Exploring the psychic world
with Hay House authors

As you begin to share your psychic skills with others, you will find that, although there are many who you can offer comfort to, many people will view your claims with skepticism and doubt. This can be very disheartening for someone beginning their psychic journey. Here, Lisa Williams, star of Life Among the Dead and a world famous psychic, explains how to answer the doubts of cynics and skeptics, but also shows how those who would doubt you can be a secret ally.

Dealing with Skeptics and Cynics by Lisa Williams

Perhaps you’ve sought a reading from a medium or psychic before; on the other hand, maybe you’ve never had such an experience. Either way, you may be like many people and question the reality of contact with the spirit realm, wondering what value there could be in reading this.

To this, I say: Don’t let your beliefs or opinions stop you from exploring growth and healing opportunities. An open mind can reap incredible rewards.

Varieties of Response

Everyone has a different reason for connecting with the Afterlife, and each person’s response varies according to the message he or she receives. Most individuals take what they want from the communication, absorbing only what will help them at the present time. Then, at a later date, they may fully understand or remember the whole message and be able to use it for their healing and growth. Others fully embrace the information at the time they receive it and accept that it is coming through for a higher purpose.

There are still others who come to me for a reading and are not quite sure what to make of the message they receive. These are either skeptics or cynics, and they may be holding beliefs that make it difficult for them to accept what I do. I believe it is important to deal with the reality of people’s reactions up front and let readers know my views on this matter.

Skeptics and cynics distinguish themselves by asking some version of this question: “How do you know this?” Sometimes I’ll read for a person whose only purpose in getting a reading is to see for him- or herself if what I’m doing is the real thing.

I recall one man in particular who looked puzzled when I said, “Your grandfather Arthur is here.” He then asked me, the challenge clear in his tone, “How did you know my grandfather’s name was Arthur?” Instead of accepting that his grandfather was actually there, ready to give him a message, this man questioned my source, suspecting that I’d gotten the information from someone other than his grandfather. He was more interested in interrogating me than in getting value from the reading.

While skeptics may have their doubts, they haven’t completely made up their minds and remain open—unlike cynics, whose doubt is more firmly entrenched. Even if I chose to prove to cynics that my work is real, I wouldn’t be able to change their minds. The ones I’ve encountered want absolute validation, such as full names, addresses, and telephone numbers, as if my coming up with that information makes the messages I have for them somehow “real.” Then after I give them what they want, they try to prove that I looked up the information on the Internet before they’d arrived for the reading!

Fortunately, the majority of people who come to me for a reading are open-minded, including those with varying religious viewpoints (a subject I will focus on in the next chapter). Even if they are a bit disbelieving at the outset, I don’t mind . . . as long as the information they receive somehow helps them on their journey through life. That is the main purpose of my readings: to help people grow and move on. The reality is that I am communicating with the Afterlife, and it’s the knowledge I receive from the souls who contact me that I share, not my own views or agendas.

I feel that it’s important to address this issue of doubt and belief now before you read any further, as there are many skeptics, cynics, and nonbelievers out there who will be the first to criticize my abilities. I’ve had to deal with them all my life; in fact, I have actually lived with them. But first, I want to explore how we form our opinions about the Afterlife and all things spiritual.

Childhood and Beliefs

We’re all influenced by the opinions of those around us, starting from a very early age. As a mother, I want my son to grow up with his own opinions, but I know that my actions and the things I like and dislike are going to influence him now. It’s impossible to prevent this.

When we were tiny children, we were all molded by our parents, guardians, and others who were in our sphere. They had strong beliefs and talked about them, often expressing much emotion; consequently, we learned what was “right” and “wrong.” We believed that what these grown-ups said was so because they were there to look after us, and we had no reason not to believe them.

I remember listening to my father and grandfather argue about politics every Sunday afternoon, and I found that even though I wasn’t listening directly to their heated debate about which was the right party to run the country, I still adopted their views. Then when I heard other people talking about politics, I found that I’d have an opinion based upon what I’d heard the week before from one of these family discussions.

When it comes to the subject of the Afterlife, adults often have very strong opinions, and this is where kids can become confused. Since young children have the purest of vibrations and haven’t yet been tainted by the values of others, they’re naturally open to the world of spirits and the Afterlife. They are yet to develop their own views and are still innocent and pure, finding their way in the world and possessing that wide-eyed wonder that adults no longer have.

Because their perception of things is so untainted, children often remember their past lives, as well as events that occurred in the Afterlife before they reincarnated once again. They may even remember their conversations with God and other discussions that took place before they were born. Little ones so often display knowledge and wisdom that is truly profound, leaving us to wonder where it came from. This is because children are so in tune with their souls, and the soul is what holds the knowledge that we all need to know.

Kids also look at situations in a very black-and-white way. They never see the gray areas, and that’s because they don’t judge. It’s when we judge that we lay our opinions on others. For example, my son, Charlie, recently wanted to know why one of my friends was upset, so I told him the truth. I said that my friend was married to someone who made her very sad, and she didn’t know what to do.

“Well, it’s simple,” Charlie responded. “She should leave him and find someone who makes her happy again.” I told him it wasn’t that easy, since my friend and her partner had children together, but this wasn’t an obstacle to my son.

“Mommy, we live together, so her children can live with her,” he replied, holding no judgments or concerns about financial complications or the upheaval of a family. To him, the solution had no gray areas, but was a simple case of black-and-white choices to be made. Some may think this is an irresponsible view for an adult to hold, but after my separation, the fact is that it came down to Charlie and me following the exact path my son had prescribed—in the end, all the other concerns weren’t nearly as important as the happiness in our current lives.

Each child is delivered to us straight from Source, which resides in the Afterlife, the place we all originate from. His or her body may be new, but the soul that incarnates in that body is often very old. Kids have lived on this planet before and bring from the spirit world the knowledge that we need to help heal many situations, such as angry provocations, emotional upsets, and even physical abuse and fighting.

Everyone comes to the Earth plane with a purpose or lessons that need to be learned (and I will discuss this in subsequent chapters), but there are some children who come along with the beautiful gift of spirituality and healing. Books have been written about them of late, calling them the “Indigo” or “Crystal” children, denoting that they have special gifts to further the evolution of humans on our planet. Such souls have retained their knowledge from their time in the Afterlife within their consciousness, and they know what lessons they are here to learn. But even these kids are sometimes unable to communicate that knowledge, being too young to find the words to articulate it.

Because of their closeness to Source, all children’s vibrations are higher than those of adults. You may have noticed that babies have a soft spot at the top of their skulls where the bones haven’t fused together yet; it turns out that this opening leaves the crown chakra exposed. This is the chakra for intuition and spiritual knowledge, and it is also a direct link to the spirit realm. That’s why many babies, toddlers, and small children can see and sense spirits. They may have imaginary friends as well; however, these friends tend to be souls that they knew in the Afterlife who are connecting with them now.

Mothers notice how their babies sometimes stare at a certain corner of a room, as if communicating with someone they cannot see. When the mother goes to the place her baby has been looking at, she may feel a coldness in the air, making her momentarily shiver. That is a sign that the baby was looking at a spirit, whose presence is signaled by the air suddenly going cold, almost like when a refrigerator door is opened.

Another way that children let us know of their connection to the Afterlife is by telling us that they have a different name than the one given to them by their parents. In the Afterlife, we all have a name that our soul is known by, so it is not unusual for a child to insist that he or she be called by that original soul name. For instance, when my son, Charlie, was between the ages of three and five, he would insist upon being called Sam. I had no idea why he was telling me this, but I understood—because as a child, I’d always wanted to be called Victoria.

One day when Charlie was in his characteristic, open-to-talking mood, I asked him why he wanted to be called Sam. “Mommy, that was my name in heaven,” he replied. I was blown away! “Charlie feels strange to me,” he continued, “and I want to be called Sam.”

In the same conversation, I asked my little boy if he remembered anything else from heaven, and he said, “Yes, Mommy. God told me I had to come and look after you, since Daddy didn’t love you and you needed more love.” Again, I was blown away, realizing from his words that it had been predestined for me to be a single mom and have relationship issues with men . . . but that is another story!

I couldn’t argue with my son’s choice of names, so for two years I went along as he kept his other name, signing his Mother’s Day and birthday cards to me with “Love, Sam.” Eventually, he went back to using the name given to him in this life, Charlie, probably because he’d gotten used to it as he grew older.

Children can become terribly confused about spirituality if the adults around them do not respond in any validating way. Boys and girls frequently struggle with what they know and believe, particularly when it conflicts with what their parents, guardians, or other authority figures tell them. Often kids are not heard when they speak from their innate spiritual knowing—which is exactly what happened to me when I was young, so I understand the torment that can happen internally.

No matter what your opinions may be on this subject, it is so important to be respectful of children expressing their beliefs. Remember, kids are closer to Source than we adults are, so their thoughts and experiences are seriously worth listening to. Keep in mind that they may block their senses to cut themselves off from any contact with Spirit, though, because they fear a negative reaction and don’t want to upset the adults around them. It may take them a while to speak about their experiences, so it’s vital to keep the lines of communication open and listen to what they say without doubting or categorizing them.

As we human beings get older, our opinions on many issues change, because society influences us. On the other hand, some individuals remain open to Spirit in spite of society’s influence—and if one does remain open past the age of eight, then there is a good chance that he or she will grow up to be a very spirituality gifted person.

For example, my brother, Christian, used to hear and talk to spirits all the time when he was a child. He was extremely open and could have developed this gift further if he’d allowed himself to do so. However, he has actually become one the biggest skeptics I know.

The morning that our grandfather died, I found my brother outside of my grandparents’ home extremely distraught. I calmed him down and asked him what was wrong, other than the obvious grief resulting from having lost a loved one. He replied, “I just heard him,” in a scared and puzzled tone. “I just heard him,” he repeated. “He spoke to me, and I’m freaking out.”

I knew what Christian was talking about: Granddad had come along to say his last good-bye, which was totally his style. What surprised me was the way my brother reacted, so frightened by receiving this communication from our grandfather as he made his crossing over. I am not sure if my brother will ever be willing to accept that this actually happened, but it did.

The Cynics Among Us

In spite of the perspective we all have as children, many people are unable to accept the reality of communication with the Afterlife when they become adults. Sadly, they will readily shut the subject down, arguing against it until they’re blue in the face. These men and women are not willing to see the endless possibilities the universe has to offer, making them life’s cynics.

Cynics can be disbelievers about anything. I have encountered, and even read for, many of them in my experience as a psychic and medium. In some specific instances, I was left wondering why I even made the effort. These people were dead set against getting any value out of their readings, only wanting to confirm their own conclusion, which was that I couldn’t possibly be the “real deal.”

This happened once on national television. I’d been invited to appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show along with two other mediums, John Edward and Allison DuBois, to discuss spirituality and to determine if people really could communicate with “the other side.” We were each asked to read for three different people; during my final reading, I dealt with a woman who was clearly a nonbeliever.

Right before the taping of this reading, I turned to my makeup artist and my publicist and said, “The next person wants to get in touch with a father figure.” These two close girlfriends had seen me work before and never doubted my abilities, so they simply responded, “Well, you should know!” They were right—I was correct. But I hadn’t been prepared for what followed.

I walked into the studio for the taping and came face-to-face with Laura, a scientist and a cynic. I began reading for her, and the information coming through was clear and, in my mind, accurate.

I informed this woman that a father figure had shown up for her, and she responded, “Well, everyone has a father, so I guess I could relate to a father figure.” At that point, I stopped to ask her outright if her father had passed. I explained that my father hadn’t passed yet, so not everyone had a father figure in Spirit. She affirmed that yes, her father had died.

I continued, telling Laura that her father was saying the words little girl. “My father never called me his ‘little girl,’ even though I was the youngest of four,” she snorted. “But, of course, in any father-daughter relationship, you could assume such an interaction. It would be a good guess.”

Millions were watching this show, and at the risk of sounding too harsh, I point-blank asked her why she would want a reading if she wasn’t going to accept any of the information I was giving her. At that point she turned to the producers of the show, who were sitting offstage, and asked in exasperation, “Am I being too skeptical?” Naturally, they didn’t reply, but it was clear that Laura was sticking to her guns.

The reading continued. When I mentioned that her father was giving me the name “John,” she quickly informed me that her father’s name was not John. Rather, he was always called by his full name, which began with John but had an added name, like John-Roger or John-Michael. It seemed that she was grasping at straws!

I went on to tell this woman that her father was showing me a vision of him dancing, and it seemed that he was dancing with her. She scowled and waved me off. “I never danced with my father. He was a ballroom dancer, but I never danced with him.”

It was now clear that there was no way Laura the scientist was going to accept any information I was giving her—she had already determined that I wasn’t talking to the spirit of her father.

I’m sad to say that people like Laura often miss out on huge opportunities to connect with family members whom they dearly loved. If they opened themselves up to a view other than a scientific, objective one, they could receive much value from a reading. But instead, they choose to fight the process, trying so hard to be right and prove me wrong!

Over the years, I’ve come to learn that when people are cynical, I can never change their minds. They insist on some form of validation—such as cold, hard facts—in order to be convinced. But when spirits communicate from the Afterlife, they do so mostly through thought processes and visions, not through facts. They don’t even have mouths to form the words, so what they say is muffled and very difficult to understand. I don’t always catch all the words in a sentence either, so I can only present the information that I receive. This is great fuel for a cynic who is just waiting for unclear or incorrect information.

Sometimes the information coming through doesn’t seem to make any sense at first, but if the client and I stay with it, the meaning becomes clear. For instance, I’ve had spirits give names that only I could relate to as a way to get information across. I remember reading for a woman who came to me because she had lost her son and wanted to communicate with him. I received her son’s spirit, but the vision I was getting was the face of my ex-boyfriend Colin. I had no idea why he, of all people, had jumped into my brain.

In the reading, I clearly established that this woman’s son had passed in a car accident and given her other identifying facts that only her son would know. Yet she still wanted more validation that it was really him.

“I can see my ex-boyfriend here, and I’m not sure why, but I’m going to describe him to you to see if you can relate it to your son,” I told her. I then went through everything, telling her what Colin looked like, the car he drove, and the places he liked. But she couldn’t relate to any of it.

Suddenly, her son’s spirit nudged me and said the word name. “Oh, by the way, my ex-boyfriend’s name was Colin,” I blurted out.

Her face lit up like a Christmas tree. “His name was Colin!” she exclaimed, now happy and excited. Her son had used the reference of my ex-boyfriend to give me the important piece of information this woman needed in order to know he was really there. The point is that Spirit doesn’t always come through in ways that are logical or factual at first, and to get value from any communication, it takes a willingness to suspend the usual requirements that everything “make sense.”

Skepticism: A Healthy and Challenging View

While cynicism can be a huge problem because the person is virtually stuck in a position and cannot see beyond it, skepticism can be positive and healthy. In fact, I used to be (and still can be at times) a skeptic myself. I’m not skeptical about communication with Spirit being real, because I know it is—I wouldn’t be true to myself and this book otherwise. But I am always skeptical at first about the gifts that people claim to have. I know that there are some individuals out there claiming to connect with the Afterlife who are only too ready to take hard-earned money from others. I have even been to some of these so-called mediums myself and, as I’ve sat for my reading, have wondered, Why am I here, when this person obviously doesn’t have the gift?

When I think of skeptics, my father immediately comes to mind. It’s hard to accept that he lived with me for almost 20 years and was married to someone whose mother was a well-known psychic even before that, but he still wouldn’t believe in what we were doing. When I started to give readings, Dad would just shake his head and turn away. He never came to any of the shows that I put on in the U.K. or attended any of the spiritual church gatherings where I was the featured medium for the night.

Years after I’d started to give readings on a professional basis and was working as a full-time psychic medium, my father would still ask me, “When are you going to get a proper job?” My answer to that was, “What is a proper job?” And I left it like that; there was no point in arguing with him.

The first time he attended one of my public readings was in April 2008, and it was because he couldn’t avoid it. We were on a ship in the middle of the ocean, on a cruise with the theme of spiritual connections that Hay House had sponsored. So unless Dad wanted to swim to land, he had to come and see my show.

I never get nervous before going onstage, but with my father in the audience, this time I was. I started my talk by asking if there were any skeptics in the room, and although many looked around, there were no raised hands. I waited and then pointed out my dad, saying, “I know we have at least one skeptic here, and that would be my father!” Everyone was shocked, and Dad just waved graciously, bless him.

The reason I pointed out my father wasn’t because I wanted to embarrass him, but rather to show people that it’s okay to be skeptical, to search for answers and question what you get. I explained to the audience that Dad’s skepticism had been good for me as I was growing up. He’d challenged me when I was first developing my gift, which helped me realize that I had to work to convince other skeptical folks out there. It made me try harder to get accurate information, not just the general information that anyone could pick up. I worked hard to understand people, to empathize with them, and for this, I thank my father for his unshakable views.

Now I appreciate any skeptic who comes to a show or gets a reading, for I know that this person will challenge me to do my very best. When I meet those who tell me that they came to my show as skeptics and left as believers, I always ask at what point they changed their minds. They usually tell me that it was a reading they could relate to, or that I read for another person and they overheard him or her talking later about how spot-on it was. Often people will acknowledge the truth of a message more after the reading, and reveal how impressed they are with the answers they were given.

My father watched my TV programs and attended many of my live shows before he was convinced that what I did was in fact real. The week of the Hay House cruise, during which he attended every lecture I gave and even participated in some of the group exercises, it was still not enough to persuade him. He also went to many different workshops on spirituality that were given by others. He’d done his homework but still remained on the fence.

Then my grandmother, Dad’s mother, passed in April 2009. On the afternoon after her funeral, we all returned to my parents’ home to have some quiet time. My brother, Christian, and his wife, Claire, were in their room sleeping; Mom was resting in the living room; and Dad was in my parents’ bedroom. Suddenly, he got up and called out, “Just a minute, Mom!”

My mother asked my father what was going on. He shook his head and said that he thought he’d heard his mother calling to him as he was drifting off to sleep, and her call woke him up. He then realized what he’d said and tried to take it back: “Oh, it must have been something I heard on the radio.” My parents don’t own a radio, and the TV was off—the house was perfectly quiet. So it seems as though Dad’s mother had come to see him and had connected with him while he was dreaming, which is very common.

To be honest, my father’s skepticism has never really bothered me. It wasn’t until September 2009 that he finally came up to me after a show I did in Wellington, New Zealand, and said, “I believe you.” Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather!

Dad had attended nine shows, watching how people in the audience reacted, and he’d make comments like: “That reading you did . . . the woman wasn’t giving you anything, was she? But you did it. You brought her mother forward, and she was so happy in the end.” So I knew I was making headway. Then when Dad finally made up his own mind about what I did, he embraced it.

Later, my father told me that he was actually afraid of my gift, because there was no logical explanation for it. “You’re my daughter, and I know you don’t lie,” he said. “But I can’t figure it out. I just know you give people hope and comfort, and that is a priceless gift. You’ve done your job.”

Dealing with Skeptics—Myself Included!

Living with a skeptic when I was a child was hard for me, especially when I had gifts and abilities that I couldn’t possibly understand. Having said that, I believe it’s healthy for all of us to question what is real and what isn’t, and I feel that we must make up our own minds about what to believe and what not to believe. This applies to me, too—even though I’m a professional medium, I maintain an air of skepticism when I receive a reading from another in my field.

Early on in my career, I once went to see a woman who told me what she thought I wanted to know about the future, rather than revealing anything that was actually useful. I felt cheated, as if I’d wasted my money, and the experience made me wary. Eventually, I got over it and visited another medium who was more helpful. She told me about my present life and also what had happened in the past, all accurate information that gave me faith in what she was saying. Then when she told me about the future, I received this message with an open mind.

Sometimes you know what is going to happen in life, as events are already mapped out and you can see the pathway. I’d had such a vision of my future at the time I sought the second medium, and I was amazed when she picked up on what I already knew.

My own vision was that I’d be onstage, communicating with a large audience of people. I loved music and also worked professionally as a singer, but I hadn’t gone in that direction as a career. In my vision I wasn’t singing, but I was still standing onstage, speaking to audiences, making people laugh, and even bringing them to tears. Still, I wasn’t convinced that I would become a professional medium.

I also had another vision of my future at the time, in which I saw my name on the spine of a book that sat on a shelf. It was quite bizarre, as I’d never taken any interest in writing at school—although I had forced myself to study English at an advanced level, believing that somehow it would come in handy in life.

When I visited that second medium, she said I’d be onstage, but it wouldn’t be in the way I might anticipate. Although everyone expected me to be singing at the time, this woman said that I’d be up there doing something totally different, and through my work, I’d also write books. Incredible, really, as this is what I’m doing right now!

This particular medium relayed other information that was correct over the course of time and completely restored my faith in psychics. As a result of that experience, I became less of a skeptic. Then when I gave my first reading—a story I tell in my first book, Life Among the Dead—I became even more convinced.

I did my first full reading spontaneously over the telephone while talking casually with a friend. She asked me what I thought about her boyfriend, and I told her the truth: he was cheating on her. I gave her a great deal of information, including the name of the woman he was seeing and where she worked. Over the next few weeks, I was totally gobsmacked when things I’d said unfolded as predicted. I was even less of a skeptic after that, and my faith continued to get stronger and stronger until I couldn’t question this gift of mine anymore. Eventually my skepticism died, and I regained the belief I’d had as a child.

Skeptics have to find their own way and their own beliefs. I used to think that it was my mission to change people’s minds, but after engaging in that struggle for so long, I decided it wasn’t worth it. It was more important to me to focus on those who needed help with closure and healing and were open to receiving it. As soon as I made that decision, it seemed that more and more skeptics came out of the woodwork, telling me that because I didn’t force my opinion on them, they were more inclined to believe. I now know that I am not here to try to change others’ minds. Converting skeptics is a fantastic feeling; but ultimately, if my readings help them or others around them, then I’ve done the work I was put on this Earth plane to do.

I encounter people who happen to be skeptical at my live shows all over the world. When I offer to do a reading for these individuals, they’ll tell me up front that they’re skeptical, being honest and open about it. My answer is always the same: “As long as you have an open mind, and you’re ready to accept the information I’m about to give you, then that is all that matters to me.”

As an example of how powerful it is for someone who’s been a skeptic to turn around and finally believe, I’d like to share a reading that was featured on my TV show Lisa Williams: Life Among the Dead. A man was attending one of my talks with his mother, who let me know that her son was very skeptical. After the reading, however, his opinion changed dramatically. The information he received was accurate, and because it was, it helped his whole family heal deeply from a terrible tragedy.

Here is the transcript of the reading:

Lisa: I have a brother figure in Spirit here. He’s saying, I’m the brother. I’m the brother. You shared a lot, you and your brother.

Man: Yes, it’s true. We did everything together when we were younger.

Lisa: He wants to say hello to Mom.

Man: Mom is sitting right there. [pointing across the aisle from him]

Lisa: He loves you very much, and he passed very quickly. Dad is with me, he’s saying. Your brother acknowledges that he was warned, and there is a feeling that he placed himself in a situation of danger, that he was foolish.

Mom: Yes, he did, he did.

Lisa: I should have listened. I should have listened. . . . Did he get shot in the head, because I keep feeling here . . . ? [pointing to her head]

Man: He was murdered in a drive-by shooting. And yes, he was shot in the head. Half of his head was blown off.

Lisa: Oh, I’m so sorry. [sighs and pauses] Do you know who Jim is?

Mom: Oh God! [shaking her head]

Man: Jim left right after it happened. He moved away.

Mom: I want to ask a question: Is my son with my daughter? She just died, too.

Lisa: Your daughter had blonde hair, and here she comes. Oh, hello!

Audience and Mom: [laughter]

Lisa: Oh, she’s a little one, she’s just swanned down and she’s smiling radiantly, I’m looking up at her at the top of the stairs. Has she been gone for two . . . ? I’m not sure if it’s two weeks or two months.

Man: It’s been about two months.

Lisa: [jumping up and down] She’s laughing and happy. They are together.

Mom: [happy but still pondering] About Jim . . . here’s the thing. He was at the hospital before we were, and then he left and moved out of town. He may have known who did it and was afraid to tell. . . .

Man: I have to be honest: I didn’t believe. I only hoped for my mom that something would come through. Everything you said, you are 100 percent right on. This is a life-changing experience—you’ve changed all of our lives.

This family had gotten closure, even though the murder of their son and brother was still unsolved, and they were able to believe because the information they received was so accurate. They could now be comforted that their loved ones had made it to the Afterlife together and were happy. This is the best possible outcome for a reading, and it makes what I do so worthwhile.

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