Be your own brownie! – Tribe therapy

When I started my career, I worked with a lot of teenagers and started to develop this metaphor of being your own brownie. I heard these adorable young girls (usually, but not always – teenagers identifying themselves as non-binary and the boys all voiced it) over and over again, the emphasis they placed on ‘building a relationship’ in an effort to feel important or special.

I started talking to them about learning how to be their own delicious, fulfilling dessert on their own; then layering on the icing and sprinkles (relations). We don’t frost a browning until we have a fully baked and cooled brownie base. The result of rushing this frosting into making the dessert is a hot mess of goo. Giving all the time, honoring the time each step takes creates a complete dessert with texture and taste.

Relationships are meant to add connection, depth and texture to our lives. Rushing to get one before knowing your tastes, quirks, needs, or complete confidence in setting and respecting boundaries can create enduring patterns of “slime.” Messy boundaries and a limited ability to express your needs lead to a relationship filled with resentment or pain.

We are a connection-based creature. Those who could not connect in relationships with others were not able to stay in the community, they were excluded from the safety of many. It will always be a basic need, to have relationships, to be wanted, worshiped and pursued. My work has been focused on trying to help my clients, especially my teenagers, to balance this desire to be wanted and the work of the “self”: self-love, self-confidence, self-esteem. This self-work is about finding your values, your deep beliefs, your needs and your wants in life. Once you’ve taken care of yourself, the brownie can become as fancy as what meets your wants / needs … a dusting of sugar, layers of frosting, sprinkles, fruit … nobody else other than you can only decide what flavor and depth you are looking for. By giving yourself the time you need, it’s worth the wait, and the relationship you choose will have the spark that ignites you.


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