Archive: Anger and Depression

It’s so easy to keep us quiet

It’s so easy to keep us quiet – all we have to do is want something badly and believe that we aren’t worthy of it, somehow.

If you hurt someone and can’t forgive yourself. Or were sure of yourself until you made a big mistake. Or are afraid of letting your parents down by failing in some way.

This deep-down feeling of unworthiness might show up as perfectionism, or it might show up as hiding, or of being cowed down. I’ve felt it: I let a bully dictate terms to me for almost 9 years, after making a big mistake and having to start over.  I’d been so sure of myself before that, then had the bad luck of letting someone who didn’t respect me dictate terms. It cowed me.

Then, when I came to appreciate what happened, it took a while to come to terms with the loss – of years, and joy, and even health.

You might be a perfectionist, or in hiding, or even cowed.  It isn’t because you made a mistake – mistakes are part of learning. It’s because you learned to feel unworthy, deep-down. And that has to go.

It any of what I’ve written speaks to you, if it’s even a little familiar, then you might be feeling embarrassed and ashamed. That’s what kept me quiet. But it’s false. Here’s what you can do to shake off that false feeling – the feeling that’s been holding you hostage:

  • It’s a lie. It’s a lie that you’re unworthy, and anyone helping you feel that way is the one who is truly unworthy. Acknowledge the truth instead of the lie – that you are worthy and always have been.

 

  • Feel the rage. In shamanism I was taught that rage is the teacher of truth. Once you recognize the lie, and the truth, you will feel rage. And along with that rage, you will begin to reclaim your truth.

 

  • Question and confront. Question anyone who suggests, implies, or even acts like you are unworthy; anyone who demands something of you that isn’t actually worthy of you. Begin to know and appreciate your own worth, and from a stable and grounded place inside you, confront and challenge.  This might look something like: “Please don’t speak to me that way; find some other way to say what you mean”. Or: “This is the best I can do right now”, without apology.

 

  • Be ready to leave a situation or person that won’t acknowledge you as an equal. This can seem hard. But once you claim your own worthiness, it’ll be a lot easier than you think.

 

Shame loves perfectionists

Perfection and stress??

If you’re driven y perfection, then you’re likely also stressed a lot of your life. This kind of stress will lead to burnout. My online program BURNING THE CANDLE AT BOTH ENDS  can help you begin to change that.

 
Registration is now open for October. Register Now!

Quote of the Week

“Perfectionism is not the same thing has striving to be your best. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement, and shame. It’s a shield. It’s a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from flight.”

― Brené Brown - how do I do this again to tag the blue dot people?

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Blog: In case you missed it, here’s my latest blog.

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

Hard talks

 

I’m conflict-averse. How about you? My dear friend, Andy, says he’s conflict-averse, but I don’t know anyone who deals with conflict and confrontation better than he does. When confronted with a conflict, he’s always available, fair-minded, and to the point. And what happens is that the conflict dissappears.

I’m talking about those times when you either keep quiet and sit on something that bothers you, or speak up and bear the consequences.  You might imagine the consequences will be big and painful, and that will keep you quiet. Then feel bad because you didn’t speak up. And, to compound the bad feeling, end up berating yourself for being such a coward.

Sometimes it’s true, the consequences are as bad as you imagine. But not always, and there are ways of mitigating them. It could be that you’re right in what you believe, but not great at effectively managing the confrontation, or being respectful of the other person.

Dr. Deborah Plummer, author of “Some of My Friends re…”, spoke recently at a Psychology gathering on conflict management. She advocates that when the goal is to reach a mutually acceptable conclusion, it might be better to opt for being effective and respectful instead of right.

Here are some of her examples: When the other person is…

  • Racist in some way, she suggests that you approach them with curiosity, looking for common values rather than blaming and shaming;
  • Not well-informed, focus on gathering common facts and testing assumptions (theirs and yours) instead of trying to “educate” them;
  • Being authoritarian, respond as an adult (rational) instead of a child-like (dependent) position, in order to shift the dynamic;
  • Demonstrates bad logic or bad thinking, recognize that you aren’t going to be able to change that, and move on with grace.

With every one of these examples, there is a common factor – maintaining your own inner balance and openness to the other. Once closed, none of us can deal well with conflict.

 

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To sign up for my insider newsletter, click here.  If you find it doesn’t work for you, all you have to do to unsubscribe is click on the link at the bottom of the newsletter.

Looking forward to welcoming you to my growing list of insiders!

Maryanne

 

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 .

Being vulnerable – what does it really mean?

 

Listening to Krista Tippett  being interviewed (for a change). The topic was Vulnerability.

Her point, when asked about her own vulnerability, was that it is ever-present. Otherwise, why all the many studies that continue on this topic?

It’s something we learn to hide at an early age – that’s why we armor. Something that we protect the most. Something that we know is precious, and that we therefore treat as fragile.

I know I do at times. I can become highly protective of my own vulnerability whenever I’m with someone I don’t trust, or who I feel is attacking me.  What I tend to do is to attack back. It’s a natural response: one of two that we have at our disposal when feeling threatened.

My challenge – and I suspect this is true for may of you – is to learn to treat my own vulnerability as powerful, and not fragile. So that when I feel threatened, I can still show that I’m vulnerable – can still show the tender parts – and know, deep down, that I am safe.

 

Announcements

If you like this blog, you’ll also like my newsletters for a sample. It’s written only for my insiders who sign up, and provides weekly insights, not only from me, but from others I admire.

To sign up for my insider newsletter, click here.  If you find it doesn’t work for you, all you have to do to unsubscribe is click on the link at the bottom of the newsletter.

Looking forward to welcoming you to my growing list of insiders!

Maryanne

 

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 into a wilted flowed from burnout

burnout

I have a dream. And today I’m discouraged and disheartened because my efforts in realizing that dream aren’t going as well as I’d like.  It’s so hard sometimes: spending hours that I thought were going to be minutes on one task after another, then discovering a flaw and starting over.  Those are just the every-day issues.  The worst thing that gets in my way is me: my own discouragement, my own loss of faith that I can do this.

This isn’t the first time I’ve felt like this, and it won’t be the last.  I haven’t given up on my dream, and honestly, don’t see that I will. I know there are a lot of people out there just like me, and I hope that what I say next will help you, as it helped me.

I have to remind myself on days like today that how I feel right now will pass, if I let it. And I ‘let it” by taking care of myself in every way. I keep putting one foot in front of the other, I get clear on what’s important, and I find ways of de-stressing and maintaining faith in myself.

Sounds simple. We all know it isn’t.

But it works. I know.

My online workshop on Burning the Candle at Both Ends is starting this October. Click here if you’re interested in learning about it.

Beating the Odds

There are many kinds of disasters. Some life-shattering, most not life-shattering. Those that are truly awful aren’t usually the kind we can predict or avoid. The rest usually are.

Like driving down a major highway in traffic, wearing white and eating cherries.

I did exactly that 5 days ago. My thinking went like this: You know this could be disastrous.  But it’s OK.  I’ll be careful.  Well, the inevitable happened … I wasn’t careful enough.

I predicted it. I could have avoided it easily. I didn’t, instead convincing myself that I could beat the odds. This time.

I take silly risks like this every day, filling the void created from avoiding worry or boredom with something that brings excitement and distraction.

How would my day be different if, instead, I acknowledged my worry or boredom, and truly nourished my spirit?

 

Announcements

If you like this blog, you’ll also like my newsletter. It’s written only for my insiders who sign up, and provides weekly insights, not only from me, but from others I admire.

To sign up for my insider newsletter, click here.  If you find it doesn’t work for you, all you have to do to unsubscribe is click on the link at the bottom of the newsletter.

Looking forward to welcoming you to my growing list of insiders!

Maryanne

 

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 .

Bullying and moving beyond

Bullying

You might have heard of Lizzie Valasquez, a motivational speaker and author. Lizzie suffers from a rare congenital disease that makes her stand out, whether she wants to or not. In her latest book Dare to be Kind, she talks, among other things, about bullying.

Even when she was a young child, people would sometimes react negatively to her physical appearance.  As young as 5 years old, she would hear adults comment in hurtful ways about her appearance, unable to understand how they as adults could hurt a child who hadn’t done anything to them. She’d want her parents to righteously protect her, but instead, one of them would approach the adult and say “This is my daughter Lizzie.  Would you like to meet her?”

It took Lizzie a long time to recognize the wisdom behind her parents’ response. Instead of seeing one person as victim and the other as perpetrator, they saw 2 people who needed help in 2 different ways: Their daughter needed to be made visible in a truly supportive way; and the bully needed to be seen for who he or she was in that moment – someone who was hurting.

Only people who are hurting hurt others. The bully lashes out because they’re hurting, and they don’t know how to better handle their pain.

Here’s how to deal effectively with bullying.

  • 2 choices. In this situation, you have only 2 choices: you can choose to ignore the bullying, or you can respond to it. Neither choice is the “right” one, and only you can determine what’s right for you. One suggestion: consider the consequences of your choice.
  • Ignoring it. Is this a battle you really want to fight? If the bullying isn’t extreme, if it’s a one-off situation, or if it’s potentially dangerous, you might consider ignoring it. Putting yourself in physical danger is rarely justified, and there is no shame in turning away if that’s what you need to do.
  • Responding to it. This takes courage, and if done effectively, can end bullying, or at least suppress it. Effectively responding to a bully requires empathy – putting yourself in the shoes of the person you feel is being a bully, because we all have the potential to bully.  If I’m hurt and feel isolated, I’ll respond or react to anything or anyone with, at the very least, caution and self-protection.  If, on the other hand, I feel safe, I’ll be a lot more open to giving others the benefit of the doubt.

A bullying person is a hurt person.  Respecting that they hurt, and at the same time respecting your own needs, may make the difference between a potentially dangerous and explosive encounter and a minor incident.

If you’ve ever been bullied, being empathetic isn’t easy. It’s a personal affront – hurtful, ignorant, abusive and disrespectful. It might help to understand that everything we see, do and say is a reflection of what’s going on inside us. To bully others, we must first bully ourselves.

To move on from being bullied means being able to leave it behind, emotionally and mentally, so that it doesn’t take up any space inside you.  Moving on means that the current encounter, and all future encounters are no longer a problem – that you’ve mastered them.

Choosing to respond to bullying in an empathetic and balanced way is empowering.

 

If you’re interested in knowing about your natural character traits, you might be interested in Discover Your Natural Character.

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 .

Anger: how it helps and how it hurts us

Let me tell you a story that you may know yourself. You’re in the office and hear your manager tearing a strip off a co-worker. The manager is angermeterangry bordering on rage. She seems to have a point, but her attitude toward the co-worker is, in itself, anger-making.

How does this impact you as an unwilling observer? What would you find yourself doing about it?

Some of us would get angry and react by either saying something in anger or avoiding the situation altogether, likely feeling badly about it later. A few of us may get angry and then take it in, responding once we were ready, feeling OK later, if we thought about it at all.

The former reaction hurts us and the second helps us. As Ambrose Bierce said, “Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.”

Anger is a natural and necessary emotion. It’s how we deal with our own anger that determines whether it hurts or helps us. Anger is a natural response to perceived threats. It causes our body to release adrenaline, our muscles to tighten, and our heart rate and blood pressure to increase. Our senses might feel more acute and our face and hands flushed. Anger becomes a problem only when we don’t manage it in a healthy way.

Anger helps us in at least three ways:

  1. Anger protects us when we are in physical danger by kicking in our “fight or flight” response, allowing us to act quickly.
  2. Anger can let us know when something isn’t right and we need to take action. For instance, if a person isn’t listening to us when an important situation arises.
  3. Anger teaches us about what is important to us and about our own bottom lines. For instance, back to the story, is mutual respect in the workplace a bottom line for you?

Next time you get angry, notice how you respond. Begin to appreciate how getting angry, if felt mindfully, can be a powerful teacher in our lives.

 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.

 

Toxic? Moi?

toxic

 

I was inspired to write this from an article I read in Psychology Today (June, 2017) called Poison People. It’s a topic that interests many – being with someone we believe is poisonous is at minimum uncomfortable, and can be difficult. I don’t think anyone’s afraid of being physically hurt by a toxic person, but are afraid of being damaged socially or emotionally.

Poisonous, or toxic, behavior is something we see more and more in the workplace. It can be from narcissism or callousness, but more often it’s from the kind of environment everyone’s in. That environment is one where productivity is the only benchmark of success. This kind of atmosphere nurtures uncertainty and mistrust, divides people and forces everyone to hide behind the psychological armoring of manipulation and turf-protection.

I invite you to read the article.  What interested me as I read it is that all of us – that’s right, you and me – can be – and will probably end up being – toxic if immersed in a toxic environment for very long.

How can we not? If we know that nothing anyone says is straight up, and that the only thing that matters is who gets noticed first, how long will it be before nobody is motivated by anything but fear of not making it, and “making it” will include others not making it.

In today’s work environment, where more and more of us are treading with our noses just above the water line (or not anymore, it just seems that way), this toxic environment can feel like it’s everywhere.  I’ve been to so many networking events lately where there’s this mad rush to hand out cards and spill forth what we do, with little or no interest in what the person we are talking to does or cares about.

Too many of us are scared.  And when we’re scared, we’re in stress response.  When we’re in stress response, it’s actually impossible for us to be present and available for others. And that’s when We – you and I – become toxic.

What can we do individually to clear out the toxin? At least 3 things:

  1. Self-cleaning: it always begins with us. If we’re stressed and/or miserable, then we’re also likely heading in that direction.  And before we can do anything about our surroundings and others, we need to deal with whatever is making us miserable first.  This might mean changing jobs, or discovering what the stress is all about and addressing it.  It might mean seeking help, or joining a self-help group.  Whatever your choice, begin it, because without that first step, nothing else follows.
  2. Be the example. If you find yourself in a toxic environment, and in a position of leadership, then you’re in a great place. Because you have the power to start changing things. It may be that you’ll eventually need to relocate or find another job, but in the meantime, you can become a ray of hope for others. And, what you’ll learn is never lost, and can help you find a better job in a non-toxic place next time.
  3. Engage your empathy. We are all in this together!  If you’ve read this far, then you know what I mean.  Even the worst offender deserves our empathy and understanding (which doesn’t mean caving in and going along with toxicity).

I want, more than anything, to live in a productive world where the people around me are happy and feel fulfilled.  I believe that most of us want that.  And sometimes this means first taking stock of our own part in what we see as the problem.

 

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 .

When it looks like Checkmate, is there another way?

There’s a wonderful description and discussion, written by Glen McDonald, of Friedrich Retzsch’s painting The Chess Players, that is – sadly – published on a non-public website, and is therefore not accessible.

I’ve included an image of this famous painting.

Checkmate

The Chess Players, also commonly called Checkmate,
by Friederich August Moritz Retzsch (1779-1857)

On the board, the white figures represent the virtues of a righteous life, the black figures symbolize temptations. The black side is definitely winning, and is being played by Mephistopheles, or Satan. The white is played by the young man.  He sits in despair, his pieces surrounded and his queen captured.

Retzsch’s inspiration came from Goethe’s Faust. It’s the story of a young doctor who makes a deal with Satan in exchange for adventure. The young man is just at the point of realizing the true cost of his decision.

Notice the details: the chessboard sits on the top slab of a tomb, there’s a large deadly-looking spider crawling onto the board, the angel behind them is looking sad and resigned at the young man.  All is lost.

In the 1800’s, this painting captured the imagination of Rev. R.R. Harrison of Virginia, and he hosted a dinner party with Checkmate as the star player. It was for the benefit of members of a local Chess club. One of the guests was a famous Chess Player – Paul Morphy. Harrison decided to recreate the positions of all the pieces. Harrison thought the devil had won, but Morphy thought differently.

Morphy took on the remaining white pieces, and by the end of the evening, he’d beaten all the other guests, who had taken Satan’s black pieces.

You may find yourself in a similar position – feeling hopeless and defeated, unable to see any light at the end of the tunnel.  You may have made some big mistakes, and feel you sold your soul to the devil. But all is not lost!

If you take the time to find the master inside you, the game isn’t over.

In the video below, the narrator talks of the Lakota story and their desperate circumstances. Comparing their situation to that of the young man in the painting – desperate, feeling hopeless, maneuvered and forced into the situation they’re in by others – it would require an incredible kind of person to climb out of that morass.

And yet, some have. Truly incredible people.

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.

America’s Native Prisoners of War

Quote of the Week
When things go wrong, don’t go with them.
― Elvis Presley

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

Hurt People and Free People

hurt people hurt people and free people free people – anon

I first heard that phrase in an interview with Sarah Jones.  I thought it perfectly captured the dynamics of both sets of people.  When I’m hurting, I’m miserable and all my focus is on my misery. When I’m feeling great, the exact opposite is true: anything that happens during that time is completely workable.  There is nothing that really gets to me.  I’m generous with myself and others, helpful in a real way, and generally positive and energized.

I’m really no different from anyone else in this way.  To prove my point, if you’ve ever wanted something really badly – say, a red VW Beatle (are there any of those outside Mexico anymore?) – then all of a sudden, you will – guaranteed – begin to see an amazing number of red VW Beatles, or at least red cars.  Every time a red car is in your line of vision, it will literally grab your attention.  It’s like being in an auditorium and hearing your name: you may not have heard anything else, but you will hear your name.

Whatever I’m focused on is what I’m going to notice.  So, when I’m miserable, I’ll notice things that make me more miserable.  And even more, I’ll want subconsciously – or even unconsciously – to be with others who are miserable.  That old saying “misery loves company” should really read (as a psych prof of mine once said) “misery loves equally miserable company”.

And, when I’m feeling great, my focus is on that great feeling. And I want everyone around me to feel that great.

It reminds me of what I heard many different inspirational people say: if you’re simply surviving and not thriving, there is no way you can wish anything better on others.  The focus must be solely on survival. I don’t know if this is a law of nature, but it seems so. Sometimes, however, we only feel we are surviving; and simply feeling this will make us act as if that’s all we’re doing: surviving.  There may not be anything we can do when we are truly barely surviving – all our resources really must be focused on survival – but we can do something about our mindset if we’re beyond that point but don’t know it. Like the relative who has a million dollars in the bank but still rummages around garbage bins looking for cast-away produce (yes, I have known people who do this) – not because they believe in not wasting anything, but because they believe they are barely surviving.

For me, the way I got myself out of feeling I was only surviving, was understanding what I was doing to those I cared about.  I was making them as miserable as I felt, without realizing this.  I simply couldn’t help it! As long as I was focused on surviving, this was bound to happen.  For me, that realization snapped me out of the survival mindset, creating a crack in my armor, and I was able to see the truth of my situation.
Today, I don’t have a million dollars in the bank, but I can still feed and shelter myself. I’m careful with my money so that I can use it to live well and happily. Instead I spend a great deal of my time volunteering and finding ways of helping those in my community.

I love what I do, and a big part of why I love it is my focus.

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.

Pastor Rick – Surviving isn’t thriving

hurt people

Quote of the Week

If human beings are perceived as potentials rather than problems, as possessing strengths instead of weaknesses, as unlimited rather than dull and unresponsive, then they thrive and grow in their capabilities.
― Barbara Bush

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