Category Archives: Psychology & self-help

Seriously Deprived

Over the past few months my girlfriend has been teaching me how to swim, and just yesterday (4/7/2015) I found I can finally do it!


Why am I so excited as to blog about it?

I’d pretty much given up on it as a child. When I was about 6 I used to take swimming lessons with my school, but – as with a lot of practical skills – they stopped doing it. I never took it up again, not because I didn’t want to but because I just… let life go on.

(Same with cooking. My secondary school used to do it, but then they stopped. As far as I’m concerned it was early training for perpetual consumerhood) 

My mother has a phobia of water. I never did, so when we used to go on holiday I always went in the water, but being unable to swim I just paddled, walked and splashed. I even tried doing my martial arts in the sea – didn’t work. I never managed to keep my balance.

Even riding a bike I never learned in my childhood.

Yep. I only learned to ride a bike on holiday in Egypt. I was 18. When I and my family came back I started getting into it, but then my ex-stepdad shouted at me for sitting too upright on the seat! For fuck’s sake! I was still learning, I didn’t have full balance yet! And I still don’t, I can’t really be bothered with yet another object to look after and repair.

(And he put me off with that remark. Asswipe.)

Learning to swim was a struggle. My girlfriend was getting annoyed how much I moaned that trying to float was pointless ’cause my legs don’t float. They still don’t. I’ve been saying for ages that I’m a bottom-heavy person, I always have to move my legs to stay afloat.

But at least now I don’t need the floats anymore so that’s fucking progress!

Just yesterday in the changing room, I was talking to a guy who’d been giving me tips throughout. I told him about my bottom-heavy body, and I was pleasantly surprised at his response – he said, “Of course. When you float you have to move your waist and legs.”

THANK FUCKING GOD!!! Finally, someone who explained that you can’t just stay still on the water!!!

At the moment regarding swimming I’m still learning some fine points:

  • how to turn my whole upper body in the water and inhale fast enough so I don’t have to crane my neck up for air,
  • how to breathe so I don’t keep getting water going down my nose and mouth*,
  • how to keep my legs kicking for longer ’cause they get tired really quickly (or is that from the workouts I always do beforehand?).

* This became an issue yesterday, as one of the lifeguards told me not to spit because people were complaining. So what am I supposed to do? I’m not a bloodclaat fish, I can’t breathe water. He seemed too dumb to get that it was the water in my nose and throat making me spit. Somehow he thought I had a cold or hay fever or something. Besides, I always spit in the drain around the pool not in the water itself, then use the water to wash the phlegm down. Is it more hygienic to spit in the pool or the drain? Common sense.

How to be a powerful ‘black’ person – summarised principles part 3

This is a continuation of the first posts, How to be a powerful ‘black’ person parts 1 & 2.

  • It’s possible to see out worst problems as our greatest opportunities, as long as we’re willing to go outside our traditional patterns of perception. There are 2 ways to do this:
  • Context reframing = showing how one behaviour that’s bad/ upsetting in one situation is good/ pleasing in another.
  • Content reframing = taking any event and altering its meaning to you.
  • Reframing can also be done on an interpersonal level; that’s pretty much the whole point of advertising.
  • Note: if trying to change someone’s behaviour, whether your own or someone else’s, it’s important to ensure the new behaviour preserves or outdoes the benefits of the old.
  • Anchors = sensory stimuli linked to a specific mental state. It can be a phrase, word, touch, object, anything, and can affect any of the senses. With conscious anchoring you can produce a constant mechanism with which to put you  in a desirable state, and produce results far greater than the effort needed to do them!


  1. Have the person in a fully congruent state (INTENSITY),
  2. Provide the chosen stimulus at the peak of that state (TIMING),
  3. Ensure the stimulus is unique (UNIQUENESS),
  4. Keep practising it precisely to make it work (REPLICATION).


  1. Identify specifically what you want an anchor for and what state would best help you to achieve it,
  2. Identify your current state,
  3. Use verbal and nonverbal communications to achieve the desired state,
  4. Determine when you’re at the peak of that state* and give the anchor,
  5. Test it by changing state then using the anchor to ensure it produces the desired state again.

* by noting your breath, eye motions, posture, skin tone, muscle tension, pupil size & lower lip size.

Note: Anchors can be stacked, strengthened by combining multiple desired states in 1 anchor!

Note 2: Anchoring happens constantly (via media, news, etc), therefore being aware of how to make your own can protect you from ‘random’ mental fluctuations.

Note 3: You can use more  than 1 anchor simultaneously. For example, if you’ve been locked in a negative state you can use one to oppose it by triggering it at the same time, so when either anchor is used (+ve or -ve) your brain has a choice. It will almost always choose the +ve.

  • Prioritising your values & putting them into hierarchies is the way to judge success & progression properly.
  • Differentiate between ends values (emotional states to have or avoid, the driving forces of all behaviour) & means values (instruments used to achieve them).


  1. What’s most important to you in your life?
  2. Rearrange your answers in order of importance/ priority.
  3. What states would you most want to avoid?
  4. Rearrange your answers in order of importance/ priority.
  5. Examine your rules for your values (what makes you feel like you’ve fulfilled a value or not?).
  6. Make new rules to achieve +ve values and avoid -ve ones.

Remember that knowledge is only POTENTIAL power. ACTION is what makes the difference.


  1. Learn how to handle frustration.
  2. Learn how to handle rejection.
  3. Learn how to handle financial pressure.
  4. Learn how to handle complacency.
  5. Always give more than you expect to get.

Note: Success is a process & a way of life.

  • One constant of modernity is persuasion. That’s what advertising is all about! Using anchors for visual & auditory, & maybe even kinaesthetic.
  • Learn to give value first, that’s the best way to persuade someone. What can you do for others, now?
  • All human problems are behavioural problems.
  • To really make a difference, learn to be a leader by learning to persuade people. Keep in mind that the world is run by persuaders.
  • Unlimited power is the power to use what happens to you to your advantage, favourable & unfavourable.
  • Be around people who inspire you to improve.

How to be a powerful ‘black’ person – summarised principles part 2

This post is a continuation from the one about how to be a powerful ‘black’ person. Find that one here


(basically just working out the syntax of people’s submodalities, both your own & others’)

  • Leaders show how they lead through their physiology.
  • To fuel your body properly, you must breathe abdominally/ diaphragmatically (ie. expand your abdomen & diaphragm upon inhalation and contract upon exhalation), eat water-rich foods*, only eat as much as you need at a time, eliminate or limit meat in your diet**, and eat more fruit & veg (especially veg).

* or just drink more water.

** admittedly this I don’t do. Though I can easily do without it I like meat.

  • All successful people know what they want. Ensure you do too (and note this is NOT the same as knowing what you don’t want), by:
  1. Stating your outcome in positive terms
  2. Being sensory specific (what it will look, sound, feel, smell &/or taste like)
  3. Having an evidence procedure, some way to track progress
  4. Being in control, making sure you’re doing it purely for yourself and not for others
  5. Ensuring it’s beneficial & desirable


  1. Inventory your desires – what you want to be, do, have & share
  2. Make a timeline for when you want to achieve them by (roughly)
  3. Choose the 4 most important ones for the year
  4. Review those 4 against the 5 rules of making an outcome (mentioned above)
  5. List what resources you have
  6. Focus on when you used them best
  7. Describe how you’d have to be to attain those outcomes
  8. List what’s preventing their being achieved in the present
  9. Make a step-by-step plan of how to achieve the 4
  10. List your role models
  11. Design your ideal day
  12. Design your ideal environment


  1. Ask specifically* (in detail – how, when by, why)
  2. Ask someone who can actually help (not drunken mates in a pub just as down on their luck as you)
  3. Create value for the person you’re asking, physically or mentally
  4. Ask with focused congruent sincere belief
  5. Keep asking until you actually get what you want! (most important step of all, don’t necessarily ask the same person or in the same manner)


(how to ask for what you want specifically. Right hand shows the main ways specificity is screwed up, left hand shows how to correct them)

Left Hand, with modifications
Right Hand, with modifications
  • To create rapport mirror a person’s behaviour. It’s completely natural and normal so don’t feel like you’re trying to manipulate them or something. If you get confident enough try leading their behaviour (this is especially helpful if faced with an enraged person),
  • With this you’re also paying attention to their physiology & language to ascertain their submodalities. This is the same as charisma.


(how people interpret info)

  1. Moving toward vs moving away from (aka. focusing on attractive stuff & how to get it vs unattractive stuff & how to avoid it)
  2. External vs interal frames of reference (whether you’re more motivated by others or yourself)
  3. Sorting by self vs sorting by others (whether you look out for yourself primarily or for others)
  4. Matching vs mismatching (noticing similarities or differences)
  5. Convincer strategy (ie. what does it take to convince you of something – seeing, hearing about, doing, reading about or a combination? And how often does it need to happen before you’re convinced – once, a few times, many times or every time?)
  6. Possibility vs necessity (taking action because you want to vs because you feel compelled to, or being motivated by choices & variety vs by straightforwardness/ simplicity)
  7. Working style (independence vs cooperation)
  • Note: metaprograms are very easy to notice because they’re put into practice all the time!


  • Be flexible, use more than 1 approach
  • Use the agreement frame (instead of saying but/ although/ however, which all ignore others’ perspectives, say and along with I agree/ appreciate/ respect/ understand)
  • Practise arguing for a position you don’t really believe in
  • Use pattern interrupts (if someone’s angry/ upset get them to unexpectedly think about something else, via questions or subject changes*)
  • Remember: persuasion can be more effective than conquest, and behaviour isn’t immutable or innate

* Joseph gives a brilliant example of this. A therapist once had a client who claimed he was literally Jesus Christ! The therapist, without missing a heartbeat, got up and started measuring the guy’s bodyparts with a tape measure, then left the room & came back a few minutes later with 2 giant planks of wood & some nails!  That snapped the guy out of it fast! 

How to be a powerful ‘black’ person – summarised principles part 1

This post is based on Anthony Robbins’ & Joseph McClendon III’s book Unlimited Power: A Black Choice, ISBN 9780684838724. It’s basically a summary of all the principles listed therein, beginning to end. Admittedly I don’t follow them all but I feel they are mostly very useful. As you’ll notice they’re not specifically for ‘black’ people, they’re for everybody. Joseph, however, decided to gear this book specifically toward us, to help us realise we are entitled to success too. 

I split it into 3 parts because the whole summary is too long for a single post. The other parts are coming soon.



Joseph McClendon III



Anthony Robbins

  • Power is the ability to act, and power is a constant in the world. Everyone has it and uses it in different ways & degrees. 
  • You either do what you plan for yourself or follow someone’s plans for you. 
  • We are always producing results, whether they’re ones we like or not. 
  • To master our lives we must master our communication, internal (to ourselves) & external (to others). The quality of external communication determines the quality of our outer success. 
  • Nothing has any value or meaning except what we give it. 


(or how to get what you want)

  1. Know what you want (and find someone who’s achieved it & model them*)
  2. Take massive action
  3. Recognise what results you’re getting
  4. Change your approach until you actually get what you want! 


  1. Passion – the sheer love and sense of purpose you have for a result you want!
  2. Belief – whether you think you can’t or can do something you’re right. Beliefs are choices, complete with consequences! 
  3. Strategy – plans on how to organise resources and use them in the best way!
  4. Clarity of values – a subgroup of beliefs, specifically ones that determine what’s right & wrong for you. Remember, success only comes when your efforts agree with your values!
  5. Energy – same as passion, plus physical energy to carry out your goals (more on how to cultivate this energy in another post)!
  6. Bonding power – the skill of building rapport with people from all kinds of backgrounds! 
  7. Mastery of communication – both with self & others!
  • The difference between success & failure is communication, how we perceive events & what we do about them.


  1. Beliefs: match what you believe about yourself to their self-beliefs
  2. Mental syntax: rearrange your thoughts into the same or similar order
  3. Physiology: copy their posture, moves, facial gestures, etc
  • Choose representations that support you. 


  1. Environment
  2. Personal experiences, large & small
  3. Knowledge
  4. Past results
  5. Desires (treat them as if they were already fulfilled)


(Joseph calls them The 7 Lies but I think Beliefs is a better term)

  1. Everything happens for a reason/ purpose, and it serves us in some way
  2. Failure doesn’t exist, only results
  3. Take responsibility for whatever happens
  4. You don’t need to understand everything to be able to use it
  5. People are your best resource
  6. Work is play. If it’s not, it should be
  7. Success doesn’t last without commitment
  • Regarding our internal representations (ie. memories/ imaginings/ thought patterns), we can change the CONTENT (the what) or the CONTEXT (the how/ where/ when). 
  • This can be done via visual (altering brightness, proximity, size, colour, focus/ resolution, position in our field of vision, etc), auditory (altering volume, rhythm, tone of voice, bass, place, accent, etc) and kinaesthetic means (temperature, smoothness, softness, suppleness, consistency, position in the body, etc). 
  • It’s usually possible to predict the state of mind someone is in by noting the position of their eyes*, as well as to point your eyes in certain directions to access the most helpful state of mind for the task at hand. See and note down what works for you. 
  • Repetition is the mother of skill. 
  • Use the swish pattern, the sudden replacement of negative internal representations with positive ones. Remember, speed & repetition make this easier. 
  • Syntax: everyone uses auditory, kinaesthetic or visual submodalities but tend to use one over the others. Effective leaders learn to use all 3 well. To communicate with others, determine the submodality they use by listening to the language they use. 


(basically how to predict what others are thinking. NOTE: these are for average right-handed people and thus may work differently for others. See what works for you)


Visual Constructed (imagining stuff to see)

Visual Remembered (remembering stuff that’s been seen)

Auditory Constructed (imagining stuff to hear)

Auditory Remembered (remembering stuff that’s been heard)


Kinaesthetic (movements, feelings, sensations)

Auditory Internal (listening to the “inner voice”)

And yes I drew those myself.


Creative Trailblazin’!!!

As a recovering creative person, someone in the process of accepting that my creativity is meaningful and good after all, I think it’s appropriate for me to highlight some key points that have helped me come to terms with my creativity (and overall mind) over the past few years. Lord only knows how many creatively minded people have been mentally scarred from being made to believe their talents are a waste of time. I’ve listed the individual/ private ones first because that’s where the external ones stem from, inner changes spawn outer changes (contrary to conventional thinking).

Yes, changes was deliberate. I trust you’ve already worked out why.

These are ones gleaned from personal experience, thus I expect you to translate them into a manner suitable to your experiences, and disregard what’s completely irrelevant to you.


Individual/ private tips: 

  • Fear is a totally useless emotion. And I mean all forms of it, from mere nervousness, anxiety &  timidity/ shyness to its more intense forms of panic, phobia & terror (caution & hesitation don’t necessarily count). Try to be fearless rather than just brave, and do what you really want. 
  • Look after yourself physically: work out*, eat healthily, drink water (at least 1.5 to 2 litres a day), get outdoors just for the sake of it, make yourself look and smell good (I like wearing ‘atr, non-alcoholic Islamic perfumes). I don’t personally do this but if you want to, even get a massage.

* however and wherever you want. Do it in a gym, at a park, in your back garden, in your house, whatever. Preferably vigorous and fast-paced, and with the foremost focus on enjoying yourself. Physical activity maintains mental & spiritual activity. 

  • Be more involved and focused on dunya (Arabic for world/ this life), and just accept that the environment is replete with blessings tailor-made for you. However, they won’t do anything for you if you just stand around scratching your ass expecting to not have to work for them. 
  • Snap decisions, gung-ho attitude (to a degree) & imprecision work just as well as, and in many cases better than, meticulous planning & pin-point perfectionism. 
  • Be mercilessly honest to yourself about what kind of person you really are, noticing all the details, and what you really want. Then relish the parts you like and do something about the parts you don’t like, either changing your behaviour or perceptions or both. 
  • Improvement = change. Those who refuse to change are those to refuse to improve, and those who refuse to improve are f***ed. Tolerate, accept, like, even yearn for change. 


Interpersonal/ public tips: 

  • Make some time & space in your daily life to practise & develop your creativity, and defend that time and space regardless of all other commitments. Only compromise once every 10 blue moons, if ever. 
  • Seek others’ help to make your stuff better. Whether it’s joining a writing club, poetry club, acting classes, singing class, doesn’t matter. Be around other people and learn from what they do. 
  • Have vague plans* to get your works out there in the world. I say vague to give you space to modify and expand on them as and when necessary. Be happy with your achievements so far and expect to do better & go further in the near future. 

* Yes that was deliberate too.

  • Be willing to take risks, for without risk change can’t happen. If you get it wrong, see exactly what you got wrong and try again.
  • When trying to get your work out there in the big wide world, to get it showcased/ published/ received in some manner by others, accept that no is AN answer. However, never let it be THE FINAL answer. Keep going to different people in different places, use alternatives, adapt your style of asking, until you get a yes. And maybe is an answer, if confronted with this take it! It’s a yes until proven otherwise.
  • There are people in the world who genuinely believe creativity is dangerous and will try to stop you practising it. It doesn’t matter if it’s because they were once creative and it didn’t pay off, if they just don’t like you or if they’re family and friends just looking out for you “because they care”, they are all the same. Defend yourself against their negativity, and when they attack you with it acknowledge your anger. Don’t let it die down before it’s ready, and practise something creative and enjoyable to you asap.

Inspirations for this post are Joseph McClendon III & Anthony Robbins (co-authors of Unlimited Power: A Black Choice, ISBN 9780684838724) and Julia Cameron (author of The Artist’s Way, ISBN 9781585421466 & The Vein of Gold, ISBN 9780330352857).

This list is not exhaustive, I’m sure other creatives out there, professional, amateur and beginner alike, have other good tips they want to share.