Monthly Archive: February 2017

Ritual

I have committed to leading a class today, and have prepared for it thoroughly. Yes, in terms of content, but even more in terms of emotional supports.

I’ve got my tea, my water, my soup and snacks for myself and my assistant.  I’ve got what I’ll wear laid out and ready to don, all the papers, handouts and paraphernalia lined up to go to the car.

I’ve got my pear cut and ready to eat (my idea of a breakfast), my vitamins ready to take, my coffee beside me. My plan is to pack the car at 9:30 and leave at 10 so that I’m there in plenty of time.  If I was especially anxious, I’d also add one or two affirmations around why I was doing what I was doing.

All my plans, good luck charms, affirmations and actions in place, I relax.

Ridiculous isn’t it?  I know it and yet I still do it – it somehow helps me stay calm when things go haywire.

Ritual is a powerful tool many of us use to allay our anxieties and fears, and can be found in every part of the world.  They are activities that are symbolic for the person doing them, and can seem reasonable or far-fetched.  Even if they may seem to defy reason, all ritual activities are, in fact, rational. Recent research  shows that rituals can be highly effective in alleviating grief and reducing anxiety. Rituals work even with people who claim they don’t believe in them.  It turns out that rituals have a causal impact on our thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

For instance, subjects given a “lucky golf ball” instead of an ordinary one performed better; subjects who “overheard” the researcher say he’d keep his fingers crossed for them also performed better. These findings are consistent with other research in this field of study.  In other words, “performing rituals with the intention of producing a certain result appears to be sufficient for that result to come true”.

Why do rituals work?  According to a recent Harvard study, they work because they hold a higher meaning for us. That is, we develop a series of activities, long or short, that give meaning to what we are about to do – such as writing our worries on paper, then burning the paper; or laying out everything neatly in preparation for a presentation; or repeating affirmations relevant to a fearful event.

What rituals do you have in place to help you through hard times?  If you don’t have them, here are some suggestions in creating your own rituals:

  • Actions that calm you down. Write down the activities that you know calm you down. It may be having backups, or drinking a calming tea, or connecting to a higher purpose.  Some sports pros take along a certain number of extra golf balls, for instance.
  • Metaphors for what you want as the outcome.  Lucky charms are metaphors for good luck; burning the things you don’t want is a metaphor for removing these obstacles from your life. Determine what you want to happen, and create a routine that stands for that outcome.
  • Affirmations. Affirmations remind us why we do what we do, and who we are in doing it. They are most powerful. These could be as simple as the Nike “Just do it!” or as elaborate as a poem from Rumi. The critical thing is that they move you and remind you of your underlying meaning and purpose.
Ritual and imagination
web
 Quote of the Week
When tea becomes ritual, it takes its place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things. Where is beauty to be found? In great things that, like everything else, are doomed to die, or in small things that aspire to nothing, yet know how to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment?
― Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog

 

Announcements
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  As a registered psychotherapist and stress coach, I offer individual one-on-one consultations. For more information, visit my websitewww.thejoyofliving.co/programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co

5 Habits of People with Depression

Depression isn’t always noticeable. In fact, many people with depression hide it well. They live in secrecy.  Would you be able to spot depression in someone else, maybe even in yourself?  I’m noting the top 5 habits of people with depression below. If you find two or more describe yourself or someone else, you need to seek out help.

  1. Those who live with depression have learned to alter their apparent moods, and may even be some of the most seemingly “happy” people that you know. Do you feel like you’re faking your joy?
  2. They are creatures of habit. Yes, people with depression often have lifestyle habits that they use to treat their everyday state-of-mind. This can be in the form of music, exercise, driving, walks, or basically anything they know can get themselves out of a sinking set of emotions.  While these habits can look healthy, and they are, they are often concealing something darker.
  3. Big insight on their own mortality that is shared, publicly, with out the usual fear or nervousness that most people have when speaking on the subject. Yes, depression often makes people have a complex thought process about life in general and death in general. Facing one’s mortality often comes at moments of desperation, but it doesn’t always lead to suicide. There are people who are depressed who think lovingly about death.
  4. They look for their purpose or reinvent their purpose. Is this you? Those who live with unseen depression are no stranger to always trying to compensate in their life for the frailties that they have inside.  Thus, they try on new jobs, places to live, and hobbies like they may change underwear, constantly searching for something that will make them happy.
  5. They are love seekers. Some people may write someone off as always having to have a boyfriend or a girlfriend, but this may be a sign of depression. People who live with depression in a private and undisclosed way do so for protection. This is for the protection of their hearts. This is for the protection of the people around them.  But they are also quick to latch on to someone who they feel can help them feel happy, even if the relationship is unhealthy or they barely know the person. When the other person can’t “cure” their longing for happiness, not really a partner, they jump  ship and move on to the next person.

I can help you with depression. I can help you reclaim your joy. Please reach out to  me and let’s talk about solutions.

Spread too Thin? Dealing with Stress

We are expected to simply be mobile all of the time these days.  We can reply to questions all the time, emails all the time, everything is needed now and everyone wants your attention.  Add this to your daily responsibilities and it is no wonder we are more stressed out than ever and we are more spread thin than ever.

When social commitments start to sound and feel like a chore, you’re spread too thin. Letting go and having fun should be about unwinding, not about an obligation. So, if this is you, you need to take action to reclaim your peace, find your center, and discover how to move forward.

Don’t get caught in the last minute game. Instead,  carve time out for social engagements on your calendar. Yes, you need to plan for them,block out a good amount of time for them, and don’t reschedule them to continue work time. Down time is a good and needed thing. Schedule it.

Is getting dinner prepared a hugely stressful chore? If it is, think about this. Why would dinner be a stressful task? It usually is only stressful because you’re filled with a million other things to do and you can’t manage adding one more task to your day without completely overriding another task. If dinner is going to override another task, you need to start cutting responsibilities and delegating them to someone else.

And if you feel like your memory is failing you, you are spread to thin. Yes, if you’re to the point where you have so many tasks to complete that important tasks have been forgotten, things will go wrong and these things will add more stress to your life.  You need to start writing everything down. Follow this up by scheduling them out with enough time to handle it all. Be realistic about how long it takes you to do something or you will be setting yourself up for failure. When an idea, new appointment, or thought pops in your head that you need to remember for later, write it down. Then revisit your current day, and the notes, along with tomorrow’s scheduled day as your evening ends.

We can avoid stress (in some cases) when it comes to our schedule and spreading ourselves too thin.  We just have to make the time to admit we need to create some adjustments in our lives.

 

Peace of Mind

I watched someone stressing out to the point of being frozen because he couldn’t decide what expert to choose.  He felt that this had to be the right decision or he’d ….. I didn’t know – something terrible would be the result of any mistake on his part.

I never knew how his decision went, but do know from personal experience that whatever choice he made under stress was likely to be the wrong one, except by accident. I know this, partly because I’ve been there, and partly because of science: when we’re stressing, we simply can’t think well. Our stress-response system is wired to shut down any and all systems that might get in the way of either fighting or fleeing, and making decisions that don’t involve the immediate moment’s emergency is one of those functions that could get in the way.

The only way to decide between alternatives is when we’re calm and relaxed, when we’re open to the information we need to choose wisely, and flexible enough to add or subtract from that choice when needed.

Experts in stress and mindfulness suggest that we get stressed because we expect or anticipate a certain result that will hurt us. For instance, referring to my story of the person who froze in indecision, he may have believed that anything less than the perfect choice will lead to a disaster in his life. More realistically, if he’d been in a better state of mind, he might have been able to weigh the pros and cons of each expert, come up with a backup plan if his choice ended up not going as well as he desired, and then choose.

Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be (Wayne Dyer). Whenever we lose focus on what actually is in front of us, and wander into what might be (usually worst case scenarios) we lose our peace of mind. (Marie Forleo has some tips. For her tips, view this.)

Here’s a 4-step process that might help you negotiate your next important decision

  1. What does your gut say? What we “know” is what we feel in our gut, not what we think. Thinking is something we do when we don’t really know.  Gut knowing isn’t verbal, it’s felt – a heaviness, or lightness; a slight nausea or fluttering. When you consider a particular alternative, does your gut lighten or grow heavy in some way?
  2. Consider the pros and cons. If both alternatives leave you feeling about the same, then maybe you need to back off for a few days, if you can, and then revisit it.  Then consider the worst case and best case – realistically – of both alternatives.  How realistic are both? And if each happened, how would you deal with it, and could you deal with it? Then look at the next worst and best case scenarios in the same manner – how probable are they of occurring? How would you deal with them?
  3. Try it out. If it’s possible, limit the time and effort you need to try it out.  And when you do, have criteria to determine how successful the trial was.
  4. Review your learnings and try again.  Yes, this step always happens, because no matter how successful your decision was, there is always a next step.  Even if the venture was a total seeming “failure”, if you come away with lessons that help you next time, it isn’t really a failure at all. This may seem “polyanna” to some, but it isn’t – it’s the way we learn and grow in everything we do.

Coming back to my friend who couldn’t decide between experts, this is what he might do: First, check in with himself to see how each expert, after meeting them, makes him feel – somewhat relieved? Somewhat agitated? Nothing at all? I’m not talking about credentials, or experience, or anything else other than his gut knowing.

Then, if still not sure, he might ask himself how bad it could get with the wrong expert: Would he end up hurting himself? Or simply waste some time? Or how good it might be: speedy results? Ending up on a trajectory he never expected and isn’t prepared for? Is he prepared to deal with any of these – which ones “Yes” and which “No”?

Then, having decided tentatively on one, try him or her out, with an understanding between him and the expert that this is a trial – what criteria is he going to use to determine how it went? A sense of well-being? Hopefulness? Increased revenue? Finally, what next – no matter the outcome? Because there’s always that question at the end of a process.
Isn’t life wonderful!

Eagles – Take it Easy

Quote of the Week

If you want peace, stop fighting. If you want peace of mind, stop fighting with your thoughts. – Peter McWilliams

 

Announcements
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  As a registered psychotherapist and stress coach, I offer individual one-on-one consultations. For more information, visit my websitewww.thejoyofliving.co/programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co

Challenging times

It’s impossible these days not to be impacted by the goings-on in the United States. American, Canadian, European, Middle-Eastern, Muslin, Jew, Christian, Agnostic, Atheist, women, the poor, refugees, gay people, indigenous people, the list is long. Some might say anyone who isn’t a straight white rich male – and many people who fit into this limited category have people they care about who don’t. In short, everyone is impacted and many are in turmoil.  Some call what’s currently happening in the United States a “Cold Civil War”, meaning that people aren’t shooting each other for the most part, but that there is a major uprising – in the speedy undoing of everything that was put in place over the past 8 years, and in the reciprocating demonstrations, law suits, speaking out, and affirmative actions that are happening just as speedily.  Some also say that it’s really up to the “sane Republicans” to end this growing chasm.  But even so, the rest of us need some way of sanely and effectively dealing with these challenging times.

Our American friends are hit especially hard by what’s currently happening in their country.  As my partner – who is American – said: I’m embarrassed because it goes counter to everything my nation stands for.

What can we do? For myself, I need to focus on things that restore my sense of empowerment. And I offer some suggestions to you along these lines.

  • Ground yourself. This is essential and also the essential first step. If you’re stressed, anxious, distracted or otherwise out of balance, you won’t be able to deal with things as they come up. So when you find yourself getting stressed, breathe deeply into your belly, focusing only on that for a number of breaths; you might want to sit somewhere and simply feel the ground under you. Do this as often as you need. You will know you’re grounded when you are able to bring your attention to what’s needed in the present moment with ease.
  • Physical self-care. If you’re grounded, only then is it possible to be successful in supporting yourself physically. Physical self-care includes sleeping, eating and exercising well. Without this, you will eventually wear yourself out.
  • Supportive resources. Make sure you have what you need to continue to support yourself both physically and emotionally.  Friends and colleagues who are able to listen and comment, who are willing to walk with you, often give us the energy boost we need to get going and keep going.
  • Be clear about what you want. If you remain grounded, healthy and supported, then you’re open and ready for any opportunity that comes up.  It’s critical that you pre-determine what you want so that you don’t end up spending your energy on something that doesn’t work and doesn’t empower.  For instance, I’m interested in supporting anything that brings real change – like naming and boycotting banks that support the pipeline companies wanting to dig up sacred land.
We are at our most powerful when we are grounded and present. When we feel powerful, challenging times are times we can meet successfully.

Michelle Obama – Lead by example with hope! Never fear!

mo

 

Quote of the Week
Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.
― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

 

Announcements
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  As a registered psychotherapist and stress coach, I offer individual one-on-one consultations. For more information, visit my websitewww.thejoyofliving.co/programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co