Monthly Archive: December 2013

‘Tis the season to be Jolly

sunflower-joy-oil-277x277I can’t go anywhere without hearing jolly and joyful Christmas music blaring from radios and inside any public building, in coffee shops, stores and banks.  I am greeted with the singular message that it is the season to be jolly, to rejoice, and to be with friends and family.
And yet… I am struck by the numbers of friends and acquaintances where to be jolly is currently a struggle.  The year of 2013 has been a tough year for a lot of us, leaving us feeling vulnerable and uncertain about what 2014 brings.  There has been loss for many, even if it is a loss of what we had expected.  Some of us are left feeling sad, some filled with regrets, and all of us feeling depleted in some way and burdened in other ways.
I was speaking of this to a young friend, who was also feeling that this past year was tough.  Here’s what she said to me and I pass it on to you.  It’s not something new, but bears repeating.  Instead of dwelling on what we miss, on what we’ve lost, on what might have been, take a look at what we have, and find gratitude in our hearts for that.  Thank you, Karin.
For me, I have regained my health, I have good and loyal friends and people I care for and who care for me, I have a roof over my head and a workshop to look forward to.  Because of that workshop, I have met new friends and acquaintances and discovered things that I would never have known otherwise.
What do you have in your life right now that brings you gratitude and joy?  Please share it with us.
Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit http://www.thejoyofliving.co for information on her services, or contact her directly to find out how she can help you reclaim the joy of living.
Best wishes to you for 2014!

Beliefs – limiting or life-enhancing

limiting-beliefsThe power my beliefs have over me struck me to my core a few days ago.  My house closing was going to happen in a day, and a last minute glitch threw me.  Why?  Because I believe that anything last minute is a bad thing and will lead to big problems.  I immediately reacted, knowing I was reacting, unable to do anything but slow myself down.  Then as I slowed myself down, this gave me time to take a look at what really mattered to me, and turn my focus toward a better more productive direction.  Two beliefs:  one destructive and one life-enhancing.

Beliefs are a kind of a 2-edged sword:  they are always based on values, but sometimes can be based on  truth and sometimes on fantasy.  How to tell the difference. Well, for one thing, as with my experience just mentioned, the first belief did not support me in any really good way; instead it triggered me to react rather than respond.  On the other hand, my second belief restored me to some kind of balance and, once I acted on it, brought me what I actually needed.

In her book “My Stroke of Insight”, Doctor Jill Bolte Taylor tells us her story of her self-discovery after suffering a massive stroke, and the results of her ensuing research.

Her research began prior to her stroke, when she initially wanted to know more about how the brain worked.  She noticed that while she was able to connect her dreams to reality and make them come true, others who did not function normally were not as able to accomplish this.

She spoke about the differences between the right and left hemispheres of our brain.  Our right brain is intuitive and is about the present; our left brain is linear and is about the past and logic.  Our left brain also is that part of us that is self-aware.

lion-and-self-esteemGoing back to my story at the start of this blog, you could say that my right brain reacted and my left brain mitigated.  In this case, my right brain was wired to a fantasy that wasn’t based on reality and that as a result didn’t serve me.

The thing is that we aren’t only a brain.  Our brain is intimately connected to the rest of our body.  When I reacted, it wasn’t my brain that did so, but my body – my heart rate, adrenalin, motor responses.  My whole body was invested in my response.  And when my left brain mitigated, again my body responded – with lowered heart rate and a restoration of calm.

Next week, I’ll talk more about this mind-body connection.

What are some of your beliefs?  Which beliefs help you and which hinder you?

Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit http://www.thejoyofliving.co for information on her services, or contact her directly to find out how she can help you reclaim the joy of living.

Moving Day

moving dayTomorrow I’m moving, having spent all week packing, fixing last minute problems and dealing with service providers.  And I wish I had one more day (how often have I heard people lamenting this mysterious, magical day that is just out if reach).

And so I have only this for you … May it give you a moment of light-heartedness.bubble wrap

No Time Now!

What is it about this time of year that makes it so busy, even if we haven’t booked a single party or bought a single present?  481-extremely-busy-I’ve been trying to book time with friends for a phone call or a coffee and can’t seem to find even half an hour free.  This year I can claim particular reasons, but it happens every year regardless of whether I have reasons or not.

Honestly, I’m not a fan of this season.  Even given that it brings family and friends together, most of us are so wound up that there is not much room for genuine closeness with those we care about most.  I remember a few winters going away to a remote cabin and walking in the woods for a week.  It was wonderful.  I saved my quality time with friends for January, when everyone is getting over all that food and coming back to the Now.

Perhaps I’ll find a way to do something like that once more.

It may be that I’m anxious about what might happen.  After all, there were few Christmases when I was growing up that were without incident and unwanted excitement.

What about you?  How do you experience this season?

Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit http://www.thejoyofliving.co for information on her services, or contact her directly to find out how she can help you reclaim the joy of living.