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Kelli Miller: “Listen don’t just hear”

I love random acts of kindness. I used to pay for the person’s toll behind me when toll booths were around! So now I’ll try and pay for someone’s coffee or even compliment someone on something I feel makes them special. It changes the person’s day and then maybe even subconsciously enables them to pay […]

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I love random acts of kindness. I used to pay for the person’s toll behind me when toll booths were around! So now I’ll try and pay for someone’s coffee or even compliment someone on something I feel makes them special. It changes the person’s day and then maybe even subconsciously enables them to pay it forward to someone else.


As a part of my series about the things we can do to remain hopeful and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kelli Miller, LCSW, MSW

Kelli Miller is a licensed psychotherapist and author. She is the award-winning author of “Thriving with ADHD: A Workbook for Kids” and “Professor Kelli’s Guide to Finding a Husband.” Kelli has her own private psychotherapy practice for individuals and couples, and also facilitates groups at a drug and alcohol rehab. Her instagram is: @kellimillertherapy


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

I’m not the type that goes from point A to point B. I may go from point A to point C, then back to D, then circle around a few times, then eventually get point B. And I’m horrible with directions so you can only imagine navigating my route! I’ve learned I need to explore, discover, and learn by trial and error. All my obstacles gave me education. So my therapy practice took me a bit to arrive but by no accident. I know I needed to do a lot of careers before I settled into this one. I always had this pull/push between between the creative and the altruistic. I did a lot of work in acting/hosting and writing to fulfill my creative side and then did teaching and other helping professions to fulfill my compassionate and nurturing side. I believe as I felt more connected to who I was and accepted the challenges in my life, I felt more called to focus on helping others.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Some of my favorite books are:

The Blessing of a Skinned Knee by Dr. Wendy Model. This book reminds me of the importance of resilience for both adults and children.

How to Be Happy, Dammit: A Cynic’s Guide to Spiritual Happiness by Karen Salmansohn. This is a quick but powerful read about life.

Many Lives, Many Masters by Dr. Brian Weiss. This was one of the first books that made me realize there is more to this life than the one we are living currently.

The Life You Were Born to Live: A Guide to Finding Your Life Purpose by Dan Millman. This is a beautiful book on why each one of us is put on this earth.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

  1. Through crisis there often comes opportunity. So one way to be hopeful is to recognize that even though this may have been (or still is) a dark and lonely time, there can also be growth and opportunity. We were all forced to stand still and reevaluate pieces and parts of our lives, maybe parts that we were too distracted to deal with previously. Ultimately, we were forced to look at things that maybe needed changing or tending to. So even though we may still be in the midst of the darkness, there may be changes that will ultimately better our lives going forward.
  2. This pandemic forced us to see who was important in our lives. Who did you connect to during this time? Who did you want to reach out to? These relationships are important because it shows who means the most to you during the toughest time. Something to be hopeful about is the opportunity to strengthen those important connections.
  3. How does your free time differ now than it did before? Something to be hopeful for is structuring your free time with how you want it going forward. Was there a new hobby that you picked up during this time? Or did you realize that you spent too much time in another area but you want to do more of something else?
  4. What’s your new definition of balance? This pandemic forced us to possibly manage things that we didn’t need to before. For example, working from home, homeschooling children, etc. This gives us the opportunity to recognize what was working balance-wise in our life and what may be needs more restructuring time-wise.
  5. This pandemic has shown us all our resilience. No other time has the world globally been at a standstill. But we learned to get through it day by day. We all survived 100% of our worst days during this crises.

From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

  1. Ask what the person needs. Often times we assume what we think someone will need but it may be different than what we thought.
  2. Listen don’t just hear. A lot of people don’t understand the difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is the actual sounds but listening is attuning to the person. Maintain eye contact, nod, and validate what the person has said.
  3. Schedule some fun time with your friend who is anxious. Give them the opportunity to be light and easy for 20 minutes. There is a great app called Houseparty which allows you to play games with your friends via the phone if they are afraid to go out.
  4. Offer to help get resources. A psychotherapist, a psychiatrist for medication, etc. Sometimes when people are anxious and overwhelmed, little things become even more daunting. This can help lessen the burden.
  5. If things are dire and your friend is suicidal, don’t hesitate and call 911. You could save a life.

What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?

What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?

  1. Meditation. If you prefer guided meditation there are great apps such as Headspace, Calm, and Insight Timer.
  2. Exercise. It produces endorphins, which ultimately help us feel better.
  3. Ground yourself. Anchoring ourselves to the physical floor can help. Even just placing your bare feet on the ground will help you feel more centered.
  4. Teach yourself a mantra. Something like “I am OK at this moment” will help you remember to stay present.
  5. Remember that anxiety is fear of the future. If you can remind yourself of this, it almost forces you to stay in the present.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“Muddy water, let stand, becomes clear.” by Lao Tzu.

We are very conditioned to want to fix discomfort immediately. We want to rush through the hurt, the pain, the uncomfortable feelings because it’s painful. Sometimes because of wanting to move through the pain quickly we force a solution. But the only way out is through. Through the pain, through the feelings, through the discomfort in order and to let things settle on their own. Once we can let go, things eventually settle on their own.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I love random acts of kindness. I used to pay for the person’s toll behind me when toll booths were around! So now I’ll try and pay for someone’s coffee or even compliment someone on something I feel makes them special. It changes the person’s day and then maybe even subconsciously enables them to pay it forward to someone else.

What is the best way for our readers to follow you online?

Instagram @kellimillertherapy

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

Thank you so much for having me!

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