The “body” in body/mind

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young
“To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise, we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.”
– Buddha

Often, when we talk or read about the body/mind connection, it is in terms of how the mind affects the body. We know that conflict and stress suppress the immune system and can result in anxiety and depression, as well as exacerbate bowel conditions such as IBS or Crohn’s disease. And stress can raise blood pressure, making one vulnerable to heart disease and stroke.

It is less common to consider that what is happening in the body can affect the mind. We are exposed to so many toxins in our modern world: air pollution, chlorine and fluoride in our water, off-gases from building materials, carpets and new cars, pesticides used on our food, antibiotics fed to animals and mercury in dental fillings.

Scientists have found more than 200 environmental toxins in the umbilical cord blood of newborns. It is virtually impossible to avoid many of them.

Many toxins are poisonous and can interfere with the ability of the body to function at its best. Some toxins, such as heavy metals, are very difficult for the body to remove on its own. They can affect the ability of the body to absorb nutrients and make it difficult for elements such as calcium to move through cell membranes, resulting in calcified build-up in tissues and joints.

Unfortunately, the medical/pharmaceutical industry looks more at reducing symptoms than eliminating underlying causes. Consequently, people suffer from chronic conditions like arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and bowel issues and just do not get better. Have you ever heard anyone talk about finding a cure for arthritis? Why not? Because it is assumed it comes with aging and we must live with it.

Similarly, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are associated with plaque or protein that builds up and kills neurons. Arterial plaque causes heart problems. The body is its own ecosystem. If the system is “polluted,” it becomes sluggish, systems become blocked and bad stuff accumulates. When this happens, we have low energy, depression, our minds lose clarity and memory declines. The body becomes stiff and we develop aches and pains.

There are many things we can do to optimize our system, eliminate toxins and prevent many of these chronic diseases. We need to become the experts of our own bodies and take responsibility for doing our own research and educating ourselves. No one physician or alternative practitioner has all of the answers. Each may have a piece, but we need to become empowered and not give the care of our body over to someone else. They can be consultants, but best as we can, we must be the directors.

The internet provides a wealth of information and credible sources about the care and feeding of our bodies. Look for reputable sites and scientific research, rather than those that are heavily pushing supplements.

We must detoxify our minds by releasing negative, judgmental and critical thinking as well as worry thoughts. We must also detoxify our bodies so the entire system can return to the harmony it had when we were young and carefree, active and creative. It is never too late to start growing younger.

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. See display ad this issue.

Banish negative thinking

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young
If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought. – Peace Pilgrim

It is not what is happening in our lives that determines our mood or sense of wellbeing, but rather the way we think about what is happening. The marathon bombing in Boston was horrific, but the people of Boston turned it around; it was more about “Boston strong,” solidarity with others and not letting tragic events dim their vision of a bright future. The dancer who lost her foot plans on dancing again with her prosthesis!

Notice they did not focus on the negative or spend a lot of energy complaining about what happened. Now think of your life and the people around you. Few people have had to deal with something so profoundly challenging, but notice the amount of negativity and complaining you hear from others – or even from yourself.

Negative thinking seems normal; after all, we’re just stating the obvious, right?

Actually, no. What we are stating is our judgement or criticism of what is happening. Others may see it or choose to view it differently. There is no true external reality, only our interpretation of it.

“But that’s really how I feel!” you might protest. Okay, let’s say that’s true. How does it serve you to keep verbalizing it? Whether it is about an acquaintance, boss, spouse, the government or the weather, verbalizing complaints only brings you down. It is taking the negative thought, stating it aloud and spreading the negative energy.

This is not to say we should bury our heads in the sand and be oblivious to real problems. Here is the key point: talking about it repeatedly does nothing but make you and your listeners feel bad. Either take some positive action to change the situation or find something positive to talk about.

What if the negative thinking is about yourself? This is actually even more damaging. Positive thoughts are like stepping on the gas and accelerating forward. Negative thoughts are like slamming on the brakes or going in reverse. What we think is what we will create. If you want to do something and then come up with reasons why it will never work, it is like typing a great idea and then pressing delete.

Focusing on the negative is toxic and poisons our inner environment. Dwelling on past hurts, misfortunes or missed opportunities takes us right back there and often causes us to define ourselves in terms of the past. We should be focusing on what is good in our lives and what we want to create.

How we think affects our bodies as well. Negative thoughts, worry and anger cause the body to release stress hormones and suppress our immune system. Positive thoughts have the opposite effect.

When you listen to music, you want it to be something you like. Good music can calm us or make us feel like dancing. If the music is irritating, we cannot turn it off fast enough. Our thoughts are like music playing – either in the forefront of our consciousness or always running in the background.

Life is much more pleasant when we turn off the negative thoughts that are so jarring to our being and allow more upbeat melodies to add to our quality of life. We only have one, you know.

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. See display ad this issue.

Leaving home – again

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young
The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof. – Richard Bach

Is it ever okay to turn your back on your family? We think of commitment and loyalty as a good thing, but in my experience they can sometimes keep people stuck in situations that are negative and even destructive.

I have often seen the toll an extremely bad marriage can take on an individual’s psychological and physical health. When I ask why they stay, they say it is because they made a commitment. While I think we should be committed in relationships and not bail at the first sign of trouble, when there is no love left for the partner, dread at the sound of their key in the door, no quality of life and the person has been depressed for years, it is time to do something. I think of these kinds of relationships like carbon monoxide poisoning; the individual is so tired of the relationship, but just can’t summon the energy to get out.

It seems more socially acceptable to divorce a spouse than a family or family member, but the toxicity of a family relationship can be even more intense because of the family history. If, for example, one was always criticized as a child, that person may suffer from low self-esteem and a lack of confidence. If the criticism continues into adulthood, it is virtually impossible for that person to heal and live authentically.

As adults, we have the opportunity to discover who we really are and to transcend any limitations put upon us as we grew. It is a sad commentary on our culture that many adults are in therapy to learn how to love and honour themselves, to trust their own inner wisdom and to understand their sole purpose on Earth is not to please everyone.

A healthy family with strong, supportive relationships is a very good thing. Not everyone is so blessed. Some families or individual members can be a source of constant stress, whether or not there is overt conflict.

It is certainly worth trying to talk to family to try to make things better. Such conversations are not always well received, however, especially if the other gets defensive and sees criticism where there was only an attempt to communicate honestly.

Another approach is to try to set healthy boundaries, letting others know what is unacceptable for you. I had to tell one couple it was okay to tell the in-laws they could not keep using their copy of the key to drop in anytime or come in without even knocking.

If a family situation has become so difficult you are losing sleep over it, cannot get it out of your mind and it is affecting the rest of your life and your health, it is okay to disconnect temporarily or permanently, if need be. If you felt bad in your family growing up and they still make you feel that way, you are not sentenced to live with that the rest of your life.

Young adults leave home to gain their independence and start their own journey, hopefully toward their true path. Even though we may not still live there, sometimes we have to leave home for the same reasons.

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. See display ad this issue.

Speak your truth

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young
Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly. – Mahatma Gandhi

Something that is really coming up for many of my clients lately is the extent to which they do not, or cannot, speak their truth. If we are not being true to ourselves, we are not being authentic. And if we are not being authentic, we are not living the life we came here to live.

What does it mean to speak one’s truth? It does not mean making sure everyone knows your opinion on every issue. It is not about being adversarial. It is actually more about our relationship with ourselves than with others.

When both our words and actions are in alignment with what is in our hearts, we are being in our truth. When we stay silent or act against what we know to be true, we are betraying ourselves.

This issue is a challenge when we grow up in a culture that values conformity over individualism, emphasizes the “right” answer rather than our answer and trains us to seek approval. It could be that much of the stress and depression in our culture is a result of people being in the wrong place or with the wrong people.

The following story may or may not be true, but it is a great metaphor. It states that the reason some pilots disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle was because they mistook a string of islands for the Florida Keys and so concluded that their instrument panels must be wrong. Consequently, they flew out to sea instead of to their original destination, ran out of fuel and went down.

I tell my clients this is what happens when we navigate our lives on the basis of what we see “out there” rather than trusting our own inner “instrument panel.” Examples could be as simple as accepting an invitation when you really don’t want to go, doing things you do not want to do out of a sense of obligation and generally saying “yes” with your mouth when the rest of your body-mind is saying “no.” It can be staying in a job or relationship that is not good for you or maintaining habits you know are harmful.

Speaking our truth is not merely the best thing for our own individual evolution, but also for our evolution as a society or species. If we see a situation that is unjust or out of integrity and we say nothing, we are condoning it. It may feel risky to speak up against something or to challenge the majority. However, if those among us who see something wrong only keep it to ourselves or gossip about it rather than speaking up or taking action, we all stay stuck.

Why it is that being in our truth is so hard? It is because ego wants everyone to like us and it doesn’t want anyone to be mad at us. So we must think about why we are here. Are we here to grow in wisdom and to contribute our highest knowing and insight to move the group forward? Or are we here to “fit in” and gain the approval of the common denominator.

If we were all meant to be the same, Creator could have saved a lot of time and effort by just making us all look the same. The fact that each of us has a different face is our first clue that we were designed to bring the uniqueness of our being to this wondrous journey we just happen to be sharing together.

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. See display ad this issue.

Emotional decluttering

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young

Freedom… is the act of releasing ourselves from the bondage of that which keeps us from living the life we were meant to live. – Kelli Wilson

When you live in the same place for a long time, you tend to accumulate clutter. Frequently, there are things you no longer need or use that are just taking up space. Sometimes, the clutter is a source of constant aggravation because you wish it would disappear.

Clutter may get in the way of doing what you really want because you can never find the things you need when you need them or simply because there is no room.

If you have never seriously decluttered, I can tell you it feels good. Just think how great it feels to even just clean your closet. You get a burst of energy, feel better about yourself and there’s no more contracted energy from looking at an overcrowded, messy space. The closet now holds only what you really like and need and there is space to add something new, if you choose.

Your body-mind is the home you have lived in all your life. And, yes, it too has closets.

The main space of your life consists of all that is current. The closets hold your history – all the memories, joys, sorrows, hurts and resentments and even long-ago established beliefs about yourself. Some things are so far back in the closet you have forgotten about them altogether. This is your subconscious.

So how do you declutter your life? Much the same as you do a house or office. The difference is that with physical decluttering it has to do with usefulness. Emotional decluttering has to do with feeling.

Think of the people, situations and things that uplift you, bring you joy and energize you. Then think of those that stress you or that which you dislike, bring you down and deplete your energy. Take an honest inventory. This is not about what you think; it is about how you feel. Imagine you are a magnet. The things that are good for you create a sense of attraction. Those that are not create repulsion; you want to pull away from them.

Often, we keep things in our lives that do not serve us in a healthy way out of a sense of duty, obligation or not wanting to hurt another. This is similar to the hoarder who cannot let anything go.

You do not have to keep people in your life who are distressing to you even if they are family members. If you hate your job, get working on finding another. If you are always doing for others and it is draining you, start setting boundaries and learning to say “no.”

Equally important is letting go of things we do that are harmful to ourselves. We have to assess our level of health and fitness, releasing bad habits and starting new ones.

Most important is decluttering our minds. We do not need self-criticism and judgment. We do not need worry and “what if?” thoughts. Throw them all away and make room for self-validation, encouragement, acceptance and love.

Nurture and protect the inner child who has carried all the pain and fear. Let that child know he/she is now your first priority and no longer needs to seek acceptance, love and validation somewhere ‘out there’ for it is, now and ever, right here.

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. See display ad this issue.

Evolving beyond polarity

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young

How to get rid of ego as dictator and turn it into messenger and servant and scout to be in your service is the trick. – Joseph Campbell

In my book, Growing Into Soul: The Next Step in Human Evolution, the focus is on how we can transcend the limitations of ego and move into a more soulful way of being. I like to think that, as individuals and as a species, we are evolving. Looking around, I am not so sure.

I suggest in the book that certain attributes and ways of thinking no longer serve us and actually prevent growth. These include polarity, aggression, anger, fear, the need to be right, the need to control, denial and the false self.

I will address two of these and write about the others in future columns. The first is polarity. Polarity results in thinking in terms of opposites: mine/yours, right/wrong, good/bad and win/lose. While there are times we need to set boundaries based on these poles, we must begin looking more at those places where polarizing creates more problems than it solves. There is nothing wrong with seeing a situation differently from someone else; it is when we say or think we are right and they are wrong that the trouble starts.

There is rarely much to be gained in trying to convince someone they are wrong. It is much better to acknowledge you both see things differently and to focus on where to go from there. Focusing on creatively resolving polarity is one way we grow into our higher selves.

Polarity often results in anger, which is an emotional response based on one’s interpretation of a situation. Even if only at a subconscious level, judgement precedes anger. Notice what happens in a movie theatre. If a good guy on the screen gets hurt there is quiet outrage in the audience. If a bad guy gets hurt, often there is cheering. If someone cuts you off in traffic, you might be angry. If the ambulance driver cuts someone off while rushing your injured child to the hospital, you are grateful.

Anger is a result of how we interpret the intentions of another or the situation. It can also result from a mismatch between what ego wants to happen and what actually happens. Anger is very much an ego-driven emotion. Anger has a purpose biologically in that it increases adrenaline levels, facilitating the fight or flight response.

Outside of life threatening situations, the energy of anger is often toxic. If expressed as aggression, it can result in inappropriate or ineffective behaviours. If held inside, it can produce bitterness, resentment, depression and a host of stress related health problems.

Anger is often blamed on others’ behaviour when it is really a signal to ourselves that we are not using effective strategies. It is a sign that ego’s strategies are not working and we must tune into our higher wisdom to assess what is really going on in our lives.

Releasing polarity and anger means we stop blaming others for what we ourselves are creating in our own hearts and minds. It means taking responsibility for not adding any more emotional toxicity to already compromised situations. It means choosing peace.

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. See display ad this issue.

Talk with integrity

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young

Be impeccable with your word
– Miguel Ruiz

The only way we can share ourselves with another or demonstrate who we are is through communication. It is the way we get to know others and the way they come to know us. We feel we have good communication with another when we understand each other. We feel close when we sense another person “gets” us.

In order for this to happen, there must be some measure of good will between the parties. There must be the intent that we care enough to take the time to truly hear what the other is saying. We must believe that what they have to say is just as important as what we have to say. This results in a sense of collaboration and support. We feel friendly. Communication, when used in this way, brings people or groups together, builds bridges and moves things forward.

Communication can also be used in ways that create roadblocks, destroy bridges and keep things stuck. Worse still, it can be used as a weapon. This negative form of communication happens when ego is driving the process, which becomes about overpowering, winning, manipulating or controlling. There is no genuine interest in really understanding the other’s point of view; rather, it is about proving the rightness of one’s own position.

Naturally, this creates distance, distrust, frustration and, ultimately, conflict. The way we communicate with others gives them a sense of how much we value or care about them and says a lot about the kind of person we are. The issue in question may ultimately be resolved, but the image we have created of ourselves remains in the other persons’ mind.

Poor communication may be characterized by lack of self-awareness, needing to be right or trying to win, defensiveness vs. addressing another’s concerns, over-generalizing with “you always” or “you never” statements, blaming, attacking, mind reading, psychoanalyzing, not listening and stonewalling by refusing to talk.

Positive communication involves listening carefully and trying to understand the other’s point of view, using “I” messages rather than starting sentences with “you,” looking for compromise, being patient, responding to criticism with empathy and acknowledging the pain or discomfort being expressed, owning what is ours and taking responsibility for our own mistakes or part in the problem.

Interestingly, we learn to follow rules in other areas of life: not cutting ahead of others in lineups, not taking things that do not belong to us, etc. However, when it comes to communicating in difficult situations and especially with those closest to us, if there were referees, there would be red flags all over the field!

It is much easier to communicate nicely when all is well. It is when we are in conflict that we most need to draw on our very best communication skills. When we are upset, we need to get ego in check and not allow it to use words to further its own self-interested ends. We need to rise into our highest selves and choose to be the one to remain in integrity, regardless of what the other is doing. This is one of the most loving things you can do – to hold that space of integrity even when someone else cannot.

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. See display ad this issue.

What bullying teaches

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.
Without them, humanity cannot survive.
The Compassionate Life, the Dalai Lama

At the same time the media was flooded with stories about teen suicide as a result of bullying, I had a mom bring in her seven-year-old daughter to talk about friends. It seems her best friend was in a different class this year and this best friend had made a new friend whom I will call Kelly.

At recess, when the old friend wanted to play with them, Kelly announced they just wanted to play by themselves so the old friend could not join them. My little client’s mom was upset that the old friend was treated this way. The old friend’s mom was upset that her daughter was hurt. Apparently, the word among many of the moms was that Kelly was not a very nice girl.

Yikes! The moms of seven-year-old girls are gossiping about one of them and telling their daughters that Kelly is not very nice? When exactly does bullying behaviour start and why?

It seems there are indeed some innate, ego-based characteristics. The young child does not want to share and may well be jealous of a new sibling. They will drop the old in favour of the new and novel. This is all natural and part of the developmental evolution.

It is interesting to me that we are all human beings, but the variation in evolutionary levels can be astounding. In the same world, we have beings like Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama, as well as men who try to kill a 14-year-old girl who stands up for the rights of girls to be educated and predators who abuse children.

I think the human mind is like a computer that has all future versions installed at the same time and how it operates depends on which system we access. I had a wonderful iMac that I purchased many years ago. All I used it for was music, email and word processing. I just never learned to use all its other functions.

Children will either use the programs they are taught or the ones they see others around them using. In some countries, young children know how to use guns before they can read. In other places, they will give away their last bit of food so another can eat.

If a person grows to adulthood and has not evolved out of the ego-based patterns, they cannot model or teach their children a better way. The mom at the beginning of the article was aware she should teach her daughter to consider the feelings of others and not be mean, but was unaware of the insidiousness of what the adults were doing and modelling for their girls. The message the parents were sending was that we should be nice to our friends, but it is okay to isolate and criticize those we do not like.

Well, it seems that is the fundamental problem in our world. Still. It’s not that complicated and children will get it if we show them the way. After all, in the movie Bambi, Thumper said, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” That is a start down the road to loving kindness we all can take, if only we choose to do so.

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. See display ad this issue.

Growing old with grace

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young
• Aging seems to be the only available way to live a long life.
– Kitty O’Neill Collins

One of my clients confessed recently that she is afraid of getting old. She just turned 60. Some readers will think that is already old. However, I have had clients turning 30 or 40 who have the same fear.

It seems that until we reach 30, we do not think about aging; seemingly, life will go on forever. For a decade, we have been busy building our life, focusing on our careers and relationships, setting up a home and perhaps having children. Thirty may not be scary in and of itself; it is more the fact that it is the road leading to 40.

Life tends to keep us busy for another 20 years or so. By then, the children have grown up and are almost ready to leave home; we are well established in our work and, for the most part, we have simply been very busy being busy.

As 60 approaches, for many, there may be a slowing down. One might not have the energy or the drive to work as hard as one once did. Retirement is either here or on the near horizon and there may be grandchildren. Health issues may arise and even with cosmetic procedures, there may be the dreaded wrinkles.

By 60, one’s parents, if still alive, are in their eighties or nineties. Yes, they are old. Very old. We look at them and see ourselves in another 20 years. The fact of our mortality is unavoidable. It begins to feel like it is all downhill from here.

This is when ego freaks out and it does so for many reasons, including for all that will decline or be lost. Mainly, though, it is because it realizes it is not in control. Time will win in the end. If we have identified throughout life with ego and physical form, it can feel as though we are falling apart, that life is falling apart.

However, we are so much more than ego and physical form. The soul, the essence of who we are, is timeless and eternal. Soul has come into physical form for a journey, a journey that has a beginning and an end. It is like soul was acting in a play and put on the costume representing who we are in this lifetime. When the play is over, the costume is discarded and soul moves on to what is next.

If we identify with soul and remain in touch with that eternal aspect of our being, having the body come to the end of its usefulness is not so frightening. It just means we are evolving out of this journey and getting ready for the next.

What we can do is be determined to make our years as good as they can be. We can take care of our health, keep active and keep the mind stimulated. We can enjoy our friends and family and treasure the time we spend with them. It is more important than ever to live in the moment and to savour those moments.

We can think of the end of life as a transition instead of an ending. It is something every one of us on Earth will go through. Hold to your spiritual beliefs or your own narrative about something wonderful waiting on the other side. Until then, make every day count, make the world better for your being here and keep the love in your heart flowing out into the world.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, CDs and new “Creating Healthy Relationships” Series, visit www.gwen.ca. See display ad this issue.

Why worry?

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young
I’ve developed a new philosophy…
I only dread one day at a time.

– Charlie Brown (Charles Schulz)

If I had to pick one thing that causes my clients the most discomfort, I would have to say it is worry. Anxiety is a more intense form of worry and can also have a biochemical component. It can also be a state unrelated to the external environment.

It is normal to worry about a biopsy result or when a teen is late and has not called. It is normal to worry about an exam or if the roads are icy. A certain amount of worry is part of being human.

It becomes a problem when worry is not just a normal momentary response to a troubling situation, but instead becomes a pattern of thinking. The mind seems to get stuck in worry mode. The worrying is continuous, but the focus of the worry can change or be directed to multiple issues.

At the core of such worry thinking is fear. Fear that things will go wrong, that we will not be able to manage, that we will not have control. Sometimes, worriers think their worrying allows them to anticipate and prepare for all eventualities. The truth is that worrying just does not work. The most terrible things that happen are usually unanticipated. Most of the things we do worry about never happen. In the meantime, we rob ourselves of whatever might be in this present moment, as we have filled it with our imagined, scary movies about the future.

It would be like going to see a great movie and then not paying attention to it because you were worrying you might have a car accident on the way home. Conventional wisdom would say forget about later, just enjoy the movie now. That is a wise approach for life in general, but for most, it does take some work. Those who meditate are familiar with having to keep bringing the wandering mind back to centre. In daily life, it is the same with worry thoughts. Yes, they will come, but we keep bringing ourselves back into the present moment.

While we work on that, there are some practical strategies that can help with worry. When worrying about an outcome, whether it is a test result or waiting for someone to come home, always envision a positive outcome. If we are imagining anyway, we might as well imagine something good. We will feel better and who knows whether in the quantum world our positive thoughts might shift the balance in our direction?

If an ongoing worry takes up space in your head, write it all down and then brainstorm solutions. Make a plan of action should the worst-case scenario manifest. That can help us deal with fears around an uncertain future. If the worry comes back, write it all down again. Repeat the exercise as often as necessary. Eventually, the mind no longer bothers with the worry because it is all written down and has been dealt with as much as possible.

Another strategy is to practise thought stopping. Set aside a time to deal with worries and that means, of course, writing it all down. The goal is to take charge of the worry thoughts rather than allowing them to take charge of us.

Finally, one of my favourite strategies when worrying is to ask, “Am I okay right now?” Most always, I am okay right now because the worry is about the future. And the truth is all of our real life takes place in the “right now.”

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, CDs and new “Creating Healthy Relationships” Series, visit www.gwen.ca. See display ad this issue.