One is the Loneliest Number


In the age of social media and Internet, it seems there are unlimited ways to stay connected to each other at all times. Yet, loneliness is as pervasive as ever. According to an expert conducted study one-fifth of Americans define themselves as lonely (a number that according to AARP increases to about 35 percent for people over the age of 45).

Loneliness, as Carla Perissinotto, a UCSF geriatrician says is "the discrepancy between one's desired relationship and one's actual relationships"

First, let's begin by how can you identify yourself as lonely?

Sociologist Mary Elizabeth Hughes of Duke University says all you need to do is ask yourself the following three questions:

1.     How often do you feel that you lack companionship — hardly ever, some of the time, or often?
2.     How often do you feel left out — hardly ever, some of the time, or often?
3.     How often do you feel isolated from others — hardly ever, some of the time, or often?

If you answered "often" to any of these questions, it may be time to open up the discussion of loneliness. Physiologically, it has actually been shown that the lonely brain is different from the non-lonely brain. John Cacioppo is one of the nation's leading experts on the neurobiology of loneliness and director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago. Cacioppo notes that "the brain switches easily into self-preservation mode when we're feeling loneliest, quick to see social danger even when it isn't there."

How to address loneliness..

Since the lonely brain responds differently to stimuli than the non-lonely brain, the primary difference is in the way they interpret their interactions with others. Ohio State published a study that said these individuals were "more likely to attribute problems in social relationships to others and to see themselves as the victims who are already giving as much as they can to their relationships." This can be a brutal cycle that continues on as the conversation is repeated in their heads after the interaction has ended. 

This isn't something that can change overnight, but through a helpful outside ear and aid, talking through your feelings can help bring it into the light. My door is always open if you would like someone to connect to. 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:

1.     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.

2.     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.

3.     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 put 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.


A Counterintuitive Path to Self Esteem


Self-esteem is confidence in one's own worth or abilities, but even deeper then that it is self-respect. There are some beautiful movements circulating from body positivity on social media to a record number of women elected in Congress (127 female and 102 of them in the House!). Yet, how do we build up someone's confidence to step into their own power and nature?

Often times as parents we want to encourage and build up our children so they can walk in confidence, yet if we focus only on the "positive" aspects of them, we can inadvertently make them ashamed of anything that goes against what they are praised for. They may then begin to set a pattern of needing to have an accomplishment in order to receive praise or love.

So, how can we set healthy parameters for building self-esteem in our children and ourselves?
Failure.

Yes, you heard that right - failure. Failure is a result of trying new things, growing, creating, investigating, inventing, playing and expressing. Confidence is gained with every attempt of learning "well, it didn't work when I tried it that way - how about this way?" Along the way there is also the subconscious level of your worth not being tied to what you can accomplish or the unattainable idea of perfection. We can gain confidence in ourselves that we don’t have to have it all together to be loved and we don't need to constantly be achieving in order to carry value.

So go ahead and fail in 2019 - and fail big!

You may find that you'll gain some healthy self-esteem and confidence along the way. If this feels too scary and unknown or you don't even know where to begin - try starting with one step in that direction. Or, if you'd like to talk further about exploring failure you can book an appointment with me to bye either emailing me at leemiller.therapist@gmail.com or calling my office at (310) 614-0323.

Happiness Is... Money


No, it's not a click-bait title - in a recent article published by Times Magazine it has been shown there is a correlation to happiness and money. But, once we break it down why that is the case, the concept may not be embodied in the way that society often portrays the access to greater money to obtain greater happiness.

Times Magazine detailed that "money can help you find more happiness, so long as you know just what you can and can't expect from it." (Times Magazine, "Science of Happiness" Page 52) To do just that we broke down the specifics on how you can have happier spending.

Four Rules for Happier Spending:

1.     Access your "money bliss"
"If you want to know how to use the money you have to become happier, you need to understand just what it is that brings you happiness in the first place.. Friends and family are a mighty elixir. One secret of happiness? People." (Page 54) Once you identify the source of your happiness you can see how using your resources can fuel that area of your life.
 
2.     Be slow to judge
"Your penchant for comparing yourself with the guy next door seems to be a deeply rooted human trait." (Page 55) But, a wise person once said that "materialism seems to begin where your income ends." If you find yourself judging someone who has more financial accrual for their choices, slow down. Keep your thoughts in your own lane and don't worry about the grass being greener on the other side.
 
3.     More isn't always better
"Global happiness readings routinely show that the richest countries are not the happiest and, in fact, some poor ones land near the top. So, countries such as Costa Rica and Vietnam outscore Japan and the U.S." (Page 57) It seems a predominantly Western ideology that bigger is better, but if you can practice gratitude for what is currently in your hand you can access a deeper happiness.
 
4.     Spend it on someone else
"Giving provides innate pleasure, as shown in one study in which 2-year-olds were happier giving away Goldfish crackers from their own stash than from someone else's pile." (Page 57) What from your own "Goldfish" pile can you give away to people? You may be surprised how it ends up making your own day.

If you'd like to continue this discussion on some healthy practices and attachments to money, 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.