Monthly Archive: May 2014

Psychotherapy Lite

 

hand-upsshrink_joke_1038315the analyst

 

Went to a function tonight and was asked what a psychotherapist is.  When I came home I googled Psychotherapy jokes to see what that segment of the population thinks.

Sometimes we just need to laugh at ourselves.

I hope you get a chuckle from these samples.

Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit 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.

 

Thank You, Nature!

 

maize and sunflowersHere’s something I came across when wandering the mountain trails of Ecuador. It’s a thank you to Nature, specifically the sun and the earth. It seemed so personal and yet it was off a public path. Made by someone who lived there. So simple and yet so profound, this honouring of Nature.

In these times of industry and asphalt, of more and more space taken up to serve us humans at the expense of the rest of Nature, someone paused and made this offering. This is something you and I can do, whenever we are outside, to honour Nature in a simple every day way that is meaningful to us.

Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit 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.

Temptation

The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it….Oscar Wild

Is he talking chocolate cake? That isn’t the first thing that came to my mind as my friend quoted Wild while we dove into some delicious food. Perhaps I’m too habituated to yielding; not, alas, in a way that helps me in the long run, at least not when it comes to food. When it

chocolate mayorcomes to food, I favour the short view of immediate gratification.

I’ve tried diets, detoxes, denial of every kind. It works – as many if not everyone knows – for a while until the inevitable backlash, when I not only make up for my missed chocolate cake, but fill up for the next time of self-imposed chocolate and sugar famine. It is truly a no-win situation.

What actually came to mind was Victor Frankel. He was a psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, and a very important source of inspiration for humanistic psychologists after WWII. He developed a method he called Paradoxical Intention for helping people who were perfectionists (including among them people suffering from OCD). With this method, a person is encouraged to intend or wish for, even for a few seconds, precisely what he or she fears. The Paradoxical Theory of Change, in Gestalt theory, is an extension of Frankl’s idea. It maintains that change only happens when a person becomes what she or he is fundamentally, and never happens through coercion, either internally or externally. It’s only when we reject the role of change agent that we can make the changes necessary for our lives.

What about that chocolate cake? Just for a moment, I am dropping the idea that I can change my love of eating. Instead, I imagine filling my plate and eating everything I love. Pizza. Toasted marshmallow ice cream. Slow-cooked lamb. Potatoes of any kind. Milk chocolate. Carmelized tapioca. Mac and cheese. …

Time will tell how this works for me. I would be interested in finding out how it works in your life.

If you want to learn more about Victor Frankel, I invite you to read his book titled in English Man’s Search for Meaning (It’s original German title is Trotzdem Ja Zum Leben Sagen: Ein Psychologe Erlebt das Konzentrationslager which translated is “…Saying Yes to Life in Spite of Everything: A Psychologist Experiences the Concentration Camp”).

I leave you with two quotes from Frankl:

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

“Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it.”

Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit 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.

 

Reason over Fashion!

Do you remember as a child getting an enormous WOW! insight into something because you misunderstood it?  I remember being awe-struck when I found out that Jesus died in the very place I lived – Calgary!  Barbara Kingslover dwells on children’s ability to extrapolate, tied down to nothing – not logic, not history, not reality – in her bestseller The Poisonwood Bible.

It also happens to us more often that we may appreciate as adults, although we keep it as our little secret.  Here’s my latest:  a friend of mine was recalling Pierre Trudeau’s motto “Reason over Passion!” and how my friend was impacted at the time.  What I heard was “Reason over reason over passionFashion!”, and thought how much more clever Trudeau was than I had known!  Not that I didn’t think he was clever, but I had a moment of mild disappointment when I realized my error. I can think of a few things Reason over Fashion might imply – going against the norm, standing up for your own beliefs against those of the majority. I thought Trudeau had said it, and so I took notice.

As it happened, he didn’t say it. But I had a moment of hopeful light-heartedness as a result.

I thank you, Trudeau, and my friend, for making my morning memorable.

What memorable insight moments have you had? Please share them with us.

Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit 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.

The Unbroken Spirit

the unbroken spiritYour beliefs can be allies or enemies…

What do you truly believe about yourself?

Make your worldview work for you!

This one-day experiential workshop introduces Flamenco dance as a way to explore your beliefs about yourself and your world. Combined with the tools of Shamanism and Gestalt psychotherapy, you will be able to differentiate your real beliefs – your own inner truth – from what you have taken on from others and the world. The purpose is to help you clarify and wear the beliefs that make you shine.

Location: The Institute for Contemporary Shamanic Studies – 1173 Davenport Rd., Toronto

Date: January 25, 2014

Time: 10 am – 5 pm

Read More about it here…

Sign Up Here…

Living Life according to Dr. Spence

Ecuador peaks and valleys

A few weeks ago, I spoke a little about the peaks and valleys of my own life; that I was in a current valley, longingly looking at a peak I want to be on.  The photo above shows the natural peaks and valleys of Ecuador.  As I enjoyed the beauty of the photo, it struck me that valleys are as beautiful as peaks.  Valleys provide shade; they are generally moister than peaks and are therefore havens for plants and animals, teaming with life.  Valleys are fertile ground for new things.

The photo shows peaks and valleys in Nature.  But of course, the peaks and valleys we experience in our lives are as natural.  What is unnatural are flat plateaus.  In Spencer’s book “Peaks and Valleys”, he likens peaks and valleys to the cycle of our own heartbeat, and plateaus to the absence of a heartbeat.  In other words, peaks and valleys represent life; they cannot be avoided, because to avoid them – to level them – means death.  Literally!

There is a Taoist story about a farmer who had worked his crops for many years.  One day, his only horse ran away. When his neighbors heard, they sympathetically said “What bad luck!”. The farmer replied “Maybe”. Next morning the horse returned bringing with it three wild horses.  “How wonderful” cried his neighbors.  He replied “Maybe”. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the wild horses and was thrown and broke his leg. It meant his son could no longer help with chores. Yet the day after military officers came to draft young men. The farmer’s son was passed by because of his broken leg. The story continues in much the same way.

Spencer’s story is similar.  His message is about what we do with what we get. It truly is a very practical guide to living well. There are a lot of messages out there that focus only on making whatever is into something positive, and that misses not only the riches we gain from facing the negatives, but the simple fact that positives cannot exist without negatives.  And when we are in our own valleys, it doesn’t help to say it’s really somehow positive; what helps is to know it is part of what makes life possible.

Here’s what I learned from his book and his story, and what I want to pass on to you.

1.        Peaks and valleys aren’t simply the things that happen to us, they are also how we feel about and respond to those things. Peaks are times when we can appreciate what we have and enjoy the rewards of success; valleys are times when we can learn from past experiences and prepare for our next inevitable peak.

2.       To make the most of our peaks and valleys, always seek the truth about the situation – what is the truth about it for you, now?  Avoiding the truth about a painful situation will only ensure it happens again.

3.       When in the valley, find and use the good hidden in the bad time.  You know that being in a valley is going to end, so make use of it’s fertile ground.  Just as in a physical valley, the decay of dead plants is fertilizer for new growth.

4.       When on a peak, appreciate and manage the good times wisely.  Be humble because peaks don’t last forever either.  They can’t last.  So be grateful for those times and be prepared for the next fertile valley.

5.       The secret to getting to the next peak:  Follow your sensible vision.  See it, taste it, smell, hear and touch it.  Make it real and alive with detail, and this will help you enjoy (vs. endure) doing what it takes to get there.

6.       To make it last, pass it forward.  Share it with others, and every time you do so, you make it more real and solid for everyone.

An example from my own life.  Last May I became ill with something that baffled my doctor and left me often helpless.  It made me change how I lived and worked, and limited what was possible for me.  I tried everything I could think of to get well again – detoxes, herbs, healings, medication, specialist advice – some things seemed to work temporarily but nothing really lasted.  Then I went on holiday to Ecuador.  My symptoms vanished.  It may have been the new environment, my temporary freedom from worries, coincidence. Whatever it was, I was delighted.  Then the day after I returned home, my symptoms returned much worse and more debilitating that they had been before I left.

What I learned.  My physical condition and then my vacation gave me time to be with myself; and when I got back the strong return of my physical problems alarmed me enough to take action.  For once, I ignored my brain, and went with my gut.  It wasn’t until a while later that I really got what the issue was, and it was only because I went to the very bottom of this particular valley that I found what I needed to gain the next peak.

I am using Dr. Johnson’s suggestions to see what more I can glean from the valley I was in, and start growing my sensible vision.  I hope you can use this as I have done, and that your life begins to grow as a result.  I would love to hear from 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.