Does Alcohol make you happy or angry?

By David Joel Miller.

Set and Setting change perceptions of drug use.

Alcohol addiction

Alcohol addiction
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Set and setting, the impact of places and mood on drug user’s experiences plays a large role in the way alcohol and drugs affect the user’s mood and behavior.

Not everyone who takes the same dose of a drug has the same experience. One person who drinks becomes angry and another happy. The time and place of drug use influence the way in which a drug user or problematic alcohol drinker may be effected by their particular drug of choice.

We need to understand these influences to explain why two different people may describe their experience of using a drug in very different ways. The same person may also experience one drug differently at different times. Here are some ways set and setting may alter the drug user’s perceptions.

Set – Mind set matters.

What you expect a drug to do is likely to be the result you get. Well sort of. First the why and then the why not.

Two drinkers each consume the same amount of the very same alcoholic beverage. One becomes angry and combative and the other becomes happy and mellow. Why? Isn’t a drug a drug?

The effects alcohol and other drugs have on people vary with the mood they have when they consume that drug. If someone drinks because they are angry they are more likely to become increasingly angry. The alcohols disinhibiting effects allow them to take action, express that anger in ways they would not express it if they were sober.

A happy person expecting to become happier while drinking will find that is exactly what happens.  Again disinhibited they may act on that celebratory mood, dance on the table or kiss a stranger but believing that alcohol will make them happy they will become happier.

Sometimes, at least partially, a drug users expectations will override the actual effects of the drug. Mindset also has to do with the reasons for using a drug.

When you take a medication to control pain you are less likely to develop a problem than when you use a drug to change the way you feel emotionally. See physical pain may go away or you may become used to it. But using a drug or alcohol to change the way you feel increases the risk that you will use more and more until eventually that drug no longer makes you feel better but you need it just to feel normal.

Drinking or drugging to change the way you feel is one of the riskiest ways to use substances. Why? Because it works so well. One you begin using drugs and alcohol to change the way you feel you risk becoming dependent on that drug to change the way you feel.

Setting – where you use a drug matters.

The effect of setting is often underestimated. This leads to strong disagreements about the nature of drug use and addiction.

A patient takes a drug in the hospital. Say they are given morphine for pain. Despite substantial doses over a number of days most people who receive pain medication in a hospital setting do not go on to become addicted.

If that same person were to purchase the very same quantity of this same drug in an alley, there is a high likely hood that addiction would result.

Some religious groups use wine as a part of their service. People rarely behave inappropriately as a result of that one drink at church. But let that same person have a glass of wine late at night in a bar and there is a chance, maybe a good one, that they will behave in a way that they do not normally act.

Drugs legal and illegal become a part of the ritual during which they are used. If you ritual is to get high, use all the drugs you can and act violent, that is what you will do. It you believe a small quantity of wine will increase your feeling of religious connection that too will occur.

Both set and setting are tied to placebo and nocebo effects. The way in which you perceive a drug’s use and its effects influences the experience you have.

People who are drinking nonalcoholic drinks but believe they have been given drinks containing alcohol begin to act as though they were becoming disinhibited. They may slur their speech, stager and become loud and boisterous. They may get louder, joke more and do things that in other settings they would be embarrassed to do. The belief that they were drinking alcohol has altered their behavior.

That does not mean that the effects of drugs or alcohol is purely mental. Give those people who had been drinking a nonalcoholic beverage, but thought it contained alcohol, a reaction-time test and they will suddenly sober up and do just fine.

The converse is that people who drink a lot and develop a tolerance may feel they are not drunk at very high blood alcohol concentrations and with tremendous loss of coordination. While they may think they are fine, those who drank a lot will fail sobriety test in the lab or in the field.

In any discussion of drug use and abuse we need to keep in mind the psychological as well as the physical effects of those drugs. Where people use, the setting, and what they are thinking when they use, the mindset, may affect their perceptions of the drug and the risk of developing addiction or other problems with usage.

Set and setting may alter the way the experience feels but that does not mean that the mind is strong enough to undue the effects of substances. You can think your way into addiction but you can’t think yourself sober. Clean and sober takes action also.

For more on this see:

Why not everyone ends up addicted to pain medication – set and setting

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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

Is falling in love part of recovery?

By David Joel Miller.

Does everyone that gets into recovery fall in love?

Couple in love

Falling in love
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Everywhere you look people in early recovery are falling in love. This happens whether the recovery is from drugs and alcohol, mental health challenges or just the problems of daily living. Some recovery programs lecture clients against getting into a relationships in early recovery. It is often suggested that those who fall in love in that first year are doomed to fail – at love and at their recovery. If these love and sex relationships are so problematic in recovery why do so many people go ahead and start that new relationship so rapidly?

Hooking up and “fraternization” gets more people kicked out of some drug treatment programs than relapses on drugs do. It is not unusual to have two clients in the psychiatric hospital make an effort to hook up. Plenty of relationships start before the two people involved ever hit the street.

The question is sometimes ask if love, falling in love especially, is good for or interferes with recovery. Falling in love clearly is meeting some needs. If it meets your needs why is it so universally frowned upon? What is the problem with the person in early recovery falling in love?

Sure it takes their attention off the work of recovery, but recovery is a lifelong process so we have to ask “Does this new relationship only delay recovery or might it in some particular way send the person off in the wrong direction away from the goal of recovery?”

One model for human needs is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Let’s look at the problem of new relationships and recovery from this perspective. I will not pretend that this is a full or perfect representation of this theory only that some aspects of the hierarchy of needs might help us understand why people in early recovery are so prone to be diverted from recovery into falling into a new love relationship.

In the hierarchy of needs the list goes, physiological, safety and belonging, love, esteem and self-actualization. The first four are ones recovering people are especially likely to be deficient in.

Love meets physiological needs.

People in their addiction to drugs or alcohol are prone to neglect their needs, physical and physiological. Good nutrition and sleep go by the wayside. Characteristics of depression and anxiety are changes in sleep and appetite. Sex is likely to become either a frantic desperate need or something that is neglected altogether.

When someone enters recovery they feel an urgent need to compete for a partner. Winning out in the competition of resources is a basic physiological need. Finding, getting and having a new partner becomes an urgent need. For many Love is their new drug of choice.

Love meets belonging and social needs.

Safety is a basic human need. Having others around you should increase your safety. Many people in early recovery find themselves alone. “Hooking up” is one way of engaging a support system. Believing that this other person will protect or care for you can lead the recovering person back to a state of dependence. This time the dependence is to a new relationship rather than a drug.

The risk of this rapid entry into a relationship is that it will become a dependent relationship. What the recovering person needs is to learn to be self-reliant and capable of taking care of themselves. A new relationship can delay this development of self-reliance.

Spending some time by yourself getting to know yourself can improve the chances that you will not lose that self in the next relationship you enter. Another person is not a cure for your illness.

Humans are social animals. We all need other people. The person with friends and who is a member of a tribe has an added chance of being safe. We expect that being with someone in a relationship obligates them to come to our aid and rescue. Being part of a couple should be safer than being alone.

Being in love, part of the couplehood club can make you feel like you belong. Many recovering people have never felt like they belonged except when around other people with a like problem.

Love meets esteem needs, Self-esteem and the esteem of others.

Early in romantic relationships, partners typically think of their new love interest as perfect, wonderful or other high esteem descriptions. It feels good to have someone who values you and thinks well of you. Being loved boosts your self-esteem, for a while.

Having someone who loves you or who craves your love can be a boost to your self-esteem as looking as it lasts. The challenge is that in early recovery people do not know who they are and as they discover themselves those new relationships become less attractive.

Falling in love is easy, staying there is more difficult especially when the relationship turns out to be unhealthy. Falling in love while in the fog of confusion is a high risk behavior and leads many back to their familiar problem.

Love and self self-actualization.

Being the best you possible requires some time and some space to grow. It is hard to focus on yourself when you are distracted by trying to please and be pleased by an other. Trees may belong in the forest but they still need some space to grow. People like trees benefit from being around others as long as they are not smothered and are allowed the room for personal growth.

There are likely to be some comments on this post telling me that they met their soul mate in the rehab or the psych hospital and have been happily together for decades. For every one of those people there are a vast number who will tell us that those relationships begun when they were at their worse sent them back into their disorder or addiction.

Those are my thoughts. What are yours?

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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

Creative people stay childlike.

By David Joel Miller.

Extremely creative people nurture their inner child.

Be Creative

Be Creative
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

What is an “inner child” and why do we say that you need to get back there to foster creativity?

The idea of “inner child” work comes and goes. I think of inner child as a developmental process. When you were young you were more in touch with feelings, more aware of not knowing things and maybe more open to experience. Many of our adult problems come from lessons that we learned or failed to learn as we grew up. If something happened to you and you concluded that was the way the world was, then from then on you lived your life based on that belief.

As a child for whom everything was new you were more open to new experiences. Creative people practice returning to that place of not knowing and are more readily able to see things from new perspectives. If you can suspend your beliefs about what is and what has to be then you can see what might be. Here are a few ways in which a childlike view of not knowing, allowing your thinking to return to a more childlike or inner child state can boost your creativity and help you find new solutions to life’s challenges.

Keep asking why.

Children, early on, do not have fixed beliefs or interpretations of why things are and why they happen. The small child’s favorite question is why. The older we get the less we think about things. We come to believe that things are always the way we think they are. We adopt a stance of always knowing and become reluctant to admit we don’t know. We stop asking the why questions.

Practice each day asking yourself why? Why do things happen? Why do we do things this way? Remember to also ask “What” questions. Look for what could be that you have not created yet.

Daydream more.

The dream state is one in which all things are possible. The laws of time and space do not apply in the dream. In daydreaming things that appear unconnected may suddenly reveal their connection. Daydreaming increases the possibilities. Logical thinking reduces possibilities and make them conform to the known rules of how things have worked so far.

Learn all you can.

Little children, many of them, are sponges. They are constantly learning. Remember that old saying that people use only a small portion of their brain. Truth is that we use all our brain but there are vast spaces where we have put very little. Use the rooms in your brain as workout centers not as hallways leading to the same old conclusions.

Your brain needs furnishing just like your house. Fill your mind with bright shiny ideas and watch the creativity soar.

Apply what you learned one place to somewhere else.

A major source of innovation is taking an idea from one area and applying it somewhere else. Creative people find that taking an interest in other aspects of life increases their creativity.

Nothing is a failure if you did it.

Innovation requires a lot of trying on new things and learning from them. Life experiments need not be failures if you learn from them. Continuing to insist that there is one and only one way to do things keeps you stuck. Consider the risks but make sure you try out new things whenever possible. If you learn from the experiment then it was not failure it was a learning experience.

Curiosity did not kill the cat. Stay curious.

Contrary to popular sayings curiosity did not kill the cat. Being curious is how the cat catches the mouse. You will never find new things if you always look in the same old places. Cats die not from curiosity but from not looking and missing the oncoming car. Keep your eyes open and looking for the unexpected.

What can you make from that pile of stuff?

Our modern throwaway culture has encouraged the concept that we need to get rid of things and then get new. Some things do wear out or become obsolete. What we often forget to do is to “repurpose” the things we have. Reuse and repurpose things for creative solutions.

Things look different depending on where you are standing.

Keep looking from different angles till you see something new. Have a problem or situation that is not working out the way you want it? Try looking at it from all possible perspectives. Ask a lot of what-if questions.

Play well with others – be a team.

Most of the great inventions we praise as breakthroughs were the result of one person building on another’s work. Creativity is not plagiarizing or copying but it is seeing the merit in an idea and then making your contribution on top of that idea. Teams are often more creative than individuals. They can each see things from a new angle with a different knowledge base.

Want to be more creative? Spend some time with other people exploring their ideas and knowledge, then see how borrowing their viewpoint would alter the problem or project you are working on.

Don’t censor your thoughts. Let them run free.

Birds look a lot different when they are flying than when they are caged. Ideas do not show themselves to best advantage when forced into rigid rules. Let the idea go where it wants. Do not chase it. Just watch where it goes and make note of how this idea would look if it were allowed to be a free range idea.

Play till you drop. Do not let go of an idea till you wear it out.

Most ideas, especially novel ones, have more applications than they ever get allowed to visit. When you see a new idea, yours or one that is just new to you, play with it. Let it explore your mind. How could this idea change things?

To think hard you need naps.

Pushing harder and longer are OK for routine tasks but for creative endeavors you need your brain working at peak efficiency. Thinking longer and harder does not maximize new thought patterns. Get plenty of rest, take naps or breaks and learn to practice your self-care. A well-rested mind goes running off in new directions.

There are two very different kinds of focus, “pinpoint” or staying on task and diffuse, scanning or looking all around kind of focus. A well-rested mind has the energy to explore new settings and ideas.

Go where everything is new.

Seek out the new and when you are a child it is all new. Reconnect with your child mind.

Novelty promotes creativity. Travel, take a class or explore anything new. Break out of your specialty and explore new topics and disciplines. To maximize creativity learn a new language, or develop a new skill. Take a different route to work or a different mental path.

Is there another way to show you that?

There is no right way to tell your story, sometimes you need to sing or draw it out.

People use different learning styles. Some people learn better by listening, auditory learners. Others learn by seeing, visual learners. Movement, kinesthetic, is the preferred learning system for some. Any time you process information via a new system you can get different results.

Various learning styles make use of different parts and pathways in the brain. For maximum creativity use other parts of your brain. If you read and write a lot try using your visual system and draw out your projects. See if enacting a typical interaction with a client will create new ways of seeing your problem.

Have to? Do not!

Doing what you want to do is more fun than doing what others say you have to. People who love what they do are more productive and creative. Looks for a way to make your job fun. Get reacquainted with the things that made you interested in your occupation in the first place.

Not finding anything to motivate you? Then it may be time for a hobby or vacation. You may also need to switch assignments or positions. Some people find that a period of time working in a different department or on a different task re-energize them. Sometimes it is just time to get retrained for a new segment of your life.

There are some of my suggestions for increasing your creativity and making what you do all those hours we call work more rewarding. Do you have any other suggestions that you could share with the rest of us?

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

 

Stick out and you will get teased or bullied.

By David Joel Miller.

Ever wonder why they pick on you?

Look different?

Looking different gets you teased.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

People who get picked on start to think there is something wrong with them. They write in to my blog and others, asking what is wrong with them. They ask why do people not like them and criticize them. The details are often different but I see a constant theme in these comments and questions. The person who is being picked on starts thinking this has something to do with them.

Humans and animals too like the familiar. They feel more comfortable when everyone is exactly the same. Anything outside the norm gets noticed and frequently that notice is disapproval. The human version of beauty is largely one of extreme average. Any deviation from the norm is downgraded.

People who look differently that others get attacked. So do those who act or talk differently. You can be totally average in all respects but one, that one aspect where you have diverged will be the one that gets noticed. This preference for the average, this teasing of those who are different includes physical, mental, emotional and behavioral characteristics.

There are a few times when fashion dictates that you look “different” but mostly we all want to look different in the same way all our contemporaries do. Tye dye or Goth we all look different in a very average way.

There are a few times when we make exceptions for people who are far enough away from the mean. Really tall men are OK if they play basketball. Very tall women are accepted if they are models. Most of the time though, if you are a few inches taller or a few I.Q. points above average, you will get flack until you find your niche in life. If you can figure out a way to make money off your difference you may get a pass on the teasing. But until you make that money expect the criticism to rain down on you. Even then, just because you become President or Pope, you are not exempt from the attacks on your uniqueness.

Let’s look at some examples things that will get you teased and then some possible solutions to this teasing. There are solutions that work and ones that do not. The ones most people try are the ones that are unlikely to work.

The Physical, Nose, Ears, Eyes and Face

No one gets teased because they have an average nose. Let you nose be too long or too short, too flat or too protruding, that unique nose will get criticized. The nose is an easy target for attack. It stands out from the face and is visible.

Ears are easy targets. They stick out also. Big ears or small ones makes no matter. Girls, who get their ears pierced or don’t get them pierced get teased. So do boys.

Are your eyes the wrong color? Which color is in and which is out? Is your hair right or wrong? What is the “in” thing this year? Facial hair goes in and out. You need the same style and length as everyone else if you want to fit in.

Besides the face, people get teased for their weight. Too skinny or too fat. You need to be very close to average if you want to be acceptable. Busts and butts all seem to get graded. Too big too small, not many just right.

Mental, Emotional and Behavioral differences get you teased.

The kids who need extra help and struggle, whether it is because of a learning disability or just a different learning style, you will get teased. Can’t hear or see, need glasses? You will get the shunning treatment and maybe even get to ride the short bus. That difference will get you teased also.

Say you are really smart, does that get you out of the teasing queue? Not a chance. If you are smart you get teased because you are not athletic. You athletes do not get off either. Remember all the sayings about dumb jocks?

Whether you are very emotional or not emotional at all you will fall outside the norm and being different in any way results in you standing out. Those who stand out get teased.

The solutions that do not work.

Getting surgically altered.

Plastic surgeons can do wonders these days. If you were born with a birth defect or were injured, plastic surgery may be just the thing for you. Unfortunately a lot of people seem to go under the knife for the wrong reasons. Having surgery will not make them stop teasing you or make more people like you. You may look different but you are still you and they will find something else to tease you about.

Notice how many people have multiple surgeries. They expected to be beautiful and loved. When the surgery did not produce the miracle they hoped for they blame the doctor or get another surgery.

Being perfect.

Perfection is an illusion. The more you pursue it the further away it will move. Trying to be perfect and satisfy everyone will please no one. Do not cheat yourself out of a life trying to please others.

Being really good at something.

No matter how many championships you win or how many degrees you have there is always “what you have done lately.” Billionaires still get teased or criticized for their looks or their family.

Eating disorders.

Staving or binging and purging will not get you the positive things you hoped for. A healthy life style is good. Losing some weight may be just what you need to do. But do not think that there is any weight that will get you off the teasing hook. You will just get teased for your diet or exercise plan.

What does work?

Radical acceptance.

Accept yourself as you are. Know that you will get teased and criticized in life. The only people who escape this teasing thing, or maybe they just get less of it than others, are the ones who are totally bland and never stand out in any way. The best way to become a better person is to accept yourself the way you are and them go about become the best you possible.

Successes is the best revenge.

Kids who were teased in elementary school sometimes grow up to be actors, successful businessmen or brilliant scholars. Success is not all about money or power it is also about creating a life full of purpose and happiness. Stop caring about all those comments about you and go out and live the best life possible.

Thanks to the reader who asked why people teased him and how despite surgeries the teasing did not end. I hope that reader and others will find something useful in this post.

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

Secrets of the Parents Club.

By David Joel Miller.

There are parent secrets you can only learn on the job.

Parenting

Parenting
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Parenting is one of the most common tasks on earth. You would think there would be better preparation. Unlike most vocations and avocations parenting has no training required and little provided before you start the job.

There are a few parenting classes, I highly recommend them. I know however that most people do not get into a parenting class until after they are actively participating as parents and discover it is harder than it looks.

Seems like parenting is something like swimming, hard to learn in the classroom and most people are learning this skill by the old fashion method of sink or swim. Below are some secrets that the survivors of the real world parenting boot camps have shared with me.

There are no minor leagues for parents.

Taking a class in being a parent is nice. Being raised in a family with lots of children and helping care for your siblings or relatives is helpful. So is having had some experiences as a baby sitter. None of that prepares you for the challenges of being a parent, especially if you have to do this while working out relationships and having to work a job to support yourself.

Becoming a parent is the equivalent of going from tossing the ball around in first grade to being drafted into a major league. Some time in school athletics and the minors would have helped. Being “drafted” as a parent gives you nine months tops to prepare. Most of your learning will be on the job and you will get hurt a lot. Still if you try really hard there may be a few times you do something right.

You will make mistakes.

There are no perfect parents except in the movies. There you do not see what happens when the camera stops rolling. In real life the role does not end until you are dead and gone. Along the way you just do the best you can.

Studies have suggested if you get more than half of things right your kid will think you did a good job. At least till they become a teenager and decide to try and improve on your efforts.

Do not try to be your kid’s friend.

Having a good relationship with your kids is nice. Remember though that parents need to be parents and kids need to be kids. This precludes you having the kind of relationship your child has with their friends. If you try too hard to their best friend you stop being their parent.

You have to wait for them to learn things.

Pushing too hard can make a child fall down. The old school way was to constantly push kids to do more and be more. Some of that worked. What you need to be careful of is trying to push your child to do things that developmentally they are not ready for. A three-year-old should not be carrying heavy objects and they are not ready for some mental tasks. Expecting a child to act older than they really are is a bad formula. Spend some time learning what a “typical” child should be able to do at what age. Then cut your child some slack. If they are on average doing things they should, they can take longer to learn somethings than others. We all have different skills. If they seem to be falling behind get them professionally evaluated.

Let them be kids.

Drive a car to fast for too long and it will fall apart. I see a lot of clients who were pushed beyond their limits to be prefect as children and then once out of the house they fell apart.

That “playing around” is not a bad thing. Play is a sort of rehearsal for life. Well-adjusted children learn to play so they can enjoy what they do later in life. In your haste to prepare your child for adult life do not take away the joy of living.

Encouraging is not nagging.

Encouragement is pointing out the successes not yelling at them to do more and do better. Saying you believe in them need not convey the message that you will only love them if they win big.

Be slow to point out their mistakes.

If all you ever get is criticism you may think you are incapable and give up. There is such a thing as “learned helplessness” where after a while, when nothing you do is adequate, you stop trying. Do not teach your child that no matter how hard they try then will never measure up.

Be fast to recognize your mistakes.

As a parent you will make mistakes. Accept that. Learn from that. Doing the thing that is not working over and over will not change the child. It will wear you and them out. Learn from your child and from others. Practice your parenting skills and you will get better. The truth is that the youngest children have very different parents than their older siblings.

They will change.

Children change whether you want them to or not. Just about the time you figure them out they will have changed. But then often the child thinks this same thing about the parent. The person you were ten years ago is not who you are now or who you will be ten years from now. Neither is your child.

Your answers will not work for them.

You had to find your way in life, hopefully you are there now. If not keep working on you. Your child will need to do the same. You may be good at music and they have no interest what so ever. Or they may have your interest but like a form of music you can’t stand. That is the way it works.

Occasionally we see a person that is in the family business or who is a third or fourth generation professional in the same field. That is rare. What is more common is parents who push their child into their footsteps and the path does not fit that child. Let them explore and find their own way.

Once they start to think they will come up with new stuff.

A common parent mistake is to try to tell your children to think for themselves and then be horrified at the things they think. Your children are living in a different world than you did. They will grow up with technology you will struggle to keep up with.

This attraction to and willingness to accept new ideas is not limited to technology. Accept that the next generation will experiment with new ideas. Some will work and some will not. Old is good but so is new. There needs to be a balance. Rejecting your hobby or your ideas does not have to equal a rejection of you. Do not think that because your child thinks about new things that invalidates you.

The stuff will not make them love you.

A whole lot of adults fell into the trap of thinking that working hard to give their kids the things they never had as children will make their child happier and healthier. That does not work.

Ten, twenty, thirty years from now most kids will not remember the exact thing you bought them. They will remember the time you spent or did not spend with them. Remember to give love and time as much or more than your give things.

Popular does not last, hard work does.

There is a time in school when being popular and with the in crowd matters. The life lesson we mostly learn is that who is in and why can change in an instant.

That popular person in the senior class in high school may be not so popular three months later when you start college. The in musical group or politician may be out tomorrow. Popularity is a lot about others. Those who stay at the top over the long haul work really hard at what they do. They have talent but talent is hugely about how many hours you practice what you do. Talents grow with use.

Feelings will change.

Feelings can and should change. This is a real life. Some days are better than others. Do not think that the way you feel now will be the way you will feel some other time. We used to think of childhood as the happy time, free of responsibilities, and then as an adult you had to struggle. Nowadays that is upside down. Many kids struggle with anxiety, depression or loneliness. Then when we get to be older life is happier. Not because you have everything, may elderly have much less than before, but you just start to appreciate what you have and don’t care so much what others think.

There will be life after children.

From the first day you have a child in your life, or even the day you know you will have one, your life changes. You think a lot about your child all that time. Then one day that child leaves you and you have to think about what will happen next. Some couples go through a crisis then. They spent more than half their life doing things for their children and now they can’t figure out what to do together for with the rest of their life. As important as your children are you need to still have a life that you will want when the kids are gone.

Some of you will try to substitute being grandparents for being parents. Being active in your grandchildren’s life is good, but remember you can’t take over the role of being your grandchild’s parent. You need to let your children parent their children and then the whole cycle starts over.

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

Stop trying to push the wall – self-defeating behaviors.

By David Joel Miller.

Do you keep trying to push that wall out of your way?

Trying to push the wall

Pushing the Wall
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

You can waste a lot of time trying to push things out of your way that are not about to move. Insisting that things be the way you want them to be and expecting others to fix you can be ways of staying stuck in the unhappy life you have been living. Continuing to insist on the way things need to be is like trying to push over the wall. You expend a lot of energy but in the end you are the one who gets knocked down.

How many of these self-defeating behaviors have you been engaging in?

Complaining about the way things are.

Complaining can feel good when you are doing it. The trouble with that behavior is that it keeps you stuck where you are. The more energy you put into complaining about what is the less strength you have to take action and change the situation.

Insisting others need to change for you to be happy.

Your happiness can not depend on others. Work on you. Change who you are and how you see things and others will have to change to keep up with you. If you create a happy life you provide the push others may need to begin to change. Be the change you want to see in others.

Playing the blame game.

Whose fault it is only matters in court. Sometimes not even then. Focus on who can solve this problem, generally that is you. If you can’t change it then you need to accept it. I wanted rain today. We didn’t get it. Is that Gods fault or should I be out planting drought resistant plants? See how that works?

Blaming your life on where you are.

This is often called a “geographic” solution. You can’t be a great artist where you live. You need to move to Paris. Trouble is you do not speak French. Solution? Become the best artist you can be where you are. Learn French for that someday you move there after you become a famous artist.

This formula works for lots of things. People tell me that they can’t quit drinking or drugging because of the neighborhood they live in, like there is somewhere that you can move where there is not drugs and alcohol. Work on what you can change and do not blame were you are for your defects. It also helps if you are working on changing the place you find yourself in.

Expecting things to go your way.

Life does not always go the way we want it to. People who create a happy, successful life do not always get everything they want. Actually the happiest people may have had the most to overcome. Develop the ability to bounce back no matter what happens and eventually things will start looking up.

Thinking someone is your missing part.

Two sick people can’t make a healthy relationship. I am not talking about physical or even mental illness here. People who struggle with challenges in life can learn ways to be the best people they can be. Do not expect to find a perfect person to complete you. Become the best person possible and you will attract the kind of people you want into your life.

Unhappy people tend to jump into relationships thinking it is the other person’s job to make them happy. Before long they are feeling angry and hurt, that other person let them down.

Right fighting.

You can waste a lot of your life insisting that you are right even when you are wrong. Let other people have their opinions. When others are wrong let them be wrong. Believe me, in life you will have lots of chances when you stop at rest points to look back and see the places you went wrong. Let others have that same opportunity. You do not always need to be right. You do need to understand why others do not agree with you.

Focusing on what others think about you.

Some people will like you and some won’t. What others think about you is really none of your concern. The more you do in life the more you will be criticized. If you do nothing you will still be criticized.

Do the best you can. But do not do it for the acclaim of others. There will always be some people around you that you can’t please no matter what. Accept they are the way they are and work on you. Consider the feedback of others but do not let them determine your goals, values or your self-esteem.

Believing you have to be perfect.

There are no perfect humans. We all make errors. It is required to make errors in life. Learn from your errors but be gentle with yourself. Trying to be perfect is like trying to push the mountain out of your way using brut force. It will never happen. Set a more realistic goal. Be the best you can. Learn and practice your skills but also accept the inevitability of your errors. Making errors does not make you bad, it makes you human.

Trying to drive while looking in the rear view mirror.

An occasional glance back in the mirror can be helpful. It is good to see how far you have come. But if you are stuck in the past always looking back for the good old days you let life’s todays slip by you headed for the past with no living done.

Past pain may have left scars but it does not mean that you need to continue to live in that pain.

Being afraid to watch the movie because you do not know how it will end.

Life is full of surprises. You have to try things. Some will turn out well and some will be – you know – another learning experience. Sure you should take into account the risks in life but do not let the uncertainties of life keep you from living.

The best endings in life as in the movies are often surprises. You can’t take all the risk out of life without taking out a lot of moments that will take your breath away.

Worrying about the future instead of preparing.

Worry by itself does not change anything. Trying to anticipate all the things that could go wrong leaves you helpless and anxious. Plan for the future knowing that things you did not foresee can always happen. Worry keeps you stuck in the problem. Prepare for the possibilities and then live life.

Being afraid to get off the beaten path.

The great rewards in life often fall to those who took a new path. Invent something, go somewhere new and try something you have never done to get the most out of life. The conventional path is often the boring one. Be the real you.

Letting fear keep you from doing things keeps you from growth. We learn best when exposed to things we never knew existed. What could you do if you could do anything? What would you be if all possible states of being were open to you?

Putting off your dreams until someday.

There is no someday. It is always today. You are living your life preparing for what will be. Enjoy to journey of life or you will regret the end. Dream big or dream small but continue to dream and then make those dreams a reality. The hugest of dreams can begin with small, day by day actions. Someday may never come but you will always have today. Make today the day that good things happen in your 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

Excuses that keep you stuck.

By David Joel Miller.

These excuses will keep things from ever getting better.

Are you stuck

Stuck
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Things in your life are not right. You know your life could be better but you talk yourself out of doing anything. Are you making excuses that allow things to stay the same? Are you cheating yourself out of the fulfilling life you could have? Here are some of the common ways people alibi their inaction and keep themselves stuck. How many of these thinking errors do you practice?

Things are not that bad.

Do you tell yourself that things are not THAT bad? That they could be worse. Clearly the opposite of the best thing for you is not-that-bad things that could be better but you allow to stay unchanged.

I don’t know where to start.

That is a sneaky excuse. It tries to make you think there is something else you need to know before you can start on anything.  You always start where you are. You start at the beginning and keep going. Taking a trip to a strange place? Get a map, talk to a travel guide or someone who has been there. Ask questions.

Same thing for life. Don’t know how to begin? Seek out someone who can help you. A counselor or therapist a friend or mentor. The trip to recovery land begins when you decide to leave where you are.

You need to be born with talent.

Talents are like seeds. When you were born you were given a whole lot of seeds stored away in your brain. The ones you plant and nurture will grow. You will never know how much talent you have unless you practice a skill to develop it to its fullest. Some people discover, in their retirement years, they had talents they never knew they had. What could they have done with those talents is they had nurtured them sooner?

I will never be as good as so and so.

Probably not. But then you will probably never be as bad as some other people. Comparing yourself to others is an exercise in mental avoidance. (You thought I was going to use another word didn’t you?)

There is no point in comparing yourself to others. You will never be them. But then Benjamin Franklin was no Michelangelo either. Shakespeare was no Chaucer. No one is ever anyone else. You need to be you and do the best you can. You will never know just how good you could be if you don’t try.

Things are just fine the way they are.

If you really believe that try just sitting where you are for the rest of your life. Will that work? No. You need to get up and move around. You need to work and laugh and play. Life is about the journey. If you do noting things are not likely to stay fine. They are likely to get worse. Keep making you and your life better and see where you end up.

I will do it someday.

There are seven days in the week and none of them are Someday. Someday never comes. It is always today. Do not wait till you can spend full-time working on your dream. That day may never come. Life is all those things you experience while waiting for Someday to arrive.

It is no big deal.

It should be. This is your life. You should matter. Start by making your life matter to you. Everything is a big deal when you can’t do it anymore.

Things might get worse.

They might. But then do nothing and I can pretty much guarantee they will get worse. Things keep going in the direction they are going unless something like gravity or time bends them. Your actions can be the force that changes the trajectory of your life.

I will probably fail.

Telling yourself you will fail does not protect you from failure. Want to fail big? Do nothing. Not studying is the best way to fail a test. Do not turn in your assignment and you get a zero. Do it and you will get at least some points. In life doing something is almost always better than doing nothing.

Not sure what the risks are? Don’t let your mind try to protect you by inventing humongous possible consequences. Talk with experts, coaches and mentors and see what the real situation is.

I might have to give something up.

You will eventually have to give everything up. You will never know what you could have had if you had gone for it. Most people have a whole lot of things, physical and habit wise that are cluttering up your life. To make room for anything new we always end up having to get something out of our lives. Pick the things you want to jettison before you run out of room and nothing more good can ever enter your life.

Change is hard.

Staying the same can be hard also. Yes change is hard sometime, especially that first step but once you step out you will find that the movement gets easier the farther you go. Anything worth doing talks effort and the most valuable things sometimes take the most effort.

Do things over and over till they become automatic habits and they become easy. The alphabet and writing were hard in the early grades, for most of us it is easy now. Skills are all hard in the beginning but you would be surprised how quickly you can learn a new skill.

I don’t have the time for that.

You don’t have time to not do new valuable things to improve your life. You only have so much time and then time runs out. Spend that time budget of yours wisely before all your time is gone and you regret never having done those things that might have made your life worth living.

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