Archive: Newsletter

The Positive in Pain

I regularly see people who are suffering and miserable.  They come to see me because they’re sick of it and want a positive change in their lives.  They simply don’t know how to do that.

It might look like anger and resentment, or feeling lost, anxious or depressed. It might be triggered by a romantic break-up or the loss of a loved one. Most often, it’s because they’ve landed in the same dark place they thought they’d escaped. And they’re simply sick of it.

It’s impossible for anyone to see anything but the negative when this happens. And that’s why they seek help, because they know there is something better. They just can’t see it yet.

The good news is that they’re sick of it, because this means they’re ready to commit to change. In 12 step programs, it’s called “hitting bottom”: without this kind of incentive, many people addicted to drugs or alcohol wouldn’t have the ability to get sober. They need to hurt badly enough to be willing to commit to change.

It’s absolutely necessary.

So, the next time you find yourself in the middle of a painful situation, try if you can, to remember that, without pain, there would also be no possibility for happiness. If you’ve landed in a familiar dark pattern, it’s life encouraging you to finally take that leap and commit to change.

Why we need pain to feel happiness

Quote of the week
The wound is the place where the Light enters you. ― Rumi

Announcements
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 .

Guilt: 3 ways to let it go and move on

I have a dear friend who happened to be born and raised into a healthy and well-off family. He knew growing up that he had advantages that many other kids his age didn’t have.  He felt guilty about it and as an adult, continues to feel that guilt.

It’s a kind of survivor guilt, and can be the motivator under all kinds of actions: the neighbor who will routinely go out of her way to babysit; the volunteer who spends all his free time helping out at outreach programs – local or global. Doing things for others is a wonderful give-away, but not so much if it’s really to make us feel better. Besides, trying to soften guilt with charitable acts doesn’t work – it doesn’t take the guilt away, and it doesn’t make the recipients feel very good.  As an Inuit elder once said to a well-wisher “I don’t want your guilt. I want your participation!”

Survivor guilt happens to us, not because we’ve done anything to feel guilty about, but because we feel a sense of unfairness: that we got a “break” when others didn’t.

Then there’s the kind of guilt where we have done something, either through omission or action, that ended up harming someone else. It might be something you said in a thoughtless moment, or something you didn’t say. Remember that news story where a woman was being beaten and passers-by did nothing to interfere, even to call the authorities? If I were one of those people, I might regret not doing anything, and carry with me a sense of guilt long after the event happened.

Guilt can motivate us and it can weigh us down. Either way, unless we deal with it, it saps our energy and prevents us from living fully and contributing to our society the best we can.
If you’re feeling guilty about something right now, here’s what you can do to effectively – and fairly – deal with it:

  • Have a talk with yourself, as if you were a wise elder offering advice. What might that elder say? Was there any realistic way you could have done something different? Own it. Be realistic about it, as an elder would.  If you did harm, then make amends in a way that fully ends your guilt trip.
  • Grieve the loss, so that you can finally let the guilt go. There is always some loss involved. It might be the loss of a friend; a betrayal; an unhealed hurt of some kind.  It might be ridicule from your father that propels you to bully someone else.  Take the time you need to feel the pain, and then let it go. You might complete this period of grief with a give-away – a small ceremony where you give away a token of your loss.
  • Expand your perspective, by seeing it through the eyes of your friends, or even of the one you hurt. How would a friend feel abut your focus on feeling guilty? How would it change your relationship if you didn’t feel guilty? I remember hearing a man talk about how he had killed a neighbor’s child in a car accident.  He was a teenager at the time, and dealt with his guilt by becoming an addict and destroying his life.  Then one day, the child’s father, having seen this, stopped him and let him know he forgave him, expressly saying that the best thing he could do for the child’s family would be to leave this behind and live the best life he could. Today, that man is owner of a multi-million dollar business, and an active contributor to his community – not through guilt, but through the resolution of guilt and the forgiveness of the family he hurt.

The only good thing about guilt is that it helps us take ownership for our actions, and then motivates us to change and grow, living the best life we can.

Pema Chödron – All in the same boat

Quote of the Week
Calvin : There’s no problem so awful, that you can’t add some guilt to it and make it even worse.
― Bill Watterson, The Complete Calvin and Hobbes

Announcements
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 .

When life starts to pay off

I was wondering what to write about this week when I was reminded by Seth Godin about a particular self-sabotage at least half of us do – over and over: waiting for that magic moment when all our hard work will pay off.

As Seth says, this is a myth.

What really happens is we give it our best shot, every day. And then little by little, things change. We hear about the “big break”. That may sometimes happen – after all, people do win the lottery. But for most of those people who get the “big break”, if they aren’t ready for it, it actually breaks them. They don’t know how to deal with it. They aren’t ready for it. And so they over-indulge, or get taken advantage of, and eventually loose whatever advantage they had, sometimes ending up in situations that are harder than the one they started with.

The rest of us keep at it, every day, pursuing our dreams, trying things out, tweaking and trying again.  Then moving on to the next challenge. There is no magic moment. Just an accumulation of small steps that lead to a big change, sometimes so gradually we might not notice.

Except that one morning, we wake up and feel fantastic. For no reason.

What comes first – happiness or success?

pay off

Quote of the Week

For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Announcements
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 .

Social Healing

It’s a big topic for this newsletter. I was inspired to write about it when I heard Angel Kyodo Williams talk about in on On Being.  She’s a Zen priest, and came by it as a gay African American. Gayness liberated her from her Baptist upbringing, and freed her to begin to take in points of view that are different from hers, suspending judgment.

She found that she had to become vulnerable if she wanted to be able to transform a potentially closed encounter to one of openness and connection. And she believes that our world is in great need of this openness.

She has great hope that there are enough of us to embrace this willingness and flexibility – embrace a willingness to not know and possibly be wrong – that the chasms that we’ve created between cultures and political sides can be breached.

The way to become open is to begin to see how much of what we believe comes from someone else.  We’ve inherited it from our culture, parents, and other influencers.  These opinions and beliefs we carry aren’t even ours. We assume them, and then absorb them, unknowingly.  Ms. Williams believes that we can learn to become aware of what we truly know and what we have picked up; that we can then chose how to respond in a new way.

And that this new way opens up the way to change and re-connection.

On Healing and Space

Social Healing

Quote of the Week
Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it. 
–  Helen Keller

Announcements
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 .

Change

Insanity is defined, originally by AA, as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Well, if that’s the definition, then most of us are insane.  Because that’s what we do: the same thing over and over expecting – praying for – different results.  Falling in love with the same guy and expecting things will be different this time. Eating the same junk and expecting to lose 20 pounds. Having the same daily routine and expecting that life is suddenly going to get better.

When we realize this – and most of us eventually do – we know we need to change. But it’s SO HARD!, we say. I don’t have the time. I’ve never done that before. My current boyfriend won’t like it.

All of these are excuses: Do I really have time to keep screwing up? Does doing something I’ve done before that doesn’t work trump trying something I’ve never done before that might work? Does the guy who’s just like the previous one that didn’t work out have that much say?

Whatever excuse we come up with can very easily be countered.  Why? Because it isn’t what’s really going on. If you dig a little, you can get to the real reason, which is probably something like  “I’m scared” or “I don’t believe this is good for me”.

What change leaders have discovered is that anyone can change if they understand what’s going on, if they can make the change manageable, and if they believe it’s going to make a real difference.

The truth is that when we know that a change is real and good, and that we have a say in it, change happens.

Drawing on Humor for Change

Change

Quote of the Week
Be the change that you wish to see in the world.
― Mahatma Gandhi

Announcements
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 .

Switching up to gratitude

I’m feeling low today, battling with Menier’s and the flu. Feeling pretty sorry for myself. And scared: Meniers isn’t easy to live with.

Then I started thinking what I wanted to write about this week.  Definitely not how lousy I feel.  That doesn’t inspire me, and yes! I’m one of the people in my audience I want to inspire.

That’s when I begin to switch to gratitude – the one fail-safe place I can go to get out of feeling lousy.  It turns out that feeling grateful in a way that’s meaningful to you is the first thing to do to turn gloom into joy.

So I switch: I’m walking in fresh air; going to my home that’s safe and beautiful; seeing friends later on; spending time with my honey. I’m grateful for all the opportunities living in North America brings me, and that I often take for granted. And finally, I’m grateful that – bad as it is – the ailment I have isn’t life-threatening. And it is definitely a teacher.

Want to be happy? Be grateful

 gratitude

Quote of the week
We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.
― Alphonse Karr, A Tour Round My Garden

Announcements
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 .

Falling in Love

In 2015 Mandy Catron got curious. She’d been reviewing research from the 1990’s that was about intimacy between strangers. She wanted to know if what these researchers learned could be applied to falling in love with someone you don’t know.  After seeing that it actually worked, she applied it to herself and a distant friend.  And yes, they fell in love. And are still in love.

Mandy wrote an article about her experience that was published in the New York Times called How to Fall in Love With Anyone. At the time, she had her own blog with a few hundred readers, and knew this would generate more – maybe even a few thousand. What she got were more than 8 million readers from around the world.

She talks about her experience in the Ted Talk below.

Mandy re-discovered something that has been known for a very long time. I’ll mention one out of many leaders in psychology – Martin Buber – who’s main focus was exactly this.  He called it “I-thou”.
Buber gave as one example the relationship he had with his horse as a boy. He loved his horse, and every chance he could, he’d be with him. He couldn’t explain the unique attraction he felt; he only knew it was mutual, and that it was love.

Then one day while gazing lovingly into his horse’s eyes, he was startled by something. That broke his attention momentarily, and in that moment, his horse walked away.  The intimacy – the love connection – was broken. What had been an “I-thou” moment had become an “I-it” one.

Mandy and Martin each discovered how we fall in love, and passed this wonderful knowing to the rest of us.  The thing is, I suspect that every baby knows this already, and that we lose this knowing as we encounter life’s challenges.

I don’t know about you, but I have a new mission. And that is to fall in love with someone every day.

Mandy Catron – Falling in love is the easy partlove

Quote of the Week

The basic word I-You can only be spoken with one’s whole being.
The basic word I-It can never be spoken with one’s whole being. 

― Martin BuberI and Thou

Announcements
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 .

 

On Anxiety

Stayed up way too late last night…reading a fantasy novel.  That way, didn’t have to think about the things on my “must do” list – way too many things.  Woke only a little late…that’s good.  Having a quiet coffee and letting the day unfold in peace, if only for a short while.  Now what… I can feel my heart begin to race.  HOW AM I EVER GOING TO GET THROUGH THIS?!?!  Two people here in less than an hour, an offsite meeting after that, then pack up my car with stuff for a friend, then research on a new project, then clients …. and I haven’t even got to quality time with loved ones yet!!!!!!

The first thing that has to go is the list…just let it go.  Lists always mean, for me, that I’m too wound up already.  Deep breateh in, ,…..then out.  Ahhhhhhhh.  Priorities.  What is priority today?  My friends, quality time, my clients.  Forget about the rest, for now.

See how it goes.  And to begin, a short quiet walk to remind myself how lucky I am for my health, my loved ones, my opportunities, and this gorgeous day….

Martha Beck – Calm all fear

Quote of the Week
Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.
― Corrie ten Boom

Announcements
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 .

The Perfect Balance between Pause and Perform

These days I hear and read and participate in pausing.  I learnt it in Yoga, then in Mindfulness meditation. Pausing helps me take a breath before I leap into anything. It helps me gather my resources. To gain clarity. To do whatever I do with care.

Performance is the other side. Without performance, whatever I plan on leaping into, gathering my resources for, gaining clarity of mind over, or taking care in considering, will only ever remain in the world of possibility – unless I act. Perform.

I don’t mean perform in the sense of play-acting, but in the sense of actualizing – bringing into the moment whatever it is I want to do.

Shamanism sees these two states of being as the feminine and masculine – the receptive and active.  They are said to be the two aspects of Spirit – pure possibility and the spark of creation.  Both are essential to life and growth – and to good living.
Sometimes I use them in alignment with Nature, and sometimes I use them to avoid.  For instance, when I suddenly want to clean out the closets instead of taking the time to think through a looming problem. Or when I circle around a problem for ever, deeply analyzing every possibility, never actually taking action. In both cases, I avoid dealing with what I need to deal with, and at the same time, lull myself out of acknowledging that for some reason, it scares me.

If I were, instead, to use my sudden enthusiasm for house-cleaning, or my compelling need to over-analyze as signs of avoidance – which they are – then I could turn what was once a barrier to life and joy into a tool.

So, what’s the perfect balance between pause and perform? One that provides solid grounding and the energy to act as needed. We’re in perfect balance on those days or in those moments when everything seems to flow. When there’s no resistance. Where we are open to whatever changes are needed and are able to make them. Effortlessly.

We’ve all had those moments.

Included is a video related to this topic from another perspective, and a quote that I hope you’ll enjoy.

Staying Grounded – Justin Timberlake – Separate Who You Are from What You Do

Quote of the Week
Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralysed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds’ wings. ― Rumi

Announcements
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 .

How to make connections that count

Do you love going to events where you don’t know anyone? Or do you dread it?  Would you rather be in a room filled with others you can bounce stuff off of, or in your own office free from the distraction of others?  If you like and need to be with others, our society calls you an extrovert; if you get energy on your own, you’re called an introvert.

Most of us, regardless of what kind of person we are, likes time with others, because we are all social animals.  It’s a basic human need.  And even if we would rather commune with plants and animals instead of other humans, we must connect to grow and thrive. And with rare exceptions, we all need some of that connection to be with our fellow humans.

But, making these connections can be hard. We may be in a brand new place with unfamiliar rules of engagement; or in a small town that tends not to welcome strangers, or in the middle of a large city where people treasure their private time and don’t especially want new friends.

It might be intimidating for you to approach new people, especially if you’ve been rebuffed a few times.  I would be! It takes a thick skin, or a strong sense of self-love – or both – to withstand this kind of apparent rejection.

I say “apparent” because it isn’t really rejection. The person who hasn’t shown interest to connecting with you isn’t necessarily judging you beyond noting that you’re new and they’re busy, or tired, or any number of things that have nothing to do with you.

It really isn’t personal! That’s the first thing to remember.

The next thing to remember is thisif you want to make meaningful connections, ones that feed your spirit, then make sure they’re meaningful to both you and the person you’re connecting with. Otherwise, at best, it’s a chore and at worst, it’s manipulative. In either case, it isn’t going to feel good to either of you, and definitely won’t nourish your spirit.

It may seem odd, but meaningful connection begins with self-connection.  How do you feel about yourself? What do you like? Dislike? Desire? What are your passions? Goals? Dreams? If you know these, then you have something to connect with others about, and a way to find those people you can meaningfully engage.

If you google the web on how to connect, you’ll pretty much get the same advice over and over: join conversations that genuinely interest you, get interested in what’s happening in the life of the person you’re talking to, be honest, courteous, and truthful.

We can now describe the physical aspects at work in our brains that make a connection meaningful to us. Tom Wujek (see the video below) identifies three mechanisms that are necessary for this to happen: image recognition, the relationship that image has to everything else that is meaningful to us in the space, and how we feel about.

Which translates as: we work best with people we want to get to know, and who’s interaction energizes us. So, the most important thing to remember when you’re wanting to connect is knowing yourself and what’s important to you.

Now I’d like to hear from you – how do you re-focus?  What item in your life helps you do that?

Included is a video related to this topic from another perspective, and a quote that I hope you will enjoy.

Tom Wujec – 3 ways the brain creates meaning

Quote of the Week
I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship. ― Brené Brown

Announcements
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