Archive: Anxiety Stress and Fear

Making much about nothing

 

Tell me if this sounds familiar: You have a goal in mind – something you want to accomplish by the end of the week, because you have other goals in mind that depend on accomplishing this particular task. But it means getting the cooperation, time and effort of others, without which that goal is not possible. Well, that’s worrying! Having to depend on the good will and cooperation of others! I don’t know about you, but it makes my stomach double in on itself: I immediately and automatically begin to think of all the things that might go wrong, that I have to cover somehow. It doesn’t take long before I feel completely overwhelmed and exhausted … without having made a single move towards getting the task done.

If it isn’t familiar to you at a personal level, then you have heard about it. There are books, papers, clichés, even movies made about this single thing: making much about nothing.

Self-fulfilling prophecy, building a mountain out of a molehill are 2 of those clichés. I still do it  – make something out of almost nothing – far too often. If I don’t snap myself out of it, I could end up making my fears come true. At the least, I might miss the opportunity I had, living instead in fear of something I’ve imagined.

It’s a mind game. I know it’s a mind game. And yet it happens again and again.  I really want to know how I can stop it, and move instead in a different and better direction. Even though it still happens to me, it doesn’t happen with the frequency or intensity that it once had. I’ve found a way of regaining control over my anxieties of future worrying possibilities. Here’s what I do:

  • Feel it. I’ve learned to know what it physically feels like to go into worry and “what if’s”: a body awareness that is unique to each of us, and that tells me when I’m going down that particular trail. For me it’s my stomach, and a clenching in my upper chest behind my breast bone.  When I feel this sensation, I gain a valuable awareness that I’m about to do something that will cause me pain.
  • Stop it. There’s one thing I know with certainty about going down that road: it’s a waste of time and will generate nothing good. So the best thing I can do is to stop the progression in its tracks. There are probably many ways to stop yourself: I do it by saying (shouting, in fact) “Stop it!”, or “Don’t go there! It’s useless.” That works for me; it gives me a breather. It gives me a few seconds to go down a different path: one of my choosing.
  • Change it. That other path is something I’ve built up for years, refining and reinforcing it over and over, until it’s smooth, stable, steady – able to carry heavy loads. A major throughway – autobahn – in my mind. Without that road, all I have is a void – a hole – that I don’t trust and that makes me nervous.  I need to replace that hole with a new path, then reinforce that new path until it is at least as well constructed as the old one. It’s called building a new habit. It takes time and persistence. At first, it’s astonishingly hard, but over time, it gets easier.  My way is to take a big breath, then bring out of hiding the fear that is always at the root of my worry. It calms me, and gives me the energy I need to do something truly constructive.

Feel it. Stop it. Change it. Making something about something, instead of much about nothing.

 

Announcements 

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

I don’t matter as much as … ?

 

Most of us have unconscious go-to’s that ultimately hurt us. We have them because they helped us cope in difficult situations when we were much younger. Even if, as adults, we know they’re untrue and unhelpful, we can end up finding ourselves going down that road countless times.

My unconscious go-to is “I don’t matter as much as …”. As you, or my neighbor, or someone I know nothing about.  I don’t always find myself going there, but when I’m unsure of what I’m doing, or don’t know my surroundings, it’s pretty easy for me to begin to go down that familiar path.

I know I matter as much as everyone else. I know intellectually that I matter more than others to those who care about me.  And yet I can hear that familiar lament inside, and feel it in my body at times, and it never takes me to a place I want to be.

The way I tackle it is through persistence:

  • Recognizing the feeling, then stopping it immediately. I know it’s false, that it comes from a place of feeling wounded and uncertain, and that allowing that particular tape to play isn’t useful.
  • Replacing it with something that’s true. There are many things to choose from such as; “I do, in fact, matter”, “ I matter as much as any other living being. I’m a part of the universe.”, “I matter!”. If I’m with someone who truly feels that I don’t matter as much, it may be that it’s time to be with someone else.

The old story has been played many times. It only stands to reason that the new one will take a while to replace it.

You matter

Quote of the Week 

Every woman that finally figured out her worth, has picked up her suitcases of pride and boarded a flight to freedom, which landed in the valley of change.”
― Shannon L. Alder

Announcements 

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

 

I don’t matter as much as … ?

 

Most of us have unconscious go-to’s that ultimately hurt us. We have them because they helped us cope in difficult situations when we were much younger. Even if, as adults, we know they’re untrue and unhelpful, we can end up finding ourselves going down that road countless times.

My unconscious go-to is “I don’t matter as much as …”. As you, or my neighbor, or someone I know nothing about.  I don’t always find myself going there, but when I’m unsure of what I’m doing, or don’t know my surroundings, it’s pretty easy for me to begin to go down that familiar path.

I know I matter as much as everyone else. I know intellectually that I matter more than others to those who care about me.  And yet I can hear that familiar lament inside, and feel it in my body at times, and it never takes me to a place I want to be.

The way I tackle it is through persistence:

  • Recognizing the feeling, then stopping it immediately. I know it’s false, that it comes from a place of feeling wounded and uncertain, and that allowing that particular tape to play isn’t useful.
  • Replacing it with something that’s true. There are many things to choose from such as; “I do, in fact, matter”, “ I matter as much as any other living being. I’m a part of the universe.”, “I matter!”. If I’m with someone who truly feels that I don’t matter as much, it may be that it’s time to be with someone else.

The old story has been played many times. It only stands to reason that the new one will take a while to replace it.

 

Announcements 

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

 

Aloneness

 

I was listening to a close friend agonize over her failing relationship, remembering what it was like for me when my past marriage was failing. That feeling of being alone in a space crowded with others – even if all that space was taken up by one other person. That person who used to care about what I said or did and so clearly no longer cared.

“There’s nothing worse than being alone when you’re with somebody” – my friend responded when I empathized with her.

That’s not the only time I‘ve felt this kind of aloneness. I’ve felt it when I’ve accomplished something that nobody else I know has. Whenever I’ve had to make hard decisions that impacted others, I’ve felt it.

My friend wanted and needed connection and wasn’t getting it. Instead of ignoring that feeling, she saw it for what it was – a signal for change. A confrontation, an action, a re-arrangement, perhaps a leaving. A change.

Sometimes feeling alone is the only way. Sometimes it’s a signal for change.

Connected, but alone?

 

Quote of the Week 

God created man and, finding him not sufficiently alone, gave him a companion to make him feel his solitude more keenly.”
― Paul Valéry

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.

 

 

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 .

Aloneness

 

I was listening to a close friend agonize over her failing relationship, remembering what it was like for me when my past marriage was failing. That feeling of being alone in a space crowded with others – even if all that space was taken up by one other person. That person who used to care about what I said or did and so clearly no longer cared.

“There’s nothing worse than being alone when you’re with somebody” – my friend responded when I empathized with her.

That’s not the only time I‘ve felt this kind of aloneness. I’ve felt it when I’ve accomplished something that nobody else I know has. Whenever I’ve had to make hard decisions that impacted others, I’ve felt it.

My friend wanted and needed connection and wasn’t getting it. Instead of ignoring that feeling, she saw it for what it was – a signal for change. A confrontation, an action, a re-arrangement, perhaps a leaving. A change.

Sometimes feeling alone is the only way. Sometimes it’s a signal for change.

 

Announcements 

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

 

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 .

Hiding in plain sight

hiding

I’ve been anticipating that the response I get from a colleague to something I put out is one I won’t like, and when I do receive her response, I’m ready to load my anticipations onto my interpretation of it. As a result, I will react emotionally to what she does say. But just so there’s a possibility of dialogue after the reaction, I will do this in private, waiting until I’m cooled down enough to respond.

Another colleague reads about new requirements that he feels he “should have” caught earlier and didn’t, and he reacts by retreating until he, too, can respond in a more measured way.

It isn’t until I reach out for a one-on-one live conversation that I can put aside my expectations and projections (because that’s all I really have up till now) and gain a truly measured understanding. Similarly with my colleague, it isn’t until he has the conversation – live – that he can really appreciate the reality of the situation.

I know I react. I know I can explode. I know that when I explode, the result is rarely anything but destructive. So I hide behind propriety, keeping my opinions to myself until I can express them in a way that I believe will be more acceptable to those I’m expressing them to.

This seems to be the way of everyone in our society, and is leading to an ever-spreading reaction against “political correctness”.  Political correctness gives us the code for being agreeable, and for expressing our anger in a way that is deemed acceptable. But this modern security blanket we use is wearing thin, because just like any security system, it can – and is – used to launch grenades.

We hide in plain sight behind our words and our mask of maturity. We all do – well, most of us – because most of us are afraid of what would happen if we were spontaneous instead.

I grew up believing that I had freedom of speech, that I could say something controversial, or even wrong, and not be punished for it. But in these recent years, that’s changed. My society today isn’t the same comfortable and secure-feeling one of my youth. People – including me – don’t feel secure any longer, right or wrong. And that makes me careful about what I say and how I say it.

I believe that given today’s atmosphere, suggesting we be more spontaneous isn’t helpful or even possible. We need to feel safe to be free with our words and actions, and that simply isn’t true.

I believe that what we can do, and can nurture in others, is real connection. Of deferring judgment – as much as possible – until we can talk. Until we can see that person we have thoughts and judgments about as a human being who is doing their best, just as we are.

Morgana Bailey – on coming out

 

 

Quote of the Week

Man is not what he thinks he is, he is what he hides.”
― André Malraux

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.

Hiding in plain sight

hiding

 

I’ve been anticipating that the response I get from a colleague to something I put out is one I won’t like, and when I do receive her response, I’m ready to load my anticipations onto my interpretation of it. As a result, I will react emotionally to what she does say. But just so there’s a possibility of dialogue after the reaction, I will do this in private, waiting until I’m cooled down enough to respond.

Another colleague reads about new requirements that he feels he “should have” caught earlier and didn’t, and he reacts by retreating until he, too, can respond in a more measured way.

It isn’t until I reach out for a one-on-one live conversation that I can put aside my expectations and projections (because that’s all I really have up till now) and gain a truly measured understanding. Similarly with my colleague, it isn’t until he has the conversation – live – that he can really appreciate the reality of the situation.

I know I react. I know I can explode. I know that when I explode, the result is rarely anything but destructive. So I hide behind propriety, keeping my opinions to myself until I can express them in a way that I believe will be more acceptable to those I’m expressing them to.

This seems to be the way of everyone in our society, and is leading to an ever-spreading reaction against “political correctness”.  Political correctness gives us the code for being agreeable, and for expressing our anger in a way that is deemed acceptable. But this modern security blanket we use is wearing thin, because just like any security system, it can – and is – used to launch grenades.

We hide in plain sight behind our words and our mask of maturity. We all do – well, most of us – because most of us are afraid of what would happen if we were spontaneous instead.

I grew up believing that I had freedom of speech, that I could say something controversial, or even wrong, and not be punished for it. But in these recent years, that’s changed. My society today isn’t the same comfortable and secure-feeling one of my youth. People – including me – don’t feel secure any longer, right or wrong. And that makes me careful about what I say and how I say it.

I believe that given today’s atmosphere, suggesting we be more spontaneous isn’t helpful or even possible. We need to feel safe to be free with our words and actions, and that simply isn’t true.

I believe that what we can do, and can nurture in others, is real connection. Of deferring judgment – as much as possible – until we can talk. Until we can see that person we have thoughts and judgments about as a human being who is doing their best, just as we are.

 

Announcements

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

 

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 .

Time Travel – it’s exhausting!

 

time

I’ve been having trouble with US customs lately that apparently stems from a comment my boyfriend innocently made when he had crossed on his way home.  He’s American; I’m Canadian. In that comment, he mentioned my name, and for that reason, it appears, my name was written up. Since that time, I have been stopped, questioned, searched, etc.. It is aggressive and I don’t deserve it. And yet, as with many other travellers, it’s happening.

I tend to dwell on things that scare me, and unreasonable behavior scares me.  What’s happening at the border is to me unreasonable. So I find myself attempting to make it make sense, going over and over in my mind what could possibly be behind it.

The truth is – and I know it – that I might never know. So why dwell on it? The past events are past; the future events will be whatever they are going to be.  I have put into action what I can, and now it’s time to let it go. It’s out of my hands and will be whatever it’s going to be.

Well, it isn’t that easy.  I find myself asking: have I looked at every angle? Is there anything I haven’t tried? Then, at some point, I’ll think of something and won’t let it go till I try it out. I’m like a terroir latched onto its favorite bone, gnawing away relentlessly.

Then for some inexplicable reason, I’m tired.  Too tired to see friends, or work out, or even go for a walk. This gives me something more to worry about: my health.

It’s a pattern that you might be familiar with in your own life. If you were to begin to journal every time you found yourself worrying and dwelling, you might be astonished to find that the reason you’re so tired is because of all the energy used up on this activity.

It’s a form of time travel, the kind that uses up energy you could otherwise put to good use. It’s exhausting.

There’s a way of disconnecting ourselves from this pre-occupation. It isn’t easy. It involves coming to terms with our fears; in my case, it’s a fear of what isn’t reasonable, or seemingly logical. For you, it might be a fear of the unknown; of what’s around the corner that you can’t yet see.

It involves letting go of our plans, or our need for understanding and certainty, or for justice, or whatever it is that we feel is missing. It also involves retraining ourselves to re-focus on what we have the power to influence instead on what is out of our hands. Looking at new possibilities that we might otherwise never entertain.

When I begin to think that way, the fear that grips me disappears.

What about you?

The psychology of your future self

Quote of the Week

There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance.”
-John Lennon

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.

Time Travel – it’s exhausting!

 

time

I’ve been having trouble with US customs lately that apparently stems from a comment my boyfriend innocently made when he had crossed on his way home.  He’s American; I’m Canadian. In that comment, he mentioned my name, and for that reason, it appears, my name was written up. Since that time, I have been stopped, questioned, searched, etc.. It is aggressive and I don’t deserve it. And yet, as with many other travellers, it’s happening.

I tend to dwell on things that scare me, and unreasonable behavior scares me.  What’s happening at the border is to me unreasonable. So I find myself attempting to make it make sense, going over and over in my mind what could possibly be behind it.

The truth is – and I know it – that I might never know. So why dwell on it? The past events are past; the future events will be whatever they are going to be.  I have put into action what I can, and now it’s time to let it go. It’s out of my hands and will be whatever it’s going to be.

Well, it isn’t that easy.  I find myself asking: have I looked at every angle? Is there anything I haven’t tried? Then, at some point, I’ll think of something and won’t let it go till I try it out. I’m like a terroir latched onto its favorite bone, gnawing away relentlessly.

Then for some inexplicable reason, I’m tired.  Too tired to see friends, or work out, or even go for a walk. This gives me something more to worry about: my health.

It’s a pattern that you might be familiar with in your own life. If you were to begin to journal every time you found yourself worrying and dwelling, you might be astonished to find that the reason you’re so tired is because of all the energy used up on this activity.

It’s a form of time travel, the kind that uses up energy you could otherwise put to good use. It’s exhausting.

There’s a way of disconnecting ourselves from this pre-occupation. It isn’t easy. It involves coming to terms with our fears; in my case, it’s a fear of what isn’t reasonable, or seemingly logical. For you, it might be a fear of the unknown; of what’s around the corner that you can’t yet see.

It involves letting go of our plans, or our need for understanding and certainty, or for justice, or whatever it is that we feel is missing. It also involves retraining ourselves to re-focus on what we have the power to influence instead on what is out of our hands. Looking at new possibilities that we might otherwise never entertain.

When I begin to think that way, the fear that grips me disappears.

What about you?

 

Announcements 

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

A False Sense of In-Security

 

A few weeks ago I listened to a friend, passionate about safe bike riding, speaking about how bikers seems to have a false sense of security – they feel safe when they aren’t, and lull themselves into complacency when they need to be alert.

I began to muse on how our society as a whole seems to have, in other arenas, exactly the opposite – a false sense of insecurity:  from our politicians and political policies down to the belief that anyone with children must have a metal-clad SUV to drive their kids around in.

How often have I witnessed lately – and even participated in – people opting for solutions based on protection and nothing else? How often have I witnessed overly aggressive reactions to anyone disagreeing to such a stance? Before I became a therapist and life coach, I was often involved in leading teams to protect companies from potential disaster. I’m used to thinking about protection – probably more so than most others. And this may be why I can recognize this trend today.

As a former disaster recovery expert, I’ve learned that the best solutions to protecting ourselves from possible disasters are always the simplest ones: building in redundancy; ensuring that whatever backup solutions you have are seamless and easy to implement by anyone.

Ironically, experts tell us that we in the Western world live in a time of unparalleled safety. And yet we feel insecure. It may be that we are unused to feeling safe and suspect it. Or it may be that our expectations are unrealistic.

Whatever the reason, this false sense of insecurity is epidemic, and it generates mistrust. Even aggression.

What can you do about it?

  • First become aware of what it looks like, and how it makes you feel. That, in itself, will help you begin to change your approach.
  • Develop a healthy scepticism to anything that generates this false sense of insecurity, by learning to question it and determining its legitimacy.
  • Once you have a clearer picture of what’s happening, you will also have a clearer picture of your options.

Just because we live in a culture of insecurity doesn’t mean we have to participate in it. Feeling insecure is disempowering. You don’t have to live that way.

What fear can teach us

Quote of the Week

One of the greatest journeys in life is overcoming insecurity and learning to truly not give a shit.” ― J. A. Konrath

 

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.