Healthy things to do when you are alone.

By David Joel Miller.

You wanted alone time – now what?

Time Alone

Time Alone
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Are you like the rest of us? Your life is hectic? You wish the kids or the spouse would leave you alone? At work if it isn’t the boss it is the coworkers or the customers that are always after you?

Is it hard to find some alone “ME” time?

When you do get that alone time, do you start feeling lonely or restless and wondering what to do? Then do you go looking for someone to take your mind off being alone? Being alone should not mean being lonely. In some other posts we have talked and will talk again about how to cure that chronic feeling of loneliness that some people experience every time they do get some alone time.

Should you be gifted with some time alone, to yourself, try to make the most of that time.

Here is a list I have complied of things to do when the pressures of life suddenly stop and that me time materialized. This list is things I do, things others have told me they do and things that self-help books have recommended. If you have others to contribute to this list, send it on.

Do nothing.

Are you a chronic workaholic? Doing nothing can be a challenge. If your car was driven nonstop for months on end things would start breaking. It needs some down time and some maintenance. So do you.

Some of you, you know who you are, feel guilty when you are not doing something. Learning to relax and distress can be a challenge. Sitting doing nothing does not mean you are wasting time.

Force yourself to do nothing and see if it doesn’t feel like something you could get used to. If it is really uncomfortable you can pick something else farther down the list.

Pick a minimalist activity.

Fishing is good for guys. We sometimes call it getting your line wet. I see men sit down, put their line in the water and wait all day for a fish to bite. Does it matter that no one has caught a fish in this body of water for years? Not really. It is not the catching that maters but the time spent alone contemplating whatever comes to mind that is important.

Bird watching can be another good minimalist activity. Careful now, do not become fanatical about this and start taking trips to the North Pole for that rare bird you have never seen.

I can sit for hours in my yard, though I rarely do, and watch the birds. I know precisely which birds I will see most of the time, but that does not distract from the pleasure of watching them in their daily activities.

Take up meditation.

Meditation does not mean you need to adopt an eastern religion. There are many varieties of meditation. Simply learning to observe that you are thinking, watch that thought run through your head and then let it go without the need to chase it down is a way of meditating.

There are other simple meditations that can help you learn to clear your mind and develop better focus without the need to chase after an unquiet mind.

Restart things you used to like to do.

Are their activates you used to do before you became so adult and so busy? Did you like to read just for the pleasure of it? Did you used to draw or ride a bike? Think about reactivating pursuits you used to enjoy. Read a book, sing a song, learn or recite a poem.

Having a hobby that you do for pleasure not for profit or prestige can return joy to an over busy life.

Take a walk.

Walking is good for your health, physical and mental. It increases metabolism and reduces depression. It is not the speed that matters or the distance; it is the getting out in the fresh air and moving that will show benefits in many areas of your life.

Work on yourself.

Spend time on yourself. Some people journal others talk with a sponsor or close friend. Consider your goals and your values. Are all the things you do taking you closer to where you want to be or are they needless activity. Why are you working on making money and pleasing others so that someday you can do what you want? Make an effort to include this self-improvement program in your life now.

Make up a gratitude list.

Making a gratitude list is one of those great ideas that most of us never have time to do. When you have some down time it is good to take stock of your life. Like any good inventory your personal look at yourself should include inventorying all those things that are good in your life.

What are the things you feel bless your life? Do you take the time to enjoy those things you wanted and worked for?

Take yourself somewhere.

Are there places you would like to go or things you want to do but there is no one who will do them with you? Take yourself places. Create enjoyable memories with yourself.

Call a friend.

When there is nothing you absolutely must do, try doing some things you want to do, call a friend or send them an email. Do this just to chat and stay in touch. Avoid calls that involve things you have to do like setting appointments or saying thank you for past favors.

Make a list of the happy times in your life.

It is way too easy to remember the pains of life but the happy memories, they get lost in the shuffle. When you are alone take the time to reflect on those things that stand out in your memories. What was the best time you ever had? Think about the way you might reminisce with a friend or love one and take that tour down memory lane all by yourself.

Travel.

Travel does not need to be those gigantic once in a life time events, though they can be if you chose. Make time to explore the out-of-the-way places close to home. Take a drive, visit a museum, see the zoo or just walk in a place that you have never been.

Not sure what places near home you might want to visit? Take a virtual tour and do a web search on places near your home. It is amazing that we might live around the corner from something tourists come to see but we never take ourselves there.

Stay tuned for more suggestions on things to do when you have some time to yourself. In the mean time – have you found anything that works for you in those times between work and rushing to the next thing? Willing to share?

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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

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Excess Medications – Poor Sleep linked to Dementia and Alzheimer’s?

By David Joel Miller.

New research is linking a lot of factors with cognitive decline.

Came across some interesting research recently about factors that may be increasing people’s risk of cognitive decline.  Both excessive medication and sleep problems appear to be risk factors for memory and thinking problems. We are a long way from any final answers when it comes to cognitive decline but some of this research is so convincing that I wanted to share it with you.

Poor sleep in the first few hours of the night, the time when memories and thoughts are processed and stored appears to be connected to eventual dementia. Low levels of oxygen also increased this risk.

There is a brief article on this research at PSYBLOG

One study does not make for final answers. This study was on only Japanese men and done in Hawaii. It made the connection between the poor sleep, low oxygen and dementia but did not find a connection to subsequent development of Alzheimer’s. The source for the research? Published at Neurology.

So is the answer to this poor sleep and cognitive decline to put more people, seniors in particular on sleep medications? Not really.

Turns out that many seniors are being badly over medicated. The older you get the more likely it is that a doctor will prescribe sleep medications or anti-anxiety medications. The increase in anti-anxiety meds is troubling as research has told us that many seniors become less anxious not more so as they age.

The National Institute of mental Health published an article titled – Despite Risks, Benzodiazepine Use Highest in Older People.

This article reported on research into the prescribing of Benzodiazepines for older adults. The older you get the more likely it is that your doctor will prescribe a benzodiazepines for either poor sleep or anxiety. As you age you are more likely to be prescribed higher doses, for longer periods of time.

Most of these Benzodiazepines were prescribed by primary care doctors rather than by psychiatrists. Now here is the problem with that.

Taking lots of Benzodiazepines appears to increase your risk for developing Alzheimer’s. The more you take the higher the risk. Take these meds for 180 days or more and your risk of developing Alzheimer’s DOUBLES, or so this one study tells us.

The text of this article published is on PubMed.

There is another reason to be concerned about this high use of Benzodiazepines among seniors. That is the interaction between Alcohol and Benzodiazepines. We know from the experiences in the substance abuse treatment field that as we age the body’s ability to remove chemicals from your body declines. Any drug use by the elderly is risky. Just because the drugs are prescription ones does not eliminate the risks.

We also know that a large part of drug overdose deaths are the result of the interaction of alcohol and Benzodiazepines. People are tempted to use alcohol to sleep and when this is done to excess the result is poor sleep not improved sleep.

What is the solution?

Please do not suddenly stop taking prescribed medications based on this blog post or any other online source. If in doubt talk with your doctor. Do all you can to manage your health concerns, get that diabetes or heart condition under control. Lose weight, all those other health things you know you should do. No pill is a substitute for a healthy lifestyle.

Consider all those things that we loosely refer to as “sleep hygiene.” There are lifestyle changes that can help you sleep better. Also if emotional problems are impacting your sleep or causing you anxiety or depression, consider counseling or therapy for those mental health issues. You do not need to be “mentally ill” to benefit from counseling.

Science has not given us a cure for cognitive decline just yet, that may never happen. It is possible to do everything right and still develop some cognitive loss. But until we have a better answer to this problem do all you can to reduce the risks and get more mileage out of that brain of yours.

P. S. There have been a couple of broke links in these posts recently. Who knew that links could be so fragile? If you find a bad link please let me know and I will tempt to fix it.

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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

What is the Sandwich method to present bad news?

By David Joel Miller

Some ways to deliver bad news are better than others.

How to deliver bad news.

How to deliver bad news.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

If you need to give someone bad news – can you do it in a way that leaves the relationship intact? We all have times when we need to give someone bad news. Putting off that news may seem like the kind or safe thing to do but eventually it needs to be done. Delaying only makes it harder.

The sandwich method of requesting change.

One highly effective way to tell someone bad news without inflicting relationship damage is called the sandwich method. In the sandwich method there is statement about what you values in the relationship, then the request for change followed by a statement of support for the person you have asked to change.

Here are some examples of how the sandwich technique could be used to good effect. First in a work setting and then in your home life. In both cases the bad news is coupled with a request that the other person change something.

A supervisor has to tell a worker to change.

The supervisor discovers he has to have a talk with an employee about their errors in using a new computer system. This is a common problem in most places that use computers. Some people learn new systems faster than others. Systems keep changing. A few people just never seem to get it.

The common but wrong way to deliver criticism.

The supervisor calls the employee in and chews the employee out.

Bob (or Mary, fill in any name here) you work is awful. You are hopeless, the worst person in the whole department. If you do not stop making all these computer errors I will need to write you up. Repeated failure to fix this problem will result in your termination. This is the last time I will talk to you before I start the process to get rid of your worthless rear end.

Has the supervisor been clear? Maybe. How does Bob feel about this now? Motivated to fix things? Maybe. But Bob is not be likely to go out of his way to do much beyond the minimum to get by. And Bob will probably carry a resentment towards this supervisor from now on.

How the sandwich technique can help motivate others.

In the sandwich formula the “bad news” or complaint is placed between two positive messages.

Supervisor calls Bob in and starts off with a review of the things Bob does well. “Bob I really appreciate all the hard work you do around here. Your work on the project last month was great. There is one area I need you to work on though. Your error rate on the new computer system is really high and management is emphasizing that we need everyone to get up to speed on using the new system. Is there anything we can do to help you improve your accuracy on the new system? I know all the times you have pitched-in in the past and feel sure you will find a way to get proficient on the new system.

How might Bob feel now? Is he more willing to try to improve his computer accuracy? Why doesn’t every management person use this method if this is so effective?

There are some management people who feel all workers are lazy, but then there are employees who think that all managers are unreasonable. There is a temptation when things go wrong to take our frustrations out on others. Beating someone up, standing over them, and threatening them may get the work done in the short run but as soon as the supervisors back is turned the effect wears off.

Using the sandwich method allows the message to come through, we need you to change or fix this, but it also conveys the message that the person receiving this bad news is still valued as a human being and that you want to cooperate on making things better.

How to ask for change from your child.

Your child brings home a test with an “F” grade.

You might “set this child straight.” Let them know that poor school work is unacceptable, that if they want to ruin their life you will not be a part of this. That no child of yours will be allowed to be this stupid. Say something like “I can’t believe you are such a moron.”

Is this likely to be helpful? Did it work with you? A few of you are saying yes this kind of treatment jolted you into working harder, but most people who experience this kind of treatment get discouraged and give up trying. Especially if they had studied and failed the test anyway.

The sandwich method would involve telling the child that you love them and are proud of them. That most of the time they do great things. That this score is disappointing to you and you expect them to study more and improve that grade. You would end this sandwich with some support and saying that you know that they are a good child and that you are sure they will put in the effort and do the beast they can. Something added like that you love them no matter what grade they get would also be helpful.

Both interactions, hopefully convey the message “you need to study more and improve that grade” but in one the emphasis is on the child not being OK while in the sandwich method you are inserting the message “improve your work” in this subject area with other messages about the child being a good person and you living them regardless. You are also expressing your belief that the child can succeed.

I shouldn’t have to compliment people to get them to do what they are supposed to do. No you shouldn’t. But then you don’t have to say please and thank you but those social graces, being nice to others makes interactions between other humans a lot more pleasant. Encouragement is effective and beatings, verbal or physical, stop working after a while. No one likes a person who tries to motivate by abuse. Besides making you more likable the sandwich method is more effective in motivating people to do things.

Tell someone that they are worthless and they live down to that label. Give them hope and self-respect and most people will make every effort to make the people who support them proud.

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

How to enjoy being alone.

By David Joel Miller.

People stressing you out? Learn to enjoy being alone.

Alone

Alone
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Are you really busy all week? One thing after another to do and most of those things involve doing things for and to please other people? Then suddenly your rapid pace comes to a stop, a day off, a holiday, and you start feeling lonely?

How can you learn to enjoy that time alone?

That down feeling may not be a bad thing.

When all day every day is a rush to do with not a minute to yourself you may miss the subtle cues that you are over tired. Accept that feeling exhausted when you are alone does not say anything bad about being alone, it tells you that the rest of your life you are too focused doing and have not taken the time to let yourself rest.

You need down time to de-stress and relax. Use your alone time to rest and relax, not to catch up on the household chores. Alone time is the perfect chance to practice gentle kindness and self-care.

Use alone time to take stock of where you are.

Staying busy may be a way to avoid looking at yourself, your situation and where you want to go. Allow yourself adequate time to just relax and be you. When you are not pushing to make things happen sometimes a thought will pop into your head. Pay attention to those relaxed insights.

Down time should be a time for reflection and charting your course. When you are surrounded by others the focus is on what they want. Alone time is a chance to focus on what you want and were you are going.

Do something you have wanted to do and put off.

Is there something you have been wanting to do but can’t ever seem to fit into your hectic schedule? Use that down time to do something for you and only you. Read a book, go for a drive. Sit in that yard you worked to care for and watch the birds.

Let yourself feel.

Staying busy and engaging with other people is one of the prime way most of us keep ourselves occupied without getting much accomplished. Busy masks feelings. When you are running from place to place and person to person you may be forgetting to notice how you feel. Feelings are not bad things to be kept at bay by constant activity. Feelings should provide valuable information.

Use your down time to let yourself feel. Notice the positive happy things in your life. Not much happiness? Then use that down time to evaluate how you can change you and get more happiness out of the life you live.

Practice your personal skills.

Much of your life with other people is spent on practicing your group skills. Sometimes groups can be productive and helpful, but not all the time. Some things are best done by one and only one person.

Groupthink is no substitute for developing your personal cognitive skills. A group can exercise together and the group support is good sometimes, but there are lots of times that you need to do the exercise yourself if you are going to get the benefits. Use your alone time to work on you.

Use alone time to tackle tasks that require strong concentration.

Anything that requires sustained concentration will benefit from being done during your alone time. People are nice, social skills are valuable, some of the time. But for tasks that require heavy-duty concentration being alone is the ticket.

During your alone time practice your thinking skills.

Thinking is not the same thing as rumination. A common mistake people make when alone is to spend their time thinking about what is wrong and turning the things that bother them over and over in their mind.

Effective use of alone time for thinking is best spent on thinking about what could be, set goals and clarify values. Take stock of your life but do not judge. Toss the “shoulds and the musts” and focus on the “where you want to go and what you will need to do to get there’s.”

Get your life back in balance.

Life is a balancing act between extroverted and introverted activities. We all need some time around others to be mentally healthy. We also need some time off stage and alone to keep our mental balance.

Even the most strongly extroverted people can benefit from some alone time to get to know themselves and achieve that more balanced place.

You can work on becoming your own best friend.

Use your alone time to get in touch with who you are and what you like. Avoid being a pale reflection of others and develop your inner self.

You can learn to please yourself and live for you.

Too much time surrounded by others, particularly others you need to please, will result in not pleasing yourself. Time alone lets you get clear on your wants and needs and allows you to practice making yourself happy.

Happiness is not an outside job, no one can make you happy in the lone run. Living an authentic life the life you know you were meant to live will maximize your happiness the long run.

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 you have a drinking problem?

How would you know if you have a drinking problem?

By David Joel Miller

Alcohol

Alcohol
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

How would you know if you or someone close to you had a drinking problem? Drink too much and there will be ill effects, maybe a hangover or worse. If this happens once you or someone you know may think this was an accident, a miscalculation or an experience that will not happen again.

So how might you determine that your drinking has moved from having fun to something that needs attention?

There are several screening tools professionals use to evaluate a drinking problem and to see if occasional drinking has passed over into the realm of problem drinking. One of the simpler and easier to explain ways of assessing, determining if your drinking has become a problem, is to use the CAGE tool. This can be done as a self assessment or it can be questions one person might ask another.

Take a look at the description below and see if you or someone you are concerned about may have developed a drinking problem that needs attention. For these questions I will say you and you can decide if this is a question you need to ask yourself or if you will be asking someone else.

CAGE –

One of the most common alcohol screening tools lists the things you should be looking at to see if there is a problem with Alcohol consumption. Originally developed by Ewing and Rouse in the 1970’s this simple screen has been taught in alcoholism counseling classes and used in various forms for almost 50 years and remains as effective now as it was when it was first created.

C – Cut down or Control

Have you ever tried to control your drinking? Do you feel the need to control how much you drink, when you drink or why you drink? Have you ever thought that you drinking was excessive? Have you ever decided to limit your drinking?

Thinking that you need to cut down or control your drinking all bad signs. People do not normally try to control or cut down on something that is not casing them a problem. If once you decide to try to control your drinking you find that it is harder to control than you expected, your drinking problem may be worse than you realized.

Loss of control and cravings for a substance are hallmarks of a developing problem relationship with any substance or activity.

A – Annoyed at people who criticized your drinking.

Over time problem drinkers get into conflicts with others, family and friends may remind you of things you did while drinking. They may even tell you that you did things you do not remember doing. In other posts I described some of the reasons people do not remember what they did while drinking or they remember things that never happened. See Blackouts and Why you remember things that never happened.

G – Guilty

Ever feel guilty about things you did while drinking? This suggests that not only do you have a problem with your drinking but that it has begun to affect others. Guilt is an emotion that should function to let you know you are doing things that you should not be doing. The way to eliminate guilt is to stop doing things that will make you feel guilty.

Having done something you regret does not automatically make you a bad person. The key to improved self-respect is to stop doing things that do not make you proud.

E- Eye-opener

Ever need an eye-opener first thing in the morning?

Needing more of a substance to cope with the effects of use the night before suggests that your usage has gone from a small problem to a much larger one. At this point you may have developed a chemical or psychological dependence on the substance.

Using more of a chemical to reduce to effects of the drug wearing off is the result of withdrawals. All withdrawals do not include severe physical symptoms. Some withdrawal effects can be psychological like moodiness, depression or anxiety.

Did you say yes to any of these questions? Does someone you care about exhibit these behaviors? Then it may be time for a change.

In addition to the CAGE tool there are a number of other screening instruments that can detect problematic use of a substance or problems with behaviors. Commonly used screening or assessment tools include the MAST, SMAST, AUDIT, and CRAFFT. All of which are longer and more detailed than the CAGE.

If there are issues that you need to deal with, especially issues involving problems with drug or alcohol use, consider talking with a doctor or counseling professional about help for these issues.

Not everyone needs to enter rehab for a substance use disorder or a behavioral issue but without help, mental and emotional issues, like physical illness, tend to get worse over time.

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

Family Counseling for Family Problems

By David Joel Miller

Can counseling help family issues?

Family Problems
Family Problems
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Every family has some family problems soon or later. Some of these family problems are more serious than others. Most families try to work out their family issues without help from professionals. If you have tried the usual ways of dealing with or avoiding the problems in your family now might be a good time to think about some family therapy.

Families may have difficulties that are unique at least in the specifics, but there are some common issues that bring families to counseling. Here is a list of some of the more common family problems that might benefit from seeing a counselor.

  1. You have old personal issues that need to be dealt with.

In the rosy glow of a new relationship you may think that now your life will be better, your problems are solved. What most couples find is that it takes two mentally and emotionally healthy people to make for a healthy relationship.

If one or both of the members of this couple have unresolved life problems, they are on their way to creating an unhealthy relationship. People with serious mental illnesses can get together and develop a great relationship, but one requisite for that is that each of those two people need to work on themselves and their problem.

If one of you has “anger issues” or a substance use problem that old issue is sure to move from being one party’s problems to being a family problem.

  1. Trouble untying the knots to their family of origin and creating a new family.

Creating a new family unit requires navigating the sea of changing relationships from being a child in one family to being the adult in another family. Some parents find it hard to let loose of their married children. Some people new in a relationship keep pulling their past family into the mix.

Calling your parents or your siblings, even your friends to discuss every piece of couple’s relationship is likely to create a cluttered and uncomfortable relationship.

Cultures and families are or different. Some stay close forever and some quickly separate and become independent adults. If you and your partner are not in agreement on the role of parents and relatives in your new family this can create tremendous friction.

When disagreements and family problems arise, running to your family for advice and consolation can create the situation of alliances. Once you complain to your family about your new spouse you have poisoned the relationship. Do not expect to tell others your partners faults and then for them forgive them when you do.

Arguments over whose family to involve in holiday celebrations and which family’s routines and rituals to adopt are common family relationship problems.

  1. You are not on the same page about where your family is going.

In new relationships there are lots of expectations. There are generally a raft of things you forget to question or discuss. If religion is important to one member of the new couple, how does the other person feel? This is rarely something that will just work itself out as time goes on. Add children and the conflict grows.

If one person is a drinker or a drug user and the other person is in recovery this becomes a huge issue. Are you two in agreement about the role partying and drinking will play in your couple’s life? If one of you quit will the other quit also or will they sabotage your recovery to enable their continued use of substance of abuse.

  1. Your love fantasy can’t stand reality.

When you first fall in love you tend to idealize your new partner. The man is Prince Charming the woman is Cinderella. That all fades as the magic dust wears off.

Prince Charming turns into the troll and Cinderella becomes the ugly step sister. If you had an unrealistic expectation of your partner and of what family life with them would be like, you are headed for trouble.

  1. Stressful times cause family issues.

Life is full of stress. Being a family can make for more stress not less. Sharing the burden can lighten the loads but the load gets heavy the longer you carry it. What will happen to your relationship when life drops its stress on your couple relationship?

Unemployment, sickness, economic hardship are all likely in life. Some days are good ones and some are not.

  1. Lifespan events magnify family problems.

Certain events happen whether you are prepared for them or not. Couples have children and the children grow and change. Or you plan on children and they do not materialize. Jobs come and go. You grow older. What used to be fun isn’t any more. Then one day you begin to grow older. The children leave the nest and you wonder what happened to the person you married. What happened to you?

  1. Creating a family ended the couple.

Some couples discover that in the process of creating a family they lost the relationship between them. The years go by and if you do not work on being a couple you may find that you have nothing left once the children leave.

Some people compensate for this by trying to stay a part of their children’s lives. They can become the over involved meddling parents that caused them problems early on. Other people separate or divorce. With no children left they can’t find anything they still have in common.

  1. Baggage and Blending create family problems.

So you get together and you break up and then you get together again? In this process rather than reducing your pile of problems you may well increase them.

Certainly there are great second marriages. But each partner comes with a set of problems and changing partners does not eliminate your problems, it just offers you more issues to work on.

Now you have not just yours, mine and ours problems, but also exes and their new spouse problems along with step and half and so on family issues.

If these or other family problems are distressing you and your family consider getting professional help. An independent third person in the room can facilitate talking through and resolving your family issues. Marriage and Family therapists are specially trained in working to help families create their happy life.

Does your family have family problems you need to work through?

For more posts on Family issues see:  Family Problems

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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 win the argument and lose the relationship

By David Joel Miller

The way you fight may permanently damage your relationships

Couple fighting

Couple fighting
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Some couples argue and then they make up. Other couples do so much damage when they argue that the relationship is permanently damaged. Stuffing your feelings and not asking to have your needs met is no option. But there are ways to disagree without permanently wrecking that relationship.

If you find that when you win the argument you lose the close relationship you wanted, look to see if you are doing any of these destructive things when you and your partner argue.

Here are 10 destructive things to avoid when you argue.

  1. Personal attacks

Talk about behavior not personalities. Ask for the change you want. Tell the other person about how you feel and own that these are your feelings.

No not go on the attack, call them names or make global judgments. Personal attacks damage your partner and the relationship.

  1. Name calling

In the heat of the argument it is easy to call someone a name. You are feeling hurt and what to hurt them back. Calling names incites the other person to do the same. That name calling damages the relationship and invites them to retaliate any way they can in response.

  1. Saying the thing you know will hurt them the most

The argument is raging on and you want to get even. Resist the temptation to say the thing that will hurt the other person the most. Most of us know things about our partners, past mistakes, insecurities, triggers for painful emotions. When you are arguing there is this temptation to say the thing that will hurt them the most.

Know that should you give in and do the damage, the relationship is the most likely victim.

  1. Stonewalling – Refusing to talk to them – the silent treatment

Giving your partner a cold shoulder leads to a very chilly relationship. You may feel like you are winning the argument at the moment but down the road refusing to communicate ends future communication.

  1. Not listening to what the other person says.

When there is conflict listening is the first victim. An outside observer will often notice that two people who are disagreeing strongly are in fact talking about two different subjects. Each is so interested in winning the argument they forget to listen to the other person.

If you spend most of your time in a conversation thinking about what you will say next, you are communicating with yourself not the other person.

  1. Bringing up the past

Everyone has a past. Couples have pasts, staying stuck in the past harms your possible future together. Many people hold onto all the mistakes and faults of their partner and when the heat rises they throw all those past events in the other persons face.

Work through those past events. Put them to rest and then leave them there. Continuing to hold onto the past as a weapon for the future prevents any repair of the relationship.

You may use the past to win this argument but you lose the possibilities of a good future when you keep living in the past.

  1. Threats.

Be very careful with threats. If you threaten to much and too often the other person stops believing you. Do not make threats that you do not intend to follow through on. Making treats forces the other person to take action to protect themselves.

What may have started out as a way to win an argument may end as a way to terminate your relationship.

  1. Not admitting your part.

Do not continue to insist on enumerating the things the other person has done wrong as a way to avoid looking at your part. You can’t change your partner. If you could you probably would not like the result. Identify your part in the problem and work on fixing that portion first. Change you and the world will change around you.

  1. Put downs.

Put downs, like name calling, degrade your relationship along with the partner. Why would you want to stay in a relationship with someone you did not respect? Keep putting your partner down and they lose respect for you. Rather than making that other person what to please you they will begin to want to escape you. Put a partner down enough and they will want to be rid of you.

  10. Getting physical.

Get physical with your partner and you will lose. It may result in police and a domestic violence charge. Even if there are no immediate consequences you will feel worse about yourself. The person who uses violence to win an argument may win in the short run but over the long-term the relationship turns from a positive one to one of waiting for an opportunity to get revenge.

Love is the largest casualty of violence.

Have you ever won an argument and found that the cost of that victory was too large? Are you more interested in winning the argument or in preserving the loving relationship?

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