It’s time for a brand new Q&A! Let us introduce you to the speaker, life coach and writer, Michael James. His ebook Emotional First Aid was published in April and is available to buy here!
Hi Michael! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some of our questions. Let’s start with my favourite one: what inspired you to write your book Emotional First Aid?
I had read many self help and personal development books – and I’d interviewed a lot of the at-the-time “big name” teachers too in a newsletter I used to produce. Although I got some great ideas from the books or philosophies out there, I found that there was still something missing: most were not that helpful in real-life everyday situations – or when my mind was really busy and I was overwhelmed with emotion. I’d feel good for a while, and then fall back into old habits. On top of that, there was this stressful idea that you must think positive and don’t to dare think negative, in case something bad happens. I’d be annoyed with myself for not being able to “be positive” all the time and I’d even be afraid of my thoughts – which just made me overthink more and feel worse, because what you resist, persists. I just couldn’t get to grips with these ideas I was reading and something felt off with it. As much as I read about manifesting or attracting an amazing life in these “easy steps” I had little success. So I started a sort of book study group in London, and found out I wasn’t the only one struggling with applying personal development information. We’d all get together and chat about the latest book or philosophy. Fast forward a year, and following encouragement from people I knew (including Esther Hicks/Abraham who described Michael as a “teacher of teachers”), I moved from the discussion format of the groups and stepped up as a teacher, sharing my own insights – and I created a new, interactive group format of my own. At the time, my group was the first of its kind as far as I know. I’ve been told I pioneered this very practical format – meaning we would do written processes rather than just talk about them. I ran this group (which was called the “Processes Group”) for over 10 years and in this time it became quite iconic. The group was very influential – a lot of people who went onto become coaches or set up book study groups of their own started out with me in that group, taking their first steps. My book has a lot of the practical ideas I taught in this group.
So what was the format of the Processes Group?
We’d meet every Monday in this beautiful, secluded basement space right in the centre of London. The space was really magical and seemed like it was in the middle of nowhere. We had all kinds of people coming in, people from all walks of life, finding out about it through word of mouth. Sometimes we had very well-known actors or TV stars, including one famous US singer who used to come in disguise. Every night was different, with a lot of different personalities. It was a real night out as well as a deeply spiritual circle. I never advertised it and some of the more well-known members liked it that way as they could be unrecognised and it would be this sanctuary to just relax in. We’d meet no matter what the weather, every week the group would be on. Sometimes we’d have just a couple of people but it didn’t matter – it was all about the experience rather than making money – it would always have that magic about it and I never got tired of doing it – even though sometimes I’d be travelling across the country to facilitate it. The group finished around 10pm, and some people would go for coffee afterwards, perhaps wander into Covent Garden or Soho, especially in the early days, and talk about philosophy until the early hours or hit the local nightlife. There really was nothing like it and hasn’t been since and a lot of people look back to those times fondly – I get a lot of emails asking to do a one-off reboot of the group, which I may do at some point.
How much did your work influence the book? Can you tell readers a little about that?
This book is totally influenced by my work, which is about dealing with overthinking, and soothing intense emotions – and then feeling better and finding your life purpose and living your best life. This book focuses particularly on how to be OK when you’re not OK. I seem to have got a big following in people who want a more practical approach to the Law of Attraction, who are tired about having to read endlessly and yet their dream life is promised at some future date and isn’t happening. I also teach how to love and accept yourself, how to make the most of your current life.
Talk to us about your writing process. Did you write at certain times of day, or in a particular place?
Despite this being a short book, it was actually written over several years and took a lot longer than you might realise. It was edited down from extensive notes – such as notes I’d written on my phone or insights from when I was teaching workshops. I also wrote it whilst actually in the middle of emotions to make sure it actually worked, and it was tried out by various people before ready for publication. It was and is so important to me to release work which really does work to improve people’s life experience.
Do you have a favourite chapter or section of the book, or part that was your favourite to write?
I really like the introduction to the book which explains some fairly deep spiritual theory in a really simple and concise way – and also the end of the book where I write about my background, which I feel will really inspire people who have been through challenges with self worth and trying to cope with life. I’d say my favourite bit is the “Feeling Low” section. It was quite difficult to write as it came out of challenges, but it’s very helpful and a lot of people have said how it soothes them in the way other books don’t. I love how it’s an open-at-random section which offers instant soothing when you are feeling overwhelmed or afraid or any other low emotion. I’m really happy with this section – I think it adds something new to the self help genre. However – it’s not all about getting yourself out of challenges – there’s some great insights about how to live a great life, not just cope with life.
Finally, what is one thing that you hope people will take away from reading the book?
That however you are feeling – it’s OK and it will pass. And that there is nothing wrong with negative thoughts just as there is nothing wrong with resistance at the gym. In fact, there is a benefit in it: we evolve that way. So I hope people take away a bit more gentleness with self – personal development and this idea we’ve got to “work on ourselves” can be so harsh. So I hope people be a bit kinder to to themselves and knowing that no matter how this moment looks it is temporary and get rid of this very harsh and ego-based teaching that say we have to be spiritually perfect to create the life we want. We don’t – and we are already perfect, just as we are. Once we can really accept and appreciate ourselves, we naturally want to help others do the same. Emotional First Aid is a down to earth, easy read and from what I’ve heard seems to have a really universal appeal. It’s for anyone who wants to feel good, which is everyone!
Michael James is a life coach and personal development speaker who has helped thousands of people through his one-to-one sessions, groups, workshops and appearances at events that range from talks in prisons to the London Mind Body Spirit Festival. He is the co-founder of the Law of Attraction Centre, Europe’s largest community of people interested in the Law of Attraction. For details of his events and further resources, visit: www.michaeljames.be. Find Michael on Instagram here: @michaeljamesbe