Archive of ‘Adults’ category

Instead of New Year’s Resolutions, Try Intentions.

We made it! The year is wrapping up and we are looking onward to the clean slate and potential of a brand new year! No matter what the past year held, many are ready for a fresh start. We are in a season of optimism, hope, and commitment to change.

With the new year comes the New Year’s resolutions. I’m not a fan of the New Year’s resolution and I’ll tell you why in a moment. But first, a small disclaimer: I believe we mean well when we set resolutions. Looking at life with a fresh lens and committing to making changes we want to make is healthy. When we set resolutions, we mean to commit to ourselves that this is the year that things will be different. This is the year that we will do the thing, take the leap, start new, and close the gap between who we are and who we want to be. Believing in our highest potential is a gift to ourselves.

But here is the problem with resolutions: They set us up to fail. They are outcome-dependent, often designed to be pass or fail, black or white, all or nothing. We either did the thing, or we didn’t. Sure, it is good in the beginning. The first three weeks of January go smoothly. These new habits are hard, but we are adapting. But what happens when life gets messy or we get busy? We start to slip. Regression is a natural and expected part of the change cycle, but it sure doesn’t feel that way when the commitment we made to ourselves was do or do not. There was no try.

For some, resolutions work. I have heard a few stories about people who stuck with their resolution for the full year, reached their potential, and didn’t look back. But by and large, the experience with resolutions is this:

  • At their best, resolutions become something we feel that we “should” do, a pesky little reminder that we are not living up to the dreams we had for ourselves.
  • At their worst, resolutions can make us feel downright horrible. What messages do you send yourself when you are letting yourself down? I doubt any of us are hoping to highlight or strengthen our feelings of inferiority in the new year. Who wants that?

How do we preserve the part of resolution setting that is helpful while ditching the part that can create anxiety, feelings of failure, and inadequacy? I propose we set intentions instead. Intentions are a mental state that provide a framework for the future. An intention is not what we want to accomplish, but rather how we want to accomplish it. Setting an intention is like setting a reminder to yourself of how you want to live your life.

Intentions are different from resolutions because they are disconnected from any specific outcome. When we focus on how we want to live and the traits we want to embody, the decisions we make will align with our intentions. We will grow to choose what is best for us because we are rooted in honoring our ideal selves. Naturally, we will progress toward our goals.

In three steps, here is how you can get started on setting your New Year’s Intentions:

  1. Brainstorm. The answers to these questions will help you generate ideas and clarity for your New Year’s Intentions:
  • What type of a person do I want to be?
  • What words do I wish people would use when they describe me?
  • How do I want to move through life, work, and my relationships?
  • What do I want more of in my life?
  1. Refine. Now that you have a few ideas percolating, try plugging your intention into this sentence: “When given the choice, I will ____________.

Examples of intentions may sound something like this:

  • When given the choice, I will choose peace.
  • When given the choice, I will choose kindness.
  • When given the choice, I will love myself.
  • When given the choice, I will honor my body.
  • When given the choice, I will celebrate my progress.
  • When given the choice, I will be gentle with myself and others.
  • When given the choice, I will be patient.
  • When given the choice, I will listen to my intuition.
  • When given the choice, I will trust the process.
  • When given the choice, I will move with grace.
  • When given the choice, I will follow through on my commitments.
  • When given the choice, I will be present.
  • When given the choice, I will balance ease and effort.

Here are a few tips that may help:

  • Play around with the language. The language I suggest may seem foreign, and that is okay. Modify it it something that fits you.
  • Seek clarity and specificity. There is power is precision.
  • You can have more than one intention, but there is also value in hitting the nail on the head. It will be easier to remember and honor over time if you have one sentence to go back to.
  1. Remind. How will you remember your intention? I suggest writing it down in multiple places. A few ideas could be a note in your phone, in your planner, on your bathroom mirror, a post it note on the refrigerator, taped to your computer monitor at work or under your keyboard if you would like privacy. Writing it down where you will naturally see it will position you to gently guide yourself back throughout the year.

How does your New Year’s Intention compare to the resolutions you have set in past? I would love to hear! Connect with me at [email protected] or on instagram @counselingandyoga.

About the author: Katy practices at Austin Family Counseling where she provides relationship and couples counseling, and counseling to individual adults and teens navigating life’s many challenges.
Katy Manganella, M.A., LPC-Intern is supervised by Susan Gonzales, LPC-S, LMFT-S.


Counseling 101: Questions You Want Answered…But May Be Afraid to Ask

What Is Counseling?

Counseling (which is synonymous with therapy) literally means “to help” and/or “provide guidance” to someone. Generally, when people seek counseling, they are seeking professional help with something in their or a loved one’s life. Counseling can be done individually, with a family member(s), with a significant other, and/or in group settings and may occur in person, on the phone or over the computer. It will be tailored to what the client’s needs are when they seek help. When in counseling, people have the opportunity to be vulnerable and share personal information (which we understand can be scary!) in an effort to start the journey to becoming a healthier version of themselves and begin living their best life possible.

Julie Burke

By: Julie Burke, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Susan Gonzales, LPC-S

Counselors offer a safe place to discuss various life events (whether they’re in the past, current or upcoming) and will never pass judgment. In short, counseling (or therapy) is a process of meeting with a trained professional to resolve various life happenings. People have a stereotypical view of counseling that involves someone laying on a couch and repeatedly hearing, “How does that make you feel?”.  While there is generally comfortable furniture in the therapy room and that question may be asked to help process statements, counseling is MUCH more than just talking to a therapist and talking about your feelings.

Why Do People Go To Counseling?

People go to counseling for a multitude of problems. Some people may start going to therapy to address major life transitions e.g, having children, getting married, going through a divorce; when in need of managing mental health conditions e.g., depression, anxiety; everyday stressors, and/or with the intention of improving their relationships with themselves and others. Counseling can address someone’s drug use, sexuality, communication concerns, identity issues, etc. There is no wrong reason to go to therapy. Whether you perceive your problem as big or small, there is someone who can help you navigate the uncertainties of your life and process these things with you.

Can I Go Even If I Don’t Have A Problem?

ABSOLUTELY! There is a huge misconception that in order for people to go to counseling, they must be “crazy”; that is absolutely not true. In fact, the majority of people who go to counseling are ordinary people who are struggling with common, everyday issues. Because of the stigma that exists with going to counseling, people often think that if they begin therapy, there is something wrong with them. For example, if someone is seeking couples counseling, they may believe it must be because they are failing as a couple or if people need parenting support. Then in their mind, clearly it is because they are not good parents. Know that is entirely false and it is completely okay (and normal) to seek help.

How Long Does Counseling Take?

This question is arguably impossible to answer, but it’s definitely best for clients to go to therapy on a weekly basis for at least 6-8 weeks to build rapport and have a good relationship with their counselor.  This allows the therapist and client to get in a regular routine of meeting and getting to know one another and working through various problems. At that point in time, clients and their counselors can evaluate the relationship that has been built so far and the progress that has been made and determine what therapeutic goals have not been met.

In many cases, in therapy, more issues will be explored than the ones that initially brought the client to therapy. It is important to acknowledge that going to therapy takes courage and dedication. Counseling does not offer a quick-fix to things. Progress happens gradually, but it gives people necessary life skills and coping mechanisms to use for the long-run.

What Are The Benefits Of Going To Counseling?

Where do I begin? Different benefits of going to counseling include, but are not limited to: greater self-awareness and confidence, improved relationships, stress alleviation, less anxiety, better communication, enhanced relationships, peace of mind, life satisfaction, etc. If you put in the work to improve yourself, with the right counselor, you can empower self-growth and ultimately lead a happier, healthier life.

“But the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself.”  -Carrie Bradshaw


Why Are You Still Saying “Yes”?

Admit it: you say “yes” to others way more often than you want to.

You are not alone – so often people say “yes” when they really want to say “no”, but why do we do this, and how can we stop this? Let’s explore a few of the reasons why we say yes and why we don’t want to, but should, say no at times.

Sometimes, we say yes to others because we don’t want to come off as mean or rude. We want to come off as kind, generous, helpful or some other variation of nice. We don’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings by saying no. We over extend ourselves and try to make nice because if you make nice, people will like you. Right? Possibly, but what happens when you constantly say yes? People begin to almost expect it and know that you are the person that can always be reliable and will always help or say yes.

By: Angelica Beker, LPC-Intern Supervised by Lora Ferguson, LPC-S

By: Angelica Beker, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Lora Ferguson, LPC-S

How does this begin to make you feel though? Resentful? Angry? Annoyed? Maybe all of the above. Often times, in my work, I’ve noticed people will say yes because they are afraid of rejection. They feel that if they say no, then someone may get “mad” at them and reject them because they were not willing to say yes or do whatever was asked; however, we cannot always be available.

Taking care of ourselves is extremely important. If we cannot take care of ourselves, it becomes difficult to take care of others and say yes to them. Overextending yourself will eventually make you feel tired and possibly resentful on the inside towards whomever you are saying yes to. Leaning on other people’s approval will not allow you to grow as an individual – know your worth and your needs.

Here are a few helpful tips on saying “NO” when you really are not up to saying “YES”:

1) Be direct and honest.

Especially as adults, it is important to stand for what we need. If someone is a true friend and/or valued family member, they will understand that sometimes you need to say no.

2) Saying no now will lead to less resentment down the road.

We cannot always be there for someone. You do not want to say yes to someone over and over just to have resentment build up in the future. Do not set yourself up for that.

3) Be polite and offer to say yes another time, if you can.

If your best friend asks you to come help move furniture and you just worked an 11 hour work day and are exhausted, it is ok to say no. You can be polite and say, “I had a really long work day and I am exhausted. Could I help you another day this week?”

4) In a work environment, we do not want to be rude or come off as unhelpful.

Sometimes, people worry if they say no, they may lose their job; however, even at work, we cannot always say yes. If you have too many projects or commitments on your table, be honest. Try to meet someone in the middle by offering whatever help you can. You don’t want your work ethic to suffer because you are saying yes to everyone and overextending your energy and efforts.

5) Finally, know your worth.

Know that your worth is not determined solely on how often you say yes. Know that sometimes it is OK to say no. It is ok to take that time for yourself. You do not want to live in a state of guilt or resentment because you are constantly saying yes to others. You will feel happier and more in control of your life if you are able to make decisions based on what your needs require first. Remember that you are a generous person and that you do say yes, and you are helpful whenever you are feeling your best.


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