I saw a psychic as a lark. But his advice could change my future

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“Is it possible for someone else to hurt your feelings?”

“Yes, of course.”

“The possibility is zero,” he says. “I stake my life on it…”


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “I saw a psychic as a lark. But his advice could change my future” was written by Brigid Delaney, for theguardian.com on Friday 26th January 2018 01.31 UTC

The taxi driver picks me up from Launceston airport and tells me about an accident earlier that day. A man with an antique pipe organ had overturned on the highway. The car was a wreck, the organ smashed up. She drove him to get a hire car and warned him that he might die on the way home. “Delayed shock kills people,” she said to him.

At my hotel she warns me not to go out by myself after 10pm as “we have rapists and murderers here”.

Then she asks if I am in town for the large psychics convention. Apparently all the big name psychics, tarot readers, palmists and clairvoyants are in Launceston for a conference.

“I’m here for a music festival,” I reply but also I think … am I? What am I really here for? Maybe I have a different purpose for being here, a purpose only a psychic would know.

Being a sceptic I had only ever consulted with a psychic once on a bit of a lark. I was a journalist living in London, and there was a famed Fleet Street psychic who consulted from rooms in Covent Garden at the top of a rickety staircase.

All the top editors and journalists saw him and he gave newsroom-specific advice such as: “You do not want to edit that section. There will be a big lawsuit and that will be very stressful for you.” Or “exercise caution on the 19th in news conference.”

(An aside, my favourite newsroom psychic story was legendary Sun editor Kelvin Mackenzie sacking the paper’s astrologer and starting the letter with: “As you will no doubt have foreseen …”)

The psychic’s conference was in a dingy ballroom in a once-grand hotel that had seen better days. People sat at displays of crystals, rocks and L Ron Hubbard books. About 10 psychics were taking appointments.

“Who is the best?” I asked a man taking appointments.

“Severin,” he said pointing towards a man deep in conversation with another psychic – maybe about some catastrophe they could see into the future, perhaps nuclear war with North Korea, or maybe about the disappointing hotel sandwiches?

I was quite excited to find out that Severin – like the Covent Garden clairvoyant – had a special knowledge of the news business, having previously been a newspaper publisher.

He did not predict my future but he did offer some startling advice – which he promised that if I put it into place, would change my life. After preparing my chart based on my date of birth he looked down and murmured in a worried tone: “You do have slightly sensitive feelings.”

“Uh huh”

“Is it possible for someone else to hurt your feelings?”

“Yes, of course.”

He shakes his head for a long time. I am confused.

“The possibility is zero,” he says. “I stake my life on it. If you get access to the tools to make it so, it can be the biggest change in your life.”

“OK?”

“Where I want to go in this conversation is to the place where no one can ever or will ever hurt your feelings.”

“That’s quite a big undertaking.”

“Can anyone ever touch what goes on inside of you?”

I don’t say anything.

“Can they?”

“I guess not?”

“Where do you live?”

I hate being asked where I live.

“It’s a complicated question – I have a house in the country, and I’m in Sydney a lot …”

He interrupts me: “No, no. You live in here.”

Where? I look around the psychic conference.

“No – here! Here in your body.”

“OK.”

“You experience life inside the body, your thoughts and feelings. You control it!”

So, basically, if you decide your feelings won’t get hurt, then they won’t.

Could it really be as simple as that? If so, and we all adopted it – everything would change, not least the way we talk about the world.

Our current news cycle runs on the fuel of outrage. Twitter and Facebook are the engines. But daily fresh outrage served up on social media networks, and endless parade of hurt feelings has only calcified and entrenched opposing positions.

Could deciding not to be hurt or offended or outraged actually be the most effective method of no platforming?

A case in point: Milo Yiannopoulos. The worst thing for him is not hate but indifference. People profoundly untouched by you can be a bigger threat to your relevance than hate.

One of the biggest global best sellers of last year was Mark Manson’s anti-self help book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck.

Manson’s book is a version of Severin’s instructions. It’s not to sever or deny feelings. It’s not to become a sociopath or numbed but rather to be less reactive, to choose your battles, to take back the power you have – that we all have – to not be hurt.

  • Brigid Delaney is a Guardian Australia columnist

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