There are many ways to fake psychic powers. Since the readings were done by phone, and members of a reputable radio station chose the calls, let's assume that the psychic did not have prior information on the callers. What else could account for her accuracy? The callers definitely felt she knew a lot about their relatives. Does she really have the ability to give callers information about their deceased loved ones that she could not have known otherwise? Let's consider the following alternative hypothesis: The psychic got the illness wrong, but made it sound as if she was right. Is this what the radio show psychic did with her callers? Exactly! Listening closely, you begin to realize that she asks a number of rapid-fire, general questions. In many cases, the caller doesn't even have a chance to respond--instead, the psychic quickly jumps in and says something like, "You know what I mean," giving the impression that she was right. When callers respond negatively, she deflects the inaccuracies with a few common ploys. Some of the interactions that I heard went like this: So, can cold reading really be the reason that people think they're talking with their deceased relatives? Can we be fooled so easily? A considerable amount of data says that we can. Researchers have known for years that we interpret very general comments as applying directly to ourselves. That is, we have a tendency to accept vague personality descriptions as uniquely describing ourselves, without realizing that the identical description could apply to others as well. It's called the Forer effect.30 Also, you have to remember that people who seek out a psychic are those who desperately want to talk with their loved ones. As we will see, our perceptions can be clouded by what we want to see and believe. Cold reading works because people want it to work. They want to talk with their loved ones, and they don't want to be disappointed.

And so, they are inclined to believe, and are therefore more than willing to overlook any errors in the psychic's comments as long as the end result assures them that their deceased relatives are okay and say they love them. If we truly want to believe something, we'll remember the hits and forget the misses. As an example of this phenomenon, consider a reading that another renowned psychic did for nine people who had lost loved ones. Michael Shermer observed the readings. According to Shermer, the psychic applied a number of standard cold reading techniques, such as rubbing his chest or head and saying, "I'm getting a pain here," and looking for feedback. In the first two hours, Shermer said he counted over a hundred misses and about a dozen hits. Even with this poor hit rate, all nine people still gave the psychic a positive evaluation. If we want to believe it, we will.31 It's also worth noting that a good magician can do the same thing as these psychics. The difference is, the magician doesn't say he's talking with the dead--he knows it's a trick and so does the audience. In fact, there are articles on cold reading from which you can learn the technique yourself.32 We have to ask ourselves, if psychics can really communicate with the dead, why do they have to question the living to learn about the dead? Shouldn't they just be able to sit back, contact the dead, and convey all the information they're getting directly from the deceased? Asking leading questions of the living should tip us off as to the psychics' real source of information. So which is the more reasonable hypothesis to accept? Do some people have the ability to communicate with the dead or do they extract their information from the living through cold reading? We can certainly test the cold reading hypothesis because someone can employ the technique and we can gather data to see if people thought they were right. We can also test the communicating-with-the-dead hypothesis, although we have to be very careful in designing the study to make sure that the psychic does not have any prior knowledge about the deceased. As far as simplicity is concerned, cold reading wins out because it doesn't require us to assume that spirits exist and that some people can contact them. In addition, cold reading is consistent with what we already know about how humans form beliefs, while there is no credible scientific evidence for the existence of spirits. The cold reading hypothesis seems like the way to go. This type of sabotage has a basic message of fear: "I really don't think you are capable of being more than what you are.

You're just setting yourself up for failure. Just calm down or you'll get hurt. If you reach too high, you can fall and destroy yourself and everything you have. You mustn't get too lofty in your thinking. Just stay here with me and I will take care of you. It's a tough world out there and, really now, what have you ever done?" Yes, it may be painful to try and fail, but it is the attempt that should be honored, not the fear of failure. Put simply, your journey back to your authentic self is not going to be a success-only journey. Steel yourself against the naysayers and do what you have to do. Power manipulation is the sabotage of your personal power in order to maintain a relationship. Joan's scenario from the beginning of the chapter is typical. She had found a new base of power in herself. She had found that she could lose weight and find a lover based on her own talents and efforts. Joan started believing in herself enough to pursue a new career. Unfortunately, all of this success threatened her lifelong friends, even to a breaking point. Their power to control and have access to her was threatened and they feared they would lose her. Instead of putting her interests ahead of their own, or choosing to be inspired alongside her, they tried to drag her back down into the relationship they had known before. Whether they did this consciously or otherwise was of little consequence to Joan and so it will be in your life, as well. Learn to evaluate the messages you receive from those closest to you. I don't want you to become paranoid, but I do want you to listen and think for yourself. Is your mate telling you you "can't" because they will be threatened if you do?

People who genuinely care will tell you the truth, even if you don't want to hear it, but they will also try to find a way to help you get what you want, even if it scares them for you to change. Don't assume you are being sabotaged if someone disagrees with your plan, because they may be genuinely trying to give you valuable feedback. But do examine their motives, with your eyes wide open. They may be threatened by your personal empowerment, so that, consciously or otherwise, they'll try to keep you in their safe little cocoon. The specific mechanism of this sabotage is to infantilize you: to treat you as a child, so that you will yield in a childlike fashion to the authority of their power. It makes no difference at what age this exchange takes place. Power struggles can last a lifetime. You may hear phrases like: "Who in the hell do you think you are?" "What do you think you are doing, acting like you're holier than thou?" "What fool have you been listening to now?" Power is addictive and if anyone has had that authority over you for any length of time, it will be difficult to change him or her. After all, if they have the power, why should they change? Why should they give it up to you? And remember: As you scan your landscape, looking for the source of these messages, be listening for your own voice, too, because it may be the culprit. Your fictional self, with all of its momentum, may be speaking the loudest about what you can't or shouldn't do. Either way, whether it is your voice or someone else's, be very careful about what messages you are willing to internalize. Think about the person who feels deficient, inadequate. Something is missing, something necessary to being all that they want to be. If someone else arrives on the scene, apparently possessing that something, a sense of injustice rages. Resentment, anger, and fear emerge. Multichannel multitasking is an underutilized tactic for getting more out of each day. We can build this technique into our schedules to help us make more time for traction and use temptation bundling to make activities, like exercising, more enjoyable. My hack is one method for conquering the seductive draw of reading "just one more thing" or having one more tab open "for later." By replacing my bad habits with new rules and tools, I've increased my productivity and kept HAL's seductive call at bay.

Today, when online articles tempt me to keep clicking, I respond robotically, "I'm sorry, internet, I'm afraid I can't do that." Online articles are full of potentially distracting external triggers. Open tabs can pull us off course and tend to suck us down a time-wasting content vortex. Make a rule. Promise yourself you'll save interesting content for later by using an app like Pocket. Surprise! You can multitask. Use multichannel multitasking like listening to articles while working out or taking walking meetings. The infinite scroll of Facebook's News Feed is an ingenious bit of behavioral design and is the company's response to the human penchant for perpetually searching for novelty. But just because Facebook uses sophisticated algorithms to keep us tapping doesn't mean we can't hack back; I've found the most effective way to regain control is to eliminate the News Feed altogether. Didn't think that was possible? It is, and here's how. You can hack back Facebook by removing the News Feed. Personally, I still use Facebook, but now I use it the way I want instead of the way Facebook intended. When I want to see updates from a certain friend or participate in the discussion happening in a particular Facebook group, I go straight to the page I want instead of having to wrestle myself away from the News Feed. I allocate time on my calendar to check Facebook almost every day, but without the unwanted external triggers in the News Feed to tempt me down a rabbit hole of frivolity; I'm in and out in less than fifteen minutes. For example, typing in "LinkedIn.com" takes you to the website's feed, where a stream of stories can keep you scrolling and clicking for hours. While I could install a browser extension called Newsfeed Burner, which eliminates the LinkedIn feed, I benefit from the industry information in the LinkedIn feed and don't want it gone completely. In this case, instead of eradicating the feed, I simply take charge of the exact URL when I visit the site, making sure I choose a destination with fewer external triggers likely to distract me. Following the Basics of Mental Health means that you structure your day and follow a routine. You get up and dressed at the same time each day and have several things planned, written down in a calendar or agenda book.