How to 'scratch' using pies and clowns!

I’ve lost count how many people I’ve helped to quickly ‘reframe’ a difficult memory into one that holds absolutely no negative power over them. This process is a standard technique of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and is quite simply amazing in its results both in terms of speed and positive, lasting impact.

These memories can be compared to tracks on a CD (or if you’re feeling nostalgic, a vinyl LP) and whenever you select one to be played, by vividly reliving the incident in your mind, the same old emotions come flooding back.  Usually these disempowering states include sadness, anger, guilt, pain … all the classic hits and by the original artistes! 

The feelings will be located in specific parts of your body, some of the favourites being the head, chest and stomach. Then all you need to do is to become aware of the level of the discomfort and give it a score from 0-10 (10 being as bad as it gets). You have now established the memory, the feeling, the location and the current impact.

So far, so good! Now you can do something about dealing with the negative memory.

With only a basic appreciation of the ‘reframing’ technique you can have a bit of fun and make sure that the challenging memory, that particular track on the CD/LP, can never play the same again. You do that by ‘SCRATCHING’ it, over and over! It’s quick and it works.

By the term ‘scratching’ I mean to see the original memory in your mind’s eye and then immediately have a positive, empowering or happy memory to think about instead. These might be of past holiday experiences, lines from your favourite comedians, recalling times with your pets, remembering wonderful food you’ve enjoyed, time spent with friends … the list is endless and the key is to think of big positive memories that really resonate great feelings within you.   

Once you have a few of these clear in your mind then you practice remembering them one at a time, seeing them vividly, big and bright and colourful, hear any sounds associated with it, feel how it felt and let all those wonderful feelings ‘scratch’ a mark across the current negative track on your CD/LP.

You then keep ‘scratching’ the track by going back to the original difficult memory and then reliving, with emotion, a positive one. Before long you will find that the old images, sounds and feelings just can’t play the same and then a few more ‘scratches’ and you will have ensured that the track is totally wiped out and the negative impact on you with it!

Over the years I’ve also developed my own little collection of favourite ways that ‘scratch’ the tracks really fast. Here are four that I have used with clients time and time again. I’ll briefly explain the details of each and I’ve even penned a little verse for you that sums it up in 16 words. See what you think …


First imagine ‘that’ face
Choose yourself a pie
Former meets the latter
Feast for the eye!

Yes, you got it … someone is going to get a pie – slap bang right in the face.
Juvenile?  Absolutely right!
Effective?  Oh yes!
Fun?  You bet!
You simply imagine your choice of pie in vivid detail (mine is always lemon meringue) and then you see the face of your intended target and – well, you can take it from there.

Past pies that people have used have included meat & potato, Mississippi mud pie, a real mud pie, mud pie with added worms, worm pie, rubble pie, wet cement pie and even … horse manure pie. If you can imagine a filling then probably someone I’ve worked with will have chosen it too! Literally NOTHING would shock me, nothing!

The power of the ‘Pie Principle’ is in its simplicity. ANYONE can do it and, what’s more, every person I’ve observed who does smiles whilst they are doing it. That’s ‘reframing’ in a nutshell or, to be more precise, a pie case. Or another combination might give you a Nut Case! I promise I haven’t lost the plot, just try The Pie.

So, what’s your pie going to be and who deserves it? 


Take one glass tank
‘That’ person in it
Drop contents on them
Whilst enjoying every minute!

Made famous in the Saturday evening light entertainment slot of BBC scheduling long, long ago. Noel Edmonds would consign a victim to a big glass tank and once they were safely inside would pull a lever to release the ‘gunge’ (usually yellow or green thick, gloopy, slimy, custardy type ‘stuff’) hovering high above them. The result would be one hell of a mess.

All you need to decide is who has earned the starring role in your Gunge Tank. Then when you pull the lever what will constitute the ‘gunge’ in your tank? In the past I’ve helped clients release a whole range of ‘gunge’ from imaginary spiders, ants, scorpions to all manner of fluids (yes, including the ones you are now thinking about!)
In your mind just keep dropping the ‘gunge’ on them over and over until you are satisfied that justice has been done. The more vividly you can imagine this scene the faster you will ‘reframe’ the original difficult memory and associated limiting feelings. Within a few minutes the power and negative influence that the person in your Gunge Tank has held over you can disappear down the drain with the ‘gunge’.


Now not so powerful
That silly red nose
Dressed like a clown
Just laugh, I suppose?

This requires that you use your imagination to make the person in question (who you allowed to take your power away) utterly ridiculous in whatever ways you choose – and seeing them a clown works really well. Simply dress them up – in your mind – in the most ludicrous and colourful costume, with the stupidly big, floppy clown shoes, the daft make up, the curly wig, the battered hat and, of course … the trademark silly red nose! 

The main purpose of a circus clown is that you laugh at them, so do exactly that!

Remember, you can accessorise as much as you like, too. So how about a clown car with the daft sounding horn or perhaps the oversized flower in the lapel that squirts? Then, if you are able to imagine sounds, there’s the circus music to play in your mind.

When you can transform the person who has been the cause of your issues into a figure of fun then the power shifts right back to you. Now that’s most definitely something to smile about!     


When enough is enough
Nothing else will do
Retribution is called for
The Equalizer … is YOU!

One of the TV hits of the late 1980’s was British actor Edward Woodward starring as Robert McCall in ‘The Equalizer’.  When there were wrongs to be righted and bad guys to be brought to account then Mr McCall was your man! In 2014 Hollywood legend Denzel Washington reprised the role when The Equalizer came to the big screen.

This technique is all about exactly imaginary revenge upon those you have wronged you and the justice you impose is entirely at your discretion.
Just a sample (and these are NOT the most graphic or imaginative by any means) of the vengeance that has been meted out by clients over the years using precisely this technique include:

Being pummelled with a boxing glove;
Being shot out of cannon;
Being strapped to a rocket and sent off into outer space;
Being dropped from an aeroplane without a parachute;
Being flung into the sky like a clay pigeon before being blasted with a shot gun!

I stress again these are just some of the tamer versions of the imagery payback visited on the offending individuals, which interestingly has always been in direct proportion to the discomfort that was originally caused. 

I fully appreciate that these techniques sound bizarre – they do and they are. However, they also work like magic to ‘scratch’ across the bad stuff that so many people keep mentally replaying unnecessarily for so very long.

So, if you have any tunes that you no longer want to hear then get ‘scratching’ using pies, clowns and anything else that comes to mind.

‘Reframing’ works, so why not choose to let it work for you?

What's in your bucket?

Like Clackers, Tamagotchi’s and Cabbage Patch Dolls the Ice Bucket Challenge burned brightly and
then faded away.

Now whilst I enjoyed playing with my clackers the idea of tipping a big old bucket full of ice or icy water over myself was about as appealing to me then as the thought of being asked to serve as Donald Trump’s Advisor on Charm & Inclusion would be to me now! On both counts the answer is no thank you, Mr President!

Taking the concept of the Ice Bucket Challenge and adapting it slightly I would like to propose the idea of the Positive Bucket or if you prefer the Bucket of Positivity. What you might decide to label it is unimportant but what you choose to keep in it is of the highest importance.

I keep my Positive Bucket full to the brim with the phrase ‘Why am I having such a great day today?” and I tip that over me at times during the day when I need to soak myself through with that particular ‘truth’.

Sometimes if, in reality, I am tired and my energy reserves are low then my Positive Bucket is filled with positively framed questions such as “What I am feeling so mentally alert and so full of energy?” or another favourite is “Why am I so much better at my job today than I’ve ever, ever been before?”   

With my Positive Bucket full of my chosen content I then tip it over me and that means to repeat the phrase over and over again with passion, energy and belief for anywhere between 1-2 minutes. This drenches me in my chosen affirmation until I start to FEEL it and that’s the key, to FEEL the reality of your words.

My challenge to you this week is for YOU to decide on the content of YOUR personal Positive Bucket – perhaps the I AM affirmations … I am positive, I am successful, I am confident. Or maybe you prefer POSITIVE STATEMENTS … Everything always goes right for me! Or you might, as I do, choose POSITIVE QUESTIONS … Why is my life so great? How many wonderful things are happening to me today?

Then when your Positive Bucket is full all you need to do is tip it out all over you for at least 60 seconds at a time and just allow yourself to FEEL the effects. 

That’s it, over to you, so … what’s in your bucket?

You can read more about being careful what you think about in my book ‘Improve Your Life: 21 Strategies That Will Make The Difference’- available from our website for £9.99 incl p+p

Happiness at your finger tips!

I have been receiving some lovely feedback on my book so this week I’d like to present an extract from “Improve Your Life! 21 Strategies That Will Make The Difference” which was published in April 2017.  The following is taken from Strategy 2: Choose to be Happy and I hope you enjoy it.

“When someone told me I lived in a fantasy world I almost fell off my unicorn!” (Anon)

In J.M. Barrie’s classic tale of the boy who never grew up Peter Pan gave the advice to “just think of happy things”.   Believe it or not it’s actually really sound advice and doesn’t just work if you happen to live in Never Never Land!

Why not choose to be the happiest person that you know? One of the very best decisions I ever made was to study the science of Neuro Linguistic Programming, more commonly referred to as NLP, in order that I could help others by incorporating the principles and processes into my work.

Here is a simple NLP process called “Anchoring” which I have used to great effect countless times for myself, my family, friends and clients. It’s simple and it works.

The principle to understand is that anger, sadness, confidence and happiness are all examples of what are known as ‘states’. Using the NLP technique of anchoring you can have any positive, resourceful state you choose literally at your fingertips. Using the state of happiness here’s how it works. First, you need to decide whether you will choose your left or right hand to set the anchor. Then you need to choose which finger of that hand will be used in conjunction with the thumb of the same hand. The anchor will be formed by pressing your preferred finger and thumb together at the appropriate point in the process.

Next, you need to relax, take a few deep breaths and remember a time when you felt really, really happy.  Take your time and think through and recall some different memories until you decide on which of them has the strongest feelings of happiness connected with it. Once you have decided on that happy memory you will be able to proceed.

In your imagination fully return to that time as if it were happening again now. The idea is to literally see what you saw, hear what you heard and feel how good, how happy you felt. Importantly, you should know that the more vivid, more colourful and the closer to you in your mind’s eye the image is the stronger the effect it will have on you. Likewise, any sounds should be as clear and as similar to the original memory as possible. What you see and what you hear should, in this case, cause you to smile as you recreate the feeling of that happy time.

Feel all those happy feelings and notice where the feelings are taking place, in your head, in your stomach in your chest? Or maybe the feelings are in a combination of places? Where ever the feeling of happiness is showing itself is absolutely right for you.

As you keep going through this memory, make the colours brighter and richer, the sounds louder and the feelings stronger. Then as you feel these good feelings peak in intensity, you squeeze together the thumb and chosen finger and hold them together for a few seconds. You then release your thumb and finger.

You repeat the process up to 10 times, on each occasion seeing what you saw, hearing what you heard as you focus in on those truly happy feelings. Each time you feel the intensity of the memory peak squeeze together the thumb and chosen finger and hold together for a few seconds. Once you have anchored in that feeling of happiness - which you have created - you will be able to recall it any time you choose by the squeezing together of your thumb and finger!

“We may not be responsible for the world that created our minds, but we can take responsibility for the mind with which we create our world.” (Gabor Mate)

If you really cannot remember a happy time that provides the intensity that works for you then make one up instead. Use the incredible power of your own imagination and think about what being really happy would look like, sound like and feel like. You then just play around with this until you access strong feelings of happiness. Really this is Peter Pan’s “just think happy things” advice which, of course, has nothing to do with making sense and everything to do with make believe.  Once you have this clearly in mind then you set about creating an anchor exactly as explained previously.

A happiness anchor is one of the most effective ways I can suggest to enable you to choose to be happy. I strongly recommend that you give it a go and once you have I am sure you will be happy that you did!

“Everybody has the power to make someone else happy.  Some do it by entering the room, and some do it by leaving!” (Anon)

You can read more about ‘Choosing to be happy’ in my book ‘Improve Your Life: 21 Strategies That Will Make The Difference’ – available from our website for £9.00 incl p+p or Amazon.

Put your listening ears on!

The female Mayfly has a life span of less than five minutes; therefore, she has a legitimate reason for not having the time to listen, as for the rest of us, not so much.

Just what is it about listening that would appear to be such hard work (female mayflies excused) for so many of us?

I’ve met people who seem utterly disinterested in anything anyone but themselves has to say.  Then there are those who have heads so full of their own ‘stuff’ that there’s no room for concentrating on what others might have to say.  I’ve also known individuals who are just plain unaware – lacking any trace of emotional intelligence – and so why would they know or think to listen?
In your life, as in mine, you may have experience of individuals who are set to ‘transmit’ to such a high degree that if they were a volcano they would be on permanent erupt! Their laver taking the form of a ceaseless flow of words, stories and opinions and, well let’s face it, they aren’t going to win first prize in the listening competition. 

I understand that there are countless reasons given and excuses used that prevent people from listening as well as they might and, of course, some are more extreme than others. However, I also know that listening skills can be improved dramatically by practicing a few really basic behaviours and here are three to think about.

1) Allow people to speak without constant and unnecessary interruption.  Bluntly, unless there’s something of value to add or ask … shut up!

2) Keep your mind focused on their words and not your own internal chatter. If you are planning what to say when they’ve stopped speaking then you are not listening to them you are listening to yourself!

3) Look at them. This sounds obvious I know, however, because it’s so easy to become distracted our concentration will go the way of our focus.  If we are looking at who we are listening to it follows that we aren’t looking somewhere else!

If you were to give yourself a current score from 1 to 10 (with 10 being excellent) how would you rate your skills as a listener?  Assuming you haven’t scored a 10/10 why not take some time over the next few weeks to work on improving?

Just choose one simple behaviour and get comfortable with it, then do the same with another.

Resolve to spend five minutes every day working on improving your listening.

And remember five minutes for us is a life time to a little Mayfly!

What are you trying to say?

Our first guest blog is by my friend an publisher Taryn Johnson, who offers some great tips on writing. If it's true that everyone has a book in them then here's some sage advice to help you get started. Thanks Taryn and enjoy...

When it comes to writing a book, there are a few things you need to consider before simply deciding to start and sitting at your desk typing away. Don’t get me wrong I know many authors that have done that but they’d all tell you that this was one of their first mistakes. I say first because when it comes to being an author you’ll make quite a few! Hopefully though, I can help you to avoid some of the pitfalls and keep you motivated to continue. One of the first questions I urge you to ask yourself is “What am I trying to say?” Followed by - “What is the message the book is conveying?” This will help you in so many different ways, it will: • Help you to decide the tone of voice • Help you to target your audience • Help you to determine how many other books are on this topic • Help you to decide how best to market it Once you know what it is you want to say you then have to decide how best to say it! One of the key most important things to remember is tone of voice. Regardless of the genre and topic the book HAS to sound like you. Don’t be tempted to write like everyone else. Just because an author is successful doesn’t mean you should emulate their tone, if in person you sound nothing like them. There is nothing worse than (especially in the self-help genre) reading a book and hearing the author speak, knowing that what you’ve read bears no resemblance to them. Don’t be afraid to use your own colloquialisms or phrases you’re known for. Once you’ve achieved this then it’s about figuring out the language for your audience. This is tricky if you’re writing for a younger generation for example as you need to ensure you come across as non-patronising but not too high level. It’s also worth spending time in book shops. This way you can see what’s already on the shelf in your field. By all means check out the competition and also take some time to look at designs and layouts. Being able to visualise how your book could look in your mind will help you on days when you feel you’re getting nowhere or hit the “wall”. Take some time to do your market research, find out if there is a readers market for what you want to write. Also what people in your field want to hear about. Finally before you start, make some clear notes, understand what you want to add in and I’d advise a skeleton to help you plan where the book is going to go and what the order of contents should be. Then it’s time to write.. remember “Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.” Confucius If you’d like more help and advice then I’d be happy to chat to you!

Taryn Johnson
FCM Publishing
01522 262687

Be flexible or break!

A simple formula for achievement summed up in six words could be SET GOALS, MAKE PLANS,
WORK HARD.  Now factor in two more words and we’re off to the races.  Those two words are BE FLEXIBLE.

In the current gales that are battering our shores it’s the trees that are best able to bend with the force of the elements that will survive as opposed to those that can’t and so will break. 

Like the trees, we too need to bend so as not to break! 

You may have the clearest goals that you are determined to achieve and a vision of what success looks like for you.  You may have highly developed plans and a step-by-step approach mapped out.  You may be disciplined, focused and productive in working your plan and moving steadily towards the realisation of your ultimate destination.

However, you will almost certainly encounter problems, obstacles and circumstances which will throw ‘barriers’ across your path.  These may be equivalent to a little bit of rubble scattering your road or may take the form of a great big brick wall blocking your way.

The key is to be flexible in dealing with the ‘barriers’ and finding ways over, round, under or through them.  It’s your ability to adapt quickly to changing circumstances and be creative, positive and flexible in your approach that will make the difference in your ultimate success in achieving your goal.

So when life throws a spanner in your works you can either direct your energy into stomping about and having a rant or you can accept this new reality and find ways to keep moving forward.

After years of experience choosing the ‘stomp and rant’ option, I know now which one of the two actually works!

So whatever you wish to achieve in the coming year, set yourself clear goals, make yourself detailed plans, work hard by putting in the time and effort and when you encounter the ‘spanners’, the ‘rubble’ or the ‘brick walls’ remember BE FLEXIBLE! 

You just never know

So there I sat in the middle of Kings Cross Station, London waiting for my train home.

Although I was surrounded by people I had never felt more alone.

Earlier that day, just after 7.00 a.m., I had spoken by phone with my brother who had told me that Mum had passed away.  Somehow I found the strength to get through my work that day, put on my ‘Game Face’ and did what needed to be done.

Twelve hours after the phone call the train arrived at Newark Northgate.  My wife was waiting for me and as I walked along the platform the emotions I’d kept in all day finally came out.

In that period of time only a handful of people in the whole world knew what was really happening in my little world.  No one knew what I was experiencing – not the hotel staff, the receptionist at the training venue, the delegates, the lady I bought my hot chocolate from at the station, the train staff or the countless other people I passed by that December day – no one.

We never really, truly know what is going on in the lives of the people that we deal with day in, day out.  We don’t appreciate the pain, the problems or the challenges they may be working through because, like me that day, they may not choose to show it.  It doesn’t mean it’s not there.

My point is this – I like to think I treat people well, that I show them courtesy and kindness, BUT I also know that there are times I could do better and try much harder.

This year I am going to make an extra special effort with everyone I meet to be a bit nicer, a bit kinder, a bit more patient, a bit more forgiving and a lot less judgemental because we never really know what’s going on in their world.