Tag Archive: self-control

Control yourself, Grasshopper – The People factor when it comes to stress


“It isn’t the work that’s an issue for me. There’s a lot of it, but I can handle it. It’s the people!” I remember saying that any number of times when I became a manager, suddenly thrust into being responsible for mess-ups that weren’t of my making. At least it seemed that way to my then naïve viewpoint.

Sure, I had my heroes – usually stoic men and women who could be calm through anything. I tried to emulate them, and some would say I did it well. But inside, I was often anything but stoic and calm.

I was a mess.

The “What if’s” were my constant companion. “What if Charlie doesn’t get done on time?” What if Louise doesn’t come into work again?” “What if the next person I hire is a closet sociopath?”

Yes. Things were very hairy inside me sometimes. Until I learnt a few “rules that kept me sane and balanced:

  1. Know who I truly have any control over. The only person I can control is me. That means that if I’m worrying over someone else, there’s probably something I’m not worrying over about me. When I hired that last person, what wasn’t I looking at that makes me worry about him now? And why? Now that I’ve hired him, what can I put in place for myself that would give me peace of mind?
  2. Be transparent. If I’m not truly calm and stoic inside, then don’t pretend I am. That only sets me up for a future heart-attack, and lets others think something about me and the situation that’s simply not true. I may talk myself into thinking I’m doing everyone a favor, but I’m not. Not that throwing a fit is the answer. It definitely isn’t. But neither is bottling things up.
  3. Be open. It always amazes me how things turn out when I remain open. All those times when I decided ahead of time that a particular result was inevitable were never great. But any time where I was able to remain open to what became available were really pretty good.

For me, it’s always the people who I stress over. But it doesn’t have to be. When I’m open and transparent, and stop trying to control what I can’t, life is a lot less stressful.



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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 .


Know thy enemy and then, know thyself

I finally watched the Borgia series on Netflix.

One of the main characters is Cesare Borgia, eldest son of the future Pope Alexander VI and Vannozza dei Cattanei. The entire family has often been vilified. Some say this was simply part of the times – they weren’t the only family of power like this.

There are many things written about the Borgia family, and about Cesare in particular. Machiavelli based his book The Prince on him. He was seen by Machiavelli and others as a military genius.

Maybe so, but in the process, he used his position and connections to destroy other people’s lives. Lots of other people. It may have been part of the times, but that doesn’t justify his destructiveness and lack of human consideration. And, to be fair, it’s also said that his family also supported minorities who would otherwise have been wiped out.

So, it’s ironic that the writer and creator of this series, Tom Fontana, gave Cesare the lines from Sun Tsu, immortal writer of The Art Of War, that reveal the secret to winning any battle against our enemies, be they external or internal.

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

So eloquently said. So easy to see. And sometimes, so hard to practice.. Especially if that enemy is within.

I have a belief that it’s only when we conquer our inner enemies that we can truly be master of our own lives. Imagine the following:

3 people. All three grew up experiencing exactly the same things (I know, highly unlikely, but I ask that you suspend your judgment in the service of considering the point I’m exploring with you).

They – all 3 at the same time and in the same place – witness an injustice against a stranger that reminds them of something that happened in their own lives. Let’s say that they witness a young child being bullied.

The first person is horrified and becomes consumed with rage, ready to wade in and pulverize the bully, knowing that it will actually make him or her feel worse after they calm down and regain some control. The second is terrified and wants only to run and hide until it’s all over, knowing they’ll feel mortified with what they see as their own moral cowardice afterwards. The third might feel repulsion and rage, but is able to consider in a split second how best to respond in order to support the child, and help the person bullying to come to terms with the situation in a better way.

Both the 1st and the 2nd person aren’t able to effectively intervene because they are blinded by their own inner war. The third has come to know herself and has – at the very least – won that particular battle.  She knows this enemy because she knows herself.

Which would you rather be?

The Nobody Sandwich – Chris Paracox

Quote of the Week
Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.
― C.G. Jung

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 .