In the introduction, I also mention a little dip in energy and enthusiasm that I’m going through at the moment and my thoughts on how transformative these kinds of experiences can be. And also how natural I think they are. I also wrote about this experience in this week’s blog post.
Maryse Godet Copans was born and raised in Brussels, Belgium and has been living in New York for the last 25 years. She is a t
In May 2017, Maryse was
You can find Maryse at Flow-erpower.com
You can listen above or on iTunes or your favorite podcast app or watch the video here. Highlights, notes, resources and full transcript below.
- The opening up of Maryse’s life since finding the Principles
- On what causes suffering
- The difference between accepting anxiety and knowing its temporary nature
- Maryse’s experience with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and how that has been affected by the Principles
- The flexibility that comes with the awareness that thought is temporary
Resources mentioned in this episdoe
- Maryse’s blog post on the shifts in her life
- Nicola Bird’s A Little Peace of Mind program
- Website about Sydney Banks
- Michael Neill’s Supercoach Academy
- We don’t mention it, but Michael’s book SuperCoach is also great
Transcript of Interview with Maryse Godet Copans
Alexandra: Hi, everyone. I’m Alexandra Amor from stopsufferingabout.com. I’m here today with Maryse Godet Copans. How did I do?
Maryse: Very well. Impressive.
Alexandra: Well, thank you so much for being here with me today.
Maryse: Thank you for inviting me, Alexandra. Thank you so much.
Alexandra: Oh, my pleasure. I’m really excited to talk to you. So let me give a little introduction to you, to our audience.
Maryse Godet Copans was born and raised in Brussels, Belgium. And she’s been living in New York for the last 25 years. She’s a translator by trade and a coach and writer by heart these days.
Maryse had a 14-year struggle with anxiety and its many symptoms, lightheadedness, trouble sleeping, hypersensitivity to noise, dizziness. A long quest to find a peaceful way led to trying therapy, yoga, biofeedback, Jin Shin Do, emotional freedom technique, somatic experiencing, acupuncture, self-help, and spiritual books and programs. It all helped, but life became very limited anyway.
In May 2017, Maryse was introduced to the three principles and to Nicola Bird’s, A Little Peace of Mind program. Understanding the transient nature of the human experience and the innate resilience and wisdom at our core has changed everything for her.
I loved that story and I just want to say, briefly before we start, but I was practicing reading your bio beforehand like I do before I go on air just so I don’t stumble too much. And when I was reading just to myself the list of all the things that you had done to try to help yourself and alleviate your anxiety which is so common among everyone I’ve interviewed including myself, I actually got tears in my eyes. It just made me feel so moved.
One, that we try so hard, you know, to feel better and then two, that now we’ve come to this understanding. So at the very end of that, you say that your life has changed and it’s opened up a bit.
Why don’t you share a little bit more about what that looks like now?
Maryse: Funny enough, I just finished a short blog post about that to just put my thoughts together about how I see the change.
I had my times when I was really miserable, but just before coming across Nicola, I was reasonably happy. I had symptoms on and off, and my life was pretty limited. But I was also aware that it was a good life. I had no huge health issues, a loving family, a roof over my head. I was really aware of all those blessings.
But what’s changed now is that from being happy with a small life, I’m just being amazed at a big life. I find myself traveling, coaching. I mean, who would have thought, right? Even a year ago, wow. And, you know, so meeting strangers.
I used to say, I don’t like people, actually. Except maybe for you. I don’t like people and now, I’m finding myself liking people. I was like, “What’s up with that?”
I’m surprised at every corner by what I go out to do whether I feel anxious or not because I’m not saying that I don’t feel it still. I do sometimes. It’s gotten so much better, but I still feel it. But life is basically open.
When you reached out to me and ask if you could interview me, I said, “Yes.” Whereas before I might have said, “Oh, my God. No, no, no, no.” No one can listen to me. I wouldn’t know what to say. I don’t want to spend hours writing a script. It would have been just very uncomfortable and now, it’s just not a problem anymore. I have to pinch myself so often these days because I just didn’t know this was still in the cards for me.
Alexandra: Brilliantly said.
The place where I first learned about you was in Nicola Bird’s, A Little Peace of Mind Facebook group. You’re an admin there and so, just for our listeners, I’m going to give a little bit of background on this story and this was actually the reason that I wanted to reach out to you.
There was someone in the group and she was having a little bit of discomfort. And this is the question that she asked, “How do we deal with moods that are caused by thinking about real injustices?” And you responded and your response was one of those things where I just felt everything shift and the response…
What you said was, “Why would you want any other experience?” And you can hear something a thousand times, but I heard it for the 1,001st. I felt like the world kind of cracked open for me at that moment. I went for a walk afterward and I just had that feeling of how everything feels so different.
Sorry. This is a long prelude to the question, but as I was preparing for the call then, what it made me realize too is that for those of us who have been seeking answers and doing a lot of self-help stuff, and I don’t know if that’s true for this lady who asked the question on the Facebook group, but we got really great at managing ourselves.
Managing our feelings, managing our thoughts. If something happens we have a strategy or a technique for dealing with it. And so, that I think becomes a habit that can be a little bit difficult to break. And I think that that’s one thing that you were addressing.
I’d love for you to expand on that answer, “Why would you want any other experience?”
Maryse: Because as you said, the core of our suffering comes from wanting something different and not just with regards to anxiety, with anything else that shows up in our life. I mean, this feeling of resistance shows up. Of course, it shows up. I mean, we’re not just going to go, “Yeah, you know, I like everything.” That’s just not our nature, right?
We have preferences. We say yes, we say no. But for me to realize that my fighting anxiety or even my trying to accept anxiety which was still showing that I was not okay with it because if I had to try and accept it, it meant that I was not okay with it, right? That’s how I see it now. That just kept feeding the monster.
It’s very common in the anxiety world to say, “Don’t react,” you know, “Just let it pass,” and all these things. But it still feeds the idea that anxiety is a thing. And what I saw with Nicola’s help in her program is that it’s not a thing, it’s just a habit of mind.
We think ourselves anxious and then we believe it’s important. But when that core resistance to what shows up fades away, my goodness, life becomes so much easier.
And I still catch myself. There was something going on in the family recently and I was really angry for like, a couple of hours, and then I wasn’t. It’s not as if I said, “No, no, no. I have to accept what’s coming up.” It’s just like, I’m angry, I’m not. I’m anxious, I’m not.
It’s this okayness with whatever flows through me and I can’t give you a recipe for getting there. It’s just happened over time as I saw more and more the truth in this natural flow of emotions in us. It’s here, it goes away. It’s here, it goes away, and that’s how it works.
Alexandra: Yes. That’s great and it makes me think of that very famous Sydney Banks quote about, if the only thing people did was stop being afraid of their own experience, that alone would change everything.
Maryse: Yes. And what I’ve come to see too is that there’s this space of reactivity when we have a real problem, in my experience the first thing we do is react. I don’t care how enlightened people are, but I think the first thing we do is react.
But to be able to take that step back, it’s not even taking a step back. It’s this awareness comes in of it
And I think that’s what I meant with why would you want anything different in your experience because it’s just to get a pause there, enough of a pause to see that this experience is going to shift by itself and then from a place of non-reactivity, something else will show up, a fresh start will come.
Maryse: That’s been my experience over and over again.
Alexandra: Yes. And it didn’t occur to me until this morning, but I just think this is such an important point about the big self-help journey that so many of us have been on and the way that now we’re…in a way, we’re having to unlearn a lot of what we learned before. A lot of those management techniques like I talked about earlier.
Did you find that that was something that you had to tackle with or maybe still are dealing with?
Maryse: Actually, no. I mean, that might be surprising to you, but I think one thing that really helped me from the get-go was that I had completely given up. No, but it’s true.
I came across Nicola in May 2017 and I entered that year with… And I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but that year I decided if there’s one thing that I’m going to try and commit to is not to try anything anymore. Just to see, I can be happy enough with my anxiety. It’s fine. I’m tired, I am so tired of trying. I’m done and let’s see what happens.
So I let myself basically flow for a few months and then out of the blue, Nicola appeared on Facebook one day. And I remember looking at that picture and solution. I can’t remember what the words were, but I’m thinking to myself, “No, no. I am not clicking on this. I promised myself nothing ever again.” And then she just came back, you know, day after day there was another ad. And I was like, you know, “She’s good.”
So at one point, I gave up again and I clicked. And then when I listened to her, I’m sure a lot of us in her program it was like, “Oh, my God, this woman knows what I’m going through.” She knows. For the first time with all the stuff I have tried even with those who had gone through anxiety, it never quite sounded the way Nicola sounded on that day to me.
And because it was free, I signed up for one webinar and then that’s it. I joined her program and I thought I have nothing to lose. I know I promised myself not to try anything, but I did it. And, of course, thank God I did it because everything changed.
But one thing that was really funny during the beginning of the program is that a few weeks in, Nicola admitted to her migraines coming back. And I remember thinking, “What? It’s not gone. She’s not fixed. This is a waste of my time. Again, I tried something and it didn’t work.”
It was a 12-week program and I think we were at week 6 or 7. So I kept going and by the end of the program, I had seen that it was not about getting rid of symptoms. It was about being okay with anxiety and basically this relationship, totally shifting from one of fixing to one of okayness.
But, yes. So I was already doing nothing if that makes sense. I just continued to do nothing basically. I guess maybe it was a little easier for me than for others who are really in the habit of having 7, 10, 20 strategies to cope on the days that they’re anxious.
To this day, I still sometimes use an affirmation or another. If it makes sense
Alexandra: One of the things I think for our listeners and if you’re brand new to this understanding, it might be a little bit difficult to grasp is the difference between acceptance, which is kind of a strategy that you alluded to this earlier, right? The difference between acceptance and what the principles are pointing to, that new thought will come in any given moment new thought is arising.
To try to accept something in a way we’re pushing against it. Could you expand on that a little bit maybe with your experience of learning that?
Maryse: It’s actually pretty recent to me the clarity. I don’t want to sound too pompous or anything, but, I mean, really seeing clearly the difference between being okay with it and accepting.
And what I mean by not being real, it means that it’s really is like air, like a cloud. It’s a feeling
I don’t see the need anymore for accepting that because I don’t accept my feeling of joy when my dog jumps on me, right?
Alexandra: Yes, absolutely. And I’m so glad we’re touching on this because it’s such a subtle point, but it’s so important.
Maryse: Yes, I think so too. Because here, it’s again another level of relaxation in our attitude, in our bodies even. It’s like, “Oh, that’s one thing I don’t need to do, another thing I don’t need to do.” And everything that we can take off our list, right, it helps.
Alexandra: Yes. So well said.
One of the things that we didn’t talk about in your bio when I introduced you at the beginning was that you have experienced a traumatic brain injury in 2006. I wonder if you could just tell us a little bit about that and about how your experience of that injury has changed since you came across this understanding.
Maryse: Yes. In May 2006, a TV fell on my head in a doctor’s waiting room of all places and it was not yet the time, the age of those thin flat screen TVs. It was a small TV, but it was thick and it came off its hinges and fell on my head.
After that, I didn’t lose consciousness or anything, but I was left with severe vertigo for over five months. I think it was almost two years of vestibular rehab and my anxiety just went through the roof after that. When they talk about hypervigilance, boy, did I know what it
I remember being in my daughter’s school one day and the kids were playing with a big football and
There was a huge habit of mine for me around the brain injury. So my identity was over injured brain. Now, I see it. I didn’t know that before because it was my thinking. Now, I can see that I constructed this whole image of a wounded person. So, and because of that I couldn’t do this, I couldn’t do that, and this, and that.
Now that I see through thought a lot of the symptoms that I still attached to the brain injury have gone. One of the big ones is the sensitivity to noise. I was sensitive before. After the injury, it went through the roof. I had to have earplugs everywhere and big events like, I even didn’t go to one of my nieces’ weddings in Belgium one year because I knew it would be a big wedding and I just couldn’t be in the noise.
And now, I’m just more and more opening up to the fact that even that could have been made up. And I test it as I go along; I went to a Broadway Show, it was fine. Huh, interesting. I find myself forgetting my earplugs, something that never happened and so, instead of rushing to a pharmacy, I’m like, “We’ll see.” And I’m okay.
But being in a big, big room like at a wedding or at a big venue with a lot of people, and music, and everything, I still haven’t done. So we’ll see, but I’m much more adventurous now because I know it’s flexible, whereas before it was set in stone, “I had been injured and this was how I was.”
But now, I’m so much more aware that, “You know what? It might not be true. So why not try it when ready?” You know, if I don’t feel ready, I don’t push myself, but I find myself more and more ready to try it, you know, “Is that really linked to the brain injury? Oh, oh, no.” And so far, I haven’t had a yes.
So I’m slowly pushing the limits. That’s all I can do little by little. As I get more comfortable, I push the limits. But so, yes, I would say the biggest difference is that sense of flexibility, of pushing boundaries. But even in an easy gentle way instead of having to try and shift some, to move this immovable boulder. Now it’s just like, you know, a flexible fence let’s say and then let’s push it a little. So it’s a big difference even talking about it. I can feel the difference in my feeling about it, you know, from rigid to flexible.
Alexandra: I think that point is so important that the way we define ourselves with such rigidity, innocently and sometimes as a result of these sorts of injuries or sometimes just based on how we were raised, “Oh, I had an alcoholic parent and so, that means X or Y.”
Instead, with this understanding, we’re able to be much more flexible with what’s happening
in the moment.
Maryse: Yes. Because one thing that comes to mind as I listen to you, it was one of my big insights was, of course, we’re flexible because the energy that moves through us is infinite. Change is always possible because thought is by nature. Renewable, you know, original.
I often tell clients, you know, if it wasn’t, we’d still be painting caves, you know, putting pictures in caves, but we’re not, are we? So there’s always some kind of thought that hasn’t traveled before. So in that, when we see that it’s true and it is. I mean, as far as I can tell, it is, then rigidity stops making sense.
Alexandra: So well said. One of my favorite quotes from The Little Peace of Mind 12-week program was Shannon Cooper who I interviewed. She’ll be on the podcast in another episode.
She was talking about thought and how its energy and the nature of energy is that it wants to move.
Alexandra: And I think that speaks to exactly what you’re pointing to.
Maryse: Exactly the same thing. Yes. And Shannon is wonderful. She will always find the right word. So I might still be a little clumsy, but it’s exactly the same idea. It’s like moving from rigidity to flexibility and that works wonders for us, wonders. But again, I’ve seen it with so many people that I have to assume it’s for everyone.
Alexandra: And as you say, it makes so much sense when we just take a step back and look at how humans evolve, and how we evolve as people. And even the metaphors in nature where also the intelligence of life is flowing through, right?
Nothing ever stays the same from one moment to the next.
Maryse: No, no. One of my clients and I still giggle when I say clients because this is so new to me, but she said to me and who knows maybe if she listens one day to this she will recognize herself. But she said to me, “It’s really about relaxing in the fluidity, isn’t it?” And, yes.
I would take it even further, it’s seeing that we are that fluidity. We just are it because like you said, we’re nature, like everything else. We are part of nature. So we are that fluidity and when we start seeing this and experiencing it, then again this natural flexibility just comes into play and everything becomes easier.
Alexandra: Yes, exactly. Well, just as we’re winding up here.
I want to touch on the coach training that you’re doing with Michael Neill and you recently were in London. Is that right?
Maryse: I was in London in October, in Athens in January, and the day after tomorrow, I’m flying out to Prague for the final week. So, yes, it’s been quite a journey.
It was amazing because I believe it’s the only time that is ever offered Supercoach Academy in Europe and I actually love to think that it was because I wanted it. But then somebody else in the group said they wanted it too. So I guess he must have heard several voices saying, “Please, please.”
But it was very funny how that came about because I was doing Creating the Impossible which is a program Michael offers every year. And during the first few weeks of that program, I started playing with the idea of coaching because I could see how much I enjoyed interacting in Nicola’s Facebook group and how helpful people seem to think some of my comments were. And I had no idea, I mean, that I could do that. I mean, it was all new and then so, I started playing with this idea.
But I thought, you know, being from Belgium, I’d prefer to train in Europe. But it has to be Michael because he’s my favorite teacher. And I’d like to be able to live stream because if I can’t travel for some
Like I said at the beginning of our conversation, to experience life reopening in such a way. You know, there was a day, an evening after class, I guess, that a group of us walked up a hill in Athens and we had this view over the city with the sea and the mountains. It was just a beautiful sunset. I mean, crazy gorgeous and I was like, “How can this be? How can this be?”
A year ago I was still struggling to imagine that I could ever get out of my limitations and there I was on a hill in Athens not feeling dizzy, enjoying the sunset, it’s unbelievable. And all I can say is that that’s what this understanding can do. It sets you free and it helped so many people.
I’m nothing special. It’s not because I’m special that it’s done that. It’s because I’m human and we can all see the same thing, and life can reopen this way. So am I going to be a coach for the rest of my life? I don’t know. I don’t care. I mean, right now it feels great and it’s just part of this reopening of life for me. And again, possible for everyone, everyone.
Alexandra: Yes. Oh, lovely. Yeah. So why don’t you share, Maryse, where people can find out more about you and your coaching?
Maryse: Oh, sure. So I’m very proud to say that I have a little website, right? So that’s very impressive, isn’t it? It’s flow-erpower.com. So it’s, F-L-O-W-dash-E-R, power.com for flow, right?
Alexandra: Oh, okay.
Maryse: Flow. They can find me there or, of course…and of course, in the Little Peace of Mind community out there. I’m still very much a part of that one.
Alexandra: Right. Great. Okay. Well, I will put links to the show notes or in the show notes to this episode to your website. So thank you again so much for being with me here today.
Maryse: Oh, thank you for asking me. It was really, really wonderful.
Alexandra: Lovely to connect with you.
Maryse: Same here. Bye-bye for now.
[Sea and sky image courtesy Frank McKenna and Unsplash.]