Tag Archives: Myths

So what??

What is your first reaction when I say a “So what?” attitude?

Was your reaction quite negative or positive? (Assuming that it can’t be totally neutral)

What if I say, it’s an attitude the grandfather of cognitive therapy, Albert Ellis, said we shall all adopt? Yes, he said we shall all live with a “So What?” attitude.

What do you think?

(I started all 4 paragraphs with the letter “W”, so what?)

I can’t do this, so what?

I look so anxious, so what?

I can’t sleep, so what?

I failed my exam, so what?

Nobody likes me, so what?

What do you think? How would you benefit from adopting such an attitude?

I might not benefit from it, so what?

Seeing clients and students in the west (including those Asians who have lived in the west) vs those who live in Asia (mainly Chinese, Malaysians, South East Asians), I noticed that the first receipt of such an attitude can be quite different, although eventually all accept it and see and experience how much they benefit from having such a “I don’t care” attitude.

But for many Chinese and Asians, their first reaction is almost like, “this is rude”, “this is not what I would do”, “this is wrong”, “this is not part of our cultures/values” etc

Of course we are not talking about people should not care about their life, their studies, their family, their hygiene, their job etc. But it’s when you care too much and it doesn’t help (and often this care makes things worse). This is especially so in social situation and interaction. We worry too much about what others might think, how we look like, we stop being in our experience and connecting with the environment and the world because we focus internally worrying too much.

Try to apply the lens of “so what” in your social interaction and see how it goes?

Is being a perfectionist good/bad?

She’s only 15, and has been doing great academically in all the subjects all her life. It’s probably not wrong to say that she is one of the top students in her country, that’s also why she received a scholarship to receive better education in a different country.

Now being in one of the top colleges in the world, she is struggling to still be the best. But she doesn’t give up. She sacrifices her sleep just so she can catch up. After all this is a very different education system from the ones she was in.

After 6 months of persistent trying, she still doesn’t see much of any results. She cries. She feels like a zombie. She wants her family to be proud of her. She needs to be the best. She wants to be perfect, in all subjects, in her writing, in her presentation, in every piece of work that she produces. But it’s not happening…

She told me “I never see perfectionism a bad thing. I always thought it’s good. Why is it bad?” She believes she’s where she is today thanks to her perfectionist trait, or she wouldn’t have worked so hard and strived so hard.

But over time she starts to see that this trait is pulling her down, is creating a lot of self-doubts and criticisms in her mind, is affecting her work, is stopping her from functioning properly, is preventing her from enjoying studying that she always loves, is making her depressed and feeling hopeless.

I guess for many of us, we were all once there, weren’t we? I remember how I was like in high school, the lucky thing is I managed, and that’s mainly because I wasn’t studying in the top school in the world. But many students who do very well but come from an underprivileged background struggle when they receive scholarship and get into a top school. It’s hard for them to see that being top in their country might not mean anything once they are here. Some people give up, some people try persistently; some people see some results, some never.

Most people are usually rewarded as a perfectionist, at least initially, like in the first one or two decades of their life. So it’s natural that we see and experience the benefits and sense of achievement being one. But it’s either now, or later in the university, or when we are in the society, that we see how academic results don’t matter, how being a perfectionist alters your worldview and reduces how you could have enjoyed life and things along the way.

For the perfectionists, only the results matter. But life isn’t like that, because the ending of life is always the same, life is about the processes. Still, you can strive to be excellent, strive to become better than yourself yesterday, but not to be flawless…

But, will young students see that?


昨晚马克向一些在中国的学院学生解释“目标可视化”(goal visualisation)(当然是我给他翻译,因为他不会说中文,而学生大多不懂英语)。然后一个学生问:“当我们告诉来访者想象他们的目标成功达成时,这不是与吸引力法则有关吗?”

吸引力法则 (LOA) 相信宇宙会创造并为你提供你的思想所关注的事物,因此如果你积极思考,就会吸引积极的事物。大多科学家都认为这是一门伪科学(pseudoscience)。但是仔细想想,它似乎是“存在”的,那我们如何从科学的角度来解释呢?




假设现在你已经决定在有能力的时候购买这辆川崎忍者(Kawasaki Ninja)摩托车。一旦这成为你的目标,不知何故,突然之间,你开始比平时更多地注意到路上的这辆摩托车。显然人们不会仅仅因为它现在是你的目标就开始频密在你面前驾驶它,那为什么呢?你的头脑现在认为它与你相关了,并开始允许与它相关的信息进入你的意识。换句话说,你开始更多地注意到它,因为这是你的目标,但一直以来它们一直在路上奔驰,只是被大脑过滤掉了。


我记得我买了一条迪卡侬(decathlon)的跑步短裤或优衣库(Uniqlo)的史努比 T 恤,在接下来的两周左右里,我开始注意到很多人穿着它。头脑现在看到这与我“相关”,而以前这会被过滤掉。



或许我也可以借此机会推荐一下John Krumboltz的《运气不是偶然》(Luck is No Accident),我们可以创造自己的运气,保持开放和好奇,不做太多计划,期待事情出乎意料。

这是中译版本,原文在此:How to explain “Law of Attraction” scientifically?

How to explain “Law of Attractions” scientifically?

Last night Mark was explaining “goal visualisation” to some of the College’s students in China (with me doing interpretation of course, since he doesn’t speak Mandarin and the students mostly don’t understand English). Then a student asked, “When we tell clients to visualise their goals, isn’t this to do with law of attraction?”

The law of attraction (LOA) is the belief that the universe creates and provides for you that which your thoughts are focused on, so if you think positively, you will attract positive stuff. But it’s very much believed by most scientists that this is a pseudoscience. Yet when you do think about it, it seems to “exist”, so how do we explain it from a scientific perspective?

So here is Mark’s answer.

We are perceiving millions pieces of information in every second, through our eyes, skins, ears, etc all parts of our body. But our brain filters the irrelevant information away just so we are taking in what’s relevant. For example, our eyes can only see a few words each time, but we have the illusion that we can see the whole page, or we thought we can see the whole room, but in fact the eyes can only see a small portion of it, and the rest is made up by the brain, based on information it has. We didn’t actually see it.

When we set up a goal and visualise it, what makes it more likely to come true?

Let’s say now you’ve decided that you want to buy this Kawasaki Ninja motorbike one day when you are able to. And once this becomes your goal, somehow, all in a sudden, you start to notice this motorcycle on the road a lot more than usual. Obviously people don’t just start to ride on it just because it’s now your goal, but what? Your mind now sees it as relevant to you, and starts to allow it to enter your awareness. In other words, you start to notice it more now that it’s your goal, all the while they have been running on the roads.

So when you set a goal and is committed to it, you start to focus on it, your attention is on it, you are motivated to achieve it, you become more open to related information and opportunities, your attitudes also get more active (as opposed to passive), so it seems that “you think positively, you get positive outcome”, but during this process, there are many psychological and biological factors involved.

I remember buying a pair of running shorts from Decathlon or a Snoopy tee from Uniqlo, and in the next two weeks or so, I started to notice quite a few people wearing it. The mind now sees that this is “relevant” to me, while previously this would have been filtered out.

So say now your goal is to look for a job. You would now naturally notice more of the job searching platforms, vacancy advertisements, career advisory services, job centres etc, and thus you would naturally be exposed to more opportunities. So it’s not that thinking about getting a job gets you a job, but your attitudes of becoming more open and your behaviour matter. If you think very positively and do nothing at all all day, does all the positivity still happen out of nowhere?

Likewise let’s say you think that you are an unlucky person, and you’re likely to “see” how unlucky you are and feel miserable about it. Well if you only focus on all the bad things that happen to you and also expect the bad things to happen, it’s difficult to become lucky, right?

Perhaps I can also take this opportunity to recommend John Krumboltz’s “Luck is No Accident”, we can create our own luck, by staying open and curious, not planning much, and expect things to go unexpectedly.





我经常向他们解释,只要我们相信,我们就可以通过催眠实现很多事情。确实,头脑的力量是巨大的。但是这个目标是唯一的例外。不幸的是,我们的思想和记忆并没有像我们期望的那样发挥作用。它们与书橱上个别存储各种文件的文件夹不同,可以经常参阅和置放却不会被影响(就像您在动画 Inside Out!中看到的那样)。




是的,就创造虚假的记忆而言,催眠是一个很好的工具,这是有大量科学研究根据的。您可能会在催眠过程中“回忆”一些比真实感觉更真实的东西,但是那不是真实的……您可以在以下视频中观看更多:为什么您的记忆不能被相信 (需要的话,你可以点选中文字幕自动翻译):


但这并不意味着催眠治疗师或心理治疗师将无济于事。 我实行循证催眠疗法,我可以使用催眠治疗来帮助您学习接纳这个人或记忆或婚外情等作为您“人生历史”的一部分,让它对您的影响变小,学会与之共处并继续前进,而不会干扰您的日常生活。 我也可以使用催眠来促进适当的总结这段关系,告别这段关系和记忆。 试想想,如果它不再对您的生活造成多少影响,对您来说仍然是一个问题吗?

I want to forget someone

As a hypnotherapist (to be exact, cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist, or Hypno-CBT therapist), I get clients with this sort of goal every now and then. Usually they want to forget a specific someone, a relationship, totally get rid of a piece of memory (again usually to do with a specific person).

Naturally our rational mind would tell us this is actually not possible, based on science and what we already know about human mind, right? Yet when it comes to hypnosis and hypnotherapy, people generally “lost their senses”, everything that seems impossible elsewhere, seems possible when it comes to hypnosis.

This is right and wrong at the same time. Indeed we can achieve great things with hypnosis, we live more confidently, we become more assertive, we are happier, we confront our greatest fear, we live more according to value, we quit smoking and bad habits, we enjoy life better, we reach our fullest potential, we handle crisis and stress better, we can manage pain that we couldn’t bear before, we … forget someone?

I often explain to them, we can achieve a lot of things with hypnosis when we believe we can. Indeed the power of the mind is great. But this goal being the only exception. Unfortunately our mind and memories don’t work the way we want it to be. They are not like folders on your shelves that are stored individually, and can be accessed and discarded separately without affecting each other (just like what you saw in the animation Inside Out!).

In “Inside Out”, memories are stored individually as if documents on the shelves.

Our mind, body, emotions, feelings, behavour and thoughts are all interconnected, and so are our memories. Each time you take out the memory of “first day in school”, you changed some part of it (depending on the mood and condition you are in when you think about it etc), and you strengthen some related links connected to it and weaken some other.

Imagine if you want to forget this boyfriend or an affair or a lost child, and I’m able to take it away just like that, what about other memories and people and events connected to it? What is going to fill up the emptiness of these years? Perhaps I can make up something there…?

Yes, hypnosis is a great tool in terms of creating false memories. There have been plenty of research showing that. You might “recall” something during hypnosis which feel more real than what’s real, but it just isn’t real… You can watch more about it here in this clip: Why your memories can’t be trusted-

So right, we can’t remove the memories, and it’s unethical for us to create false memories to replace them (after all hypnotherapists are not god, who are we to decide your life stories and simply change it? But undeniably there are some hypnotherapy approach that do that, and we shall discuss this perhaps next time).

Yet it doesn’t mean we can’t help. I practice evidence-based hypnotherapy, I can use hypnosis to help you learn to accept this person or memory or relationship as part of your history, let it affect you less, learn to live with it and move on without having it interfering your life. I can also use hypnosis to facilitate proper closure and goodbye for the relationship and memory too. So, is it still a problem for you if it no longer has so much an impact in your life?