JENNIFER BALLERINI

Therapist Blog

Support Dog Fail

So, maybe call a therapist instead?

support-dog

Bring Your Problems to Work?

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I ran across this New Yorker cartoon a while ago and I've been meaning to post it. I love it because a) it's really funny and b) it's really true! We laugh because we all recognize these kind of random anxieties, hurts, and resentments within ourselves. (I feel you, Two Years Ago I Said the Wrong Thing Lady!) It's normal to worry and to struggle—the important thing is that you never suffer alone. We all need a safe place to turn for comfort and guidance when we're besieged with these kinds of inner doubts and difficulties. So, to make this cartoon more helpful (but much less funny), if you're struggling with your own version of these kinds of challenges, don't bring your problems to work—bring them to therapy!

Walking with Anger

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One of my therapist colleagues just shared this awesome cartoon with me. It really captures the hilarious (and relatable!) gap between our aspirations of Zen-like chill and our frazzled, real-world execution when it comes to emotion regulation. Most of us strive to be good people, and sometimes our big emotions can just sweep in and thwart our best intentions.

As humbling as that message is, it's also so normalizing of those big feelings and of anger specifically. Anger is a core, very necessary emotion that helps us protect ourselves from the dangers in our world. It provides important data about our needs and gives us the oomph we need to advocate for those needs.

To make our anger most effective for us, we often work in therapy on owning and expressing our angry feelings while working not to lash out from our anger, i.e., to talk about feeling angry without acting it out, shutting it down, or using an intimidating tone or critical language with others. You know, unless they're walking too slowly in front of you…

The Feelings Barn

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One of my clients sent me this awesome New Yorker cartoon awhile back. Not only is it hysterical, but it's a great way of encapsulating the messages so many of us got growing up — feelings are not welcome in our family.

It's Not About the Nail

A couple therapy client of mine just shared this awesome video, sharing a place we so often get stuck as couples — "just listen to me, don't try to fix it!" — with a pretty hilarious twist.


It's Not About the Nail from Jason Headley on Vimeo.

The Power of Vulnerability

Dr. Brene Brown is a researcher who studies vulnerability…who hates vulnerability. Like a lot of us, Dr. Brown struggles with shame, self-judgment, and a sense of weakness when discussing her perceived failings and vulnerable emotions. Her storytelling prowess, hard-won authenticity, and self-deprecating humor make her a powerful advocate for treasuring the parts of ourselves we most want to hide.

These two devastatingly funny, heartfelt TED talks do a wonderful job of explaining how critical vulnerability is to our relationships with our selves and being authentic and how vulnerability and emotional risk is ultimately the thing that creates connection and safety with others.



Empathy 101

I assisted the awesome Jennifer Olden with one of her Hold Me Tight couples' workshops this weekend, and she shared this really wonderful video from Brene Brown on empathy. Although research continues to tell us how incredibly important empathy is to successful relationships, many of us have struggled to define what exactly empathy IS.

According to Brene, empathy has four qualities: perspective taking, staying out of judgment, recognizing emotion in others and then communicating that. "Empathy is feeling WITH people." Someone's in a deep hole, and you say, "hey, I know what it's like down here and you're not alone." An important lesson for all of is that you can't really stop someone's suffering, but you can make sure they don't suffer alone. Empathy, she says, is vulnerable because "in order to connect with you, I have to connect with something in myself that knows that feeling."

She also emphasizes how your empathic presence is the antidote to your loved one's emotional pain vs. trying to come up with a solution. "Rarely can a response make something better—what makes something better is connection."

Check out the clip and learn more about the awesome power of empathy…while watching a judgmental antelope eating a sandwich.