How to Be Confident in Your Skin






It’s officially that time of year again. All of the summer fun has brought countless “Get Bikini Body Ready” magazine covers with it. That phrase “bikini body” is harmful for so many reasons. First of all, a “bikini body” is simply your body, in a bikini – that’s it.


Body image isn’t just about the way that you see yourself, it is the combination of how you see your body, how you feel about your body and what you think about your body. If one of those aspects is off then all three are affected.


But, simply saying “be more confident - you’re great” is not very realistic advice. Here are a few practical ways that you can start improving the way you see, feel, and think about yourself.


Look In The Mirror  

It may seem counterintuitive but it can help. Mirror Exposure Therapy is the practice of looking at yourself in front of a full-length mirror and describing what you see out loud to a trusted friend, therapist, or family member. So, grab someone you trust and start describing what you see - you may be surprised at what it leads to.


Stop The Talk 

Fat talk is what happens when people get together and comment on how fat they feel or look it can even feel like bonding. However, that type of bonding only perpetuates negative thoughts and feelings for both yourself and others. So, stop saying “Ugh, I am so fat today”, take the opportunity to instead thank your body for how incredible and strong it is.


Become Your Own Biggest Cheerleader 

Taking compliments from others is hard enough, but giving and accepting a compliment from yourself can feel downright impossible. Practice being your own biggest cheerleader by writing down a few things that you like about your body and put it on your mirror.


The most important part of having a healthy body image is the ability to separate how we value ourselves from how we look. If our self-worth is tied to our appearance then it will constantly be in flux. The first step is to know that who you are is not the same as how you look.


Changing the way we perceive ourselves can be a long journey especially if you’re having to re-write years of negative self-talk. If you need someone to help you begin, feel free to reach out to me for an appointment. You can either email me at leemiller.therapist@gmail.com or call my office at (310) 614-0323.



3 Golden Rules of a Healthy, Lasting Relationship







There is no magic elixir that creates a perfect relationship… because people are inherently imperfect and whenever you involve humans in the equation the idea of "perfection" goes out the window. If you are looking for conflict-free perfection I'm afraid you have come to the wrong blog. But, if you are looking for the possibility of having a fulfilling and thriving relationship that lasts, here are some tips on how to combine lots of love with healthy conflict.


Let me break down the 3 Golden Rules of a Healthy, Lasting Relationship:


Never threaten the relationship

A foundation of trust needs to be at the base of all your communication to build on. If each time you and your partner have a disagreement the relationship gets put on the line as a bargaining chip, then neither of you will fully safe to express how you're feeling. Conversely, when there is stability in a relationship you are able to achieve deeper levels of intimacy because you're acting without the fear of losing the connection.



Always assume good intent

In a similar vein of our judicial system's "innocent until proven guilty," go off of the best assumptions about your partner. Choose to believe that your partner loves you and doesn't want to hurt/annoy/abandon/let you down / etc. Sometimes, it’s hard to get out of our own way due to past traumas and experiences. In that case, seeking a conversation with a professional can help you work through that. If you're looking for that, feel free to reach out to me for an appointment. You can either email me at leemiller.therapist@gmail.com or call my office at (310) 614-0323.



Say what you are thinking

We cannot read each other's thoughts. If you've ever seen the movie "What Women Want" with Mel Gibson, you realize pretty quickly - rarely do you actually know what the other person is thinking. One way to combat assumptions of intention is to clearly state what you are thinking in a kind, loving way to your partner. This helps ease the potential for miscommunication and puts you on the path of better understanding of one another.



These golden rules may seem simple, but that doesn't mean they are easy. Yet, you may find that over time they help your relationship tremendously if you put them all into practice.


You Don't Have to Have Liars in Your Life



It may have been a little while but, what do you think of when you hear the phrase "Fyre Festival"? For most people, the picture above is what comes to mind...a liar. 

Fyre Festival was an event hosted in the Bahamas in 2017 that scammed thousands of millennials out of money with the promise of an Instagramable event they would never forget. This opened up the topic of lying on a grand scale. In your life, how do you respond when find yourself being lied to?


Trust is essential in every arena - from friendships, marriages, and business relationships to even your doctors, children's schoolteachers, etc. You can have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to deceit.


Here are some ways to respond when you are dealing with deceit:


IDENTIFY

First, try and identify which category the liar may be fitting into. Are they lying out of fear or shame? Or are they selfishly manipulating and operating for their own personal gain?

CONFRONT

Ask them clearly and directly. This conversation is best had in person and in a neutral setting.

LISTEN

Are they taking ownership? Is there any remorse?

DRAW BOUNDARIES

Let them know that you will not tolerate lying in your relationship and that you need people in your life to be honest with you. Reinforce how important trust is at the foundation and tell them they will need to rebuild your trust over time with their actions and that "I'm sorry" isn't enough without follow through.

WATCH

Have they changed their ways? Are they re-building trust? If they are then you may be able to patch the relationship to continue to work together in the future. But, if they are not changing their ways it may be time to set a new boundary. If you aren't sure how to move forward and are looking to speak to a professional, my office is open for us to talk.

Feel free to reach out to me for an appointment. You can either email me at leemiller.therapist@gmail.com or call my office at (310) 614-0323.

Cognitive Distortions: How to Avoid Spiraling








We’ve all been there...you get one piece of bad news and all of the sudden you find yourself at the bottom of a mental pit having spiraled down a rabbit hole of negative thoughts. Spiraling is a common experience and is rooted in a concept called “cognitive distortions”. Let’s explore this concept a bit more and discover how to avoid spiraling.


Cognitive Distortions:
Habitual ways of thinking that are often inaccurate and negatively biased and can lead to the feeling of spiraling out of control.


3 Common Types of Distortions:

  1. Polarizing - This type of thinking is very “black and white” and causes individuals to habitually think in extremes. This type of distorted thinking is not helpful or healthy because most of life exists in the gray.

  2. Overgeneralization - This occurs when individuals come to a general conclusion based on a single incident and apply that conclusion to all future events. For example: someone may have a negative experience in a relationship and then decide that they are just not good at relationships at all and should stop dating altogether.

  3. Catastrophizing - This is probably what we are all most familiar with when it comes to a thought pattern that causes spiraling. Catastrophizing occurs when we quickly assume the worst and that catastrophe escalates quickly and illogically. For example: Someone may worry they’ll fail an exam and from there they may simply assume that they will fail which means they’ll fail out of all school and will be unable to get a job and take care of their future family.


How to Avoid Spiraling:

  1. Identify - Based on what you’ve learned above, try to identify the type of cognitive distortion you are experiencing and name it.

  2. Reframe - Write down your original thought (the one that got you spiraling) then try to reframe it by finding alternative explanations, objective evidence, or positive interpretations to expand your thinking.

  3. Express - Share your thoughts with a trusted friend or therapist and ask for their unique perspective.

It can be very hard to stop spiraling once it begins and it’s even harder to do so alone. If you find yourself spiraling often and need a helping hand to pull you out, I’d love to connect. You can email me at leemiller.therapist@gmail.com or call my office at (310) 614-0323 to set up a time to talk.



The Do’s and Don'ts of Being Single on Valentine’s Day




Roses are everywhere, there are pink candy hearts at every grocery store checkout line, and love is officially in the air! Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and for anyone not in a relationship, all the decorations and fanfare can very quickly turn from romantic to repulsive. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Valentine’s Day isn’t just for couples anymore, it’s for everyone who loves to celebrate love - which should be all of us! Enjoying Valentine’s Day as a single person may sound easier said than done. For all of you who don’t have a date this year, here are a few simple do’s and don'ts that will help you enjoy the holiday to the fullest.

DON’T:

Don’t feel bad - Don’t let yourself wallow in depression and feel bad about being single. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being single - it isn’t a commentary on your self worth, it is not a statement about how love-able you are, it is simply a part of life and there are a lot of things that you can do while you’re single that you may miss one day when you’re not. Enjoy everything that’s wonderful about being single and don’t feel bad about it!


Don’t make others feel bad - Everyone knows that person who puts others down because they don’t feel good about themselves. Even if you are struggling with feeling good about being single this year, don’t let yourself take that hurt out on others to try and make the pain go away. It doesn’t work and it ends up just making you feel worse in the end.


Don’t wish for something that isn’t your reality - Being single is not a permanent state of being, you’ll most likely be in a loving relationship one day and you don’t want to look back and see all the time you wasted wishing to be somewhere you’re not. Enjoy the day as you are today, single, and trust that it is exactly where you’re supposed to be for now.


DO:


Do Celebrate with friends - Valentine’s day is all about spending time with people you love, who better to spend the evening with than a bunch of your friends! Get out of the house and celebrate the day by trying a new restaurant, going dancing, or even hosting a party!


Do Hand Out Valentines - Just because you’re out of grade-school doesn’t mean you can’t hand out Valentine’s Day cards anymore. You don’t have to go buy little Spongebob Valentine's cards with candy hearts to hand out (although, I don’t think anyone would turn those down!). Rather, send a thoughtful text to a handful of friends who you haven’t talked to in a while telling them how much you appreciate their friendship. A little goes a long way when it comes to words of affirmation.


Do Practice gratitude - Whether or not you are happy with your current relationship status, there are so many things in life to be grateful for. This year, try waking up on February 14th and writing down 14 things you are grateful for. Keep that list with you and refer back to it as often as you can throughout the day, acknowledging out loud each thing you’ve listed. You’ll be surprised by just how content you feel when you lay down at the end of the day.


Holidays, in general, can be very difficult for many people, especially a holiday like Valentine’s Day. If you find yourself struggling with being single and the thought of actually enjoying Valentine’s Day seems impossible, I’d love to connect to help you discover what may lie beneath those emotions. You can email me at leemiller.therapist@gmail.com or call my office at (310) 614-0323.




Reacting vs. Responding




We are all familiar with the concept of “over-reacting”, right? You know those times when you catch yourself yelling when whatever you're saying could certainly be communicated at a normal volume. Or when you press “send” on that angry email to your co-worker and then you immediately wish there was an “unsend” button.



“When you react you are giving away your power. When you respond you are staying in control of yourself” - Bob Proctor



We have all been guilty of over-reacting before and it can be difficult to figure out how to change that habit. The first step to change is actually understanding the difference between a reaction and a response.



The Differences: The two main differences between a reaction and a response are time and awareness.


A reaction is usually quick, ego-driven, and without a lot of thought or deliberation. It usually leads to guilt, shame, or resentment shortly after. Reactions are oftentimes lead by your “old brain” which is wired for survival.


A response typically has a longer lead time and is more well-thought-out and centered around thinking through an experience or a problem. Because of the longer up-front thought process, feelings of guilt or shame are more often avoided. Responses are lead by your “new brain” which includes the prefrontal cortex or the “seat of logic” in your brain.



How to Move from Reaction to Response: Utilize mindfulness to re-center before responding.



We won’t be able to ever fully get rid of the triggers that illicit reactions from us, but what we can do is learn how to turn those reactions into responses. One way to do this is by utilizing mindfulness techniques to re-center before responding. Next time something triggers you, see if you can take a moment to step back, take a few deep breaths, re-center your body and mind, then ask yourself how you want to respond. This will help you get back in the driver’s seat and take control of your actions.


If you would like to learn more about mindfulness and other techniques that will help you turn reactions into responses I’d love to connect with you. You can email me at leemiller.therapist@gmail.com or call my office at (310) 614-0323 to set up a time to discuss.


15 Questions to Ask at a Family Dinner



15 Questions to Ask at a Family Dinner 



Before this year full of shut down family dinners, for many of us, were a thing of the past. Between busy work schedules, homework, and extracurricular activities, finding time to sit down together and eat seemed impossible. But now with virtual schooling and offices closed, we find ourselves with a lot more time together as a family.


Family dinners are an incredible way to strengthen your family bond and build communication skills as a unit. I would encourage you to capitalize on the extended amount of family time you have and take it as an opportunity to get to know your kids even better! And help them get to know you better too!


Here are a few questions to get the ball rolling!
(PS - Make sure to answer the questions too! Dont just ask your kids for their answers, participate in the conversation and help them get to know you better!)
  1. What’s something new you learned today?
  2. What is your favorite thing we do as a family?
  3. Who is your favorite superhero and why?
  4. What is one thing that you’re afraid of
  5. What is your favorite memory?
  6. Which do you like better, waking up or going to bed?
  7. What was the high of your day and the low of your day?
  8. If you had $25 what would you spend it on?
  9. Would you rather go to the moon or to the deepest part of the ocean?
  10. What is your favorite thing about your best friend?
  11. What is something that you want to learn how to do and why?
  12. What do you know how to do that you could teach me or someone else?
  13. If you could have one dream come true, what would it be?
  14. Name 3 things that are really fun for you
  15. What is your favorite part about school and your least favorite part?

My hope is that these are just a jumping-off point for you as you start to develop healthy communication habits as a family. I’d love to be a resource for you and your family as you continue to build these open lines of communication as someone you can turn to when difficult topics come up. You can either email me at leemiller.therapist@gmail.com or call my office at (310) 614-0323 to set up a time to talk directly or as a family unit.