible.
I also knew I couldn't teach others what I'd learned unless I understood how it fitted into existing knowledge within mainstream psychology. So I trained as a psychologist. I was surprised to find that practically none of what I'd learned, and now used in my life, and had already used to change dozens of other lives, was understood within the field of psychology. That has now begun to change.
What is a normal day like in your world?
I automatically 'accept what is' all the time, so haven't experienced stress or negative thoughts for over 25 years. I enjoy every day, am highly motivated, challenge myself, and enjoy life immensely. I try to spend as much of my normal day as possible helping others to change their lives, think about ways to reach more people and work to have a greater impact on the world. I aim to get some aerobic exercise every day, to eat healthily and help others whenever I can.
You have had some very positive feedback, so which comment has stayed with you the most?
The comment I enjoy hearing the most is one I'm lucky enough to hear often. ..... "It's changed my life"
What is next for you?
We're hopeful to be able get our 'Acceptance-Acton Training' into schools and prisons. We've established a weight loss programme called Get Slim Guaranteed and hope to make a major contribution to resolving the world's growing obesity problem.