Archive for Boundaries Posts

published in Anger, Book Reviews, Boundaries, Depression, Health, Saying NO! by Maryanne | June 6, 2017 | 4 Comments

In Sickness & in Health – When The Body Says No


“When we have been prevented from learning how to say no, our bodies may end up saying it for us.”

– Gabor Maté

If you haven’t read Gabor Maté’s book, When the Body Says No; The Cost of Hidden Stress, I highly recommend it. I borrowed a copy from a friend a year ago and read it in small chunks, here and there, as there was an awful lot of content – and supporting case studies – to consider, in terms of the role we play in our own health. It is not a particularly comfortable read but it is extremely enlightening.

“It is a sensitive matter to raise the possibility that the way people have been conditioned to live their lives may contribute to their illness.” 

– Gabor Maté, When the Body Says No

Drawing on scientific research and the author’s decades of experience as a practicing physician, When the Body Says No examines the effect of the mind-body connection on illness and health and the role that stress and one’s individual emotional makeup play in conditions and diseases such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome and multiple sclerosis.

Here are a just a few highlights from the book:

“People have always understood intuitively that mind and body are not separable. Modernity has brought with it an unfortunate dissociation, a split between what we know with our whole being and what our thinking mind accepts as truth.”

“Our immune system does not exist in isolation from daily experience.”

“Many of us live, if not alone, then in emotionally inadequate relationships that do not recognize or honour our deepest needs.”

“When emotions are repressed, this inhibition disarms the body’s defences against illness.”

“Repression – dissociating emotions from awareness and relegating them to the unconscious realm – disorganizes and confuses our physiological defences so that in some people these defences go awry, becoming the destroyers of health rather than its protectors.”

“The blurring of psychological boundaries during childhood becomes a significant source of future physiological stress in the adult. There are ongoing negative effects on the body’s hormonal and immune systems, since people with indistinct personal boundaries live with stress; it is a permanent part of their daily experience to be encroached on by others. However, that is a reality they have learned to exclude from their direct awareness.”

“The research literature has identified three factors that universally lead to stress: uncertainty, the lack of information and the loss of control. All three are present in the lives of individuals with chronic illness.”

“Repression of anger increases the risk for cancer for the very practical reason that it magnifies exposure to physiological stress. If people are not able to recognize intrusion, or are unable to assert themselves, even when they do see a violation, they are likely to experience repeatedly the damage brought on by stress.”

“Physiological stress is the link between personality traits and disease. Certain traits – otherwise known as coping styles – magnify the risk for illness by increasing the likelihood of chronic stress. Common to them all is a diminished capacity for emotional communication.”

“The gut, or intestinal tract, is much more than an organ of digestion. It is a sensory apparatus with a nervous system of its own, intimately connected to the brain’s emotional centres.”

“Gut feelings, pleasant or unpleasant, are part of the body’s normal response to the world – they help us interpret what is happening around us and inform us whether we are safe or in danger.”  

“The repression of negative emotion is a chronic and significant source of damaging stress.”

“Characteristics of many persons with rheumatoid diseases is a stoicism carried to an extreme degree, a deeply ingrained reticence about seeking help.”

“Repressed anger will lead to disordered immunity. The inability to process and express feelings effectively, and the tendency to serve the needs of others before even considering one’s own, are common patterns in people who develop chronic illness.”

“The less powerful partner in any relationship will absorb a disproportionate amount of the shared anxiety – which is the reason that so many more women than men are treated for, say, anxiety or depression. (The issue here is not strength but power: that is, who is serving whose needs?)

“Healthy anger leaves the individual, not the unbridled emotion, in charge.”

“Health rests on three pillars: the body, the psyche and the spiritual connection. To ignore any one of them is to invite imbalance and dis-ease.”

For further information about the book and author, here is the link.

Related blogs by Maryanne:

Anger in the Garden – Pruning Back for Future Growth

When Our Body Says No, We’d Be Wise to Listen

Back Off Baby – You Just Crossed My Boundary

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here.

published in Boundaries, Family, Life Balance, Mothering Matters by Maryanne | May 3, 2017 | No Comment

This is the first Mothering Matters blog in the spring 2017 blog series:

When I Grow Up I Want to Be a Cell Phone


What Are YOU Paying Attention To?

I was in Chicago recently and heard a story that stopped me in my tracks. You may have heard this story already – or seen some variation of it on social media. Regardless, it certainly speaks volumes.

A Child’s Perspective

A teacher asked the kids in her classroom to write down their answer to this question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

One child carefully wrote down this answer: “When I grow up, I want to be a cell phone.”

The teacher asked the child what she meant by that.

The child’s answer: “I want to be a cell phone when I grow up because then my Mom will pay attention to me.”


How easy it is to get caught up in what is happening on our phones versus right in front of us in real life.

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here.


Mothering Matters is an initiative of Pink Gazelle Productions Inc.

For further information about the Mothering Matters blog series, here is the link.

If you would like to receive the Mothering Matters blogs and/or read the other blogs, please click here.




Searching for Something More


Something More book cover

“When we talk about Something More, it isn’t wanting a fancier car, a bigger house, or a designer dress. Something More is what we need to fill our spiritual hunger.”

– Sarah Ban Breathnach, Something More

What have you been reading this summer?

I’ve been reading, yet again, one of my all-time favourite books: Something More; Excavating Your Authentic Self by Sarah Ban Breathnach (author of Simple Abundance; A Daybook of Comfort and Joy).

Something More is based on the premise that “the authentic self is the soul made visible.”

Alas, as is often the way with matters pertaining to the soul, it’s a book I find to be more unsettling than encouraging – but in a good way. Its candour cuts to the core of some pretty deep truths about women’s lives, particularly about the danger of…settling.

“Our choices can be conscious or unconscious,” explains Ban Breathnach in Something More. “Conscious choice is creative, the heart of authenticity.”

But when we fall asleep at the wheel of our own lives (and I suspect it happens to most of us at some point) and begin making small but significant decisions on auto-pilot – that serve to keep the peace but aren’t necessarily for our own highest good – we can run into trouble.

So how do we prevent this from happening? By pulling over to the side of the road, of course, and taking a time-out. Or put another way:

“Be still, woman, and know who you are.”

Sarah Ban Breathnach, Something More

But many women don’t STOP because a) they lead very busy lives (and likely manage several other people’s busy lives, as well) and; b) to stop means to think and that could lead to reflecting and that could lead to change and that could lead to all sorts of uncomfortable things for all sorts of people. So, on some level, it seems wiser to keep moving – and the status quo intact.

But here’s one problem, among many, with that strategy: “When we lose touch with our true natures,” explains Ban Breathnach, “we become unable to create boundaries that protect, nurture, and sustain our self-worth.”

Been there, done that, got the (very expensive) t-shirt.

So how do we know when we’ve veered off track…away from our soul’s authentic path? By how we feel.

“The soul is here for it’s own joy.”

– Rumi

“Many of us confuse happiness and joy,” writes Ban Breathnach. “Happiness is often triggered by external events, events we usually have no control over – you get the promotion, he loves you back, they approve your mortgage application. Happiness camouflages a lot of fears. But joy is the absence of fear. Joy is your soul’s knowledge that if you don’t get the promotion, keep the relationship, or buy the house, it’s because you weren’t meant to. You’re meant to have something better, something richer, something more.”

If you know, deep down, that you need to make some sort of significant change in your life, here is a passage from Something More that you might find of help:

“The medical-intuitive Caroline Myss…tells us that when we know we are supposed to move on or out of a situation that is stunting our soul growth and we consciously refuse to do so because the uncharted terror of choice and change scares us, a celestial clock starts ticking. “If you’re getting directions, ‘Move on with your life, let go of something,’ then do it. Have the courage to do it. This is the way it is. When you get guidance to let go of something, it’s sort of like a time warning that says, ‘You have ten days left. After that, your angel’s going to do it.’ So the desire to hold on is not going to stop the process of change.”

If I had read that when I was 17, I would have thought it ridiculous. But now that I’ve experienced life on this planet for almost 50 years, I know that a mere desire to keep things the way they are is NOT going to stop the process of change. Time and time again, I have found this to be true in my own life.

However, I do think we get plenty of sweet – and not-so-sweet but still small enough to be ignored – little nudges from the Universe to help us make the changes we know we need to make, in ourselves and/or our lives, before A Big One (health scare, loss of a loved one, financial crisis, divorce, etc) potentially arrives in all its heartbreaking, life-altering, soul-waking splendour 🙁

But here’s the good news:

“If you can learn from hard knocks, you can learn from soft touches.”

– Carolyn Kenmore

Thankfully, I have found this to be equally true 🙂

Related blogs by Maryanne:

Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude

Back Off Baby – You Just Crossed My Boundary

The Danger of Comfort – Lessons from the Cubicle

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and the Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her weekly blog, please sign up here.