"There's been a big shift in the perception of mental health."

He has long been known as the master of the mind and now Paul McKenna is leading the drive to plant positivity back into our lives after such a troubled period for the world.

As we emerge from the Covid pandemic and try and get out heads around the brutal violence inflicted on Ukraine by Russian leader Vladimir Putin, McKenna is embarking on a tour of the UK and Ireland that he hopes will plant hope into the lives of those who have been struggling over the last couple of years.

As he sat down with Female First for an exclusive interview to promote his Positivity Tour across the UK and Ireland, it was clear that this award-winning hypnotherapist and author is burning with desire to get his positive message to the masses.

How tough has it been to be positive in the last two or three years?

Well, I think for many people it's easier to be negative than positive. A lot of people think that positivity means positive thinking and, it doesn't. Positive thinking is where you tell yourself, 'it's all gonna be alright', even though you know it's not.

Positivity for me, is an absence of unnecessary stress and fear, because when you have too much stress and fear going on you don't have any bandwidth for creativity, optimism and joy. It's also confidence, self-belief and resilience and, by resilience I don't mean necessarily just 'bouncing back'; I mean adaptive thinking, because basically when you can adapt your ever-changing environment, you become master of your own destiny.

Then finally, it's an optimism motivation, it's about having a compelling future.

Do we need to strip fear out of our lives?

Absolutely. So, it's not a total absence of fear or stress because we need to be aware of things that is potential danger ahead of us. If I'm about to step off the kerb, if there's a bus coming I want a feeling of fear to pull me back and keep me alive; there's a deadly virus in the world so I need to be aware of that, but if I'm living in too much stress and fear all the time, as I say it's not comfortable, there's no room in the bandwidth but also, when you're fatigued you actually weaken your immune system. So it's about having appropriate concern.

A 'life guru' when you started in this industry would've been seen as an American 'whack job' sort of thing, but have you noticed a change in the UK over recent years?

Totally. There's been a big shift in the perception of mental health. So when I first started about 35 years ago now, hypnosis was voodoo, 'Life coach? Who needs a life coach, that's some American jiggery-pokery isn't it?' Whereas now people have gone, 'Well actually, this isn't because I have problems. I might want a coach so that I achieve more, I make more money, I feel happier, I've got a direction in my life', all these sorts of things.

The difference between a coach and a therapist is, a therapist does it to you. You sit down in my seat, I get you to close your eyes and I take away your problem, or change it. A coach gets you to access your inner resources, gets you into a positive frame of mind, gets you thinking about problems from a particular point of view whereby you can see solutions.

"It's not a total absence of fear or stress because we need to be aware of things that is potential danger ahead of us."

When you lost your own dad, you struggled to cope with your grief. Were you surprised that despite your ability to control the mind, this loss was too much for you?

It's horrible when you're depressed, you can't see the point in anything, you get up around midday, totally unmotivated and life looks bleak. You can be surrounded by all kinds of good, well-intentioned people, by opulence, by all sorts of things and yet, when you can't find the point in anything, it's a dangerous place to be and, because I found my way back from the edge of the abyss.

I've discovered that since, I've been much more effective at helping other people come back from that, and also bereavement too. You can't just take away someone's bereavement like (a click of the fingers) and nor would you want to, because if you don't feel sad when somebody you love has gone, how can you have any sense of value?

It's part of the richness of life that we have comfortable and uncomfortable feelings. Feelings, as I mentioned like fear, says 'be prepared, danger!' Anger is when one of our standards has been violated, 'don't talk to me like that!' Something like guilt, we've done something, we know it's wrong and the guilt gets us to go and repair that. Then finally, grief, sadness, because there's a sense of loss, we no longer have that person in our life or, something's gone.

These are all a part of the experience of living, they're a part of our emotional intelligence, you just don't want to live in them! You want to live in the joy, the optimism, the confidence, the motivation, the happiness.

Are we more willing to admit we are struggling with our mental health now than we were in years gone by?

Totally, and I think it's for the better. I just think that people being able to speak freely without fear of being marginalised is a good thing. We are in many respects a more tolerant culture. Some people say, 'there's too much of this political correctness, too much worrying about offending everyone', because everyone is offended by everything it seems to me these days. So, I'm not suggesting that we go to any extremes, I'm just saying there is definitely room for people to be aware of the impact of the things that they do and say on other people's feelings and long-term, on their mental health and the quality of their life.

Positivity: Confidence, Resilience, Motivation by Paul McKenna is out now
Positivity: Confidence, Resilience, Motivation by Paul McKenna is out now

Tickets for Paul McKenna's Positivity tour are available at www.mindbodyspirit.co.uk

Words by Kevin Palmer for Female First, who you can follow on Twitter, @RealKevinPalmer.

RELATED: Mental health tips: Empowerment coach Isik Tlabar discusses finding purpose and more [EXCLUSIVE]