Giving Thanks (When It’s Been a Crap Year)

By Holly Brown, LMFT

shutterstock_123420286You might be wondering why I’m even suggesting the idea of gratitude when you’ve had a lousy time of it.

It’s because appreciation beats the alternative: spending your holidays in an extended wallow, reinforcing your helplessness over your life.

If you’re reading, you’re considering. So I hope you’ll read on. This post isn’t about finding a silver lining.  It’s about marshaling your strength so that 2015 treats you better.

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Before You Have an Affair, Read This

By Holly Brown, LMFT

As a couples therapist, I sometimes work with couples recovering from infidelity.  But I also work with individuals who are heading down the slippery slope to having an affair and maybe becoming one of those couples.

There’s a moment (well, a bunch of moments) before that decision is made.  If you’re in a state of indecision, read on.

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Mean Girls: Helping Your Teen Daughter Survive Her Friends

By Holly Brown, LMFT

shutterstock_138187733If you’re the parent of a teen girl, you’ve probably experienced one (or maybe both) of the following two scenarios: watching helplessly as your daughter is hurt by the meanness of other girls; watching helplessly as your daughter inflicted meanness on others.

I have some thoughts about the emotional brutality of female adolescence, and what you, as a parent, can do about it.

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People Pleasers: Please Thyself!

By Holly Brown, LMFT

shutterstock_180170765To thine own self be true–it’s good advice.  But it’s hard to follow if you’ve got strong people-pleasing tendencies.

To be clear, I’m defining a people pleaser as someone who consistently sets their needs aside in favor of doing what other people want, regardless of whether those wants are healthy or fair, or even how important the relationship is to the people pleaser; it’s that the people pleaser can’t help themselves, they just want to avoid all conflict and be seen in a positive light.

So here are some ideas of how to stop putting others first all the time.  

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Saying No to Manipulation

By Holly Brown, LMFT

shutterstock_206022634Wikipedia had a great definition of psychological manipulation.  Here it is: “Psychological manipulation is a type of social influence that aims to change the perception or behavior of others through underhanded, deceptive, or even abusive tactics.”  (Thanks, Wikipedia!)  I’d add that manipulation always benefits the manipulator, though he or she might  be adept at making you believe otherwise.

Everyone twists things to their own advantage sometimes.  But if you’re chronically manipulated by someone in your life, I’ve got some suggestions for you.

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Before You Can Change, You Have to Do This

By Holly Brown, LMFT

shutterstock_225432577In a word: self-evaluate.  Taking an honest inventory of your problems is the first step to finding a meaningful solution.  But that can be a lot harder than it sounds.  Here’s how to start.

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Diagnosis: A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

By Holly Brown, LMFT

shutterstock_149934155With a new diagnostic manual out (the DSM-5 replacing the DSM-4TR), I’ve been thinking more about the dangers of diagnosis.  It’s just human nature that if you’re holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

So the way a therapist sees a client is shaped by the diagnostic criteria available, and that can influence how clients see themselves (“I’m a depressive borderline,” one new client informed me.)

Given this, therapists have to diagnose with care.  And clients have to take their diagnoses with a grain of salt: The diagnosis you’re given is not the sum total of who you are.

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You’re Only Hurting Yourself

By Holly Brown, LMFT

shutterstock_188024033People do self-destructive acts all the time.  Sometimes it’s because they don’t realize they’re doing it (self-sabotage, where your unconscious is driving the car) or because they don’t see an alternative (cutting, for example, releases endorphins and offers immediate relief from pain.)  Here are some questions to ask yourself, in order to recognize your patterns and begin healing.

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How to Fight Fair

By Holly Brown, LMFT

shutterstock_205440832In a healthy relationship, fights are going to happen.  (Often, a complete absence of fights is a sign partners have become irrevocably disconnected.)  So the goal isn’t to eradicate all fights; it’s to make sure you’re fighting well.

What I mean is, a good fight is one that’s productive: grievances are aired, resentments are released, both parties ultimately feel understood, and the least possible emotional damage was inflicted.  A bad fight is–well, the opposite of that.

If you’ve been having bad fights, this is a great post to read with your partner.  If you can agree to the ground rules in here (and maybe even put them on the fridge or somewhere you can reference them), that can start turn things around.  So here goes!

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The Unexpected Ways Social Media Can Harm Your Teen (And What You Can Do About It)

By Holly Brown, LMFT

shutterstock_192673244Social media and the parent-child bond are among the themes in my novel, “Don’t Try to Find Me.”  They were also among the topics of a recent radio interview I gave (thanks to Answers for the Family for a great talk! you can listen to it here.)  While there are the obvious ways that social media can harm a teenager (for example, cyber bullying) there are some more insidious ones as well.

What are they, and what’s a parent to do?

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Recent Comments
  • Holly Brown, LMFT: Hadn’t thought of the Mean Girl mentality of the stepmother (she’s the ringleader for...
  • Ted Petrocci: I just watched the trailer from the new Disney movie, Cinderella. Worth the time. The mean girl step...
  • Holly Brown, LMFT: Being able to cheer yourself on is a pretty crucial skill (and I like that you pointed out...
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