Monthly Archive: April 2017

Angry Woman (and Man)

A friend walked into my living room and had a look on her face that brooked no questions. She wasn’t about to explode; didn’t look like she was about to melt down.  Instead she looked too peaceful, too poised, spoke in a tone that was just a little too reasonable.  I know her, and I knew this meant she was – for the moment – unreachable.

It may be my imagination, but it seems I’m beginning to see this increasingly – in my clients, friends and sometimes in myself. In fact, I noticed this in me a few days ago, and decided to make becoming aware of it part of my morning mantra.

There are a ton of articles on angry women, all of them either praising them or asking why it’s OK for men and not OK for women to be angry.  And maybe that’s what’s happening: in business, anger in a woman is seen as unattractive; like she can’t control her emotions. But because of all the press over this – and the pushback from women in business – women are beginning to express their anger.

This is great! Except when the anger is misdirected – and this is what I’m seeing increasingly – with both men and women.  For instance, my friend was angry at her son because … well … the list is long. She knows her real source of anger is with herself – that she let herself down and ended up taking it out on her son, making her even angrier – but she just can’t seem to stop it.  Then later she feels remorse and an almost driven need to make amends.

I know when I get angry like this: I know it because it doesn’t feel good – it feels filled with garbage.  The pattern for me is my anger actually begins earlier as anxiety or overwhelm. I may look at the list of things I think I need to do with dismay, thinking I’ll never get through it all.  Then I might wonder if I even have it in me to do it, and what was I thinking getting myself involved in this particular project anyway.  Then I’ll really up the anti by musing on what others must be thinking about me and my foolishness.  That’s when some poor sucker pops up and happens to say the wrong thing at the wrong time (which by now could be anything at any time), and I lash out. So, added to my dismay and anger is remorse.

This whole thing happens without much awareness on my part.  Hence my morning reminder: when I build into my day an awareness of what I’m thinking and feeling, and where it all might lead, I can begin to act in a way that brings positive change, rather than negative feelings.

If you find yourself getting angry or carrying it into your day, there are three things you can do to support yourself in a positive way:

  • Be prepared. Bring an awareness into your day about how you’re feeling, especially if it involves fear, anxiety or overwhelm.  Being aware helps you take responsibility for your feelings and the situation you find yourself in.
  • Take care.  If you’re like me, when you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious, you’re also extra sensitive.  If so, add an extra dose of self-care, giving yourself space to deal with the emotions that come up, recognizing that you may interpret what others say negatively as a result. Self-care isn’t merely a good thing; it’s essential to living a happy and balanced life.
  • Learn to say No. One essential of self-care is knowing when it’s best to say No!, or at the least, delay responding.  This is, for me, the most powerful thing I can do for myself.  “I’ll get back to you on this” gives you time to get into a better place and respond thoughtfully rather than react emotionally.

Eckhart Tolle has his own way of addressing anger – see the video below.

It’s great to be able to feel and express our anger. Learning to express it “cleanly” with no garbage is well worth the effort.

I’d love to hear what you do, and am certain other readers would like to hear it too.  So I invite you to leave a comment below.

Eckhart Tolle – Expressing Anger

Quote of the Week

I am awfully greedy; I want everything from life. I want to be a woman and to be a man, to have many friends and to have loneliness, to work much and write good books, to travel and enjoy myself, to be selfish and to be unselfish… You see, it is difficult to get all which I want. And then when I do not succeed I get mad with anger.
― Simone de Beauvoir

 

Announcements
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co

Therapy, How to Tell If It’s Needed

We all have stress and life issues to deal with. One of the biggest hesitations about therapy is usually the question of “if it is needed” before the time and expense is invested in the services. I tend to believe an outside perspective is always good to have. This said, I have come up with 3 scenarios where I would suggest personal therapy regardless of the circumstances.  If you experience any of the scenarios listed below, please reach out to myself or any other healthcare or mental health professional;

  1.  Stress is above the normal limits. Stress can lead to both a mental and physical breakdown. The anxiety can cause you to fail at work, disregard your family’s needs, and even return to an addiction (if not start a new one).  I would say any stress that starts to cause a lack of concentration or disrupts your physical health is reason enough to seek therapy.
  2. No one is listening anymore. If friends and family have tuned out or have started to avoid you because of your constant talking about stress, worry and/or life problems, you need a fresh and professional listener. This means the problem has gone on long enough that they can no longer help, outside of listening, and you need a therapist to provide you with some coping skills, maybe even an RX.
  3. Someone has said something to you. Friends or family who suggest therapy to you know you best. It may be a subtle intervention, but if someone else brings up therapy services to you, it may be for a reason. One session to explore if this option is truly a great match for you can’t be of any harm, so why not be open to it?

I offer a range of online and in-person therapy services. If you feel like you are in need of an outside perspective or an influx of coping tips, please reach out to myself or any other healthcare professional.

Celebrating Success

We hear a lot these days about the person who strives and works hard and finally reaches a place in their lives where success is at their doorstep, only to quit or sabotage their efforts at that crucial moment. We call that fear of success and associate it with not wanting to fail (see Susanne Babbel’s article on this subject in Psychology Today. Some of us secretly expect the worst, and rather than see this happen, we avoid real success.

I thought I was fine with success: I’ve had my moments of failure – lots of them, but I’ve also had some great successes in my life, hard won, that I’m proud of. Then all last week I noticed a deep rumbling inside me – a niggling unease, annoyed at anything that popped up, distracted. I couldn’t pinpoint it. A friend said she noticed this in her clients, so I wondered if it had something to do with the season – air pressure or something. I’ve been working on refreshing my business offerings for a few months now, and getting close to actually implementing them, and it finally struck me – like a large ripe melon breaking over my head – that I was really agitated about the idea of putting this out. The closer I get to actually doing it, the more excuses I come up with to delay it.

I know I’m not the only one out there who has this or a similar fear, so I’m sharing what I’ve done to help me through this.

  • Acknowledge my feelings. Acknowledge my fears around succeeding, knowing that they’re deep.  I’ve discovered that self-care is the best medicine when we hit on something that hurts, and deeply held feelings are no different.  My way of acknowledging my fears is to be with them – sit with my feelings, walk with them.  I may do some journaling but usually not; then after a while I notice my feelings lifting and I know it’s time to move on.
  • Take small steps. Big steps when I’m feeling scared and vulnerable feel like climbing a 100 foot wall. So I break down that wall into smaller ones that I might even leapfrog over. Then I schedule the steps – my way of committing to action. This may not be your way, but whatever it is, it begins with making each step bite-sized.
  • Celebrate every success.  No matter how “small”, because every success is “proof” that I am successfully putting myself out.  These successes include the small steps toward my goal; they also include everything in my life that bring me joy – enjoying a good healthy meal, going on an invigorating walk, spending time in nature, getting a good night’s sleep, and most of all, spending time with my friends.

It takes courage to face our fears, and knowhow.  You may be able to figure it out for yourself, or you may need some help doing it.  I needed help, and never regretted getting it.

Celebrating success feeds my soul. Being stuck in the terror of putting myself out there doesn’t. Knowing this helps me chose to move through the terror.

I’d love to hear what you do, and am certain other readers would like to hear it too.  So I invite you to leave a comment below.

Jane & Lily – doing well in their success

2017-04-16_1810
Quote of the Week
You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
– Eleanor Roosevelt
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

Time – waits for no one?

I came across the lyrics of the Rolling Stone’s famous song Time waits for no one. The words are haunting and became famous because we can all feel their impact: Time waits for no one, it won’t wait for me.

I feel it; it’s often been a driving force behind my decisions: I was afraid I’d die of boredom; I was afraid I’d be too old too soon; I was afraid I’d miss out on an opportunity that might never show up again.  And so I’d jump in, unprepared and often blind, just so I could close that possibility of missing out on something.

A lot of people do this. In fact, more and more people today are driven by this fear of missing out. Jumping on this or that particular train makes us feel good – at least for the moment: we feel like we’re doing something positive, it’s exciting and energizing. It’s exciting like a roller coaster is exciting: experiencing the fear of diving down into a seeming abyss, feeling the relief when we arrive in one piece shortly after. It feels positive because we feel good doing it – energized and alive.  It’s often called “good stress” and lauded as something that’s a positive influencer in our lives.

However, reality and appearance can sometimes diverge, and I believe that’s true here: humans evolved to have stress in their lives, but occasionally, not every day and all day. When our ancestors needed to hunt a dangerous animal, or protect their home against attack, they were able to instantly summon the clarity, strength and stamina needed to do that.  It no doubt felt good to have a successful hunt and successfully defend their homes – just as it does for us today.  Then there would be a much longer period of rest and recovery, where their systems had a chance to heal and rebuild. In that way, they maintained a balance between restorative and stressful activities.

Today that balance is reversed: we spend most of our time in some kind of stress – in our businesses or careers, raising children on top of that, and keeping up with mortgages and student loans.  We tend to work longer hours than our parents did, and carry a debt load that they didn’t even contemplate.

No matter how you slice it, even if most of the time it feels good, this can’t be good for us.

Eventually, we start to notice physical changes – fatigue, digestive issues for instance, that won’t go away for long. So we eat better, exercise better, maybe spare an hour a week for social activities – and that helps, but not completely. Because we are still wired to “not missing out”.

Time waits for no one, it won’t wait for me.

Not everyone is impacted by this drive. I’m really talking to those who are.  I’ve been one of you, was eventually impacted physically, and had to learn to live a lot differently. The biggest thing I had to learn was to address my fear of missing out.

This is a big topic, and not one easily covered.  But there are a few things you can do for yourself to begin to address this:

  • Awareness of your pattern. Always the first essential step to any worthwhile change: being aware of how we are driven by time provides a benchmark and a starting point.  Notice when you start to rush; when you brush off being with friends and colleagues to relax and socialize; when you dive into something new with little or no consideration.  What’s your particular pattern?
  • Beginning in a positive way. It’s amazingly difficult to take the first 10 minutes of the day and simply sit. In my practice, I discuss this with every client – a few of them are able to incorporate it into their lives – most fail to do so.  Master Time is a very hard task-master, and simply refuses to let us sit calmly with whatever is happening at that moment – even for 10 minutes.  And yet it’s probably the most positive thing we can do for ourselves, and will make a difference to the rest of our day.  So see if you can tolerate even 3 minutes, to start, then build it into 10.
  • Being kind to ourselves. This means no judgments, no comparisons to some idealized view of what should be vs what is, especially within ourselves. Change at this fundamental level takes commitment, courage, and – yes – time.

When chopping onions, just chop onions

oprah

Quote of the Week
You can have it all. Just not all at once.
― Oprah Winfrey

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

When You’re Stuck

There are some people who refuse to let others help them. They make suggestions, but the other party doesn’t listen. The other party makes excuses that “Everything is fine” or “people do respond to me” and then they get no where. Well, being stuck personally and professionally is never easy to address- especially when the subject is yourself or your tunnel vision. Know this, addressing yourself and what you can be doing better can help you feel better about where your life is going versus wondering why things aren’t changing for you or blaming other people for lack of change in your life.

The best sign to discovering if you’re stuck is to ask yourself right now what it is you want. “Happy self” or “wonderful career” are blanket answers. Be specific. Can you really define what it is you want right now? Recognize that you have desires, goals, and beliefs that are important to you. Your values matter and when they shift, it is because something inside of you has awakened and is ready to experience more.

Another question you want to ask yourself in discovering if you’re truly your own problem (and stuck) is because your joy is gone. You may have become too focused on what you think you “should” do instead of what you really, truly want to do. Example, I knew a lady in business who followed her competitor’s every move. The competitor had more business then she did , so naturally she thought she should be doing what the competitor was doing… only she had NO business. The problem was she wasn’t listening to what her customers wanted, she was too focused on what she thought she should be doing. She had no business and she was unhappy- not a way to live.  I also know many people who are stuck in unhappy marriages because they were brought up being told they “should” get married. They are not happy, they are only pleasing other people. Again, not a way to live and it leads to being stuck.

Turn things around with baby steps. Focus on asking yourself what it is that you want to do and be detailed about the answer. Then focus on if you are joyful and doing what you love or if you are miserable and doing what you should do. There is a difference between the two- as well as the outcome. Then focus on what you are going to do from this day forward by starting with the baby steps. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. If you want to grow, you have to allow yourself to be uncomfortable; all growth requires discomfort, but it is worth it. Yes, start small and then move on to the big stuff. The point is to address yourself and then focus on considering change and then making that change!

Developing our own voice

How often have you been silent when you really wanted to say something? It might have been on behalf of someone else, but most often it’s on our own behalf when we lose our voice. And it’s mostly women who do this.

Women are taught in many societies to stay in the background; being dominant is seen as unfeminine – Still! – and is, at the least, discouraged.

Or – how often these days have you been admonished to speak up when you really didn’t feel comfortable doing so? Staying silent is seen as a sign of weakness and timidity – and may really be a sign of introversion and consideration.  Sometimes it’s not something you may be interested in enough to speak up.

Either way, there’s judgment from others and ourselves about how we ‘should’ act and respond.

I find my voice in my writing and being with others one-on-one.  I was raised to speak only when spoken to – it’s true – and I didn’t like it.  But my heroes as I grew into adulthood were always the silent types, speaking only when it mattered.  Growing up in my home was chaotic and loud, and my way of retreating from all that noise when I was a teenager was into books, where the good guys weren’t the ones screaming the loudest.
I’m also a therapist, well and thoroughly taught to stay out of the spotlight, allowing my clients to take that place.

Having said this, I know that sometimes it’s simply a convenient ‘go-to’ when I’m nervous about speaking up. When I find myself judging, or feel that others are judging me, then I know I’m quiet when I need to be the reverse.

Speaking up isn’t a rule or an obligation, unless you’re keeping quiet when you’d rather not.  Being authentic is the point.  Even more to the point is that we cheat the world of our voice.

Pat Blumenthal was also raised to be polite and keep her thoughts to herself. Then one day she realized that by doing so, she was missing opportunities to influence outcomes — “to change an opinion, to clear up a misunderstanding, to give support, to challenge an assumption, to keep someone from making a mistake”.
As we keep ourselves from speaking up, it becomes a habit, and our voice begins to fade, even to ourselves.
So speak up when it matters most to you. Here are three things to help you determine when that is (courtesy of Martha Beck :

  • Assess. Honestly assess what’s happening around and inside you. What if you live with someone who never cleans up after themselves.  This person may be your husband, wife, roommate – it doesn’t matter.  You might not care picking up after them, or you might be talking yourself into not caring every day.  If so, then try this: imagine you could summon a ‘wise observer’ who’s able to see things from a disinterested perspective. Ask yourself, what would this observer see and say? It might be that he or she would see something minor that isn’t worth making a fuss over.  Or, the observer might see the roommate or spouse acting like a ‘pig’, leaving their garbage for you to pick up; and inside you there’s a building resentment and fear of what they might do if you suddenly didn’t pick up after them. ‘Seeing’ this way can help us really understand what’s happening. Then, and only then, ask yourself what you want to do.
  • Take action. If you have something to say, then express it as authentically as possible.  If you’ve decided to take some action, then follow through.
  • Wait out the reaction or response. There may be a reaction, especially if the person sees you saying or doing something they aren’t used to.  You may want to bolt, but know that the fit will pass eventually.  So sit it out, and don’t run away.
A note of caution: the above is assuming you aren’t dealing with a physical abuser.  If you are, then protect yourself by physically removing yourself from the space. Otherwise, stick it out, and make your voice count.

 

A Haircut Taught Cindy Crawford to Speak Up for Herself

 

 

Quote of the Week
It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent. – Madeleine Albright

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