Archive: Newsletter

The Valley

 

I’m sitting in my new temporary coffee shop doing what I usually do at the coffee shop – writing blogs and things.  I have internet. It’s cozy. A little cramped but better than being inside for another minute.

Got a great view: in front of me are a mother and her 2 young daughters practicing on their roller skates. Where I am is pretty empty, even though it’s usually hard to get a parking spot. Yes. That’s right. I’m in my car just outside of Starbucks, sipping my latte and typing away.

Today I’m cool. Yesterday I was in the kind of fog I get into when everything suddenly changes.  I planned on joining the rest of Toronto in the park along the Lakeshore, but when I got there it was so crowded I went home instead. I’d already made alternate arrangements with my clients, and was set for isolating for up to 3 weeks, but it didn’t matter. What I arrange for voluntarily is one thing; what is arranged for me involuntarily – even if it’s the same thing – is another thing.

As the expert I heard on Youtube put it, washing our hands for 20 seconds each time – and frequently, staying 6 feet away from others, wearing a mask if we’re around others and we have a cold – those are the major things we can do to contain the spread of the virus. It is a good idea to stay home whenever possible, and other measures people have taken to curtail the spread.

Having said all that, the very best idea in my opinion is to remain calm, accept the situation, and learn to live and grow within its temporary parameters.

This brings me to the Valley: That beautiful passage from the Tao “The valley spirit never dies … use it. It will never fail.” (the full passage is in the Quote of the Week section of my Newsletter).

Our life is made up of a series of peaks and valleys. The peaks are where we all want to be all the time, because it feels wonderful being up there, feeling the beauty of our growth and accomplishments. And yet, that isn’t where we grow – we grow in the valleys – that fertile ground filled with the compost of our past mistakes, and of what life hands us. (For more on this subject, read my blog post, Peaks and Valleys).

Yesterday, I was in a fog. Today, I am wondering what this new set of changes will bring.

Coronavirus is our future

Quote of the Week 

The valley spirit never dies;

It is the woman, primal mother.

Her gateway is the root of heaven and earth.

It is like a veil barely seen.

Use it; it will never fail.

-Lao Tsu – Tao Te Ching

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.

Surviving bad choices

 

Some of us have the good luck of being born into a family with stable, mature, loving parents, who we trust and who are able to teach and advise us in a way that helps us avoid making many bad decisions. I’ve met such people.

I don’t know what percentage of the population is this fortunate; I do know that – for many of us, no matter how much our parents love us, they have some issues that get in the way of their maturity. So, we end up being on our own at times when we really need guidance. And we sometimes make bad choices.

I was reminded of that when I heard about Liz Gilbert’s newest novel – City of Girls, a book about girls who choose to live promiscuous lives, have to face the consequences, and survive their decisions well. Most of us don’t chose such lives, nor do we have to face those kinds of consequence.

But it’s encouraging to read about their inner strength and resources that got them through. We all have such strength and resources. It may take some digging, but it’s there.

Our unhealthy obsession with choice

 

Quote of the Week 

She didn’t want to explain the recklessness, the pleasure of making the bad choice, the glory of at least this once, picking her own path to damnation.”
― Holly Black, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

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.

Trauma and the Body

When any of us experience a traumatic event (sometimes leading to PTSD) – even once if it’s great enough – it isn’t something that is only emotional or mental. It’s also physical, because when we’re traumatized, we armor physically.

Resilience is something greatly discussed today, because we know now that some people who experience trauma do not armor as much as others.  The reason lies in how they were supported after the traumatic event; and this support, in turn, helped them reduce their physical, and then mental and emotional armoring.

Bessel van der Kolk, a psychiatrist from the Netherlands, became interested in how to successfully help Viet Nam veterans. As a young practitioner, he was introduced to a vet who was having nightmares; he offered him drugs to help him sleep, and after a few weeks, the vet gave the drugs back to him, saying he preferred to have the nightmares as a living testament to those who suffered the trauma with him. He realized then that trauma sufferers hold that trauma in their hearts, minds and also their bodies.

From his ensuing work with vets, he came to appreciate that traumatized people don’t remember the story. Instead they re-experience the event, as if it was happening right now. The images, sounds, smells – all physical sensations – are as real now as they were at the time of the event.

Yet, for those vets who were able to move on, their stories changed over time, eventually being  integrated into their past. Those vets were able to move on.

From studies in neuropsychology, we know that the Amygdala is involved in registering and holding trauma, by either becoming hypersensitive or shutting down. This means the person experiencing a current event may be hypersensitive to it and react as if it were traumatizing and life-threatening, and at the same time, be insensitive to the consequences of their reactions to those around them.

Trauma, being held, cuts us off from our bodies.

Wilhelm Reich, in the 1950’s recognized this and developed his theory of Character Structures as a result. Others refined his work – Alexander Lowen, Stephen Johnson, Jack Painter, and many others more recently, base their work on this recognition. Much earlier, shamanic traditions recognized this phenomenon and learned to effectively deal with it.

These practitioners, including van der Kolk, prior to working with the traumatized person on integrating their story, help them reconnect with their bodies. Van der Kolk uses yoga; others use different kinds of massage and exercises, similar to yoga. The mind-body movement popular today is, in some part, an effort to reconnect mind and body, recognizing the essential need to be able to feel in a sensual/perceptual way, how an experience impacts a person.

If you’ve experienced trauma and it continues to impact you, then a way to begin to work with it is through some form of exercise that begins the process of de-armoring. This may be through yoga or some other physical activity that stretches and tenses different parts of your body. It may be working with a therapist who can support you as you learn to regain mastery over your physical actions and reactions. It’s my specialty, and that of many others.

Whatever you decide, know that it is possible to live free of trauma, and to regain that part of yourself that was once lost.

Our society and PTSD

 

Quote of the Week 

Armor: It’s how we protect ourselves from vulnerability. We just engage in a behavior that confirms our fear.”
― Brené Brown

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 Relativity

 

When I’m crazy busy, time seems to stop until I take a breath and realize the day has gone.  Or when, as happens more mornings than I’d like, going through my to do list for the day has me already at 7pm that night. Then there are a few days when I find myself free of anything “to do”, and gaze into nothingness in wonder of the possibilities.

On rare occasions, I wake up, allowing the day to unfold, being present to what enters into it. Being with what is.

Time is a kind of human construct. It’s a measure of motion. But it’s more than that … it’s also a measure of expectation, anticipation, and presence.  Its speed is relative to what we do and where we are in our minds. That may be why time isn’t a problem for kids – they have no expectations, anticipating joy or wonder around every corner, and being fully present and engaged with whatever is. It’s us grown-ups, formerly kids, who let our worries and expectations get in the way of living.

How to gain control of your free time

 

Quote of the Week 

Time is an illusion (Einstein). It is a strange thing, but when you are dreading something, and would give anything to slow down time, it has a disobliging habit of speeding up.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

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.

Riding the wave

 

Almost every client I see, almost every person I know, wants to have an exciting job, and great home, 2 ½ kids, a successful marriage, manageable expenses, lots of savings, and regular holidays to exotic places. I know a few people and clients who don’t buy into this dream, but honestly, they are countable on maybe 2 hands.

What I just described is sometimes called the “American Dream”; and that dream, while it might have been attainable for most people long ago, isn’t any longer.  The truth is that my parents were closer to realizing that dream than I ever was, and I’m closer than generations following me.  What my parents discovered was that the dream was empty – because there was a hidden cost.  I was about the same age as the daughter in Mad Men, and just as in the series, many of my mother’s friends were drinking too much or in psych wards. That was the cost – society restricted the role of women in order to make jobs available for men. It’s when Women’s Liberation began, and for good reason.

Having said all this, while “having it all” may be a pipe dream, creating a life that makes you feel satisfied and happy is absolutely possible. The first thing to ask yourself, if you really want happiness, is what kind of person are you? Do you have the ambition needed to even attempt the BIG dream? Or, is that something you’ve talked yourself into, or heard so many times you simply don’t question its application to your own life. For instance, those few people I mentioned in the first paragraph? None of them want fame or fortune. They have deliberately chosen a style of life that suits them, and that lifestyle doesn’t include a lot of high-octane risk. It does include risk, but not that kind of risk. In general, they’re happy, and tend to experience joy every day.

If you’re the kind of person who does want something bigger, then it’s important that you understand the risks, and also understand clearly how equipped you are in dealing with all possible consequences. You might fail; you might go broke; you might lose it all; you may have to revamp all your thoughts and plans over and over again. Do you have the stamina to ride through those possibilities? Are you the kind of person who can deal easily with uncertainty, without stress – without driving yourself (and everyone around you) crazy in the process?

If you are, then you know the thrill of riding that wave of chaos. For many of us who’ve experienced this thrill, like most really good and worthwhile things in life, it happens infrequently.  The rest of the time is getting there – preparing, planning, creating, executing those plans, then experiencing the result … tweaking or revamping and trying again. Then moving to the next level and doing it all over.

That’s one thing to understand. The other thing to understand is that none of us get there on our own. Mostly, we rely on those steady others – those steady hearts who work well with less risk and less excitement.

Steady heart or wave rider – we need both. Which are you?

Is there a real you?

 

Quote of the Week
“People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.”
― Isaac Asimov

 

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.

What happens when I’m annoyed?

 

I got annoyed at a friend last week. Not all at once; it took a while to build and grow. Until she did something I’ve decided to hate: she “deliberately” took the spot I covet at a lecture, “knowing” I want that spot because I can see the projected notes and hear the lecturer (given, after all, that I’m deaf in one ear!) from that spot.

I was righteously angry – or so I thought at the time. But, after I’d cooled off, I realized I wasn’t righteous at all, but self-righteous. And I’m pretty sure she saw the build-up and kind of expected it.

That wasn’t all. For a while, any notes I sent her began with “Janice:” (made-up name), subtly letting her know how childish I thought she was (seeing later on that this was merely a projection of me onto her).

The point? What happens when I’m annoyed is that I lose perspective and maturity.

I could have chosen better if I’d caught it building up.

The agony of trying to unsubscribe

 

Quote of the Week
“People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.”
― Isaac Asimov

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.

Worse or better?

 

I was reminded a few days ago of how we can set ourselves up for making things worse instead of better.  It was a good friend of mine who reminded me: she was upset with a mutual friend, and didn’t know how to let our friend know how upset she was. She “solved” this problem, at least temporarily, by getting a migraine, so that she couldn’t talk this issue over with our friend.

She’d made things worse for herself, instead of better: now she had a debilitating migraine and the necessary conversation was waiting for her to worry about for a while longer.

If you’ve never done this, you’re rare. Most of us find a way to sabotage ourselves, usually subconsciously or unconsciously. If something scares us enough, some of us would rather go through an elective operation than deal with that something.

If you do find yourself going to ridiculous extremes instead of facing something scary here’s three things you can do to help you through it in a better way:

Ground yourself. When I’m anxious, most of my energy is in my chest, somewhere near my throat. When I’m grounded, it’s closer to my belly button; I feel anchored to the ground beneath me. For me, I have come to know what that feels like. I call it “being landed”. Take some time when you’re in a calm space and learn what being grounded feels like for you. Then do whatever it takes to get there when you need to. Meditation, deep breathing, a long walk … whatever works for you. Being anywhere else when you need to do something scary means you’re more likely to screw up. You increase your chance of success when you approach anything difficult from a grounded place.

Get honest. Astonishingly easily, I can fool myself into thinking I am being open and above-board when I’m really not. Especially when I feel hurt. Before addressing a sensitive issue, especially with a friend, make sure you are clear about your part, and don’t begin the talk with any judgments or accusations. Be clear about the issue rather than your opinions.  For instance, if I find myself wanting to point an accusing finger at someone, I know I’m being dishonest with myself, and that, for me, holding off until I no longer feel the need to do this, is the better way.

Open your heart. We are human – you are, I am, everyone is. And as such, we are capable of making mistakes and hurting others.  Going into a confrontation with a generous heart can make the difference between increasing a problem or resolving it. This isn’t the same as being naive, or of shuttering your awareness, or of adopting a “Polyanna” overly objective attitude. I’m guilty of doing that – not wanting to believe that someone I think well of is deliberately being a nuisance – so much easier to find fault in myself. You don’t have to do this to enter a confrontation with an open heart, if you’re grounded, and honest with yourself.

Worse or better? It’s sometimes really hard to go for better. In the end, it’s always worth it.

Our dangerous obsession with perfectionism is getting worse

 

Quote of the Week 

I don’t answer. I shut my eyes and hold my breath and hope whoever it is will think I’m not here and go home.”  ― Jennifer Weiner, Who Do You Love

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.

Right now is …

 

Life is the moment we’re living right now. (Paulo Coelho)

I spend a lot of time thinking about the next thing I’m going to do. Every morning, once I have my coffee in hand, I look at my to do list for the day. Half an hour later, I’ve envisioned everything on that list, as if each thing had already happened. I remember a few days ago telling Andy (my husband) what my plans were, and it seemed, by 9am, that it was already 8pm. That I’d already lived the whole day in the first hour.

No wonder time flies for me! What would happen if I truly lived in this moment? Right now.

 

Want to be happier? Stay in the moment

 

 

Quote of the Week

“The Expulsion from Paradise is eternal in its principal aspect: this makes it irrevocable, and our living in this world inevitable, but the eternal nature of the process has the effect that not only could we remain forever in Paradise, but that we are currently there, whether we know it or not.”

― Franz Kafka, The Zürau Aphorisms

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.

Home is …

For years, home for me was in my books.  I have hundreds of them … my mysteries and sci-fi for pleasant and relaxing escapes, philosophy for the years I studied it and grew into another person, then psychology – that “practical philosophy” that I moved into and that is now my vocation, the spiritual books and books written by inspirational men and women (mostly women), books on mathematics and economics, practical how-to books, art books, yoga books … classics, poetry … . some books are falling apart from use, some nearly new.  All have been read and cherished.

From my 20’s onward, my book moved with me, no matter how cumbersome. I’ve sold some for almost nothing when I needed money, then bought them back for 10 times as much when I could. Books served as insulation in some of the small rooms I inhabited, lining the walls with their warmth and welcome.

Every lost book was a personal loss to me, like the loss of a friend. The time I felt the need to downsize and give away a third of my books was really difficult; I tried to find good homes for each one, as I would a cherished pet who needed a different place to thrive and grow.

Then about 6 months ago, I suddenly felt a need for space and room. For the first time, my books felt like they were limiting me, enclosing me, suffocating and isolating me.

Within a week of realizing this, I packed them up and put them all in storage!

And now? Now, I have twice the space I once had, for welcoming friends – human friends – into.

My long-term plan is to find a bigger place to live where I can happily co-exist with my books and  friends in collaborative peace. Meantime, home, to me, has become my cherished relationships, and my work.

What is home to you?

Where is home?

 

Quote of the Week 

Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.” ― Anna Quindlen

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.

How to manipulate successfully

 

Yes, this is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek blog today. It struck me a while back that all the things some modern coaches tell us to do can be used to fool people into thinking you’re someone you’re not.  Coaching on how to win friends and influence people. Wait, isn’t that what Dale Carnegie – grand master of manipulation – taught?

The “solid” handshake, looking people straight in the eye, knowing beforehand what your audience wants and then talking to that, whether you personally believe it or not.  Standing with feet slightly apart and hands by your sides. Smiling, projecting your voice, doing something to generate energy inside you so that you exude energy and vibrancy on the outside (Tony Robins runs for at least 5 minutes before any talk to do just that).

I’m not saying that Tony Robins is a manipulator, or anyone using these techniques. What I am saying is that if those actions aren’t natural to you, then you aren’t being genuine, and while they might work on some, they won’t work on everyone. Eventually, that chicken will come home to roost; every action costs something, and the cost of not being genuine may end up being an expensive one.

A better way is to be real. Some people won’t like it, and that’s OK. Those people aren’t your people anyway. The cost of being genuine is peace of mind, and feeling great achieving whatever it is you achieved doing so.

I once gave a talk at a university and about 10 seconds before I began, I had a severe dizzy episode. It was all I could do to stay upright, and my speech showed it. Needless to say, I was never asked back and I learnt that letting everyone know what was happening might have been a better idea. More genuine.  I’ve given a lot of speeches since then, and having already experienced the worst possible scenario gives me a sense of ease that helps me be genuine. I don’t think you need to experience what I did to get there.

How Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google manipulate our emotions (by the way, I like Ayn Rand)

 

 

Quote of the Week 

One of the methods of manipulation is to inoculate individuals with the bourgeois appetite for personal success.”  ― Paulo Freire

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