Monthly Archive: January 2017

If you only knew… then you’d know I’m a phony

This past weekend, a friend sheepishly told us about her day – she had been working hard for a month and turned down an invitation to a social business event to stay home and veg out.  She felt guilty, as if she was doing something wrong. She wondered if she was really hiding from colleagues and her boss in case she was “found out” as not knowing as much as they might think. It was a big reason behind her long hours at work.

I’ve felt that before.  Have you?

Feeling like a phony or a fraud is common in our culture, especially among women, but also among men.  It’s what drives some of us to never take time for ourselves, constantly afraid we’ll be “found out”.  Sometimes it’s part of the reason credentials are so valued – that false idol that says “I’m an expert”, even if you end up in debt for the rest of your working life, and emotionally a mess.  You can then say to the world “I may be a financial and emotional wreck, but I’m not a phony!” (There are also valid reasons behind having credentials – that’s a different story.)

Sometimes we feel like phonies because we aren’t as successful as we thought we’d be … or as respected by our peers. We’ve made mistakes, taken wrong turns and detours that cost us more than we expected; we’ve had our detractors and critics. We’ve had our moments of wondering whether we made the right decision … whether we’ve been going down the wrong path, wasting our time. Those are the times we feel knocked down and start to question ourselves.

But when we get knocked down, it doesn’t mean that we’re stupid, a looser, incapable, … a phony.  It simply means we’re human…. And courageous for stepping into that unknown.
If you sometimes feel like a fraud, Kyle Eschenroeder has some suggestions:

  • Get real. We feel like a phony when we have in our mind’s eye some vision of perfection that is actually unattainable.  It’s like the image we see of the perfect face and figure on the front page of Vogue – it’s the image that’s phony, not the model.
  • Give yourself credit for what you have achieved. Life isn’t fair – sometimes we get opportunities others never get, and so we think it isn’t fair and we don’t deserve to take any credit.  It’s true that life isn’t fair – life is about being available when opportunities come our way, and then deciding to take them or not.  So instead of berating yourself for taking opportunities that came your way, congratulate yourself.
  • Focus on providing value. When you get opportunities, then take the time to thank your community or the universe for sending those opportunities your way. There’s a shamanic belief that we are all connected, and in order to maintain a balanced connection, we must give energy for everything we receive.  For instance, if I grow tomatoes for consumption, I “thank” those plants with compost and care of the earth.  Similarly, if I get an opportunity to advance my learning, I gift the person or community who gave me that opportunity. By doing so, I acknowledge the debt I owe them, and that I couldn’t have done it without them.
When we feel like a phony or fake, we end up hiding behind a mask of either no concern or self-depreciation. We hide our vulnerability and deprive others of really seeing who we are.  You have something unique to offer others. Let it shine!

Reggie Watts: Beats that defy boxes (hang onto your hat!)



Quote of the Week
Don’t pretend to be what you’re not, instead, pretend to be what you want to be, it is not pretence, it is a journey to self realization. -Michael Bassey Johnsom


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 website or contact me directly at

Confident. The secret to looking secure.

All of us have some flaw- some insecurity- so why do so many people appear to be confident? They work on it. Yes, there is an effort required but the benefits are amazing. I want to share with you a few tips to appear more confident in social or professional situations. As you practice these, you will discover that you will start to actually feel more confident.

#1. Don’t slouch. Your posture says everything to those who do and do not know you.To fix your posture, stand up as TALL as you can and pull your shoulder blades down and back as far as possible. This will help you appear more confident and more positive about life.

#2.  Stare at people. Yes, stare. This provokes a feeling of confidence. Starting right now, be the person that doesn’t look away. Think of each interaction as a mini-battle – your eyes against theirs. As long as you’re smiling and blinking, you won’t come across as mean so keep at it. Yes, this one takes practice.

#3. Always tell people who you are. Yes, this works! If you introduce yourself immediately to strangers and get the awkward out of the way immediately- people will feel comfortable around you and you’ll come across as cool and collected.

The week is almost over. Start practicing these small steps to looking secure today. And, if you need help with your self-esteem, know that I take virtual appointments.

Being Whole

It took me a long, long time to realize we are not meant to be perfect; we’re meant to be whole. Jane Fonda

When I read this quote I thought of Fonda’s latest role as Grace in Grace and Frankie. I can’t imagine anyone playing that role who wasn’t completely comfortable with themselves. Especially in Season 2. The way she plays a neurotic somewhat self-centred woman is superb – both funny and moving; and a power of example for us.  She doesn’t apologize for who she is, and as a result, comes out as human and someone many of us can relate to.

It’s hard (and largely a waste of time) to say to someone who is suffering from their own limitations to simply be themselves. The first barrier to hearing that and accepting it is that person probably doesn’t like themselves, so how can they even go there!

That means that the work begins with self-acceptance. Robert Holden reminds us that “Self-acceptance is an invitation to stop trying to change yourself into the person you wish to be, long enough to find out who you really are.” To address this in ourselves, he suggests a 10-day program [link to same above – How-Self-Acceptance-Can-Crack-Open-Your-Life], beginning and ending with a self-assessment.  In-between those self-assessments, he provides 10 things you can focus on that will help you accept yourself. Below are three things you can do daily to build up your own self-acceptance on your path to becoming whole.

  • Forgiveness – Self-acceptance begins with kindness to ourselves. So many of us carry inside a task master who cracks the whip whenever we fall down.  That task master can change – from a harsh inner judge to a mentor who you can trust; and this process of change begins with forgiving yourself your faults, opening the way to learning from your mistakes rather than feeling beaten by them.
  • Begin with acceptance. It may be hard at first, but self-acceptance is the road to becoming whole. You may only be able to truly accept yourself for part of every day, but that beginning will gradually fill your day. Then, you will no longer find yourself judging, comparing, or feeling alone in your life. Here’s something I repeat to myself whenever I feel down – it may help:
When I’m judging remember to accept myself
When I’m comparing remember to take pleasure in loving myself
When I feel needy and alone remember to respect myself and have fun.
  • Believe in yourself. Learning to trust ourselves develops naturally from self-acceptance and self-love. When we can trust ourselves, we can also open ourselves up to others and our world.
What to do when people tear you down – Eckhart Tolle

Quote of the Week

This journey has always been about reaching your own other shore, no matter what it is.
-Diana Nyad


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 at

When Choice Is Wrong…

I wrote a bit about why not to rely only on an expert in my last post. I did receive an interesting question about relying upon a love coach. Again, is this for validation and why? Are you forcing yourself to love someone you don’t? Maybe lower expectations because social or age pressures? Maybe you want a coach to excuse abusive behaviors? Experts are not answers. They are people with opinions who may or may not be right.

Here’s what you need to know about choice, relationships and expert advice…

we often repeatedly choose similar partners and end up in the same unsatisfying or unsuccessful unions. How are we supposed to know when our attractions should be warning signs? What qualities should we steer away from when we don’t even know a person yet? How do we break the cycle without having to rely upon a love coach or an expert? Well, think about this. When you consciously choose to break a pattern, you can establish a better relationship with a better outcome. If you give an out-of-the-ordinary person a chance, you can become accustomed to this out-of-the-ordinary relationship. Yours could be one of those stories of friends who fall in love or unlikely seeming couples who live happily together.

If you are in a relationship, and you recognize that it is heading toward the same negative outcome as past relationships, you can stop the momentum and avoid another tragic ending. You and your partner are most likely collaborating in creating the negative dynamics in your relationship. Not only is he/she the same kind of person you always end up with, it is most likely that you are the same kind of person he/she ends up with, too.  There is nothing an expert or love coach can do to help you with this. You have to stop making the choice to repeat the pattern. There is no fixing him or her, only a change in direction – a choice made by you.

You don’t need an expert to help you make the choice to find love, stay in a relationship, or leave a relationship. What you need to do is see where you have been, know where you want to go, and then decide for yourself how your choices will lead you there or put you on the wrong path.

Until next time,

Maryanne Nicholls

Why You Should Ignore Experts

We rely upon advice to make decisions. The problem is , we live with the consequences of these decisions- not those who are giving us advice. So, why is it that we feel the need to buy into what the “experts” have to say about our lives when it comes to everything from fashion to professional expansion? Why can’t we rely upon our life’s lessons and our gut instinct?

We hire experts because we don’t trust our instincts, which is a mistake. And because we want to be reassured that what we think is okay or that we made the right choice. We lack confidence in our decisions and need someone to say it is ok. And because we want to be reassured we are normal and we know that we don’t know everything. Getting other opinions before making a choice is healthy, but not trusting ourselves and our instinct isn’t. We have to define the line for ourselves and we have to be ourselves.

Fashion is one area where we suffer and rely upon experts. Why are we still allowing others to tell us not only what to wear but how much money to spend on it? We are trusting “experts” and I can see why. Since when we were little, our parents helped us dress. We trusted, well were built to, authority to help us make good decisions. And while relying upon advice or other people’s feedback is healthy, it shouldn’t be the only reason we do or buy into something. We need to be able to make a decision, understand input and move forward on our own two feet.

Experts are not always experts. Think about this fact, ’nearly 70% of studies presented in the world’s top medical journals are debunked within a few years of being published, or that up to 90% of what your family doctor learned in medical school is now known to be incorrect. These are trained professionals who you literally entrust your life to. Now, ask yourself what other choices and decisions (personal, business and/or fashion) are being trusted to “experts”.

You need to find you. Your voice is important. You can hear and learn from advice, but you should be navigating all of your life choices – from business to relationships and even down to what shoes you should wear.  Have questions? Let’s talk!

And what about the Millennials?

Every generation has its own unique issues.  Today’s Millennials are no different.  The Millennials comprise young people born between 1977 and 1994. They are the children of my parenting generation, children born to baby boomer “Me” generation parents.

I grew up at a time when prosperity was seen as never-ending, especially after the deprivations of the two great wars.  There were plenty of jobs, and the cost of living was such that almost anyone could own a house. Mine was the generation that everyone, it seemed, tried to woo; we were always the centre of attention. Our parents saw us as wild, untamed and spoiled.

I can say from personal experience that our focus on “Me” came from what we saw our parents go through – most mothers being forced to stay at home, everyone living a life that conformed to pretty strict rules.  All we wanted to do was to break free of those constrictions.  And so when our children came along, we taught them that they could be anything they wanted to be, and do anything they wanted to do.

Simon Sinek sums up the problems this has caused the Millennials in a recent interview he gave on Millennials in the workplace (see below for that interview).  He directly addressed the main complaint we hear about this group of young people – that they feel and act entitled.

It’s true. Millennials do often present in this way.  And there’s a good reason for it – because we taught them to. We taught them to believe that they were special, and never had to settle for anything less than exceptional.  So when they entered the real world they expected to immediately find a job that they could star in, for a wage that would provide for them the way their parents had.

And this has created an issue that is seriously affecting young people: shattered self-esteem.

As Sinek points out, our failed parenting strategies did not prepare our children for reality, and as a result, they have no idea of what to do when they discover that they aren’t special, and that they can’t have everything they want.

The result is an entire group of young people who have lower self-esteem than any previous generation, higher suicide rates, increased stress, and no coping skills to deal with it.

Most Millennials grew up not having to learn to develop real relationships, able instead to gain instant gratification from technical and virtual reality. This is born out by the ever-present smart phone – at dinner, in classrooms, even at meetings – it’s the cell phone that is prominent, not conversation. Young people don’t know what to do when they encounter their first brick wall – and so they turn to whatever they can find online, from “experts” who are only one step ahead of them, if that.

Every generation has it’s unique challenges, and for the Millennials, according to Sinek, it’s learning to replace instant gratification with genuine relationship development, which is often messy and takes a long time.  To do this, he recommends that they:

  • Put away the cell phones, at lest for part of every day, relying instead on the sometimes uncomfortable face-to-face encounters. Deliberately engage in small talk with strangers and friends, even if it seems boring or pointless – it’s the way humans begin to build relationships and is the essential first step.
  • Do not charge your phones by the bed. Buy an alarm clock instead, if you need one. Begin to learn to live without being always at the beck and call of technological gratification.
  • Be consistently be available for friends, even when something more exciting comes up.  Real friendships are built on this kind of mundane, every-day consistency.
  • Let your mind wander. Learn to tolerate boredom by developing patience.  It’s when our minds wander that ideas happen.
  • Get help from real people. The online “expert” is rarely going to be able to provide the help you need, especially with issues involving continued stress, depression and anxiety.  These are issues that don’t have a fast answer.

It is possible to pick up critical life skills, even if you didn’t learn them earlier.  And when you do, you can relax and really start to enjoy your life.

Millennials in the Workplace

Quote of the Week

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty. – Maya Angelou


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 at

Starting 2017 where you are

The time of New Year’s resolutions is upon us. This is traditionally the time when fitness centres and yoga classes do the best business. We all, practically en masse, every year, resolve that this year will be the year we succeed in making health and fitness a priority. That this year we will end up liking what we look like and how we feel.

I spent a lot of very enjoyable time last week going over inspirational messages – and I’m still re-reading them.  Judging from the comments I’ve received back, these messages appeal to many people.  For me, the biggest thing I get from them is this:  Start with whatever I have at this moment, and what I have at this moment is enough.

Pema Chödrön  wrote a whole book about it, teaching us to embrace the painful aspects of our lives; turning that pain into a way of opening our hearts.

Goethe’s famous words add a different emphasis: What You Can Do, or Dream You Can, Begin It; Boldness Has Genius, Power, and Magic in It.

The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu met recently, and out of this meeting came a book – The Book of Joy  – that is almost a transcript of this meeting.  These two men have personally lived through immense pain and suffering, and have a lot to say about joy, and about starting where you are. Here is something of what they say:
  • Be kind to yourself. If we don’t have genuine love and kindness toward ourselves, then we can’t extend kindness to others. Too much self-focus leads to fear, insecurity and anxiety.
  • You are not alone if you are able to connect with the humanity in yourselves and others.
  • Recognizing our own limitations and weaknesses can be positive, if we are open to learning from these limitations.  It then becomes wisdom. There is a Tibetan saying that wisdom is like rainwater – both gather in the low places.

 So, perhaps this new year, we can try to let go of trying to be slimmer, eat healthier, or be smarter, and instead begin where we are, accepting what we have, knowing that what we have, right now, is enough.

Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama – from The Book of Joy


Quote of the Week

We build our temples with the stones at hand.
-Richard O. Moore
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 at