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Positive Visualisation – Does it work?

1 Apr

Athletes swear by it, entrepreneurs use it to try and turn their dreams into reality and even Oprah is a big fan – but the real questions is – does positive visualisation really work?

For years we have been told about the miraculous benefits of using positive thinking to reach our goals. It has become a sworn-by technique used by thousands to try and reach success, a tried-and-tested method used by the likes of heptathlete Jessica Ennis  and self-made billionaires like Richard Branson – who claims to have made it to the top by literally willing himself to achieve the success he craved.

However a controversial new book by bestselling British author and journalist Oliver Burkeman, named The Antidote: Happiness For People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking, claims that positive thinking doesn’t actually work.

According to Burkeman, who writes for the Guardian, including the weekly column ‘This Column Will Change Your Life, living by the belief that positive affirmations will transform our lives could actually be setting us up for failure. His new book aims to debunk the myth of positive thinking as he believes that true happiness can only be achieved if we can learn to love failure instead of fearing it.

He also explores the notion that, when we believe good things will come solely from thinking well, is that this type of “very brittle and fragile kind of approach to happiness” is what leaves you much less resilient and able to cope when things go wrong.

In opposition of the boundless other self-help books and psychology articles that say using positive thinking techniques help to bring our dreams closer to us, Burkeman believes that our constant efforts to eliminate pessimistic thoughts could in fact be setting us up to feel emotions which end up creating more negativity – such as insecurity, sadness or acute feelings of failure.

He explained: “For some years I’d been writing my column in the Guardian, ‘This Column Will Change Your Life,’ which is a tongue-in-cheek look at what works and what doesn’t in self-help and popular psychology.

“Gradually I began to see that there was one major thing that many of the failed approaches to happiness had in common: positive thinking. By that I mean, specifically, the idea that you can make yourself happy or successful by sheer force of will – by deciding only to think happy thoughts, or deciding that your dreams will come true.

“What these entire approaches share is the notion that negative feelings and situations should be ignored or erased. Ultimately, that’s counterproductive – it makes things worse. Deciding to be optimistic all the time, especially if it doesn’t come naturally, is actually a rather stressful way to live.”

In some ways I can’t help but feel disappointed by Oliver’s argument. Having always been optimistic about the power of positivity – and also vaguely anxious about my upcoming driving test – I thought that perhaps I could use some visualisation techniques to try and boost my chances of passing first time.

Intrigued by Oliver’s claims, I revisited my bookshelf to find a worn-out book that my father gave me a few years back named ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’ by Dr Norman Vincent Peale. It was a book that, if I’m honest, I skimmed when I was 19, thought about for a day or two – and then swiftly forgotten. However after having a recent conversation with a friend of mine who swears that her luck has improved by tenfold by using positive affirmations – I decided to buff up on the subject by trying out some research for myself.

After having a thorough read through Dr Peale’s original book, which sold more than 22 million copies after being first published in 1952, I noticed upon reading that there is no room for being cynical. It says that for the practice to truly work, you mustn’t allow negative thoughts to enter into your mind or allow yourself to be disbelieving. Having suffered a day of what had already seemed like one disaster after the other, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.

Another thing that got to me was that it says that everything negative that occurs is often brought on – or even yearned for – by ourselves. I’ll admit, I found it profoundly difficult to believe the fact that I would have possibly wanted to get soaked in the rain, miss the train and then lose my favourite necklace on one day. But was it simply my pessimism, or cynicism, that was preventing the techniques from working?

Oliver said: “With all these techniques, the point is not that they could never work, but that they’re sufficiently dubious to be little use as a general approach to life. Some sports psychologists, for example, are convinced that positive visualisation works.

“Meanwhile, a study a few years ago showed that people who were rendered thirsty and then asked to visualise drinking a refreshing glass of water appeared to undergo a reduction in motivation, not an increase. It was as if they were less motivated to achieve their goal in reality because they’d already convinced themselves they’d achieved it on an imaginary level.

“One study mentioned in my book also showed that people with low self-esteem who repeat self-help ‘affirmations’ to themselves end up feeling worse, perhaps because the affirmations prompt them to generate counter-arguments. They say to themselves ‘I am a lovable person!’ and all their mind does is think of reasons why they’re not lovable.”

Although I found myself agreeing with his counter arguments theory, for some reason, something inside me still wanted to believe that there was something in the whole positive visualisation thing. After all, if it is being used by athletes, professional golfers and top entrepreneurs, then surely there must be something in it?

Dr Guang Yue, an exercise psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, has also recently unveiled the results of an experiment, in which he discovered that just thinking about exercise can increase the strength of your muscles.

What was most astonishing about the experiment was the fact that the volunteers who carried out virtual workouts in their heads, as compared to the volunteers who carried out physical workouts, still managed to increase their muscle strength by 30 per cent by the power of their minds alone.

With this in mind, I reverted back to reading my old Positive Thinking book, and I found it insightful that it discusses how having one bad thing happen can have a domino effect on your life, simply because the first event often throws you into a negative mind frame. I’m sure we can all relate to those awful days where there seems to be an endless stream of bad things happening. It made me wonder if things could have turned out differently had I simply tried to be a bit more optimistic.

When I asked Oliver what he thought about this and whether he believed that positive thinking could only set us up for failure in the long run, he said: “The simple truth is that life is full of ups and downs. Bad stuff happens. That in itself needn’t be a catastrophe.

“But when you adopt a philosophy of happiness that is based on just trying not to think about those bad things, it’s inevitable that they will destabilise you much more when they do occur. The ‘negative path to happiness’ which I write about in The Antidote is the suggestion that we might do better to find ways to coexist with those bad things, to be open to them and to prepare for them.

“The key is in learning to find ways to coexist with both sides of the human emotional repertoire, the bad as well as the good. By having a friendlier attitude to uncertainty, insecurity and sadness in this way, we can chart a course to a far more fulfilling life than mere positive thinking could ever achieve.”

I’m not sure what to think now I’ve heard Burkeman’s argument, however there’s still that little bit inside me that thinks using positive affirmations is the best way to stay upbeat and uplifted when we so badly want to achieve something.  I fear that by not a least trying to give it ago, it could prevent a flurry of possibilities from happening.

Although I’ll definitely start to try and embrace my failures and be less of a perfectionist, I’ll still picturing me walking out of that car on the day of my driving test, elated that I’ve been given a pass.

There are some things that are bound to be beyond our control, so I think the key is just to go with the flow and accept that some things don’t always work out the way we want them to. Better to always look on the bright side.


Should you let a friend borrow your clothes?

9 Aug

Beg, borrow or steal…

Someone's not happy about her friend borrowing her favourite new dress...

It was one of those moments when time stood still. I watched, open mouthed and disbelieving as my best friend – busy laughing and joking – haphazardly spilled an entire glass of red wine down my favourite yellow dress.

She had begged me to wear it out that night, promising to hand it back in perfect condition. But in the space of three seconds, it was gone. Speechless and fuming inside, I attempted to pretend everything was fine, that I would (gulp) surely find another dress just like it.

The guilty look on my friends face prevented me from having a major hissy fit, but the look on mine was visibly sombre. We made bleak attempts to clean up the stain with every trick in the book – vinegar, Vanish, you name it – before eventually admitting defeat. It was ruined.

So in that moment, it was the straw that broke the camel’s Topshop-clad back – the moment I finally decided lending clothes to friends was infinitely, a no go. After many years of hunting down “borrowed” items from friends and trying to shift food or tan stains from clothes, there comes a time when you must be selfish.

The traditional idea of sharing and swapping just no longer works. From Wotsits when we were 12 to party dresses at 21, my best friend and I have swapped clothes more times than Katie Price and Peter Andre have swapped public jibes. I don’t have any sisters, so luckily have never had to worry about one swiping my favourite Zara jacket, so before the horrendous wine episode, I had always been quite flattered when a friend asked to borrow an outfit.

One of the key benefits of course was being able to borrow her stuff too – yet even when done so, it somehow never feels right. You can’t help but feel like an imposter in her outfit – as though people can sense what you’re wearing is not officially yours.

Lending out clothes is often a disaster waiting to happen. Unless it’s a Primark tee or dress that no longer cuts the chase, there are some things (like favourite dresses) that you should keep greedily to yourself.

There is always a slight panic that comes with ‘loaning’ out your favourite items, and the uncertainty that you will ever get them back. I have lost count of the myriad jumpers, dresses and pairs of shoes that I am still waiting to be returned. It’s pretty doubtful that I’ll ever see them again, so I guess I’ll just have to mourn them along with the others.

Do I think anyone should lend out their clothes? No, not unless your friend exhibits the reliability of a saint. It’s just not worth it if it could potentially ruin a friendship, and believe me, it could. So the next time a friend asks to borrow your favourite dress? I say run. Run for the hills.

Either that or you could just clumsily sway a glass of potent red wine near her, smile sweetly and offer it in exchange of her favourite (and only) pair of Jimmy Choos. I guarantee she’ll never ask to borrow again.


The Summer Biker

27 Jun

Red Biker, £59.99 Zara

With my birthday just around the corner, I can’t help but plan out exactly what to treat myself to before it even arrives. Despite relentlessly saving for an Ipad, ( must. keep. eye. on. prize.) a few other delicious items have caught my eye already.

My favourite of the bunch is this elusive studded biker jacket from Zara. As you are all probably aware, I am a sucker for a biker jacket. But this one is red. And has studs. And is sickeningly cool. You get how this is going.

Therefore, I must own this! My favourite leather biker’s are just too warm to wear in this hideously humid weather, so this linen number will be perfect for throwing on over my favourite Doors tee and leather leggings. I also have a zesty lemon dress this will also clash perfectly with. It’s meant to be. If this sells out in my size, then I truly believe I will be perpetually grief stricken.

I’m not hinting or anything honest, I just really, really want it.


28 May

NO one knew who Samantha Brick was until just recently. The brazen blonde grabbed headlines after her Daily Mail article: ‘Why do women hate me for being beautiful’ went viral, with thousands of women hitting back that they were all not – by any means – threatened by her “lovely looks.”

Just a few minutes after her article appeared online, the words ‘Samantha Brick’ were trending on Twitter. Her arrogance invoked fury from the public, particularly her claims that a vast number of married men fancied her more than their wives.

High profile comedians and celebrities also mooned in on the controversy, posting cynical jibes directed at her on Twitter, including a tweet from entrepreneur and fellow Bankie Duncan Ballantyne, who abruptly asked her if the article was ‘a joke.’

However, the vitriol the writer received was once again taken too far by internet trolls, with one user writing: ‘Samantha Brick should be bricked to death.’

For a country that takes pride in its modesty, Brick committed a cardinal sin by declaring her beauty in such a conceited manner.

Samantha heightened the storm further by publishing a follow-up article the next day, which stated that the backlash she received ‘proved’ her thesis that women do not like other attractive women.

There is no doubt that she provoked a strong reaction on a rather touchy subject, but the question is – do women really hate all beautiful women? Or is Samantha Brick just utterly delusional?

Psychology student Lyndsey MacDermid from Caledonian University says: “Insecurity is one of the main causes of jealousy.

“Body image problems and low self-esteem from a young age can invoke jealous feelings, particularly in young women.

“They might see a beautiful woman and think that they are full of themselves and will look down upon them, in turn making them feel instantly defensive and threatened.

“Jealousy is a normal feeling, however I think the problem has worsened as women are constantly bombarded with airbrushed images of celebrities which make them feel more insecure.

“I doubt Samantha Brick is as secure as she claims to be. I believe the public may have reacted so strongly because to be fair, a lot of them were probably not jealous of her.”

Model Natalie Souter, 23, from Dalmuir also spoke to the Post about how an ex-employer savagely picked on her at work because of her looks.

She said: “I used to work in a restaurant whilst juggling modelling jobs from time to time as modelling doesn’t always ensure a steady income.

“I was proud of my photographs and excitedly told a few people in the work about my new venture.

“However, shortly after I mentioned modelling part-time, my manager began to make rude comments about my appearance – including picking on my hair, clothing and body.

“I overheard a few girls talking about me in work, laughing at my photographs and generally being nasty.

“After that they stopped inviting me to nights out – proclaiming that I must be too busy ‘modelling.’ It began to really affect my self esteem.

“I stopped wearing makeup, started to dress dowdier and rarely spoke for fear they would make fun of me.

“From my own experience, women are often jealous of other women who are perceived as beautiful. This shows their own insecurities but looks are only skin deep so it’s a shame when women act this way.”

Although it is normal to feel a pang of jealousy when Little Miss Perfect saunters through the door, declaring your hatred for someone just for being pretty, is just as shallow as refusing to be friends with someone less attractive.

So whether Samantha Brick’s unabashed anecdotes were truly legitimate – or just a smart move to get propelled into the public eye – she still managed to shine light on a subject that most women wouldn’t dare speak of.

It is doubtful that all women despise their genetically-blessed counterparts. We are able to admire beauty just as much as men do, otherwise we would never purchase glossy fashion magazines or find entertainment from our favourite glamorous celebs.

Regardless to whether we think Brick is just another self-important, ego-maniac suffering delusions of grandeur, while there are some women out there jealous of others, it is perhaps just a fact that we get on better with those who exude a slightly more humble attitude.


28 May

NEON is often associated with nineties rave parties and hazard warning signs. Despite its obsolete reputation, the hue still seems to make a comeback each year, with electric shades consistently re-emerging on the runway.

Flashes of luminous neon cropped up all over the catwalks again for spring / summer 2012, with the colour-blocking trend getting a face-lift with hues more intense than ever before.

Flamboyant shades of indigo blue and neon orange were combined at the Rag & Bone runway show, creating a fearless, androgynous look. Meanwhile, hot designer Peter Som opted for a more girlish silhouette, pairing neon feather skirts with kaleidoscopic stripes for the ultimate style statement.

I vowed not to become a slave to the trend this time around, but my unmitigated attempt to avoid it has already failed me. There’s just no stopping the highlighter-pen palette that inexplicably, manages to sneak its way into my wardrobe every season.

Just the other day I was faced with a dilemma: in search of the perfect summer biker, I cursed my favourite high street stores as typically – when on the rare occasion I had money – I couldn’t find a single thing in the shops.

Then suddenly, I spotted it. The neon yellow, effortlessly cool, multi-tasking biker jacket that made my pulse race, yet made me ashamed at the same time. I trailed my hands over its zesty fabric and sports luxe detail.

Soon enough I was racing out the store, Topshop bag gripped tightly in hand, anticipating the next event where I would proudly showcase my nu-rave item.

Purchasing it would only culminate in a newfound obsession, which also meant my mother was almost blinded when I walked back through the door.

But I am no longer ashamed. Thanks to some approval from my most stylish girl friends; it seems neon has finally shaken off its no-go reputation.

Colour has never been so cool, but be careful when approaching this high-voltage trend: stick to one or two colour combinations per outfit at the most, or you’ll risk looking like an acid-evangelist gone wrong.

The easiest way to embrace neon is by adding a flash of colour with some statement shoes or a fluorescent blazer. The aesthetic is bold, gutsy and fun, so wear with complete confidence and you’ll nail the look.

Biker jacket, £58 Topshop, Peplum dress £48 ASOS, Jeans, £30 Soul Cal at Republic, Platforms, £60 at Office Shoes, Spike and Skull necklace, £35 at ASOS, Neon shopper, £28 Topshop.

Styletto Magazine

26 Mar

Hey guys how are we all?

Enjoying the recent bout of sunshine? I sure as am.

I wanted to make an exciting announcement about my online magazine Styletto – http://www.stylettomag.com if you haven’t seen it yet why not have a visit!

This summer I am hoping to launch my very own print version of the magazine which will be distributed in and around Scotland, and hopefully beyond if it becomes a success.

It will be a glamorous new women’s magazine with plenty of fashion, beauty, women’s lifestyle and health and fitness articles dedicated to keeping you lot entertained and informed.

Now that the magazine is finally coming together, I am getting more and more excited by the day.

The first issue will be packed with informative and insightful content, including a look into the frightening new term ‘drunorexia’ as well as features on vanity sizing, summer fashion and beauty, why men love bitches and much more!

I hope you are all revved up for it! Lots of love, Lisa xx


Holiday Wishlist

18 Mar

As a glorious summer holiday awaits me, I am surreptitiously planning ahead what to pack whilst figuring what else is left to buy for my fast approaching sunshine getaway.

The excitement hasn’t quite kicked in yet, but I’ve still got two months to go and no doubt I’ll be positively gleeful in the few weeks beforehand.

But right now it’s all about the holiday wardrobe for me, and the meticulous planning of what newbies to buy has already begun.

I am already fully aware that bold colour will be at the forefront of my shopping wishlist this year. I can’t stop drooling over the gorgeous pastel and neon shades that are cropping up everywhere on the high street right now.

Right now I’m also magnetised towards every bikini I pass by, but it’s the delicious array of candy-coloured ‘flatforms’ that have inevitably left me bankrupt.

The new shoe shape for summer, I love how these enlongate my petite limbs yet remain comfortable at the same time.

I already have an amazing pair of colour-block flatforms stashed away, and this stunning bikini from River Island will go perfect with them.

This year I’m opting to buy cool, comfortable items with a stylish edge for my week of fun in the sun, there’s nothing worse than a clingy dress when you have booze bloat and sunburn from the night before. And that’s exactly where this simple summer dress from Topshop steps in.

Lord help me when I’ve finally paid off my last holiday fee next week, for I’ll be sauntering up the aisles of Topshop quickly afterwards.

On another note, sorry I haven’t posted in a while I’ve been concentrating more on my other blog / online magazine www.stylettomag.com, you should check it out if you like Fashion Hungry! I write tons of beauty reviews on the magazines beauty page as well as features and fashion on the homepage.

More exciting news is that I am looking to launch a print edition of the magazine this summer so I have been busy, busy, busy as you can probably guess! It will be a women’s lifestyle magazine based in Scotland and other areas once it is up and running.

I have no doubts that it will be a success as I have been working on this for quite some time now.

Stay tuned guys! xx

Bikini top £18, Bottoms £10 both from River Island, Sundress £36 Topshop, Sunglasses £6.95, Shorts £24.95 and bag £19.95, all H&M, Flatforms, ASOS.