The Secret Power of Knickers!

Victoria's Secret
“Victoria’s Secret” may be the most popular lingerie company on the planet, but the brand holds the key to an even deeper secret than the secret of  what we wear under our daywear.

I often wonder if there are many advantages to being a Woman.

(Notwithstanding the unforgiveable way men have behaved towards Women over the centuries… and continue to do so in the dark toilets of this planet, like Yemen…)

Is there a way to harness the ritual of getting ready for a  potentially draining social event so that we can feel safe, even empowered?  This could be Victoria’s greatest secret.

Specifically, the longer ritual of preparation – with or without make-up – can be made to mean something far deeper (emotionally) than the obvious physcial practicalities of needing to look our best for the party.

My Mum was an area manager for PippaDee Parties – ladies’ knickers if you’ve never heard of them.

Whilst, as a child, I wasn’t invited to the parties, for obvious reasons, I grew up surrounded by a vivacious group of ladies who were excited about underwear.

This is alien to the male of the species.

Simply, this is not an opportunity straight men have.  Our underwear is either boring or subjected to juvenile prints of Homer Simpson.

I’ve never lost my fascination with the enduring and lingering power of lingerie – “underwear” is the wrong word because it can become such a vital part of both the ritual of preparation, and the armour required to face the challenge of the day.

I read of a High Court Judge (female and American) who got a real buzz from knowing that under the drab black wings of her court outfit she was sporting the latest, finest plumage in designer lingerie.  The lingerie was for her – for no-one else.  And it worked.  She felt empowered.  Invincible.

Even our own dear Bridget Jones has faced the dilemma of the Big Knickers vs the empowering torture of unreasonable under-clothing!

If George Bernard Shaw has been a transvestite, he may well have said, “The reasonable person dresses to please the World; the unreasonable person dresses to change the World – that’s why all progress depends on unreasonable underwear!”

I hope that made you laugh, and that the ghost of Shaw will forgive my reframing of his powerful prose.

My (perhaps) over-lengthy point is that if you’re going out tonight you may need ‘protection’… the protection of a ritual preparation involving the deliberate and meaningful choice of which perfume, which make-up, which under-wear, which outer-wear to choose to prepare to become invincible and impervious to any energy vampire you may encounter.  Everything can mean something if we choose it to.

Male choices may be smaller but they still exist.  I remember meeting a teacher who wore a different colour tie as a code to his class as to how open he was to either ‘playfulness’ today, or how closed he was to being mucked about.  The code was secret and unwritten, but they learned!  So much communication is below the threshold of consciousness.  So much communication is underware/underwear, under our awareness!

In my golden days of training I encouaged my students to layer as many senses on purpose as they could imagine to access, maintain, or recover an emotional state.

  • Something they could see that means that emotion to them (e.g. “confidence”)
  • Something they could say to themselves and something they could listen to like a playlist for the mood they were choosing
  • Something they could physically do or physically change or physically wear – I never underestimate the power of heels.  They are madness physiologically, but emotionally they are dynamite.  Clothes matter.  They empower you to ad-dress your state of mind!  Interestingly, a ‘cloak’ is often associated with being ‘anointed’ to play a role in the good old Bible.  They talk of a ‘mantle’ of leadership… fascinating!
  • Ideally, something distinctive to wear as a scent – the sense of smell being the most powerful courier of emotion, memory and state – below the threshold of consciousness.
  • And let’s not forget taste.  Popeye had his spinach… what is the taste of confidence, I wonder?  After all, isnt’ there the sweet taste of success or even of …revenge!

Distincitve choices are important.  Crucial, in fact, otherwise the meanings get muddied in the mix of emotions.  Confidence panties should be kept for situations where confidence is required.  Relaxing knickers are and should be different!

To get you started, here are seven magnificent states I like to trigger at will:

  • Confidence (can be quiet and outwardly passive)
  • Assertiveness (slightly different for me – embracing my family motto: manu forti – “with a strong hand” – always active or proactive)
  • Romantically loving
  • Peaceful (with the recovery mantra, “I can choose peace rather than this,” and the maintaining mantra, “I am calm, I am becoming Karma(Calmer).”  That always tickles me!)
  • Creative
  • Joyful/Fun
  • Reflective and Relaxed

Imagine switching on all those at will!

You know this is what iPods were invented for?

And now you know why Victoria’s Secret is not so secret anymore.

Young Victoria's Secret

If you wish to be confident, confide


If you wish to be confident, confide!

Today’s message was inpired by the cover of a notebook I recently found.  The inscription that inspired reads simply, “If you wish to be a writer, write!”

Simple truth.

And what a gift to a writer!  That one truth leads to all manner of helpful thoughts: “if you want to be an xer, x!”  If you want to be a lovely person, love!  If you want to be good friend, be friendly!  I think there will be a good few blogs and poems coming out of that one!

The one that struck me with great force was the prevaling issue of “Confidence”.  So many people need to build and express confidence in themselves and their abilities and self worth.

Could it be true then that if you want to be more confident, you need to confide in someone?  Etymologically, I’m building on a firm foundation here – but will it work in the real world?

True Friends

I believe a lack of confidence can come from doubts about oneself.  These doubts can be based upon the opinions of key people throughout our development, comparing ourselves with the models supplied by the media, and the way we talk to ourselves internally.  It may also stem from decisions we’ve made that have not worked out well.

I think we all need a confessor; a friend we can trust in; a friend we can tell the truth, the whole truth to.  The root of “confide” is the Latin confidere which is “to trust in, rely firmly upon, believe.”  (online etymology dictionary)

Everyone, and I do mean everyone who has consciousness, needs someone who knows everything about them and yet genuinely accepts them without criticism or judgment.  Even better it is to find a friend who not only accepts but encourages.

Coming Out

A vital area a friend can support in is in the whole process of “coming out”.  Fortunately we have many tolerant societies around the World where being anything other than heterosexual is now OK.  Of course there are some orientations that are not OK and never will be, but the orientation of consenting adults should not be something we judge others about.

Some Christians have a real issue with this, which I understand but do not condone.  Christian love is supposed to be so amazingly different to anything else that a word had to be dedicated for the use of this “God-kind-of-Love” – Agape.  This, for many spiritual people, has the meaning of unconditional love.  It is contrasted with Philia – which is used for friendly love – and Eros – which is a whole other ball game!

We all need a friend who will show us Agape – the spiritual, unconditional love, that seeks nothing in return.

That would be the FACTS of Life for me:

Friend + Agape + Confide + Trust = Success

I am very fortunate to have two friends like that – and I don’t thank them often enough… something to do today.

A Word or Two of Warning

I, personally, have confided in more than those two friends.  With these two “saints” all is well, in fact our relationships are better for the “truth” shared between us.

I also shared with two other ‘friends’ over the years.  In confiding in them, I received the opposite – rejection.  (I’m not completely heterosexual!)  The result was a loss of confidence.  The relationships were lost too.

So, choose carefully in whom you confide.  I can’t believe I made such mistakes in the past, but at least I found my two who are a rock to me.  They, and only they, have built my confidence.

I would have to say to anyone reading this, I am worth you confiding in.  Sometimes the comfort of relative strangers is a deep comfort – and I’m here for you.

Improvised Discounts

Improvised Discounts and the Art of Communicating

I was talking on the phone with an important client yesterday evening. We were planning to meet up. I was enthusiastic about this, and said, “that’ll be brilliant!” He said, “It’ll be good, I’m not sure about ‘brilliant’.”
He wasn’t being cute of funny. He was just being himself.
It reminded me, usefully, of one of the Golden Rules of Impro (‘Improv’ or ‘improvisational theatre’). In Impro (as in the game show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”), one of the key principles is the win-win of building on a colleague’s suggestion. So if a colleague improvises and says, “I see you have a wooden leg” – the idea is to develop the theme. The next character might say, “And I’m terrified by the way you remind me of a woodpecker – get away from my leg!” An inexperienced impro artist will often panic and negate a line fed to them. In our story above, they might say, “No, I think you’ll find I have a normal leg…” What does the first actor do now? If they are brilliant, they’ll recover and add something Pythonesque such as, “I’m sorry, I have a cold!” but many people will let the connection die.
Communication Professionals call this negative barrier an ‘empathy blocker’.

It blocks empathy.

Blocks the flow of the conversation.

Creates an impasse.

We are not sympatico.

Pacing and Leading

In Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), great emphasis is placed on ‘pacing’ then ‘leading’. This is the opposite of an empathy blocker’s behaviour. We ‘pace’ a person – matching not just their speed but also their frame-of-reference, choice of tone, language, and volume. Then, when we believe ‘rapport’ has been achieved (we are sympatico), the partner in the dance of communication takes the lead. If the other follows, the dance continues. This ebb and flow, this give and take, I call “The Estuary of Conversation”.

Improvised Discounts

My client is normal. The normal way to communicate is for people to hold fast to their own world-view and decline the invitation to dance. This is as thrilling for the other party as having their card declined at the checkout… with a queue of people watching!  A lot of opportunities to dance are missed.

In this sense, any conversation is a series of transactions. When we fail to pace and lead, we decline the transaction. The conversation fails. It skids to a halt. Rapport is broken, like some strange chemical bond being broken, and you chemists know what happens next… a reaction!
Most people, when their transaction has been blocked, go quiet. That’s pretty sensible. When you’re ready though, you will learn the power of returning to pacing. You will be the experienced Impro Actor. When the apprentice stumbles, you must masterfully and graciously pick up their pace again and go with their flow. “I’m sorry, I have a cold…”
This is going to happen to you.

A lot.

So let’s get ready for it. Realise that it actually is a well-developed improvisational skill: improvised discounting! Discounting is the habit of rendering someone else’s point-of-view of lower value than they hold it to be worth – a discount. Many discounts are actually dismissive of the total value, but everyday conversations are full of little put-downs, empathy blockers, and discounts. A discount devalues the relationship. This is occasionally deliberate (where someone is being spiteful or jealous) but it is usually totalling innocent and beyond the awareness of the offending party.

Improvised Bargain

We can move from an ‘improvised discount’ to an ‘improvised bargain’. ‘Bargain’ is a strange word – meaning to ‘bar’ ‘gain’ – to forbid or block anyone gaining. In this sense, it is not a word I like. I do, however, like what it has come to mean in everyday speech. It means win-win. Neither party wins to the detriment of the other.

It is fair.

It is just.

It is Impro!

With an ‘improvised bargain’ of a conversation, the transactions are equal and flowing. Each listens, acknowledges, reflects, and builds on the other’s contributions…


…and a simple way to do this is to swap out the word ‘but’ for the phrase ‘and so’ (or just ‘and’ where more appropriate.)
And so, back to our actors…
“I see you have a wooden leg…”
“And so I make an excellent Pirate, ahargh!”
With pacing and leading on today’s agenda, I wonder if we can dance from ‘good’ to ‘brilliant’? I’ll let you know.
Can’t wait for the performance!

Moodscope: The “Interested” Card

The Interested Card

“Interested” – defined by Moodscope as: “wanting to be involved in something”.

This is a lean-forward, edge-of-the-seat, cock-your-head-to-one-side type of mindset.  Notice how many of those phrases are physical.  When we want to be involved, we naturally incline our body forward.  We are ‘inclined’ to be involved!  When we want to listen attentively, we most often move our heads to an angled position – perhaps to get a better ‘stereo’ sound reference.  Why we do it is not as important as the fact that we do it instinctively.

Walking in Agreement

Psychology and Physiology are the best of friends.  “Can two walk together unless they agree?”  (Amos 3:3)  They ‘agree’ with one another.  They are congruent with one another.  As with the mind, so with the body; as with the body, so with the mind.  Every time you shift your posture – you have to change your mind.  Why?  Well I’m playing with words but what I mean is that you are triggering a different pathway – a different pattern of neurons.  These patterns of ‘thoughts’ group together in clusters of associations.  So, your body knows what position it should take if you feel uninterested just as your body knows the position it should take when you’re interested.

So what?  Well we do the Moodscope cards because often we are not interested in being involved in something.  We’ve lost our Oomph!  Our get-up-and-go, got-up-and-went!

My suggestion (and I’m looking forwards to your suggestions) is to run after our get-up-and-go!  How?  By moving.  By moving our posture forward towards something.  By breaking any pattern in our body posture that ‘says’ “I’m not interested.”

Practically, if I’m finding it hard to stay engaged in a conversation, I deliberately sit up, move forward on my seat, lean forwards, and put my head to one side as if listening more attentively.  I don’t know how it works.  I don’t know why it works.  But I do know that it does work.

When you change your (physical) attitude and position you change your (mental) attitude and position.

Folks, the consequences of this are utterly life-changing: if you ever get stuck in an attitude you don’t like, you can only stay stuck if you stay stuck in that position.

If you ever get stuck period – change your physical position and new patterns of thought will flow.  Keep changing until you get some thoughts you like.

What’s your inclination today?

Assume the position!

I Annoy Me

I Annoy Me… period.

Honest Friendship

I spent time with a very close friend this weekend. The kind of friend you can have an honest conversation with and hold nothing back.
They were really in a ratty mood. When we drove somewhere they were criticising lots of other drivers. Everything was ‘annoying’.
It was as much as I could do to stop myself from bursting out laughing – it was so funny.
Why was it so funny? Well, because nothing was that serious – they were just in a ‘mood’.

Of course, if I had laughed, that really would have annoyed them!

A Perfect Day

A few weeks ago I had a ‘Perfect Day’. I got to see Peter Gabriel, my favourite artiste, playing my favourite Album (“So”), with my all-time favourite Bass-Player – Tony Levin, with two of my three beloved sons. Hey, the bar even had my favourite beer (Blue Moon). To be honest, if anything minor had gone wrong that day, I would have shrugged it off as insignificant compared with the overwhelming joy of the day.

Compared with what?

The contrasting events got me thinking. It was so easy to see that my friend was working themselves up over ‘nothing’. With the detachment I had, this was so obvious. And yet, as they pointed out to me, I was “…a fine one to talk!” That’s because I am often annoyed – especially at discourteous driving!!!

I can choose peace…

Unfortunately I know enough about psychology now to realise that nothing can annoy me! It’s what I do with the stimuli in my head that provokes either the response of peace or the annoyed reaction. When we’ve had our fill of irritations in a day, we begin to assign more meaning to annoying events than perhaps we should. After all, is that driver cutting in ahead without using their indicator really trying to annoy me personally? No, of course not!

Annoying Acronyms

As a result of our ratty road-trip, I came up with four acronyms to summarise my lessons learned:
• YAM = You Annoy Me!
• TRAM = That Really Annoys Me!
• I AM = I Annoy Me
• NAM = Nothing Annoys Me
It’s a bit of an evolutionary journey. First I thought other people annoyed me. But that’s not true.
Then I had the sense to realise that people are more than their behaviours. To go for the ball, not the player.
Breakthrough came when I realised I was the one annoying me!!!
Then finally, I realise that I can get to a point where nothing annoys me…
…am I there yet? No.
And you know what?


That Really Annoys Me!!!!

Encourage One Another – Daily

I thought I might return to my roots and begin producing a Sunday Sermon again!  Fret not if you’re not into sermons – this is for everyone, not just for those who attend Church (which I don’t either, currently).

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

Hebrews 13:3

Today’s little message is on the vital importance of encouragement… encouragement as a daily prescription for psychological and spiritual health.

Encourage is a wonderful word isn’t it – the english splits to ‘en’ and ‘courage’ – which could be a message in itself – how we can put courage into one another.

The Greek meaning here is more of an intimate urging – to bring comfort or even bring motivation to action.  It is to act as a catalyst to help someone convert inertia into momentum.

Your Personal Coach

Being an encourager is like being somebody’s personal coach – and on a daily basis.  You lovely gym goers will know about the power of having a personal trainer.  Well this is a personal trainer or coach for your soul.  The Scripture here is suggesting this is a role for all of us.  Part of our mission as fully-paid-up-members-of-the-Human-Race is to encourage others.  What do you think of that description:


I first heard that used to describe Vanda North (  It seemed a very loving way to describe someone.  When I met Vanda I understood why.  Here is someone who is fully subscribed to being all that’s good about Humanity: compassion, humour, joy… and encouragement.  Vanda is one of those people who sees no value in using one exclamation mark when three would be better!!!  I have never left a meeting with Vanda without feeling encouraged

So how about that as a role for you and me too?

It’s a simple mission: seek to encourage everyone you meet – and on a daily basis!

Of course, there would be consequences!

  1. We might have to cut down on complaining or gossiping – because they’re not very encouraging to hear about are they?
  2. It might not work!  And for this reason, encouraging others needs to be our intention regardless of the outcome.
  3. It might be catching!

Psychological Sclerosis

I thought that would excite you!  Sclerosis is a word used to describe the hardening of body tissues.  The one that interests me here is the heart – the spiritual heart.  It seems that a lack of daily encouragement can lead to a hardening of the heart.  Here it mentions “sin’s deceitfulness” – but I don’t want to be all preachy.  My single point is that discouragement might as well be called sin because it is so destructive and deceitful.  Encouragement is positively righteous!

I’ve met thousands of people with a hard heart… and perhaps thousands more on the way to a hard heart.  It is not attractive.  Well, at least we know the rememdy: daily encouragement.  The Doctor can keep her apple, I’d prefer encouragement any day!

Our Mission/Hour Mission

So are you ready for our Mission briefing?  Being an encourager (or “fully-paid-up-member-of-the-Human-Race”) is about being creative.  Why?  Well some people are going to pose a challenge!  Can you find something good to say about everyone you meet each day?!!!  If not, there’s a “Plan B”.  Plan B is to find something good to say to everyone you meet.

That will still take creativity – especially if you’re not feeling so good yourself – but it can be done.  You see:

“Action follows attention…”

Psychologically, action follows our thinking patterns (obviously!)  And our thinking patterns are stimulated by where our attention is.  Where is your attention?  By drawing someone’s attention to something encouraging, you tamper with their mindset in a good way!  I don’t usually feel happy after watching the News, do you?  But five minutes with Vanda, and I’m grinning like a joyous chap!  I’d love to be able to have that effect on others.

Hour Mission… how about having this as an hourly ambition and mission – find something good to say to someone each hour.  Sounds exhausting?  Actually it’s the nutrition that feeds and fuels life – because I promise you that you’ll find that when you encourage others, you’ll end up feeling encouraged and energised yourself.