Monthly Archive: September 2017

The 3 Things Essential to Living Well

Georges St. Pierre is a champion in Mixed Martial Arts.  Even if you don’t care for the sport, his approach to it might still inspire you.

Georges was born and raised in a small town in Quebec. He was small for his age, and as happens with many small boys, he was picked on and had to learn to defend himself – hence martial arts.  He grew to love it, not only for the self-confidence it gave him, but for the discipline it taught him. Through martial arts, he learned how to appreciate what really mattered, and to live according to what gave his life meaning.
I thought I’d share with you the three things he found essential to living well: discipline, attitude and confidence.

  • Discipline – our brains and cells build up a memory of what we do habitually.  There’s research showing that the myelin sheath that surrounds each nerve has muscle memory, so that the more we perform a specific task or gesture, the better we become at it.  Discipline – the training of our mind to do certain things regularly, no matter what – is how we develop good habits and strong instinct.  I have a rule in my own life that helps me maintain my own discipline: I never go to bed without checking in with myself and planning my next day. What habits do you have that help you live well?
  • Attitude – have a balanced attitude toward how you live.  What truly supports you?  Challenge helps us stretch and grow.  Self-honesty, knowing our strengths and weaknesses, can build in us a healthy attitude.  Willingness to keep putting one foot in front of the other will always eventually get us where we wish to go, and boost our attitude in the process.  Here’s a challenge from St. Pierre for you: see if you can see any empty space you encounter as room to grow.
  • Confidence – we can really only do something if we believe we can accomplish that thing. This means preparation.  Know what the worst thing is that can realistically happen, then prepare for it.  Establish new habits daily that build your confidence in dealing with worst-case scenarios, if they should happen. For instance, I set daily, weekly and monthly goals; I look at my success in meeting my goals, determining what didn’t work and why, then resetting them accordingly. My confidence in accomplishing what I want to accomplish grows every day by doing this.

Discipline, Attitude and Confidence: Following through with positive attitude, knowing you’re able. And knowing you’re worth it.

Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

George Strait – Living and Living Well

Quote of the Week
Optimists think badly, but live well.
― Marty Rubin

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

The Psychopath Character Structure

psychopath

In the first part of the 20th century, Austrian Psychoanalist Wilhelm Reich developed a theory explaining how we respond both physically and emotionally to the challenges we meet in life, especially in early life.   For the past few weeks, I’ve introduced you, in broad terms, to Character Structures in general, and to the Masochist, or Endurer, the Oral, the Schizoid, and the Rigid.  This week I’ll introduce you to the Psychopath body and character type, the 5th and fnal main type.

The Psychopath, or Challenger, structure is most often triangular – broad shoulders, puffed out chest, narrow hips. Like Superman, or even Wonder Woman.

The main issue with the Challenger is trust: where their self-expression as a child was either not enough or too much, resulting in being put down or idealized. As with the other character types, parents do this unintentionally for the most part, but done during a given developmental period, it will likely result in the child armoring themselves in a particular way – in this case, by way of the Challenger. This child learns quickly to produce a false self that is designed to please others and manipulate them, and never or rarely reveal their true self.  The Challenger is the one with his back to wall, in a position to survey all who enter.

At his worst, he truly is a characature, puffed up in self-protection and self-importance. At his best, he is a natural leader, and if he is able to learn how to trust and reveal his true self, is a positive influence on any group he belongs to.

For the past few weeks, I’ve introduced Character Structures very briefly. If you find this series interesting, and want to know more, I along with my friend and colleague Jane Mactinger will be holding a workshop on Character Structures in the near future.  Stay tuned for a date and time.

 

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .

The ugliest phrase in the world – I’m Fine

I regularly watch, read and listen to a lot of videos, blog posts and audios every week, and came across one that talked about the phrase “I’m fine” (see below). I related: I have personally used it for most of my adult life.

“I’m fine”, I say when I don’t want to talk about something that clearly disturbs me. “I’m fine” when I want to push through some project and don’t want to have to explain myself. “I’m fine” when I want to be left alone to lick some wound – old or new.

This might be true for you, too.  Research indicates that only about 20% of us mean it when we say “I’m fine”; and almost 60% of us expect the answer to “How are you feeling?” as “I’m fine” to be a lie.  We all know it, and still continue to do it.

Mel Robins believes we start by lying to ourselves, because we’ve convinced ourselves we are fine not having what we want. “I’m fine. I lost my job, but it’s hard to get a decent job these days.”

Here’s the reality: we’re only really fine when we are getting what we want, and it’s up to us to make it happen.  Usually, the thing that will make that happen is a change.  Change is hard – it’s way easier to veg out in front of TV instead of finding another job, and a job that you really want. It’s way easier staying with whatever is familiar, even if it sucks, than make the change that will get you what you want.

Robins argues that among the basic needs we all have – food, water, shelter, is exploration, and that staying with what is familiar – staying in inertia – starves us of this basic need.  To get out of inertia and into exploration takes action, which is gong to be hard.

She suggests that we do one thing the next time we find ourselves drifting into inertia. She calls it the 5-second rule.  Our mind can process very quickly, and science knows that if you don’t marry an impulse with an action within 5 seconds, you will fall back into inertia.  The problem isn’t that we don’t have any ideas, but that we don’t act on them.

So today and tomorrow, do this: At lease once today and tomorrow, when you get an idea, act on it within 5 seconds. Write something down, call someone, get up instead of remaining sitting. Whatever you do, do something and turn that impulse into action. Then take a moment to see what’s different in your life.

Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over – Mel Robins

 Quote of the Week
The trick to forgetting the big picture is to look at everything close-up. The shortcut to closing a door is to bury yourself in the details. This is how we must look to God. As if everything’s just fine.
― Chuck Palahniuk

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

The Rigid Character Structure

rigid character In the first part of the 20th century, Austrian Psychoanalist Wilhelm Reich developed a theory explaining how we respond both physically and emotionally to the challenges we meet in life, especially in early life.   For the past few weeks, I’ve introduced you, in broad terms, to Character Structures in general, and to the Masochist, or Endurer, the Oral, and the Schizoid.  This week I’ll introduce you to the Rigid body and character type.

The Rigid structure is sometimes depicted as square, or rectangular: squared shoulders, straight back. Somewhat military. When I try to imagine a rigid stance, I imagine someone like General Montromery, or Spock.

The main issue with the Rigid is early control: of being exploited by (usually) one parent – often unawares – to fulfill that parent’s own needs.  The father, for instance, who insists his son follow in his footsteps, or become a doctor, or go to a particular school – regardless of the child’s wishes and needs.  The child finds that they must swallow this parent’s beliefs, whether he believes them himself. To do so, he learns to separate his own feelings from his thoughts, developing a “stiff upper lip”, calmy and effectively doing what’s needed, regardless of what he may be feeling.

The Rigid, in separating feelings from beliefs, may find himself in dry long-term relationships and passionnate short-term ones, never reconciling his emotional needs with his life goals.  He’s the person who needs different partners for sex and for love.

At their best, the Rigid person is the righteous, clear-headed thinker. Reliable. Organized. Thorough. (And the best of all character types, according to my Rigid friend.)

The primary challenge for the Rigid is to learn to recognize, and then trust, his own beliefs and feelings.

Next week, I’ll introduce the Psychopath, or Challenger character Type.  If you find this series interesting, and want to know more, I along with my friend and colleague Jane Mactinger will be holding a workshop on Character Structures in the near future.  Stay tuned for a date and time.

 

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .

Turning off the negative, turning on the positive

Isn’t it amazing how, in a room of 200, I’ll focus on that one person in the third row at the left who is clearly bored with what I’m saying. Marie Forleo talks about this in a recent broadcast. It isn’t only me, it’s a wired-in trait of humans in general called Negativity Bias.

Negativity Bias, according to Wikipedia, refers to the idea that even with things of equal intensity, those that are negative will impact us more than those that are positive.  The theory is that noticing the negative is a survival trait that helps us attend to anything potentially life-threatening.  It makes sense to me. That that guy in the third row isn’t threatening my life; it just seems like it to my fragile sense of self.
There’s a lot of good advice in googleland dealing with the impact of negative bias. Here are three that work – every time – for me:

  • Switch your focus.  When you notice you’re focusing on that one person, deliberately search out another person who is engaged with you. Not an easy thing to do, especially given our brains are wired to not do this.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t override the wired-in. By understanding what’s happening, we can inject a little distance between our perception of the event and our response. Even if we don’t achieve a full turn-around, we can at least lessen the bad feeling. It takes work to see the upside when you’ve seen the downside, but you can do it; and the more you do it the more habitual this becomes.
  • Practice positive self-talk. It may be that you really misread your audience, or you suddenly feel ill and need to finish.  It may be one of those days where everything goes wrong, and you really do suck. We all have days and times like that. If this happens to you, first of all, know that you’re not alone. And then become your own positive audience: this is the best you can do right now. Then take yourself out for a soothing tea and desert afterwards, celebrating the challenging occasion.  After all, what’s the alternative?  Slinking to a dark corner and licking your wounds? Accept the situation for what it is, and more on.
  • Learn from it.  The reason we have this automatic response that makes the negative focal is to make our world safer. So use it: if you can, find out if the person you thought was bored with you would be interested in sharing what was going on for them.  This is something that requires tact and thoughtfulness on your part. After all, he doesn’t have to say anything – it’s to your benefit if he does. You might even discover that his response was different from what you were thinking, creating an opening for a genuine and contactful conversation.

Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

Getting Stuck in the Negatives

Quote of the Week
When someone tells me ‘No’, it doesn’t mean I can’t do it, it simply means I can’t do it with them.
-Karen Miller

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

The Schizoid Character Structure

schizoid

In the first part of the 20th century, Austrian Psychoanalist Wilhelm Reich developed a theory explaining how we respond both physically and emotionally to the challenges we meet in life, especially in early life.   For the past few weeks, I’ve introduced you, in broad terms, to Character Structures in general, and to the Masochist, or Endurer, and to the Oral.  This week I’ll introduce you to the Schizoid body and character type.

The Schizoid structure is disjointed: one shoulder higher than the other, for instance; the person who has this structure is often much stronger, physically, than they look.

The main issue with the Schizoid is early rejection.  This differs from feeling abandoned (like the Oral): the Oral knows her parents love her but have abandoned her; the Schizoid doesn’t know this and feels rejected by her caregivers. Alone and afraid in a world they never made.  As with the Oral, the parents of the Schizoid may have done something unawares that created this lack for their baby, and sometimes it’s overt – like when the baby is the product of a rape. Covert or overs, the end result is that the child has a felt sense of not being wanted, and not having a safe place in this new and scary world.

The Schizoid is inwardly anxious, and armors herself in a way that protects whatever she feels is being attacked in that moment; as a result, the schizoid will tend to pull inward, away from her extremeties. To the external world she shows a calm demeanor; while inwardly she is trembling.

At their best, the Schizoid person is the visionary, able to see beyond the every-day mundane to the bigger picture. Creative and well-grounded, she is connected to her surroundings in multiple ways. The only true multi-tasker.

The primary challenge for the Schizoid is to learn to love herself – and know she belongs.

Next week, I’ll introduce the Rigid character Type.  If you find this series interesting, and want to know more, I along with my friend and colleague Jane Mactinger will be holding a workshop on Character Structures in the near future.  Stay tuned for a date and time.

 

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .

3 Secrets of Success

In North America, both in the US and in Canada (and – really – the world over), earning a good living, having a house, paying for your kid’s education, saving for retirement – all the things we all thought we’d be doing when we grew up – is no longer all that attainable for over 90% of us.  It may seem like it when you look at the number of house purchases. But if you dig even a tiny bit deeper, the real cost of getting that house shows up. In Toronto, we call it being “house poor”, because every cent you make goes into paying down the mortgage. For years. In fact, mortgages are routinely generated over 25 or 30 years, because otherwise it would be impossible to hold one.  This, along with student loans and other debts, generate huge debt loads that tie us down to whatever jobs we can get. Until we’re old.

I’ve talked about this before in The Wisdom of Insecurity. It’s one of the drivers for the tiny home movement: finding ways to shed that debt load and attain the freedom to do what you truly want to do. You might dream of winning the lottery, or making it big in business, spending thousands on the few coaches who have made it big in the hope that it’ll happen for you, too.  Sadly, I suspect that mostly isn’t true.

So, what is the answer? Making it big? Or not?  Either way, the reason for wanting to try is because you – like me – probably want to live a happy and fulfilling life.

If you could have that life, with or without a lot of money – wouldn’t that feel like success?  It would for me. The older I get, the more I value my health and the health and well-being of my loved ones. The more I value living in a community of happy and contented people.  Money, as long as my basic needs are taken care of, matters less and less to me.

What is success?  According to the online dictionary, it’s the accomplishment of one’s goals.  That is a kind of success. But life success – feeling successful and happy life, is more than that: it’s accomplishing the goals that mean a lot to us.  Richard St. John in his Ted Talk (below) lists 8 secrets that he gleaned from successful people.

I believe these 8 things can be narrowed down to 3:

  1. Passion: Passion for whatever it is you’re doing means that you’ll happily do whatever it takes to get it done. Passion will get you through the mistakes, inevitable failed attempts, criticisms, and dark nights. Working at something that you’re not passionate about is work. Doing something you love is fun – not work. It may be that you’re not sure if you’re passionate enough in what you want to do right now.  That’s OK – do it until something else takes over. There is no ultimate answer to what you should pursue – only that you love doing it.
  2. Focus: You may think this is a no-brainer, but believe me, doing what you love can be terrifying. All the nay-sayers, the bills, the lost security can make it really hard to focus on what’s truly important.  When I feel stuck, it’s always because I’m sitting in fear, where there are a lot of inner voices telling me that I’m not good enough, that I’m going to fail, that this is a stupid idea.  Then I distract myself with anything else so that I don’t have to feel that terror, ultimately wasting my time on what doesn’t matter.  If this happens to you, having a friend to talk to can help. And if that isn’t an option, try this: take your worst fear – say it’s “No matter what I do, I’m going to fail” – and turn it around to something that gives your heart a lift – like “No matter what I do, I’m going to win” (because in the long run, that’s what’s going to happen).  Use this turn-around whenever you begin to feel that fear, as a way to regain your focus.
  3. Love: This may seem corny, but honestly, if your feeling of love and good will towards yourself and others doesn’t increase with what you’re doing, then it probably won’t be sustainable.  Because without this kind of love, how can there be happiness.

Having said all that, if you want the added bonus of financial success, go for it! But first, go after your heart’s desire, because without that, money isn’t going to do it.
Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

Richard St. John – 8 Secrets of Success success

Quote of the Week

Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.

– Maya Angelou

 

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

The Oral Character Structure

Oral Character Structure

In the first part of the 20th century, Austrian Psychoanalist Wilhelm Reich developed a theory explaining how we respond both physically and emotionally to the challenges we meet in life, especially in early life.   For the past few weeks, I’ve introduced you, in broad terms, to Character Structures in general, and to the Masochist, or Endurer.  This week I’ll introduce you to the Oral body and character type.

The Oral  structure is characterized as rounded: rounded shoulders, rounded breasts and hips. Often, an oral is generous in their proportions, but not always.  In the diagram above, you can see that the Oral body type very often holds themselves so that their chest is concave.

The main issue with the Oral is early abandonment. It might have been because they were born prematurely, or that their mother was ill, or any number of reasons; the end result is that the child felt abandoned and developed a neediness from that point onward for the connection they missed as a young infant.

Neediness isn’t something that’s encouraged in our society, so the Oral will often over-compensate for this need, they becone super independent, and the caregivers of others – giving to others what they crave from others.

At their best, the Oral person is the nurturer –  Earth Mother or Earth Father. Open-hearted and truly generous to others.  They tend to see things differently from the rest of us – a refreshing change and valuable addition to any group or team.

The primary challenge of the Oral is to learn to nurture themselves – to learn true self-dependence. When they are trudy self-dependent, any service they do for others is solely from their heart and not invested in developing dependencies form others.

Next week, I’ll introduce the Schizoid character Type.  If you find this series interesting, and want to know more, and I along with my friend and colleague Jane Mactinger will be holding a workshop on Character Structures in the near future.  Stay tuned for a date and time.

 

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .

The secret to building trust and never feeling alone again

After waiting 20 minutes on the line for a customer service rep to get back to me, the line suddenly goes dead.  When I call back, and after re-stating all the preliminaries – my name, email address, phone number, and what the issue is, I end up getting bumped to someone else. After restating everything again, I’m told it isn’t something they deal with, and they end the call. I know it is something they deal with, so if I have time to do it all over again, I try another time, hoping to get someone else who is more responsive.

Have you ever experienced this?

Probably – it’s more common that anyone would like. All I really needed from that rep were words like r “That sucks, would you mind holding for a few minutes while I see what I can do?” (and then after a few minutes get back to me with an update).  I know before I call that my problem might not be fixed the way I’d like, but knowing the person at the other end is doing their best leaves me feeling that person cares, and I end up trusting that they will follow through.

Seth Godin talks about how hard it is to build trust, and how easy to destroy it:  All it takes is a moment –  a few thoughtless words, “a heartless broken promise, a lack of empathy”  – and the trust is gone.

As a therapist and coach, building trust is all-important. I go to great lengths to let my clients know that they are stepping into a safe space with me.  Without that security, there’s no way they can do their work. I also know how easy it is to break that trust with a thoughtless word or gesture.

The way to build trust – and to break it – is simple.  When I care about the person in front of me, I build trust; when I don’t care, I break it.

This holds true for the customer service rep, the owner of the local dry cleaner, the banker, our financial advisor – even the mailman.  It also holds true for our close relationships.

John Gottman steps through what makes intimate relationships either what he calls “master” or “disaster” relationships. In a relationship that works – a “master” relationship –  the two people show, in various ways, that they care for the other person.  They do this by listening, by keeping a space open for them, by being gentle in their approach. In relationships that are “disasters”, the two people show they don’t care mostly because they feel defensive and are so busy protecting themselves that they haven’t the capacity to care.

At this point, it’s interesting to see the way we relate to another as the way we relate to ourselves – that whoever is in front of us is in an important way a mirror of ourselves.  If we show contempt towards that mirror, what we’re really doing is showing contempt for ourselves.  When we care for that person in the mirror, we care for ourselves.

And so, the next time you find yourself about to yell at that neglectful customer service rep, try this: take a moment and a few deep breaths, and then mirror some genuine care for their lives. And see what happens.

Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

Simon Sinek – Why good leaders make you feel safe

building trust

Quote of the Week
When people cared about each other, they always found a way to make it work.
– Nicholas Sparks

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