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.

Hypnosis for relaxation and change

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-YoungPeace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. – Angel Chernoff

Many people suffer from sleep problems and/or anxiety. In many cases, they also complain of very busy minds, which they can’t turn off along with their worry thoughts. Unless they are meditators, they do not realize we can learn to quiet our minds and tune into that place between or behind our thoughts.

Because of the rapid pace in our culture, many, if not most, people do not know how to truly relax. I increasingly see symptoms in younger people who have grown up with technology and who keep their cell phone at their fingertips. Something is always entering their consciousness via texts, emails, Twitter, Facebook and other social media. Before technology, there was much more quiet time. There was a time when stores were closed on Sunday. It was a much slower pace. It was easier to relax.

The kind of relaxation I am talking about here is not putting your feet up and watching a movie, but rather a scientific state of relaxation. I help my clients achieve this state through hypnosis, both in the office and by listening to my hypnosis CDs at home. Combined with cognitive behavioural therapy, this works very well. Essentially, we need to retrain ourselves to quiet the mind and calm the body. Look at how animals flop down like rag dolls after activity! We are part of the animal family and could do that too once.

The reason I use hypnosis is that it is hard, if not impossible, for us to put ourselves into a state of deep relaxation. Even meditators may find it hard to stop the thoughts. I think of it like this: the conscious mind is like a word processing program on a computer and the subconscious mind is like the hard drive. If there is a virus in your hard drive and you open a document and write, “clean up virus,” nothing will happen. You need someone with the technology to get into the hard drive, eliminate the virus, clean up the mess it made and perhaps even add or upgrade some programs.

I think of the tendency to worry or have anxiety like a virus in our hard drive. The hard drive is the operating system. It operates at the subconscious level. The technology to access and change it is hypnosis. Hypnosis creates a deeply relaxed state in which we can gain access to the subconscious, begin to eliminate the source of the problem and create new, positive programming.

We know the body and mind are not separate. Everything is connected and the state of our mind can affect our health. Scientists have shown that the practice I have described lowers heart rates, blood pressure and oxygen consumption, which alleviates the symptoms associated with a vast array of conditions, including hypertension, arthritis, insomnia, depression, infertility, cancer, anxiety and even aging.

Anyone can learn the technique of hypnosis, but there are great variations in ability, technique and depth of knowledge and understanding so there is a need for discernment. If you are curious, see the sample clips at gwen.ca

Ultimately, we need to develop the ability to take charge of our minds and heal ourselves. This can be a good way to start.

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.

Parent trouble

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young
• Generally, when we talk about trouble with parents, it is in the context of a teen/parent relationship. Increasingly, I see more and more adult clients who experience ongoing stress and anxiety because of the behaviour of one or both of their parents. In my experience, it is most often women having issues with their mothers.

Most often, this is an issue of boundaries. The parent treats the adult child as though he or she were still a child. They may be critical of how their child is raising their grandchildren, how the couple spends their money or demanding of more time with their children.

Some mothers are experts at laying guilt trips. A role reversal happens when the parent expects the adult child to meet their needs. It is one thing if there has been a history of good, mutually respectful relations between the parent and child. If the relationship has been positive over the years, the child wants to be there for the parent.

As people age they can become insecure and dependent. However, in some cases, the adult child has a history of the mother being emotionally abusive, judgmental, unloving and unsupportive. When the adult child reaches her forties, she is dealing with her teen children, which can be challenging; at the same time, she is the “child” being chastised by her mother. Often, the adult child will reach a point where she has had enough. She is torn between a sense of obligation and a desire to avoid the toxicity of the parent.

Sometimes, they ask me if it is okay to reduce or cease contact with the parent. I respond by saying that having our adult children be a part of our lives needs to be earned. If the parent is someone the adult child would never associate with, if not for the biological connection, and the abuse is ongoing, it is okay to protect oneself.

Often, it is impossible for the adult child to have a healthy discussion with her mother who may still feel she is in charge and that her child should defer to her. She may take things personally, be defensive or in attack mode or focus on the fact she is hurt by what her child is saying, rather than really listening and honouring her concerns.

Part of the learning in all of this is for the adult child to begin to set her own boundaries. It is okay to tell a parent she cannot talk to you in a certain way. If she berates you in phone calls, it is fair to say you are going to hang up and, when she is ready to be respectful, she can call you back.

We can stand up for ourselves without getting into conflict or attacking the other. It is a little like dealing with a child’s bad behaviour. Attacking the child only escalates the problem. By calmly setting boundaries – telling the child if the behaviour continues there will be a time out or she will lose her technology privileges – the child can choose to moderate her behaviour.

If the parent of the adult child is told that criticism, guilt trips and expressions of anger will no longer be tolerated, she learns that if she wants to be around her adult children, she has to be respectful. If you are at her house, you can cut the visit short and tell her why you are leaving.

It can be hard to set these boundaries, but it will be healthier for all.

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.

Communicating with heart

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young
• The biggest communication problem is that we do not listen to understand.
We listen to reply. – Unknown

“We just can’t communicate!” is a phrase I often hear from couples and from teens that feel they just can’t talk to their parents. Talking is something we all learn to do when we are still babies. Anyone can talk. However, to truly communicate with others can be a complex skill we need to develop.

There are also many levels to communication. It is not just about the words we say. How we communicate with someone can either convey value, respect and care or that we disrespect or negate them. Often, the other is responding to the emotional message they perceive.

Couples or parent/child relationships can be loaded with emotional issues that can be triggered when differences arise. An argument about whether the husband can go golfing may, on a deeper level, reflect her feeling that she is not a priority and his feeling that she is always trying to control him. A parent/teen argument about cleaning a room may escalate because the teen feels he is always being nagged and the parent feel disrespected.

Now add to the mix past or even childhood issues that may be playing in the background – “My father was never around and now you never want to spend time with me” – and communication can become a real minefield.

If we want to change negative patterns of communication, we have to do things differently. It is important to form an intention and share it with the other. You might suggest that, since there is a difference of opinion, each has a turn without interruption to express their point of view. And the listener should really try to understand where the other is coming from rather than formulating their response.

Too often, an issue becomes a power struggle where each tries to either defend themselves or make the other wrong. Things just escalate, nothing gets resolved and there is further damage to the relationship.

Sometimes a person feels that good communication means you agree with them and they get their way. However, the communication part is about each person listening and truly understanding what the other is saying, a process which may actually amplify the differences.

There are two parts to effectively communicating about an issue: the first is gaining understanding. The second part is problem solving. When there is conflict, often the people never even get to this point.

It is important to have the conversation about strategies to use when there is an issue or disagreement and then to follow the plan – first, communicating your perspective then joining together to brainstorm solutions. This is what helps to really strengthen relationships. When we take this approach, we are working as a team, not being adversaries.

It is about focusing on the issue at hand, not attacking the other personally and coming to the situation with a gentle and open heart. If we commit to making the relationship more important than the issue, we will guard that relationship more carefully. It is easy to forget this if things get heated and to only focus on oneself and to attack the other. But long after the issue is over, the pain of the attack may remain as a scar on the relationship.

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.

Evolving beyond judgment

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young
Judging a person does not define who they are; it defines who you are. – lifehack.org

Judgment is ubiquitous in our culture. We hear it in the media, in politics, in the workplace, throughout the neighbourhood and within the family. Courts make judgements, but they are based on established laws. Personal judgments are critical opinions based on what the speaker believes is right. In making this judgement, the speaker is saying, “I am right and you are wrong.”

Judgment is based in polarity: right/wrong, good/bad. Of course, if we insist we are right, by default, we make the other person wrong. This creates more divisiveness and polarity and the forming of sides.

It is one thing to disagree about major issues like abortion or capital punishment. Healthy debate is good. It is an entirely different thing to go around being critical of others, gossiping about others or creating conflict in the workplace, neighbourhood or home. This is ego-driven behaviour that stems from that inner child place where putting others down makes one feel better although, actually, it does not. It is toxic and negatively affects all concerned: the one doing it, those who are listening and the one being judged.

The more confident and at peace one is in his/her own being, the less need there is to say negative things about another. The reverse is also true: the less one judges others and engages in negative talk, the more peace is experienced.

I am not sure what happened to what I like to call the “Bambi Rule,” which” states that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say “nuthin” at all. Interestingly, too, one who judges assumes others judge as well and worries a lot about what others think.

Sadly, I hate to admit it but women seem guiltier of judgement and gossip than men. Some never seem to evolve past the grade six or junior high mentality when having a “hate on” for someone was a way of bonding.

I had a high school music teacher who once told us we should never judge unless we have had the exact circumstances as another person and acted differently. We can never totally walk in another’s shoes so how can we possibly judge?

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” The more conscious and evolved we become, the less we judge or criticize because we become so much more humble.

We are all taking this journey together. We are all on “team Earth” and none of us is “better” than anyone else. We need to see the good in others, help one another along and if we are having a truly hard time with someone, we may just need to follow the advice of Wayne Dyer: “Bless them and move on.” Saying mean things to or about another is bullying. Even if you think you are right and they have it coming, it is still bullying.

It is a big enough task to work on ourselves, manage our demons and learn to be the kindest, wisest beings we can be, without worrying how everyone else needs to be fixed. I expressed these thoughts recently to a very bright 11-year-old who was hard on his sister. He looked at me with a big smile of sudden insight and said, “That makes perfect sense!”

It does indeed.

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.

Be yourself

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young
•  And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

– Anaïs Nin

Worrying about what others think about us can be like a cancer that spreads through one’s consciousness. It takes away peace of mind and eats away at self-esteem. Every living thing begins as some sort of seed, within which is held its potential. The purpose of that seed is to grow into the fullness of its being.

We all start out that way. Think of a baby exploring the world. He is inside himself, looking out. He has no sense of how others view him. He is curious and delights in all that is around him. He loves to laugh. There is simply no self-consciousness. He lives in the moment.

Some adults live this way, but they are generally considered eccentrics! They are also great fun to be around. However, more often than not, that blossoming being begins to reshape itself in order to win approval. For a young child, a parent’s disapproval can feel like a withdrawal of love. Approval becomes equated with love.

This can be reinforced in school where the right answer can be valued more than creative thinking. For teens, this need for approval can become a constant source of insecurity. It is a tentative time for many teens as they begin to experience their own individuality, but there is huge pressure to conform. Taken to extremes, this can manifest as eating disorders, drug use or early sexual activity in a desperate attempt to fit in.

Sadly, this over-concern about how others view us can continue into adulthood. Sometimes, a person does not value himself and projects this devaluation onto others. They become super vigilant, always looking for clues that others do not like them. Often, there is absolutely no basis in reality, as others don’t really spend that much time thinking about them.

After assuming that someone has a negative opinion of them, the person then becomes angry and bitter towards that person. They are upset about what they think the other thinks of them. Thus, they fall into a negative spiral of low self-esteem, made worse by imagining the negative opinions of others.

Ironically, an individual who is very judgemental of others assumes others are just as judgmental. What makes it all the more difficult is that they truly believe their perceptions and are usually not open to hearing it is probably not as they think it is. Disagree with their perceptions and you join the group that is not in support of them.

Often, a partner learns to just keep quiet or to agree with their partner’s negative thoughts so as to keep the peace, but this only serves to reinforce the other’s insecure perceptions.

The cure, if there is one, is to practice stopping these thoughts and not allowing the mind to go down the road of worrying about what others think. It is also to begin to develop inner strength and to stop criticizing ourselves.

Like the little child, it is best to focus on the world outside, to find things to enjoy and think about being a positive person. Focus on bringing good energy into your life and the lives of others. When we are giving from the heart, there is no room for negativity towards others, or ourselves.

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.

The right time to leave a relationship

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young

I work with many couples that are having relationship issues. I always tell them if they love each other and want to make it work, I will do everything in my power to not only resolve the issues, but also help them have a stronger, healthier relationship.

However, if one – or both – does not want the relationship or they are unable to resolve their differences, I do everything I can to help them separate with dignity, honouring what was good between them, ensuring the best interests of their children.

Sometimes, I see what I call “fatal flaws” also known as irreconcilable differences. Often, these are deep-seated aspects of one’s personality, which may not be obvious in the honeymoon phase of the relationship. Dynamics between a couple can also change over time. Often, the seeds of future problems are there in the beginning. We likely do more research in deciding which car to buy than what kind of partner we want.

I suggest to my single and newly single clients that they make a list of all the qualities they desire in a partner and then decide which ones are absolutely must-haves. These include honesty, integrity, the ability to communicate and be emotionally connected, kindness, financial stability and a strong commitment.

I then ask them to make a list of deal-breakers such as substance abuse, dishonesty, anger issues, financial instability, gambling problems and physical or emotional abuse. If any of these are present, do not proceed in the relationship unless the individual is committed to and is practising recovery.

Insecurity, low self-esteem or fear of change can keep people in a relationship for far too long. Sometimes, one feels love for a partner who continues to treat them badly. Sadly, love is not enough so when is it time to move on?

If one is being physically or emotionally abused and the abuser will not seek counselling or is not taking obvious steps to stop the abuse, it is time. If abuse is directed toward children, it is time to get them away, protect them and create a stable, secure environment.

If addictive behaviours are having a negative impact on one’s partner and the children, it is not a healthy environment for anyone. If a partner is becoming increasingly depressed because of the other, taking medication to cope with that behaviour makes less sense than getting out of the situation. If a partner lies, cheats, is overly controlling, critical or demeaning, you are dishonouring yourself by staying in that situation.

Sometimes, clients tell me they are staying together for the children, but maintaining an unhealthy environment is more harmful for children than divorcing and moving on. The children must not be used as pawns and the parents must not trash the other in front of the children. Ultimately, if each parent finds happiness with a new partner, the children will be happier.

Insecurity leads some to think if they leave they may never find someone else and they do not want to be alone. Yes, it may be a risk, but if you stay, you deny yourself the possibility of ever finding true happiness.

If you feel overwhelmed and do not know where to start, seek counselling so you can be supported as you decide what you need to do.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, Deep Powerful Change Hypnosis CDs and new “Creating Healthy Relationships” series, visit www.gwen.ca.

 

Playground politics in the workplace

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young

Every situation – even a disaster – is an opportunity to be your best.
– Rosalene Glickman, PhD

How often do you hear yourself or others grumbling about the workplace? Indeed, it is very common. Ideally, the workplace should be a more mature environment than the schoolyard, but if we really look at what goes on, it often isn’t that different.

Sadly, some of the workplace dysfunction may be more common with women. We all know the gossiping that goes on. This can elevate to isolating some colleagues to outright bullying.

If a supervisor is harassing an employee, it is for that employee to take action by talking to Human Resources or union representatives. Often though, little things are the topic of gossip, such as complaining about management, putting down a fellow worker or spreading rumours that have nothing to do with work.

For some, inner child issues often unconsciously arise in the workplace. One feels the boss favours another or feels a need to compete with a fellow worker. Jealousy issues arise and insecurities may be triggered. When this happens, behaviours can regress to times in childhood when we felt the same way. Clustering together and saying bad things about someone seems to make the inner adolescent feel better – but it does not make the situation any better. It makes things worse. We are at work to do an adult job and discussing our personal feelings about others at work is unprofessional. It undermines the workplace environment and can cause great distress for the one being vilified.

Ego likes to see things from its own limited perspective. Ego gets into polarity – the good-guy/bad guy, right/wrong dichotomies. “But it’s true!” ego protests. Well, terrorist groups believe they are right, Putin thinks he is right, American police who target black youth think they are right.

Supervisors and employees both think they are right. One employee thinks she is right and another one thinks she is wrong. On it goes. When we insist we are right, we are making the other wrong and therefore establish the polarity.

What we really need to do is establish understanding. Wisdom means seeing the big picture and understanding both sides and working toward solutions. Wisdom means wanting it to be comfortable for everyone and caring about everyone despite our differences.

It means being the adult who helps solve problems, not the child who complains, gets angry, lashes out at others or tries to garner support for his or her position from others in the workplace.

It also means recognizing the workplace is not set up for our benefit. Yes, we have rights, but not liking something does not necessarily equate to violation of rights. If there is abuse or harassment, by all rights use the proper channels.

However, if you simply do not like the boss or cannot stand some co-workers, you need to find a different job rather than staying and stirring up stress and tension for all involved. Few workplaces are perfect so there may always be something that is annoying. The wise adult concentrates on doing the job and doesn’t participate in behaviours or conversations that lack integrity. This contributes to a healthier work environment as well as a healthier mental/emotional environment within ourselves.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, Deep Powerful Change Hypnosis CDs and new “Creating Healthy Relationships” series, visit www.gwen.ca.

Finding your purpose

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young
If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion, for your passion will lead you right to your purpose. – Bishop T.D. Jakes

My clients sometimes tell me they are struggling to find their purpose in life and wonder what it is they are ‘supposed’ to be doing. It is as though the right answer is hidden somewhere like the answers at the back of a math textbook.

They get frustrated because search as they might, they cannot think of what that purpose might be. But the answer can’t be discovered solely by thinking it out because finding our purpose means aligning with our heart and soul. Asking what your purpose is is like asking, “Who should I love?” Love is something that happens when we feel aligned with another. It’s not a decision we make or something we figure out.

Those who sense they are living their purpose will tell you how they arrived at that place. Certainly, a rare few always knew, even as children, what they wanted to do in life. For most, however, it is more that they somehow found their way there.

How do we find our way to live in alignment with our highest purpose? There is some work involved. We first need to look at where we are in life and how we got there. Were our choices of work, partner or geographical location a result of conscious choosing or were they influenced by mere chance, the expectations of others or what we thought we should do.

Next, we need to look at what we love, what makes us happy, what we dream about and what our soul yearns for. And it is just as important to look at what we do not like and what makes us unhappy and stressed.

We need to let go of what others think of us. Some are afraid to be their true selves because they fear others will disapprove, love them less or not at all. Living in alignment with our authentic selves leads us to that thing we call our purpose.

Phrases like “I wish… I would love to… I have always wanted to… wouldn’t it be wonderful if…” are the whisperings of our soul trying to get our attention and move us in a different direction. Too often, we think of these things as impossible and impractical and we dismiss them. There is the life I would love to live and the life I am living.

I once had a lucid dream where there was something I said I just could not do. But in my dream, I told myself this was a dream and I could do whatever I wanted. I have never forgotten that dream because when I woke up I felt the dream was telling me life is a dream and I could do whatever I wanted.

If you feel you are letting time pass and your heart is yearning for something more, you don’t have to sell everything and move to a mountaintop somewhere. (But you can if you want!) You can start in little ways doing things you have always thought about, but never acted upon. It might mean moving out of your comfort zone and taking little risks.

Keep thinking about what you love, what inspires and excites you. Listen to your heart and let it tell you what it wants. It can be like a treasure hunt where you do one new thing and receive a clue that leads you to the next new thing. Your world and consciousness will begin to open up. This is the way you will be drawn to living the life you came here to live.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, Deep Powerful Change Hypnosis CDs and new “Creating Healthy Relationships” series, visit www.gwen.ca