Monthly Archive: July 2016

Mothering – Are You Causing Harm?

One of the biggest sources of stress is parenting, especially mothering. I have noticed a trend with moms who come to see me.  Mothers who raise a child on their own don’t realize that they are often not able to provide that indispensable secure attachment to their infant … and there are consequences!

If we don’t have a feeling of security as children, how can we have it as adults? This is not mom or dad’s fault, but it is a fact! We need to feel safe and secure growing up otherwise all those negative insecurities, well they will impact everything we do- and everyone we interact with – as adults.  The security we feel as children is essential for survival. I was recently on Linked in and ran across a piece backing up my thoughts on this subject matter. It’s called ‘Secured Attachment’ and you can source it by clicking here.

Some of us were fortunate to be born into a stable and loving family structure that gave us that, and as a result, we were able to grow up feeling secure. Many of us, however, had to improvise because our parents weren’t able to provide this security for us. It isn’t because our parents didn’t love us – most parents would sacrifice their right arm for their children. It’s most often because they were too busy making ends meet and didn’t have the extended family and community to help out. One modern example is the single working mom.

We live in solitary pods these days, and this means for a single mom, that she must be more than what’s even possible. As a result, she often becomes stressed, isolated, and this inadvertently gets picked up by her child. The child starts to mimic the mother. The old saying that it takes a village to raise a child is what we’ve forgotten. Schools often serve as a safe haven for children, but it’s my belief that we need more than that – we need the kind of communities where children are cared for by the entire community, and not isolated. And social media does a great injustice with keeping us more apart than together!

The coping mechanisms children develop to “help” themselves feel secure as kids, well they too have their limits – fading into the wall paper is a good strategy for becoming invisible as a child, but will get you nowhere good as an adult; puffing up and looking bigger works to keep potential danger away as a child, but also keeps adults away when we grow up. All coping mechanisms are designed to protect us from what we fear. But if we’ve been doing this since we were little, then it’s likely that some of those fears are outdated, and are now more in our mind that anywhere else.

It’s possible to relearn basic trust as an adult. We can do it by parenting ourselves. Here are some tips:

– Provide a safe haven for yourself. For most of us, this is our home.

– Develop an awareness of times we are stressed, so that you can then bring choice into how you will respond to it

– Develop ways of self-regulation, such as deep breathing and mindfulness; perhaps going for a walk or moderate exercise

– Finally, begin to cultivate an attitude of empathy, because you aren’t alone in your struggle with stress, thus bringing yourself back into the stream of humanity.

We can’t turn back time, but we are able to change how we think and correct or re-learn behaviors. Ask yourself today how secure you felt as a child. How secure or insecure do you feel as an adult? There is a link.

3 Ways Being Vulnerable will Help

People think about the term “vulnerable” as a negative, but this attribute can actually help you! We tend to vet other human beings based on how genuine they are, and you can’t be genius without being a little vulnerable. I’ve put together 3 benefits for being vulnerable.

  1. You are able to take risks and move yourself forward. Putting yourself “out there” means you have the guts to dare to try something or be how you truly are on the inside. You are letting others in without editing yourself. This means you make yourself vulnerable to comments and criticism, but that is OK because you’re growing.
  2. You connect easier with people.  The difference between caring and walking by someone hurting is empathy. You can’t have empathy without reflecting vulnerability. Having the tenacity to care about people shows a lot about your character and further develops your ability to relate to people and have them relate back to you.
  3. Problem vs. solutions. People who are vulnerable are people who are willing to admit they have problems and then move forward by working on solutions. Being able to admit there is a problem by being vulnerable opens up the channels for help to arrive and for one to better him or herself.

Want to learn more about how being vulnerable can help you? Let’s talk!


New Press Releases

I’m going to be launching my official “press release” portion of this page. Normally, I wire my releases but I feel the information is also for the public- not just the media- thus, I will also share them here. Below is my most recent release.

Registered Psychotherapist Says “We’re all nuts”; which is why we all need help.

June 2016 

Maryanne Nicholls of The Joy of Living is a professional speaker, guest blogger, and a Registered Psychotherapist. She has a private practice and offers online, self-guided help for those seeking a little more than R&R during stressful times. Maryanne, who pens a weekly blog, says that “we’re not really that different” when it comes to stress responses and trauma and that negative self-talk often steers us away from getting help.

“We’re all nuts. There it is out there. We all have our quirks, and if that is what the social definition of nuts is – as wrong as that may be- then fine. Personally, labels are for soup cans. Lets all stop focusing on who is “nuts” and start focusing on ourselves. We can’t relieve stress or address issues if we are putting labels on anyone, everyone or ourselves,” says Nicholls.

The Joy of Living features free informational blogs without providing a credit card or an email address. The resource is designed this way to help people feel safe when seeking advice on how to handle everything from rage to dealing with a Fitbit obsession. Additionally, Maryanne provides tips on coping with serious issues, like trauma and depression with isolation.

“I offer in-person counseling and I offer self-guided products through video. Whatever someone is comfortable with is what they have to go with. The blog is free and no one has to give up personal information. The first session of counseling is free, too. I try to make my services as available as they can be for everyone thinking about self-improvement,” finished Maryanne.

Maryanne Nicholls also provides corporate speaking and Skype events to corporate groups. A list of her speaking topics, as well as her biography, can be found here:


Press Releases

What Shame can teach us

A mother and daughter are in a department store, and the child reaches for something on the shelf, only to have her hand slapped by her mother telling her it’s wrong to grab things that don’t belong to her.  The child’s face turns red, she looks down and withdraws her hand.

We’ve all seen it, even possibly experienced it as children, and then as adults. We might have done it ourselves, worried that something we don’t own might get soiled or broken.

No one wants to talk about shame. We either deny it’s happening, or hide that it’s happening.

Brene Brown defines shame as the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging.

It can happen in an instant or accumulate over a lifetime.  Shame isn’t about any given act or event, it’s about the self-judgment we heap on ourselves for being a bad person that leaves its lasting mark.

Shame is deadly. It needs three things to gain power in our lives – secrecy, silence and judgment. If we don’t talk about it, hide it, and continue to judge ourselves, it will grow. Just like that child, when we feel shame, we tend to withdraw. We feel that others will judge us as we are judging ourselves, and we’d rather they didn’t know. As a result, we end up isolating ourselves – and intensifying the pain of shame.

The way out of shame is to expose it – not harshly, but with empathy. It can’t survive being exposed.

For example, if something really shaming happens to me, and I call my closest friend and tell her about it, my friend will very likely be empathetic.  And when she is, the shame disappears. I don’t feel alone or isolated any longer, and the painful feeling of shame I had coming into the conversation has simply disappeared.

There are three things you can do to deal with shame:

  1. Know what triggers shame for you. For me, it’s feeling incompetent;
  2. Do a reality check on the shame, speaking to yourself as if you we talking to someone you love. If I were addressing a child who felt incompetent, I might say “Sometimes we need to learn about how not to do things before we can learn how to do them well”;
  3. Reach out and share your story with someone you trust. Expose the shame to the real light of day and watch it disappear.

Shame turns into a shared understanding of the human condition when we share it; it becomes a basis for connecting with and loving our fellows.

Shame – Brene Brown on Oprah


Quote of the Week
Unlike guilt, which is the feeling of doing something wrong, shame is the feeling of being something wrong. –Marilyn Sorensen

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 or contact me directly

Learning and Growing Through Disappointment

I’d been waiting for and anticipating a visit from a close friend for half a year, and a week before he was to show up, he got sick and decided not to come after all.  I was disappointed – sad, hurt, a little angry; mostly, after sitting with it, for myself, even knowing that my friend’s decision was best.

Disappointment is a feeling that colors everything gray.  It’s complex, containing anger, sadness, and hurt. It’s hard to brush off.

When we feel disappointed, it’s about us – fearing that we will lose something good.  To see this, imagine for a moment that you are at the edge of a clear blue lake on a summer day, no bugs bothering you – just a beautiful day filled with sounds and fragrance.

Pure joy! Now add to that the idea that the lake will be drained tomorrow, and you will never see it as it is in this moment again.

That joy becomes disappointment, based on the sadness of this being the last time – even in fantasy – some anger of the lake’s destruction, some hurt.

There are basically two ways to deal with disappointment.

The first is blame: placing our fear, anger and hurt onto the shoulders of another.  The developers or government agents who will destroy the lake, for instance; more often, our spouse or loved one; a work colleague or the company itself. This way of dealing with disappointment won’t diffuse the sadness, anger or hurt – it will only increase it. And if you aren’t able to find any resolution, it will add an element of helplessness. The reason it won’t work is that it isn’t the other person who feels the disappointment; it’s us, and so we’re the ones who need to make a change, not the other.

If it really were the case where a lake was being destroyed, then by all means, get active! But when you do, also try including the second way to deal with disappointment: empathy.

Blame isolates; empathy connects.  Blame separates us from the one we are blaming, creating a divide that might never be breachable.  Empathy helps us get a true glimpse into the other person’s world, so that we can both see, feel and understand where the other is coming from. Empathy is a shared emotion, and brings us together, making is possible to work through the disappointment to a different and better level of relationship.

Empathy helps us learn and grow from that learning.

I heard an interview with Julian Barnes on As It Happens the other day, on his new novel The Noise of Time. It’s about the life of Dmitri Shostakovich under Josef Stalin. Shostakovich, for those who aren’t familiar with him, was a successful modern Russian composer.  He was vilified in the West as a turn-coat and traitor. Many people were disappointed in him.

As a composer in Soviet Russia while Stalin was ruling, he was under constant pressure. Once Stalin became aware of him, Shostakovich was deemed an enemy of the people: even though Shostakovich’s music was widely popular, Stalin didn’t like it, and made Shostakovich’s life hell from that time onward.
Shostakovich then spent much of his time terrified about the welfare of his wife and child, spending nights standing by the elevator, fully clothed waiting for officials to take him away.  He would regularly be given speeches moments before he was to give them, and would read them in monotone. There would appear from time to time newspaper articles purported to have been written by Shostakovich that he had no hand in.

Tyranny put him in an impossible position. To survive he had to be a coward.  He once reflected that being courageous is easy, but being a coward is a whole lifetime’s work.  Each day, you have to be one all over again, remembering to enjoy the taste of licking rubber boots.

There are many differences of opinion about the courage or cowardice of Shostakovich; the thing is that he chose to be with his family and continue his music.  Others chose not to comply and were sent to labor camps, often dying.  He was eventually broken down by fear.

Knowing this about the man, trying to put ourselves in his place, would we have fared better?
Disappointment can lead us to a better understanding of ourselves and our world, as long as it is paired with empathy.

Happiness Means Getting to Know Disappointment

Quote of the Week
Dreaming about being an actress, is more exciting then being one.
– Marilyn Monroe

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 or contact me directly