Archive of ‘Brene’ Brown’ category

New Year’s Resolution Alternatives

Congratulations – you made it through another year! Another trip around the sun full of triumph, tragedy, and all of the beautiful nuances in between. Inevitably, with the closeout of a year comes the onset of a new one, and alongside that new year comes a bit of baggage in the form of New Year’s Resolutions. I am going to let you all in on a little secret…. I am not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions. I know, it’s a strong statement! Keep reading, let me explain.

New Year, New Me?

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate our opportunity to focus on self-improvement, wellness, and making changes. I love the idea of utilizing the symbolic nature of a new year to create a new chapter, bookend the past year, and paint a new vision for the future. What irks me about New Year’s Resolutions is the implication that we didn’t do something “good enough” over the past year. It’s the idea that in order to have lived what is considered a “good” day, week, or year, we have to continually strive to meet some arbitrary expectation set for ourselves to be better – as if being ourselves isn’t enough. To resolve ourselves to some big change just because the date on the calendar changes feels harsh and full of undue pressure on ourselves. It is also unforgiving of the complexities and nuances that we have faced within the last 365 days, and the ones we will face in the next 365 days. We go through so much just existing and being human in the state of the world, and you’ve made it so far. That’s a big accomplishment! We are all doing the best we can to survive and thrive within our given circumstances. You are amazing, worthy, and beautiful just the way you are, and a new date on the calendar does not mean you need to “resolve” anything about yourself! 

Resolution Alternatives

With that being said, I can certainly appreciate the tendency to look towards the new year and feel the need to create meaning, excitement, goals, and joy around it. I’ve come up with a few of my favorite alternatives to the traditional New Year’s Resolutions. 

New Year’s Intentions

Intentions are a little less intense than a resolution! I love setting intentions because it allows for a more fluid way to look forward and create momentum for your year without setting hard goals. If you are unsure of the specific ways you want to create change in your year, that is okay! Intentions allow for some flexibility in the way we create our goals (or not!) and allow for us to mold our behaviors to our intention, rather than force our intention to fit our behaviors. Consider what you would like to potentially incorporate into your new year that is different from prior years and use this as a way to guide your goal setting going forward. 

New Year’s Theme Word

Pick a theme, not a resolution! Find one or two words that describe what you are hoping to bring in your new year. Again, themes are about fluidity and flexibility. Keep track of your theme by dedicating a journal to your theme word. Consider journaling at the end of each week or month about how you embodied your theme word throughout that time period, so you maintain accountability towards your theme word, yet maintain grace for yourself as you progress in the new year.

New Year’s Reflections

Rather than looking forward on this New Year’s Eve, take a minute to reflect back on the last year. Ask yourself some open-ended questions about the lessons you learned, accomplishments you made, areas of growth and challenges you faced. Journal, draw, or share them with a trusted friend (or therapist!). In your reflections, hold space for the wide breadth and depth of the experiences within your year. This practice may not get you closer to a defined goal, but you’ll develop a deeper understanding of what you want to leave behind in the past year and what you would like to bring with you into the new one. 

New Year’s Gratitude

To quote the great Brene Brown – “Practicing gratitude is how we acknowledge that there’s enough and that we are enough.” I believe gratitude is a crucial accompaniment to any New Year’s ritual practice. In order for us to continue to look forward without creating shame or harsh judgments towards ourselves, we need to honor ourselves first. Consider starting a bullet journal of gratitude with all of the amazing things this year contained! You survived another year of a pandemic. Maybe you landed a new job, started a new hobby, cultivated deeper relationships, or took the leap of starting therapy. Maybe you just were able to make it through every day, and that is certainly worth celebrating too! You are wonderful just as you are. You are a breathing, walking miracle capable of creating sunshine in a dark place. That is deserving of recognition and gratitude. Cultivating a gratitude practice will help maintain strong levels of encouragement and appreciation throughout your new year. 

As we enter this new year full of excitement, suspense, and wonder I want to encourage you to hold true to your own authentic place in this journey. Whatever your feelings are towards New Year’s Resolutions are valid! If you are a goal setting go-getter ready to take on 2022, great! If you’re a little more hesitant and unsure of what you want this new year to look like, that’s okay too. Holding true to your own feelings and authenticity surrounding this transition is the best resolution you can make to yourself. If you want some support around your journey with yourself, consider reaching out to a therapist. We are here and ready to help you create the life you are looking for! 


Tips for Quality Time During Quarantine

What is quality time? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it is: “time spent giving all of one’s attention to someone who is close” You may be thinking “um…but aren’t I spending all my time with people who are close right now?” Yes, but I want to encourage you to think about what that time looks like and how quality time might be different. As I write this, I’m wondering if spending quality time with the people we are in contact with may be even more important right now. With many of us working from home, there is sometimes little distinction between work time and play time.

Anyone else answering work emails while playing with their kid? In my experience, these moments are sometimes necessary but are often frustrating for everyone involved. Or maybe you aren’t writing emails, but your mind is thinking about what you’ll say in your 2:00 meeting. Again, you may need to be with your child and plan for your meeting at the same time, I get that (I really do!) However, it’s important that there are times when your child, your partner, and, even yourself get your undivided attention. While my toddler lets me know in no uncertain terms when I’m not paying enough attention to him, an older child or partner may be more subtle. Here are a few things to look out for and ideas for connecting.

With your Kids

Signs you child could benefit from some quality time with you:

  • They appear easily frustrated when you need to complete a task
  • They seem to need your help with everything, including tasks you know they can do themselves
  • They repeatedly do things that require you to stop what you are doing and attend to them, even if it’s to tell them to stop
  • You are feeling annoyed, irritated, worried or guilty 

Tips for quality time with kids

  • Turn off your phone and play with your kids…it doesn’t matter if they’re 2 and want to build towers and knock them down or 15 and want to play video games or do a craft project. 
  • Let your child choose an activity they want to share with you or brainstorm a list of activities together and take turns picking something off the list.
  • Be curious—ask open-ended questions like “what do you like most about this song?” “How do you feel about that?” “What are you most looking forward to?
  • For young children, plan for at least 10 minutes a day. For older children, try a minimum of 30 minutes once a week of focused “special time.” Teens may appreciate less frequent but longer stretches of time.
  • Check out this post for some fun activities to do with kids during quarantine.

With your Partner

Signs your relationship could use some attention:

  • You’re bickering often over “small stuff
  • You or your partner feels disconnected
  • You’re having frequent miscommunications
  • It’s been a while since you had a date night or spent one-on-one time together without distractions

Tips for quality time with your partner

  • If possible, find a time when you won’t be interrupted by kids or work (and turn your phone off!)
  • Schedule a date night. You may not be able to go to your favorite restaurant, but you can order take-out and watch a movie, go for a walk, play a game, or have a picnic in your backyard. 
  • Set aside 10 minutes before bed each night to check in about your day or cuddle.
  • Accomplish something together. This could be a house project, a puzzle, a new fitness routine, or whatever suits your interests.
  • Download one of these apps or read this blog post to learn more about each other and get ideas for strengthening your relationship.

With Yourself

Signs you could use some attention:

  • You’re easily frustrated or feel irritable and on edge
  • You notice you’re holding tension in your body 
  • You feel drained (physically, emotionally, mentally)
  • You feel anxious, worried, sad, agitated

Tips for quality time with yourself:

  • Find a space that feels good to you. If you don’t have one, try to create a cozy, calming atmosphere by lighting a candle, wrapping up in a blanket, or designating a corner of your room as your calming area. You can add cushions, a comfy chair, favorite pictures or an essential oil diffuser.
  • If you live with other people, tell them you need some to yourself and to not disturb you unless it’s an emergency (of course, if you’re alone with young children you may need to time this for their nap time or after they’re in bed).
  • Take a walk and just notice how your body feels, the thoughts you’re having, feelings that come up. Try to notice these things without judgement. Check out this post for some mindfulness tips and tricks.
  • Journal, paint, or do something else creative.
  • Read a book, listen to music, or watch a show that makes you feel good.
  • Avoid doing chores, answering emails, or working during this time!

It doesn’t so much matter what you do, but that you set aside time to be truly present, whether it’s with yourself, your children, your partner, or anyone else. Just enjoying each other can help deepen your connection and bring a greater sense of peace and belonging during this unpredictable time.

“Connection is why we’re here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.”

Brene Brown
By: Magdalen Marrone, LCSW


Shame: The Insidious Defeater

It wasn’t until after I was out of graduate school and well into my professional career that I really learned about shame. While many of my clients seemed to receive help and work through tough problems and even trauma, there seemed to be a few areas where we would sometimes get stuck. After training with Dr. Brené Brown and her team on shame resiliency, I began to notice huge progress both within myself and in my clients.

Jennifer Alley, LPC

By: Jennifer Alley, LPC

Most of us don’t talk about shame. By definition, shame is that which feels unspeakable; the things that keep us awake at night or nag us throughout our daily tasks. They are the messages we hear in our head when we want to be vulnerable or make a connection with another person; the voice that discourages us when we think of taking a risk or doing something brave. For many of the clients I work with, the voice shows up as something like, “not ____________ enough” (fill the blank with words like good, smart, pretty, skinny, sexy, funny, etc). It also dresses up in messages like, I’m unloveable, flawed, disgusting, broken, worthless, a phony, or a fraud. When we have a fight with someone we love, shame is often the feeling that causes us to curl up in the corner feeling completely defeated and “bad” or lash out and blame the other person, perhaps even shaming them.

For many people, these messages and statements are so insidious, so ingrained that they are perhaps not even really consciously noticed. Instead, they may just be internalized as “truth,” minimizing the chance that the person feeling shame might take that risk, share something vulnerable, or succeed at something hard. It often keeps people from having the close relationships that they would like to have because they fear that if people only knew the “truth” about them, they wouldn’t be liked or considered worthy of connection.

As part of the work I do with clients, I ask them to notice the “tapes” that play in the back of their minds. When they feel challenged, when they are trying something new or difficult, when they feel scared or hurt, what messages are they hearing? They often come back surprised by the amount of negative self-talk or shaming messages that are on replay throughout their days.

Particularly in my work with individuals who have a trauma history including family of origin mental illness or dysfunction, domestic violence, assault, or abuse, with clients who have experienced divorce or made the difficult choice to abort or give a baby up for adoption, and with clients who are in recovery from various types of addiction, there is often a great deal of shame happening consciously or unconsciously.

The biggest problem with shame is that it jeopardizes relationships, stunts our growth, keeps us from connecting with others, and makes us feel very alone. The anecdote to shame is owning our story with self-compassion and love in addition to sharing our story and our shame with those that we trust.

To learn more about Dr. Brown’s work on shame, visit http://www.brenebrown.com. If you are interested in joining a group or receiving individual counseling about shame/shame resilience, visit http://www.austincounselors.org.

Upcoming Group Offering:

Daring Recovery– an eight week group for women in recovery based on the work of Dr. Brené Brown. Facilitated by Jennifer Alley, LPC, CDWF-candidate at 5000 Bee Caves Rd. Suite 100.

Mondays 6:15-7:45pm

October 27-December 15

Group objectives:

  • Gain courage to own, share, and live our stories
  • Learn how to live life sober, transforming the way we live and love
  • Choose authenticity over numbing, pretending, and perfecting
  • Increase self-compassion, empathy, and connection
  • Understand our shame triggers and what drives that feeling of not being enough
  • Connect bravely with other women

Contact Jennifer at [email protected] or 512-761-5180 to register or for more information. You can also visit http://www.austincounselors.org.