The Benefits of Saying "No"




As we talked about in our last article saying “no” and setting boundaries can be a real art form and we also talked about why it’s sometimes difficult to have boundaries. I shared a few tips on how to get started establishing them, but now for the fun part - the benefits!


After you set your new boundaries and start practicing saying “no” for a bit, you’ll start noticing quite a few things changing in your life. There are many advantages that come along with maintaining healthy boundaries but here are a few of my favorites.

4 Benefits of Boundaries:

Your needs are met - By prioritizing your own needs you stop looking externally for others to fulfill them and starting looking inwards. YOU are the one who is responsible for your own self-care and having healthy boundaries is the first step to ensuring your needs are met.


You are more compassionate - When your own needs are met you are better equipped to recognize the needs of others and you have the emotional capacity to meet them. Having healthy boundaries and saying “no” is the opposite of unkind, it is the foundation for compassion and empathy.


You accomplish your goals - Establishing priorities and saying “no” to the rest opens you up to dedicate your time and energy to accomplish your goals. You’ll start to notice that bucket list shrink over time as you check off each goal.


Your confidence grows - As you continue to set your boundaries and stand up for what you need, you’ll feel more empowered and assertive. With each “no” your confidence will grow - yes, that rhymes and you’re welcome to steal that little mantra.


There are many benefits that come along with setting boundaries but just like anything in life, change doesn’t always come easily. As you start practicing saying the word “no” you may run into a few bumps in the road, whether it be with yourself or with others adjusting to your new boundaries. If you need someone to help you stay firm in your boundaries and see those benefits come to fruition you can either email me at leemiller.therapist@gmail.com or call my office at (310) 614-0323.

The Art of Saying "No"





There are so many different types of art forms from painting to dance to calligraphy -- but did you know that saying “no” can be an art form in itself? And, just like anything new, it takes practice to master! Saying “no” is the first step to creating healthy boundaries in your life that will enable you to say “yes” to all of the things that are right for you.

What are boundaries? Boundaries are personally set limits that separate “me” from “you.” They separate my needs, emotions, and even physical space from yours. There are many different types of boundaries - mental, material, sexual, physical, and emotional - and the one thing they all have in common is that they all include using the word “no” quite a bit.


Why is it so hard to say no? Oftentimes we don’t say “no” to people because we’re afraid it means we are unkind, selfish, or simply mean. Or, we’re afraid that it might hurt the other person or cause tension in the relationship. However, learning to say “no” with grace and poise in order to protect your own needs is essential to your emotional health. It protects you from having a “hole in your bucket” emotionally that drains you - saying no can “clog the hole.”

It can be hard to start saying “no”, especially if you’re used to being the one that everyone always goes to for support and help. Here are a few tips to start setting (and keeping) healthy boundaries in your life.

4 Ways to Establish Healthy Boundaries


1. Pay attention to how you’re feeling - In order to define your boundaries you need to first tune in to what you need and pay attention to your emotions. Check in with your body and listen to what it is telling you. You know the difference between anxiety and excitement; trust your intuition, it is almost always right.

2. Establish your priorities - Start to define what is most important to you. Maybe it’s physical health and exercise, or alone time to read a good book every day, or maybe it’s spending one-on-one time with each of your children regularly. Whatever your priorities may be, write them down and commit to protecting your time and energy to accomplish those goals - which means saying “no” to the rest.

3. Offer an alternative - If you find it especially hard to say “no” start with a baby step and instead say “no, but”. Offer an alternative that will help support the other person’s needs while protecting you and maintaining your boundaries.

4. Give yourself permission to feel uncomfortable - People start acting a little funny when you first start practicing the word “no”. If they’re used to you always saying yes they may feel hurt or confused by your new change in demeanor. It may be difficult to watch your loved ones go through those emotions but allow yourself to sit in that discomfort and give them time to get used to your new assertiveness as well. If they’re truly a supportive friend then they will learn to respect and support your new boundaries.


Setting healthy boundaries and learning how to say “no” can be tricky to start but once you get in the habit of prioritizing your own needs you’ll start seeing growth in your own life and in your relationships as well - it may end up being your favorite two-letter word. If you find it especially difficult to get out of the habit of saying “yes” all the time and need someone to help you set up your boundaries you can either email me at leemiller.therapist@gmail.com or call my office at (310) 614-0323.

An Attitude of Gratitude




The art of practicing gratitude can infiltrate and affect your life in the best possible way. From the physical aspect of sleeping better to stronger immune systems all the way to the mental aspect of less anxiety and experiencing more positive emotions - gratitude affects us all for the better. It can be as simple as 5 minutes a day too!

If you feel like you are naturally pessimistic or cynical, know that it is possible to change your thoughts. Studies have shown that practicing gratitude can help your viewpoint:


“In one study of keeping a weekly gratitude journal, participants showed a 5% increase in optimism. In another study, keeping a daily gratitude journal resulted in a 15% increase in optimism.a2 Optimism is significantly correlated with gratitudee2 The above studies show that it isn’t just correlation – increasing one’s level of gratitude increases one’s level of optimism.”
-
The Benefits of Gratitude, posted by the Happier Human
Some tips on how to practice gratitude:

  1. Journal 5 things every night that you are grateful from that day.


  2. Take a “gratitude walk” where you think about things in your life that you are thankful for and enjoy nature while you’re at it.


  3. A random act of kindness for a stranger can feel as oddly satisfying (if not more) than doing something for yourself. Buy someone’s cup of coffee behind you in the drive through line or leave a note on your neighbor’s door with some flowers.


  4. When someone does something for you, have your immediate response be an audible “thank you, I appreciate that you _______” in the moment.


  5. Write a letter to someone who has impacted you.



Even if it doesn’t come naturally now, over time if you continue to practice gratitude you can be surprised about how it seeps into all your thoughts, relationships, and ultimately life. This may seem easier for some than others and if you’d like to discuss it further you can either email me at leemiller.therapist@gmail.com or call my office at (310) 614-0323.




How to Respond When Your Ex Gets Remarried



You may have never thought the day would come for her to find someone new or you could have sworn he would be re-married before the ink on the divorce papers was dry - either way, nothing can really prepare you for how you’ll react when you find out your ex spouse is getting remarried.

We can’t ever control how we feel, but we can be aware of how we react especially when it is around our children. Here is a helpful checklist to walk through as you process your emotions:

  1. Don’t feel the need to congratulate your ex
    They don’t need your permission to enter into this and, at the same time, you don’t have to give your approval if you don’t want to.


  2. Write down all the reasons why it ended in the first place
    This is a handy exercise to remember why you both didn’t work out together instead of over-romanticizing the good times.


  3. Ask your children how they feel about it
    Then listen. That’s all. Do not give your own opinion, but be a safe space for them to talk.


  4. Talk about it with a professional if needed
    Talking about this ad nauseum could upset your current partner. But if you feel you need to work out how you are reacting, 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.


  5. Don’t stalk on social media
    You may feel the urge to snoop and, even if it’s only in your own head, put down your ex’s new spouse. This only grows your own bitterness. You know the saying - bitterness is drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.


  6. Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting
    Even if you can’t get to the point to forgive their actions, forgive yourself for allowing them for as long as you did - and move on. The best thing to do is let go and continue your own journey a part from your ex.

Remember, these feelings won’t feel this strongly forever - they will pass. Be aware of your actions in this time as that can be what has more lasting effects on you, your relationship with your ex, and your connection to your kids.




How to Talk to Your Kids About Divorce



Divorces are already messy and painful for everybody involved - there really isn’t any way around that. But, there is a way you can lessen some of the suffering as you talk to your kids about divorce. You may be wondering where do you even begin? First of all, know that kids are more intuitive than you may even realize. They most likely have picked up on some discord even if they aren’t able to articulate it. Having some insight as to why might give them answers they have been looking for. Even so, that doesn’t lessen the impact that this difficult conversation will ensue.


As you prepare to talk to your kids about your divorce, here are 5 things to keep in mind:

1. Before even speaking to them you need to be prepared to receive their emotions
However these emotions come up needs to be accepted. Whether they are angry, withdrawn, weepy, distant, or confused - you and your partner need to be a safe space and not tell them how to feel.

2. Be open and straightforward
If you speak in vague terms or metaphors that can be confusing to kids. Try to make your dialogue as clear as possible of what is happening and what they can expect to change in the coming weeks.

3. Keep it age appropriate Talking with a four-year-old is very different than speaking with a fourteen- year-old. Try to refrain from anything too meta for younger children as well
as anything too dumbed down for the older ones.

4. Ask them if they have any questions
They may have friends’ parents who had a messy divorce and are already picturing what your situation would be. Open up the conversation to talk with them what it may look like and ease confusion and expectations.

5. Remind them that you will always be a family Regardless of living situations, you both will always be their parents and this does not affect your love for them whatsoever. You cannot repeat this enough - say it over and over not only in this conversation, but in the coming days to validate and reassure them that they are going to be okay.


Sometimes it helps to have a neutral third party to talk to as well. Whether you secure a therapist for your child to talk to or one for you to have on hand. I’m happy to either be that for you or make a referral to a child psychologist that I trust for your child. 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.

Sending you good thoughts and wishes as you begin this journey of uncoupling.

Podcast Feature: Mental Illness and Divorce




I was recently featured on the "Constructive Uncoupling with Judy Weigle" podcast to discuss Mental Illness and Divorce. This is a topic that hasn't been discussed often enough in our culture. Feel free to have a listen using one of the links below!

"Mental Illness has its own challenges, but when divorcing someone with mental health challenges Lee Miller has communication tips for a better result."
- Judy Weigle 

Spotify link: https://open.spotify.com/episode/1YZHZxjcGvmcNA2c3BNXtX?si=GibV74SfRiqRpYPJslQWfA

The Downfalls of Over-Sharing and Emotional Texting


We all have that one distant relative - you know, the one who fleshes out their pettiness and drama through a long Facebook post, passive aggressive subtweet or novel-length text. If all of that sounds foreign to you, I have news for you: you may be that person!

With our ever-evolving digital world, so much of our communication is performed on a distant platform of social media, email, texting etc. While these are wonderful tools and mediums to use to stay connected to one another, they can also be a double-edged sword causing more destruction and harm than we even realize.

Here are two downfalls to be aware of as you craft your next social media post, text, email:

1.     There is a negative Impact in not being able to hear tone and intent
A sentence you type can feel completely innocuous to you, but another person can read it with an absolutely opposite tone than you intended. Communication is more than just the words we say - it is the inflection, facial expressions, emotion, and body language. Nearly all of those elements are lost when you aren't face-to-face. No need to filter everything you say through the lens of fearing you'll offend somebody,but be aware when someone else misconstrues something you post and be open to a dialogue about your intent.
 
2.     Drama and misunderstandings are by-products of emotionally driven thoughts.
If you are feeling your heart rate rise and face becoming flushed, that is your body informing you that you are being emotionally triggered. In this state, the brain automatically goes into "flight or fight" mode and the stable, reasoning portion of your brain turns off. This is a dangerous place to be if you become reactive. It can translate to drama and misunderstandings if you make your internal dialogue exposed while in this state.
 

If anything, live by the following rules and you can save yourself (and others) a lot of heartache and misunderstanding.

Before you post, ask yourself these types of questions:
 
·       Am I emotionally triggered right now and being reactive?
 
·       If I gave it 24 hours, would I be responding differently at a later time?
 
·       Is expressing this charged thought worth the clean up on the other side?
 
·       Does this warrant an interpersonal conversation?
 
·       Am I being petty?


Sometimes, breaking these patterns can be difficult. If you want to have someone to process it out loud with, 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.