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December 2019

Letting go of the past


It can be hard to let go of a painful past. Sometimes we move forward only to find that something pulls us back again.

Our past can have a powerful effect on our lives. It is a powerful force with which we must reconcile again and again. It is a fixation, an obstacle to moving forward in life.

In a conversation with Marie-Louise Von Franz, Jung spoke about the power of the past. He said, “If one does not constantly walk forward, the past sucks one back. The past is an enormous sucking wind that sucks one back all the time. If you don’t go forward you regress. You have constantly to carry the torch of the new light so to speak, historically and also in your own life. As soon as you begin to look backward, sadly, or even scornfully, it has you again. The past is a tremendous power.”

I know how difficult it can be to overcome the control our past can have over us. I spent decades trapped in a toxic cycle that emanated from my past. I know that letting go isn’t easy.

The first step towards change is by understanding and changing how you respond to your past. This includes removing any sense of blame or injustice or anything else that describes what happened. Stop blaming other people: parents, siblings, and teachers. You have to learn to take responsibility for your own life. You have to work with and transcend your painful past.

Transcending doesn’t mean leaving something behind or getting over it. It’s about understanding what happened and rising above your habitual response to it.

Transcendence is about getting a higher perspective on you as a human being who has suffered. You rise above and can look down on it. Looking down you can see your personal story as a whole life process.

This is not the same as the self-pitying “Why me?” syndrome that many people fall into. Some people do need help coping with their feelings of worthlessness and do need sympathy, but the problem is that too many people get stuck there.

Another problem is that many people cling to their past lives like a crutch, using it as an excuse for their current state of hopelessness in life, and blaming it for their lack of action. Clinging to the past in this way traps them in the ‘poor me’ mind-state with the belief that life has been unfair on them.

Let go of the past and take responsibility for your life.

“…no matter how much parents and grandparents have sinned against the child, the man who is really adult will accept these sins as his own condition which has to be reckoned with. Only a fool is interested in other people’s guilt. He will ask himself: “Who am I that all this should happen to me?” To find the answer to this fateful question he will look into his own heart.” C.G. Jung.

It’s much easier to blame someone else for your past and thus your current state than it is to take responsibility for how you respond to it.

Letting go of your past isn’t about forgetting it, or even forgiving it. Letting go is about letting go of ‘how it should have been’ or ‘how it could have been.’ It’s about accepting it and moving on.

If you can let go of blame and work to understand your past and how it influences you then you will have the foundation and the framework to survive anything life throws at you.

This kind of expanded vision frees us from the limited ego and its expectations, and it empowers us to transform ourselves through every experience. Facing life consciously, whatever our circumstances - that is real freedom. To be liberated from our suffering, we have to be willing to give up everything: our past, our present, and our future, to our individuation process.

If we cannot psychologically surrender everything, then we are trapped. Whatever we refuse to surrender will keep us bound to it.

We can’t change the past but we can change how we think about it.

I had a difficult childhood but once I realised that my parents also had difficult (similar) childhoods, I realised how history was repeating itself, generation after generation (I call it the narcissist/co-dependant dance). I began to understand the patterns and why no one could be blamed. I realised that I had to become responsible for my life and for breaking the pattern so that it didn’t trap my daughters and negatively impact on their lives and lead them into relationships with difficult people.

Our perception is the lens through which we see the world. Our perception is the only place in our lives where we have complete freedom. Freedom isn’t about having or being whatever we want. It is about trusting what we have and what we are – no matter what that is. Our real freedom is the freedom of our awareness to perceive “What is” in our lives any way we want.

This is what Jung meant when he said that we must ask ourselves, “Who am I that all this should happen to me?”

Your past does not define you. How you respond defines you. Too many people use their past to do nothing with their life. Life demands that we participate and take action but some people just say, “No I’m too injured.”

Don’t stay trapped in your past or one day you’ll wake up too old or broken to do anything about it.

Actively work with your past but not in a way that is destructive or obsessive. Try to see what you can learn from your past, what insight you gained from traumatic experiences, and how those experiences made you who you are today. Embrace the person you have become no matter who or what you have become. Your past can empower you, but only if you let it.

Listen to your deeper wisdom.

Please support my work by visiting my shop at Jane Redfern Art or by making a donation through Paypal With much love and appreciation. Thank you ❤️

The Acorn's Secret


The squirrel’s cache of acorns lay buried and forgotten in the ground. It was a hard winter and Nature was cold and unreceptive to the little acorns.

On the first day, it rained heavily and the acorns were soaked through. “Now,” said one of the acorns, “This is the ideal beginning for us!”

The next day, however, the ground was frozen and cold and some of the acorns started to complain. “We were told that we might not find the ideal conditions to grow but this is absurd.” Some of the acorns even wished they’d never left the mother oak.

On the third day, the ground was still hard and not a root could be put down.

The rest of the week the rains came back, softening the earth, but driving the acorns further into the ground. Some near the surface were carried away on rivulets of water. Others were bounced around as large raindrops struck them.

“Ow,” they cried as the rain hammered their heads. “If only the sun would come out” they chorused.

“What a beautiful seedling I could be if only I had the right warm soil around me,” said one little acorn.

“I could grow into a great majestic oak if only the sun would come out!” cried another.

Another little acorn said “I don’t ask for much. Just a little sun through the clouds and I can manage like everyone else.”

But the rain and then the snow carried on through that month and the next. This was impossible for the little acorns. Anyone listening to them would have heard nothing but complaints.

Except for one little acorn. This little acorn had been bored by all the negativity and complaints around him and then annoyed. He now realised that if he paid any more attention to them he would become just like them – a complainer who would never, ever grow.

So what if the rain and snow won’t stop. So what if the sun doesn’t shine. Nature always favours the brave. What you must remember is that the brave are the acorns who nurture their seed and create the right conditions for it to grow; the brave are the acorns who take chances in life and don’t let the negative opinions of others stunt their growth. 

The great mother tree had told the acorns the story about the sun. It would come again and it would favour those who had created strong roots and allowed their inner seed to grow and burst through. Other acorns would stay in the darkness and slowly rot away, or they would get carried away by the squirrel again and be eaten.

The one brave little acorn knew that the time had come to do something.  None of the others had thought of that. This little acorn had had enough of the rain and the cold and the mud too. Perhaps, it thought, the thing to do was imagine the sun was already out.

Making a mighty will of effort the little acorn willed its seed to push out a small root. “Gosh”, it thought, “this is hard work!”

The other acorns were full of scorn. “There’s no point trying when the conditions aren’t right!”  They all knew the little acorn would come to a bad end.  “Never start anything unless the conditions are just right!” they chorused.

Well, the little acorn’s seed sent its root down regardless and in just a day it had a firm grip on Mother Earth.  The other acorns, instead of gripping were griping. “If only…” was the prelude to each of their opinions.

The next day was cloudy. The clouds were white and fluffy now but still, the sun couldn’t get through (if there was a sun at all).

But by now the little acorn had forgotten about ‘out there’. It was concentrating hard on its powers of will and its collective memory of what it was like to be born. It no longer was aware of the other acorns, or the garden where they were buried, or the rain that continued to beat down. The little acorn felt the sun centred deep within its seed. Its seed was preparing to meet the sun.

The next day a green shoot burst through the shell of the little acorn and it found its way through to the top of the ground. Just at that moment, the clouds parted and a beautiful bright sun appeared. The rest of the acorns were still underground and many had started to rot away. They would never get to see the sun but it was as beautiful as the great legend the mother oak had spoken of.  It was a welcoming glow of golden light with a halo of pure white light.

The little acorn felt a shiver of warmth blossoming down its length from the tip of its shoot to the tip of its roots. It then gathered itself and surged upwards towards the sun, casting away the old shell. For the little acorn had learned the great secret of the universe, that all along the sun had been shining from within.


According to most theories of psychology, each of us acts in the way we were programmed in life. First,we get genetic programming from our parents which determines how we act in life – whether we are lazy or ambitious, sickly or strong, inspiring or dull. This is followed by the programming given to us by our society and environment which continues for the rest of our lives.

Acorns can be said to have the same make-up.

But how can we explain how some people thrive despite their traumatic childhoods or poor genes? These are people who don’t wait around for things to be right in the world ‘out there’.  Instead,they work on making things right in their heads first, which then often seems to set things ‘out there’ right. They have to will change to cause change. By changing themselves they change the world. This predisposition to change is found in the archetype of the Self.

It’s like the acorn finding the seed within.

The ego resists psychic growth, the Self demands it. People who resist change and have no ambition in life are those who live lives dominated by the ego. They resist any messages that come from the Self into consciousness to promote and transform consciousness. The ego has an inferiority complex for which it overcompensates by attempting to usurp and displace the superior Self. What makes us listen to the Self? Simply the knowledge, the wisdom, the ultimate intuition that we are each responsible for our own fate.

This wisdom is the little acorns secret: that all along the sun comes from within. The sun is a symbol of the Self. In the little acorn,the urgings of the Self save it from the fate of the other acorns, the complainers, who had to have things ‘just right’ in order to flourish.  And so, in our lives, for the most part, we find excuses for our failures, never willing to face the fact that we ourselves wield the hand of fate. Becoming a Self, therefore, is like becoming one acorn in the squirrel’s cache (society) that becomes a seedling (fulfills its potential) even under the most adverse conditions.

The plan of each psyche is designed by the Self, in the same way, that the kernel of a seed contains the potential for a majestic oak in a tiny acorn.

Please support my work by visiting my shop at Jane Redfern Art or by making a donation through Paypal With much love and appreciation. Thank you ❤️

Balancing the Masculine and the Feminine


In Ancient Chinese philosophy, yin and yang is a concept of dualism, describing how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.

There are many given meanings to this ancient symbol: light and darkness, good and bad, positive and negative, heaven and earth, love and hate, life and death.

Yin and yang is also a perfect representation of the Animus and Anima – the male and female – that dwells within us all.

Jung described the animus as the unconscious masculine side of a woman, and the anima as the unconscious feminine side of a man, each transcending the personal psyche.

The Anima (the feminine energy in the male)

Derived from Latin meaning “a current of air, wind, breath, the vital principle, life, soul”, the Anima refers to the unconscious feminine dimension of a male which can often be forgotten or repressed in daily life.  However, in order to psychologically progress and reach greater internal balance and harmony, it is necessary for a man to recognise, embrace and connect to this latent element of his character.

As described by Jungian Psychologist Dan Johnston, the man who has connected with his feminine Anima displays “tenderness, patience, consideration and compassion.”  However, repression of the female element within the man results in a negative Anima that triggers personality traits such as “vanity, moodiness, bitchiness, and sensitivity to hurt feelings.”


The Animus (the masculine energy in the female)

The Animus, which is a Latin word that means “the rational soul; life; the mental powers, intelligence“, is the unconscious male dimension in the female psyche.  Due to societal, parental and cultural conditioning, the Animus, or male element within the woman, can be often inhibited, restrained and suppressed.  However, some societies and cultures (such as the Western way of life), ruthlessly impose masculinity ideals as ways to excel, succeed and get anywhere in life for women.

These external elements can contribute towards a negative Animus, which reveals itself in a woman’s personality through argumentative tendencies, ruthlessness, destructiveness, and insensitivity.  However, integrating a positive Animus into the female psyche can result in strength, assertiveness, levelheadedness, and rationality.

Jung believed that in order for a person to develop self-awareness and understanding and become whole they must encounter and work to embrace their internal Anima or Animus.

The masculine/feminine elements within us have nothing to do with sexuality, and everything to do with creating a balance on the scales of passive (female) and aggressive (male) energies within us.


Balancing male and female energy

Gender roles are not as defined now as they were in the past, but there is still a fairly strong separation of gender energy. Everyone naturally has both aspects in their physical and spiritual makeup but society has separated the two for thousands of years creating an imbalance.

A young girl would be called a tomboy if she enjoyed outdoor sports or getting dirty more than playing with dolls. In reality she is a girl who has an outward expression of her masculine energy.  Likewise, a boy who wanted to dance or paint may have been called a 'girl’ or a ‘sissy’.  In truth, he is just a boy with an outward expression of his feminine energy, something that would make him a good partner and father in the future.

For hundreds of years, we have lived in a world that has been biased toward the patriarchal, supressing the feminine. This has not only been damaging to females, but also to the wellbeing of our planet. The suppression of the feminine has resulted in nature being much less respected and has resuted in problems with pollution and lack of habitat.

But, as feminine qualities are receiving more recognition it is important not to suppress the masculine in an attempt to bring in more power for female energy. That would just create an imbalance in the opposite direction. Balance is the key to greater happiness and prosperity.

We all need to be conscious of keeping a balance of masculine and feminine energies. Here are a few ideas on how you can create balance:

Create balance: Masculine energy

For females, connecting to the inner Animus is also about understanding masculine energy which manifests itself as everything that is active, dominant, and logical. 

1. Do Something Competitive

In nature, males are naturally competitive.

  • Take on a sporting challenge such as running a marathon.
  • Set a challenging goal for yourself in your work.
  • Compete in a team sport.
  • Learn to play chess or cards and play to win.
  • Play a video game with a partner.

2. Complete a home maintenance task

Home maintenance jobs are often seen as a ‘man’s job’. Embrace jobs that need doing around the home yourself. Learn masculine skills, (e.g. fixing car problems, handy-man abilities like using drills, fixing broken appliances, etc.)

  • Look for any minor repairs that need to be done around your home. Seek guidance from the internet and local building stores.
  • Attend a ‘how-to’ class in something like car maintenance.
  • Dig a hole and create a water feature in your garden.
  • Learn how to change a car tyre.
  • Renew grouting or sealant in your bathroom.

3. Test your physical strength

Take your limits beyond everyday chores to spark useful masculine energy.

  • Lift weights
  • Practice squats and stay in the squat position as long as you can.
  • Climb a steep hill carrying a weight such as a rock.
  • Practice doing a headstand
  • Do a set number of press ups every day.

Remember to be safe, and consult your doctor before engaging in greater physical activity.

4. Practice assertiveness

Assertiveness is seen as a masculine trait. Remember, as with all the ideas here, the aim is to create balance. When embracing your masculine side don't forget to keep the balance of the feminine.

  • Adopt a role or position that puts you in authority/dominance.
  • Learn to take charge of something in your life.
  • Discover and develop your leadership abilities.
  • Read non-fiction instead of purely fiction.
  • Become more self-sufficient and self-reliant.


5. Relax

Feminine energy is flowing, ever-changing. Feminine energy will flow from one task to the next, always looking for something else that needs to be done. While this is good, we must remember that balance is the key. Masculine energy knows when to stop and rest and recharge. After doing a set number of tasks allow yourself time to relax. Recognise that it is just as important to look after yourself as it is to look after others.


Create Balance: Welcoming the Feminine

Connecting to the Anima for males is about understanding feminine energy which manifests itself as passivity, sensitivity, and emotionality. 

1. Create Art

The side of your brain responsible for creativity can be found on the feminine side. Look for ways of expressing the inner Anima creatively, e.g. through music, art, sculpture, poetry, or dance.

  • Get a sketchbook and pencil and just draw whatever comes to mind
  • Sign up for a local art class
  • Put on some music and dance.
  • Buy a colouring book and pens (there are lots available for adults now).
  • Make music. If you don’t have an instrument you can create one from household items.

These are just some ideas. The list of things you could do is endless.

2. Nurture

One of the strongest female traits is to nurture. This could be to nurture anything from plants to people. It isn’t just children that need nurturing - that belief alone has created an imbalance. Everyone craves to be nurtured and to nurture others. This is an inner strength that can be expressed in various forms:

  • Encourage those around you in whatever they are doing.
  • Practice the art of listening with concern and compassion.
  • Be a vessel of positive energy that draws people to you
  • Nurture yourself and others with fresh food, water, and rest
  • Touch: Give someone a hug, a touch on the arm, or hold someone’s hand.

3. Trust your intuition

Intuition is a feminine energy and is the balance to a masculine analytical mind. The education system has churned out people more used to using their analytical mind. Your intuition is your internal GPS and is never wrong. Your senses and your higher-self can see and feel things that your basic human senses cannot. Practice following your gut instincts and see where they take you. The more you build this natural gift the stronger it will become. Read my blog post here for more ideas.


4. Don’t fight your Emotions

Boys especially have been brought up believing that emotion is a weakness. Expressing emotions is not only a way to keep yourself on a good balance of masculine and feminine energy, it's good for your personal health, improves relationships, and builds your self-awareness.

  • Practice mindfulness, meditation and other ways to get in touch with, and understand inner emotions.
  • Practice thoughtfulness and consideration of the needs of others.
  • Practice Self-Study in order to develop greater consideration of your internal needs for love and fulfillment.


5. Think Holistically

The word ‘holistic’ means to look at any situation as a whole. In health, holistic healing is to treat all aspects of human health: mind, body, and soul. Think of ways throughout your day that you can bring in a more holistic approach. When dealing with other people take into account their spiritual and religious beliefs and any health needs they may have.


Finding Balance

Life is fluid and in constant motion. Change is the only thing we can be sure of. As you go through your day be constantly aware of creating balance. One day, you may need to focus more attention on your feminine side, the next day the masculine. Look at each task you face from the masculine and feminine perspectives. You could even give each energy a name and then be aware that you are in the background watching and making the decisions.

Consider what has been happening in your life recently. Do you attend business meetings that have a strong male bias? If yes, how can you introduce more female energy? If you are in an environment, such as nursing, that is a more nurturing environment can you think of ways to introduce more masculine energy?

Everything in the universe is about balance. As you go through your day constantly adjust your energy to bring about balance. It will be good for your health and peace of mind and good for others too. Jung discovered that the human psyche was androgynous 
and consisted of both masculine and feminine, so, in essence, what we are striving for is this androgynous state, the state that is often attributed to our spirits which balance all opposites into one unified whole.

Please support my work by visiting my shop at Jane Redfern Art or by making a donation through Paypal With much love and appreciation. Thank you ❤️

Snow White Syndrome

Snow White

We’ve all heard the story of Snow White.  A young woman in an unconscious state waits for Prince Charming to come along and save her.  He kisses her, she comes to life and she is saved by her hero.

I’m sure there are many people who hope that their lives will turn out that way. They sleepwalk through life, just waiting and hoping for things to happen to them, for someone to save them, or for some good fortune to come their way that doesn’t require any effort on their part. They buy lottery tickets every week and hope that their numbers come up. They go to work, do an average job with little energy and hope that someone taps them on the shoulder and gives them a promotion and a pay rise.

They are the sort of people who transfer their parental responsibilities onto teachers and child care workers, hoping that their children magically turn into well-balanced, confident adults (and blaming anyone but themselves if they don’t). They read self-help books expecting to experience spiritual growth. They go into personal relationships because they ‘need’ the other person and don’t know how to be happy on their own.

The reality is that there is no Prince Charming or magical princess waiting for the chance to turn your life around.

The only way to turn your life around is to take responsibility and take action to change things, not wait for someone else to do it for you. Stop acting like Snow White, get out of your glass box and start making things happen.

Remember that life rewards action.

You can live happily ever after but you have to put in the work and be disciplined.

Please support my work by visiting my shop at Jane Redfern Art or by making a donation through Paypal With much love and appreciation. Thank you ❤️

Judge others and you judge yourself


I once visited a relative and he looked out of his kitchen window at his neighbour and commented “Look at him, he’s really thick. He doesn’t even know how to use a lawnmower properly.” I happened to know that the “thick” neighbour was head of a law firm, and instead of looking at the neighbour and agreeing I found myself looking at my relative and thinking, “If you’re so clever why are you working in a manual job on minimum wage?”

My relative might have been better off abiding by the timeless rule that a closed mouth gathers no feet. This is because research has shown that the traits you attribute to others are then attributed to you. The famous German novelist, Hermann Hesse, said, “If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is a part of yourself. What isn’t a part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.”

Whenever you’re judgmental of others, you’re in fact, judging yourself.

This doesn’t mean that if you dislike a murderer or rapist you are identifying with them, what Hesse, and Freud and Jung before him, were referring to is that this kind of dislike has a particular energy. You become irritated by someone in a way that’s obsessive and almost irrational. When a certain type of person always irritates you, what you dislike in them is likely something related to something you dislike in yourself.

The phenomenon whereby traits we publicly assign to others are likely to be attributed to us is known as trait transference and it basically means ‘you are what you say’. The research showed that this association can tend to persist over time too. If we are not gracious and kind to others and instead choose to criticise them we also run the risk of either having our unflattering remarks revealed, or coming across as jealous or vindictive.

Sometimes an imperfection in others pushes our buttons or touches aspects of ourselves that demand our attention.

Think of the mother who puts a bottle of wine in her shopping trolley for herself then admonishes her child for wanting sweets ‘because they are too expensive’. This same mother will criticise her child for wanting second helpings at dinner yet will refill her own plate. Her daughter’s gluttony confronts her own difficult relationship with food. It’s also the hypocrisy of the father who hits his son to teach him that it’s wrong to bully other children.

Maybe, as well as studying people we admire when we are working on self-improvement, we should also study those we dislike.

Carl Jung said, “Everything that irritates us in others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”

Everyone is your mirror. Identify what it is in the other person that triggers the response in you. It is through our interactions with others that we can come to know ourselves better. Once we know our negative traits we can acknowledge them and maybe do something about them.

We can only feel whole when we embrace all aspects of ourselves – both our light and dark sides.

Please support my work by visiting my shop at Jane Redfern Art or by making a donation through Paypal With much love and appreciation. Thank you ❤️

Being open to new ideas


I had a Christmas card order to complete but my favourite black watercolour pencil kept breaking. I’d sharpened it so many times it was now just 2” long. I needed it for my project so set out for the shops to buy another one. However, the only ones I could find were in expensive sets that I didn’t need. I had two full sets at home, both missing the black. At first, I started to think, “I won’t be able to complete the order” and “What will I do?” Then I started to think, “Is there an alternative?” Instead of focusing on just the watercolour pencil I widened my field of vision to consider what else was available. Standing in my local art shop my eyes rested on a charcoal art set. I wondered if it would be suitable and decided to give it a try. It turned out to be far better than the watercolour pencil and opened up a world of new ideas and opportunities. I’m now regularly using charcoal to complement the inks and it gives far superior results. It made me think about how we can get stuck with something because it is what we are used to, making us blind to alternatives. I’m now deliberately looking at other things that I use or do as a habit i.e. for cooking, clothing, gardening, as well as art. I’m asking myself, “Is there an alternative?”

Sometimes opening our eyes to new possibilities can lead to something better.

Please support my work by visiting my shop at Jane Redfern Art or by making a donation through Paypal With much love and appreciation. Thank you ❤️