Archive: Meditation and Mindfulness

Our Variable Memory

 

About 4 years ago, I was out with friends camping. We had some tools that were available to us all, and were instructed to handle them with care.  About 3 days into being there, the guy responsible for signing out the tools approached me and accused me of mishandling them, saying it had to be me because he’d seen me going over to where they were stored earlier, and that no one else had been there since.

In fact, I hadn’t been there and hadn’t used the tools that day at all. But he was unshakable in his certainty. It wasn’t until the person who had actually been there volunteered to say so that I was off the hook.

It was a dramatic moment – being accused of something I’d never do, from someone who was so certain he was right.

In my family, my mother was notorious for having different memories of the same event at different times. So, I grew up knowing that people can be certain of something that ends up being false.

How can this happen?  According to Julia Shaw, a criminal psychologist and specialist in false memories, the key is suggestibility: a false memory is most likely to develop in situations where a person is exposed to suggestive information.

As an example, read this list: sit, write, eat, legs, seat, desk, arm, sofa, wood, cushion, rest, stool. Now count to 30.

Did you spot the word “table”?  If so, you experienced a false memory, because even though the words in the list were associated with “table”, the word “table” wasn’t one of them.

In Apr 2019 Psychology Today – How Memory Became Weaponized – the author argues that our brain is wired to believe what it hears. I’ll add to that our wonderful ability to conceptualize – bringing a number of different things together by recognizing their similarities. This ability of ours is essential for thinking and learning – and it has at least this drawback.

Most of the time, it’s not critical and doesn’t get in our way. But sometimes it does, and sometimes people will deliberately feed us misinformation to steer us in one direction or another.

So, what can you do to arm yourself against such manipulation and mis-direction? Three things.

  1. First, learn to always check the “facts” when determining the truth of something that’s important. Look for supporting evidence, for repeated instances in similar situations. Develop a healthy sense of disbelief.
  2. Second, examine your own motives for wanting to believe something – or not. If your motives are strong enough, it could blind you to what is really true.
  3. Finally, check in with your own inner knowing to see how the information sits with you. Our inner knowing doesn’t have a true/false indicator, but it does have an automatic “feel” that – once we learn to recognize and trust it – provides us with a sum of all our experiences to date, measuring it against what is in front of us at the moment.

It takes a while – sometimes a long while – to learn to trust this inner knowing, but it’ the only way I know of that will lead us a good sense of what’s true.

Elizabeth Loftus – the fiction of memory

 

Quote of the Week

Nostalgia has a way of blocking the reality of the past.”
― Shannon L. Alder

 

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.

 

Our Variable Memory

 

About 4 years ago, I was out with friends camping. We had some tools that were available to us all, and were instructed to handle them with care.  About 3 days into being there, the guy responsible for signing out the tools approached me and accused me of mishandling them, saying it had to be me because he’d seen me going over to where they were stored earlier, and that no one else had been there since.

In fact, I hadn’t been there and hadn’t used the tools that day at all. But he was unshakable in his certainty. It wasn’t until the person who had actually been there volunteered to say so that I was off the hook.

It was a dramatic moment – being accused of something I’d never do, from someone who was so certain he was right.

In my family, my mother was notorious for having different memories of the same event at different times. So, I grew up knowing that people can be certain of something that ends up being false.

How can this happen?  According to Julia Shaw, a criminal psychologist and specialist in false memories, the key is suggestibility: a false memory is most likely to develop in situations where a person is exposed to suggestive information.

As an example, read this list: sit, write, eat, legs, seat, desk, arm, sofa, wood, cushion, rest, stool. Now count to 30.

Did you spot the word “table”?  If so, you experienced a false memory, because even though the words in the list were associated with “table”, the word “table” wasn’t one of them.

In Apr 2019 Psychology Today – How Memory Became Weaponized – the author argues that our brain is wired to believe what it hears. I’ll add to that our wonderful ability to conceptualize – bringing a number of different things together by recognizing their similarities. This ability of ours is essential for thinking and learning – and it has at least this drawback.

Most of the time, it’s not critical and doesn’t get in our way. But sometimes it does, and sometimes people will deliberately feed us misinformation to steer us in one direction or another.

So, what can you do to arm yourself against such manipulation and mis-direction? Three things.

  1. First, learn to always check the “facts” when determining the truth of something that’s important. Look for supporting evidence, for repeated instances in similar situations. Develop a healthy sense of disbelief.
  2. Second, examine your own motives for wanting to believe something – or not. If your motives are strong enough, it could blind you to what is really true.
  3. Finally, check in with your own inner knowing to see how the information sits with you. Our inner knowing doesn’t have a true/false indicator, but it does have an automatic “feel” that – once we learn to recognize and trust it – provides us with a sum of all our experiences to date, measuring it against what is in front of us at the moment.

It takes a while – sometimes a long while – to learn to trust this inner knowing, but it’ the only way I know of that will lead us a good sense of what’s true.

 

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 .

 

Imperfectability

Imperfectability

The last time giving a talk, or holding a party, or hosting an event, or even simply having friends over for dinner.  Noticing one person in the room who looked disapproving, feeling you somehow failed because you didn’t gain that person’s approval – or possibly interest – even if everyone else loved it.

Those days you feel a failure because you can’t silence every critic, delight every customer, and interest every person you approach. Then when the inevitable happens – when someone misunderstands you, or has the wrong impression of you and simply won’t give you a chance – you take that on as something you failed to catch. That it’s somehow on you, and that you have the power to change it and get that person to like you.

The truth is that perceived dislike has nothing to do with you. People have their reasons for feeling dissatisfied, or disliking something or someone. The reasons are mostly emotional and personal, and if it’s directed at you, that likely means you were in their line of sight at the time.

A sensitive man just got yelled at by his mother; then you come along, strangely like his mother in some indefinable way, and he finds a reason to dislike you.  A woman you’re slightly acquainted with is regualarly bullied by her boss, and takes it out on the first person she can. You, as it happens. Or, what you have to offer simply doesn’t interest the person you want to interest, and never will.

Whoever you are and whatever you have to offer, it simply can’t interest and delight everyone.

If what you are trying to perfect isn’t giving you joy, then it’s an addiction – the addiction of imperfectibility, as defined by Seth Godin. And like every addiction, no matter how much you do it, it will never satisfy you.

So what’s the antidote? Re-focus.

Re-focus on what you truly like to do.  If that happens to be striving for perfection for its own sake, great! But if that striving is about trying to gain approval from someone who you aren’t likely to get it from, stop! Walk away. And focus on something important to your sense of joy. On something that feeds your soul.

And don’t worry about that other person. They have their own journey.

Teach girls bravery, not perfection

 

 

Quote of the Week
“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.”
― Salvador Dali

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.

 

Imperfectability

Imperfectability

The last time giving a talk, or holding a party, or hosting an event, or even simply having friends over for dinner.  Noticing one person in the room who looked disapproving, feeling you somehow failed because you didn’t gain that person’s approval – or possibly interest – even if everyone else loved it.

Those days you feel a failure because you can’t silence every critic, delight every customer, and interest every person you approach. Then when the inevitable happens – when someone misunderstands you, or has the wrong impression of you and simply won’t give you a chance – you take that on as something you failed to catch. That it’s somehow on you, and that you have the power to change it and get that person to like you.

The truth is that perceived dislike has nothing to do with you. People have their reasons for feeling dissatisfied, or disliking something or someone. The reasons are mostly emotional and personal, and if it’s directed at you, that likely means you were in their line of sight at the time.

A sensitive man just got yelled at by his mother; then you come along, strangely like his mother in some indefinable way, and he finds a reason to dislike you.  A woman you’re slightly acquainted with is regualarly bullied by her boss, and takes it out on the first person she can. You, as it happens. Or, what you have to offer simply doesn’t interest the person you want to interest, and never will.

Whoever you are and whatever you have to offer, it simply can’t interest and delight everyone.

If what you are trying to perfect isn’t giving you joy, then it’s an addiction – the addiction of imperfectibility, as defined by Seth Godin. And like every addiction, no matter how much you do it, it will never satisfy you.

So what’s the antidote? Re-focus.

Re-focus on what you truly like to do.  If that happens to be striving for perfection for its own sake, great! But if that striving is about trying to gain approval from someone who you aren’t likely to get it from, stop! Walk away. And focus on something important to your sense of joy. On something that feeds your soul.

And don’t worry about that other person. They have their own journey.

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 .

 

Plan for the worst, and expect the best

I am preparing for an event that is really important to me. It’s happening in 2 days.  I’ve been preparing for it for over a month – the script, the choreography, the support, the presentation, the materials. And lately also the mess-ups and last-minute re-arrangements.

Today, a few things happened that forced me to make different arrangements, and that put my schedule off.  One thing I’ve noticed and others have pointed out to me is that I habitually spend the few days before an event running around non-stop, until I fall into bed at around 3am.

Every time! No matter how much I’m prepared, I end up in a panic the 2 or 3 days before the long-planned event.

Why?

Because I lose perspective. I get wound up. I worry about anything I might have missed and that will surely show up and create a crisis. I plan for the worst, and expect the worst.  And, all I have to do to transform the built-up self-imposed stress into confident relaxation and preparedness is change the second part of that sentence:

Plan for the worst, and expect the best.

What reality are you creating for yourself?

 

Quote of the Week

Know that everything is in perfect order whether you understand it or not.”
― Valery Satterwhite

Announcement

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.

Plan for the worst, and expect the best

I am preparing for an event that is really important to me. It’s happening in 2 days.  I’ve been preparing for it for over a month – the script, the choreography, the support, the presentation, the materials. And lately also the mess-ups and last-minute re-arrangements.

Today, a few things happened that forced me to make different arrangements, and that put my schedule off.  One thing I’ve noticed and others have pointed out to me is that I habitually spend the few days before an event running around non-stop, until I fall into bed at around 3am.

Every time! No matter how much I’m prepared, I end up in a panic the 2 or 3 days before the long-planned event.

Why?

Because I lose perspective. I get wound up. I worry about anything I might have missed and that will surely show up and create a crisis. I plan for the worst, and expect the worst.  And, all I have to do to transform the built-up self-imposed stress into confident relaxation and preparedness is change the second part of that sentence:

Plan for the worst, and expect the best.

 

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 .

Would you do it tomorrow?

tomorrow

 

I belong to a few organizations that require lots of volunteer work. For some years, I wondered if I had a neon sign on my forehead saying “Ask her!” . Then I slowly came to realize that that neon sign was internal, always saying “Yes” when my schedule was already full. Wanting to be liked that badly.

Then, I came up with a plan of action to turn this unproductive behavior around.  First, I let myself sit in awareness of the number of times I do this daily. I learned how to delay my “Yes” response long enough to give myself a chance to say “No”.

It worked many times, but certainly not all the time.  Then I heard an interview with Laura Vanderkam, author of Off the Clock. Ms. Vanderkam is a time management expert, who often found herself doing the same thing. What she noticed is that it’s a lot easier to say “Yes” to something that’s months away, because it’s almost as if we believe that event won’t really happen, or that it will happen with someone other than ourselves.  Then the day turns up, and we wonder why we ever agreed to it.

Her strategy? Ask yourself “Would I do this tomorrow?” Instead of thinking and believing that the event is something you can put out of your mind, imagine how you’ll feel about it if you were suddenly teleported to the day before the event.

How would you feel? I can think of some events I’d want to be a part of. I can think of others I would rather not. In doing this mental exercise, I realized something: those I want to be a part of are things I want to do because I want to do them; those I don’t want to be part of are things I believe would please others.

Say no to say yes

Quote of the Week

Sometimes “No” is the kindest word.

― Vironika Tugaleva

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 .

Would you do it tomorrow?

tomorrow

 

I belong to a few organizations that require lots of volunteer work. For some years, I wondered if I had a neon sign on my forehead saying “Ask her!” . Then I slowly came to realize that that neon sign was internal, always saying “Yes” when my schedule was already full. Wanting to be liked that badly.

Then, I came up with a plan of action to turn this unproductive behavior around.  First, I let myself sit in awareness of the number of times I do this daily. I learned how to delay my “Yes” response long enough to give myself a chance to say “No”.

It worked many times, but certainly not all the time.  Then I heard an interview with Laura Vanderkam, author of Off the Clock. Ms. Vanderkam is a time management expert, who often found herself doing the same thing. What she noticed is that it’s a lot easier to say “Yes” to something that’s months away, because it’s almost as if we believe that event won’t really happen, or that it will happen with someone other than ourselves.  Then the day turns up, and we wonder why we ever agreed to it.

Her strategy? Ask yourself “Would I do this tomorrow?” Instead of thinking and believing that the event is something you can put out of your mind, imagine how you’ll feel about it if you were suddenly teleported to the day before the event.

How would you feel? I can think of some events I’d want to be a part of. I can think of others I would rather not. In doing this mental exercise, I realized something: those I want to be a part of are things I want to do because I want to do them; those I don’t want to be part of are things I believe would please others.

 

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 [link to www.thejoyofliving.co/7day-meditation/ ] for my insider newsletter, click here [link to www.thejoyofliving.co/7day-meditation/ ] .  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 .

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 .