Author Archives: Robyn E. Brickel, MA, LMFT

This is how to feel all your emotions – and not be overwhelmed – with one little word

I learned an important concept about how to feel emotions again safely – especially after trauma– over 26 years ago from my favorite graduate school professor, the late Terry Taylor Smith, LMFT:

When you use the word “but” between two statements, it negates everything you say before it, while “and” allows you to be saying (and holding) both.

“And” is a powerful word. As a concept for healing, it’s life-changing. Once you start to employ this concept in your life, the possibilities are pretty incredible. I can’t think of a better time to write about how to feel and hold emotions. When so many are feeling numb and overwhelmed, “and” is more relevant and necessary than ever.

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After lost pregnancies, Meghan Markle and Chrissy Teigen urge people to share their pain

The need to share grief to heal after pregnancy loss

You may have seen recently that model and author Chrissy Teigen bravely shared the devastating loss of her baby, Jack, in her 20th week of pregnancy. In her painful and hopeful post on Medium, she writes about the experience of having to deliver a baby who would not survive, and the healing power of sharing so much grief: Continue reading

The Problem with Shoulds: How Should Statements Can Hurt You and What to Do About Them

should statements

I shouldn’t feel this way.

I should know better.

I should have learned my lesson.

I should be able to handle this by now.

I shouldn’t still be upset about this breakup/death/situation.

I would like to hereby eliminate the word “should” in statements like these. I’d like to remove the word “should” from the collective vocabulary of trauma survivors. I’d like to see most everyone else eliminate shoulds for that matter! These statements serve no positive purpose, they only attempt to criticize or hurt.

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Why It’s Important to Identify as a “Trauma Survivor”

How being a trauma survivor can be empowering

My clients aren’t running around town wearing “I’m a trauma survivor” t-shirts.

Of course they aren’t. Who wants to announce that bad things happened to them? No one!

And yet, unfortunately, many live with the aftereffects of trauma every day and don’t know it.

Trauma is what happens to your nervous system after you’ve felt unsafe and scared, and powerless to escape or protect yourself.

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What to Do About Suicidal Thoughts in a Pandemic

suicidal thoughts

Who knew when the year started we’d be separated from loved ones for months? And here we are, canceling celebrations, work and vacation plans, and not even hugging our friends. We are facing more stress – financial, emotional, social – than anyone could have imagined. We haven’t seen the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health yet. But as therapists, we know that as chronic stress continues, more people will experience depression and even suicidal thoughts. Continue reading

How to Deal with Overwhelm In a Pandemic (Hint: Check Your Window of Tolerance)

window of tolerance

Many people are feeling pushed past their limits these days. Does it feel like you have a short fuse, get upset easily, or worry a lot – more than you used to? You may see others getting frustrated, cry, or blow up over small things. Do you want to hide from the world? Is it all too much? Feeling okay through stressful situations is possible when you can widen your window of tolerance of emotions.

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