Archive: Newsletter

Turning poison into medicine – honoring the reality of the moment

I create a kind of vision board for myself every year. On it is what I want to happen that year, and how it will happen according to my heart’s desires and my spiritual guides. This year, all of my focus in on creating a successful business doing what I love.  It’s a long-term goal, and I’ve been working at it for a while. That’s the vision that keeps me going daily. How I do it is different – it’s what I need to focus on daily to make that dream manifest.

And this year, that “how” is to focus on and attend to whatever is happening right now.

Herbie Hancock has a great example of this. It’s below, and is a story about how Miles Davis dealt with whatever happened to happen.

One time when he was new to Davis’ band, he made what he saw as a big mistake on the piano. Miles dealt with it by altering the key while playing, so that that “big mistake” became an opportunity for playing something fresh.

It wasn’t until years later that Herbie understood what happened: Miles hadn’t heard a “mistake”; what he heard was an event that he chose to work with. That’s all.

Herbie saw it as Miles’ ability to turn poison into medicine. By accepting what was happening as simply what was happening, Miles was able to work with it; being open to what the event had to offer. It was his own way of being in Beginners’ Mind.

For me, that wonderful story of Herbie’s taught me that there are at least 2 ways of looking at anything that happens: either as a problem or an opportunity. To see it as an opportunity, I first need to be open to that.

No judgment. Simply fresh eyes and an open heart, honoring the reality of the moment.

Herbie Hancock on Miles Davis

Quote of the Week
I believe that every single event in life happens in an opportunity to choose love over fear. ― Oprah Winfrey

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 . 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 .

Know thy enemy and then, know thyself

I finally watched the Borgia series on Netflix.

One of the main characters is Cesare Borgia, eldest son of the future Pope Alexander VI and Vannozza dei Cattanei. The entire family has often been vilified. Some say this was simply part of the times – they weren’t the only family of power like this.

There are many things written about the Borgia family, and about Cesare in particular. Machiavelli based his book The Prince on him. He was seen by Machiavelli and others as a military genius.

Maybe so, but in the process, he used his position and connections to destroy other people’s lives. Lots of other people. It may have been part of the times, but that doesn’t justify his destructiveness and lack of human consideration. And, to be fair, it’s also said that his family also supported minorities who would otherwise have been wiped out.

So, it’s ironic that the writer and creator of this series, Tom Fontana, gave Cesare the lines from Sun Tsu, immortal writer of The Art Of War, that reveal the secret to winning any battle against our enemies, be they external or internal.

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

So eloquently said. So easy to see. And sometimes, so hard to practice.. Especially if that enemy is within.

I have a belief that it’s only when we conquer our inner enemies that we can truly be master of our own lives. Imagine the following:

3 people. All three grew up experiencing exactly the same things (I know, highly unlikely, but I ask that you suspend your judgment in the service of considering the point I’m exploring with you).

They – all 3 at the same time and in the same place – witness an injustice against a stranger that reminds them of something that happened in their own lives. Let’s say that they witness a young child being bullied.

The first person is horrified and becomes consumed with rage, ready to wade in and pulverize the bully, knowing that it will actually make him or her feel worse after they calm down and regain some control. The second is terrified and wants only to run and hide until it’s all over, knowing they’ll feel mortified with what they see as their own moral cowardice afterwards. The third might feel repulsion and rage, but is able to consider in a split second how best to respond in order to support the child, and help the person bullying to come to terms with the situation in a better way.

Both the 1st and the 2nd person aren’t able to effectively intervene because they are blinded by their own inner war. The third has come to know herself and has – at the very least – won that particular battle.  She knows this enemy because she knows herself.

Which would you rather be?

The Nobody Sandwich – Chris Paracox

Quote of the Week
Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.
― C.G. Jung

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 . 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 .

From Frustrated to Wow!

When I get an idea I love, getting started is easy, but finishing sometimes seems impossible.

I want to write a book about scapegoating. I really want to do this, and have a lot of enthusiasm around it. I began this project 2 years ago: did a lot of research and thinking, interviewing and writing. And then got overwhelmed with possibilities that began to form some months in.  After a while, I felt more frustrated than enthused, and eventually decided to give my brain a break and let it go for a while.

If you’ve gone through this kind of scenario, you might end up feeling frustrated – like me – starting to lose confidence in yourself and in the validity of your project.

In anything we endeavour, there are a number of steps we take in the process.  This isn’t arbitrary, it’s natural, and happens with everything.  In the shamanic tradition I work with, it’s called the Zero to 9 law. In Martha Beck’s paradigm, it’s called the change cycle, and there are 4 stages.  No matter what it’s called, it’s natural, necessary and unavoidable. Using Martha’s model, we end something that no longer works for us, grieving it and letting it go; that opens us to dreaming in something new, planning how we want that to happen. Those are the first 2 stages. Stage 3 is about manifesting that dream. Martha calls stage 3 the Hero’s Saga, because this is the stage where we test things out in real life, encountering problems and issues we couldn’t have imagined.

Logically, this only makes sense. Emotionally, it can be painful. It’s the hard part and needs us to keep the faith and finish instead of quit.

This stage is on my mind a lot right now because I’m going through it. For instance, I’m working at getting a designation I have wanted for a number of years, and I’m nearly there.  Then a few months ago, something happened I wasn’t prepared for and there was some fallout. My “normal” way of dealing with this would be to take the blame for everything and then try to “fix” what I actually couldn’t, leading ultimately to frustration and pain.

This time, I did something different: I looked at how I contributed and addressed that, also acknowledging those parts that worked well. And as a result, while I had moments of frustration and pain, I ended up feeling like I’d grown from the experience. I was grateful it had happened! I went from feeling frustrated to feeling Wow!

My challenge to you is this: the next time you feel frustrated about something you’ve been working on, take a short break, and see what you can do that will turn it from a painful experience that sends you into self-doubt, into a worthwhile one that truly adds to your knowing and sense of self-worth.

Now, let’s finish that book!

On Change and Healing – Martha Beck

Quote of the Week
Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning do to do afterward. – Kurt Vonnegut

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 . 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 .

 

Roots, Wings and Energy

This week, I got almost nothing done that was on my priority list. That’s unusual for me: it wasn’t because I slacked off, or because I was incapacitated, or because I had friends over, or any reason like that. I was busy and productive all week. So what happened?

What happened was that I discovered that what I thought I needed to do isn’t what I actually needed to do. So this week, I spent my time planning and dreaming. Looking inside myself, challenging everything I’d thought and assumed once again.

I took a good look at what I’ve done so far that I like, and where it is I want to end up, and on what inspires me to get there every day.

Phillip Zimbardo, from his research, has discovered that those of us who consistently make the best use of our time are the ones who use positive past experiences to root them in the present, future visions and dreams to give us wings, and present desires to energize us.

As a result, this week I’ve been assessing and dreaming – using vision boards and quiet meditation; reviewing what I’ve done so far – what worked, what didn’t, and what I might alter. I might have to do this next week as well.

Then I’ll have a new to do list and a new direction. With Roots, Wings, and Energy.

The Psychology of Time – Phillip Zimbardo

energy

Quote of the Week
You can’t save up time. You can’t refuse to spend it. You can’t set it aside.
Either you’re spending your time.
Or your time is spending you.
-Seth Godin

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 . 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 .

Speaking your Truth

Such an interesting topic. You and I are encouraged to speak our truth, especially if we’re women, or in some minority sub-group where speaking our truth might be risky.

I know it’s important for my sense of empowerment and well-being to speak out when I need to. It’s equally important to speak with honesty, and that can sometimes be tricky: our mind can trick us into thinking we’re being honest when we aren’t.

For instance, when I’m triggered by someone, I might choose that time to “speak my truth” in such a way that it hurts the other person.  You’ll know when that happens if you hear me begin by saying something like: “I need to speak my truth” or “I have to be honest with you”; and then spend the rest of the time speaking what I believe is your truth, not mine. Like “You’re always late! You really need to do something about your laziness and disregard of others.” Instead of something more truthful like: “I’ve noticed you’ve been late the last 5 times, and this means we’ve had only 20 minutes together. I really don’t want this. Is there something I need to know? Or some way we can come to a better arrangement?”

Then there’s the issue when I don’t say what I need to say because I’m afraid it’ll come out garbled; or where I’ll show my anger or hurt and don’t want to. So I don’t say anything. If I do that long enough, then some day down the road of the not-so-distant future, it all comes pouring out in a way I’ll regret, probably big time.

And then, there are times when I’m silent, and by being silent I implicitly allow an injustice to happen.  That’s when I need to say out loud what I’m feeling. And that’s when it’s hardest.

Speaking our truth isn’t easy. It’s risky. It takes an open heart and a willingness to dialogue with the other, leaving our assumptions and expectations behind. Speaking our truth doesn’t have to be pretty; it just has to be honest.

I hope for all of us that when you and I have something real to say, about what’s in our heart, we say it the best way we can. With real power.

Oprah – Golden Globes n Speaking our truth

Quote of the Week
At least you said it! – Seth Godin

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 . 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 .

The Positive in Pain

I regularly see people who are suffering and miserable.  They come to see me because they’re sick of it and want a positive change in their lives.  They simply don’t know how to do that.

It might look like anger and resentment, or feeling lost, anxious or depressed. It might be triggered by a romantic break-up or the loss of a loved one. Most often, it’s because they’ve landed in the same dark place they thought they’d escaped. And they’re simply sick of it.

It’s impossible for anyone to see anything but the negative when this happens. And that’s why they seek help, because they know there is something better. They just can’t see it yet.

The good news is that they’re sick of it, because this means they’re ready to commit to change. In 12 step programs, it’s called “hitting bottom”: without this kind of incentive, many people addicted to drugs or alcohol wouldn’t have the ability to get sober. They need to hurt badly enough to be willing to commit to change.

It’s absolutely necessary.

So, the next time you find yourself in the middle of a painful situation, try if you can, to remember that, without pain, there would also be no possibility for happiness. If you’ve landed in a familiar dark pattern, it’s life encouraging you to finally take that leap and commit to change.

Why we need pain to feel happiness

Quote of the week
The wound is the place where the Light enters you. ― Rumi

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 . 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 .

Guilt: 3 ways to let it go and move on

I have a dear friend who happened to be born and raised into a healthy and well-off family. He knew growing up that he had advantages that many other kids his age didn’t have.  He felt guilty about it and as an adult, continues to feel that guilt.

It’s a kind of survivor guilt, and can be the motivator under all kinds of actions: the neighbor who will routinely go out of her way to babysit; the volunteer who spends all his free time helping out at outreach programs – local or global. Doing things for others is a wonderful give-away, but not so much if it’s really to make us feel better. Besides, trying to soften guilt with charitable acts doesn’t work – it doesn’t take the guilt away, and it doesn’t make the recipients feel very good.  As an Inuit elder once said to a well-wisher “I don’t want your guilt. I want your participation!”

Survivor guilt happens to us, not because we’ve done anything to feel guilty about, but because we feel a sense of unfairness: that we got a “break” when others didn’t.

Then there’s the kind of guilt where we have done something, either through omission or action, that ended up harming someone else. It might be something you said in a thoughtless moment, or something you didn’t say. Remember that news story where a woman was being beaten and passers-by did nothing to interfere, even to call the authorities? If I were one of those people, I might regret not doing anything, and carry with me a sense of guilt long after the event happened.

Guilt can motivate us and it can weigh us down. Either way, unless we deal with it, it saps our energy and prevents us from living fully and contributing to our society the best we can.
If you’re feeling guilty about something right now, here’s what you can do to effectively – and fairly – deal with it:

  • Have a talk with yourself, as if you were a wise elder offering advice. What might that elder say? Was there any realistic way you could have done something different? Own it. Be realistic about it, as an elder would.  If you did harm, then make amends in a way that fully ends your guilt trip.
  • Grieve the loss, so that you can finally let the guilt go. There is always some loss involved. It might be the loss of a friend; a betrayal; an unhealed hurt of some kind.  It might be ridicule from your father that propels you to bully someone else.  Take the time you need to feel the pain, and then let it go. You might complete this period of grief with a give-away – a small ceremony where you give away a token of your loss.
  • Expand your perspective, by seeing it through the eyes of your friends, or even of the one you hurt. How would a friend feel abut your focus on feeling guilty? How would it change your relationship if you didn’t feel guilty? I remember hearing a man talk about how he had killed a neighbor’s child in a car accident.  He was a teenager at the time, and dealt with his guilt by becoming an addict and destroying his life.  Then one day, the child’s father, having seen this, stopped him and let him know he forgave him, expressly saying that the best thing he could do for the child’s family would be to leave this behind and live the best life he could. Today, that man is owner of a multi-million dollar business, and an active contributor to his community – not through guilt, but through the resolution of guilt and the forgiveness of the family he hurt.

The only good thing about guilt is that it helps us take ownership for our actions, and then motivates us to change and grow, living the best life we can.

Pema Chödron – All in the same boat

Quote of the Week
Calvin : There’s no problem so awful, that you can’t add some guilt to it and make it even worse.
― Bill Watterson, The Complete Calvin and Hobbes

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 . 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 .

When life starts to pay off

I was wondering what to write about this week when I was reminded by Seth Godin about a particular self-sabotage at least half of us do – over and over: waiting for that magic moment when all our hard work will pay off.

As Seth says, this is a myth.

What really happens is we give it our best shot, every day. And then little by little, things change. We hear about the “big break”. That may sometimes happen – after all, people do win the lottery. But for most of those people who get the “big break”, if they aren’t ready for it, it actually breaks them. They don’t know how to deal with it. They aren’t ready for it. And so they over-indulge, or get taken advantage of, and eventually loose whatever advantage they had, sometimes ending up in situations that are harder than the one they started with.

The rest of us keep at it, every day, pursuing our dreams, trying things out, tweaking and trying again.  Then moving on to the next challenge. There is no magic moment. Just an accumulation of small steps that lead to a big change, sometimes so gradually we might not notice.

Except that one morning, we wake up and feel fantastic. For no reason.

What comes first – happiness or success?

pay off

Quote of the Week

For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.
― 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 . 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 .

Social Healing

It’s a big topic for this newsletter. I was inspired to write about it when I heard Angel Kyodo Williams talk about in on On Being.  She’s a Zen priest, and came by it as a gay African American. Gayness liberated her from her Baptist upbringing, and freed her to begin to take in points of view that are different from hers, suspending judgment.

She found that she had to become vulnerable if she wanted to be able to transform a potentially closed encounter to one of openness and connection. And she believes that our world is in great need of this openness.

She has great hope that there are enough of us to embrace this willingness and flexibility – embrace a willingness to not know and possibly be wrong – that the chasms that we’ve created between cultures and political sides can be breached.

The way to become open is to begin to see how much of what we believe comes from someone else.  We’ve inherited it from our culture, parents, and other influencers.  These opinions and beliefs we carry aren’t even ours. We assume them, and then absorb them, unknowingly.  Ms. Williams believes that we can learn to become aware of what we truly know and what we have picked up; that we can then chose how to respond in a new way.

And that this new way opens up the way to change and re-connection.

On Healing and Space

Social Healing

Quote of the Week
Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it. 
–  Helen Keller

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 . 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 .

Change

Insanity is defined, originally by AA, as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Well, if that’s the definition, then most of us are insane.  Because that’s what we do: the same thing over and over expecting – praying for – different results.  Falling in love with the same guy and expecting things will be different this time. Eating the same junk and expecting to lose 20 pounds. Having the same daily routine and expecting that life is suddenly going to get better.

When we realize this – and most of us eventually do – we know we need to change. But it’s SO HARD!, we say. I don’t have the time. I’ve never done that before. My current boyfriend won’t like it.

All of these are excuses: Do I really have time to keep screwing up? Does doing something I’ve done before that doesn’t work trump trying something I’ve never done before that might work? Does the guy who’s just like the previous one that didn’t work out have that much say?

Whatever excuse we come up with can very easily be countered.  Why? Because it isn’t what’s really going on. If you dig a little, you can get to the real reason, which is probably something like  “I’m scared” or “I don’t believe this is good for me”.

What change leaders have discovered is that anyone can change if they understand what’s going on, if they can make the change manageable, and if they believe it’s going to make a real difference.

The truth is that when we know that a change is real and good, and that we have a say in it, change happens.

Drawing on Humor for Change

Change

Quote of the Week
Be the change that you wish to see in the world.
― Mahatma Gandhi

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 . 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 .