Can’t make up your mind? Indecision, rumination and depression.

By David Joel Miller.

Indecision, rumination and depression

Hard to choose

Can’t make a choice?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

If you can’t make up your mind it may be because you are depressed. Indecision is a common result of depression and certain types of rumination ramp this symptom up.

When you are depressed it becomes incredibly difficult to decide. Even a little depression can make decisions difficult and a significant level of depression can make decision making impossible. How you are thinking about things, especially rumination makes this indecision worse.

Depressed people tend to rely on others to make their decisions for them. If you find you don’t trust yourself to make a decision and you expect someone else to decide for you it is time to take a look at this.

Depressed people tend to brood about things, turn them over and over in their head. The thinking part bogs down. The tendency is to look for global abstract reasons. What is wrong with me? Why does this keep happening to me? What you need to be asking yourself is, how you are going to get this done.

Depressed people stop trusting themselves. They do not use their intuition; that gut level information based on experience. When depressed do you stop trusting your judgment and start over thinking everything?

Many of the symptoms of depression involve reduced ability to make decisions. When depressed there is less rational reasoning coupled with low activity levels. Can’t do and can’t decide defines depression. There is also less information gathering going on. The result of all this avoiding making decisions and self-doubt is an increase in negative emotions. Increasing negative emotions creates more severe depression and so the cycle goes.

Indecisiveness has been liked to low self-esteem. Can’t decide you feel bad about yourself. Feel bad about yourself you will find it hard to decide. The result if indecision is more procrastination. One culprit in this indecision, low self-esteem connection is that ancient enemy perfectionism.

If you are one of those people who is trying to be perfect, a largely neurotic trait, you will never make it. The search for the perfect prevents what can be.

This human fallacy, the search for abstract universal answers, leads to the wrong conclusions. It is not “why do bad things happen to me” or anyone else. The questions you should be asking is what are you going to do now and how will you do it.

We should note here that researchers have concluded that not having a good vocabulary to describe what and how you are feeling can result in an increased risk of depression. You need to have words for the feelings to begin to work on the consequences.

Rumination does more than result in an increase risk of depression and more difficulty making decisions. Depressed people who do decide are less committed and more likely to have difficulty following through on the course of action they have decided on.

The solution to all this indecision, rumination, depression, resulting in more indecision trap?

Gather all the information you can. Make the best decision you can and then stick with it until contrary information comes in. Stop looking for global reasons and look for the facts in this specific instance.

If indecision is plaguing you or you feel like simple decisions are beyond your ability consider getting some professional help.

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Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Ways to avoid work burnout.

By David Joel Miller.

Are you unhappy at work?

Job Burnout

Job Burnout
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

More people are unhappy than happy on the job site these days. Not that the job is necessarily supposed to make you happy. There was a time when people’s main reason for working was just the money. When most people worked in farming or at a trade you worked to save up some money, bought some land and then had your life. Now if you have land you have to work to pay the taxes and other bills.

If you look at your work or career as something you will do for 40 or so years, from becoming an adult, till you retire, it makes sense to look for a career doing something which you can be happy doing all those years.

The pay scale is not the only thing that makes for happiness. Pay is mostly symbolic. If I make enough to live the way I want, more is less important than if I am not making enough to get by on. A dollar an hour wage increase is huge for someone making minimum wage but means not much to someone who makes millions each year. Any good manager should know that giving out a raise can up production and happiness for a while but after some time people tend to revert back to their old ways. So the good workers work hard after the raise and those who thought that more money would make them happy find the effects of that raise are wearing off before long.

People who are truly happy at work find that it is more what they do and think than what the boss does that determines their happiness at work. While a bad boss can make things more difficult there are things you can do where ever you are to make your work life more rewarding. Rather than expecting someone else to make you happy at work look for ways to get and keep a job that will make you happy.

Here are a few tips for creating a happy environment at your work site.

  1. Search out a job that is right for you and that you would like to do.

College students often end up in majors because they heard that people who do that kind of work make a lot of money. Once out of school and on the job they are miserable and they often blame the place they work. If you are a shy person avoid training for or looking for a job that puts you out front talking to lots of people, unless your goal is to overcome that shyness.

Look first for a job that would fit your personalities and likes. Over time you should stretch and try to grow. Taking a job that you do not want to do is a sure recipe for job burnout. You may need to take a less than ideal job for now but if you do not settle into this for the long haul and be miserable in the meantime. Be thankful for the paycheck, do your very best, all the while looking for your ideal situation.

  1. Do some research on what to expect on that job.

Some jobs look like fun when you see them on T. V. but the seamstress murder mystery solver is a fiction. Do some homework, talk with some people who actually do the kind of work you are thinking of doing. Does what is expected of employees at this company sound like something you could deal with for a long time or are you asking yourself how long you can put up with this right from day one.

  1. Take care of yourself.

You cannot push all day at work and then go home and push all night without risking burnout. You work for a paycheck, OK. But partying all weekend is going to turn that job into something you will find it hard to show up for on Monday.

  1. Learn to say no.

When asked to do something that you don’t think you can do, at least not safely or in the time allowed say so. Avoid saying yes and then not doing what you said you would do. Being over committed at work and in your out of work life can make even the most enjoyable job an overwhelming burnout.

  1. Please the people who matter. Do not try to please everyone.

Usually you need to please your immediate boss or supervisor. You also need to keep the “customers” whoever that may be, happy. Beyond that you should try to keep good relationship with coworkers but you can’t please everyone all the time. Pick who you will need to please and work on that.

You probably can’t please your boss and your parents and spouse all at the same time. Make sure you keep your family out of your work life and your boss out of your home life.

  1. Work smarter not longer.

To the extent you have any control over the work you do and how you do it look for ways to get more done in less time. Elaborate filling systems are nice – sort of – but watch out for things that suck up a lot of time and produce no results. If the project changes weekly those files may all need to be pitched out next Monday.

  1. Concentrate on the things that are most productive.

A few things produce the bulk of the results. This is true at the job, school and in your relationships. Do the things that are most productive first. Often those productive things will be the willpower sucking things that you keep putting off.

Do the hard things first while your willpower is strongest, then move on through your day to the less and less important things. Remember their will always be more to do tomorrow.

  1. Prioritize to do lists.

Lists keep growing to fill the paper available. Many things on that list are wishes rather than need to do items. Do what matters first and cross off all the things that really do not need to be done. The goal is to be productive and enjoy your work life not to be supper employee whose cape is worn out before retirement day.

  1. Enjoy your face time.

Emails and tweets are fine but nothing beats a face to face get together. Humans are social animals we need to see and be around others. Most happy employees get some time each day to stop and chat with other employees.

You can’t understand tone of voice very well on an email, you get that better in person. You also need to be concerned about the person you are with as well as the work.

  1. Think about when it will be time for a change and how you will know that.

Staying in the same place on the same job can burn people out. You need fresh challenges or opportunities if you stay on the same job. Some people find that periodically they need to change departments, tasks, companies or even careers. Others will find that they need to look for those challenges in their hobbies or out of work activates.

What ways have you found to avoid burnout in your life?

For more on the topic of Work and Careers see:

Careers and Jobs

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

7 Thoughts create success.

By David Joel Miller.

Think these 7 thoughts to have a successful life.

Success and Failure

Thoughts for success
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

What you think tends to come true. You can’t accomplish things if you do not believe they are possible. Successful people do more positive thinking. Highly successful people make these 7 thoughts a part of their thought habits. To be really successful practice these thoughts every day until they become your default way of thinking.

  1. Where I came from does not determine where I am going.

You past may have put you were you are but you have choices on where you go from here. Having things in your past may limit some options but there are always more possibilities out there than most of us see.

Look for those options. Had a lousy childhood? Become your own parent and learn those lessons you should have gotten early on.

No education? Get back into school. There are a great many older students in college these days. Everyone needs to keep learning to keep up. Things change. Many of the students in the college evening classes I have thought were surprised to find they had far more ability than they thought.

Watch for an upcoming post on making learning fun and being successful at learning as an adult.

  1. You only need to get up once more than you get knocked down.

Successful people keep getting back up. Life knocked you down? Get back up. Do learn from the things that happen to you. Change your game plan, your study routines or get more help. The truth is that most “naturals” became naturals by practicing over and over. You make the most progress at things by working on your weak spots not by limiting what you do to the things that come easy.

  1. What you think about things is more important than what they were.

If you focus on what happened, why did that have to happen and why you, you can get stuck in the past. Learn from these experiences. I get that some experiences can be extremely painful but if you want to have the rest of your life you need to see how you could do things that can make your life better.

Look at the future as another chance and good things just might happen for you. Find it hard to believe? Short on hope? Work on developing a group of supporters that can see the possibilities ahead even when you find then hard to see.

  1. This is not fear – I am on the jazz.

Change, new experiences can provoke anxiety. Some people, they look for all the things that could go wrong and the result is they stay stuck. Really successful people reframe those butterflies in their stomach as excitement. New experiences become their friends.

What possibilities could you get excited about? What novel situations could give you the chance to shine?

  1. The best one to create my life is me.

Successful people think that they are the one to make things happen in their life. Getting the breaks and having a successful person recommend you or offer you opportunities is great but sitting back thinking I can never do it unless someone else does things for me is a sure recipe for failure. Want to create your dream? Go out and do the work. Practice and learn. Once you become good at things others will notice. Most of those big breaks come after years of practice and study.

  1. You need to make mistakes to learn

Mistakes need not be catastrophic. Highly successful people make lots of mistakes. They learn from those errors. Do lots of things, some work some do not. Stop doing the things that do not work out for you. Put in more effort on the things you see that need improvement and see just how far you will go.

  1. Aim high if you want to achieve worthwhile things.

Aim low and that is what you will hit. Aim high and even if you do not go all the way you will still end up a lot farther along. Have high aims and aspirations while accepting that if you are hitting every target the first time you are still not aiming high enough. Not missing the mark a lot? You are underestimating yourself and playing it too safe to ever go as far as you are capable.

Here are seven principles of success that have shown up repeatedly in the literature on success and have been born out in the lives of those who achieve great things. Have you discovered other principles that you would like to share?

For more on this topic see these other posts on counselorssoapbox.com

Success

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Do people with problems not want to change?

By David Joel Miller.

Why do they say that people with problems want to be that way?

Disabilities

Not want help?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Lots of people, with varying problems and disabilities, seem to be dismissed with the expression that the reason for their problems is that they do not want to change. Is there any truth to these claims and why do we hear this so often?

First let me give you a list of the things I have heard recently. Some of this comes from professionals, some from the news media and some from just average people. After the list let me tell you why I think we are hearing this more these days and lastly what we should be doing about this.

People with depression are using this illness to avoid doing anything.

Fat people don’t really want to lose weight.

There is no such thing as mental illness, those people just want to get on disability.

People who say they have anxiety are just trying to get other people to take care of them.

The homeless prefer to live out on the street.

Drug users do not quit because they want to use.

The unemployed are unemployed because they do not want to work.

There are many other forms of these statements, but mostly they seem to me to be ways of dismissing people with problems by blaming them for having those problems and then saying that they are unwilling to change.

So why if obesity, homelessness, unemployment, loneliness, drug addiction and mental illness cause all that pain, do people seem to so strenuously avoid doing exactly the things that would change their situation? Doesn’t it look sometimes as if people with problems really do not want to change or they would?

Turns out that change is far harder most of the time than doing nothing.

I can see why society and people who work in the helping fields could start blaming the people with the problems for their lack of progress. As long as we can blame them we do not have to think that our programs and policies might be letting the suffering down. It is easier to think that the homeless like to be out there in the cold, the rain or the snow, than to really try to tackle those issues.

Why this repeated tendency to blame those with problems for those problems?

Turns out that change is hard for humans. We learn a certain way of coping and then we continue that coping style over and over. Even when we come to believe that what we are doing is not working, deciding to do something different and then carrying thorough on that decision is difficult. People in these situations sometimes have to give up everything they have to reach for something else. Here are some examples.

Unemployment is rarely a choice.

If I think that unemployment is caused by a lack of jobs, I might get scared I could end up out of work. If I can convince myself it is because they don’t want to work I can pretend it won’t happen to me.

For a huge stretch of time since World War II here in the United States we have had growth and expanding employment. There have been ups and downs but overall more people work as time goes on. There was a time when any able-bodied person who wanted to work could find a job. Recently we have seen a trend, there are jobs available, but those jobs require advanced skills and are often in distant places.

Many who are unemployed lack the skills need to get a good job, live in places with high unemployment and as a result become seriously depressed. When you are depressed doing anything can be at the limits of your abilities.

For the homeless moving into shelters may mean giving up all you have for not much more.

If you are homeless, most of your friends and partners are homeless also. If you have a boyfriend or girlfriend you need to leave them behind. Your pet? That dog that kept you warm and comforted you on the cold night? That animal goes to the pound. There are few places a homeless person can take their partner or their pet.

While in the homeless shelter you need to be there in the early afternoon and leave in the early morning. Getting to and from the shelter takes up the whole day. Your life begins to revolve around being a recipient of a place to sleep.

When you have next to nothing you use what tools you can find to cope. Many homeless drink to dull the pain, physical and emotional. Without an address it is hard to get into medical or psychiatric services.

Homeless programs often require that the people they house stop alcohol and drug use altogether to get housed. It is easy to say that the homeless do not want housing and harder to recognize that they may not be willing to give up friends, relationships, pets or other coping mechanisms to fit into the requirements of a given program.

Obesity is about more than just eating less.

Once upon a time we idolize the person with some meat on their bones. When food was scarce the healthy, those who were not emaciated, made it through the winter to live another year. Then times change, food became instantly available, and the ideal change.

Weight loss has become big business. Despite a quizillion diet books and weight loss programs the rate of obesity in America continues to climb. Food is available on every corner. Fast food and food available 24 hours a day in any season. The result of this increased availability of food has not been better health but more unhealthy food.

Most dieters learn all too rapidly that the minute you relax your diet the weight returns and brings a few pounds of extra fat with it. With the weight gain comes physical ailments. Exercise is harder the more weight you need to lose. The modern solution? Surgery to reduce the body’s ability to hold and process food.

The mentally ill are likely to be told to just snap out of it.

For most people who have a mental illness snapping out of it is only slightly more difficult than growing a few inches because you should be taller.

When you have depression, severe major depression, getting out of bed in the morning is an all-day task. This is not laziness, it is horrific work to make yourself do something that you lack the ability to do.

If you have an anxiety disorder, the most common mental disorder in America, you are likely to be told to just not worry about it. If you go for treatment those of you who have social anxiety can look forward to spending hours in crowded waiting rooms with people you do not know and with whom you wish you did not have to spend time.

I know there are exceptions. Programs to treat anxiety that are small and personalized. But all too often treatment programs are organized to meet the needs of the system not the individual.

The truth is that those with problems no not always use programs, not because they like things the way they are but because they are being ask to do more than they are able to in order to access those helps that most of the rest of us take for granted. We need to stop blaming the sufferers for their illness and look for solutions that work rather than create more programs that fail the people they are designed to serve.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Top 10 life mistakes.

By David Joel Miller.

How many of these top 10 life mistakes are you making?

Mistakes to avoid

Top 10 Life Mistakes
Photo courtesy of Flickr (opensourceway)

What is a mistake for one person may not be for another. Over the long haul most mistakes can be turned to assets if you recognize you are making them and change what you are doing. Here are a list of some of the things people report have been their top mistakes in life. Take a look at this list and see if you are making any of these. If so would today be the time to change what you are doing?

  1. Trying to live up or down to others expectations.

Having someone who believes in you can be a powerful incentive. But if you find you are doing things you do not want to do because others expect this of you, take another look at these efforts and decide if this what you really want out of life.

Are you trying to enter a career or profession because that is what you family expects? If you get there will this be something that makes you happy? See often people try to do things to get the love and acceptance of their families only to find that what they do can never be enough. If you try to make the big leagues because your parent wanted to get there and now is living through you, be careful.

Potentially worse is the situation in which someone fails because this is what their family expects of them. Do not listen to others who need you to fail so they will not feel so bad about themselves. If you have always been told that you can’t do something, that you will never be able to do what you want, take another look at this and see if this is really true or is it others trying to hold you back. Some parents even think the way to protect their children from failure is to tell them they can’t do things so they will not try and be disappointed.

Give things a try and see how far you can go. Do not be held back by doubts, yours or others. You may discover you have more ability than you think. You do not need to make it to the White House to be successful, but if you do not try you will never know if you could have accomplished something.

  1. Insisting life be fair.

Do not waste time insisting life be fair. You can spend a lot of time fighting over what is and is not fair but sometimes life is just not fair. Work to change things if you can, but do not let unfair situations or people keep you from your pursuit of your goals. It may not be fair that someone else gets into a good school and you do not. Dust yourself off and keep going. People who get advantages early in life often fade as time goes on. People who learn to overcome adversity keep moving forward.

  1. Blaming others for what you lack.

It really does not matter whose fault it is that your life is not the way you want it. You can stay stuck in blame or you can take the initiative and start off again.

  1. Expecting someone to fix you.

Making your life happy or you successful is an inside job. Others can help but they can’t make you a different person. A good doctor can help you heal but the docs will tell you that a patient who takes an active part in their recovery and maintains a positive attitude will recover more rapidly.

  1. Thinking you should be somewhere else.

Do not blame your life on where you are. Be as successful as you can. If you really need to be somewhere else, say you want to act, you need to go where there are theaters. Do not say that someday when you move to New York you will become a great actor. Learn all you can where you are.

  1. Saying you are too old or do not have the time.

Always wanted to do something? Now is the time. Do not fall into the trap of thinking you are too old or do not have the time.

Always wanted to go back and get your college degree? Think you are too old? How old are you now? How old will you be in four years. Will you be any different in age whether you go to school or not? Lots of people are going back to school or starting a new career at ages that used to be thought of as too old. Truth is you can do whatever you set your mind to if you stop putting it off.

  1. Letting fear keep you from trying.

Lots of people never tried things that they might have been good at because they let fear stand in their way. Take a realistic look at what it is that you always wanted to do. Get some advice from someone else. Always wanted to write the great American novel? Age is no barrier. Give it a try.

Doing things is more possible now than ever before. You may not have the advantage of going to a prestige school or years to practice your skill. You do not need to be as good as Shakespeare or Hemingway to write a book. Whatever book you write will be your book. Why let fear keep you from giving it a try.

  1. Expecting someone else to make you happy or successful.

Learn that others can’t eat for you, can’t sleep for you and can’t exercise for you. They also can’t make you happy. Having happy loving people can add to your happiness but you can be miserable any place you choose. You can also learn to be happy in whatever situation you find yourself in. Work on making your life better but accept that happiness is up to you not others.

  1. Calling yourself names.

Do not call yourself names or put you down. Some people experienced this as children and have keep up the destructive practice. They may pass down this negativity to their offspring. There is no proof that calling yourself stupid can make you smarter. What it will do is make you give up trying and not trying is the perfection of stupid.

Believe in yourself accept yourself as you are and you will go a whole lot farther in life. Calling yourself names will not motivate you to do better it will hold you back. Tell yourself positive affirmations and you will do better. Say you can’t and you will make that come true.

  1. Trying to please others.

Spend your life trying to please others and you are likely to please no one. Others are hard to please. Work to please yourself. Do things you can be proud of and you will end up pleasing those who matter.

Yes, sure you want to please the boss or your partner. Do this not because of the desire to please them but because doing you best will please you and see how many more people will be pleased by your efforts.

Those are the top ten life mistakes on my list. Are there any other mistakes that you have made and now regret? What are you doing to overcome those mistakes and move forward?

For more on becoming the best you possible check out these other counselorssoapbox.com posts.

Self-improvement

Success

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

11 tips for more marriage miles.

By David Joel Miller.

Ways to get more mileage out of the marriage you have.

Marriage Millage

Marriage Mileage
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Marriage seems to be an endangered institution these days. Few people getting married and more divorces, people appear to be trading in their spouses faster than they are trading in their car. What we often find, with cars and with partners, is that there is a reason someone else is trying to trade theirs in.

Before you scrap your marriage and go shopping for a new relationship consider that whatever relationship you are in may be in need of a little refurbishing. Marriages need maintenance just like houses and cars and houses. You may need to see a professional from time to time. That is what marriage counselors are for, but there are lots of things you can do on a daily basis to maintain that relationship before it falls apart.

Consider doing some of these activates frequently if you want your relationship to last.

  1. Make couples maintenance a priority.

You’re in a relationship, you think you are past the hard part. Now you have a partner you can focus on becoming a successes in life. Not so fast.

Jobs will come and go. Life has its ups and downs regardless of the partner you are with. You may move around or change jobs. Your kids will grow up and launch out on their own. In all that living will you stay connected to your partner?

Put time spent maintaining that relationship in your schedule. Money may come and go but you only get so much life. Invest some of that time in maintaining your relationship. Otherwise you will wake up one day and not know who this person you are living with has become.

  1. Add more kind words

Families who are happy make kind words a staple in their emotional diet. There are plenty of times that people disagree and there will be arguments, but make an effort to say nice things to your partner.

If someone only hears about the things their partner does not like but never hears that they are valued, they develop the belief that their partner does not see anything good in them or the relationship. For a long-lasting relationship say nice things to each other more often.

  1. Touch is a two-way street.

Touch builds bonds. In early courtship couples hold hands, they snuggle and want of be close. Touch needs to be in the relationship for more than just the mechanical part of sex. Sex is good, it builds the couple relationship, but sex alone will not be enough.

Make sure you are including some hand holding, some gentle touching and an occasional back rub or massage for a well-functioning relationship.

  1. Talk more

Humans use words for a lot more than conveying information. We think in words and we use them to express feelings. If you really want to understand your partner and to be understood, talk more. Talk not to convince them or to win the argument but to learn about each other.

Couples in the dating period do lots of talking, then they get together and there is progressively less time for talking. Life happens, the job the kids. Over time people change. Make sure that you spend some time just talking if you want to know your partner. Otherwise one day you will wake up and discover that to two of you no longer know who this person is that you are living with.

  1. Have new experiences together.

Far too many families discover when it is too late that the things of life do not make you happy. Yes a new car or video game are enjoyable for a while but eventually they wear out and get discarded. What you have after the things are gone are the memories.

Make memories together. You will need those good time feelings in the emotional bank when the trials of life arrive.

  1. Problem solve. Use disagreements to brainstorm new solutions.

The easy solution to life’s problems is to fight for what you think you want or need. Do not blame your partner for the problems and make it all their fault. You are in this partnership together. Avoid win-lose solutions and spend some time looking for options that allow both of you to get your needs met.

Do not fall into the trap of trying to control the situation and your partner. When times are tough winning the argument can cost you the relationship.

  1. Have something to look forward to.

Life should not be all grind. Have hopes and dreams and work towards them. Make sure you do not get so wound up in the work of living that you do not see the rewards down the line.

  1. Do unexpected nice things.

One large meal will not fill you up for a month. Do not expect that an occasional nice thing for your partner should make them feel loved and satisfied.

In your love menu include small unexpected treats and you will maximize positive relationships.

  1. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Learn to laugh at your mistakes.

Trying to be perfect can leave you perfectly alone. The perfect person is very difficult to live with. Take the pressure off you and your relationship. Learn to admit when you are wrong about something and try to fix it.

Being able to laugh at yourself is a very helpful ability. We all do silly things at times. Recognize when you do those things and do not keep trying to explain why you did that or why it is not your fault.

  1. Create new together activities and interests.

Couples, like individuals, need to grow. Grow together or grow apart. It is healthy for there to be interests that your partner does not particularly share. Talk about those interests some of the time. But also make it a priority to do new things together and develop new interests. This keeps the relationship alive and growing.

  1. Put more kisses on your to do list.

Happy long-term couples kiss more. These frequent kisses are not reserved for the start of sex but are liberally sprinkled throughout the life together. Make sure that there are quiet together times for these affection gestures. While your partner is struggling with a misbehaving child or an overflowing washer may not be the best time. But sometimes those are exactly the time to stop the flow of things and interject an “I love you” and a kiss.

Those are some of my suggestions for things you might want to do to keep your relationship in top condition. Have you found any other maintenance techniques that make your relationship run better?

For more on this topic take a look at these other posts on counselorssoapbox.com

Relationships

Love, Romance and Sex

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Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Emotional Avalanches and Feelings Landslides

By David Joel Miller

Do your emotions sometimes just sweep you away?

Rumination

Rumination
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Everyone has ups and downs in life. There are times you are up and times you are down. Those ups and downs can come slowly or they can come quickly. For some people those changes in their emotional landscape suddenly and unexpectedly sweep them away. There may be things you are doing that are triggering these emotional avalanches.

In your journey of life there may be times when the trip is mostly uphill; things go as planned and in a positive direction. People who seem to be able to keep their emotional journeys on an even keel have that ability to regulate their emotions and keep them in bounds. Not everyone has that option.

If you travel in emotionally rough territory you may have a lot more ups and downs. The key in those times is to keep your eye on the distant goal, pace yourself and not let those trips downhill define your whole journey. The more the ups and downs in life the steeper the emotional terrain the faster those emotions may come at you. To surmount tough emotional terrain you need to have your climbing skills well perfected. Sometimes those emotional regulations skills just are not enough.

If your emotional life is mostly flat terrain, few ups and downs, a professional might think of you as having or experiencing good emotional regulation. Some people seem to be able to find the flattest path through life even in hilly terrain.

If you emotional journey has more than expected ups and downs we professionals might think of this as you having high emotional liability. You emotions shift in repose to things that happen and the faster things happen in your life the faster your mood shifts.

Please do not jump to the conclusion that people who are emotionally very labile have Bipolar Disorder. While people with Bipolar disorder do experience times of mood shifts, I think of their mood shifts as less related to the life events, the emotionally hilly terrain, and more related to an internal journey.

Lots of people have emotional ups and downs; some of them out of control, and these people do not all have Bipolar disorder.

Some people are just walking along and out of nowhere, so it appears, the emotional ground falls out from under them.

One cause of these emotional avalanches is a human habit called rumination. All humans think about the things that they have done and the things that have happened in the past. The way in which you think about these things is what determines the result of this rethinking. In other posts I have and will talk more about the ways in which rumination can destroy your emotional health, create or increase depression or anxiety.

In an emotional avalanche the person begins to think about something and that though begins to grow the more they think about it. There may have been a trigger that brought the thought into their mind or a random memory may have been that trigger.

We suspect that those who do non-suicidal self-injury, cutting for short, are particularly prone to thee emotional landslides. Once the thought occurs, any negative self-evaluative thought will do here, it becomes increasingly difficult to stop that emotional mountain from falling on you.

These emotional landslides are the cause of lots of sudden impulsive behaviors. Can’t get that thought out of your head? You might choose to drink over it. Someone else might cut on an arm or leg to distract themselves from that thought. This inability to stop the thought avalanche once it starts explains a lot of impulsive behavior better than either long-term anxiety or depression.

Being sad and then beginning to brood (ruminate) over that sadness is a strong predictor of emotional avalanches. Productive thought about past events is about how can I change that, what will I do next. Unproductive rumination is about why me and how could this happen to me.

Believing that a past stress or trauma means there is something wrong with you leads to global beliefs about yourself. That you will never be better and things can’t change. Asking how you will get past this results in a desire to learn the skills you will need to be successful in life.

If you find that sometimes out of nowhere your emotions carry you away in a bad way, take another look at your thinking process and see if you have developed the habit of ruminating, thinking about something bad in your life over and over. Make sure you do not spend time with friends in group rumination. Having a support system van be helpful, hanging out with a group of co-ruminators can really bring you down.

You might want to check out the other posts on counselorssoapbox about rumination. There are more posts on this topic to come.

If you experience emotional avalanches that are causing you problems consider seeing a professional counselor or therapist for help. It is not “just you” and you can learn ways to have a happy productive life.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books