Archive: Newsletter

We belong to the World

The world doesn’t belong to you. You belong to the world. -Indigenous saying

I came across this quote a day after hearing of another dispute between different groups of people with different agendas. The dispute involved moving into a part of a national park and mining it.  This would mean less room for the animals already there, and a probable loss of regional flora.  Even more than this, it all rests on the assumption that we humans own that land. That the land is there for our benefit, and all other life must accommodate this.

As we take over more land, encroaching on more wild habitat, there are increasing clashes between people and other animals in the region.  When I was a child, I was taught that the animal had to pay for any of these clashes.  As an adult, I know better.

There are an estimated 7.5 billion people on Earth today.  That’s really impossible to fathom.  Even if we try to come up with a figure for available land it makes little sense, unless we assume that no other plant or animal has needs that don’t include us.  Yet, it’s well known that animals avoid people because we are so dangerous. Most animals couldn’t live in close proximity to us.

So what’s the answer? The answer has to include all life, along with the recognition that we as human beings belong to the world, and not the reverse.  That we bear responsibility for the welfare of the world and all Nature. With this in mind, I believe it’s entirely possible to develop ways of living that bring harmony instead of contention.  We can all take less space and be more mindful of how we live. We can become familiar with the flora and fauna in our area, along with their needs, in order to accommodate those needs in anything we do.

One step at a time, we can begin to educate ourselves and contribute to the welfare of our planet.

***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.

Nature is Speaking

Quote of the Week
A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. ― Albert Einstein

 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 power of a power statement

I can do this!” She said, walking in.

What’s more empowering: “What did I do wrong this time!” or “I can do this!”? The first makes me want to hide away somewhere and lick my wounds; the second fills me with energy and confidence. The first focuses only on my perceived weaknesses and helplessness; the second focuses on my strengths.

“What did I do wrong this time!” is an example of what shamans call a Pretender Voice; “I can do this!” is an example of a Power Statement, or Commander Voice.

The idea of power statements are used by career counsellors to help a person present themselves to a potential employer in the most powerful light.  But long before that, they were taught to people by shamans to help them take back their power whenever they felt powerless, at the effect of something they had no control over. Power statements can be used to mask – as in the first instance – or to energize – as in the second.

I don’t mean to imply that all power statements used to impress others necessarily mask, but the focus is on impacting others, not ourselves; in that way it can be used to protect ourselves from others.  If this is the case, then in reality we don’t feel empowered, we feel weak, needing to hide behind a wall we make.

Power statements used to empower ourselves must be true, must be positive, and energizing to work. The thing about Pretender Voices is that, even though they feel overwhelmingly true at the time we voice them, they aren’t true. They’re false!  “What did I do wrong this time!” can indicate that we feel small with someone who we think knows more than we do.

Pretender Voices almost always hold a grain of truth, but become lies because of our focus on them: “This is never going to work!” might indicate that I’ve been through this before and expect the worst so thoroughly that it looms very large, as if it’s already happened. That it’s a done deal. We don’t see for what it is – one possibility – and not usually a very big one – out of many future scenarios, that have not already happened.

The truth is that we can choose to focus on something about us that we know is true and makes us feel empowered instead of helpless.  “I can do this!”, or “I can figure this out!”, or any number of true statements about ourselves will do. That’s why learning to find and then using our own Power Statement can effectively get us from a feel-bad to a feel-good place in a matter of seconds.

Do you know what your Power Statement is? If not, here’s a way of discovering it.

  • Close your eyes, take a few long and deep breaths; then think back to a recent time when you felt helpless and weak.  Remember the circumstances. Then see if you can recall what you were saying to yourself at the time; what your self-judgments were. Open your eyes and write these words down.  Notice how you feel when you feel powerless.
  • Now look at the words you wrote down and ask yourself: are these words really true about me now? Are they about me, or about what I see as my worst fear coming true? Are they about my capabilities in a given situation or about others that I have no control over? Discover how, in fact, they aren’t true but at the least, heavily skewed towards focusing on your weaknesses or worst fears.
  • Once you see the actual truth of these Pretender Statements, close your eyes once more, taking a few deep breaths. Then imagine the presence of a person you admire, or a storybook hero or heroine, or the strong and real part of yourself stepping up.  What words would you imagine they would use?  “You can do this!” “You’ve got what it takes!” “You can figure this out!” “I believe in you because you’re strong!”

What words ring true for you? How do they make you feel?  If they make you feel energized and positive, then those words are your Power Statement. Once you have it, write it down and paste it everywhere so that you learn to see it wherever you go; every time you begin to hear that Pretender Voice inside your head, say your Power Statement out loud. Until it’s there whenever you need it.

Stacey Kramer – The best gift I ever survived

power
Quote of the Week
The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.
― Coco Chanel
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

Modern living – Online

My laptop broke several weeks ago.  After trying everything I could to fix it myself, I finally had to send it away for three weeks, finding a much older standalone PC to use in the interim. I expected that it would be inconvenient having to use something that wasn’t portable and that was very limited and relatively slow.  What I didn’t expect was how incredibly lost I’d feel.

With the loss of my portable PC went also my routine of meeting up for coffee with friends and working alongside them, of walking every day to meet them, of knowing where all my important files were and being able to access them, of conversing with and connecting to my online world with ease and at any time.

I felt I’d lost my independence and began to feel powerless, at the effect of “old ways”.

Within a week, I was a mess: I spent hours trying to get the older PC to do what it couldn’t; I felt isolated and miserable; I gained weight. In short, I felt lost. I remember a short series that Oprah did inviting families to live without smartphones and TV for a week, and having to have at least one meal together every day. It would typically take them a week to adjust: at first they resented it and felt much like I did; then they began to like the change.

Well, I never liked the change. Most of my business is online – I see many of my clients online. But the one thing I really appreciated from this experience was how pretty much all of us are completely dependent on online.  It is simply part of our everyday lives.

Imagine for a moment what the continent of North America would be like – emotionally – if all laptops and smartphones stopped working. Oh I know – there are going to be some doubting Thomases out there who really believe they’d be fine.  To you, I challenge you to try it! Try living without all convenient online access for 2 weeks. This isn’t about planning a vacation away from technology – it’s about carrying on your ordinary day without it.

I agree with so many of you that we are too dependent on modern online technology. And yet it’s convenience is something we probably can’t simply eliminate: our entire world, including communications and how we work depends on it.  But perhaps we can do something that would help us become more independent of it.

  • Set your priorities, making one of them online free time. Every morning I highlight three things that must be a part of my day. One of them is getting outside.  I recall a friend telling me a story of her visit to a famous Chinese garden in Beijing: it was Spring and the park was filled with people enjoying the cherry blossoms.  There was a lake and people could enjoy the lake using paddle boats.  She recalled one such boat passing by that was filled with young women –  every one of then with their eyes glued to their smartphones. The setting of that story could be anywhere these days, but it isn’t only youth – it’s all of us. We can chose to deliberately spend time in Nature with no online connection for an hour or two.
  • Build in redundancy. This is a disaster recovery principle that might save you a lot of grief. It isn’t hard to do and doesn’t take a lot of time to maintain, although it may take you some time to build. Make a list of contacts and procedures that you need to have in the event that your online access crashes; then develop a process of storing or printing off that information periodically so that you have it in a non-technical form if you need it.  I do something similar with my living situation – have the bare essentials that I would need to support myself if I were to lose electricity for a week or two.  This kind of preparation can eliminate worry, if you take the time to maintain it.
  • Practice mindfulness.  I say this for so many things. It’s really the best way to learn to accept what is – not what we can do something about, but what we can’t do anything about.  Developing a daily mindfulness practice helps us deal relatively calmly with whatever comes our way.

In today’s modern living, I don’t believe we can go back to the way we lived prior to online technology without pretty severe consequences.  But we can gain a level of independence that makes us less a slave to it, or to anything else.

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, but most often is not referenced in part 1 (it offers a different point of view); the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy all three parts.

Sherry Turkle: Connected, but Alone?

ted
Quote of the Week
Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we’re too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone.
-Steven Spielberg
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

Make Visible your Shining

Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.

-Robert Bresson

I spent time with a dear friend of mine today – Jane Mactinger.  She’s a Shamanic Healer – unique in her own way, and very powerful. One of the things we talked about was becoming visible. So many of us – Jane and I included, shy away from making what we shine in visible to all around us, fearing we might offend someone.  Even deeper, fearing we might be exposed as some kind of phoney, even though, for people like Jane and myself, we have more than enough credentials and training to back anything we claim. Perhaps it’s more a Canadian thing, but I know there are a lot of us out there – in hiding.

I listened to Martha Beck recently talk about self healing, and in her talk she mentioned the name for Hawaiian healers – Way Finders.  When children show a natural talent as healers, these children are trained in navigation, and eventually earn the title of Way Finder.  When I heard that, I knew what I was, because that’s exactly what I teach – how to find your unique way to live a life filled with joy. My training in Gestalt and other psychotherapeutic modalities, my studies in ancient philosophy, my training in shamanic healing techniques and ways, and my experience in being what so many of my clients strive to become – uniquely qualify me for that title. And yet, I hesitated in applying that term to myself.

Then I listened to many others, and read the above quote, and realized that I, along with Jane and so many others, are depriving not only ourselves but also others by remaining hidden in the bushes of false modesty.

Each of us has something only we can offer the world, and in openly offering it, we can’t help but enrich ourselves and our community.  If you’re not yet sure what yours is, try this:

  • What brings you joy? Find a place where you can safely explore this question without interruption. It may be your own space in your home, or it may be a park where you can walk and explore. Once you’re there, close your eyes for a few breaths and let go of the day, the week, of anything that might distract you. Then, begin to remember times where you were happy, content.  There’s a shamanic tequnique called recapitulation, where you begin by noticing how your body feels when you experience a certain memory; then you travel back to the last time you felt that physical sensation, recalling the event that went along with it; then the time before that, and so on, until you can’t remember any others. In this instance, begin by noticing how you physically feel when you experience joy – a warmth in your belly, and sense of rising or lightness – whatever it is, take note of it. Then begin recapitulating all the times when you experienced that feeling – what you were doing, where you were, who you were with, etc.. All the things that made up that event, learning the kinds of things that bring you joy.
  • Make joy a priority. Now that you have more knowledge of what brings you joy, make a commitment that you will make this experience a daily priority. It doesn’t have to be big, or take long.  I love sitting quietly every morning with a coffee, watching the morning unfold.  This simple pleasure brings me joy and sets my mood for the rest of the day. I make sure that, no matter what else happens that day, I do something that brings me joy.
  • Make it real. Bring it into your life, starting today. You might be surprised how this simple change will begin to re-color your life.

I want to mention how this newsletter is structured, because I’ve discovered some confusion with some of my readers.  The 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, but most often is not referenced in part 1 (it offers a different point of view); the third is a quote. I hope this eliminates the confusion, and that you enjoy all three parts.

Earth, Wind and Fire – Shining Star

 

Quote of the Week
You’re a shining star
No matter who you are
Shining bright to see
What you could truly be (what you could truly be)
-Earth, Wind & Fire – Shining Star
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

Intimacy

Before I begin, I want to mention how this newsletter is structured, because I’ve discovered some confusion with some of my readers.  The 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, but most often is not referenced in part 1 (it offers a different point of view); the third is a quote. I hope this eliminates the confusion, and that you enjoy all three parts.

I want to begin and end today with two quotes from Martha Beck on intimacy. The first is:
Remember, intimacy increases with honesty. Share less to keep people away and more to draw them closer.

It may seem obvious – at least the first part – but so often we end up not saying what’s on our minds. To protect our friend; to protect ourselves; to protect our family. At least, that’s what I say to myself when I hide some part of the truth.  But really, it’s more complicated than that – and much more simple.  It’s complicated because, while I may be protecting someone, I’m also afraid – of ridicule, of making someone upset, of getting hurt.  And that’s the deep-down simple truth of it – because deep down, I’m afraid of getting hurt.

So I hide away, protecting my fragile ego behind politeness, authority, absent-mindedness, distraction – anything that will prevent a possible confrontation. And a possible painful moment. I’m not always like this. For me, it’s when I expect to be ignored or talked down to. For you, it might be a different reason, like feeling rejected, or abandoned, or even manipulated or controlled.  Whatever the reason, most of us avoid being honest at times with people in our lives who don’t deserve it.

It takes courage to be ourselves all the time, and there is a huge payoff: true intimacy.
Here are three things you can do the next time you’re temped to hide behind a front rather than be honest with a loved one:

  • Take a breath and notice how you feel. There’s always a feeling that accompanies our desire to hide.  Mine is a tightness in my chest just below my Adam’s Apple. It tells me that I’m afraid, and I have an urgent desire to protect myself. This is what my fear feels like and I’ve learned to recognize it.
  • Take another breath and take charge.  That part of us that is in fear is very young and, just as with any child, needs reassurance from a responsible adult that they are safe because the adult is with them.  We need our conscious selves – our inner adult – to take charge, knowing that – with rare exceptions – there is nothing actually life-threatening out there. And the only way that can happen with any success is if our inner child feels safe and in good hands.
  • Take a third breath and act. Once our inner child and adult are in sync, we are able to act from a calm, considerate and mature place; from a place of intimacy and empowerment.
Pema Chödrön – Fear and Fearlessness

 

Quote of the Week
Conflict in close relationships is not only inevitable, it’s essential. Intimacy connects people who are inevitably different. -Martha Beck

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

Time enough for courtesy

Imagine this:  You’re standing in line at the bank. These days, because almost everything is done online or at ATM’s, standing in line at the bank can be very long and tedious, because no one stands in line unless they have something complicated to do.  You begin to fidget, thinking about the list of to-do’s for the day that probably won’t get done if you stand there much longer. You’ve been there for what seems like an hour, and finally feel you might reach the teller in another 15 minutes, when someone enters, looking harried, and cuts in front of you.  This person is loaded down with ledger books, cheques and cash bulging from a number of pockets.  Not a quick service.

What do you do?  You might feel shocked and say something like: Excuse me, the end of the line is behind that 10th person! You might feel outraged and simply move in front of them, leaving it to the person behind you to deal with it. Or you might take a breath and have a talk with him or her to discover what’s going on.

I’ve done all three at different times. From my personal experience, only the third alternative leaves me feeling good and at peace.  No matter how rushed I am, not taking time to consider the other person never pays off.

So easy to say – and agree to. So hard to do when we’re rushed. Therefore. I have a challenge for you: next time you’re rushed, no matter what you’re doing or where you are, set your watch and take 10 minutes to do nothing.

Time Passing – Stephen Wilkes

time

Quote of the Week
Life is not so short but that there is always time enough for courtesy.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

 

 

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

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

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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

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