Monthly Archive: June 2018

Chaos

chaos

… A word that terrifies me. When I think of that word – Chaos – I immediately imagine everything out of control. Then I get overwhelmed. Then I get anxious. Then I get stuck.

It doesn’t take much. Just that small moment of imagining one word.

Even writing this generates panic; a need to go off somewhere and regroup. And yet, in this year of my life, chaos rules.

I expect I’m not alone in feeling uncomfortable around chaos. Chaos can mean disorder, confusion, disarray. It can also mean that “formless matter supposed to have existed before the creation of the universe” (from Google).

The ancient Greeks thought of Chaos as a primordial void (very similar to our modern scientific version). Chaos was the first thing to exist, and out of Chaos were born the gods and goddesses that governed all life.

Chaos is all of these things. It’s what isn’t known. It’s where we must go to create anything new. With anything new, we start with the raw materials, then create a thing that is unique, that is more than simply the sum of it’s parts.

Chaos is change.

It’s also destruction, because whatever it is that is changing is also being destroyed, making room for that shiny new thing.  Like what happens when I create a new dress out of a bolt of material. That bolt is gone, and in it’s place is a dress. Or when I take last year’s decomposed vegetables and use it to grow new ones this year. Or when I take what I’d tested a month ago to generate a new untested idea.

In truth, we all live in chaos all the time. Every time we move – even if it’s from the couch to the kitchen and back again – we are generating a bit of chaos.  But, admittedly, sometimes there’s more chaos than other times.  When we move locations, when we break up, when we marry, when we have a child, when we begin a new venture.

I’m thinking of chaos because I discovered how my until-now-undiscovered-fear of it has stopped me from going with it.  From working with it. From enjoying it.

Now I’m wondering – how would my life be if I embraced it?  How would other’s lives be?

How would your life be?

 

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 .

Our shadow as the source of our shining

Shadows are a beautiful thing. They shade us from the sun; add contrast and interest; protect our eyes from the intensity of the light.  Our own shadows are beautiful too: they show us where the sun is relative to us. They also show us the direction we’re going.

Those shadows I just talked about are real ones, but the inside shadows we carry are exactly the same: the shadows we create and inherit can protect us (for a while), can show us where the light is, and the direction we’re going.

What if, for example, you were from a strict family, where your father was the authority. That may be a cultural shadow, or one simply held within your own family.  Either way, it’s convenient if you don’t want to bear responsibility for making decisions. At least for a while, until you happen upon a situation where you – and only you – have to decide. Then, if you’ve always relied on your father to make the decision for you, you’d be in a tough place, because you wouldn’t really know what to do beyond mimicking him.

That’s an example of an inherited shadow. Here’s one of an inner shadow. Let’s say that you learned to deal with a strict father by keeping your thoughts to yourself, never really showing your feelings. This would certainly keep you out of trouble and out of the spotlight. But then as you mature and get your own life, this ingrained habit of not showing yourself means that others don’t really know you. They don’t connect with you and “see” you in any meaningful way.  You end up feeling like an outsider. And lonely.

This seems pretty grim. How could I possibly say they’re beautiful?

Well, first of all, they did keep you safe when you needed it. They served you well, in the past.

And now they are a part of you; they’re an integral part of your character. For the rest of your life. Whether you like it or not.  And as such, they can serve as beacons to show you the best way to deal with any situation.

For instance, that person who grew up in an authoritarian home and now keeps her opinions close – she’s probably a fantastic thinker and planner, because that’s how she was able to work around and through the authority she was faced with.  She’s possibly learned to hang onto an issue until she finds the solution. And in that way, she’s invaluable to others.

It’s become part of her shining.  That doesn’t mean the way she reacts isn’t a problem.  The “problem” with what she reacts to is that it’s really an automatic response to what was dangerous a long time ago, but isn’t any longer. It’s automatic. Unconscious.

But it doesn’t have to remain that way. She – all of us – can learn to develop an awareness of when we’re about to react, and use that urge as a way of understanding a situation at a much deeper level, then choosing our response based on that awareness.

In other words, it too becomes a part of our shining.

And that’s a beautiful thing.

Eckhart Tolle’s Way

Quote of the Week
We all must deal with our shadows the best we can. No one can conquer them for us. – Anna Lee Huber

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 I really know

really know

I was at my partner’s place last week. He was talking about what it would take to start a new business – he’s never had to do that, so it seemed like a black hole to him.  I knew exactly what he needed to do: the steps, the order … it was so clear, and I knew that if he followed these steps in that order, he’d be fine.

I didn’t know I knew so much because I can’t look at my own business the same way. I get stuck on things that seems so clear when I apply it to others. I don’t know what I was more dumbstruck from: that I knew so much, or that I didn’t know I knew so much.

After taking a few days to get used to this new discovery, I wondered why that happens and how I could use it to get unstuck.

That we can’t easily be impartial and objective toward our own passions isn’t something new.  But the thing is – I’m not impartial to what matters to my partner. I care deeply and want to help. It’s just that speaking for another person brings with it a responsibility for me to give my best. Is it that I don’t treat my own needs with that same sense?

Really, it’s more than that: when I give advice, I know it’s value because I know the expected outcome.  But when I try different approaches to running my own business, I don’t know the outcome. It’s this uncertainty that stops me. And scares me so much that I get stuck.

I tell myself that my situation isn’t exactly like his; that it’s unique; and that it therefore doesn’t follow the same principles.  Well, no situation anywhere is exactly like any other situation, and yet the vast majority of them do follow the same principles…

What I really know is this: I’m passionate about my business; and this means I’m afraid of doing something that will hurt my business. So I dither. But deep down, I also know that if I follow the same steps I gave my partner, in that order, I’ll be fine.

Just like him.

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 .

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 .

Passionately Curious

Passionately Curious

I get scared every time I hear someone advise me not to throw all my cards into one basket. Not to go for broke. To slow down in committing to living the rest of my life based on what moves me; no longer spending even a second on anything that doesn’t.

My partner – one of my advisors – isn’t like me. Nor are many of the experienced advisors out there that I hear.

I respect these people; admire them. At the same time, I don’t agree that everyone needs to be as cautious as they advise.  It works for them. My partner, for instance, is a methodical guy and simply couldn’t live the way I do (He witnesses it, as I witness the way he lives; and we’ve come to an agreement we can both live with).

All of us started out with curiosity and passion. We come with it; it’s part of our nature. As Elizabeth Gilbert points out in an interview she gave on Curiosity and Fear, [link to/ ], even try to imagine a 3 year old not experimenting with a set of crayons that are put in front of him or her.  That’s curiosity!

But then what keeps that toddler playing with the crayons isn’t simply curiosity, but passion. He or she likes it! It’s fun and exciting. If it wasn’t, they’d move on to something that interested them more.

For us grown-ups, passion isn’t always exciting.  At first it is, when we dream up something new, then plan how to actualize it.  But then in the doing of it, life happens; something doesn’t work and needs tweaking. It’s frustrating, sometimes simply boring.

This is when remaining curious is so important. Curious about what happens if I try this instead of that. When what moves us – what we’re passionate about – is less than exciting, it’s our curiosity that helps me keep the faith.

I’m passionate about what I do. I love it, even if a lot of the time it feels like work. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But that’s me. That’s what keeps me going. What about you?

 

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 .

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 .

You deserve to show off!

deserve

This blog is dedicated to all of you who have had to grapple with shame.  I’m one of you and – if you listen to On Being’s interview with Maria Shriver  – she’s one too.

Most of us began our journey with shame as a result of having differences with our parents. Our parents never meant to hurt us – they were worried we’d get hurt by life if we continued to do whatever it was we did to get shamed by them. And it likely began really early, with potty training. Then with how to behave as a child in front of adults.  Then how to be altruistic to the kid who wants your favorite toy.

The adult instruction to any resistance from you might have sounded something like: “Shame on you! Look at how you hurt that boy!” or “Shame on you! Look at the mess you made!”

You end up feeling denied. Constantly. And grow up with a trigger point of rebelling against others telling you what to do, resenting being treated that way, and deep down, feeling the shame of having done “something” wrong. You’re never sure of what you did, so you simply assume responsibility for everything – it’s so much easier than trying to figure it out.

Besides developing that trigger point, this sense of shame makes you feel that you aren’t ever enough. It digs into your sense of self-worth, even if you never show it, and you begin to hide who you really are – for fear of being “found out” – of being unmasked as someone who isn’t enough.

As an adult, all of this might be unconscious – so ingrained its simply part of the way you operate.  And yet, that shame is excruciating.

There are probably many ways out of this dilemma, but I know of only one way: to stop taking on all the responsibility that isn’t really yours, and to decide to show up and be who you are.

Maria speaks at many functions, and lets people know that she shows up for herself, that she has her “I” on. In her own words, she explains: “I say that to people so they don’t despair, that sometimes it takes a really long time to feel like you deserve to be on the stage; you deserve to be in the room; you have earned your “I.””

Right on, Maria!  And right on to you!

You deserve to show off who you are. No apologies.

 

If you like this blog, you’ll love my newsletters read you are enough just as you are get my latest one. It’s written only for my insiders who sign up, and provides weekly insights, not only from me, but from others I admire.

 

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 .

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 .