The Tightrope Fall of Negative Thinking

Have you heard of Derren Brown?
He’s a British mentalist whose UK show, Mind Control, aired on the Sci-Fi channel last year, which is how I came to be a fan. (Though how I came to find him on the Sci-Fi channel, I have no idea. Ooh, maybe Derren subliminally suggested to me that I do…)

Derren Brown can tap into the unconscious

Derren Brown, tapping into the unconscious

In any case, he’s a total trip. And his latest series, Trick or Treat is available through some online sources, including some Japanese site which has posted an episode in which Derren does an experiment in negative thinking. It’s meant to show how people respond to negative suggestion. My positive suggestion? If you have 23 minutes, watch it here:

Derren Brown’s Negative Thinking Experiment

Here’s the gist: In one element of the show, just around the 10:30 mark, Derren visits a high-wire artist who, he points out, knows the value of thinking positively. Henry is a tightrope walker who holds the Guinness world record for skipping rope on a high wire 12 to 27 feet in the air. As Derren says, “he’s never fallen off doing that trick.” Well, Derren wants to see what happens if he changes Henry’s positive thoughts into negative ones.

As Derren puts it, “The thought, ‘I must try not to fall’ is the worst thing to think up 30 feet on a high wire, even if you’re the world’s best at it.”

The tightrope walker

The tightrope walker

This is what he told Henry before the brave man climbed onto that high wire:

“Focus on not wobbling and not falling off. Just make sure you don’t wobble and fall off.”

As Derren put it, “The instruction ‘Try not to fall off,’ residently delivered, is amplified by the inflation of an air bag. Henry’s unconscious is, for the first time, focused on ‘I must not fall off,’ which can only take him one way.”

It does. Henry falls from the high wire into the air bag and seems visibly shaken by the whole thing. (I can only hope it didn’t derail him from future rope skipping!)

Derren also does a similarly eery experiment on a young woman named Lauren, whom he puts in a room with a kitten in a box, telling her that if she presses a big red button near the box, the kitten will be electrocuted. What he says to her is, ”Your job is trying not to kill the kitten he says. “Whatever you do, don’t press the button.”

Well, you what happens of course. He explains her button-pressing (and no, of course it didn’t kill the kitten) this way:

“What this was about was a trap called negative suggestion that we all fall prey to . . . whereby we focus so much on trying to avoid being or doing a certain thing, that we just end up being or doing that thing, because we’re focusing so much on it.”

Well, if you’re single and dating, what are you focusing on being or doing about your single life?

Are you thinking, “I don’t want to be single” or “I’m tired of being single” or “I’m sick of dating losers” or “I’m over this whole awful dating thing?” Well if you are, like the trap Derren set in his experiments, you may unconsciously be setting the same trap for yourself! If you focus on how tired you are of being single and the whole awful experience of dating losers, then here’s what you’ll get: Tired, single, awful moments dating losers.

As I talk about and explain more thoroughly in Meeting Your Half-Orange, you’ll get in love what you focus on. It’s how our minds and bodies work. So stop giving your focus to what you don’t want in dating and start looking at what you do want in love: A great dating experience that will bring you an uplifting, happy, healthy relationship.

As Derren says to Lauren, her “treat” is that when she wants to think negatively in the future, her brain will take her back to that button-pressing moment and zap her into “a more positive and constructive state.” I urge you to do the same.

Big love,

Amy Signature 4