Susannah Taylor: ‘How to be your own life coach’

I have known life coach Jacqueline Hurst since the early stages of her career. I’ve always loved her ballsy, no-nonsense advice and attitude to life. This may be down to the fact that she’s personally overcome some of life’s toughest obstacles.

‘Challenge the hell out of negativity,’ says hypnotherapist and life coach Jacqueline Hurst. Image: M J Chapman

At school Jacqueline was badly bullied, and in her teens became addicted to drugs. She lived in a squat and suffered from anorexia. With the help of her mother, she began the slow path to recovery, attending Narcotics Anonymous as well as seeking help for her eating disorder. Therapy helped her reach a state of balance. Jacqueline decided to dedicate her life to helping others and qualified as a life coach, neuro-linguistic programming practitioner and hypnotherapist. Today – and 7,000 clients later – she has written her first book, How To Do You. ‘This is a short, straight-talking, how-to manual about how to do life,’ says Jacqueline, who has written about the methods she used to dig herself out of some dark places and help her clients.

She targets everything from beating anxiety to breaking unhealthy habits. The one life-changing thread that runs through the book is a series of techniques for managing our thoughts, which she thinks is something we should all be taught at school. ‘If we can help our thinking we can solve our problems,’ she says. ‘It all begins and ends with the mind.’ Here is her key advice…

Change your mindset Jacqueline says that what we believe and how we think daily has probably been ingrained in us from generations before. She asks us to question, ‘Are those thoughts working for or against me today?’ She explains that our beliefs are thoughts we choose to think over and over. Her book shows us how to question limiting thoughts and
change our mindset.

Banish the ‘downer’ thoughts ‘If you are choosing thoughts that don’t make you feel good, you can change them,’ says Jacqueline. For example, if you feel sad, ask yourself what thought is bringing you down. She explains it is the thought that makes you act or feel; changing the thought can transform your day.

Swap negative for positive ‘I spend my life asking clients, “How can you think about this differently?”’ says Jacqueline. ‘For example, if you always thought, “I’d love to be a florist but could never be” change it to, “How could I take steps to being a florist?” Challenge the hell out of negativity!’

Think solutions, not stresses If you are stressed, know that the stress is coming from your mind, not the situation. Jacqueline suggests speaking to yourself as you would your child: ‘You wouldn’t say, “This is so stressful!”. You would say, “How can we find a way to sort this out?”’

Stick at it Changing the way you think won’t happen overnight. ‘It’s like driving abroad,’ Jacqueline says. ‘The first day is confusing, but after a few days you do it automatically.’

Don’t make happiness your goal If you are grieving, for example, you need to process it. Jacqueline also explains: ‘One person’s happy might be sitting on a boat in the Maldives. Another’s is walking their dog. So aim for neutral, not happy.’

Tackle that no-go fridge

According to appliance brand Haier, your salad drawer can contain nearly 8,000 bacteria for every square cm – 750 times the levels considered safe for humans. As for all those leaky salad bags and gone-off veggie mush? Haier’s advice is to wash it away with warm water and soap and get into corners with an old toothbrush regularly. Oh, and don’t forget the outside and the handle, which can be another dirt hotspot.

My coolest fit kit

Now the weather’s too warm for leggings (I always think it’s a bit like wearing 100 denier tights), I’m wearing Sweaty Betty’s On Your Marks 4” Shorts (£55, sweatybetty.com) to work out in. I can vouch for the fact they don’t chafe and have an inner cycling-short lining so you won’t expose yourself in your HIIT class.