Archive of ‘Adults’ category

Saying “no” Is Incredibly Difficult

For some of you, saying “no” may be easy. In which case I hope you’re enjoying your beautifully boundaried life! (Maybe there’s some jealousy there…) For the rest of us, even when we know it’s in our best interest to say “no,” we don’t. 

Recently I was invited to brunch with some colleagues, and it would have been the EASIEST thing to say “no” to. I’ve been working my butt off and I’m currently over-committed to extra-curricular activities. I didn’t say “no.” In fact, as soon as I got the confirmation, I immediately replied “YEP! I’ll be there!” And here are all the reasons why I did that: 

  1. I love this group of friends. 
  2. It’s been a hot minute since I’ve seen them, and I missed them.
  3. When we first had the idea to plan a brunch, I helped spearhead the scheduling, so I felt I had a responsibility to attend. 
  4. I thought brunch doesn’t require energy. All I have to do is eat, drink, laugh, right? And just for an hour or two. 
  5. I forgot that I’m not superhuman and that I actually have limited energy resources.

But Here’s The Kicker

I said “yes” because I was stressed. How does that make sense? We’re less boundaried in our lives when we’re stressed. It takes energy to set boundaries, to say “no” to things, and I was all out of energy. 

In my stressed state, I wasn’t thinking about the energy it takes to be social (I’m a bit of an introvert). I didn’t think about the fact that it’d take 30 minutes for me to get to the restaurant we agreed to meet. And then 30 minutes back. Not to mention that I had an other event to attend immediately afterward that would be taking more of my energy. 

The point here is that it’s a cycle. When we commit to too much, it drains us, which leaves us much less likely to to have the energy needed to draw boundaries. We have to break the cycle somewhere. 

For me, I have the opportunity to break the cycle with my therapist. 50 minutes, just for me, to talk to someone who also wants to help me set some boundaries so that I don’t end up completely exhausted. I, of course, WANT to do everything. To go to all the brunches and the trainings and the creative activities and the weekend events and and and. Unfortunately, I’m a finite human, and I have to prioritize the things that are most important. 

We Can’t Do It All.

There’s some grief to process there too. Sadness about all the things I don’t have the energy to do, even though I want to. Maybe I’ll get to get to do them at a later point in time, or maybe it was a missed opportunity. But then I think of all the things I would have to miss when I burn out (which is inevitable with this lifestyle). When I “have to” miss things, they’re usually things I wish I had prioritized. When I choose to miss things, they’re usually things that are lower on my priority list, and thus I feel less regret. 

I’ll leave you with this: Consciously saying “no” to less important things is another way of saying “yes” to more important things. 

Written By: Mike Rothschild, M.A., LPC-Associate, NCC, Supervised by M. Michelle Hawn, LPC-S

What is Self-Care? What do Therapists do for Self-Care?

I’ve been hearing a lot recently about “self-care,” and that we should all be “practicing more self-care.” But what if you don’t even know what “self-care” means? What if you keep hearing about “self-care” and all that comes to mind is bubble baths and retail therapy? What if you know what self care is supposed to be, but you have trouble actually figuring it out for yourself? 

First, I’ll give you some ideas of what self-care is vs what it isn’t. Second, I’ve decided to have some fun and ask the therapists at Austin Family Counseling what THEY do for self-care, and it may help give some insight into what self-care can look like for you!

First, what Self-Care ISN’T:

  • Indulging in or bingeing your favorite things every now and then just to check off the “self-care” box
  • An instant fix for all of your problems
  • The same for everyone

Now, what Self-Care IS:

  • An individual way for you to fill your needs that haven’t been met
  • It can be quite challenging
  • Really, really different from person to person, or even for the same person at various points in time
  • Read Julie’s 2019 blog about the 5 categories of self-care: https://austinfamilycounseling.com/5-categories-of-selfcare/

Second… What Do Austin Family Counseling Therapists Do for Self-Care?

I asked AFC therapists what they do for self-care. Here are some of their responses…

Kaity (Blog Author) said “I typically stream shows and movies, eat chocolate, play video games, and go on nature walks for my self-care. I’m also adamant about getting as close to eight hours of sleep per night as I can and being mindful of my hydration.”

Lora said “Every two weeks I go in for a massage and dry sauna treatment, and during really tender seasons in my life, I go weekly! I use it as time to meditate, rest, relax, and replenish.”

Mike said “I wake up early and go for a walk (when it’s not so hot outside). I try to make sure I take breaks (e.g., I don’t walk on the weekends). I am kind to myself when I don’t eat as healthy as I’d like. I say, ‘you’ve been working really hard to eat healthy, and you don’t need to be perfect at this or anything.’ I listen to a meditation before (or as) I go to sleep. I make sure I read books that are just for fun.”

Emily said “I make an effort to incorporate meditation and yoga, even if it is only 5 or 10 minutes, as a part of my daily routine knowing that it helps keep me grounded and connected.”

Catherine M. said “I like to disconnect myself from the internet and connect with nature by taking walks.  I engage myself in mindful playing with my son, and I take Epsom Salt baths to help me relax and detox.”

Sumaya said “Hot showers or bubble baths with candles lit; surrounding myself with my family and friends including food and boardgames; being outside with nature in my hammock, near or in water, and taking an evening walk.”

Janet said “For self-care, I like to go on walks and listen to a podcast. This gives me time outside, doing something physical and listening to something I enjoy. I also look forward to easy mornings on weekends with my family; we all enjoy those moments of a slower pace.”

Sara said “I love taking hot showers, snuggling my dogs, weightlifting at the gym, sleeping in when I’m feeling worn down, and having fun with my friends and fiancé on the weekends. I also love getting my nails done every 2-3 weeks! It’s a fun creative outlet for me – I love all things glam and it taps into that. It’s also a great reason for me to sit for an hour with no phone, no conversation, and no expectations of productivity.”

Final Impressions

As you can see, our therapists have a wide range of activities they do to help with their self-care. Some of their self-care activities are more outdoor- or indoor-oriented, some are long, some are short, some are very individual, some involve socializing with other people, but they are all helpful to us in our own unique ways. 

If you are interested in finding ways to increase your own self-care, talk to your therapist or reach out to get on our schedule at [email protected] | 512-298-3381.


Y’all, Please Stop Judging Your Emotions!

I want to first say that the title of this post might be slightly misleading. I don’t believe it’s actually possible to STOP judging all of your emotions. But you (and I) can work towards doing it less often.

What does “judging emotions” mean?

Before I get to the how, let’s take a minute to see what it even means to judge our emotions. Personal story: I was sitting in my therapist’s office in front of my computer talking to my therapist via telehealth, and I told her about something that had made me experience a healthy dose of shame. I had made a small professional mistake, and I had been blaming myself. This is where it gets interesting: While sharing this with my therapist, I said, “I feel so stupid for feeling ashamed of something I know I shouldn’t feel ashamed of.” And, because my therapist is incredible, she gave me a look that had all kinds of compassion in it.

You might ask, “what’s wrong with judging my emotions?” And, because I’m a therapist, I’ll first say that nothing is “wrong” about it. BUT here’s what happens when you do: you’re telling yourself that it’s not okay to feel emotions. You’re telling yourself that, for example, you’re stupid for feeling shame, rather than realizing that you’re human for feeling shame. And we can (and probably) do this with a myriad of other emotions.

Feeling bad about yourself for getting angry? That’s judging. 

Thinking you shouldn’t cry when you’re experiencing something sad? That’s judging.

Ever tell yourself that you shouldn’t feel disappointed? Still judging. 

Here’s a nice tip: if you’re saying “should” or “shouldn’t” about your emotions, you’re probably judging them. 

And I don’t want to get too “meta” here, but it’s turtles all the way down. If you feel embarrassed about feeling super excited whenever a BTS song comes on, try not to judge the embarrassment. And then try not to judge the excitement! 

Now we can get to the how

Awareness is KEY. The biggest and best thing you can do to work on this is to recognize a) that you do it (because you’re human, and humans do this…unless, of course, you’re a robot, in which case: which squares have bicycles in it?), and b) when you do it. When you do it can be tricky to figure out. For this, you might want to talk to a close friend or therapist, or journal, or meditate. Everyone has their own way of learning about themselves, so you do you. 

Here’s some prompts to get you started: 

  • How do I feel about the last time I felt [insert emotion here]?
  • Which emotions were/are expressed in my family? Which ones weren’t/aren’t?
  • What do I think others think about me when I’m feeling [emotion]?

And just in case you’re having a hard time thinking of specific emotions, here are a few commonly judged emotions: anger, joy, guilt, shame, sadness, grief.

Now that I’m aware of some of the judgments I place on my emotions, how do I stop doing it? 

First, and this is important, you don’t have to do anything else. Just being aware will probably get you to stop judging 60% of your emotions (I just made that statistic up; please don’t quote me on that. It’s going to be different for everyone). But, if you want to continue doing the work, here are some tips:

Tip #1

Remind yourself routinely (e.g. in the mornings, when you take a shower, when you’re in your car, whatever works for you, but don’t wait until you’re overwhelmed with emotions to do this) that it’s okay to feel however you’re feeling. Tell yourself, “I’m angry, and that’s okay.” Or for bonus points, you can say, “I love my anger.” That last one might be really difficult, so be gentle with yourself if it doesn’t come easy.

Tip #2

Another way you can work on this is to make a list of a certain number (say, 5) emotions you had each day or week. And then thank your body for letting you feel these emotions. Literally, “Thank you, [your name], for letting me feel guilt this week.” Feel free to journal or meditate on this too.

Emotions are human

Remember that emotions are part of the deal you made with the world (or God, or Spirit, or Universe, etc.) when you were created. You don’t get to be human and not have emotions. ALL OF THEM. You can’t just have the “good” ones. Not only that, but the more you shove down the emotions you don’t like, the more they’re going to have control over you. You can only pretend for so long that you’re not sad, until it begins to show up somewhere else (usually as anxiety or depression, or as physical symptoms, like migraines or stomach pains). 

Once you experience your emotions without the harsh judgement you’ve been accustomed to, you might even begin to appreciate them! Your emotions all have a purpose. 

Feeling lonely? That’s a reminder to reach out to a close person. 

Feeling stressed? That’s a reminder to slow down. 

Anxious? That’s a reminder to be present where you are, rather than thinking about what might happen next. 

Shame? That’s a reminder to give yourself compassion.

Angry? That’s a reminder that you may need to put up or fortify a boundary. 

Bored? This one’s pretty simple: do something that feeds your creative soul! 

There is nothing wrong with ANY of our emotions. In fact, they will help us live a wonderful and meaningful life, if we only listen to them rather than judge them. 

If you want some help working through your emotions, book a free 15 minute consultation with me to see if I might be a good counselor for you.


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