Tag Archive: connection

Honesty. The Best Medicine

I was listening to a friend tell me her story about losing something on the subway: she’d been tired after a long day and was on the train during rush hour.  It was jam packed … she was lucky to get a seat.  When she got that seat, she put her backpack on the ground between her feet, her groceries on top of her backpack, thinking they’d both be safe, and started looking through her saved messages.

When it came time to get off, she had to grab everything and push her way through the crowd before the doors closed.  It wasn’t till she got home that she realized her groceries weren’t with her.

What happened to them? How did she manage to pick up her backpack and not her groceries? Did someone take them or were they knocked off in the race to the door?

My friend was upset and relieved it wasn’t her backpack. She felt like a fool, realizing she’d taken a chance by not paying attention to her surroundings, and not being ready when the train was approaching her stop.  She was soundly berating herself by the time we talked.

As it turns out, I was a good one for her to call, because I understood everything she said. I understood the exhaustion, the need to disappear into my messages or a book, the sense of shock and imbalance over missing something that should be with me, and then the self-punishment. I even understood her suspicion that someone took the bag, even though there was nothing that expensive in it.

I felt what she felt.

This isn’t always true. Have you ever found yourself comforting a friend over a loss you’ve never had? It’s awkward; you don’t really know what to say, so you end up saying something you know is stupid, like “It’s alright, I understand”.

Well, you don’t really understand, and you know it. But you could imagine what it would be like to have something like that happen to you. You can feel that event, even though it’s imaginary.  We all can – that’s why we love stories and novels and movies about people who have adventures we’ve never had.

I was wondering how I would have responded to my friend if I hadn’t been through her own story, and realized I didn’t have to be. I simply had to be open to imagining it, and letting her know that’s what I was doing.

Honesty. The best medicine.

Understanding is a power to shape the world – Larry Rosen

Quote of the Week
General benevolence, but not general friendship, make a man what he ought to be.
― Jane Austen, Emma

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-programsor 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 .

Nature = Joy

Nature

 

On Being last week interviewed Michael McCarthy, author of The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy.

The book is about our human connection with Nature, and how essential that connection is. The title refers to two things he’s witnessed.  He remembered as a child riding in a car at night and watching the moths that were attracted to the headlights.  They were so thick they were referred to as a Moth Snowstorm.  That no longer happens, because there are too few months.

The other thing is how Nature brought back his sense of joy after his mother was taken away to a mental hospital when he was 7.  He remembered feeling nothing. Later he understood it was because he was so upset about her departure that he cut himself off from his feelings.  It wasn’t until he was sent to his grandmother’s in the country that he began to feel again: it was on a day when he decided to run across the road; beside the road was a large bush filled with butterflies. He was momentarily transfixed by their beauty. This lead to his re-introduction to feeling, connection, and joy.

It is true that Nature is thinning. There are accounts of this all over the world. It’s been noticed and documented in national parks along the West coast of North America. In Germany, 63 nature reserves were studied, starting in 1963 when the Berlin Wall was torn down. Today, the numbers of flying insects in these parks has reduced by 76%.

Max Nichollson, a pioneer in Nature preservation, had an interest in house sparrows as a child. In 1925, he and his brother counted all the sparrows in Kensington Gardens: they counted 2603 sparrows. 75 years later, he counted only 8. His theory is that there may come a point where a colony would commit a kind of collective suicide. He was referring to what is known as the Allee effect, which hypothesizes that declines in socially breeding-species eventually becomes self-reinforcing.

Humans are part of Nature. We are all part of the evolution of the Earth. For 50,000 generations, we were part of the wildlife – just another species. It’s only the last 50 generations that we’ve gradually separated ourselves from Nature. But the truth is: we’re still a part of Nature, even if we chose to ignore this truth.

Nature is where we take our connections and metaphors from; it’s where science exists.

And science is beginning to learn that re-connecting with Nature positively impacts us physically, emotionally, and mentally. And, I would add, spiritually. It calms us and feeds our spirits.  It brings us significant moments of joy.

You might have, as a child, had your own special place in the woods, back yard, or nearby park. Somewhere outdoors where you could go and be alone with Nature; a place where you felt safe to simply be, to regenerate. Or you might have discovered that later as an adult.

I have such a place. I visit it every week, and it does bring me joy, refuelling me for the next 7 days.

If you don’t yet have such a place to go to, make this your next goal. Then spend some time, every week, replenishing your joy.

 

If you like this blog, you’ll love my newsletters “You are Enough Just as You Are” for a 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 for my insider newsletter, click here.  If you find it doesn’t work for you, all you have to do to unsubscribe is click on the link at the bottom of the newsletter.

Looking forward to welcoming you to my growing list of insiders!

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

Interaction – that’s ALL there is!

Interaction

In his book Seven Brief Lessons of Physics, Carlo Rovelli talks about how Reality is interaction. Not a collection of things separated by empty space, but a collection of “happenings” where what is created is relationship through interaction. He argues that we can understand our world more in terms of the relationship among things – or happenings – more fully than in terms of the thing in isolation. Because no thing exists in isolation.

For instance: A stone at this moment might be dust tomorrow, depending on it’s relationship to the dynamics surrounding it. Today at this moment you might be relaxed while reading this blog.  A moment later you could be running, or any number of actions that depend entirely on your relationship with your world then.

This is, in an important way, a lovely way of viewing our world, and life in general.  Take each of us: We are a result of the interaction or our parents – who they were physically, mentally and emotinally at the moment of conception; then once born into this world, how we interacted with whatever we encountered shaped us. Those happenings continue to shape how we are right now.

Every interaction will change us – sometimes in minor ways, and sometimes profoundly. For instance, on a walk I might see a purple stone (I like purple stones); I’ll stop and pick it up, admire it’s color and texture, then put it back down and continue on.  That rock gave me pleasure that lingers for a while, affecting my sense of happiness and even my physiology; and I gave something in turn to the rock – the warmth of my hand, a change of relationship to its surroundings, and even some of my molecules.

We say we are “moved” by a poem, or a speech, or a piece of art, because it changes us through our interaction with it. Permanently. We are similarly moved by relationships – positively or negatively — and if we allow it, we can expand our personal field, our happening in that moment, taking the opportunity to learn and grow with each one.

It reminds me of a story Pemma Chödron told about an interaction between two buddhist monks.  They were in a garden, both contemplating a big tree in front of them.  After some undefinable time, one monk says to the other “And they call that (marvelous happening) a tree!”

 

If you like this blog, you’ll love my newsletters “You are Enough Just as You Are” for a 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 for my insider newsletter, click here.  If you find it doesn’t work for you, all you have to do to unsubscribe is click on the link at the bottom of the newsletter.

Looking forward to welcoming you to my growing list of insiders!

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

Empathy – Looking at Another Person’s Noise

Empathy

Mirrors. I know, deep down, that everything I react and respond to – especially other people – are mirrors into my own soul.  They always tell me something about myself. And if I’m reacting, they’re probably telling me something I’d rather not own. So I react by seeing whatever’s happening as someone else’s problem. It let’s me judge and dismiss without feeling I’m really judgng and dismissing myself.

But I am.

Some every-day examples: Feeling relieved when I see the guy 2 cars ahead of me get stopped for speeding instead of me; or feeling “caught” when I see someone stopped for speeding, wondering if that person had an urgent need to get somewhere fast, and knowing what that feels like. Getting righteously angry at a young mother yelling at her child for getting lost, instead of wondering what I’d do if my child got lost and then was found, unharmed.

When I’m busy judging others, I’m also distracting myself from seeing the connection between myself and the person I’m judging. And when I do that, I disconnect not only from that other person, but from myself. It may be temporarily soothing to project my own personally intollerable imperfection onto another, but in the long run, it leaves me stationery, forever ending up in the same muddle because I’ve never honestly addressed my own issue.

We all project. It’s one of the ways we learn, and it connects us to our world. But when we project our self-judgments, we isolate ourselves from our world. Empathy cuts through that isolation by opening us up to really seeing the other as a fellow imperfect traveler.

Seth Godin calls this the noise in his head . The monologue that can at times run constantly and loudly; criticizing, judging, comparing. Projecting our self-judgments and self-criticisms onto whoever happens to be in our line of sight.

But even at it’s loudest, it is possible to override it; to recognize it for what it is, and to use this knowing to reach out. To connect rather than to isolate. To soften to our own limitations, and see another’s with an open heart.

To look at another person’s noise and see it in ourselves.

 

If you’re interested in reading more, sign up for my weekly newsletter.

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 .

7 Questions for 2018

(Inspired by Courtney Martin)

7 is a magical number – a number of power.  There was a study many years ago called the Magic Number 7 that observed crows, discovering that crows can remember up to 7 things.  It turns out that’s true for us too: we can remember around 7 things – concrete or abstract – at a time. “7” also stands for the 7 generations that influence us, and that we will influence, according to shamanism. What we do and how we do it is partly a result of the 7 generations that came before us – it’s something that we can’t ignore without blinding ourselves to who we are. In shamanism, “7” also stands for the dream and freedom.

With this in mind, I wonder what last year offers you now for this year. And if you could clarify your dream for this year, what would it be? To help you out, I offer you 7 questions.

  1. A moment to remember. If you could choose one moment from 2017, what moment would that be? How can you carry that moment into 2018?
  2. Connections. Who did you connect with in 2017 that changed you. Who do you want to connect with this year?
  3. Lost Opportunities. Who did you wish you connected with last year, but didn’t? What did you learn from that experience that can help you this year?
  4. Battles. What inner battles did you grapple with last year? Which ones did you resolve, and which are your battles for this year?
  5. Wins. What were the greatest personal “wins” you made last year? What are you aiming for this year?
  6. Hope. What gave you hope in 2017 that you can carry inside you as you begin 2018?
  7. Dreams. What one thing, above all else, do you want to focus on for 2018?

Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

5 ways to kill your dream

questions

Quote of the Week
You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one. John Lennon

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

If you meet Buddha on the road…

If you meet Buddha on the road, kill him.” This saying is attributed to Zen Master Linji, and I often wonder if it might be more accurate replacing the “if” with “when”. “When you meet Buddha on the road, kill him.” Because it will happen. For some of us, more than once.

If you’re like me, way more than once.

My latest encounter in a long line of encounters happened a short while ago. I was with someone I revered and thought was wiser than me – catering to the limitations of the English language, I’ll refer to this person in the feminine. This person had been up for 3 days and – it turned out – ended up being pretty much at their worst.  She was de-deified and re-humanized before my eyes; I was able to see her – really – for the first time.  I’m not saying that the real personality was who she was at her worst; only that all of us are no more than human.  And one more thing: all of us – including me – are the only real authority we will ever have as adults.

I met Buddha on the road, and I killed her.  In other words, I unconsciously gave someone else the authority that actually resides inside me, and when I realized this, I was able to take it back. Whew!  What a relief that was.

And, knowing me, I’m already wondering who the next one will be.  You see, I’m a hero worshiper, an eternal optimist, always believing there are great and wonderful people in this world. I want to meet every one of them.  The thing I forget is that I am equally a wonderful person – just as are you.
Warts and all.

Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

Pema – You already have everything you need


Quote of the Week

Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.
― 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

Is It Depression Or Something Else?

Many celebrities are talking about the positive mental health movement. They want to take away the stigma of mental health challenges and encourage everyone to be more proactive. While I was thinking about today’s post, I came across a story on a popular TV show that dealt with depression…. only the lady didn’t have depression. In fact, she had pancreatic cancer! Her psychiatrist was seeing her for other reasons, noticed the change, and encouraged a follow-up with her doctor.

SIDE NOTE: Here’s a blog I highly recommend from Health Ambition that foods that contribute to depression.

Depression is serious on its own, but sometimes there are underlining medical issues that need to be considered (or ruled out) before anyone starts treatment for depression. We tend not to think about underlining medical causes for depression because, well – we tend to be busy people with varied stressors within our lives. Depression can happen or we can be hiding it for years, or we don’t want to deal with the stigma of seeing a mental health professional and then we decide to simply “live with it”.

I’m here to tell you, today, that simply “living with it” isn’t a good option because you deserve to address your happiness – or, in rare cases, an underlining medical condition!

I am GIVING AWAY online therapy consultations. I can help you discover what the online therapy benefits are and you get to test-drive my services and see if we are a good match. To learn more about me, my programs, and read my free blog- please click here: http://thejoyofliving.co/programs/

Is Gestalt Therapy Good for Addiction?

I recently received a question about addiction and Gestalt therapy. My thoughts are this, if you’re seeking help- you’re already on a good path no matter what form of therapy / treatment you decide to take. Moving forward to addictionbreak the cycle of addiction is always a positive thing.

Gestalt therapy can help with addiction issues. As I’ve noted before, Gestalt therapy works on your psychological and emotional health, believing these two things can only be achieved by understanding oneself as part of a greater whole. Basically, I (and other therapists) believe that once you acknowledge who you are and why you are, you can finally be who you are.  Understanding why you react to certain triggers, and that the journey to self-discovery and transformation is a lifelong quest, is always my primary goal.

When it comes to addiction, I try not to analyze your past and place blame on certain people. Instead, we talk about you and your feelings. We work on your present moment in certain situations and how you felt and then how addiction become introduced and relied upon.

Addicts are often unaware of their true selves and therefore can’t really identify their true needs.  This is where I help patients understand their needs on a physical and emotional level, as well as the ways that they have responded to them in the past. By understanding your true self, you can start to seek out and  provide yourself with your true needs, vs. continuing to fill a void through the cycle of addiction. We also work on breaking the escape of life by using addiction as the tool / doorway. Instead, I help you  increase self-awareness and awareness of your relationship with the world. You no longer will need an escape tool / doorway through drugs, alcohol or sex. Instead, you will be able to discover your true needs and fulfill them, leaving addiction behind.

Don’t get me wrong. Addiction is addiction and it can take several attempts to truly kick any habit, but I promise the journey is worth it.

If you’re struggling with addiction and want to learn more, please contact me.

Dreams and Gestalt Therapy.

Frederick (Fritz) Perls is considered the “father” of Gestalt Therapy. The basic concept of Gestalt Perls believed that unresolved conflicts from the past had a great deal of influence upon present behavior, and that these conflicts needed to be “worked through” (Perls, 1969). Dreams were a cornerstone of this type of therapy because of the dreamsenergy and reference work it provides to help people better understand the present.

When working with myself, my patients often discover just how powerful dreams can be when seeking insight into our day-to-day lives and possible hidden issues that we can’t see within the present.  You see, Fritz Perls felt that dreams were highly symbolic and made extensive use of interpretation and I couldn’t agree more.  I believe dreams are a subjective presentation of the person and that there is a sense of wholeness in every image.  By using dreams as a part of therapy, we can better connect to the meaning of what may be parts of ourselves that are veiled or living within a fantasy during waking life.  The meanings have to be carefully talked about, sometimes even talked through using an empty chair as a “third” party.  And we can always evaluate the idea of the intrapsychic dream landscape.  For example, was that angry dog really someone angry at you or yourself angry at a situation.

Dreams are powerful and there are many ways to decipher what they do and do not mean. I tend to believe our unconscious mind is always trying to help our conscious lives by providing clues to not only unraveling what is nagging us, but by presenting options for us to address, work through and then discover how to apply solutions in everyday life.

If you’re just as fascinated by dreams as I, let’s talk. I have plenty more information to provide to you and consultations are always welcomed. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook for daily updates on this and other subjects related to Gestalt therapy.

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