Home » Blog » Podcast interview with Paul Wilson

Welcome to The Bicultural Podcast.

I’m delighted to be joined by Paul Wilson, founder of A Happy Head.

Janina Neumann (00:32):
Hi Paul, how are you?

Paul Wilson (00:34):
I am very well, thanks to you. The sun is shining, so I’m a happy bunny.

Janina Neumann (00:39):
Ah, I know, it makes such a difference, doesn’t it, when the sunshine’s out?

Paul Wilson (00:44):
Absolutely. It just brightens everything up. It makes people feel happier and a bit warmer. Especially after a horrible cold winter like we’ve had. Yeah, it definitely makes things better.

Janina Neumann (00:54):
Certainly.

So tell us a bit about yourself, Paul.

Paul Wilson (00:59):
Oh, how long have you gone? I am a hypnotist and mindset coach. I generally work with entrepreneurs and high-level consultants. I’ve been doing it for a couple of years now. Prior to that, I spent 25 years at the Channel Tunnel. For those that don’t know what that is. It’s a railway system, a closed railway network, that runs between the UK and continental Europe, so between Folkston and Coquelles in France running passenger services, freight services and the Eurostar that goes between London and various parts of Europe.

Janina Neumann (01:41):

That sounds brilliant, and tell us a little bit more about your business now.

Paul Wilson (01:46):
After 25 years of the Channel Tunnel, I decided that I needed a change, a massive change, because I spent a lot of time working in sort of operations at the sharp end of the tunnel, and I want to do something completely different. I spent 2018 doing a whole range of different things, including taking on a personal trainer, losing a lot of fat, put on some muscle, did a 12-week standup comedy course, a whole range of things. And I fell back in love again with hypnosis because I’ve always had a fascination with the mind and neuroscience and mesmerism and all that kind of thing. And I was given the opportunity to learn a kind of a new strain of hypnosis. I learned that, fell in love with it, trained with the trainer’s trainer and then the trainer’s trainer’s trainer and kind of like all the up the tree, as far as I could, and then bought all the courses and books and started working with clients. And I absolutely love it, you know, really love seeing the changes in a client once they realise that all the stuff they’ve been holding onto for five, 10, 15, 20 years or more, they don’t need it anymore and they can get rid of it. And the hypnosis works really well when I need to use it in a coaching atmosphere as well.

Janina Neumann (03:07):
Oh, that sounds really interesting.

And also, you know, you’ve been building up your business, and then the pandemic hit. How has that been? What kind of challenges have people had to go through this past year?

Paul Wilson (03:20):
The pandemic has affected people in lots of different ways. I was quite lucky in that, probably from mid-2019, my clients started asking to do online meetings via Zoom and Zencaster and the like because it was just more convenient for them rather than having to come into town and find somewhere to park and a lot of kind of messing around. They could simply just log on and we could do the session online. And although I like working with clients face to face, there’s no real difference. I can still get people to where I need them to be via the camera as if they’re in the same room as me. But a lot of people have really struggled. I mean, people have been furloughed, people have been sacked, people have been made redundant, people have lost jobs that they’ve been in a long, long time.

Paul Wilson (04:14):
Then we’ve got the homeschooling and lockdown. Because what a lot of people seem to forgotten is that this is the first time this kind of thing has happened to 90, no, well, probably a hundred percent of us around the world. We’ve not had this situation where we’ve been actually told to stay at home, and not go to work, and not go and meet people, and not be able to go for coffee and go for a drink and this kind of thing. So it’s been a huge, how can I put it? It’s had a huge impact on people’s mental health in lots of different ways.

Janina Neumann (04:49):
Yeah, definitely. And also having the ability to talk about it with people, you know, before you might have like a casual conversation with someone whilst you’re making tea or preparing a coffee. Whereas now it’s like an official meeting, you know, and the chit-chat’s kind of gone and that also has an impact on people because they might not speak to someone for long periods of time as well.

Paul Wilson (05:14):
Oh, absolutely. Loneliness has become a real thing right now because a lot of people live on their own, but they’re able to cope with that because they could go to coffee shops. I could go to pubs, they can go and meet people in the parks, that kind of thing. But with lockdown, all of that’s being kind of put to one side and a lot of people just haven’t been able to reach out to other people. And it has had a very, very bad impact on people’s mental health. I get what you’re saying about not being able to have like informal chats, but what I’ve done is I’ve been kind of reaching out to friends that I’ve not been in contact with for a long time, old colleagues that kind of thing, and then just having a chat. So yeah, booking a Zoom call or something, but making it just like a normal conversation. And I’ve had some fabulous conversations. I even started a podcast late last year. And I’m only on episode 22 or 23 at the moment, but I’ve had some absolutely brilliant conversations with people about a whole range of things, it’s been fabulous.

Janina Neumann (06:25):
That’s brilliant.

Yes, tell us a little bit more about your podcast.

Paul Wilson (06:30):
Well, the podcast, I thought to myself, I could sit there and I could kind of like pontificate and talk to people about various things. And I thought to myself, well, no, I don’t want to do that. I want to have conversations with real people about real subjects. Now the loose kind of background is mindset and things related to mindset. And I thought to myself, well, we’ve been learning through story since we lived in caves. And I thought to myself a great way to help people would be to have conversations with people who have a story to tell. And that have been through things. I mean, I’ve talked to people that have been through cancer and come out the other end. I’ve spoken with people who’ve been in narcissistic relationships and had to leave their home with their kids and the clothes on their back and that’s been it. People that have come out of the military with PTSD. So there’s been a whole range of people and the conversations have been really, really interesting.

Janina Neumann (07:33):
Oh, wow, and you know, just from my own experiences of doing this podcast, it gives you time just to listen and to really focus and just learn about new things, which I think is so, so good to have that. And certainly, you know, if it hadn’t been for lockdown, I probably wouldn’t have found the time, you know, to sit down and have these conversations, but I think it just opened up possibilities. And I can imagine that your guests are also scattered around the country or the world, and it’s just given us the opportunity to tell those stories.

Paul Wilson (08:15):
Oh, absolutely. I have had people on the podcast from all over the world, United States, Europe, Australia, South Africa, and more to come. So yeah, it’s really, really kind of opened my eyes and reminded me that we are all the same. I don’t care what anybody says, you know, this nationality is different from that nationality, but when it comes down to it, we all go through stuff. And we all go through stuff either in a good way or a bad way or a neutral way, and we come out the other end. And it doesn’t matter where you’re from or who you are or what you’re in life, it seems that this is what life is all about. Life isn’t a flat line. If you imagine a line going across your screen that’s flat, that is life, that’s nothing, that’s no existence at all. Our lives are peaks and troughs and valleys and you know, good stuff, bad stuff, hard times, easy times, fun times, sad times. And that’s what life is. And life is about learning. It’s about learning how to cope with situations, how to deal with situations, how to come out the other side as a better person, really.

Janina Neumann (09:35):
Yeah, I think that’s so interesting. We’re all human at the end of the day.

And I’d just be interested to find out, have you found any like differences in how people approach different situations? Do you think culture plays a role in that or that it’s actually quite over a human way of dealing with things?

Paul Wilson (09:58):
We have these cultural stereotypes. I know in the UK, we think that you know, the French are like this and the Australians like that, and the Americans are like the other kind of thing, but it’s not true. When you talk to people one-on-one from around the world, we all deal with things in a very, very similar fashion, because that’s what we are. Like you said a minute ago, we’re human. We only have a limited range of abilities to deal with situations. I mean, if someone dies, then there’s anger, there’s grief, there’s remorse, there might be guilt, there might be shame, there might be all kinds of things. Those are human emotions, and we all experience them no matter where we are in the world. Joy and happiness, being thrilled and excited, again are human emotions we all experience them in the same way, regardless of where we are in the world. Now, the words we might use to express those feelings may be different. The attitude or the kind of the outward persona we put forward might be slightly different. But when it comes down to the basic raw emotion, we’re the same, it doesn’t matter what we look like, how we speak, what language we speak, it is pretty much the same way we deal with things.

Janina Neumann (11:23):
Yeah, I can imagine that it’s really interesting also to see how people express themselves and you know, how you build that relationship and that trust as well because I can imagine that people are in a certain mind frame when they reach out to you. So they’ve done some of the work behind the scenes as well to actually trust and be open to that conversation. I just also find it interesting how people kind of display certain emotions, what you touched on there as well. For example, I know that in Iran when someone dies that someone, that family member and anyone who’s very close connected, might wear black for long periods of time. And I know that that was the case in Germany and it’s less now, but it’s just interesting how the culture is reflected in the way you behave, as in the way you dress, you know, other people might be dealing in the same way with grief, but you might not see it so visually.

Paul Wilson (12:33):
Yeah, absolutely. It’s strange you say that because I read a piece on Friday where they were talking about grief and the physical demonstration of grief and in the UK and the West in general, and in like say in Iran, people tend to wear black to demonstrate loss and grief and the loss of a person in the family. Whereas I think it was, I might get this wrong, it was either in China or Japan, people wear white when someone dies. Completely the opposite and the meanings are all different. I found it fascinating because we are kind of insular in the sense that we demonstrate grief as an example in a certain way, so we imagine that everyone else all around the world celebrates or commemorates grief in the same way, but it’s not true.

Paul Wilson (13:37):
I mean, for example, you know, you have funerals. Funerals in the UK tend to be very sad, quiet, calm affairs, whereas in some countries they are a massive kind of like celebration with lots of music, lots of laughter, lots of joy where people remember the good things about the person who’s passed away. And yet, because we are in one country, one area, and if we haven’t traveled, if you haven’t met people from other cultures, we tend to think that our way is the only way, and I believe that’s why certain difficulties arise because we’ve lived in a kind of a closet of belief, an understanding that this is how we deal with grief, so why are these people laughing and joking, actually having a party, when the husband has just lost his wife? Well, because that’s how they deal with it in that country.

Janina Neumann (14:33):
Yeah, definitely. And I think also when you haven’t traveled a lot or you’re basically, you know, restricted to having holidays in your own country, you know, just watching a different culture perhaps on TV makes it seem like so distant to you. Like they’re living on a different planet rather than understanding that they shared the same planet as you do.

Paul Wilson (14:59):
Yeah, absolutely. There was an ad on Facebook several years ago where it brought a group of young people or youngish people into a room and got them to do a DNA test. And we have people sort of like from the far right in the UK and other places and African people and European people, Israelis and Jews all in the same room. They did the DNA tests and they asked the question, “Okay, who do you think are related to?” and most people in the room said, “I’m an Israeli, I’m just related to other Israelis”. “I’m a British guy, far right, my ancestry is all British”. They did the DNA tests and they brought these people back together again. And an example, the British guy had DNA that demonstrated that he had relations in, or relatives I guess you could say, from Africa, from Germany, from all over the place.

Paul Wilson (16:11):
The Israeli and the Jewish couple, well, they weren’t a couple, but there was a guy and a girl. They got them sat around a table, and it was incredible because they found that they were both directly related to somebody about three or four generations back. So this idea that I am British, or that I am German, or that I am African, or that I am Australian is kind of a falsehood or it’s a national thing because when you look at the DNA and the genetics of a person, we are related to pretty much everybody. And if you think of what made up of, you know, material from outside of the universe, we are again all related. So it’s kind of a falsehood to say that we are completely different. I think it’s the nations are different, the way they do things as a nation may well be different, but us as human beings, we are all related, we’re all family, regardless of whether you like it or not.

Janina Neumann (17:16):
Yeah, I really liked that, “We’re all family”. And I think sometimes, we also need to think about kind of the rituals that we do in everyday life, you know, kind of tells us about what cultures we relate to and, you know, every family has their own rituals. So they have their own kind of environment and a way of doing things. But also I think it was really interesting, someone called Taiye Selasi, who had a great framework around this, and she actually talked about defining cultures in like rituals, relationships, and restrictions. So for example, the rituals, like what habits and cultural practices do people do on a regular basis? How do these practices influence their experiences?

Janina Neumann (18:11):
And then you have the relationships. So who do they actually speak to on a regular basis? And do they have multicultural or monocultural personal and business relationships? But then what I found really interesting as well is the restrictions part. So what is stopping them from viewing a particular place as home? And, for example, also taking into consideration, are there any external circumstances that have influenced them to move away from the country, which they call home? Things go on behind the scenes. So I think sometimes these are barriers, but actually, it’s about how that person likes to live, and, you know, the more cultures I experience, sometimes I actually take things on in my day to day life, and I think, oh, this works quite well, and you become like a blended culture.

Paul Wilson (19:10):
Yeah, I hear what you’re saying that Janina. I have a metaphor, which I call the bubble of belief. It is not my metaphor comes from somewhere else, but basically from the second we’re born, there’s this bubble surrounding us. And when we’re very, very young, this bubble is made of very, very soft, very, very pliable, easily penetrated material. We start to absorb the beliefs and thoughts and ideas of the people in our immediate world, which is, you know, our mum in the first instance, maybe dad, parents, you know, grandparents, elder brothers, sisters, and then as we get older the people around the bubble start to expand. So we go to school. So we have the influence of other school, children, teachers, friends, parents of friends, and so on and so forth. Now, if you are born into a family, which is a racist family, you are going to become pretty much a racist yourself, because that is part of your belief system.

Paul Wilson (20:22):
If you come from a family, which is multicultural, you are going to pick up the beliefs of what it’s like to be a multicultural person. If you come from a family where there’s lots of wealth, then this is your belief that wealth is normal, wealth is natural. If you come from a family, which is very poor and so on and so forth. And as we get all of these beliefs start to fill our bubble and the bubble itself, the surface, starts to harden, starts to become like plexiglass, like kind of bulletproof glass. So it becomes very, very difficult to penetrate. The challenge that we face is that when we get to sort of young adult stage say 18, 19, 20, 21 if we go to university, we can take on new beliefs because we meet new people from different backgrounds. We learn new things, new subjects.

Paul Wilson (21:17):
We expand our area of influence, our sphere of influence, so we’re able to take on board new beliefs. If we travel, if we go hitchhiking around the world or wanting to sail around the world, whatever it is, again, we get to meet more people, different cultures, and we can take onboard new beliefs and cast out things. Let’s say, for example, you were born into a racist family. If you go to university, or if you start traveling, you may realise that actually racism is completely stupid and you don’t need those beliefs anymore. So you will actually toss them out and take on board new beliefs. However, conversely, if you are kind of person that doesn’t travel, doesn’t go to university, stays in your hometown, and doesn’t kind of go anywhere apart from say a couple of weeks holiday somewhere every year, then the beliefs that you were born with will stay with you.

Paul Wilson (22:18):
And as you get older, new beliefs will begin to be harder and harder to penetrate your bubble so that you can actually change your beliefs. And this is where the challenge lies because quite a lot of people don’t travel, don’t go to university, don’t go around the world, don’t do anything out of the ordinary. So those beliefs they had has a very young child stay with them into their adult life and beyond, and this is where the difficulty lies. This is where we have the clashes of culture. If you’re someone who’s open and then it’s traveled and understands that the world is a diverse, incredibly beautiful place, then you’re able to take on new beliefs, discard old beliefs, and so on. However, if you haven’t done that, then it’s very difficult for you to change your worldview, which comes to what you were saying about absorbing new rituals.

Paul Wilson (23:16):
Your family may have had rituals, your local area may have had rituals, and those are the rituals you stick by. You know, like every Saturday night going out and having a fight because that’s what your dad did, that’s what you’re mates did, so that’s what you do. Or you go to different countries and you become one with nature, you become an environmentalist and you work in an area, where you can actually help preserve the environment, or you take on new beliefs about specific cultures. You may move to a country and actually prefer the rituals and behaviours, and then the nationality, the nationhood of that particular country, to your own. So you stay there and you meet someone, you live together, you have kids and you’re there for the rest of your life. And I think this is where, you know, it’s such an important thing to travel and/or to go to university, or to do something rather than kind of just like stay in your own neighborhood forever.

Janina Neumann (24:20):
Wow, that’s really interesting, and it reminds me of kind of echo chambers. I’ve just noticed over this past year having lockdown and restrictions, I just noticed also that with other things, like, for example, beliefs. So, we’re kind of confined to a certain bubble or we can’t meet certain people or we might not have the time to go and talk to everyone online or ring them up. And I just noticed, you know, there’s this almost bubble forming itself on your approach to coronavirus. And I’ve just found it really interesting if you’re not aware of that, and I started to have certain views on how other people were acting and you kind of alienate them because you don’t want to be around them. And it just reminded me about how people sometimes get trapped into this type of thinking with cultures.

Janina Neumann (25:24):
You know, I have certain beliefs about following guidelines and restrictions, but it’s also understanding that that person is making their own choices, and you have to also make your own choices rather than inflict your views upon others. You know, sometimes that happens with cultures, like, why are you doing this? You know, you should be doing it that way. So I had this experience of, you know, creating my own echo chamber and because of the people that I surrounded myself with who had very similar views. So when I saw people in the streets acting differently, you know, that it would create this annoyance. So it just reminded me about actually having empathy with other people because they might see it differently. And, you know, that’s how I imagined that some people feel with different cultures as well.

Paul Wilson (26:20):
Yeah, absolutely. I actually think that a lot of people, although they think they’re making their own decisions, aren’t making their own decisions because of these bubbles of belief. For example, if you come from a background of believing in conspiracy theories, for example, you are more likely to believe that this whole thing is some bizarre conspiracy to gain control of a population or to do something. If however, you are more open-minded and you’ve traveled, you’ve been to university, you’ve done different things, you are more likely to understand that, okay, yeah, there’s definitely a problem here. It needs to be sorted out. The guidelines are there for a reason, and you’re probably going be more likely to follow the guidelines on the understanding it is helpful to everyone. And you’re not going to take on board some of the nonsense that’s been broadcast about, you know, the vaccine is really a transmitter, so you can be tracked by the government and all the other crazy nonsense that’s going on around the place.

Paul Wilson (27:32):
And people want to believe this kind of thing because that’s how they’ve been brought up. They’ve been brought up to think in a certain way, and unfortunately, that thinking is quite restricted and constricted. Some people don’t want to believe that this is just a thing that has happened like back in 1918, and because it’s new for everyone on the planet, some people got it right from day one and have dealt with it in a different way. Other governments have, you know, made mistakes and got things wrong and corrected themselves. Nobody’s perfect. And yet some people will look for indicators that confirm that own beliefs, oh, look, this person has done X, therefore they must be Y. It’s the same with culture. We have these beliefs and unless you’ve exposed yourself to different cultures and different ways of thinking, different ways of acting, different ways of doing things, if you haven’t done that, then you are going to think that what the other culture does is wrong or ridiculous or silly or doesn’t match your expectations.

Janina Neumann (29:03):
Yeah, that’s so true. And I think there’s a lot of healing that’s going to go on once the restrictions start to lift and the pandemic becomes under control.

I’m just thinking Paul if people would love to connect with you and work with you and perhaps work through some of these issues that they’re having, how would they best do that?

Paul Wilson (29:27):
The best place to reach out to me is my Facebook page, which is Paul Wilson Coaching.

Janina Neumann (29:35):
That’s fantastic. And yes, just a reminder about your podcast as well.

Would you like to say a little bit more about where people can find your podcast?

Paul Wilson (29:46):
The easiest thing to do is to go to my Facebook page and I’ve got sort of links to the podcast there. That’s the easiest thing. I’m on Spotify, and TuneIn, and lots of other places as well. But the best way to find me is to go to the Facebook page or Instagram because it’s the same username, Paul Wilson Coaching on Instagram as well, you can find me that and you can find access to the podcast there as well.

Janina Neumann (30:14):
Oh, brilliant. Fantastic. It’s been so lovely talking to you, Paul. Fantastic conversation and thank you for your time today.

Paul Wilson (30:23):
My pleasure, Janina. It has been fun, thank you.

If you have enjoyed reading this article, why not subscribe to The Bicultural Podcast?

Ways of subscribing