You’ve Got The Power

Barcelona is a great concept.

Take a Roman city, knock down the wall, lightly wrap a nineteenth century European metropolis around it, clean it all up for the Olympics and then check that Gaudi lived there for long enough to ensure truly weird architecture. Oh, and put it at the centre of a political movement to regain Catalan independence. Where else could you look out of your hotel window and see a protest march involving some eighty or so over-seventy year olds processing ever so gently across the Plaça de Cataluña chanting wearily for something so obviously beyond my very poor Spanish.

I’d never been there before and loved it instantly.

This was also my first encounter with trans-European body language dialect misinterpretation. Now I know a bit about body language from my many years in Sales and Sales Management, I’ve even coached people on the subject, so I’m no novice. It’s cropped up, as you might or might not be surprised to find, as part of my training with Quest. One aspect that I’ve never come across or perhaps more accurately, never noticed until now, (I was surprised), is a body language dialect. I think I’ve found one.

Body language is probably the most important aspect of intra human communication. It’s how you know what someone really means. It’s the emotional subtitles that your conscious mind never sees but your unconscious is fascinated by. It’s what makes first impressions correct the second or third time you meet someone. Well you can’t know if your first impression was correct the first time you meet someone because you’ve nothing to gauge it against, have you?

In addition to which, by the time you’re having your second or third contact, your selective memory is deselecting anything which you may have thought in your first impression which now doesn’t fit in with your more accurately framed second or third impression. You just recall it as your first impression. Your unconscious will go to extraordinary lengths to be proved right – even to itself.

There we were, Gill and I, fresh off the flight from East Midlands, small airportlet that it is, wandering along the Barcelona airport concourse from Gate 59 to passport control. It took about ten minutes, during which time we were nearly walked into on half a dozen different occasions by a variety of innocuous looking Barcelonees. They just walked straight at us as if we weren’t even there.

You know that little dance that you do as someone approaches so that you don’t actually walk into each other? Not the one where you both hop from foot to foot in front of each other trying to dodge out of the each other’s way, I mean the long distance version where you avoid foot hopping altogether. For some reason it seemed that Gill and I had lost our ability to communicate that we wanted to avoid collisions. We literally had to jump out of the way at the last second. I even checked that there was no-one with a mobile uploading us onto YouTube. We put it down to tiredness and carried on.

Once we’d booked into the hotel and stopped watching the geriatric protesters, (did you note the nested loop there?), we went for a late afternoon stroll down La Rambla not so much because that’s what you’re supposed to do in Barcelona but because it was the next street along from the Olivia Plaza, (excellent hotel by the way), so we ended up walking along it by happy accident.

I say walking along it, what I really mean is dodging along it. Wide though it is, it’s full of people. Native Catalans who live and work in Barcelona, tourists and tramps, the beautiful people and the everyday, all mingled up together. You’d expect it to be busy. I’ve done busy street walking before, so to speak, but I was made acutely aware of our recently lost ability to read other people’s direction signalling.

Maybe I was just tuned into the problem but I was definitely having to get out of everyone else’s way. No-one, and I mean no-one, was moving for me. Young or old, weak or strong, I was subjected to that Brownian motion progress of being bumped and jostled all the way down the street. Poor old me.

To add insult to injury, well a cold to be fair, I was using my Module Four hypnotherapy symptom reduction skills to mute the effects of the cold I’d picked up and incubated nicely since Module Seven, so I was not in tip-top condition you might say. It worked a treat and successfully toned down the more unpleasant nasal and sinus effects so I wasn’t moaning at Gill all through the trip, (honest). It has however now rolled up all those carefully avoided symptoms and slapped me round the face with a soggy tissue since we got home, so please feel free to send me sympathy or sniggers as the mood takes you.

One nested loop further into this post and Gill and I were chatting away over coffee about what I’d picked up on Module Seven and how I might use it when I move into the world of actually doing Cog Hyp for cash, (all good credit cards, cheques and debit cards accepted). That was when I realised what to do. Subtleties of body language aside, all I had to do was switch on my internal crystal blue power cube.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. I thought the same. Crystal Blue Power Cubes smack of new-age ex-hippy psycho-babble but bear with me. It really will make sense. I promise.

Module Seven covers, amongst other issues, building confidence and improving performance. Any performance. And before you ask, I know what you’re thinking and yes, it does include that sort of performance.

So where the hell does a new age blue power cube fit into all this in a way that doesn’t have you running for the exit and sending for the men with white coats and soothing voices? Here’s where.

In most performance, the mind gives up before the body. It’s a form of protection, of self-preservation. It stops you exhausting yourself with the every-day and having nothing left for an emergency. Back when you really did have a home where the buffalo roam, (and the wolves and the obligatory sabre toothed tiger), you might have found yourself and your clan-mates running down a stray buffalo calf for dinner to take home and share with the rest of the tribe.

By way of an interesting aside, why share it? Well, in pre-refrigeration days, the best place for long-term storage of fresh meat was in the bellies of your friends. Not for regurgitation, that’d be just plain daft not to mention being really gross. It’s so that, rather than let the spare meat rot in the sun, your friends will have the strength to go out hunting the next day and if they were successful and you weren’t then they’d share their meat with you. It’s the fundamental basis of social society.

Digression partially over, you find yourself dragging a weighty and freshly killed carcass through wolf-pack territory which you and your clan-mates are ready for, so you duly scare them off when they come too close and you save enough energy to get home exhausted but happy. So what happens when that obligatory toothy tiger ambushes you as they absolutely must do to preserve narrative congruity? If you really have used up everything you’ve got then you’ll have nothing left to fight with, or you’ll use the last of your getting-home reserves to kill the stripey beasty. So you’re either cat-food yet again, (see earlier posts, you really must learn some self-preservation techniques), or you collapse and die from real exhaustion two miles from home wearing the latest in designer fur coats.

What actually happened was that you hadn’t really used up everything you had. Your clever unconscious mind didn’t let you. When it really comes down to life or death, right here, right now (thanks Fat Boy Slim, good track) then and only then does your unconscious let you use it all. This is the basis of high-level performance enhancement. It lets you tap into those sacred reserves at a time of your choosing. You just need a way of accessing it that works for you. A metaphor that gives you discretion.

Enter the Crystal Blue Power Cube. (Really, bear with me on this one).

Obviously, it’ll be different for each individual. It can even be different for different performance tasks. It just so happens that the visual metaphor I tuned into over the last weekend was, yes you guessed it, crystal-clear blue in colour and the shape of a cube. Technically we’re into manipulation of submodality territory here. In real-speak, that’s how you give substance to a thought or feeling. It’s your mental representation of the desired effect in terms of colour, shape, smell, sound and so on. You then manipulate those metaphoric attributes to increase or decrease that desired effect.

It works.

Now, I know that walking down La Rambla isn’t usually a life or death occupation but one of the side effects of controlled release of reserves of strength is a subtle alteration to posture. You look somehow less vulnerable, more in control, more able to defend yourself. A key use, once you master it, is to reduce the likelihood of being targeted by pickpockets, muggers or people you’d rather not be faced with late at night when you’ve no choice left but to go through the empty car park to get your car.

Don’t get me wrong here. It absolutely doesn’t make you invincible. But just as with any predator, the choice of victim is usually down to the odds of success. If you were a mugger who would you choose? Someone who looked mousey and scared or someone who looked like they’d be able to handle themselves? I know which I’d prefer if I were a mugger, which I’m not I hasten to add. I speak only with the voice of the speculative observer.

This is why when you or I run a hundred meters to catch a bus, we get out of breath and complain of a stitch. On the other hand, supremely fit Olympic athletes can’t stand up and are gasping desperately for air. Usain Bolt was still out of breath 5 minutes after winning the hundred meters. He ran for less than 10 seconds and had nothing left. That’s the point.

The upshot of this long ramble, (sorry), is that releasing this reserve expresses itself first and foremost in your body language, unless you’re actually using it for real in which case your opponents had better watch out. So, as an experiment, I switched on that blue power cube metaphoric representation of my internal reserves of strength.

Instantly, for twenty yards ahead, the crowds parted and let Gill and I through.

It kept happening. For real. It was a proper Morpheus moment.

After a while, I’d forget and start getting bumped into again. It got to the point where I’d switch it on if the crowds got too busy and switch it off again when they weren’t. Gill even took to walking behind me in my wake, so to speak.

It’s important to note here that I wasn’t striding through Barcelona like some throwback to the heady days of Empire, using this as the body language equivalent of speaking Spanish by shouting loudly at the natives. That really would have marked me for attention. The effect was far more subtle. No eye-to-eye challenge to see who would break first. No walking purposefully forward, daring others to try and force me aside at their peril. People just apparently wanted to walk a slightly more meandering path than before.  All of them.

Obviously such a powerful tool isn’t designed to be used for such a trivial purpose. This was more by the way of accidental experiment. In any case, I’d recommend that you got your personal version identified and installed by an expert, if you’ll excuse the blatant plug for future clients.

Apart from anything else, your power releasing performance enhancer would need to be targeted, along with appropriate parallel techniques, to the specific performance you were looking to enhance.


Yes, I’ve already said. Including that performance enhancer.

You really are obsessed with it aren’t you?

Perhaps you should see a therapist.

dissolving away
© Tony Burkinshaw 2012

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