Millennial Therapist on Building Self-Trust, Realistic Expectations and Balance
After following along with Sara Kuburic, MA, CCC, also known as @millennial.therapist for several months, we were lucky enough to chat with her about everything from where therapy is heading, to how to find balance, to gaslighting and everything in between.
Tell us about who you are and what you do.
I am a Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC). I am Serbian-Canadian based in Vancouver but spend a lot of my time in Europe and the Middle East. I am a trauma-informed clinician with a person-centered approach that is grounded in existential analysis as well as somatic and experiential techniques. I specialize in working with identity, trauma, and relationship issues. I run an online private practice and am currently conducting research for a PhD in psychotherapy.
How did you get into psychotherapy and research?
Psychotherapy has always been something I was drawn to. I think that my life experiences, particularly growing up in the midst of the wars in the Balkans, have evoked many questions about human nature and inspired me to attempt and grasp a better understanding of these questions and how best to alleviate suffering.
What does a typical day look like for you right now?
My days are generally split between research and seeing clients. I will usually conduct research in the morning and see clients online in the afternoon. I am very passionate about self-care and living a balanced life, so cooking healthy meals, exercising, and connecting with friends and family are also priorities in my day.
I love the amount of content I’m seeing from therapists online, with you leading the way on Instagram, and I’m curious where you see it going from here. The stigma seems to be fading. Do you think therapy will become more accessible? Will it be completely virtual? What do you see for the future of therapy?
I do believe that therapy and mental health are slowly becoming less stigmatized. I think it’s amazing if the use of IG is helping this movement. Because of the increasingly open dialogue about mental health, I think that therapy will become more sought out and accessible. Individuals are becoming more informed about where and how to seek therapy, and therapy is now being offered online; these are both factors that increase accessibility. I don’t believe therapy will ever go completely virtual because therapy is an art as much as a science and the human essence is vital. But do I think that online therapy will increase in popularity? Absolutely. Online therapy is very accessible and has a way of accommodating diverse schedules and lifestyles in a way that face-to-face therapy cannot always manage.
We get a lot of questions about finding balance, and creating a life that we love for ourselves. And I wonder what is your stance on balance? How can we create a life that we love, without getting overwhelmed by the feeling of having to do it all?
In my opinion, balance is the cornerstone for living a fulfilling and authentic life. The importance of balance is often overlooked, but it allows us to be grounded and oriented towards our values and needs. Creating a life that we love is an ongoing process, and being patient and gracious is important. Mindfulness is a key component to building a balanced life. It allows us to be intentional about the decisions we make while also helping us find gratitude and grounding in the present moment.
Do you find that we’re too apologetic? How can we start working on this?
This is an interesting question. I think that we are both too apologetic and not apologetic enough. We often feel compelled to apologize because we are not in the habit of reflecting on what is our responsibility and what isn’t (enforcing boundaries).
Some strategies that can help us work on identifying appropriate times for apologizing is to (1) identify what our role is, (2) discern what responsibility we should take (if any), and (3) offer ourselves validation so that we do not alter our behaviour in an effort to seek external validation. Apologizing for things that are not our responsibility can create an unhealthy relationship with ourselves (starting to apologize for who we are) and unhealthy relationship with others (where boundaries are not respected).
That being said, I also think that we do not apologize enough for certain things, such as the impact we are having on our environment and perhaps a lack of interest or activism regarding human/woman rights, and the needs that expand beyond our social circles and awareness (poverty, war, violence, oppression, discrimination). Apologizing means taking responsibility, and I think it would be great for everyone to approach each other with consideration and love.
When we create too high of expectations for others, we get hurt and disappointed. How can we create more realistic expectations?
Unrealistic expectations can be really harmful for us and for our relationships. The first step toward creating realistic expectations is being aware that you’ve set an expectation in the first place. People are often unaware of the expectations they have placed on others and their selves because they come so automatically as a result of our core beliefs or what has been modelled to us. The next step would be to ask ourselves “Is this a realistic expectation? What are the chances that this person will be able to achieve this?” Is it also important to explore the question “Do I want this person to be able to fulfill this expectation?”. If we don’t want someone to succeed, the types of expectations we set will reflect that – and being honest with ourselves can help.
When we hear about gaslighting, we often think of partnerships in a romantic relationships. But it can also be the case with a boss at work. What are signs of gaslighting and what can someone do if they’re in that situation?
Gaslighting can be experienced in many contexts. Some signs that you may be experiencing gaslighting at work are:
You ignore your needs/boundaries in an effort to prove yourself to your boss/coworker
You often feel incompetent and a failure
The boss/coworkers often lie and deny saying things
Their words and actions are inconsistent
You often feel confused about what you are expected to do
They offer you contradictory feedback
They react poorly or penalize you for having boundaries
Self-trust is a topic that I don’t think is talked about enough, but it’s so important when building a relationship with ourselves. How can we build more self-trust?
Providing generalized answers never does justice to a complex question like this one, however, here are some general tips that could help one rebuild self-trust:
Set and keep small promises to yourself
Reflect on the beliefs you hold about who you are
Identify what motivated your previous mistakes
Acknowledge your shortcomings
Acknowledge your inherent worth
Apologize to yourself
Learn to forgive yourself
Identify areas of self-improvement
Acknowledge lessons you have learned
Commit yourself to growth
Set clear boundaries for yourself
Remind yourself of all the times your intuition was right
Focus on nurturing a safe and loving relationship with yourself
What is your favorite takeaway from starting your Instagram feed and what’s next for you? What’re you excited about right now?
My biggest takeaway is seeing the power of community and information.
I love running my IG page and it’s been an honour getting to connect with so many people. In the near future I plan to start making videos, to put out some journaling/reflection workbooks, and host retreats.
I’m excited about many things but currently I’m exploring the idea of collaborating on an app and getting more involved with a non-profit mental health organization.