White Poppies – new Remembrance Day ceremony highlights the true costs of war

white poppies

by Teresa Gagné

The white poppy was first introduced in Britain in 1933, only 12 years after the red poppy. Alarmed by the rising tide of post-war militarism, British women, many of whom were the wives, mothers and sisters of men who had been killed – looked for a symbol to express their belief that civilized nations should never again resort to the terrible and ineffectual method of war for the settlement of international disputes. The wearing of a white poppy on Armistice Day became a focus for the British peace movement and the newly founded Peace Pledge Union undertook its promotion and distribution.

The growing demand for peace poppies highlighted the need for Remembrance Day activities to reflect the diversity of Canadian perspectives on war and remembrance and to acknowledge the war experiences of many immigrant Canadians. With this in mind, Vancouver Peace Poppies partnered with The BC Humanist Association in 2016 to co-host “Let Peace be Their Memorial,” a Remembrance Day wreath-laying ceremony to commemorate refugees and other overlooked victims of war. The following is largely excerpted from my address at the 2016 ceremony.

The first armistice day was in November of 1919, pretty close to 100 years ago, a year after the end of a war so huge and horrible it was regarded by many as “The War to End War.” People thought that surely nothing this terrible could happen again, that governments and nations had learned from this horrific and wasteful experience. But 100 years later, we find there have been well over 300 more wars, with close to 200 million people killed and every year on November 11, we get together and remember. But really, what have we accomplished with all our remembering if 200 million people have died in war since then? Do we really think that was the torch John McCrae and his comrades threw to us? They would be appalled to think they had lost their lives and we had learned so little from it.

There are lots of reasons to be against war: it’s immoral and it’s wasteful, but I think the inarguable reason now is that it doesn’t work; it just doesn’t work. The reasons given by our governments and our press for why we have to enter this or that conflict aren’t valid: that it will make the world safer, it will spread democracy and that it will increase human rights for persecuted minorities. In fact, it isn’t working. If we look at the most recent effects of 20 years of war in the Middle East and ask, “Is Canada safer? Is the US safer? Is the Middle East safer? Is the world safer?” No! “Is it more democratic?” No! So all those deaths, all that money spent, all that waste haven’t really achieved their stated goals and we have to raise our voices to say, “Your way isn’t working.”

Around the world, we need to be training hundreds and thousands of people as a mediation resource available to communities and countries to deal with the difficult situations that are always going to happen. Not providing training for peacekeeping forces or the military or the police.

We need to commit ourselves to counting all the different costs of military conflict: the social costs, the environmental costs, the desperate refugees, the lost potential of 50 million children whose schooling is disrupted by war, the women traumatized, abducted or sexually assaulted, the conscientious objectors who sometimes pay with their lives for standing up and refusing to fight, the psychological costs of PTSD on veterans and civilians. We need to include all those things and we owe it not just to ourselves to do so; I would say we even owe it to our military.

If we ask somebody to risk not just their physical health, but also their mental health, on a military endeavour, we’d better be sure it’s likely to succeed and that in the cost-benefit analysis, it’s worth the costs. So I don’t see any disrespect to the military in saying, “Let’s count all the costs of war and evaluate if it’s really going to achieve what we want to achieve.” If we don’t do that and find a better way, we will really have ‘broken faith’ with those who died and with those who will continue to die.

This year, wear a White Poppy to:

  • commemorate all victims of war.
  • mourn the environmental devastation it causes.
  • reject war as a tool for social change.
  • call for dialogue and peaceful conflict resolution.
  • show your commitment to building a better future.

Because Remembering is important, but it isn’t enough.

Teresa Gagné is the co-founder of Vancouver Peace Poppies (www.PeacePoppies.ca). White poppies may be ordered on the website. The poppies commemorate civilian victims of war and encourage people to challenge the ‘normalization’ of militarism.


EVENT

NOVEMBER 11: Wreath Ceremony to recognize overlooked victims of War, 2:30-4PM, Seaforth Peace Park, 1st Avenue & Burrard Street, Vancouver.

On love and forgiveness

Scott Stabile

by Scott Stabile

I forgive the man who killed my parents completely and without reservation. I forgave him a long time ago, but not until years after he took their lives and uprooted mine.

Photo: Scott Stabile at Banyen Books

I have four distinct memories from my mom and dad’s funeral when I was 14. I remember sitting at the funeral home, as hundreds of people paraded past my parents’ closed coffins to pay their respects. The only face I recall is that of my classmate, Jodie Goldberg, whose eyes caught mine as she waited in line. She gave me a nervous, sympathetic wave. I stared for a second and then looked down at my lap. I also remember crying in a side room away from all the mourners, with two of my sisters standing nearby. I overhead one sister tell the other she didn’t know how I, the baby of the family and devoted mama’s boy, would be able to survive without our mom. I didn’t know, either. How would I? How could I? The third thing I remember was the moment before my parents’ caskets were going to be carried off. I leapt from my chair and threw myself against my mother’s casket, screaming and crying so they wouldn’t take her away. “Mom! No! Mom! No!” I remember shouting, over and over, not willing to say goodbye. One of my brothers – I’m not sure which one – pulled me off and led me out of the room.

Incredibly, I don’t know if that last scene really happened or if I saw it in a movie or read it somewhere and owned it for myself. I can see the moment in my mind and feel it in my bones, but there’s a part of me that questions whether it actually took place. It feels much more dramatic than I knew myself to be. Of course, many things I thought I knew about myself changed when my parents died. I was one Scott the day before their death and a different one the day after. An orphan can never be the same person he was with parents. The day of the funeral, and the weeks around it, are mostly lost to me. Still, I have that vision of myself, body pressed against her coffin, screaming, arms outstretched, holding on to a little more time with her. I’ve never asked my siblings if it happened because I don’t want to know if I made it up. I want my last memory with my mom to be real.

The last thing I remember that day was being in the funeral home parking lot with my three brothers. They were talking and smoking as I sat on a ledge staring at the ground with one thought in mind: I will never forgive my father for my mother’s death.

Luckily for me, I didn’t end up keeping that promise.

The man who killed my parents was caught and sent to prison for life. He’s still there. I have a vague memory of being at his sentencing with my siblings. I don’t know why we were there, really. I’m not sure what difference it made to anyone. Maybe we wanted the judge to see our devastated family so that he wouldn’t be lenient in his sentencing. Or we wanted our parents’ killer to see the faces of the seven orphans he’d created so that he couldn’t ignore the magnitude of his crime. Perhaps his sentencing promised the only closure my older siblings knew they would find within their grief; being present for his conviction provided a breath of relief within a universe of hopelessness. With mom and dad’s killer off to prison, we could at least lock away that part of the horror.

Though that day remains a blur, my parents’ murderer does not.

I remember his name, of course, and even his face, sometimes more clearly than I remember my parents’ faces. Maybe because his actions, even more than my parents’ up until that point, impacted most profoundly the person I would become. He had changed my life more than anyone. He had taught me the meaning of loss and introduced me to unimaginable grief. He had turned me into an orphan overnight.

Even so, I forgive him.

I forgive the man who killed my parents completely and without reservation. I forgave him a long time ago, but not until years after he took their lives and uprooted mine. Not until I simmered in blame and rage and fantasized all the violent ways I would have loved to take revenge. Not before I quieted my fury by imagining his troubled life to that point and the saddened loved ones he would likely never see again. I forgave him many years ago, but not until I learned that forgiveness of others is the only choice that lives in love, and that love is the only choice I want to live by.

To love is to forgive. To forgive is to love. I don’t see exceptions, not where my heart is concerned. I don’t believe any of the justifications I produce for not forgiving. The only way something could be unforgivable is if I’m not loving enough to forgive it – if the darkness that lives within someone’s actions proves greater than the light that lives within my heart. I’m not willing to accept that. I won’t discount the strength of my love for anything, or anyone.

I used to think my parents’ murder was unforgivable. For many years, I didn’t even consider the possibility of forgiving their killer. It didn’t register as an option, not when he’d done something so profoundly terrible. When I thought about him, which wasn’t that often, I hated him, and I was fine with that. He deserved it, I thought. But it felt awful to rest in a state of hatred and rage. It hurt. I grew to understand that to feel more at peace with myself, I would need to find a greater sense of peace with him. Without knowing how I’d find my way there, I eventually considered the possibility of forgiveness. What did I have to lose?

“How do you forgive?” People ask me that question a lot. Some have struggled to forgive ex-spouses who treated them horribly while others refused to forgive friends who betrayed them. Abusive bosses, backstabbing colleagues, selfish parents, thoughtless children, corrupt politicians, greedy executives, bigoted neighbours – all have provoked in us the need, and inability, to forgive. Is there someone in your life right now you have yet to forgive? Or someone from your past you refuse to forgive? Maybe you don’t think they deserve it. Maybe you want to forgive them, but don’t know how. Maybe you’ve tried and failed.

I wish I had an answer that guaranteed success, but I’m not sure a definitive path to forgiveness exists, beyond a clear commitment to it. We have to want to give it in order to find it. If we don’t, we’ll never really start searching. There are loads of articles, books and videos that promise to guide us to forgiveness and that, no doubt, offer some valuable tools to help us along the way. Still, all the best forgiveness recommendations in the world won’t make a bit of difference if we stay committed to the belief that something is unforgivable. We won’t climb a mountain we have determined to be unclimbable. Once we shift that belief, and truly want to forgive someone for what he’s done, even if that’s solely for our peace of mind, our desire alone will likely lead us there. My desire has.

Forgiveness takes dedication and awareness, and it takes work.

Excerpted from Big Love: The Power of Living with a Wide-Open Heart. Copyright ©2017 by Scott Stabile. Printed with permission from New World Library, www.newworldlibrary.com

Are you a people pleaser?

photo of Gwen Randall-Young

UNIVERSE WITHIN
by Gwen Randall-Young

Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.
– Lao T

When we are young, we learn that if we please others we gain their approval. If we displease them, we feel unloved. Even an infant can feel a parent’s energy when they are annoyed about having to change yet another diaper. Human infants depend on adults to keep them alive, so instinctively they will feel stress if they feel rejected.

As we grow, we learn that getting the right answer in school feels good. The teacher seems pleased. We learn to try and figure out what the teacher wants to hear and respond accordingly. Even at university, students often try to align papers with the instructor’s views.

On some level, many come to equate the displeasure of another with a failure on their part. They have failed to be what another wants them to be. Here lies the crux of a major block to authenticity and personal evolution.

Sadly, I have seen students struggle with the pressure of wanting a different career path than the one their parents envision for them. Imagine the conflict for a bright, young compassionate person who yearns to be a teacher because of their love for children, but knows it would be a huge disappointment to their parents who want their child to be a lawyer. Think of someone who abandons their love of art because they are told, “You will never make a living doing that.”

The fear of displeasing can become much stronger than the desire to please. I have worked with many mature adults who are stressed out at being controlled by their parents’ or partner’s expectations. They learn it is not okay to be their true selves.

This carries over to other areas of life as well. It manifests as a fear of displeasing others, which turns the person into a pleaser. They become trapped in a life that is stressful and unsatisfying. They cannot say no and cannot stand up for themselves when being controlled due to an intense discomfort at the thought of any confrontation.

If you cook for others, but never feed yourself, you will starve. If we live our lives for others, always doing what they want, our soul begins to starve. We lose touch with our true nature. Many in their fifties and sixties have shared they do not even know who they are.

The path to healing begins with first acknowledging the things we are doing that we do not want to be doing. It is beginning to recognize when our heart is saying “no” while our mouth is saying “yes.” It is up to us to begin to develop clear boundaries and to listen to that inner voice that is not happy with the way we have been doing things. We can blame others for being controlling, but we must recognize we are allowing it.

Standing up for ourselves can be done in a non-confrontational way. Rather than focusing on the behaviour of another or accusing them of being controlling, we just learn to speak our truth. Our truth is what we want for ourselves, not what we think of others. Speaking our truth starts with the word, “I,” not “you.” For example, “I am going to take some time for myself” is a statement that says, “I am in charge of me and I am taking care of myself.” After all, if you don’t, who will?

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, “Deep Powerful Change” hypnosis CDs and “Creating Effective Relationships” series, visit www.gwen.ca ‘Like’ Gwen on Facebook for daily inspiration.

Reinventing your life

photo of Gwen Randall-Young

UNIVERSE WITHIN
by Gwen Randall-Young

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.
– George Bernard Shaw

Perhaps your life has not gone as planned. Perhaps it did, but you are not sure that the plan is what you want anymore. Change can be hard. I often have clients that are dealing with major change and frequently the change is not of their own choosing.

What I see is that the old life, in some significant way, is gone. It may be the death of someone close, the ending of a relationship or job, a financial setback or a health crisis. In most cases, there is a longing for the return to the old life, a wish to wake up and find it was all just a dream. This is normal.

However, when the longing and resistance to change persists, over time, it prevents one from moving on. I picture it like this: you have been moved to a new house but you do not furnish it or put up pictures because you are focused on the old house and you want it back. You are not really even living in the new house, but rather merely existing. You do not plant flowers or even get to know your neighbours or the neighbourhood.

You realize you cannot go back, yet you spend time thinking of the old life, replaying memories and asking “Why,” but this leaves you sad and depressed. The only way to move forward is to look at this new house and start figuring out how you can make it a good place for you.

With big life changes, it is important to access resources. These include friends, family, helping professionals and perhaps accountants and lawyers. Recognize that so many others have been in your shoes and have survived.

You may feel you have lost a big part of yourself, but you are still here! There may be a void caused by the changes, but look at that as a blank canvas on which you can begin a new painting. What can you do with your time now that things are different?

With the busyness of modern life, many find they have lost touch with who they really are. It is easy to get so wrapped up in the context of our lives that we lose touch with who we are at the core of our being.

Think of the things you once liked to do. Are there books you simply have not had the time to read?
Is there music you love, but somewhere along the way stopped listening to it? Are their friends or family you have not seen in a long time? Many of them would be delighted to re-establish contact with you. Are there things you have always wanted to try but never did? A new interest, hobby or activity can invest you with a lot of new energy.

Yes, some things will never be the same, but that is true of all of life: everything changes. It is okay to look back now and then, but keep your eyes open to what is in front of you. Be in the moment rather than in the past. Notice nature, the sky, the earth and the stars. Feel your breathing and the beat of your heart. You are alive. You need to live.

Remember the words of Max Ehrmann: “You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, “Deep Powerful Change” hypnosis CDs and “Creating Effective Relationships” series, visit www.gwen.ca ‘Like’ Gwen on Facebook for daily inspiration.

Honouring Athena, embracing Aphrodite

by Marianne Williamson

Portrait of MarianneWilliamson
Marianne Williamson

Many people complain these days that romance hasn’t come their way. Often, however, we see that if romance were to be likened to a visitor, it hasn’t arrived yet because we ourselves are like a town where there’s no place for it to stay. We keep saying we want love, but don’t truly prepare for its arrival. Why would it come to a place where there’s no real welcome past the initial “So glad you’re here!”?

Many contemporary women now embody the Greek goddess Athena while craving a visit from Aphrodite. Yet the gods only come to where they are fully embodied. Embodying Athena, we attract worldly achievement; embodying Aphrodite, we attract love. What’s exciting about being a Western woman today is that we’re allowed to embody as many and whichever goddesses we choose. For those who seek a deeper romance, it serves to embody the goddess Aphrodite for she is the goddess of romantic love. In order to become her, however, we must approach her with reverence and love.

“Aphrodite’s temple” is a real psychic vortex, as is any divine space, with steps to be climbed in order to enter. There are both external and internal steps to climb before entering Aphrodite’s temple, and all of them can be learned.

External steps to the Temple of Aphrodite

Get all exercise equipment and office work out of your bedroom. Aphrodite is a temple, not a workspace. Make your living environment, clothes (even undergarments) and personal behaviour a magnet for romantic vibrations. Your own manifestation must match her frequency in order to attract her. Study books, take seminars, attend support groups, go to therapy – anything to avail yourself of all opportunities to learn greater mastery in romantic relationships. Some barriers to Aphrodite are simply mental, emotional and behavioural patterns that we learned and can now unlearn. All negative energy, when surrendered to God for healing, can be transmuted and transcended through grace.

Internal steps to the Temple of Aphrodite

Take an honest look at how you view relationships. Do you value them less than other areas of life, judging them as somehow trivial? Do you truly give yourself emotional permission to fall in love and stay there? Do you hold covert, or even overt, judgments against men or women as romantic partners? Such judgments must be recognized and consciously surrendered for healing or they remain subconscious forces that sabotage our chances for love.

Take an internal scan of your psychological, spiritual, emotional and physical landscape. Are you emotionally available? Are you physically prepared? Are you ready to be gentle with a man, or at times of fear might you be demeaning or impatient or angry? Are you yet kind and giving enough for love? Are you juicy and erotic and honouring of real sexual desire? Are you ready to welcome a partner, to serve his or her growth that you might participate together in a great romantic journey? Combining the sacred and the erotic is a high adventure; Aphrodite is both goddess and lover. We must approach the gods, and love, with reverence if we’re to receive their blessings.


Inner engineering


Even those who feel that they have failed at love can receive the blessing of Aphrodite’s touch. For she does not just reward those who are willing and ready to love; she also heals those who come to her weakened in the wars of love, now ready to make peace with the parts of themselves that have tried and failed at love, shown up and been rejected, had the chance and blown the opportunity. When we are ready to forgive ourselves and others, ready to humbly ask for guidance in love, ready to rise above the resistance to love, then we are ready for Aphrodite’s blessing. Once we are ready for her, she is ready for us, and once joining with her, we embody her. Then love arrives on angel’s wings, for gods can do what only gods can do. And love surrenders to their slightest command.

Source: www.marianne.com

Where do we go from here?

photo of Gwen Randall-Young

UNIVERSE WITHIN
by Gwen Randall-Young

At one time we had wisdom, but little knowledge. Now, we have a great deal of knowledge, but do we have enough wisdom to deal with that knowledge?
– Jonas Salk

A number of months ago, there was a story in the news about a family who lost their lives in a cottage fire. I felt sad about this tragedy as I do whenever I hear such stories. A couple of days after the family was identified, I received an email from my daughter saying the father was one of her husband’s best friends. The couple had been at their wedding in May and my daughter and her husband had spent time in that very cottage in August. It was a beautiful family; a successful couple both involved with and contributing to their community.

Suddenly, it was no longer just a news story and I tried not to think about their last moments. What a horrific shock to friends, family and their community. Now that I had a context for the news story, the sadness would not go away. It kept replaying in my mind. It was no longer like a photograph; it was now a streaming video. I I felt the weight of the pain and loss that was touching so many. Some wounds never really heal.

I then began thinking of all the scenes I had witnessed around the destruction in Syria. Parents losing children, children losing parents, families losing everything. I always felt compassion, but I wanted to turn away because it was so horrible for them. In war-torn countries, the pain is constant and ongoing; those deaths are not accidents. It is humans intentionally taking the lives of other humans. Like the loss of that Canadian family multiplied hundreds of thousands of times.

Has the world gone mad? Why can’t we do anything to stop it? Is the dark side of humanity getting darker? There is no cosmic parent who is going to step in and admonish the species to stop fighting and just get along.

The answer may lie in quantum theory: the notion that we (and everything else) are part of a gigantic energy field. What happens in one part affects the other parts no matter how far away and disconnected they may be. What is playing out on a global level is just a magnified version of what plays out in relationships and communities.


Inner engineering


The ego motivations are the same: the desire to win, to overpower, to have more and the inability to see things from another’s perspective, to transcend differences and work together to find solutions.

Back in the ‘70s, Jonas Salk wrote a book called The Survival of the Wisest. Wisdom here meant collaboration, cooperation and finding win/win solutions as opposed to aggressiveness and force. In my book, Growing Into Soul, I write that transcending ego and embracing wisdom is the next step in human evolution. Salk spoke in terms of counter-evolutionary and pro-evolutionary thoughts and behaviour.

Sadly, it seems we are seeing more and more counter-evolutionary behaviour in our world. The only solution is to begin, at the individual level, to act and speak wisely and model pro-evolutionary behaviour to our children and those around us. If an electron can alter the spin of another, though very far away, we can alter our “spin” and so influence the whole energy field in which we exist.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, “Deep Powerful Change” hypnosis CDs and “Creating Effective Relationships” series, visit www.gwen.ca ‘Like’ Gwen on Facebook for daily inspiration.

Relationship skills for today’s complex world

by John Gray

Both men and women require a new kind of emotional support that embraces greater authenticity, intimacy and personal expression. Gone are the days when a woman was required to be submissive and dependent on men and a man had to carry the burden of providing for his family alone.

This change has created incredible new opportunities, both for relationships and individuals. People have the opportunity to be themselves in ways they never could before and to embrace characteristics beyond those of their traditional gender roles, allowing for relationships of more profound intimacy than ever before.

But these changes also bring significant new challenges. We must learn to successfully express our masculine and feminine qualities in ways that reduce, rather than increase, our stress. And we must learn how to support our partners’ new needs as they do the same for us.

Just because women today work side by side with men in the workplace and men participate more in raising their children, it does not mean men and women are the same. Our roles are certainly changing but our biology is still very different. And because men and women are different, we react to the changes in our roles in different ways, ways that are often misunderstood and misinterpreted by our partners.

These challenges relate to single people as much as to couples because the changes in our modern relationships are a reflection of the changes that are currently happening within us as individuals. The new insights we receive by going beyond Mars and Venus are necessary not just for romantic relationships but also for our own happiness as well as that of our children.

What we are witnessing is a dramatic shift in the context of our relationships. Trying to have successful relationships today while using the skills and insights developed for traditional relationships over thousands of years is simply not enough and does not work.

For both men and women, providing each other the new support necessary to create a fulfilling relationship is a tall order. Most men have no role models for providing this kind of support. I know I certainly didn’t. Our relationship training came from watching our fathers, who may have been skilled in the old model but not in this new one. By going to work every day to provide for their families, our fathers could fulfill most of our mothers’ relationship expectations.

This journey of transformation into someone who knows their own needs and is able to support their partner’s is not immediate. But you can begin this journey now; you don’t have to wait for your current partner or a future partner to join you. All it takes is for one partner to change and the relationship will change. Eventually, as one person becomes a better partner, the other comes along.

When you are coming from a place of fulfillment, you have more to give. When your heart is fully open, and you have new gender-specific insights regarding your partner’s new needs, not only will you experience a higher level of fulfillment but also, with your help, your partner will be able to respond better to your own new needs. It rarely works to ask for more when you are dissatisfied with what you are getting. But even more important, it never works to ask for more when your partner is not getting what they need.

To improve your relationship, your first step is to find your way back to opening your heart without depending on your partner to change. Your second step is to feel, say, or do what you can to help them. By giving them what they need, they will be way more inclined to give you what you need in return. Your third step is to ask for more in small increments while giving your partner big rewards for giving more. This is your formula for success; expecting more without giving more first is a formula for failure. In addition, expecting too much too soon will also sabotage all your efforts.

By understanding what is most important
to your partner’s fulfillment, you can
more successfully target your energies and love. Both men and women in relationships need to find their own happiness first without depending on their partner changing. Likewise, a single person must find their happiness without depending on finding the perfect partner for them.

To be happy and fulfilled in our relationships, we first need to be happy and fulfilled in our lives. It is unrealistic to depend on our intimate relationships as the sole source of fulfillment. When we create a life rich in friendships, family, exercise, good food, meaningful work or service to the world and have plenty of opportunities for fun, entertainment, education, personal growth, and spiritual devotion, then having a loving relationship can make us even happier. To experience lasting love in relationships today, you must find a baseline of happiness by fulfilling your other needs separate from your needs for an intimate relationship.

It is much easier to drop a bomb than to drop our egos and find love. It is much easier to escape the pain of our broken hearts by running away from love. But those who continue to try are the most noble and deserve more love and encouragement, even – especially –when they make mistakes.

Today we all want more – from our lives and from our relationships. The good news is that we can have more. But first, we must learn how to get it.

Excerpted from the introduction to Beyond Mars and Venus: Relationship Skills for Today’s Complex World by John Gray. (BenBella Books)

EVENT March 25

Women’s Health Show 9:30am – 6pm
Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, 900 W. Georgia.
Bestselling author John Gray is a special guest.
Talk: Beyond Mars & Venus (his new book).
Full details at www.womensvoicehealthshow.com

Is it my partner or is it me?

photo of Gwen Randall-Young

UNIVERSE WITHIN
by Gwen Randall-Young

Projection makes the whole world a replica of our own unknown face.
– Carl Jung

Projection in relationships is the tendency to disown qualities we don’t like in ourselves and see them in others instead. It is a subconscious defence mechanism, meaning we are not even aware we are doing it.

A man who finds himself attracted to other women, but has not fully admitted it to himself, may accuse his partner of being unfaithful. A woman may accuse her partner of having anger issues, unaware that her anger issues are just as significant.

This is a destructive process as we are certain the problems in the relationship are the partner’s fault. If you find yourself blaming your partner for what you are thinking or feeling, or for how you are reacting, you are likely projecting your issues onto them.

If you feel you are projecting, the next time you are triggered by your partner consider the part of you that is like them. If you complain your partner is disorganized, maybe there are some aspects of your life that are not as organized as you would like and you are bothered by that. When we can see how our partner is triggering our own issues, we no longer judge so harshly.

Try to stay with your feelings when you are triggered. Do not react or push back. This will not be easy because you will be feeling pain, but the pain is coming from emotional pain you have denied.

It can feel like craziness if your partner is accusing you of the very things you know are true about him/her. Our first impulse is to defend ourselves and point out that he, too, has the qualities he is attributing to you. Resist this urge.

Instead, quietly disengage. Take some space and don’t get sucked in to the old pattern of fighting about it. Be compassionate and supportive to yourself and recognize it is not about you.

Here is the hardest part. Do not argue, defend, explain or counter attack. You will get entangled in the craziness if you do. Because you have attacked them, your partner does not have to own their stuff. They will defend or counter-attack and the downward cycle starts again.

It gets even more complicated when we add co-dependency into the mix. If one has low self-esteem and feels the partner is responsible for making her feel good, valued, beautiful and smart, she will react with strong emotions when she is not getting that from him.

In co-dependency, there is a tendency to manipulate others to get what you want or to blame them for your feelings of inadequacy or unhappiness. The reason couples get stuck in negative feelings is because both are being triggered and neither one is taking responsibility for making themselves feel strong, good and worthy.

In some ways, it is even more difficult when one person is able to look inside and self-reflect and is not projecting or co-dependent, while the other is. It can be so difficult to navigate through this, as the one projecting cannot see the other in a good light. It is as if they are having a bad dream and they see you as the antagonist.

If you find yourself stuck in this dilemma, it is time to find a good therapist. You can also download an MP3 on Codependency and Projection at gwen.ca

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, “Deep Powerful Change” hypnosis CDs and “Creating Effective Relationships” series, visit www.gwen.ca ‘Like’ Gwen on Facebook for daily inspiration.

The High Price of Dishonesty and Deception

For ruthless men and women who strive to win at any cost and make it in a Trumpian universe, the new president provided tactics. Always take control.

by Roxanne Davies

Of all the horror films to come out of Hollywood, the one that creeped me out the most was Rosemary’s Baby. The psychological horror flick was written and directed by French-Polish director Roman Polanski, who, despite his personal foibles, is a talented filmmaker.

Polanski’s 1967 film follows tormented wife Rosemary Woodhouse (brilliantly portrayed by the waif-like Mia Farrow). Unbeknownst to her, she was chosen to bear the Devil’s spawn. Farrow’s wide-eyed innocent face fills the screen as she experiences physical and emotional changes beyond her control. When she rips into a piece of raw chicken, it will turn the stomach of the most avid carnivore. Yet it’s the last scene that truly shocks. Rosemary walks into a dimly lit chamber to see her baby for the first time. Seated around the room are all the people she thought she could trust: her husband, her doctor, her crazy neighbour, every one of the people closest to her complicit in the diabolical scheme. What terrified me was the ease with which the people closest to the victim were able to cover their deception.

Deception: anything that deceives or is meant to deceive; a delusion. For Rosemary, the consequences of deception and lying resulted in the birth of an evil spirit. For our American neighbours, it seems to have resulted in the surprise election of Donald J. Trump. A New York Times columnist likened Trump’s win to a moral and ethical 9/11. A rich white guy with a trophy wife told his supporters the sky is falling and he would save them. A xenophobic, misogynist of dubious ethics and morals with a short attention span now has the nuclear code. A thin-skinned pugnacious Chicken Little was elected to the most powerful position in the free world.

How on earth could Trump win the election? He wasn’t a polished politician; he was an outlier who even alienated fellow Republicans. Because he says it like we think his supporters smugly declared. They were tired of lies from the chattering class, professional pundits, career politicians, financial analysts, industry regulators. Name an industry and its privileged leaders lie.

For Trump, lying is a form of communication and a way of gaining power. We watched and listened with a mixture of horror and fascination as he sniffed his way through an inaugural speech filled with jingoistic rhetoric.

Some say Trump is no fool. He is a communicator who used a kind of wonky neuro-linguistic programming to mesmerize his audience. In 3AM Tweets, he shared his most incoherent ideas and bypassed the bewildered mainstream media. Trump says he fiercely protected his five children against the danger of smoking, drugs and alcohol, yet he has exposed them to the most dangerous and addictive substance on Earth: a lust for power.

For ruthless men and women who strive to win at any cost and make it in a Trumpian universe, the new president provided tactics. Always take control. Act like you know what you’re doing even if you don’t. Brag about your accomplishments, and never your mistakes. Find your opponents Achilles’ heel and never let go. Tell people you will give 100% percent or make it look like you do. And most importantly: even if you lose interest in what you are doing, there will be times when you will have to stretch the truth or downright lie. If women can control their fluttering lashes, they have the uncanny ability to be better liars. Smart agencies and corporations know that. Women are often the face of a company about to deliver some bad news or ‘alternative facts.’ Intelligent and ambitious men and women must wean themselves off the toxic value of lying to gain power and privilege.

If there is any comfort to the majority of people who did not vote for Trump, this 45th president might be the most analyzed and dissected in recent history. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. If Trump fails to deliver what he has promised, let him remember that many of his most ardent supporters pack weapons.

Roxanne Davies lives in North Vancouver and is devoted to writing family memoirs and essays on a variety of topics. roxannemilanadavies@gmail.com

The real measure of self-growth

photo of Gwen Randall-Young

UNIVERSE WITHIN
by Gwen Randall-Young

Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. – C.G. Jung

When we say, “This is who I am,” what does it really mean? We have our own perceptions of who we are, but they can be biased, affected by a critical eye through which we see ourselves or by the blind spots that prevent us from seeing our own unconscious motivations or reactions.

Further, we are not discrete entities unto ourselves. We always exist in relation to something or someone: our jobs, nature, where we live, sunlight, parents, children, partners, friends, political parties, groups. The list is endless.

We also may react differently to different people and situations. We may show anger and polarity with a partner or child, but show only kindness and gentleness to a grandmother or best friend.

Naturally, most of us like to define ourselves by who we are when we are at our best. However, there may be times when we come from a less evolved place – times when we go into polarity, anger, judgment and even shaming.

Generally, we justify our behaviour by the fact that the object of our disdain somehow deserves it. We may see them as “less than” us. We can also do this in relationships when we think we are right and the other is wrong. Still, everyone deserves the right to be heard and to express their opinion.

It seems ubiquitous in our world that these polarities are formed and played out at every level – from the neighbourhood to the international scene – and they seem to arise when we do not see others as our equals.

You may say, “But we are not all equal!” Some are smarter, prettier, have more wealth, more athletic ability, more fame or are even more evolved. This is not what equality is about. Seeing others as our equal means seeing they are just as important as we are, and to understand we are all at different places in our circumstances, growth and awareness. We do not see a kindergarten student as less equal – in this sense – than a university student.

In terms of personal growth or spirituality, some are at a kindergarten level and some at a post-doctoral level. We need not judge this level of growth any more than we would judge someone’s academic level. Yes, some are more advanced, but that does not make them better than one who is just struggling to survive, much less grow.

We may not be aware of the ways we speak to or act towards others that come from a place of superiority. If we find ourselves criticizing, judging or gossiping, we are really making them “less than” us, making it easier to simply discount them.

Evolving takes work. It is more than reading about spirituality or attending workshops. It is being aware of situations or circumstances where our ego is driving the process. A client who was excited about her spiritual path once spoke of how evolved she was becoming, but had a husband who “just didn’t get it!” and rolled her eyes for emphasis.

The measure of our growth and evolvement is not how many workshops we have attended. It is what we do in our most challenging moments and how we treat others day-to-day.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, “Deep Powerful Change” hypnosis CDs and “Creating Effective Relationships” series, visit www.gwen.ca ‘Like’ Gwen on Facebook for daily inspiration.