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Paul McKenna shares his ‘life-changing’ secret to having more self-belief

The TV hypnotist reveals trick from his upcoming tour with Lauren Taylor, and discusses how turning 60 has changed how he thinks about his health.

McKenna is a big believer in visualising the future you want (Steve Shaw/PA)

Closing my eyes, I hold my hands out in front of me, palms upwards, as Paul McKenna’s deep voice slows right down into his recognisable soothing drawl.

The bestselling author, one of the original self-help gurus who rose to fame in the Nineties, is attempting to hypnotise me over a video call – using an exercise he claims can change people’s lives in just a few minutes.

It’s one of the many things he’ll be doing on stage during his upcoming UK and Ireland Success for Life tour. And right now, he’s trying to instil more self-belief in me – one of the seven psychological keys that, according to McKenna, will unlock my ‘A-game’.

Paul McKenna claims he can change people’s lives in a few simple steps (Ian West/PA)

Focussing on one of my hands, he tells me to think of the part of me that wants to succeed and achieve. In the other hand, he asks me to metaphorically put that part of me that limits or sabotages me. “We know its intention, it’s to protect you, it’s just overdoing its job,” McKenna explains.

Next I’m asked to place one hand on top of another. “This is the magic. Just let your unconscious mind figure out how these two parts are going to work together in future. So you can have all the protection you need, but at the same time, you’re going to be able to succeed and achieve more.”

Then, I’m instructed to move my hands close to my chest to integrate this new ‘super part’ of me. McKenna asks me to visualise how things will be different moving forwards and says a lot of lovely, comforting stuff about how much more fabulous my life will be.

All in all, it takes 10 minutes, and there’s no denying it’s a nice feeling, even if I do feel slightly silly.

Visualisation, of course, is an important tool for success used by many professional sportspeople, who envisage winning over and over again before a race, game or event. Darts player Stephen Bunting recently credited hypnosis for his Masters title win against Michael van Gerwen, after suffering from depression.

Stephen Bunting won the Cazoo Darts Masters in February (Zac Goodwin/PA)

“A large part in athletic achievement is the control of your mind and body, we call it neurophysiological state. Every major sports person in the world has somebody like me, and CEOs do,” says McKenna, who does a modern form of hypnosis called neuro linguistic programming (NLP) – a long way from the comedy hypnotism he used to do on stages at the very start of his career.

Barack Obama, Tony Blair and Bill Clinton are all rumoured to be trained in NLP. “When they speak to you, you feel like you trust them and you’d like them, they’re eloquent, the way their sentence structures go together is very good,” says McKenna.

The author, who has sold more than 10 million copies of his books, including bestsellers I Can Make You Thin and I Can Make You Rich, has suffered with his own self-doubts over the years. “Of course! I was the nerdy, geeky kind of kid, I certainly wasn’t a stage performer. I basically learned how to be more confident – confidence is a habit,” he says.

“When you’re talking to friends, you’re not worried about being judged. It’s natural, you’re authentic. Now, the problem is, put someone in front of a group of strangers, [they feel] they’re being judged.” But a new habit can always be taught – to anyone, he insists.

Clarity – having a clear idea of your motivation and what’s of true value to you – is another key component to learn from his latest book of the same name, Success For Life (Welbeck, £14.99, available now).

“I certainly know what I’m doing next year, I have a general idea about the next 30 to 40 years – not every goal set, but a direction. If that doesn’t work, I’ll try something else, [then] I’ll try something else. A lot of confidence comes from being flexible, from being able to think if the environment changes, or something else occurs, you’ve got to adapt.”

McKenna turned 60 a few months ago and says his health is something he’s “considered more seriously in recent times”.

He adds: “I don’t feel 60, I still feel like I did when I was 40, but going up and down the stairs now and doing certain things, I notice I ache a little bit or I’m a bit slower.

“I used to do 200 dates a year when I was touring. I could get by on three hours’ sleep, I never used to get a hangover. I treated life like a marathon, I just got up and attacked the day and I’d burn out. Then I’d get up again and go at it again.

“Now I think differently. I treat life as a series of sprints, so what I do is I work at something, then I stop and I recover. [I’m] more balanced. I’m not working as hard in that sense.”

Now, when he visits a different city for work, his wife Kate, who he married in 2016, insists they slow down and stay for a few days. “I go to a city, I used to just work, and my wife went, ‘No, no, no, no, we’re going to Dublin. We’re going to see our friends, there are some great restaurants, one or two pubs…’.”

There are also things he no longer does. “I don’t drink spirits anymore” – and now, in his 60s, he juices every morning. “I make a green juice, I make sure I walk in nature for half an hour a day, I meditate.

“I do my gratitude list. I think about all the things that I’m grateful for, I reinforce abundance. I think about where I want to be, I visualise myself healthy.”

It’s all come after a dark period of his life after his father died in 2011. At the time, McKenna was working on a study for the military into PTSD with King’s College London. “I was working with people with very serious psychological problems, and I worked too hard and I just got burned out. I felt really quite down and depressed for a while.”

But, he adds: “I made my way back to what is now really the happiest period of my life.”

As for the long-term effect of my own online McKenna hypnosis, I’ll have to wait to see…

“You might notice some changes over the next few days,” says McKenna. “Maybe it’ll be a coincidence, maybe not.”

There’s a good chance that simply thinking about things in a different way has helped, but yes, just maybe, I feel a little bit more determined to put that niggling doubt in its place.

Paul McKenna’s 11-date Success For Life tour, across the UK and Ireland begins on March 2. For tickets see


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