Archive of ‘Healthy Habits’ category

Holiday Traditions: Yours, Mine, and Ours

The holidays are supposed to be full of fun and exciting times spent with family and friends, right? This is usually the case, but sometimes being overly scheduled can become more of a pain then a joy. Between the planning, shopping, traveling, and cooking it all becomes stressful. One big part of holiday stress is trying to decide where to spend the holidays. In hopes of helping reduce the holiday stress, here are a few tips to help you and your partner decide.

By: Savannah Stoute, LPC-Intern Supervised by Leslie Larson, LPC-S

By: Savannah Stoute, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Leslie Larson, LPC-S

  1. Don’t commit to anything before talking about it – your parents might call and suddenly you feel guilty and you commit to spending Christmas at your parent’s house and on the same day your partner confirms with his or her grandmother. Simply telling your family that you want to check before confirming will hopefully work, if it doesn’t, don’t give up. By not confirming with either family, you can take the time to discuss your wants and needs without hurting any feelings.
  2. Discuss your priorities – If you have an ill family member, then spending Thanksgiving and Christmas with them might become a priority. Your finances and busy schedules can also determine how you spend your holidays or if you decide to stay home.
  3. Try alternating – Alternating holidays can make it easier for both families to plan as well. If you spend Thanksgiving with your parents, then spending Christmas or Hanukah with your in laws would be nice for your partner. The following year you can switch. Alternating holidays can also help you plan your schedules and finances through the end of the year.
  4. Talk about your favorite traditions as a kid or come up with your own – On occasion, you might prefer to spend the holidays at home with just you and the kids (or just the two of you). You can take this time to talk about your favorite traditions as a kid. Tell your favorite stories or why these traditions mean so much to you and why you want to incorporate them. If you don’t have any traditions you want to incorporate, take some time to come up with your own. Get the kids involved as well. You can sing carols, decorate cookies, or volunteer in your community.
  5. Be Flexible – You might spend the whole year planning to go to your parents for Thanksgiving, then the last minute, something comes up and you have to cancel. It might not work out this year, but you can always plan an extra trip in a few months or plan for your parents to come visit you.

Family Traditions

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 If you are interested in joining a group or receiving individual counseling about shame/shame resilience, visit

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

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