Archive: Featured

The inescapable impact of our ancestry



In a paper from Jon Blend and Roz Carroll Witnessed Improvised Diaspora Journey Enactments (WIDJE): an experiential method for exploring refugee history, the authors’ interest was on the impact of forced displacement of people from their family and culture. Their focus was on current refugee movements, and on the displacement and loss of family for the Jews from the last World War.  Their paper reviews what is known, and then provides a way for displaced peoples to begin to heal and reconnect with their past.

Why is this important? Because whether a person is able to have a connection with their ancestors – both in terms of their blood relations and community – people’s identity is impacted in profound ways.

Becoming separated from our past creates wounds that we protect and pass to our offspring. It prevents us from living fully, or for our children to live fully.

I invite you to consider that almost everyone in the United States and Canada is, to some extent, displaced from their history.  Most families and individuals who immigrated to North America did so because they had to, leaving behind their community and families and culture to begin again.  The indigenous peoples of North America were forced away from their communities and ways of living – even from their lands – by those same people; thereby losing their birthright.

We all have a birthright to reclaim. Sometimes that means recreating or rebirthing ourselves, sometimes it means retracing our stories (including what we imagine as the stories of our forbearers), and sometimes it means a little of both. By doing so, we reconnect ourselves to our past, and create a positive connection for those who come after us.

There is an indigenous belief that we are influenced by the 7 generations before us, and will influence the 7 generations after us. How do you want to influence everyone that comes after you?



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



Who are you?

Who are you

Find out who you are and do it on purpose.  Dolly Parton said this.

It got me thinking about digging deeper into what it means to know thyself.  She not only says to do it, but to intentionally do it!

When we’re little, before we get hurt from one thing or another in life, we do know who we are, but not consciously.  Then, as we learn to defend ourselves from the bumps in our lives, we might begin to lose touch with that knowing, opting instead to focus on not getting hurt.

It took me a long time to get reacquainted with myself.  I call it body knowing, and believe it’s the only way I can trust myself.

I’m thinking that that’s what it means to find out who I am, and do it on purpose.

What do you think?



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

Anger: how it helps and how it hurts us

Let me tell you a story that you may know yourself. You’re in the office and hear your manager tearing a strip off a co-worker. The manager is angermeterangry bordering on rage. She seems to have a point, but her attitude toward the co-worker is, in itself, anger-making.

How does this impact you as an unwilling observer? What would you find yourself doing about it?

Some of us would get angry and react by either saying something in anger or avoiding the situation altogether, likely feeling badly about it later. A few of us may get angry and then take it in, responding once we were ready, feeling OK later, if we thought about it at all.

The former reaction hurts us and the second helps us. As Ambrose Bierce said, “Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.”

Anger is a natural and necessary emotion. It’s how we deal with our own anger that determines whether it hurts or helps us. Anger is a natural response to perceived threats. It causes our body to release adrenaline, our muscles to tighten, and our heart rate and blood pressure to increase. Our senses might feel more acute and our face and hands flushed. Anger becomes a problem only when we don’t manage it in a healthy way.

Anger helps us in at least three ways:

  1. Anger protects us when we are in physical danger by kicking in our “fight or flight” response, allowing us to act quickly.
  2. Anger can let us know when something isn’t right and we need to take action. For instance, if a person isn’t listening to us when an important situation arises.
  3. Anger teaches us about what is important to us and about our own bottom lines. For instance, back to the story, is mutual respect in the workplace a bottom line for you?

Next time you get angry, notice how you respond. Begin to appreciate how getting angry, if felt mindfully, can be a powerful teacher in our lives.

 Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit for information on her services, or contact her directly to find out how she can help you reclaim the joy of living.


Therapy, How to Tell If It’s Needed

We all have stress and life issues to deal with. One of the biggest hesitations about therapy is usually the question of “if it is needed” before the time and expense is invested in the services. I tend to believe an outside perspective is always good to have. This said, I have come up with 3 scenarios where I would suggest personal therapy regardless of the circumstances.  If you experience any of the scenarios listed below, please reach out to myself or any other healthcare or mental health professional;

  1.  Stress is above the normal limits. Stress can lead to both a mental and physical breakdown. The anxiety can cause you to fail at work, disregard your family’s needs, and even return to an addiction (if not start a new one).  I would say any stress that starts to cause a lack of concentration or disrupts your physical health is reason enough to seek therapy.
  2. No one is listening anymore. If friends and family have tuned out or have started to avoid you because of your constant talking about stress, worry and/or life problems, you need a fresh and professional listener. This means the problem has gone on long enough that they can no longer help, outside of listening, and you need a therapist to provide you with some coping skills, maybe even an RX.
  3. Someone has said something to you. Friends or family who suggest therapy to you know you best. It may be a subtle intervention, but if someone else brings up therapy services to you, it may be for a reason. One session to explore if this option is truly a great match for you can’t be of any harm, so why not be open to it?

I offer a range of online and in-person therapy services. If you feel like you are in need of an outside perspective or an influx of coping tips, please reach out to myself or any other healthcare professional.

When You’re Stuck

There are some people who refuse to let others help them. They make suggestions, but the other party doesn’t listen. The other party makes excuses that “Everything is fine” or “people do respond to me” and then they get no where. Well, being stuck personally and professionally is never easy to address- especially when the subject is yourself or your tunnel vision. Know this, addressing yourself and what you can be doing better can help you feel better about where your life is going versus wondering why things aren’t changing for you or blaming other people for lack of change in your life.

The best sign to discovering if you’re stuck is to ask yourself right now what it is you want. “Happy self” or “wonderful career” are blanket answers. Be specific. Can you really define what it is you want right now? Recognize that you have desires, goals, and beliefs that are important to you. Your values matter and when they shift, it is because something inside of you has awakened and is ready to experience more.

Another question you want to ask yourself in discovering if you’re truly your own problem (and stuck) is because your joy is gone. You may have become too focused on what you think you “should” do instead of what you really, truly want to do. Example, I knew a lady in business who followed her competitor’s every move. The competitor had more business then she did , so naturally she thought she should be doing what the competitor was doing… only she had NO business. The problem was she wasn’t listening to what her customers wanted, she was too focused on what she thought she should be doing. She had no business and she was unhappy- not a way to live.  I also know many people who are stuck in unhappy marriages because they were brought up being told they “should” get married. They are not happy, they are only pleasing other people. Again, not a way to live and it leads to being stuck.

Turn things around with baby steps. Focus on asking yourself what it is that you want to do and be detailed about the answer. Then focus on if you are joyful and doing what you love or if you are miserable and doing what you should do. There is a difference between the two- as well as the outcome. Then focus on what you are going to do from this day forward by starting with the baby steps. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. If you want to grow, you have to allow yourself to be uncomfortable; all growth requires discomfort, but it is worth it. Yes, start small and then move on to the big stuff. The point is to address yourself and then focus on considering change and then making that change!

3 No-RX Ways to Fight Depression

There is no shame in needing a little prescription help when combating depression. This said, I have noticed more and more clients want to try the non-RX way to battle depression before they have to get a prescription. Below are the 3 ways I have found that help battle depression without having to have a doctor sign-off on a prescription. This said, if you feel like you are in need of RX help, please ask for it. There is no shame in asking and not all options work for all the people all of the time.

#1 alternative to RX-  Get moving. Exercise can relieve depression, possibly by altering the mood-regulating brain chemicals norepinephrine and serotonin. Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking on a treadmill, is best, but any degree of exercise is better than none.

#2 alternative to RX – More light. During the short, dark days of winter, some people are prone to a type of depression called seasonal affective disorder. One way to ease symptoms may be light therapy, in which you sit near a brightly lit box that mimics outdoor light. The therapy generally starts with daily sessions of about 15 minutes and increases to up to two hours daily. The timing depends upon the severity of symptoms. Basically, start going out in the daylight or ask your doctor about actual light therapy.

#3 alternative to RX – Your thoughts. If you know how often you are thinking negative, you can focus on thinking positive thoughts on a more regular basis. Start a diary simply to track your moods, thoughts and the words you use. Yes, therapy focused on teaching people about positive thinking has been shown to relieve depression,so start tracking the bad words, the negative thoughts and then you can focus more on using positive words and thoughts, which may help with the depression.

Depression is serious.  If you try these things and feel they don’t help, seek alternative treatment or an RX. You need support and clinical supervision is always an option depending on how severe the depression becomes.

Reclaim Your Joy of Living with Informative PDF Download!

Maryanne Nicholls of The Joy of Living proudly presents her latest free PDF download titled ‘Reclaim the Joy in Your Life’. The PDF download offers insight and steps to freeing one’s self from stress to gain the ability to live in a joyful mindset no matter what the circumstance.

“The program is free and it is short. Really, it acts as an introduction to my Joy of Living program but without the financial commitment. This is a great way for those who are feeling bogged down by life to start to seek information on how to distress and reclaim their own personal happiness again,” said licensed therapist Maryanne Nicholls, creator of the program and founder of The Joy of Living.

A key point of this program is to help people learn how to understand the true you in order to reclaim a sense of purpose, destiny and control over your life. It is a self-guided PDF file that may be safely downloaded simply by inputting an email address for Maryanne’s email list.

“There is literally no commitment to have this free program. You can share your email address with me and then opt out of my weekly mailer at any time. You keep the PDF either as a printed document or on your computer forever. It is risk free and there is no test at the end of it. This truly is my gift to help others cope,” finished Maryanne Nicholls.

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist (RP), Certified Gestalt Therapist (Cert. GIT), and trained in Narrative Therapy, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Emotion Freedom Technique – Tapping (EFT), and Trauma & Attachment Psychotherapy.
Download the free program here:

5 Habits of People with Depression

Depression isn’t always noticeable. In fact, many people with depression hide it well. They live in secrecy.  Would you be able to spot depression in someone else, maybe even in yourself?  I’m noting the top 5 habits of people with depression below. If you find two or more describe yourself or someone else, you need to seek out help.

  1. Those who live with depression have learned to alter their apparent moods, and may even be some of the most seemingly “happy” people that you know. Do you feel like you’re faking your joy?
  2. They are creatures of habit. Yes, people with depression often have lifestyle habits that they use to treat their everyday state-of-mind. This can be in the form of music, exercise, driving, walks, or basically anything they know can get themselves out of a sinking set of emotions.  While these habits can look healthy, and they are, they are often concealing something darker.
  3. Big insight on their own mortality that is shared, publicly, with out the usual fear or nervousness that most people have when speaking on the subject. Yes, depression often makes people have a complex thought process about life in general and death in general. Facing one’s mortality often comes at moments of desperation, but it doesn’t always lead to suicide. There are people who are depressed who think lovingly about death.
  4. They look for their purpose or reinvent their purpose. Is this you? Those who live with unseen depression are no stranger to always trying to compensate in their life for the frailties that they have inside.  Thus, they try on new jobs, places to live, and hobbies like they may change underwear, constantly searching for something that will make them happy.
  5. They are love seekers. Some people may write someone off as always having to have a boyfriend or a girlfriend, but this may be a sign of depression. People who live with depression in a private and undisclosed way do so for protection. This is for the protection of their hearts. This is for the protection of the people around them.  But they are also quick to latch on to someone who they feel can help them feel happy, even if the relationship is unhealthy or they barely know the person. When the other person can’t “cure” their longing for happiness, not really a partner, they jump  ship and move on to the next person.

I can help you with depression. I can help you reclaim your joy. Please reach out to  me and let’s talk about solutions.

Spread too Thin? Dealing with Stress

We are expected to simply be mobile all of the time these days.  We can reply to questions all the time, emails all the time, everything is needed now and everyone wants your attention.  Add this to your daily responsibilities and it is no wonder we are more stressed out than ever and we are more spread thin than ever.

When social commitments start to sound and feel like a chore, you’re spread too thin. Letting go and having fun should be about unwinding, not about an obligation. So, if this is you, you need to take action to reclaim your peace, find your center, and discover how to move forward.

Don’t get caught in the last minute game. Instead,  carve time out for social engagements on your calendar. Yes, you need to plan for them,block out a good amount of time for them, and don’t reschedule them to continue work time. Down time is a good and needed thing. Schedule it.

Is getting dinner prepared a hugely stressful chore? If it is, think about this. Why would dinner be a stressful task? It usually is only stressful because you’re filled with a million other things to do and you can’t manage adding one more task to your day without completely overriding another task. If dinner is going to override another task, you need to start cutting responsibilities and delegating them to someone else.

And if you feel like your memory is failing you, you are spread to thin. Yes, if you’re to the point where you have so many tasks to complete that important tasks have been forgotten, things will go wrong and these things will add more stress to your life.  You need to start writing everything down. Follow this up by scheduling them out with enough time to handle it all. Be realistic about how long it takes you to do something or you will be setting yourself up for failure. When an idea, new appointment, or thought pops in your head that you need to remember for later, write it down. Then revisit your current day, and the notes, along with tomorrow’s scheduled day as your evening ends.

We can avoid stress (in some cases) when it comes to our schedule and spreading ourselves too thin.  We just have to make the time to admit we need to create some adjustments in our lives.


Confident. The secret to looking secure.

All of us have some flaw- some insecurity- so why do so many people appear to be confident? They work on it. Yes, there is an effort required but the benefits are amazing. I want to share with you a few tips to appear more confident in social or professional situations. As you practice these, you will discover that you will start to actually feel more confident.

#1. Don’t slouch. Your posture says everything to those who do and do not know you.To fix your posture, stand up as TALL as you can and pull your shoulder blades down and back as far as possible. This will help you appear more confident and more positive about life.

#2.  Stare at people. Yes, stare. This provokes a feeling of confidence. Starting right now, be the person that doesn’t look away. Think of each interaction as a mini-battle – your eyes against theirs. As long as you’re smiling and blinking, you won’t come across as mean so keep at it. Yes, this one takes practice.

#3. Always tell people who you are. Yes, this works! If you introduce yourself immediately to strangers and get the awkward out of the way immediately- people will feel comfortable around you and you’ll come across as cool and collected.

The week is almost over. Start practicing these small steps to looking secure today. And, if you need help with your self-esteem, know that I take virtual appointments.