When pain is invisble

photo of Gwen Randall-Young

by Gwen Randall-Young

I have worked with many clients who suffer from chronic physical pain, as well as those who have post traumatic stress. For these people, physical or emotional pain can be constant, and from the outside they may look perfectly normal.

A person wearing a cast or recovering from surgery is treated with compassion and patience. Their pain is obvious. Those with invisible pain often do not get the same compassion. Those who have not suffered from invisible pain cannot know what that is like.

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Living with equanimity

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

portrait of Gwen Randall-Young
•  Equanimity (Latin: æquanimitas having an even mind; aequus even animus mind/soul) is a state of psychological stability and composure which is undisturbed by experience of or exposure to emotions, pain, or other phenomena that may cause others to lose the balance of their mind. – Wikipedia

When I read this definition, I chuckled. It says equanimity is remaining undisturbed in situations that may cause others to lose the balance of their mind. This means becoming unbalanced. However, what made me laugh was when I interpreted “lose the balance” to mean losing the rest of their mind.

I think both interpretations are correct. When ego reacts, we certainly have an unbalanced view of things and we lose access to that part of our mind that holds our higher self, our wisdom.

In Hinduism, the idea of equanimity refers to being in pure awareness. When there is no distraction or attachment to thoughts, there is equanimity. It is only when the sense of discrete identity is dissolved that we transcend the apparent duality and see oneself in union with all and everything.

Equanimity is a fundamental tenet in Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam and many other spiritual traditions. It allows for a clear mind, wisdom, freedom, compassion and love. It brings gentleness, contentment and charity.

When we free ourselves from inordinate reactions to people and situations, we can experience equanimity. Therein lies the challenge. Ego mistakes its perceptions for reality and projects intentions onto others and then judges them.

Take the example of a driver being cut off by another. Ego thinks he did it on purpose and must think he owns the road. Equanimity says, “I have inadvertently cut off others myself; it’s okay.” As Wayne Dyer used to say, “Bless him and move on.”

Sometimes people will spend years nursing old hurts and blaming others for their unhappiness. It is like they are trapped in a cocoon in darkness, unable to fly free.

I had a client who talked about a woman at work who was “mean” to her and a co-worker. She could not give examples of truly mean behaviour, but said it was mostly “her tone.” She and her co-worker spent a lot of time commenting on every one of her behaviours.

My client was angry and wanted to “stand up” to her because she didn’t think she should “take it” anymore. I loved the aha moment when I pointed out she was projecting her childhood feelings towards her big sister on to this woman. I also reminded her she too had a “tone” that was often annoying to others. She laughingly agreed.

I reminded her it is never about the other person, but always about how we interpret and react. An inordinate response to things is the opposite of equanimity.

She really understood. It truly was a moment of insight and transformation. The icing on the cake was at the end of the session when she checked her phone. The “mean” woman had noticed she had left work early and texted plaintively “You left me!” thus indicating she liked my client and missed her.

My client had been blind to this because she projected her own story onto the other. What have we possibly been blind to? Can we learn to see with equanimity?

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, and ‘Like’ Gwen on Facebook.

Evolving beyond judgment

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

portrait of Gwen Randall-Young
•  The more you know yourself, the less judgmental you become.
– Aniekee Tochukwu

The definition of the word “judgmental” is to be overly critical or too quick to criticize others. I notice how ubiquitous this tendency is in our culture. Judgments are usually stated as facts and one can easily see how erroneous the judgments others make are while being entirely unconscious of their own. “I’m not judging, I’m just stating the truth” is typical of how denial manifests in such situations.

The judgment is one thing, but assigning motives to others personally is a whole other level. To say, “There’s no such thing as climate change” is one thing. However, stating that scientists are making it up is another. Saying you do not like the Prime Minister is one thing. Calling him a spoiled brat is another.

Where does this need to denigrate those who don’t think like us come from? Badmouthing a colleague or gossiping about a neighbour is bullying, plain and simple. Does it go back to the immature ego of the child who thinks that when he says, “I am better than you” makes it true? Is it part of the biological impulse to survive and protect our territory?

Do we not mature beyond playground politics and evolve beyond biological impulses? Sure, there are those who truly know no other way. I worked with a young couple where the wife was troubled by her husband’s rages and swearing over something like dropping a fork on the floor. He felt he should be allowed to vent his frustrations in this toxic way. The effect of his behaviours on others did not even enter his consciousness.

But what about those who know there is something wrong with their behaviour, but they do not change. I tell my clients if they would not want their comments or behaviours viewed on national television that night, they shouldn’t be talking or behaving that way.

Then there is the Donald Trump end of the continuum where he is not embarrassed or remorseful and he says whatever he wants on national television. Most otherwise functional adults who bully in the ways indicated above do not do so publicly because they would not want others to see them that way.

It would be wise for each of us to do an inventory and honestly assess our tendency to judge and criticize others and discern whether we attack others personally. Living from the place of “an eye for an eye” results in two blind people. When people reduce their communication to personal attacks, they are both blind to the damage they cause and to wisdom and integrity. When those go, we are functioning at a more primitive level.

When I was a child, I was taught the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It is so simple yet so profound. We have advanced so much scientifically and technologically, but in truth, I do not see the advancement of the wisdom in these words in all the years since I first heard them. It seems to me that ever-increasing technology without a concurrent growth in wisdom is a dangerous thing.

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 and “Like” Gwen on Facebook.

Personal growth – out of the maze into amazing

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young


Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young•  So many of my clients are keen on personal growth. They want to change old patterns and evolve to a new level. They have read the books and understand the principles. They try to recognize and avoid ego reactions, think positively and visualize what they want. The problem is that some of them have been doing this for a very long time and still struggle with the old ways. They say they have been asking and asking for a sign or some guidance.

What I see are patterns that may have existed throughout their entire lives and perhaps are even held over from past lives. It is often subconscious. It is like they are in a maze; they know there is an outside, but they keep going down the same pathways and hitting dead ends. They often explore writings, attend workshops and hold on to what some leader said is the way, yet change remains elusive.

That is because the answers are not ‘out there.’ There is no ‘out there.’ Only the mind perceives it that way. Quantum physicists tell us we are all connected and that we are mainly energy and we influence the quantum field as it does us. We are like neutrinos in a quantum field, not separate from it.

Unaware of that, we bumble around in our little thought world thinking the old Newtonian way and wonder why things stay the same. It is like having a computer that is not connected to the internet. All we can do is work with what is already on that computer.

When we connect with the larger system, we can do almost anything. However, if we want to install a new and better program on our computer, we have to disable the old one. That means we have to let go of all the negative hurting or hurtful thoughts we have been carrying.

If we keep thinking the old thoughts, viewing the world from a polarized position, being judgmental of others and being influenced by our ego, we cannot expect to draw upon the resources of the larger field. We must connect to it.

We do this by quieting the mind chatter. Even if it is chattering about growth, it is still chattering. When we create inner silence – as when meditating – that is when we connect with the bigger field. It is like plugging into a power source to recharge.

As you do that regularly, carry that stillness with you throughout the day and imagine that all you wish to be is already there. Like changing a costume, you can toss away the old version of you and start running the new one right now. It doesn’t depend on what others do or how they react.

Stop the negative thoughts, limiting beliefs, self-doubt and criticism. This can be the hardest part because that program has been around a long while. When the thoughts come, practise thought-stopping. Replace the negative thought with a positive one. Be gentle and in integrity with those who annoy you. Step out of the power struggle and try to see what they really need.

Do not try to micromanage others. By keeping more silence, you will become more aware of how ego sabotages your best intentions. You have the power to change that.

As you step out of that old familiar maze with its frustrations, dead ends and the tendency to end up back where you started, you will step out of the maze – and into amazing!

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

Reverse sexism is divisive too

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-YoungWhen men and women are able to respect and accept their differences, then love has a chance to blossom. – Nikhil Saluja

There is a subtle – and sometimes not so subtle – kind of discrimination we do not hear too much about. It is the way many women talk about men. It is as if women are far superior to men, who “just don’t get it.”

For many women, the prevailing belief is that men don’t know how to communicate, they don’t know about emotional intimacy and they only want sex, and so on. Even more evolved women subtly denigrate men saying things like, “We support them, but we just have to bring them along.”

Many women see their partners as extensions of themselves. His job is to make her life how she envisions it. His job is to make her happy and if he doesn’t, then – “He’s just not meeting my needs.”

If we labelled a racial or cultural group this way, it would be considered politically incorrect. We talk of men’s sexist behaviour, but we don’t often cite the sexism evident in what women say about men.

A culturally evolved person accepts differences in race, culture and gender. He or she respects the differences and does not put others down for not being like them. Inclusion is seen as important as is making others feel valued and accepted in our world.

How is it okay then for groups of women to talk about men as though they belonged to a lower species? I recently saw an article that stated in future men would be unnecessary!

I understand that women were not considered equal for a long time and, in some places, are still treated very unequally. I understand we needed to fight to make our voices heard. However, what is the point of finding that voice if we only reverse the polarity?

There are some very good women and very good men in the world. And, yes, there are unevolved men, but there are also unevolved women. We cannot blame an entire gender for the qualities of some of its members.

Women are very open about what they need and they do not hesitate to tell men all about it. Just because men do not express their own emotional needs does not mean they do not have them. An interesting task is to make a list of what we want from our man and then honestly ask ourselves if we are giving those things to him.

Creating polarity does not bring us together; nor does it foster understanding. It creates conflict and distance. Telling someone all the things they are not is pretty harsh and most women would not stand for that from their man. Yet somehow in our culture, reverse sexism – saying really negative things about men in general – seems OK.

Because men appear tough and do not cry easily does not mean it is okay to hurt them through our words. Men will often respond to hurt by defensiveness or anger. We can easily blame them for that without owning our part in the process.

Perhaps we need humanism as much as feminism. Everyone’s needs and rights should be respected, regardless of gender. We all belong to the same human family and should be helping and supporting each other. As the late Wayne Dyer said, “In a round world, there are no sides.”

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

A journey through infidelity

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young•  There comes a time when the pain of holding on becomes worse than the pain of letting go. – Unknown

I am thinking of two similar client cases that demonstrate the struggle that can emerge when there has been infidelity in a marriage. I will blend them into one.

It starts when she meets a man with whom she thinks she can have the life she never had as a child. She is full of love and the desire to create a happy life together. Her inner child craves a sense of belonging and the feeling she really matters. He is drawn to her nurturing ways and her unconditional loving. His inner child looks forward to a life with a woman who cares about – and for ­– him in a way his mother never did.

They are in love with high hopes and both are good people with good intentions. However, with the passage of time it becomes more of a one-way relationship: his way. He wants to spend time with his friends doing things he likes to do. Even if he does spend time with her, it has to be doing what he wants to do.

She notices he does not seem interested in her needs. She starts feeling as she did when she was a child. She was expected to take care of things, but nobody cared about her. This is not what she thought it would be. She wants that feeling that was there in the beginning – the feeling he really loved her and cared about her happiness.

She wants to have a happier relationship so she decides to talk to him about it. He doesn’t know what she is talking about. He thinks everything is fine. She points out the behaviors that leave her feeling alone and unimportant. He gets defensive: “Oh, so now I’m not allowed to see my friends?” He takes her statements of concern as criticisms and attacks back.

He not only makes it impossible to talk with him, but she realizes the things she is asking for – more of an emotional connection, more time together and working as a team – are not really things he wants. She is unhappy because she feels stuck and he is unhappy because she is not happy with him.

Eventually, he becomes grumpy and impatient with her, even mean. Then, in time, she finds he has been having an affair. She feels betrayed and heartbroken and he walks out so he can be with his new partner. Her world collapses and she feels abandoned.

Strangely, even though separated, he still maintains contact with her. He tells her he loves her and cares for her even as he is with someone else. He wants it all to be okay. He wants to be friends. Her inner child, who is lost and confused, holds on to him. She just cannot cut him out of her life. He likes this. It makes her miserable, but she feels that to cut him out of her life would be mean. She is not used to standing up for herself. It may take months or years for her to realize she is being played. He does not want to be the bad guy and he wants to be able to manipulate her around the terms of the divorce.

When she finally tells him she wants no further contact, she begins to take her power back. She wonders why it took so long. Difficult as the process was, it was one of bringing her wise adult to care for her inner child. And next time, it will be her wise adult and not her inner child that chooses her partner.

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

Assertion or aggression?

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young
To know what you prefer, instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive.
– Robert Louis Stevenson

Recently, a reader asked me how one finds a balance between being kind and nice and being assertive. It is an interesting question because it assumes one cannot be assertive and nice at the same time. Interesting too, as over the years I have worked with many people, especially women, who think that being assertive is harsh.

First, let’s clarify a couple of things. There is a big difference between being assertive and being aggressive. Aggression often comes as a result of holding things in and not being assertive early on, which causes frustration, resentment or anger to build. When one finally decides to assert, it comes out as aggression.

Another difference is that assertion is saying something about oneself: “I am not comfortable with this.” “I don’t want to be spoken to that way.” “I just can’t do what you are asking right now.” “I am not satisfied with the quality of this work.”

Aggression is an attack on the other person. “You’re so lazy.” “You never help with anything.” “You’re useless.” “You just don’t get it. “Why can’t you just get your act together!”

Those who are not comfortable with healthy assertion may feel that way because they have been pleasers. They go out of their way to accommodate others because that makes them feel liked and valued. Others may take advantage of this and become overly demanding or they may not reciprocate. Resentment may begin to build, but the pleaser is afraid to say “no” and won’t set boundaries for fear others will be upset or think less of them. This puts them in a real quandary, which happens when we are not being true to ourselves – when our gut says “no” but our mouth says “yes.” It can take courage to align our words and actions with our inner truth.

Being assertive is being kind to ourselves. It is also more honest because we are not pretending to be okay with something we don’t really feel good about. I would rather someone tell me “no” than say “yes” and then resent me for it.

Sometimes, we have to assert ourselves in a stronger way: “I will not stay in a relationship where I am being lied to.” “If we cannot resolve this ourselves, I will have no choice but to take legal action.” The listener may well not like what we are saying. Strong assertion may create conflict. That does not make us a bad person. I remember from Sunday school the story about Jesus knocking over the tables of the moneychangers. Was that nice or kind? No. He made a point because he knew reasoning would not work.

This is about having the courage of our convictions. It is about valuing ourselves enough to not allow anyone to abuse or mistreat us. We also have to be careful to not project our feelings onto others. If someone declines your invitation to go to a movie, telling them they are a bad friend or they are selfish is not being assertive. Others must also be free to assert themselves with us.

The balance comes in honouring our time and energy and being sure to take care of ourselves.

It is not about being nice; it is about being real.

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

Choose to feel happy

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young

A miracle is a shift in perception … it can happen in an instant.
– A Course in Miracles

Sometimes life events affect us in a negative way. I often hear my clients say, “It’s just not fair!” The way they are treated at work is not fair. The way mom treats her adult children is not fair. It’s not fair that others have more money or an easier time in life. It’s not fair they have an illness. It’s even not fair that someone else won the lottery!

The inner child somehow feels everything should be fair and the ego carries this belief into adulthood. As mature adults, we know well that life is not fair. There are many who seem to be much better off than we are; then again, so many seem to be much worse off.

Perhaps because parents do such a good job of keeping things fair with us as children, we expect the world will treat us the same way. However, there is no dispenser of life experiences with the job of ensuring everyone is treated equally. Not even God, although even God gets blamed for life’s unfairness.

If we focus on things being unfair, we put ourselves in the position of victim and either feel sorry for ourselves or lash out at the world. That generally attracts more negative experiences, thus reaffirming our belief that life is not fair to us.

If we look at our lives this way, we can never be happy because there will always be someone who seems to have it better. If we shift our perspective, however, we can create our own happiness that does not depend on what happens outside of us. It sounds simple, but if we focus on what we do have and what is right in our lives rather than what is missing or wrong, we can feel blessed all the time. We may not be able to change the external reality, but we can choose how we look at it.

We can also think about empowering ourselves. The child feels powerless to change how he feels. The child looks to others for fulfillment of his needs. The wise adult can begin to take care of their inner child’s emotional needs. We seek validation from others when we are not validating ourselves. We seek approval from others when we are not fully accepting ourselves. We look to the world to fill our cup when we are not filling it ourselves.

In my experience with clients, it seems one of the hardest things is to establish a truly loving and nurturing relationship with ourselves. This love needs to be unconditional. It is not based on how much we have, what we have achieved, how we look, how we perform or what others think of us.

It is akin to getting off the emotional grid where we depend on things outside of ourselves to make us feel good and becoming instead the generator of our own self-love, self-worth, self-confidence and, ultimately, our own happiness.

The new living translation of Corinthians 13 says, “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance.”

It would seem this was written to show us how we should love others. However, there is great wisdom in applying these principles to the way we love ourselves. There is no place in this conception of a loving soul for any thoughts about things not being fair. We transcend that way of thinking and evolve into a new way of being.

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

Resilient or overwhelmed? Accepting change without fear and worry

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young
Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts. – Winston Churchill

Sometimes, our lives can feel completely overwhelming, especially if things are going wrong. Actually, it is not life that is overwhelming, but rather our emotional response to what is happening. Even at that, it may be our fear of what might happen that causes us to feel most overwhelmed.

An example might be fear of a job layoff. If we think we will never get another job and we will lose our house, of course we will scare ourselves. If a relationship is ending and we think we will never find another partner and spend the rest of our lives alone and lonely, we will feel hopeless.

If we have an ache or pain and convince ourselves we have cancer and are going to die and then think of all the future events we will miss – all this before even going to the doctor – of course we will be overwhelmed.

It is the worst-case scenarios we imagine that can keep us up at night. It is like the book Chicken Little, where an acorn falls on the chicken’s head and she panics because she believes the sky is falling. She gets everyone around her all worked up too and convinces them the end is near.

There is a better way, a way we can keep ourselves from diving into worry and panic. The first thing is to ask ourselves if the thing we are worrying about has actually happened. Have I actually been laid off? Have I been diagnosed with a disease? If not, then right now I am okay.

The next thing is to ask if the outcome we fear is guaranteed to happen. Is it guaranteed I will never find another job or never meet a new partner or, if I have cancer, that I will die? Statements that start with “what if?” are simply imaginings. We are creating a daytime nightmare for ourselves. It is really our inner child who is overwhelmed. That is the part of us that feels vulnerable and not in control. The inner child feels only fear and does not know what to do.

If we put our wise adult in charge, we can bring more rationality to the situation, problem solve and develop strategies. If I do get laid off, what will I do? I can update my resume. I can start seeing what is out there and let everyone know I am available. If there is nothing in my field, what else can I do to generate income until the economy improves? Perhaps I can talk to the bank and reduce my mortgage payments.

We can also learn to support and comfort ourselves. Most of the things we fear never happen. Life is about developing resistance, overcoming challenges and adapting to change. Yes, we can feel sad or disappointed by what comes our way, but if we dwell on that, we will become stuck.

In the Buddhist philosophy, it is said all human suffering comes from attachment and an inability to accept change. We get attached to things staying as they are, but we live in a world where change is the only constant.

Change can be hard; we may feel hurt and yes, even scared. No matter what happens, we create our reality. We can either feel sorry for ourselves and stay in a dark, glum place or we can rally our strength and be determined to find ways to enjoy our lives.

It is still, after all, a beautiful world and our life is what we make it.

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

Repeating patterns in life

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young
Reincarnation occurs because we decide that we haven’t learned enough lessons.
– Sylvia Browne

“That’s the story of my life!” This comment is made when a negative event seems to parallel many others in one’s past.

In my clients, I often see patterns or themes that have run through their lives. Sometimes they are consciously aware of them; other times, I need to draw it to their attention. It might be a woman who was not allowed a voice as a child who ends up with a domineering partner and a micromanaging boss. Now her teenaged children are disrespecting her.

We can find reason enough in the person’s lifetime to explain these repetitions. It could be low self-esteem, feeling un-deserving or having an increased tolerance for unhealthy relationships. Sometimes they just struggle along, powerless to do anything about their situation.

In other cases, the person feels a real sense of crisis because she absolutely does not want to go on living in an unhappy way. In cases like this, I imagine the person has had many lifetimes living out the same patterns in various guises: perhaps as a serf in the Middle Ages, a slave or a member of a low class or caste.

Having experienced the struggle and sorrow over many lifetimes, the individual decides this is the lifetime she will change that pattern. In order to feel that strong desire to stop reliving the past, the person would have to first repeat the old pattern in this lifetime to be reminded of it. Then, somewhere in midlife or later, there is a crisis of consciousness and a voice inside rises up and says, “No more! I can’t stand living like this.” There then follows a crisis in the individual’s life. The “What do I do now?” question is like a glowing neon billboard. The question is whether to leave the situation or try to change it.

Both choices require courage. In past lifetimes, there likely really was no choice. The person truly was powerless. In this lifetime, the person has the opportunity to draw on his or her own inner power, find their voice and take action to better their situation. This is the hardest part. In past lifetimes, to speak up may have meant being beaten or killed. In present day, I sometimes see my clients are afraid of their own voice. They feel like something horrible will happen if they begin to speak their truth.

My first task as a therapist is to help the person express what they are feeling inside. Then, having little trust in themselves, they wonder if it is okay to feel that way. Those inner feelings may be the voice of the soul, which is urging and reminding us it is time to take action and change the patterns.

The next step is to help them begin the process of speaking their truth. Sometimes, it means writing a letter or beginning a process of stating what is no longer acceptable. One of my clients wrote a letter to her husband about his criticisms and angry reactions. She said that while she loved him, she no longer wished to be treated that way and would have to leave if it continued. Nearly six months later, he has not had a single outburst or criticized her about anything.

We may have had many lifetimes, but this one is short and we deserve to be happy.

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. Follow on Facebook.