Hypnotist Paul McKenna has vowed to bring a much-needed sprinkle of positivity to Belfast when he returns to the city where his father was born.
“I love Belfast. It’s a fantastic city. My dad was from there but he moved away. By the time he was a teenager my grandparents had moved back to the Midlands,’’ he told Sunday Life.
“It’s not just the people of Belfast that struggle with feeling confident.
“Whether you are a super-achiever or your life is in a really bad way, I’ve developed this system as a way of thinking about the world that will alter your perception.”
The self-help guru is determined to spread some optimism when he brings his show Positivity to Belfast’s Waterfront Hall on Wednesday.
And it’s a big night — it’s the first time he will be appearing live in two years.
During the 90-minute show, Paul will inform people how to control their fears and have a calm and confident mind.
He told us: “I’m getting them to close their eyes and talking to the subconscious mind.
“I’ll get the person’s resources activated, so instead of going, ‘Oh, what’s the point, this can all just go horribly wrong?’, I’ll get them to head it off and be aware of those things that could happen, like ‘I’ve thought about everything that’s gone wrong but now let’s think about everything that could go right’.
“And we do that again and again until we feel less burdened and less defeated.
“Positivity isn’t the same as positive thinking, where you just tell yourself everything’s going to be OK even though, deep down, you think it isn’t. Positivity, for me, is a combination of things.
“It’s an absence of unnecessary fear, stress, worry, anxiety, and in its place you have confidence, self-belief, resilience and the ability to bounce back.
“What we’ve found over the last couple of years is that people fall into two categories when it comes to dysfunctional thinking and behaviour states.
“Understandably, because of the virus in the world, more people have begun to stress and gone into survival mode, thinking, ‘Oh, what if I get sick? What if my family get sick?’ And so it becomes overwhelming and exhausting.
“The other type of negative thinking which applies to a lot of achievers, they say, ‘I want to make plans, but there’s no end point, so what’s the point?’
“So as well as there being a biological pandemic in our world, there’s also a psychological one.”
Paul is also intrigued by the world of ‘manifesting’: the practice of thinking aspirational thoughts with the purpose of making them a reality. Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Holly Willoughby and Frankie Bridge are all big fans.
“I subscribe to it, but I’m much more of a practical psychologist. Some of manifesting can be a bit New Age-y. I tend to be much more pragmatic,’’ Paul explained.
“It’s a very good idea to have a sense of direction in your life and I like to have my feet on the ground, going ‘How am I going to achieve this?’.
One thing Paul wants to achieve before coming here is catching the movie everyone is taking about, Belfast. (The award-winning film by Sir Kenneth Branagh)
“I haven’t seen it but my brother has. I love Kenneth Branagh. I think he’s so fantastically talented. He’s truly one of the great talents of our time,’’ he said.
“I love Belfast. It’s always got an incredible atmosphere. It’s not really work — I get to meet lovely people and enjoy this amazingly exciting city.
“And, of course, the thing with resilience is, you get knocked down seven times but you get back up — and there’s plenty of that in Northern Ireland.”