If you’re ever stressed and need to look at a calm, reassuring instagram feed, take a look at @meganjbruneau. NYC wonder woman Megan Bruneau’s long list of accomplishments include a successful career as a psychotherapist and hosting the podcast “The Failure Factor” (highly recommend giving it a listen). Her feed displays serene scenic views of British Columbia, an ode to her Canadian background, and empowering quotes like, “Feeling abnormal is normal.” Through her extensive work in therapy and lessons from her own experiences struggling with perfectionism disorders, Megan serves as a knowledgeable and experienced voice for wellness and self-compassion. We asked Megan to share her story of growth and self-innovation and this is what she had to say:
Tell us about yourself and your work background.
I’m definitely your quintessential millennial – I’m 31, single, and lots of “Ands.” By training, I’m a therapist. I have a masters in counseling psych and have been counseling in the mental health field for more than a decade now. I combine spiritual philosophy and psychology to help people change their relationship to themselves and their world, ultimately leading to a more awakened, connected, purpose-driven existence. I now consider myself a therapist, executive coach, journalist, writer, teacher, and speaker.
Throughout your career as a psychotherapist and wellness coach, what have you found are some of the most common setbacks or obstacles people face in building a good relationship with themselves
There are definitely a few, but the most common are a) believing self-compassion will turn them into a “marshmallow” (a recent client’s words); and b) having never had a strong compassionate figure in their life from whom they can learn. Self-compassion is treating yourself like you would a friend, or a child. You have expectations, respect, and desire for growth, while recognizing that you’re imperfect like everyone else and are deserving of love, compassion, and forgiveness. Once clients see that self-compassion is actually a motivator and a tool for success, they’re more likely to be game for using it.
Does self-worth and personal growth affect success in life and work? How so?
Omg does it ever. Once we learn how to be self-compassionate (which leads to self-worth), we grow exponentially – both in our careers and personally. Building self-worth through self-compassion empowers us to take risks and create opportunities perfectionism and fear sabotage. Self-criticism perpetuates fear, shame, and avoidance – and as a result we’re governed by anxiety (rather than purpose and desire) and thwart opportunities for authenticity. Self-compassion leads to calm, connectedness, and awareness – and as a result we get in touch with intuition, live more presently, and go after our dreams.
We love your Failure Factor podcast! How did you come up with this idea? What are some of your favorite failure stories you’ve featured?
Thank you! Well, it was originally with Forbes, and they reached out asking if I’d ever wanted to do a podcast. I was like, “Hell yeah!” because it was something I’d wanted to do for a long time, but felt overwhelmed by the tech part. In my quest to reduce humans’ shame, I wanted to share stories that change the dominant (shame-producing) narratives – the stories that aren’t about white-picket-fence life and such. Having left the world of startups less than a year prior, it was a great fit. Every one of my guests has had an incredible story, but some that really stuck out for me were Whitney Wolfe (founder of Bumbler), Dave Finnochio (founder of Bleacher Report), and Deepak Chopra (spiritual guru and perhaps the most well-known wellness brand).
Is there a time that you’ve failed and turned it into a positive for your life?
Omg, where do I begin? The two biggest “failures” that have ultimately been positives for me were not being able to get a job after completing a super prestigious graduate program in psychology, and getting my heart SMASHED by the guy I thought I was going to marry. Both happened in what I like to refer to as the “rock bottom” period of my life, when I was entrenched in perfectionism-fueled anxiety, depression, and anorexia. Being rejected from job application after job application was totally foreign to me, and I was forced to start my own practice and get a part-time job cleaning mats at a yoga studio as a result (I couldn’t afford yoga otherwise). I ended up landing my dream job about six months later, but during that period I was forced into a discomfort, humility, and practice that seriously expanded my awareness. I also contributed to the studio’s blog, and a larger publication reached out to me asking if I wanted to write for them. This empowered me to find my voice in writing and start submitting to additional publications (which got me my visa in NYC). Had I not gone through that period of unemployment, I doubt I’d be doing what I’m doing now.
So many of us just focus on our to-do lists and getting through the day, without much thought to our mental health. What are some basic wellness routines anyone can incorporate into daily life?
Honestly, I think we focus too much on doing more when it comes to wellness, when we should actually be focusing on doing less. I think 95% of the time when we’re engaging in “wellness” behavior, we’re actually running from ourselves and our feelings. I think we could all benefit from spending less time meal-prepping, and more time with people who make us feel loved and nurtured. Less time painfully restricting ourselves into bodies the media has deemed acceptable, and more time learning to support ourselves through the difficult feelings that make us want to restrict. Less time soldiering our way through 30-day challenges, and more time sleeping in. More time saying “No.” More time redefining the word “selfish.” More time learning to accept ourselves unconditionally. So I guess in short, my “basic wellness routine” would be… do less, observe what bubbles up in the quiet (with curiosity and love), and decide what you really need for wellness from there.