Archive: Newsletter

Aloneness

 

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

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

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

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

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

Connected, but alone?

 

Quote of the Week 

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

Announcements 

Need more? At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co . Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist and Life Coach.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co.

 

 

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

Hiding in plain sight

hiding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morgana Bailey – on coming out

 

 

Quote of the Week

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

Announcements

Need more? At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co .

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist and Life Coach.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up atwww.thejoyofliving.co.

Time Travel – it’s exhausting!

 

time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What about you?

The psychology of your future self

Quote of the Week

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

Announcements 

Need more? At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co .

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist and Life Coach.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co.

I want to be happy

I really want to be happy! Don’t I? Then why do I find myself doing things that others want but that I don’t want? Why do I keep hurting myself doing things and reaching for goals that ceased to bring me pleasure long ago?

Do I really want to be happy? I do! But I also want fulfillment, and my mid-Western Baptist upbringing has told me all my life that there is no gain without pain. The way my brain extrapolates this is: the more pain, the greater gain.

Of course that extrapolation isn’t true. If it were true, then self-harm would be a virtue. And I don’t believe that. Yet I still find myself unconsciously expecting – and feeling satisfied with – experiencing pain for emotional and spiritual gain. It’s very true that we sometimes need to go through hard times to gain something valuable to us. Building our own business, having a baby, running a marathon. But not always. And not necessarily.

I’ve discovered that when I find myself making things more difficult than they need to be, it’s really because I’m scared that if I don’t add the pain, it will come on its own in a way that I can’t control. So in some form of magical thinking, I deliberately add the pain component – as insurance.

The key to changing that magical thinking is awareness, then changing it bit by bit, tiny step after tiny step, so that one day I wake up to a day that is effortlessly happy.

It does take time and it works.

Why we need pain to feel happiness

Quote of the Week 

The marks humans leave are too often scars.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

 

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 .

A False Sense of In-Security

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

What can you do about it?

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

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

What fear can teach us

Quote of the Week

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

 

Announcements 

Need more? At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co .

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist and Life Coach.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up atwww.thejoyofliving.co.

 

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.

 

That Darn Inner Critic

At a recent conference, standing in front of her peers, Maria had a moment of panic: she found herself wondering why she thought she could impress these people in any way; that if they only knew, she’d be exposed as a fraud.

Never mind that she’d been in practice for over 40 years and was well respected in her field.  In that moment, she felt like a phony, an outsider, unable to belong.

It also didn’t matter that she was mature, astute, and knew what was going on. At least, it didn’t stop the voice – the inner critic.

Our inner critic is powerful – awesomely so. Unchecked, it can and will run our lives. Even Maria’s awareness and experience couldn’t stop it.  But, that awareness did alter its power.

We all have an inner critic, but it isn’t same as being that inner critic. You might say that our inner critic is that part of us that keeps us safe. Some call it our lizard brain. It’s a pre-logic part of us that we share with all other animals. Its only function is to keep us safe. As a result, it sometimes ends up undermining us in order to protect us from shame and possible failure.

That darn inner critic isn’t bad. It isn’t something we need to get rid of. In fact, we never could – nor should we. But it is something we can learn to use in a way that works for us and for it.  Think of it as a little person who is under our protection. That little person lets us know right away when it’s feeling unsafe. When that happens, if we pay attention to it and are aware of it, we can learn to heed what it’s feeling and take action that makes it feel safe again.

Back with Maria, she reassured her inner critic by reviewing what she’d done to prepare for her talk. She’d done a lot, really knew the topic, and had something to say that she knew would interest her audience. That calmed her critic. In fact, what began as fear and anxiety suddenly turned into excitement.  That little critic of hers – in that moment – became her ally.

Self-Compassion

Quote of the Week

We are all failures- at least the best of us are.”
― J.M. Barrie

 

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.

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.

 

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.

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 .