Archive: Anxiety Stress and Fear

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.

 

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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 .

Control yourself, Grasshopper – The People factor when it comes to stress

 

“It isn’t the work that’s an issue for me. There’s a lot of it, but I can handle it. It’s the people!” I remember saying that any number of times when I became a manager, suddenly thrust into being responsible for mess-ups that weren’t of my making. At least it seemed that way to my then naïve viewpoint.

Sure, I had my heroes – usually stoic men and women who could be calm through anything. I tried to emulate them, and some would say I did it well. But inside, I was often anything but stoic and calm.

I was a mess.

The “What if’s” were my constant companion. “What if Charlie doesn’t get done on time?” What if Louise doesn’t come into work again?” “What if the next person I hire is a closet sociopath?”

Yes. Things were very hairy inside me sometimes. Until I learnt a few “rules that kept me sane and balanced:

  1. Know who I truly have any control over. The only person I can control is me. That means that if I’m worrying over someone else, there’s probably something I’m not worrying over about me. When I hired that last person, what wasn’t I looking at that makes me worry about him now? And why? Now that I’ve hired him, what can I put in place for myself that would give me peace of mind?
  2. Be transparent. If I’m not truly calm and stoic inside, then don’t pretend I am. That only sets me up for a future heart-attack, and lets others think something about me and the situation that’s simply not true. I may talk myself into thinking I’m doing everyone a favor, but I’m not. Not that throwing a fit is the answer. It definitely isn’t. But neither is bottling things up.
  3. Be open. It always amazes me how things turn out when I remain open. All those times when I decided ahead of time that a particular result was inevitable were never great. But any time where I was able to remain open to what became available were really pretty good.

For me, it’s always the people who I stress over. But it doesn’t have to be. When I’m open and transparent, and stop trying to control what I can’t, life is a lot less stressful.

 

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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 .

 

Moving forward

 

Paulo Coelho said “When you can’t go back, you have to worry only about the best way of moving forward.”  Like most – if not all – of us, he has a story. In his personal story, his parents committed him to a mental institution when he was 17 for 3 years. There were most likely many times where he felt powerless and let the fact that he was victimized overwhelm him. But he ultimately found his own way out of that mire and was able to move in the only direction open to him: forward.

I have a story. It’s different from Paulo Coelho’s. I could have let the pain I suffered overwhelm me. Sometimes I made bad choices because of that pain. Ultimately, though, I moved in the same direction – the only direction – open to me. Forward.

It’s possible to rewrite your story that way, moving forward.

 

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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 .

Closing doors

 

I witnessed explosive anger today from an unlikely source. A woman, who I don’t really know, took offense at something said and stomped out, leaving the person she was with standing there. Then a little later, she returned, saying she really wanted to give her companion space, even though the only person clearly fuming was her.

We’ve all been there. Some of us might even have done something that foolish. And if we did, we know it never leads to anything good.

How do you know when to walk away and when to stay? I have to ask myself that question every time I’m tempted to leave an unpleasant situation: do I want to leave because it’s too much of a challenge, or because I’ve done everything I could and now it’s time to invest my energy elsewhere?

The simple answer: How am I feeling?

Am I fuming so badly I can’t think straight? If I am, then I know it’s all about me, and before I do anything, I need to own at least that.

Or, am I at the point of exhaustion, feeling my energy draining even thinking about getting involved ever again? In that case, perhaps it’s time to end things (with grace) and move on.

Or, is it a challenge to me to try and figure this out? Does it energize me when I contemplate moving towards it? If so, then do just that – move towards it, and see what happens.

Do I stay or do I go? The answer begins with self-honesty and then self-knowing.

Close some doors today. Not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but simply because they lead you nowhere.” – Paulo Coelho

 

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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.

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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 .

Betrayed by Facebook!

Several months ago, after writing a newsletter and blog twice each week for a few years, I suddenly get an influx of Friend requests on Facebook.  At first, I was overjoyed. Then I discovered that these “friends” weren’t the kind of people who I’d expect to like my writing. So, I began the laborious job of unfriending them.  But really, I was taking my time, not thinking it was something that had to be done immediately.

Then one day, I get a request from the Facebook Messenger system asking if I wanted to activate it.  I did, and that’s when I was betrayed by Facebook.  Every time I got onto Facebook after that, I’d get interrupted by “Friends” and non-friends (people I never friended) wanting to talk. It was like having the hiccoughs and not being able to end it.

Then I started getting photos and videos I didn’t want and never asked for. Yes, I can – and did – block these. But by this point I was feeling distinctly harassed.

I tried de-activating Messenger, only to discover that I couldn’t. I messaged Facebook and let them know the situation and how I was feeling, and to please!deactivate Messenger.  No response.

That’s when removing all unknown “friends” became a priority. I did it. En masse.

At last. Peace.

I learnt something from this: don’t be so hasty in assuming that people really want to be friends with me simply because they say so – on Facebook. And always keep in mind that Facebook has its own agenda that isn’t necessarily mine.

OK. So that was Facebook.  But it could have been almost any large corporate business these days.  With Facebook, there’s no real way of contacting them – as with many online businesses. So, I’m left with something that’s broken and that I need to work around rather than simply fix or get rid of.  Oh, I know they’re a big company and they can’t respond to all complaints or concerns. But they need to. Just like I need to. Just like you need to. If you and I want to maintain our connections in a good way.

Being betrayed by big business might not seem as big a deal as being betrayed by a real friend.  But in a way it is. It’s just that we are so used to this from companies these days that we tend to shrug it off with resignation and cynicism.

I think there’s more I can do. I can write about it and see if that makes a difference.
This isn’t about painting Facebook or any other large company into the corner of evil-doing. It’s about expecting good service instead of negligent service.  And I wonder: if we never complain, why would they think anything’s wrong?

How the NSA betrayed the world’s trust

Quote of the Week

“Betrayal leaves us at a fork in the road … we can become stuck in a bad moment forever or we can put it behind us for good. We decide our path. “

– Carmen Harra

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Blog: In case you missed it, here’s my latest blog.

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.

Enlightenment always tastes of freedom

“Enlightenment” is a term I hear used a lot these days.  It’s often in the context of gaining some kind of spiritual excellence.

I do wonder about this: it comes close to smacking of superiority and so I’m suspicious of it. So, is this something real and something worth moving towards?

I think so.  The Buddha said that you will know enlightenment because it always tastes of freedom, just as you know the ocean because it tastes of salt. This implies that I achieve enlightenment every time I can flow with the process of life, without feeling triggered or reactive in any way.

Sometimes, I do feel that way. And, no doubt, you do too.

One thing for certain, then, is that when I’m anxious, or stressed, or lost in worry, I’m not in a state of enlightenment. I’m in an opposite kind of state: frozen in time, fighting off inner daemons.

I’ve been there too?  What about you?  If you’ve been in a place of anxious stress, were you able to find your way to a better place?  If not, you may find my online course Burning the Candle at Both Ends worthwhile.

It’s starting now.  Click here if you’re interested in learning about it.

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 .

 

You don’t need more time!

time

When what you’re about to do matters – when it’s important – and you’re worried you’ll screw up, or make the wrong choice, or get the timing wrong, or any countless other possibilities that run through your head just before you hit “start” …

You’ve been careful, considered many options, weighed the plusses and minuses of going ahead.

Then the best time to start is now.

That worry is fear talking. Not logic.

 

It isn’t our brain that lets us down. It’s our spirit. It’s that age-old fear. I’m offering a program that looks at our spiritual blocks, and it’s called Burning the Candle at Both Ends. It’s starting October 8th. Click here to register.

 

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 .

Excitement without oxygen

 

Dr. Margherita Lobb, in a recent talk on Anxiety, defined anxiety as “excitement without oxygen”.  In a visceral way, we can all relate to this: if you’ve experienced anxiety, it’s hard to breathe.  In fact, when anxious, a person either stops breathing, or begins to breath fast and shallow, filling only the upper part of their lungs.

We are excited, and we aren’t filling our lungs with oxygen.

Ms. Lobb then goes on to lay out what happens to our body when we’re in this state: when we deprive our body of oxygen, we must necessarily disconnect. This means we detach our bodies from our brains. To understand this, remember when you were last anxious and what it felt like. The rapid heart-beat, sweaty palms, shallow breathing; but also the mental preoccupation that begins to take over and spirals out of control if we let it.  This is what disconnection feels like. The mental take-over.

Knowing and understanding this is power, because this knowledge is key to reversing the effects of anxiety.

Here’s how:

  • Slow and deep: If we detach through shallow breathing, we can counter it by breathing deeply and slowly.
  • Bra-strap breathing. A “trick” I learned a few years ago and now share with my clients is to do what one client dubbed “bra-strap breathing”: imagine breathing into that area of your back where a woman’s bra strap usually sits, just below the shoulder blades; then breathe out slowly, pushing the sensation down to your belly button. If you take more time breathing out than you did breathing in, then you will also activate your parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for calming and relaxing.
  • Ground yourself… by focusing on your feet connecting with the ground beneath you. This will literally lower your centre of gravity and provide stability.

The next time you experience anxiety, try these three things – slow and deep breaths, bra strap breathing, and grounding your feet – and feel the difference.

 

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 .

On Fear and Power

 

Uncontrolled fear that becomes habitual is a major source of anxiety.

I’m offering a program that addresses this kind of fear – it’s called Burning the Candle at Both Ends. If you’re interested in learning more, click here. It’s starting October 8th; registration closes October 7th .

 

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 .

 

Hard talks

 

I’m conflict-averse. How about you? My dear friend, Andy, says he’s conflict-averse, but I don’t know anyone who deals with conflict and confrontation better than he does. When confronted with a conflict, he’s always available, fair-minded, and to the point. And what happens is that the conflict dissappears.

I’m talking about those times when you either keep quiet and sit on something that bothers you, or speak up and bear the consequences.  You might imagine the consequences will be big and painful, and that will keep you quiet. Then feel bad because you didn’t speak up. And, to compound the bad feeling, end up berating yourself for being such a coward.

Sometimes it’s true, the consequences are as bad as you imagine. But not always, and there are ways of mitigating them. It could be that you’re right in what you believe, but not great at effectively managing the confrontation, or being respectful of the other person.

Dr. Deborah Plummer, author of “Some of My Friends re…”, spoke recently at a Psychology gathering on conflict management. She advocates that when the goal is to reach a mutually acceptable conclusion, it might be better to opt for being effective and respectful instead of right.

Here are some of her examples: When the other person is…

  • Racist in some way, she suggests that you approach them with curiosity, looking for common values rather than blaming and shaming;
  • Not well-informed, focus on gathering common facts and testing assumptions (theirs and yours) instead of trying to “educate” them;
  • Being authoritarian, respond as an adult (rational) instead of a child-like (dependent) position, in order to shift the dynamic;
  • Demonstrates bad logic or bad thinking, recognize that you aren’t going to be able to change that, and move on with grace.

With every one of these examples, there is a common factor – maintaining your own inner balance and openness to the other. Once closed, none of us can deal well with conflict.

 

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 .