Monthly Archive: April 2018

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 .

Inspired by Others

Inspired

Being inspired by others links me to my community and lets me know I’m not alone.  Bea Shawanda  inspires me.  Bea is an Indigenous elder and speaker. Last night she was speaking about what Truth and Reconciliation means to her. “Truth and Reconciliation” has a specific meaning in Canada – it refers to the effort that is going on throughout the country to open up truthful conversation among indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians in order to reconcile the past and the present. The hope of many is that through these conversations we can learn from one another and rebuild our community, together.

Bea talked a little about her experience in Residential School, focusing mainly on how it informed her life since that time.  She doesn’t see herself as a survivor, but as someone who has taken what she was given and made the best she could out of it.  He talk was filled with stories and anecdotes that everyone in the audience – indigenous and non, young and old, man and woman – could relate to at a personal level.

She enmphasized, more than once, that the “truth” in Truth and Reconciliation meant being open and vulnerable; that both sides have learned to hide behind walls of politeness or authority up to now; and that the only way to truly reconcile and move forward was to come with a willingness to be open and possibly to be hurt.

She spoke of one result of her early life experience – her knowing that holding resentments doesn’t do any good. She doesn’t hold resentments and is very willing to forgive and begin fresh.  She develped an iron will that helped her stay on track all her life and gives her the backbone and patience to stay with the process.

She never lost hope that her live matters and has meaning. Viktor Frankl wrote about how necessary it is for us to have meaning in our lives.  To quote him, The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.

Bea Shawanda epitomises this for me, and I thank her for being her and carrying her message to me and many others.

If you like this blog, you’ll love my newsletters “You are Enough Just as You Are” for a sample. It’s written only for my insiders who sign up, and provides weekly insights, not only from me, but from others I admire.

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

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

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  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 .

Trigger -> Behavior -> Reward -> Repeat

trigger

Trigger. Behavior. Reward. An evolutionary mechanism within us that’s meant to help us survive.

Triggers are always about survival.  In the simplest sense, we see or feel something that scares us or is uncomfortable; we respond in some way that minimizes that feeling; we’re rewarded by feeling the opposite.  For instance, our stomach begins to rumble; we eat until it no longer rumbles; we’re rewarded by feeling full. It worked! So we repeat this mechanism for anything that makes our stomach rumble.

That’s in the beginning. Then we learn to apply that same mechanism to all kinds of things we encounter. Is it scary? Does it make us feel some kind of pain? Then do something until we feel good, or at least no longer scared.

So far so good. Then one day, a friend we counted on turns on us. We’re hurt and confused. Perhaps we feel a tightness in our belly. So, we turn to something that calmed our belly in the past – we eat a donut, perhaps.  We feel good. The pain goes away.

You and I know that eating to counter emtional pain won’t work for more than a moment. But most of us do it anyway, because it’s something we’ve built from the beginning. It isn’t logical. It’s automatic – a very well-entrenched habitual respnse, or reaction, to a particular feeling.

How can we change that reaction? The answer is to change the habit. Justin Brewer suggests mindfulness: go ahead and react, and when you react be mindful – get curious about it.  For instance, when I reach for that choclate chip cookie next time I’m anxious, I can take a moment to notice what it’s actually doing for me: the sugar high makes me dizzy, and instead of really being satisfied, I feel a craving for more. What if I take a handful of almonds?  Then I feel full fast. How about if I take some deep breaths and go for a walk? I return feeling refreshed and energized.

In other words, the more I becme aware, mindfully, to a reaction or response, I can begin to reprogram my body, and my reactions.

Worth a try!

If you like this blog, you’ll love my newsletters “You are Enough Just as You Are” for a sample. It’s written only for my insiders who sign up, and provides weekly insights, not only from me, but from others I admire.

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

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

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  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 .

What we expect isn’t always what we get!

expectI can almost see my grandmother wagging her finger at me as she said this “What we expect isn’t always what we get”. Then she might deepen the dig by adding something like “… and what we get is exactly what we need!”.

Even though I vividly remember what she said, I get caught up – a lot – in what I expect will happen.  And what I expect is hardly ever good, but almost always worst case fears coming true.

Why?  Because, deep down, I don’t believe that I can succeed. I don’t have full confidence in myself, always believing that there’s something else I need before I’m able and ready.

It’s said that women in our culture are typically the ones who never say anything until they are so overburdened with qualifications they can barely manage to stand upright from the load of credentials on their shoulders, while men learn at an early age to “stretch” the truth and have a go. If they don’t make it, well, there’s always next time.

It is bravado with the men, and false modesty for the women.  We both know it. But I do believe it has been taught to us beginning at an early age, and it’s really hard to shake.

I’ve been really ill fr the last 2 weeks. Today I shot some videos with two people who really know and love what they’re doing.  We had a blast.  I’d prepared for it well. And yet … I worried I’d become ill again half way through.  And sure enough, I did. But I’d even prepared for that! And was able to get through it, loving every minute of the experience, even with the illness.

So, getting back to my grandmother: I expected illness and got it.  I also expected success. And that trumped illness.

One step at a time!

 

If you like this blog, you’ll love my newsletters “You are Enough Just as You Are” for a sample. It’s written only for my insiders who sign up, and provides weekly insights, not only from me, but from others I admire.

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

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

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

Switching up to gratitude

I’m feeling low today, battling with Menier’s and the flu. Feeling pretty sorry for myself. And scared: Meniers isn’t easy to live with.

Then I started thinking what I wanted to write about this week.  Definitely not how lousy I feel.  That doesn’t inspire me, and yes! I’m one of the people in my audience I want to inspire.

That’s when I begin to switch to gratitude – the one fail-safe place I can go to get out of feeling lousy.  It turns out that feeling grateful in a way that’s meaningful to you is the first thing to do to turn gloom into joy.

So I switch: I’m walking in fresh air; going to my home that’s safe and beautiful; seeing friends later on; spending time with my honey. I’m grateful for all the opportunities living in North America brings me, and that I often take for granted. And finally, I’m grateful that – bad as it is – the ailment I have isn’t life-threatening. And it is definitely a teacher.

Want to be happy? Be grateful

 gratitude

Quote of the week
We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.
― Alphonse Karr, A Tour Round My Garden

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 .

Releasing the Handcuffs of Attachment

attachments

 

The father who insists his son take over the family business.  The mother who over-mothers. The boss who micro-manages.  If they don’t drive their intended victims crazy, they definitely drive all their onlookers nuts.

But, in case you think that’s somene else, recall the last time you wanted something to work out so badly – and were afraid it wouldn’t – that you found yourself “nudging” people, places and things to get to your desired effect.  If you managed to stop and take a look around you, you might’ve noticed a lot of annoyed onlookers. You know, those guys you just handcuffed to your idea of what the future should look like.

Nobody likes to be manipulated or “lead”, including us.  But worry and desire can turn us into this kind of person.

The antidote to being attached is self-awareness. Plain and simple. Becoming aware of our impact and value in any situation can bring us back to our senses and into balance and harmony with ourselves and our fellows.

I know that, for me, the times I find myself manipulating a situatin for a desired end is when I’m afraid I’ll loose something precious to me. That someone more powerful than me will somehow destroy that possibility.  When I bring this feeling in front of me and examine it, it seems pretty foolish. After all, as an adult, the only way someone else could really do that was if I had no other alternatives.  But that isn’t likely. It’s really only my fear, my insecurity and lack of awareness that lets me think so.

If you like this blog, you’ll love my newsletters “You are Enough Just as You Are” for a sample. It’s written only for my insiders who sign up, and provides weekly insights, not only from me, but from others I admire.

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

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

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

Falling in Love

In 2015 Mandy Catron got curious. She’d been reviewing research from the 1990’s that was about intimacy between strangers. She wanted to know if what these researchers learned could be applied to falling in love with someone you don’t know.  After seeing that it actually worked, she applied it to herself and a distant friend.  And yes, they fell in love. And are still in love.

Mandy wrote an article about her experience that was published in the New York Times called How to Fall in Love With Anyone. At the time, she had her own blog with a few hundred readers, and knew this would generate more – maybe even a few thousand. What she got were more than 8 million readers from around the world.

She talks about her experience in the Ted Talk below.

Mandy re-discovered something that has been known for a very long time. I’ll mention one out of many leaders in psychology – Martin Buber – who’s main focus was exactly this.  He called it “I-thou”.
Buber gave as one example the relationship he had with his horse as a boy. He loved his horse, and every chance he could, he’d be with him. He couldn’t explain the unique attraction he felt; he only knew it was mutual, and that it was love.

Then one day while gazing lovingly into his horse’s eyes, he was startled by something. That broke his attention momentarily, and in that moment, his horse walked away.  The intimacy – the love connection – was broken. What had been an “I-thou” moment had become an “I-it” one.

Mandy and Martin each discovered how we fall in love, and passed this wonderful knowing to the rest of us.  The thing is, I suspect that every baby knows this already, and that we lose this knowing as we encounter life’s challenges.

I don’t know about you, but I have a new mission. And that is to fall in love with someone every day.

Mandy Catron – Falling in love is the easy partlove

Quote of the Week

The basic word I-You can only be spoken with one’s whole being.
The basic word I-It can never be spoken with one’s whole being. 

― Martin BuberI and Thou

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 .