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Learning To Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Do people know you as a “yes” person? Do you have a hard time telling people no because it makes you feel bad? If so, you’re definitely not alone. With everything you say yes to, you probably feel overwhelmed and tired. You might even start to resent the things you’re agreeing to or the people who are asking you to do things.

Some people simply have a harder time telling people no than others. This is often because some people were raised to think that saying no is selfish or means that you are uncaring. However, this isn’t true. Turning down someone’s request is not inherently selfish or mean.

If you’re someone who has a hard time saying no because of guilt, keep reading for some tips to overcome this feeling. Getting past the guilt can help you find some freedom so you can spend more time taking care of yourself. Keep that in mind as you learn to turn things down in a courteous, firm, and meaningful way. 

Give Yourself Time to Think

Many times, when people say “yes” to something immediately, it’s because they feel pressured into it. We live in a fast-paced society, where it often seems like answers are required right away. That isn’t necessarily true. 

There may occasionally be things that require a fast answer, of course. But, for the most part, if someone asks you to do something, you probably have more time than you realize to think about it. Give yourself that time and space. It will help you decide whether you really want to take on that request or not. 

Asking the requester for a bit of time to think about it lets them know you aren’t just brushing it off if you end up saying no. Think about how saying “yes” would affect you, and what you really want to do. If you realize that it would impact you in a negative way, don’t be afraid to say you gave it some thought and realized that you won’t be able to do it. 

Be Persistent

If people are used to you being agreeable to everything, they might try to take advantage of it. They might do this intentionally, or they might not even realize they’re doing it. Either way, it’s important to practice persistence when you’re saying no. 

A good rule of thumb is to repeat yourself, no matter how much someone tries to negotiate or bargain with you. Stand firm in your original rejection while remaining kind and tactful. You don’t have to go into detail or explain your reasoning. A simple, “I’ve thought about it and I’m not able to,” is good enough, and something that is easy to stick to.

Make a Deal

Learning how to say “no” doesn’t mean you have to completely refuse every request asked of you. There might be some instances where you want to say yes or agree, but you cannot agree to the entire request.

For example, if someone asks you to donate $1,000 to a charity, you might not be able to afford it. But maybe you can afford to donate $100. Or if someone asks you to volunteer at an event all weekend, you might not be able to. However, you could handle volunteering for a few hours. 

Making a counteroffer to a request is a great way to set boundaries. It keeps you in control and makes your well-being a priority. It also gives the person asking something they want, even if you aren’t fulfilling their exact request. If you struggle with guilt, this is one of the best ways to avoid it. Think of it as a compromise that won’t overwhelm you. Everyone ends up satisfied. 

As the old saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. It’s important to take care of yourself so you have the ability to do the things that really matter. Saying no to certain requests gives you that opportunity, so you can focus on what’s important to you. When you’re able to do that, you can let go of guilt and make the most of every “yes.”

If you find yourself struggling to say no, and would like to work on strengthening this skill in therapy, feel free to contact me. I have worked with many people to help them learn to say no without feeling guilty and learn how to set stronger boundaries with others.

Fear of Failure: 5 Ways to Cope and Create Confidence

It’s not uncommon for people to fear “messing up” on a big project or in trying to reach a major goal. In some cases, a mild fear of failure can be a motivational tool. However, when that fear takes over your life and ends up in the driver’s seat, it can completely strip your confidence and sense of self-worth. As a result, you might struggle to think you’ll ever measure up. This can lead to other negative thoughts and can contribute to anxiety. 

Even thinking about failing might make you feel embarrassed, guilty, or ashamed. It can lead to avoidance of trying anything new, and it can even negatively impact your professional and personal life. 

So, what can you do to cope with a fear of failure? How can you gain confidence and take control of your life once again? Let’s cover a few helpful solutions.

1. Understand the Cause

Emotions demand to be felt. What you do in response to them is what counts. So, instead of trying to deny your fear or suppress it, accept it. Once you do, you can start to think about what’s causing it. 

Fear stems from somewhere. Even irrational fears can feel very real within your mind. So, when you feel that fear of failure taking hold, think about what’s causing it.

Have you failed in the past? Were you in a humiliating situation? Were you brought up to believe that failing is unacceptable? Finding that root cause is the first step in building back your confidence and coping with the present. 

2. Change the Way You See Things

Failure often gets labeled as something negative. For someone with a fear of failure, it might be one of the most negative words in the English language. One way to cope is to shift your perspective on what failure really is. 

Some of the most successful people of all time went through incredible failures before becoming successful. They kept going because they were able to keep a positive perspective. You want to try to think of failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. You also can consider it as a temporary situation instead of a permanent outcome.

3. Allow Yourself to Fail

Many times, the idea of failure keeps you “chained” to your fears. Your expectations of perfection are so high that just thinking about failing causes you to feel very anxious.  

By letting go of those ideas and allowing yourself to fail, or even just do something not perfectly, you might find that it’s not as bad as you originally thought. Allowing yourself to fail will also show you that you can get back up again and do something better.

4. Break Down Your Projects

Fear typically becomes worse when you have a daunting or overwhelming task ahead of you. One way to fight back against that fear and build your confidence is to break up your projects or goals into smaller chunks. 

To do this, make a list of the things you want to accomplish and the steps you’ll take to get there. Each time you complete a step, you will feel a sense of accomplishment. You’ll also see that you don’t need to be as worried about failing. Each completed step will boost your motivation to move forward until you’ve finally reached your goal and fear is in the rearview mirror.  

5. Practice Mindfulness

The term mindfulness gets thrown around a lot nowadays, but it’s more than a buzzword. It’s a practice that allows you to focus on the present moment and nothing else. A fear of failure involves being focused on the future. Being mindful and focused on the present can help you combat the overwhelming feelings of fear and failure.

When you practice mindfulness, focus on nothing more than your breathing and surroundings. Thoughts will continue to come and go—including negative ones. Let them pass you by, rather than hanging on to them.

Learning how to cope with a fear of failure is possible. If you’re struggling with this, feel free to contact me. Anxiety and fear don’t have to control your life, and seeking the help you need can be an important step in gaining confidence.

The Importance of Healthy Boundaries and How to Set Them

You’re probably familiar with the idea of having good boundaries, and you know they can benefit your relationships and your mental health. Boundaries can keep us from feeling taken advantage of or resentful of others and can boost our self-confidence and sense of self-worth. They can also prevent us from taking on the problems and negative emotions of other people.

However, there is often confusion about what setting boundaries really looks like, and how you can set them effectively. There are also several reasons that people find it difficult to set strong boundaries.

So, you know that boundaries are important, but do you know how to actually set them? Do you know why you might have difficulty doing it, and what might help? 

Let’s dive into some of those answers so you can start developing better boundaries in your life.

What Makes It Hard To Set Boundaries

There are several reasons why you may have difficulty setting boundaries with others. A common reason is the fear of disappointing another person or making another person angry. It can feel risky to say what you need or want, or place a limit on what you are willing to do. In that situation, another person might be disappointed, angry, or have some other kind of negative reaction. Although their reaction may be difficult to deal with, the alternative is that you do not get your own needs met or that you end up taking things on that leave you overwhelmed or resentful.

So, you’re left with a choice. It is important to know that it is common to predict that someone will react negatively to a boundary being set, and then when it happens, the experience goes much more positively than anticipated.

It is also common for people who have a history of trauma to have difficulty setting boundaries with others. When you have experienced trauma, especially multiple times, your boundaries have been violated over and over again. This can leave you unsure of what your boundaries should even be. It can be a process to learn how to identify your own wants, needs, and limits so that you can start to communicate these to others.

How Can You Set Boundaries Effectively? 

When you are thinking about seeing boundaries, there are both physical and mental/emotional boundaries to consider. Physical boundaries tend to be more obvious. You have to decide what you’re comfortable with and what you don’t want to allow. It’s important to make those boundaries as clear as possible. Mental/emotional boundaries can be more complicated to explain to other people. These include your needs, wants, beliefs, feelings, and even the time you need to be alone. 

When you’re communicating your boundaries with others, be clear and concise. You don’t have to go into a lot of detail explaining yourself, and it’s okay to simply express that you need to set certain boundaries right now in order to feel comfortable. The people who care about you will understand that. If you are nervous, you can remind yourself of what was mentioned above: the experience usually goes better than people predict it will. You also will want to remind yourself of all of the reasons you want to set the boundary. It can also help to do a breathing exercise for anxiety before having the conversation.

If People React Negatively

There may be some people who don’t necessarily react well when you set a boundary. If someone reacts negatively, you can acknowledge that they are upset or frustrated, but that you still have your need/want/limit. If they start to go off topic, or continue to become angry, you can choose to end the conversation (another way of setting a boundary). If over time they continue to not respect what you are asking for, you will have to evaluate whether you want to continue in the relationship with this person. This of course will depend on what kind of boundary you are trying to set, and what your relationship is with this person.

Setting boundaries can be complicated since it impacts your relationships. Although it may be difficult, the payoff of having strong boundaries is definitely worth it. You are likely to notice increased self-confidence and less resentment in your relationships, along with other mental health benefits.

If you are struggling to set boundaries with the people in your life, and you’d like some help figuring out how to navigate this, feel free to contact me for more information or to set up a free consultation or an appointment. I’m happy to help so that you can experience the benefits of stronger boundaries within your relationships.

Box Breathing: A Simple Exercise To Help Ease Your Anxiety

Anxiety is the most common mental health condition across the globe. There are many causes for it, and different triggers for everyone. Unfortunately, it’s also something that doesn’t just go away on its own. 

Managing anxiety involves getting to the very core of the problem. Talking to a mental health professional is one of the best ways to work through it and eventually find freedom from your fear. 

In addition to getting professional help, there are things you can do on your own to ease your anxiety, especially if it feels overwhelming. 

One of the easiest techniques to help manage anxiety and feelings of panic is called box breathing (also referred to as four-square breathing). This exercise can help ease your anxiety and provide you with a sense of calm when those fearful thoughts creep in. 

What is Box Breathing?

Deep breathing exercises to calm your anxiety are nothing new. Box breathing is unique because it focuses on four “corners” of your breath. The pattern for box breathing focuses on four aspects: 

  • Inhale
  • Hold
  • Exhale
  • Hold

By focusing on that breathing pattern and actually picturing a box or square, your body has more control over the air you’re breathing. This allows you to focus on that pattern and your control over your breath, which can help to reduce feelings of anxiety. Not only does it serve as a distraction away from anxious thoughts, but it helps you feel you have control over something. 

Four-square breathing is so effective and so easy to do, that it’s a technique often used by those in high-stress situations, such as nurses and Navy SEALs. 

How to Do it Correctly

Now that you know the benefits of four-square breathing, how can you make sure you’re doing it correctly? 

The good news is it’s very hard to get it “wrong” as long as you keep the imagery of four corners in your mind as you do it. There are only a few simple steps to follow: 

  1. Sit up straight and exhale slowly through your mouth, getting as much oxygen out of your lungs as possible. While you’re doing this, be conscious of the way you’re breathing and how it feels. 
  2. Inhale slowly through your nose as you count to four. Concentrate on the feeling of air filling your lungs. 
  3. Hold your breath for four counts. 
  4. Exhale once again, slowly counting to four as you do. Pay attention to the air leaving your lungs and how that feels. 
  5. Hold your breath once more for four counts. Start at the beginning and repeat the pattern. 

Even if you’re a beginner to deep breathing exercises, this technique is easy enough for anyone to try. So, whether you want to make it a part of your daily routine or to use it when you’re feeling especially anxious, box breathing is one tool that can help you manage your anxiety regularly. 

What Are the Benefits? 

Almost any deep breathing exercise done with intention can be beneficial to your mind and body. Box breathing is especially effective for anxiety because of the slower way you breathe and the way you hold your breath. There is so much strong evidence about the benefits of deep breathing when it comes to your nervous system, and as you continue to box breathe, you can reduce your stress levels, lower your blood pressure, and even improve your mood. It can be used “in the moment” if you feel a bout of anxiety coming on, or as part of your daily routine to keep fearful thoughts under control and manage your stress. Some people choose to do it at night before bed, to calm themselves down before they try to sleep.  

Even if you’re a beginner to deep breathing exercises, this technique is easy enough for anyone to try. So, whether you want to make it a part of your daily routine or to use it when you’re feeling especially anxious, box breathing is one tool that can help you manage your anxiety. 

Is Therapy Right for You? When It’s Time to See a Therapist and How it Can Help

I am often asked by friends and family members if I think they should go to therapy for various concerns they have. My answer is usually, “it depends.” One of the biggest factors that will determine what you get out of therapy is whether you are motivated to work on yourself, including increasing your self-awareness and changing behaviors that are no longer serving you.

There are many different types of therapy available, and many different types of therapists to choose from. Research has found time and time again that the factor that most influences whether you will see good results from therapy is your relationship with your therapist. This means that when you are looking for a therapist it is so important to find someone that seems like a good fit for your personality, and someone that you feel truly comfortable with.

Therapy can be a great option for improving your mood, relationships, and overall functioning at work, school, and home. However, it’s something that you need to be ready to invest the time, money, and energy into.

Sometimes people hold off on going to therapy because they want to try to handle what they are going through on their own. They may also not know the warning signs of different mental health conditions, or they’ve heard stereotypes about therapy over the years that are keeping them away. Sometimes people don’t need therapy in order to deal with what they are going through; however, sometimes it would help make that struggle a lot easier to deal with.

Do You Need Therapy? 

People use therapy for different reasons. Some people go to therapy as an act of self-care and use it in order to maintain a healthy mental state. Others go when they notice emotional or behavioral problems that are causing them distress.

The American Psychological Association suggests that an individual can benefit from therapy when something is causing enough distress in their lives to interfere with the way they live. As you might expect, that looks different for everyone. 

For example, you might have feelings of anxiety sometimes that you try to control and keep inside. You are still able to get through your day, but you’ve noticed the anxiety impacting your life more and more. Therapy can be a good option when: 

  • The things that you are worrying about are on your mind for several hours a day.
  • You want to avoid others (including people you care about) because of the anxiety.
  • You have tried to develop your own coping techniques, but they aren’t working for you anymore.
  • Your quality of life has decreased.

If you feel controlled by your symptoms, therapy is a great option. It can help you take control again and learn how to manage your symptoms in a safe, healthy way. 

A Better Way to Cope

Everyone tries to find ways to deal with uncomfortable emotions when they come up. Some coping mechanisms are helpful. Others are harmful. 

Therapy can take you beyond just trying to cope with the negative feelings. Once you’re able to get to the root of an issue with a therapist, you can learn the skills needed to resolve the problems that are causing the symptoms in the first place.  

As a result, you might start to feel less overwhelmed and less fatigued. Feelings of fear and/or hopelessness may fade. While therapy isn’t some kind of “quick fix” or instant cure for any mental health condition, it puts you back in the driver’s seat of your own mental health. Therapy can be a great strengthening tool to help you work through your symptoms, rather than trying to make them disappear overnight. 

If you’re still on the fence about whether therapy is right for you, feel free to contact me. We can discuss any questions you have about whether therapy might be a good choice for you and your current situation.  

Why Most People Misunderstand Anxiety

Anxiety is one of the most prominent mental health conditions across the globe. In the U.S. alone, it’s estimated that 40 million adults deal with some type of anxiety disorder. 

And yet, anxiety is still incredibly misunderstood. 

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons it’s often misunderstood is because we have belittled it so much. Do you know people who say things like, “I almost had a panic attack when I couldn’t find my keys!” or “I like to keep things neat, I’m so OCD.” Chances are, that situation didn’t actually cause a panic attack and that person who likes to be organized does not actually have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

So, when someone with true anxiety comes forward, it’s easy for people to assume that it doesn’t mean much. Even people with anxiety can misunderstand it. Since it can be confusing, here are some ways you can better understand anxiety.

Understanding the Definition 

Part of the difficulty in understanding what people mean when they say they have anxiety is that there is a difference between having anxiety and having an anxiety disorder. defines anxiety as “distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune.” According to this definition, it would make sense that everyone has experienced the feeling of anxiety at some point in their life. The difference between anxiety and an anxiety disorder is that an anxiety disorder is something that is occurring for a substantial period of time and is causing significant impairment in a person’s functioning in different areas of their life.

So if someone were to say to you that they are struggling with anxiety, it can be important to get more information from them in order to fully understand how much the anxiety is impacting them. They could be worried about an upcoming test or a meeting with their boss, and their feelings of anxiety may decrease after that event. On the other hand, they could be having panic attacks everyday whenever they have to leave the house. These two situations are obviously very different, and would require different types of support.

Dealing With an Anxiety Disorder

Another reason some people misunderstand anxiety is because they don’t want to admit they may have a mental health condition. People may feel comfortable acknowledging that they are “stressed” or “worried,” but they often do not go into details about how debilitating the stress or worrying has become. Since stress is something everyone experiences, it is not stigmatized in the same way that an anxiety disorder might be.

However, it is so important to acknowledge what you are actually experiencing, at least to a mental health professional, so that you can get a proper diagnosis. Anxiety disorders are very treatable, but they rarely go away on their own.

If you feel you may have an anxiety disorder, feel free to contact me for more information or to set up a time to talk. This will help you understand more about what you are experiencing, and learn some steps to be able to manage it. 


2805 Peachtree Industrial Blvd.
Suite 115
Duluth, GA 30097

Appointments available to serve clients in Gwinnett county and in the areas of:

  Alpharetta,   Roswell,
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  and Doraville.

Online therapy appointments available in the following states:

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