Individual Counseling

Top 10 Self-Care Tips to Take You Into the New Year

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By Mirela Bitkowski, MA

As the new year begins, many people start thinking about New Year’s goals and resolutions, or how they can better themselves in the months ahead.

Focusing on taking better care of yourself can make it easier to complete the other goals that are important to you.

Follow these 10 self-care tips as you enter the new year, and you’ll undoubtedly see how much easier it will be to keep up with your plans and goals for the new year and feel great while doing it.

1. Find a Support System

Everyone needs a strong support system in life, no matter what they’re going through. Whether this year has been rough for you, or you just need a group of people you can depend on when you’re feeling stressed, don’t be afraid to reach out for support when needed. You don’t have to go through anything alone!

2. Be Physically Active

You don’t need to have a weight loss resolution to have a reason to hit the gym. Being physically active can help with so many different things—strength, mood, and confidence, to name a few!

Keep in mind that being physically active doesn’t necessarily mean getting a gym membership. Do something that you enjoy to make sure you’ll stick with it. It could be something as simple as an evening walk or joining a dance class. Get moving, and you’ll feel more energized.

3. Be More Compassionate

Being more compassionate toward yourself and others is a great character trait that will not only help you to feel better but will easily rub off on others, too.

When you show compassion and empathy, even when it’s difficult to do so, you’ll feel satisfied and fulfilled.

4. Reduce Stress Levels

Stress is inevitable in today’s world, but it shouldn’t completely take over your life. Too much stress can lead to things like anxiety and depression.

While you may not be able to eliminate stress from your life completely, think about which self-care tips you can implement to reduce your stress levels. Deep breathing exercises and meditation are great options that can help to combat stress each day.

5. Get More Sleep

An important part of self-care is getting more sleep. As a society in general, most of us aren’t getting the sleep we need. 

Getting adequate, restful sleep each night will help to give you energy, ease anxiety, reduce stress, and keep you healthier. Do whatever you can to create a calm, relaxing sleep space for yourself, and commit to going to bed 30 minutes to an hour earlier than you typically do.

6. Strengthen Relationships – In Person!

Social media is great for keeping in touch with people and staying connected to friends and family you may not get to see as frequently as you would like.

Even so, strive to strengthen your in-person relationships in the new year. Talking to someone face- to-face will make you feel less isolated, and you might be surprised at how different that person’s life looks (and how your own life looks) when it’s not filtered through a Facebook or Instagram post.

7. Put Down Your Phone

Speaking of more real-world interaction, try to ditch technology more often. Smartphones can be great resources for many things, but they’re also extremely distracting.

By staying off your phone at work, you can be more productive during the day. By putting it away at home, you can focus your attention on your spouse, your children, and even yourself. The less you’re on your phone, the more you can be in the present moment, which can help to reduce stress.

8. Let Go of Negativity

It isn’t always easy to let go of things – especially things that have been holding us down. However, letting go of the negative things in your life, or things you can’t control, will allow you to feel a sense of peace and freedom.

Whether it’s certain people, a specific situation, or something else that’s out of your control, it’s important to put it behind you in the coming year. By prioritizing self-care tips that help you do that, you’ll likely notice your negativity and stress levels go down.

9. Speak Positively To Yourself

A big part of self-care is positive self-talk. You might think it sounds silly at first but think about the things you tell yourself daily. Chances are, you “talk” to yourself more than you realize.

Unfortunately, many people only focus on the negative things they tell themselves. Maybe you tell yourself you’re not good enough, smart enough, etc. Try to turn that negative self-talk into something positive. By speaking positivity into your life, you can build your confidence and self-esteem. Soon, that will carry over into other areas of your life.

10. Take Time to Reflect

It may not always feel like it, but you’re constantly growing and learning. Now that the last year has come to an end and you’re entering a new 12-month period, think about everything you’ve experienced and what you’ve learned. Think about how much you’ve grown from this point last year.

You can take those reflections with you into the new year, acknowledging areas where you can continue to grow, and accepting the fact that you’re getting stronger all the time.

The more you choose to value yourself and practice these self-care tips, the better this year (and many years to come) can be.



Mirela Bitkowski, MA, LPC Intern, sees clients at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. Mirela works with both couples and individuals to overcome challenging moments and move toward a purposeful and fulfilling path. For help creating more positive changes in your life, contact Mirela at (512) 270-4883, ext. 103, or request an appointment with her on the RCC Austin Scheduling page.

Burned Out? Stressed Out? On the Edge of a Blowout? How to Stay Calm at Work

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Whether you love your job or wish you clocked in elsewhere, burnout happens. “Content” and “calm” are not words that most of us would readily identify with when we are on the clock.

Between busy schedules and demanding projects, it’s easy to feel weighed down by the stresses of the workplace. Unfortunately, many of us don’t handle the pressure well.

Fatigue, exhaustion, extra stress, and even depression are not uncommon among the working population. Furthermore, we often won’t take time to recover. Bottling up stress can lead to reactionary irritation and angry blowouts.

If this pattern continues for too long, you may find that your productivity, work relationships, and career advancement decline quite negatively.

After all, you can’t hold in your feelings forever.

Let’s look at how you can avoid angry blowouts by controlling frustration and promoting relaxation.

Think About Why You’re Angry

Maybe someone’s personality is rubbing you the wrong way. Maybe you didn’t get the promotion you wanted. Whatever the case, before you blow up at someone, really think about why you’re angry.

When you take the time to process your anger, you’ll have a better chance of controlling it. More often than not, getting angry isn’t the right solution for your problem. It’s okay to feel frustrated or disappointed, but there are other outlets to manage those feelings.

Control Your Response to Support Calm at Work

Try choosing a positive way to control your response, especially your physical response.

A quick remedy is to immediately start doing something, try taking a walk, counting to ten, or even taking a deep breath. Though simple, these acts will often give you the small bit of space and clarity needed to control your reaction.

However, controlling your responses long-term is easier when you are healthy and taking care of yourself. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating well. Do whatever you need to do to get back to a healthier state, physically and mentally.

Let Go of Situations That Are Out of Your Control

There are some situations in the workplace you can control, and some you can’t.

It’s important to recognize that forfeiting feeling calm at work and getting angry over things you can’t control will never leave you feeling satisfied or better about the situation. Really, it’s a waste of your valuable energy.

Take a look at the situation that is making you angry. If you can’t do anything to resolve it, the best thing you can do is let it go.

If something is in your control and you can resolve it, it’s still best to avoid doing that with anger. Try to look at it from a constructive standpoint, and figure out what you can do to solve the problem.

Talk to Your Employer

Sharing your feelings with your employer can make a big difference.

Talking to your boss or human resources department can foster understanding about your out-of-character behavior. You may both determine that you need some time off or fewer responsibilities.

Many times, employers are willing to work with employees to ensure they’re happy, healthy, and calm at work. Don’t be afraid to approach your boss or supervisor about your fatigue. Chances are, you’ll both come up with tactics that provide you with a measure of contentment and relaxation.

Restoring calm and avoiding anger blowouts at work is, admittedly, easier said than done. Especially if you’re already feeling you’ve reached the end of your line. However, if you take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally, you’ll be less likely to experience those pent-up feelings of anger in an ongoing way.

The tools provided by a therapist can help you find calm at work and support well-being wherever you are. Let’s meet for a consultation to help you begin seeking your peace now rather than later.

Contact the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin at 512-270-4883 to schedule an appointment with one of our counselors. You can also complete the scheduling form on the RCC Austin Scheduling page and request an appointment. Someone will be in touch with you as soon as possible to assist you with scheduling.

Enjoy Every Moment of Life! 3 Keys to Finding Your Path to Personal Growth


By Linlea Schwarz, MA

There are so many articles around about personal growth and living for the moment. Life would be so much easier if we could just follow their advice and—presto!—suddenly be on the right path. Unfortunately, reality just doesn’t work that way.

So how do you find clarity?

Consider all of the things you do in your life. Are they geared towards your enjoyment, fulfillment, or personal growth?

Take a step back and really reflect on this question. Then, try using these three keys to finding your path to personal growth.

1. Locate Where You Are Now

First, take a moment to reflect on where you are now, at this moment.

If you took a snapshot of your life and sent it to your younger self, what would they say?

We all make choices in our lives and those choices affect the paths that we take. Have your choices allowed you to be on the path you want? Or, have things taken a different turn?

Remember that if you are not where you thought you would be, that isn’t bad. In fact, life has a way of revealing new paths to personal growth that you didn’t expect when you first started on this journey.

However, what if you are still unsure of what your path should be?

2. Identify Your Passions

Next, identify what you are passionate about. What is it that really excites you in life?

When pursuing your passion, does time seem to slow down? Do you feel more present and centered in your life?

Remember that your passions can change over time too. When you were much younger maybe you were passionate about watching Saturday-morning cartoons. Now, though, you prefer playing the guitar and building things in your workshop. That’s okay!

Understand what your passions are right now, in this moment, and work from there.

3. Pursue Those Passions

Once you know what your passions are, find ways to pursue them.

It could be that you take a course or class to improve upon a skill. Or, schedule a weekend or even a vacation to go more in-depth with your beloved hobby. This could be anything from scuba diving to line dancing to cheese tasting!

If your passion is your work, consider how to do it better. Perhaps the next step is that you open your own business or expand and grow your existing business. When you think about all the options that are available, the sky really is the limit!

Find Balance with Your Passions

It’s entirely possible that you have passions that are both related to work and recreation. That’s great because it allows you to enjoy more moments in life.

Think about it, you can love what you do for work and still be passionate about your family too.

Finding a balance between work and home allows you to get more enjoyment out of your time and feel more passionate about life as well.

A Word of Advice - Never Settle

We’ll leave you with this word of advice: never to get too complacent with your passions. Remember, there is always room to pursue growth or try something new.

For example, an athlete will love their sport but will also constantly push to achieve a higher level of performance.

Personal growth occurs in much the same way. You can’t grow unless you are challenged. That can mean refining your skills in your current passions or trying something completely new.

When it comes to your personal growth and finding enjoyment in life, the most important factor is identifying and pursuing that which you love to do. Finding your passion will make life enjoyable; maintaining that passion means to constantly be pushing yourself toward new challenges.


Linlea Schwarz, MA, LPC Intern, works with individuals at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin who are on their path to personal growth. Whether going through a “quarter life crisis,” a life transition, or just looking for a more fulfulling future, Linlea can help. To schedule an appointment, call her at 512-270-4883, ext. 118, or request an appointment online through the RCC Austin Scheduling page. We hope to hear from you.

Why Self-Awareness Matters For The Life You Want

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By Roy Faget, MA

Who’s the most important person in the world for you to know? Not your boss, not your lover, not your soul mate. The answer is - YOU! Self-awareness is fundamental to personal growth, good relationships with others, and success in life. Self-awareness is no small thing. Lack of it can break you. Some spiritual traditions even teach that the biggest cause of suffering is not knowing what is going on inside yourself.

We all want to improve our relationships, our occupations, our income, our health, and our happiness. Unless we build our self-awareness, we risk failure before we even start.

What Is Self-awareness?

According to writer and expert Daniel Goleman, who popularized the concept of emotional intelligence, people who are self-aware have these abilities:

  • Emotional Self-Awareness. Those who are self-aware recognize their emotions and the impact these emotions have on their lives.
  • Accurate Self-Assessment. Self-aware people can accurately identify their strengths and limitations.
  • Self-Confidence. People who are self-aware know their worth and capabilities.

Though we may think we know these things about ourselves, we often fail to see that emotional triggers are making us act defensively. We may overestimate our abilities and bite off more than we can chew. Or we may underestimate ourselves and assume that we are less capable than we are.

Some research on self-awareness suggests that although most people believe they are self-aware, only 10% to 15% of adults are truly self-aware.

Self-awareness and Your Personal Growth

Self-awareness won’t change your basic temperament. Knowing that you’re closer to the introvert than to the extrovert end of the spectrum won’t suddenly make you the life of the party.

But gaining more emotional self-awareness can help you understand why you feel the way you do in certain situations and suggest better ways to cope.

For example, do you feel anxious in a crowd, but your sales job requires frequent attendance at conventions and trade shows? It would be helpful, then, to understand the reasons for your anxiety before you try to learn the skills you need to cope with your emotions.

Or, you may decide that the stress associated with sales is too much and find a position more compatible with your personality type.

Becoming self-aware opens you to growth by making you aware of how your assumptions and thought patterns can limit you. Knowing who you are gives you the power to choose your perspective. Then, you can act consciously instead of just rolling with the punches life throws at you.

Self-awareness and Your Path to Success

Cultivating self-awareness gives you the insights you need to achieve success in all areas of your life. As a person who is self-aware, you will understand your own thoughts, beliefs, and emotions better. You will also become aware of how others perceive your attitude and responses and be able to make adjustments to avoid any problems or misconceptions.

Self-awareness and Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Knowing your strengths will let you use them to get through difficult situations. Understanding your weaknesses will help you pinpoint what you need to do to improve. Facing your strengths and weaknesses with maturity lets you take the bad with the good, forgive yourself, and move forward.

Self-awareness and Understanding How Others See You

Understanding how others see you is key to success. Unless you understand how you are perceived by others you risk having them misunderstand you or alienate them.

Self-awareness and Working with Others

People who are open to the contributions and ideas of others are not only better team players, they’re better leaders. Examining your own actions and thinking about what you personally need to change to solve a problem makes it less likely that you’ll point fingers at others. Self-awareness leads to taking responsibility.

Take the Next Step to Knowing Yourself

To grow personally and achieve success, the best place to start is self-awareness. Knowing your temperament and personality, your emotions, your strengths and weaknesses, and understanding how others see and react to you gives you a sense of who you are. It also shows you a vision of who you want to become.

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Roy Faget, MA, is a counselor at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. He works with couples and individuals to help them understand their emotions and behaviors. If you would like to improve your self-awareness, contact Roy at 512-270-4883, ext. 109, or request an appointment with him on the RCC Austin Scheduling page.

Overwhelmed By Personal Loss? 5 Ways To Help Ease The Pain

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By Mirela Bitkowski, MA

We often associate personal loss with the death of a loved one. Grief, however, is not confined solely to death. A health crisis, career change, a home sale, or the termination of a relationship or marriage– there are numerous pieces of life, that, through the progression of time, we might eventually lose.

Grieving the parts of life that we once loved and cherished is painful, and the steps we take towards recovery may be very similar to the grieving process of losing a loved one.

Whether it was anticipated or not, don’t diminish the loss you’re experiencing. Instead, use the following five ways to help cope and ease the pain of your personal loss.

1.   Be patient

It’s important that you give yourself the time and space to grieve. There’s no time limit for how long you should feel sad, nor is there a schedule for when you should be experiencing particular emotions. This is a normal time to undergo a wide range of emotions, so try not to judge yourself for feeling the way you do. This is a tough and transitional time, as you may be encountering something foreign for the very first time; remember to be as kind to yourself as you would be to a friend.

2.   Express and share your feelings

Having a support group of close friends and family members is crucial during trying times. Keeping your feelings bottled up will only be harmful to you, in both the short term as well as the long run. You don’t need to share your struggle with coworkers or surface-level friends, but it will be beneficial to confide in those you trust.

You may also consider reaching out to a professional. Getting in touch with a therapist is often beneficial. This doesn’t have to be a life-long commitment, but it is helpful to process your feelings with a professional during such times.

3.   Find a positive rather than a negative outlet

Experiencing personal loss elicits a surplus of negative feelings. Thus, it’s crucial that you discover a way to cope with these emotions. Some people turn to drinking, smoking, drugs, gambling, or compulsive shopping as a form of relief or distraction, but each of these activities only masks the problem and could eventually lead to an addiction. Instead of turning to one of these, seek healthier options. Journaling, exercising, and practicing self-care are all good alternatives to negative coping mechanisms.

4.   Don’t hold onto regret

Ruminating on thoughts like “I should’ve been more communicative in my marriage,” or “I wish I had gone to the doctor sooner,” won’t change the outcome of your current situation. Of course, you can use what you’ve experienced as a learning opportunity moving forward, but don’t hold onto it as a form of self-punishment. There is nothing you can do to change the past, so instead, try to focus on the future.

5.   Make plans for the future

There is a mourning period for every personal loss, and, as mentioned earlier, it’s important to remain patient during this time. It’s also important, however, to remember that with time, the pain will ease. You will not be in this negative or low emotional state forever. To remind yourself of your potential, positive future, try taking small steps. Look forward to what the future might have in store.

Keep in mind that with change comes growth. It’s okay to look to something better ahead. For instance, if divorce or financial loss requires you to sell your home, get excited about decorating your new one and making it all yours. Explore the new area where you’re going to live; find new restaurants, coffee shops, hiking trails, etc. Allow yourself to be excited about the future without forgetting about the past.

If you’re struggling with a personal loss, remember that recovery and healing with the help of a therapist or a support group can be a valuable part of your process. Hold onto the hope that, with time and the proper coping skills, you can find relief and move ahead with cherished memories and lessons learned.

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Mirela Bitkowski, MA, LPC Intern, sees couples and individuals at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. For more help navigating personal loss in your life, contact Mirela at (512) 270-4883, ext. 103, or request an appointment with her on the RCC Austin Scheduling page.

I Hate My Life! I'm Always Alone! How Do I Make A Change?

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Creating and maintaining a social life can be difficult. Most of us have lost friends over the years, made new ones, and lost some again. We’re busy with work and adulthood, but we still crave the social interaction that friendships provide. During transitional periods of life, it’s common to feel alone or a lack in your social life. In fact, a recent study showed that 72% (almost three quarters!) of Americans experience loneliness. The good thing about loneliness, however, is that there’s a solution to it. Make a change in your social life by trying the following five tips:

Find a cause you care about

Think about what makes your heart hurt – what in this world makes you the most upset? Maybe it’s homeless veterans, maybe it’s children of incarcerated parents, or maybe it’s the suicide rate amongst teens. Find the cause that you’re most passionate about and join an organization that seeks to make a change. You will not only feel more fulfilled by volunteering and truly making a difference, you’ll also meet other people who share this same passion. You’ll associate yourself with people who have a heart for the same things, and you’ll automatically share a deeper connection.

Stop glamorizing social media

Although social media is intended to keep people connected, it ironically leaves most of us feeling even more disconnected. When we log onto Facebook or Instagram, we’re bombarded with our “friends” highlight reels – pictures they’ve posted on their very best days. These pictures aren’t indicators of their day-to-day life, but what they want the social media world to believe their day-to-day looks like. These false perceptions can leave us feeling left out or questioning why our lives don’t look like this as well. Try taking a step back from social media. See it for what it truly is – don’t let these outlets fuel your feelings of loneliness.

Try something new

Exploring a new hobby or rediscovering an old one can help you pursue your interests. Take that art class, sign up for that tennis lesson, or join that book club you’ve had your eye on. Like finding a cause you’re passionate about, when you find a hobby you enjoy, you’ll be surrounded by like-minded people. Use technology to your advantage and download a community meet up app to look for local group opportunities.

Take initiative

It’s great to get out and try something new with new people, but how about taking it a step further? Making the first move in any kind of relationship (friendships included!) can feel intimidating, but you’ll never know until you try. Fostering friendships with people who share your interests is rewarding, so ask a new friend to grab lunch after your meetup or coffee before your next class. Extend an olive branch and you may be surprised by how well it’s reciprocated.

Change the way you think

Oftentimes the source of our loneliness stems from the way we think about ourselves, or the way we assume others think of us. For example, we’ve all reached out to somebody to make plans, only to be turned down. But after this happens, what do you take from it? Instead of believing that they already had plans, do you just assume they made it up, so they don’t have to spend time with you? Far too many people get into a rut of loneliness by assuming and ruminating on unproductive thoughts along these lines. Instead of overthinking and worrying that people don’t like you – take their response at face value and try again.

If you’re constantly feeling alone, you can make a change to turn things around. If you don’t know where to begin or need some support in the journey, schedule some time with a counselor or therapist. In the safety of a therapeutic relationship, you can hone your communication skills. Therapy can also help you glean some personal insight that can shore up your self-esteem. When you step outside of your comfort zone, you’ll be surprised by how far small, intentional steps can take you.

Contact the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. if making a change in your life is something you want to explore. Call 512-270-4883 to schedule an appointment, or complete the form on the RCC Austin Scheduling page, and someone will contact you for scheduling..

Silence Your Inner Critic: 6 Ways to Stop Beating Yourself Up!

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By Mirela Bitkowski, MA

“You can’t do anything right!”

“You’ll never be able to do that.”

“What makes YOU so special?”

To some extent, we’re all familiar with this voice inside our head, the one that tells us we’re not good enough, undeserving, etc.

If you’re sick of listening to the abuse, silence your inner critic. Use these six ways to stop beating yourself up:

1. Identify the thoughts

The first step in combatting anything is to become aware of it. Some of us are so used to hearing our inner critic that we have trouble distinguishing between that voice and what’s actually true. Notice the thoughts that cross your mind and document the negative, self-patronizing ones; write them down if you need to! Once you realize which voice is your inner critic, you can then work on challenging what it has to say. It’s important to remember that your inner critic is a manifestation of your negative belief systems; it’s not an accurate representation of who you are.

2. Use balanced statements

Our inner critic LOVES to generalize, which is dangerous because it usually leads to catastrophic thinking. If we make one mistake, our inner critic can find a way to turn that into a character flaw. For instance, if you mess up on a work assignment, pay attention to your response. Is it something along the lines of “I mess everything up; I can’t ever get anything right?" If so, try challenging that thought and making the statement more balanced. Change your thought to “I have some great strengths as well as some weaknesses. It’s okay to mess up sometimes. After all, I’m only human.” You don’t have to go to the far end of the spectrum and praise yourself after you’ve messed up to silence your inner critic. Still, you need to be self-compassionate and understanding.

3. Talk to yourself like you’d talk to a friend

While it might sound cliché, talking to yourself the way you would talk to a friend actually works. Once you’ve identified the voice of your inner critic, imagine saying those things to a friend. Would you ever call your loved ones lazy, unmotivated, not good enough, stupid, or anything else that deprecating? No, because not only is it unkind and rude, it’s untrue. So, when you begin to beat yourself up, picture yourself speaking to a friend instead.

4. Practice self-care

The best way to treat yourself like a friend is to act like one. Prove to yourself that you’re worthy of love and attention by practicing self-care. Make time every day to do at least one thing you love. Buy yourself that book you’ve been wanting, take time for exercise, watch an episode of your favorite television show, pick up dessert from your local bakery, just because. When you take care of your soul, mind, and body, they take care of you in return.

5. Don’t ruminate

Everyone makes mistakes, but instead of dwelling on them, it’s crucial that you focus on the next best thing. There’s nothing good that will come from sitting around and reimagining a situation or conversation repeatedly. Fix what you can and move on from what you can’t. Silence your inner critic by practicing self-care and distracting yourself from the negative thoughts.

6. Go to therapy

While each of us has an inner critic, some are louder than others. This can be for a variety of reasons – a history of depression and anxiety, a difficult childhood, emotionally abusive family members, or simply from repetitively listening to your inner critic. Sometimes people’s inner critics are so intertwined with themselves that they can’t differentiate the harmful voice. There’s no shame in seeking professional help from a therapist in order help combat this.

You don’t have to live life according to your inner critic. It takes time, but by practicing the six steps above, you can learn to silence your inner critic.

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Mirela Bitkowski, MA, LPC Intern, sees couples and individuals at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. For more help on developing love for the self, contact Mirela at (512) 270-4883, ext. 103, or request an appointment with her on the RCC Austin Scheduling page.

Are You A People Pleaser? Use These 6 Tips To Break The Habit

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By Jill Baumgarner, MA

Humans are wired for connection to others. Relationships are important to us!

The feeling of being well-liked and well-loved by others - especially family, friends, and work-colleagues - is part of our innate desire to make and maintain connection with people who are important to us.

It’s natural to have a handful of people in your life that you want to make proud.

However, when that handful becomes most of your phone contact list then it’s likely you’ve adopted a people pleasing mindset. This perspective and its accompanying behaviors can quickly become detrimental to your life and physical well-being.

Is it possible to change your people pleasing behavior, stop stressing, and give up trying to make everyone else happy?

Of course!

Here are a few tips to say goodbye for good to the people pleasing way of life.

1. Recognize Your Choice in the Matter

People pleasing can be a cycle that makes you feel stuck.

Others see you as reliable and the person who will always pull through for them. But, do you often feel obligated or forced to please people the way you do? Do you feel guilt or shame about the prospect of saying “no” to requests or expectations others have for you?

One very important thing to remember is that you have a choice. You are not obligated to live just to make others happy.

Recognizing your choice will help you slow down and rethink the people pleasing cycle you are in.

2. Locate Where It All Started in the First Place

You might have wondered how you developed the people pleasing habit. Now is the time to figure out the origin of this behavior.

Were you rewarded or greatly praised for helping others as a child? Maybe you were raised by people pleasing parents and it’s simply been modeled for you when you were growing up. Being a people pleasure may feel like what you “should” do or the kind of person you “need” to be.

Knowing how it got started will help you to fill areas of your life with something else, rather than continuing down the people pleasing path.

3. Figure Out Why People Pleasing is Still Rewarding to You

You can also take your origin quest a step further and determine why people pleasing is still a way of life for you.

Why do you choose to make other people happy before making yourself happy?

Are you afraid they’ll be disappointed? Do you still seek the reward you were given as a child? Do you think people won’t like you if you stop living up to their expectations?

Knowing why you still feel obligated to please everyone will be a big step toward ending the behavior altogether.

4. Make a Very Short List and Stick to It

As mentioned before, it’s natural to want to others to care about you and be proud of you.

In your endeavor to stop people pleasing, intentionally determine whose happiness matters as much as your own. This list will likely include your partner, close friends, and family.

Everyone else will need to hear “no” from you more often from now on. Focus on those who truly love you and genuinely show them your love in return.

5. Learn to Accept Others’ Negative Response

One of the most difficult parts of giving up the people pleasing lifestyle is the perceived disappointment from others.

When you first start telling people that you won’t help, you might feel a little off-kilter. You might even feel like you let them down or that you are behaving selfishly.

The first few times you say “no” to a request, or don’t immediately volunteer to do something for someone are always the hardest. Lean into your feelings and realize that this is a normal part of breaking the pattern. Enduring the discomfort will help you learn to establish healthy boundaries for yourself. It may be a struggle in the beginning, but it will get easier the more you practice changing your people pleasing behavior.

6. Put Yourself First

Putting your own needs first might sound selfish. It’s anything but!

After all, how can you give your best to others if you’re constantly drained and exhausted from ignoring your own needs?

You can’t. And, that’s not something anyone deserves.

It’s important to take care of yourself first by establishing a healthy self-care routine. Think of it as keeping your gas tank full in your vehicle. Refuel your own tank routinely with premium grade nutrition, exercise, downtime, and rest.

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Jill Baumgarner, MA, is a licensed professional counselor intern at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. She works with men, women, and couples to help them break the people pleasing habit in their relationships. Contact her 512-270-4883, ext. 108 to schedule an appointment, or request an appointment with her on the RCC Austin Scheduling Page.

Feeling Restless or Unhappy at Work? Is It Time for a New Career?

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By Mirela Bitkowski, MA

You’re unhappy at work.

You check the time for the umpteenth time today. Is it time for lunch yet? Time to go home?

The day just seems to be dragging by, aimlessly.

Maybe a cup of coffee would help. You saunter into the break room.

Oh, wait. There wasn’t any the last three times you checked.

Bored, unmotivated, listless, you check your work tasks for the day. Nothing groundbreaking, nothing important. Nothing that would make a difference if it didn’t get done. What a drag.

It’s not that you hate working. You just don’t like working on things that don’t excite or inspire you.

Is this how you feel? Dissatisfied and restless? Dreading work each day?

Could you be doing something more with your life?

Is it time to change your job? Find a new career?

Or do you simply need to make some personal changes to improve your outlook?

Is it Time for a Career Change or a Mind Change?

People often panic when they realize that they’re not happy with their jobs. They immediately think they’re in the wrong work, the wrong field, the wrong company.

Well, sometimes, they’re right. But not always.

If you feel like this, how can you determine whether it’s time to find a new job or you need to make changes to help you feel happier with the work you’ve got?

Let’s look at a few things you should consider.

1. Evaluate your happiness

There is no such thing as a perfect job. When you evaluate your level of happiness at your current work, don’t compare what you have right now with some “ideal” career that doesn’t exist. Compare it with a different, but similar work. Evaluate whether feelings of being unhappy at work would only follow you, or if changing jobs would truly change matters. Be honest with yourself. The grass is not always greener on the other side of the desk.

2. Ask yourself: Do I dread Monday mornings?

Think about that for a moment. If you really do dread going to work, what is the reason? If you don’t understand the cause, you may end up feeling the same at a new job. Perhaps it’s only a certain aspect of your current work that you don’t like. To make an objective evaluation, write down the pros and cons of your present job. What you like and don’t like about your company, your position, your pay, your co-workers, etc. Once you identify the problem, you’ll have a much better idea about how to resolve it.

3. Ask yourself: Have I outgrown my work environment?

We change as much as our lives change. Feeling unhappy at work doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in the wrong field. Perhaps all you need to do is redirect your energy toward another path, within your chosen field, that inspires you more. Take some time to consider your passions. Evaluate how you can cultivate the next phase of your career by adjusting your trajectory a bit.

4. Ask yourself: Am I disenchanted with my mission?

Look back and reflect on why you chose your current career in the first place. Are you really disappointed with your career path? Or do you just feel a little disconnected at the moment? Can you advance your participation in some aspect of your work to regain a sense of purpose? What other projects can you get involved in at work? Are there any open positions in your company that may interest you? Carefully evaluate if you really don’t love your profession anymore, or if you simply need to find a new way of attending to it.

5. Make positive changes

If, by now, you have figured out that something needs to change at your job, start with your current work environment. Change what you can from your end. Talk with your co-workers, your supervisors, or your boss about any problems you identified. If they value you, they’ll be open to helping you, compromising with you, and solving the issues.

What If It’s Truly Time to Find a New Job?

If you make a thorough evaluation of your problem and try to implement changes, but still feel that your being unhappy at work is tied to your current occupation, then it may really be time to find a new career. Just remember that every new job will come with its own unhappy moments and troublesome circumstances.

Moreover, keep in mind that while you’re searching for another career, don’t disengage from your present work during this process. Ignoring your current responsibilities will hurt your professional relationships. On the other hand, maintaining a positive attitude and doing good work throughout your transition can open future opportunities. Be determined to make your time count, so that you can move on to your new career without any regrets.


Mirela Bitkowski, MA, LPC Intern, sees couples and individuals at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. Mirela can help guide you through many of the hurdles that a career shift may bring to your life. To schedule an appointment with her, call (512) 270-4883, ext. 103, or request an appointment with her on the RCC Austin Scheduling page.

A Good Night's Sleep: Anxiety Takes It Away and Mindfulness Brings It Back!

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By Roy Faget, MA

There’s no better feeling than waking up after a night of solid, uninterrupted sleep. Your mind feels clear, your body feels rested, and you feel ready to take on the day ahead and what it brings.

Is a Good Night’s Sleep THAT Important?


Generally, adults require between seven and nine hours of sleep at night to be well rested. Tuning into yourself and your body and knowing the amount of sleep that is best for you is an important thing to know for your health and well-being. Some people can feel well rested after only six hours, while others can’t function well with a mere six hours of sleep. If you are sick, you will likely need even more sleep to heal your mind and body.

Everyone is different, and our bodies may have different sleep needs at different times during our lives.

The important thing is to find your “sweet spot” for sleep hours and make it a priority to get that much sleep each evening.

Unfortunately, some may think that making sleep a priority is being “lazy” or associate it with a lack of mental or physical strength. The laziness label may surface especially for those who take an afternoon nap.

The reality is, quality sleep benefits your overall functioning and health. Even the short afternoon nap is a ritual that many make a priority because it helps reset, recharge, increase focus, and improve productivity for the remainder of the day.

Getting the appropriate amount of sleep for your body improves not only your physical functioning, but your cognitive functioning, as well. Sleep improves your physical health by strengthening your immune system and giving you more energy. It also benefits your mental state by improving memory and boosting your creativity. Moreover, sleep improves your mood and allows for a clearer mind.

Clearly, a good night’s sleep is critical for all of us.

What Role Does Anxiety Play in Sleep Patterns?

For those who struggle with anxiety, sleep is especially important. Stress and anxiety have a close link to sleeping patterns. In fact, according to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, seven out of ten adults who struggle with anxiety claim it plays a major role in their sleeping patterns.

Of course, we all experience stress or anxiety at times. It’s not abnormal to experience sleep loss during stressful times in our lives (e.g. the night before an interview, a big presentation, or an important exam). But, those with anxiety experience this same sleep loss multiple times per week and may have difficulty going to sleep because of their anxiety, or wake up in the night and can’t return to sleep because they can’t calm their thoughts and emotions.

If you suffer from anxiety and struggle to get sufficient sleep because of it, a mindfulness practice is a great way to restore peace in your life and get some much needed, quality rest.

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness expert, Jon Kabat-Zinn, defines mindfulness as “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. It’s about knowing what’s on your mind.”

Practicing mindfulness will allow you to become fully present for each moment of your life. Mindfulness also encourages a disregard of emotional judgment. Its goal is not to escape all negative and anxious thoughts but to acknowledge they exist and to accept them.

A crucial part of being in the here-and-now is having the realization that there is nothing you can do to change the past, and there is nothing you can do to predict the future. Mindfulness is a helpful tool to combat anxiety and stress because you can’t think about the past or the future when you are focusing on the present moment. If you find yourself drifting into ruminating thoughts, just notice it, and then return to the present moment.

How Exactly Does Mindfulness Improve Sleep?

By focusing on the present moment, mindfulness doesn’t allow the mental space in your thoughts to dwell on the past or stress about the future. When you focus on, and are mindful of the present moment, you give yourself a reprieve from repetitive thoughts and worries, and allow body and mind to rest, which will help you drift off to sleep.

An important part of practicing mindfulness is concentrating on your breathing. Focusing on your breath enables you to think of nothing other than relaxation in the present. It promotes the activation of the relaxation response, the opposite of a stress response, and allows you to sleep better at night. Other mindfulness focuses are helpful, as well, but being aware of breathing is a good first step at practicing mindfulness.

Keep in mind, though, while mindfulness is certainly key right before bedtime, it’s also important for you practice it throughout the day. Even brief moments of mindfulness go a long to helping reduce anxiety and stress. With fewer daily stressors, nights are more naturally prone to relaxation.

One of the greatest things about mindfulness is that it can be practiced anywhere at any time. While adopting a mindfulness practice may take a bit of practice, or even some help from a counselor trained in the use of therapeutic protocols incorporating mindfulness practices, it’s well worth the reward to integrate a mindfulness practice into your life if you struggle with anxiety.

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Roy Faget is a marriage and family therapist associate with the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. Contact him for scheduling at 512-270-4883, ext. 109, or request an appointment with him on the RCC Austin Scheduling Page.