Archive: Anxiety Stress and Fear

Don’t take it personally

 

The February edition of Psychology Today has a piece by Toni Bernhard that speaks to me titled “It’s Not About You”. It’s worth reading. Last week I travelled to Michigan to see my friends and partner, as I do pretty much every month. I have a Nexus card for exactly that purpose, and have been using it with no issue for the past 9 years.  This time, I was interrogated for over an hour, threatened, and my car searched.  It was ugly and traumatizing.

Let’s talk about trauma for a second. Trauma is a brain thing, not a mental thing. That is, it directly impacts the brain nerves, and as such, when experienced, there is no way to prepare mentally or emotionally for it. That’s why the best treatment for trauma is lots of support to help the person get through the physical assault to the brain, and get back to a sense of normal balance (for a video presentation you might want to watch Dr. John Rigg explain it.

I experienced trauma, and as such wasn’t functioning well. Within 2 days, I was late for something important, completely missed another thing that was equally important – letting many others down – found myself incredibly tired, and finally had a melt down 24 hours later that lasted another 24 hours.

In that time, I blamed myself for everything and tried to work out what I could have done differently – until I had a talk with my supervisor and friend, who described what I was going through and emphasized that it wasn’t my fault. There was and is nothing I can do to prepare for a traumatizing event, and the physical outcome of that event is also not something I can change.  The only thing that is in my power to do something about is to seek support once I understand what’s happening. AND, to avoid ruminating and blaming myself.

I did apologize to my friend for missing her event, and I sent a note of explanation to the person whose event I was late for. Then I rested and let my body heal. Once my head was clear, I took the kind of action available to me that could best realistically address the issue.

I’d like to say that I avoided ruminating and self-flagellation. Alas, that was too much to ask. However, I did manage to limit it. I am a person who routinely takes on the responsibility of a situation that really isn’t my responsibility. Are you like me?

Who knows what was going on with the border guard, or why they did what they did. I will probably never know. It wasn’t for anything I actually did – my record is clean.  So it had to be something in their lives that did it. In other words, it wasn’t about me!

It’s hard not to take such an event personally, but that’s the point: it really isn’t personal. So don’t take it personally. It was unfortunate, and there was and will likely be fallout. But it isn’t personal.

In Toni Bernhard’s research, she discovered that when we take things personally, we undermine our ability to feel good about ourselves, which in turn, brings on depression and anxiety. It’s associated with greater rumination – that downward spiraling into darkness.

Here’s another example from my life – in this case my young life.  I was testing for a swimming level and was kept back and asked to repeat certain strokes.  I immediately assumed it was because I’d done something wrong and was being given another chance. This thinking made me hyper aware and I nearly drowned.  Even so, what really happened was that I got an extra commendation for excellent form.

The best kind of support for those of us who ruminate is this:

  • Develop and use your own “doubt shout”: Once you recognize that you’re ruminating (and this might take a while), find a way to stop it. I use a “doubt shout”, because it really is about me doubting myself. My particular doubt shout that works for me is “Don’t go there! It doesn’t really matter if there’s some truth in it. It’s simply a waste of time.”
  • Treat yourself to kindness and compassion. Realistic positive reinforcement is a far stronger and more effective approach than negative punishing reinforcement. I think we all know that, deep down.
  • Be clear about what you are actually responsible for. I’m reminded of the Serenity prayer here: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” What I can change is me, my approach and my circumstances. That’s all!

The Power of Reframing

 

 

Quote of the Week

Life picks on everyone … don’t take it personally.

-Steve Gilliland

Announcements

Need more? 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.

Don’t take it personally

 

The February edition of Psychology Today has a piece by Toni Bernhard that speaks to me titled “It’s Not About You”. It’s worth reading. Last week I travelled to Michigan to see my friends and partner, as I do pretty much every month. I have a Nexus card for exactly that purpose, and have been using it with no issue for the past 9 years.  This time, I was interrogated for over an hour, threatened, and my car searched.  It was ugly and traumatizing.

Let’s talk about trauma for a second. Trauma is a brain thing, not a mental thing. That is, it directly impacts the brain nerves, and as such, when experienced, there is no way to prepare mentally or emotionally for it. That’s why the best treatment for trauma is lots of support to help the person get through the physical assault to the brain, and get back to a sense of normal balance (for a video presentation you might want to watch Dr. John Rigg explain it.

I experienced trauma, and as such wasn’t functioning well. Within 2 days, I was late for something important, completely missed another thing that was equally important – letting many others down – found myself incredibly tired, and finally had a melt down 24 hours later that lasted another 24 hours.

In that time, I blamed myself for everything and tried to work out what I could have done differently – until I had a talk with my supervisor and friend, who described what I was going through and emphasized that it wasn’t my fault. There was and is nothing I can do to prepare for a traumatizing event, and the physical outcome of that event is also not something I can change.  The only thing that is in my power to do something about is to seek support once I understand what’s happening. AND, to avoid ruminating and blaming myself.

I did apologize to my friend for missing her event, and I sent a note of explanation to the person whose event I was late for. Then I rested and let my body heal. Once my head was clear, I took the kind of action available to me that could best realistically address the issue.

I’d like to say that I avoided ruminating and self-flagellation. Alas, that was too much to ask. However, I did manage to limit it. I am a person who routinely takes on the responsibility of a situation that really isn’t my responsibility. Are you like me?

Who knows what was going on with the border guard, or why they did what they did. I will probably never know. It wasn’t for anything I actually did – my record is clean.  So it had to be something in their lives that did it. In other words, it wasn’t about me!

It’s hard not to take such an event personally, but that’s the point: it really isn’t personal. So don’t take it personally. It was unfortunate, and there was and will likely be fallout. But it isn’t personal.

In Toni Bernhard’s research, she discovered that when we take things personally, we undermine our ability to feel good about ourselves, which in turn, brings on depression and anxiety. It’s associated with greater rumination – that downward spiraling into darkness.

Here’s another example from my life – in this case my young life.  I was testing for a swimming level and was kept back and asked to repeat certain strokes.  I immediately assumed it was because I’d done something wrong and was being given another chance. This thinking made me hyper aware and I nearly drowned.  Even so, what really happened was that I got an extra commendation for excellent form.

The best kind of support for those of us who ruminate is this:

  • Develop and use your own “doubt shout”: Once you recognize that you’re ruminating (and this might take a while), find a way to stop it. I use a “doubt shout”, because it really is about me doubting myself. My particular doubt shout that works for me is “Don’t go there! It doesn’t really matter if there’s some truth in it. It’s simply a waste of time.”
  • Treat yourself to kindness and compassion. Realistic positive reinforcement is a far stronger and more effective approach than negative punishing reinforcement. I think we all know that, deep down.
  • Be clear about what you are actually responsible for. I’m reminded of the Serenity prayer here: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” What I can change is me, my approach and my circumstances. That’s all!

 

Announcements

If you like this blog, you’ll also like my newsletters. 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

 

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 .

 

Being manipulated

 

It’s never a good feeling when we discover we’ve been manipulated. Deliberately given partial information, appealing to my sense of guilt or inadequacy, feeling pressured to do something I’d rather not do. These and many other ways happen daily – from advertisements, packaging, and politicians – so much so that we know better than to trust what we’re told. That’s smart, and also sad, because it can turn us into cynics.

Whenever it happens its because the manipulator wants us to do something that helps themselves. It might also help us, but that’s a possible side-effect and nothing more. It might be an unethical renovator who uses sub-grade materials, or someone who charges for something they didn’t actually do. It may be relatively harmless or something that is ruinous.

I’ve experienced both: charged for a purse repair that wasn’t done; an investor misrepresenting themselves to rid me of my savings. All cause pain and all cause damage.

Being manipulated happens a lot, and may be increasing, so its important to learn how to address it.

  • The first thing – always – is to pay attention to your own gut response. Do you feel a little uneasy? For me now, that’s enough. For you, you may need more … .
  • Is what you’re being told make you fearful, or angry, or set some basic emotion off? It’s hard to make a good decision when your emotions are up. Manipulators know that, and use it. So, if you notice your feelings are up, take some time off before taking any action.
  • Have you got someone you trust to talk it over with? If not, why not?
  • Finally, try turning it around: what would inspire you to ask the same thing of others? Then apply what you discover to what someone else is asking of you, and see what you discover.

…and what about those manipulative parasites…

 

 

Quote of the Week

The television is ‘real’. It is immediate, it has dimension. It tells you what to think and blasts it in. It must be right. It seems so right. It rushes you on so quickly to its own conclusions your mind hasn’t time to protest, ‘What nonsense!’.”
― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Announcements

Need more? 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 atwww.thejoyofliving.co.

 

Being manipulated

 

It’s never a good feeling when we discover we’ve been manipulated. Deliberately given partial information, appealing to my sense of guilt or inadequacy, feeling pressured to do something I’d rather not do. These and many other ways happen daily – from advertisements, packaging, and politicians – so much so that we know better than to trust what we’re told. That’s smart, and also sad, because it can turn us into cynics.

Whenever it happens its because the manipulator wants us to do something that helps themselves. It might also help us, but that’s a possible side-effect and nothing more. It might be an unethical renovator who uses sub-grade materials, or someone who charges for something they didn’t actually do. It may be relatively harmless or something that is ruinous.

I’ve experienced both: charged for a purse repair that wasn’t done; an investor misrepresenting themselves to rid me of my savings. All cause pain and all cause damage.

Being manipulated happens a lot, and may be increasing, so its important to learn how to address it.

  • The first thing – always – is to pay attention to your own gut response. Do you feel a little uneasy? For me now, that’s enough. For you, you may need more … .
  • Is what you’re being told make you fearful, or angry, or set some basic emotion off? It’s hard to make a good decision when your emotions are up. Manipulators know that, and use it. So, if you notice your feelings are up, take some time off before taking any action.
  • Have you got someone you trust to talk it over with? If not, why not?
  • Finally, try turning it around: what would inspire you to ask the same thing of others? Then apply what you discover to what someone else is asking of you, and see what you discover.

Announcements

If you like this blog, you’ll also like my newsletters. 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

 

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 .

 

Imposter syndrome

imposter syndrome

 

A lot of people feel they are a fraud. Even Maya Anjelou felt that way sometimes. Members of traditionally underrepresented groups tend to feel this more. There are lots of motivational talks, books and videos that can help you if you suffer from this.

One aspect that interests me is this: in every thought there is at least a tiny piece of truth. I’m not saying I am an imposter, but I respect myself too much to poopoo this feeling completely when it does happen.

When I sense this thought creeping up on me, I’ve learned to ask myself a few questions, like “What legitimate reason might there be?”, “Am I afraid of doing something I’ve judged I ‘should’ already know, but is new to me?”, or “Are my personal expectations set too high?”.

  • Legitimate reason: perhaps there is something I don’t know and need to learn, or find someone else who does know this thing and get them on board. Nobody knows everything, not even long-time experts.
  • Fear of doing something new: As I get older, I also get more confident in what I’ve been doing for a while. Then something new comes along, and I’m a novice again. Will I get stuck, or make a mistake? Possibly, but if I have a strategy in place that covers this, I’ll be fine.
  • High expectations: This is probably the toughest one for me, because I do have high expectations for myself. A realistic assessment will help me adjust my expectations to something more attainable.

Traditionally, women feel this syndrome much more keenly than men. It’s been trained into us. If we’re honest, though, we’ll be able to exchange this undermining feeling for something more genuine and fitting. Pride in our own accomplishments, for instance.

The surprising solution to the Imposter Syndrome

Quote of the Week

When I won the Oscar, I thought it was a fluke. I thought everybody would find out, and they’d take it back. They’d come to my house, knocking on the door, “Excuse me, we meant to give that to someone else. That was going to Meryl Streep.
-Jodie Foster

Announcements

Need more? 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.

Imposter syndrome

imposter syndrome

 

A lot of people feel they are a fraud. Even Maya Anjelou felt that way sometimes. Members of traditionally underrepresented groups tend to feel this more. There are lots of motivational talks, books and videos that can help you if you suffer from this.

One aspect that interests me is this: in every thought there is at least a tiny piece of truth. I’m not saying I am an imposter, but I respect myself too much to poopoo this feeling completely when it does happen.

When I sense this thought creeping up on me, I’ve learned to ask myself a few questions, like “What legitimate reason might there be?”, “Am I afraid of doing something I’ve judged I ‘should’ already know, but is new to me?”, or “Are my personal expectations set too high?”.

  • Legitimate reason: perhaps there is something I don’t know and need to learn, or find someone else who does know this thing and get them on board. Nobody knows everything, not even long-time experts.
  • Fear of doing something new: As I get older, I also get more confident in what I’ve been doing for a while. Then something new comes along, and I’m a novice again. Will I get stuck, or make a mistake? Possibly, but if I have a strategy in place that covers this, I’ll be fine.
  • High expectations: This is probably the toughest one for me, because I do have high expectations for myself. A realistic assessment will help me adjust my expectations to something more attainable.

Traditionally, women feel this syndrome much more keenly than men. It’s been trained into us. If we’re honest, though, we’ll be able to exchange this undermining feeling for something more genuine and fitting. Pride in our own accomplishments, for instance.

Announcements

If you like this blog, you’ll also like my newsletters [link to latest newsletter that’s published in website ] for an 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

 

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 .

Why am I late!

late

I’m worried – that I’ve missed something. What is it? Let’s recheck everything before I go … and why don’t I take extra paper and pens … and how about snacks – healthy snacks … does that mean a trip to the store?  Yes!  OK … I’ll do that …

I don’t know if I should go … if it’s right for me to be there.  Well I committed, but I’d feel better if I finished that paper I’ve been working on first … and how about that mending I’ve been ignoring …

It’s my head that makes me late. Every time! Being used by me to avoid something I already know: that I’m anxious about doing something, or that I really should have said No but said Yes instead.

Once I acknowledge that thing I already know, I’m fine. I drop the chatter and get going.

Why are you late? What do you already know?

Try something new for 30 days

 

 

Quote of the Week

I have noticed that the people who are late are often so much jollier than the people who have to wait for them.”  ― E. V. Lucas

 

Announcements

Need more? 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.

Why am I late!

late

I’m worried – that I’ve missed something. What is it? Let’s recheck everything before I go … and why don’t I take extra paper and pens … and how about snacks – healthy snacks … does that mean a trip to the store?  Yes!  OK … I’ll do that …

I don’t know if I should go … if it’s right for me to be there.  Well I committed, but I’d feel better if I finished that paper I’ve been working on first … and how about that mending I’ve been ignoring …

It’s my head that makes me late. Every time! Being used by me to avoid something I already know: that I’m anxious about doing something, or that I really should have said No but said Yes instead.

Once I acknowledge that thing I already know, I’m fine. I drop the chatter and get going.

Why are you late? What do you already know?

 

Announcements

If you like this blog, you’ll also like my newsletters [link to latest newsletter that’s published in website ] for an 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

 

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 .

If you want to be a writer …

A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write!

I heard this from a facebook video of an elderly woman (name unknown). It may seem simplistic, but if so, it also hits the nail on the head.

No matter what you want to do, no matter what your dream is, the only way it will come true is if you take action.

You may be stopped because you feel overwhelmed. If so, try turtle steps – one step so tiny it feels like nothing. Then another just like that. Then another. Before long, you will notice changes you never thought possible.

 

Announcements

If you like this blog, you’ll also like my newsletters. 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

 

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 .

 

When I shame you, I shame everyone

I was at an event a few weeks back. I’d been learning something new, and during the feedback period, the teacher shamed me publicly for failing to “get” something she had reminded me of previously. Her words were to the effect: “I’ve told you about this before and you did it again”.

I did what I always do when I get criticized in this way: I put on a brave face, swallow my pride, and take in what she is saying.  I also stuff down any feelings I might have of not being seen, and of being treated like a 12-year-old. It’s an old story for me – a seeming lack of justice. And I could have easily fallen into that particular self-pity hole.

There are 2 important things I learned from this experience:

Even while feeling the warmth of shame, I noticed that I wasn’t alone in feeling this. Everyone else in the room was feeling it too. The sudden silence and lowering of eyes indicated to me that we were all feeling the impact as shame.

That’s the first point: when I shame you in public, I shame everyone else in the room.

The person who shamed me is nice, good, smart, and caring. She’s someone I like and admire. Her intention wasn’t to shame me, but to give me honest feedback. Her mistake was in the way she delivered it.

The second point is that I’ve done the same to others.  I’ve unintentionally shamed another person in front of others, with the same effect – the room goes quiet, eyes turned down.

There are other better ways of delivering a critique. Asking what was going on for the person, providing feedback on how that impacted other participants, followed by a query on what that person believes they can do next time.

Public shaming is rarely justified. It’s painful and leaves people feeling under-empowered.  Far better to learn how to deliver criticism in a way that leaves the other person – and everyone else in the room – energized.

 

Announcements

If you like this blog, you’ll also like my newsletters. 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

 

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 .