He’s the author of 18 best-selling self-help books and the man who has led millions to lose weight, give up smoking, sleep better and generally live happier, less stressful lives.
But until now, Paul McKenna has never written about relationships.
Why? Because until 2013 he was a self-confessed commitment-phobe. It was only when he fell in love with his long-standing PA, Kate, that his life dramatically changed – a story he tells movingly in today’s You magazine.
Previously, Paul, 56, was rarely seen without an attractive woman on his arm, but he was incapable of making any of those relationships last.
Previously, Paul, 56, was rarely seen without an attractive woman on his arm, but he was incapable of making any of those relationships last
Now happily married to Kate, Paul has drawn on advice from world-leading experts, and many of the scientific techniques he used himself to get past his own commitment phobia, to write a new book that can help anyone.
Whether you’re struggling to find The One, feel stuck in a rut or are unhappy in your current relationship, Paul can help.
His powerful new book, Seven Things That Make Or Break A Relationship, identifies the critical steps that can decide the future of any couple. Understanding how to make each step work for you can transform your life.
IT’S NOT JUST WHAT YOU SAY, IT’S THE WAY THAT YOU SAY IT
Everyone knows communication is at the heart of any relationship.
But there’s far more to it than that: it’s the way that you communicate with someone as much as what you’re saying that holds the key to a successful relationship.
In the 1970s, American scientists and researchers Richard Bandler and John Grinder spent a lot of time observing why people get on and why they don’t. They found that individuals feel understood when their speech and behaviour are similar to the person they’re talking to.
For example, if one person speaks fast and the other slowly, as they get on better, the fast one slows down a bit and the slow one speeds up. This happens completely naturally and also occurs in our body posture, movements, tone and volume of speech, and the kinds of words we use.
But there’s far more to it than that: it’s the way that you communicate with someone as much as what you’re saying that holds the key to a successful relationship. Stock picture
We can use this knowledge to help people trust us. If I make myself more similar to the person I’m talking to, their unconscious mind says: ‘This person is like me – I can trust them.’
There are various ways you can increase your rapport with someone. You can subtly mirror their body language by, say, leaning forward when they do. But you can also aim to reduce the differences between you. That might be as simple as dressing more casually on the second night out, if on your first meeting you were more smartly dressed than your date.
It’s not about imitation, but about creating harmony.
LITTLE GESTURES CAN BRING BIG CHANGES
Your relationship is what you do. It is not what you dream, or wish for, or hope for, it is what actually happens. And if you want to effect big changes, then you have to start with small actions.
I remember one man who hardly ever spoke to his wife, except for practical arrangements. They watched TV in silence, read their own newspapers, never touched each other.
I asked him to think of the smallest possible action that might make the smallest improvement in their relationship.
A week later he told me that one evening when he said goodnight to his wife, he touched her gently on the shoulder.
He said the next day it was as though the sun had come out from years behind the clouds. They had a little lightweight chat over breakfast and, as the days progressed, they even had a joke or two, until eventually, the atmosphere in the house was completely different.
Adjust your speech to reflect the way your loved one thinks
We all use pictures (visual), sounds and words (auditory), and feelings (kinaesthetic) to think, but most of us favour one mode of communication and thinking.
If you can work out how your partner thinks, you can improve the way you communicate with them.
Visual people will say things like ‘I see what you mean’, or ‘The future looks good’.
They like to see things with their own eyes and would rather see evidence than hear arguments.
When talking to a visual person, I might refer to ‘the big picture’ or ‘bringing things into focus’, and I might use diagrams or pictures to explain complicated ideas
People with an auditory preference say things like ‘That sounds good to me’, or ‘That rings a bell’.
So when expressing agreement with them I might say something like ‘We are singing from the same hymn sheet’ and be careful about the tone of voice I use with them.
Those with a kinaesthetic preference will say ‘Let’s touch upon this’, or ‘That feels good’. If someone said ‘I find your ideas hard to grasp’, I would reply with ‘Let me give you some concrete examples’.
Tapping in to how people think and moderating your language accordingly can hugely improve communication.
YOU NEED A HAPPY YOU TO MAKE A HAPPY TWO
In order to be happy in a relationship, you must be happy in yourself first. After all, the strongest base for a good relationship is when both partners are content independently as well as together. In 2003, a ground-breaking study by professors in Germany found that people who are happily married also tend to be happy prior to getting married. In other words, being happy in yourself is the best predictor of a happy marriage.
Happy people typically make two choices. Firstly when they are at happy events, they choose to enjoy them. And secondly, they choose to reframe difficulties in a positive way. A hard task at work may be framed as ‘a chance to prove my competence’, or a broken leg as ‘a reminder of how grateful I am for the times when my body works well’.
Not naturally endowed with huge amounts of positivity and self-esteem? Don’t worry, try Havening Therapy, an exercise described in the box on the top right.
BEST GIFT IS AS SIMPLE AS TAKING OUT THE RUBBISH
We can be generous in many ways in a relationship – with our emotions, with our time, with practical and financial gifts. But while this seems something to aspire to, an excess of generosity can also damage a relationship.
Be mindful that not all gifts have to be materialistic. Forget diamond rings and exotic holidays, the best gifts are practical and psychological. They can be as dull and domestic as taking out the rubbish.
Be mindful that not all gifts have to be materialistic. Forget diamond rings and exotic holidays, the best gifts are practical and psychological. Stock picture
Sometimes your partner cares a lot about things that don’t matter much to you. A simple way of giving is to care about those things as well. In fact, one of the most important gifts we can give is time: paying attention, helping, listening and letting your partner do their own thing.
We give the gift of attention when we make a point of complimenting new clothes or haircuts. One small compliment may not seem at all important, but it carries the meaning ‘I am paying attention to you’, and that is a very important meaning indeed.
TURN YOUR ARGUMENTS INTO CONVERSATIONS
The strength of a relationship can be deepened when we disagree with our partners.
Arguments are inevitable, but the important thing to remember is – it doesn’t matter what you disagree about, what matters is how you disagree.
The one emotion that proves you’re doomed to break up…
Dr John Gottman has been studying relationships for 40 years. In his early career, he listened to the conversations of thousands of couples.
After many years of scientific observation, he has identified language patterns that indicate a troubled relationship, and now says he can predict with 90 per cent accuracy if a couple will stay together after listening to just 20 minutes of their conversation.
The first sign of trouble is personal criticism. It’s possible to disagree with someone or dislike what someone does, but being critical of who they are is a red flag.
The second sign is defensiveness. This is the counterpart to criticism – when one person criticises and the other is defensive, an argument is almost inevitable.
The third signal of danger is when one partner refuses to engage with the other. This is called ‘stonewalling’.
And finally, the most dangerous sign of trouble is contempt, where someone is emotionally cut off, even if they haven’t yet left the relationship.
Couples in healthy relationships have very different conversation patterns. They listen to each other, and respond to attempts at conversation.
They also tend to express admiration for each other and compliment each other regularly.
Very frequently, happy couples are optimistic people – they notice the good things in life, appreciate them, and share them with their other half.
And you can learn to be a better arguer. First of all you have to forget the idea of winning or losing. While in the world of business it may be important to convince someone of your point of view, in a relationship, if you win an argument, it means someone else loses. And it is not a good thing to be the cause of your partner losing. Instead, you must let the argument develop into a conversation, which increases understanding.
But how do you stop arguing and start talking?
When you get into an argument and the adrenaline is flowing, there is a strong urge to keep going. Anger can reduce self-awareness and can even give you a sort of high. You flip into attacking or defending a position and it’s rare that anything productive results.
So what – practically – can you do when you find yourself in a situation like this? The answer is HeartMath, a technique that’s used by the US military and can help shift your attention from your head to your heart. The result is that your body relaxes, your mind gets clearer, and your brain releases the positive chemical changes of natural relaxation.
1. Become aware that you are experiencing a stressful feeling in your body or that your mind is racing.
2. Put your hand on your heart and focus your energy into this area. Take at least three slow and gentle breaths into your heart, maintaining your focus on the feeling of your hand in the centre of your chest.
3. Now, recall a time when you felt really, really good – a time you felt love, joy or real happiness! Return to that memory as if you are back there again right now. See what you saw, hear what you heard, and feel how good you felt.
4. As you feel this good feeling in your body, imagine your heart could speak to you. Ask your heart how you could take better care of yourself in this moment and in this situation.
5. Listen to what your heart says in answer to your question and act as soon as you can.
NORMAL TO YOU ISN’T NORMAL TO EVERYONE
A popular metaphor about getting to know people says it’s like peeling off layers of an onion. But actually I think we’re all on a journey through life and, as we travel, we learn and adapt and change.
As your relationship develops, you will find that you need to negotiate more and more with your partner. Stock picture
So getting to know your partner is not so much about finding the centre of the onion but more like having a long-term travelling companion, and as you travel, both of you respond to your environment and learn and grow.
The first thing to learn is what your partner sees as normal. Most of us learn about relationships from the family we grow up in.
What you’re raised with is ‘normal’ to you and forms the basis of your expectations as you grow up. It’s only when these expectations are not met that we notice how much we assume about people, and find out that what we think is ‘normal’ or ‘what everyone does’ is, in fact, just ‘normal for me’ and ‘what some people do’.
The mental trick that eases stress and sadness
Created by American doctor Ronald Ruden, the Havening sequence uses patterns of repeated touch combined with specific eye movements and visualisations to relieve sadness and reduce stress, trauma and psychological blocks.
Scientific studies have shown that it is amazingly effective – even if we don’t know what the block is.
I recommend doing this exercise daily for 21 days. It has helped me, and countless people I know, improve their relationships immeasurably.
1. Pay attention to the discomfort or the block you wish to remove and notice what it looks like in your imagination. Now, rate its strength on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is the most powerful and 1 is the smallest.
2. Clear your mind, or just think about something nice.
3. Cross your arms, place your hands on the tops of your shoulders and close your eyes.
4. Stroke your hands down the sides of your arms from your shoulders to your elbows, down and up, again and again.
5. Carry on stroking and imagine you are walking on a beautiful beach. With each footstep in the sand, count out loud from 1 to 20.
6. Keep your head still while you keep stroking your arms and move your eyes to the left and right 20 times.
7. Still stroking the sides of your arms, imagine walking down a flight of 20 stairs. Count out loud with each footstep.
8. Open your eyes and check, on your scale from 1 to 10, the number of the feeling of sadness, stress or trauma now.
Repeat the Havening sequence until it is reduced as far as you want.
WORK BACKWARDS TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS
When you first meet your partner, you don’t know them very well, but your imagination automatically fills in the gaps. The more you like them, the more work your imagination does. You imagine having a great time hiking in the Scottish mountains and paddling on the beach with kids without even knowing if they like hiking, or beaches, or kids.
This is normal but what’s important is you don’t see this projection as a template, but as raw material. These ideas should be viewed as possibilities, inspiration, and be open to change and development. This gives room for the projections of both partners to be included – everything is an option and together you can choose what to reject, what to use and what to develop.
Sooner or later, you discover that your partner does not have identical projections to you – they may want the same thing as you, but it may be in different amounts or at different times.
Therefore, as your relationship develops, you will find that you need to negotiate more and more with your partner. But together you will work out what your shared values and shared goals are.
Once you know your goals, however distant they are, you can ‘back-engineer’ the route to get there. Picture where you want to be and ask yourself: ‘If I get there, what is the stage just before this one?’ Work out what that is, then work out the preceding stage. ‘To get there, what needs to have happened just before this?’
Keep doing this, step by step, until you get to a step which is accessible to you from right here, right now.
© Paul McKenna, 2020
Extracted by Claire Coleman from Seven Things That Make Or Break A Relationship, by Paul McKenna, published by Bantam Press on Thursday at £14.99.
To order your copy for £9.99 (33 per cent discount), go to mailshop.co.uk or call 01603 648155 by March 31. Free delivery on all orders – no minimum spend.
Look into my heart… hypnotherapist Paul McKenna on how he found love
Money, success, celebrity… top hypnotherapist Paul McKenna had it all. Yet for years he was unlucky in love. He tells Julia Llewellyn Smith how he finally focused his legendary powers on himself – with astonishing results
‘I could hardly write about relationships when i couldn’t stay in one’
Six years ago Paul McKenna came to the crashing realisation he was a commitment-phobe. The hypnotist and motivation guru – who’d built a career telling people how to be thinner, smarter, richer and happier – found himself lonely with a string of failed relationships behind him. ‘My life had been lived very much at 25,000 feet; it was exciting. But I wasn’t happy.’
Paul, now 56, seemed to have it all: a fortune estimated at £75 million, a Hollywood mansion, clients including David Beckham and Robbie Williams, and over a dozen self-help books under his belt. But, tellingly, he’d never tackled the topic of love. ‘I could hardly write about relationships when I couldn’t stay in one,’ he laughs.
At the time, Paul had been single for a couple of years after a series of unsuccessful relationships with various women, including model Liz Fuller and TV presenter Penny Smith.
‘I dated lots of lovely ladies,’ he reveals. ‘But none lasted. In the end I had to go, “What’s the common denominator here?”’
Paul with Kate, his former PA and now wife
Then friend and fellow life coach Ronnie Rudin stepped in. ‘He said to me, “I notice you date a lot of beautiful women but you don’t actually like them. Think about who you love to be with; who you are attracted to.”’ So Paul used his hypnotic powers to put himself ‘in a trance. Then I drew up a spreadsheet of who I really loved.’ An Excel spreadsheet? Paul laughs. ‘No, a spreadsheet in my subconscious. I’m not that much of a weirdo!’ The spreadsheet’s conclusion shocked him. It showed him the person he most loved spending time with was his PA of 25 years Kate Davey. ‘I thought, “My God, I secretly fancy her.” I felt really awkward.’
But not long afterwards, he and Kate sat down in Paul’s kitchen with a bottle of wine. ‘I said, “Tell me something about yourself I don’t know” and she turned to me and said “I love you,” and it was like, “Woohoo!”’ What happened next? Paul grins. ‘Let’s just say it was passionate.’
To begin with their working relationship made things ‘rocky’. Kate had been with Paul for a quarter of a century, first as his PA, then as MD of many of his companies. ‘We certainly had to redraw the boundaries,’ he says. Initially, they kept things secret, while spending less time working together one-on-one. They were encouraged by Paul’s 82-year-old mum Joan, who’d long urged him to go out with Kate.
The couple married in Barbados in 2016, and today, sitting in the living room of his house in Kensington, West London, with Kate, Paul seems content. ‘My values have shifted and that’s because I’m not just married, I’m happily married,’ he says. ‘When I was single I told myself, “Marriage is a trap.” But now I’ve found someone I genuinely love to be with.’
Paul’s seven steps to a happier love life in today’s The Mail on Sunday
Paul’s transformation from man-about-town to poster boy for married bliss began nine years ago after his father’s death. ‘I was in a terrible place,’ he says. ‘Losing Dad hit me hard. I was probably drinking too much. Real depression is when you don’t care if you live or die.’
Eventually he realised he had to get his ‘head in a better place’. He tried various methods to help him ‘be reinfected with the joy of life’, such as Havening – a touch therapy that is thought to boost the happiness hormone serotonin, reducing anxiety and banishing bad memories. Havening features in Paul’s new book Seven Things That Make or Break a Relationship. His 19th book, it is particularly close to his heart. His aim is to help readers find love or, if they’re in a couple, keep the flame alive. ‘I could only have written the book because I got it so wrong in the past,’ he says. What Paul now knows is that if you can’t make relationships work, it’s probably because you’re sabotaging yourself. For some people, this is because they grew up with warring parents. But his were happily married. Instead, he veered off the rails after ‘getting burned’ by a girlfriend in his 20s.
‘I was so in love and then it didn’t work out. She cheated on me,’ Paul says. ‘After that, I thought, “I’ll never get that vulnerable again.”’
So Paul shifted his focus to achieving wealth and fame. A drive, he says, that came from seeing his father run his building company. ‘Some days business wasn’t good and he’d have to lay people off. I thought, “I don’t want that. I want to be rich.” But I hadn’t realised that having more money doesn’t mean being happier.’
Growing up in Enfield, North London, Paul left school at 17 with few qualifications and worked as a DJ in Topshop in London’s Oxford Circus. He then moved to Capital Radio, which sent him to interview a hypnotist after he’d had his heart broken. Paul was put into a trance and afterwards felt ‘profoundly relaxed’. Impressed, he began studying hypnosis and practising on his friends, before hosting stage shows, amusing audiences by brainwashing grown men into ‘dancing like a ballerina, all sorts of stupid stuff’.
His career rocketed after he realised that hypnosis could help people improve their lives, with CDs, TV shows and motivational talks. He moved to LA in 2008 and for years had a blast, partying, swimming in his pool and driving classic cars. ‘But now the pressure of having to attend two parties a night has gone,’ he says. ‘I was chatting to David Walliams [who he helped prepare for his swim across the Channel] recently. He said, “I love going out, but I also love being at home with Netflix.” I said, “I’m totally with you.” Now what makes me happy is my first cup of tea in the morning, walking my dog, being with Kate.’
Eventually he realised he had to get his ‘head in a better place’
The pair are very different in style. Paul is the showman, ‘but she’s the boss,’ he grins. He says they rarely fight. ‘The last argument we had was after a dinner when she said, “You paid too much attention to this person and cut me off.” I said, “No, I didn’t” and she said, “Yes, you did.” In the past I thought that you kept on arguing until one of you gives up, but Kate’s brilliant at saying “Let’s agree to disagree.” We just let it go.’
He often compares notes with his friend Simon Cowell, another commitment-phobe turned family man. ‘We were on holiday a few years ago and he said to me, “Who would have thought it?” and I said, “Exactly!” I’ve never seen Simon happier.’
It sounds as though the couple, now London-based to be closer to their friends, are having a ball, with Paul reducing work commitments so that they can travel. ‘We were in Barcelona recently and Kate said, “I didn’t know I could be this happy.”’ He beams. ‘I’m still emotional about that. I said, “Thank you. That’s my Nobel Prize. Job done.”’
- Paul’s latest book Seven Things That Make or Break a Relationship will be published by Bantam Press on 13 February, price £14.99. To order a copy for £9.99 with free p&p until 31 march, call 01603 648155 or go to mailshop.co.uk .
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Seven steps to guarantee you a happy love life: PAUL MCKENNA reveals the secrets to a strong relationship (and how to know when it's all over) after finally falling in love himself aged 50 have 4411 words, post on www.dailymail.co.uk at February 8, 2020. This is cached page on Auto News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.