5 Paths to a better relationship.

By David Joel Miller.

Do these things to help create a good relationship.

Couples

Creating a better Relationship
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Couples relationships start off headed in the direction of the bliss and somehow, for so many, they end up in the pit of suffering.  How did your relationship get so far off track? If you’re not sure you may need to take a look at the Relationship Destroyers and see how many of these you are practicing. But regardless of how your relationship got off track, are you ready and willing to take some steps to get headed in the right direction again?

It is easy to slip into blaming your partner, while blame may feel good in the moment it won’t change anything. If you are thinking you want to see some changes consider what changes you want to see and how willing are you to do the work to get this relationship headed in the right direction.

Think of relationships like moving a couch. Really hard for one person to move it very far or fast. But two people together can get the job done. So if you feel like your partner has put their end of the relationship couch down you may need to pick yours up first to help them get willing to make some moves again.

Here are five paths you could consider that may lead to a better relationship.

  1. Good relationships require investing time.

Spend time together if you want to be together. When you first became a couple the two of you spent every moment possible together. Then along the way life happened. You get busy with jobs, children and all kinds of outside commitments. Eventually you had to reestablish your separate life. You had to start doing more and more things without your partner around. Eventually you look up and wonder if you two have any interest in spending time together.

For couples to stay close they need to invest some of that precious time in the relationship.

  1. Figure out where you are going. What do you really want out of this relationship?

Initially the goal of couples is mostly just being together. Most couples never think about what they want from the relationship beyond the together part. Time goes by and then what happens?  You start to wonder now that you are together why aren’t things perfect? Children often happen so does work, family and other commitments and the goal of being a couple may get forgotten.

You wonder about those dreams and values you had before the couple thing came into your life. Are you two on the same page now? What is important? Religious values, or money and things? If you didn’t explore your goals and values during the early stages now is the time to do it. Now is always the time.

Have that talk about where you see your life going. Do you see yourself being together as old retired people? Or are you only staying together or the sake of the children? How would you know if this was a good relationship? Does that mean the same thing to both of you?

Shared goals and values is a pathway to a good relationship.

  1. When your relationship is not working try a new path.

What are you willing to change about yourself and this relationship to make this work? Do you know any happy couples? What do they do that you are not doing? Is this relationship worth butting some work into? Would any relationship? Before you jump to the conclusion that you need to end this relationship and look for someone new think about what brought you and your partner together in the first place. Are you willing to try again with the partner you have already invested so much time and emotion with?

  1. Clean your own wreckage out of the way.

For many couples the reason things are not going well is because of the unfinished business of childhood, that baggage you are still carrying. How much baggage do you have? Are you willing to work on you to make this relationship successful? Or do you still expect your partner to supply all the missing parts for your emotional life. No partner will be able to always meet your needs. You need to learn how to meet those yourself and then see how together you can create something that is better than either of you would be separately.

  1. What price are you willing to pay for a good relationship?

What will you do or give up to have this relationship. The highest prices we pay in life are the things we buy with time and sacrifices not the things that cost us money. Can you accept that you are wrong some of the time? Are you willing to go along with things your partner wants to do even when they make you uncomfortable?

Many people discover that the things they enjoyed about their partner when they were dating scare them after they become a couple. Does that exciting person now seem irresponsible? Does that confident person now seem controlling?

Try being more accepting and open to new experiences the way you two were when you first started out together and see if that is not a path back to that relationship you once had. Just know that no one gets back to exactly where they began that relationship, what you want is to find that happy place you once were only a little farther down the road of life. Plan on growing together.

Those are some ideas for new directions you might take your relationship as a way to make it better. Have you found any other ways to create the relationship you want?

For more on this topic see:

Relationships

Family Problems

Couples Therapy 

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

Self-Exploration

Sunday Inspiration      Post By David Joel Miller.

Self-Exploration

Self-Exploration
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Self-Exploration

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”

― George Bernard Shaw

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Sunday seems like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you please share them.

Contentment

Sunday Inspiration      Post By David Joel Miller.

Contentment

Contentment
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.”

― Lao Tzu

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Sunday seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you please share them.

Sleep Skills – Sleep hygiene

By David Joel Miller.

Do you have good sleep skills?

Cat Sleeping

Sound Sleeper
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

How did you learn to get a good night sleep? If you are like many of us, the sleep skills you learned taught you how to have insomnia, bad dreams and a host of other sleep issues.

When you are young you do not want to go to sleep. Many children resist sleep and bedtimes with a vengeance. What you may have been taught, by example if not by words, was that sleeping was a punishment and staying awake as long as possible was some sort of reward for becoming that mythical creature we all aspire to become “an adult.”

Sleep, to many of us, appears to be the result of doing and going until you wear yourself out and then you drop into an exhaust state of unconsciousness that passes for sleep. What gets missed in this equation are the many benefits of getting a good night’s sleep and how you develop the skills to have that restful sleep. One name for sleep skills is sleep hygiene.

The benefits of being a good sleeper.

Lots of good things happen to you when you sleep. Memories get consolidated and stored. Poor sleep reduces your ability to remember things and make sense of the world around you. A well-rested person is more alert and finds it far easier to “pay attention.”

During the day your brain does a lot of work. Even if you are engaged in a physically demanding endeavor you mind still consumes a lot of calories thinking about and directing all the other things you do.  You brain, consumes somewhere between 20% and 25% of all the calories you use every day. Burning all those calories creates a lot of waste.

Most people understand that more exercise means more waste products. You eliminate the waste and you feel better. Exercise more and if calories taken in stay constant, you can expect to lose some weight. Wastes accumulated in your brain get cleared out at night while you sleep.

Poor sleep and you end up with a “trashy” mind which has difficulty with focus, concentration and creativity.

Sleep skills can be learned.

Being a good sleeper is a matter of choices you make. There are secrets to most things in life. A good teacher or coach can show you how to improve your game. You can learn how to be a better, more rested, sleeper by learning and then practicing a few basic sleep skills. Here are a few of the basic sleep skills.

To sleep you need a cool down period.

Between running around and falling asleep give yourself some time to decompress. Most people go and go and then leap into bed expecting to fall right to sleep. You need some cool down time. Stop activities thirty to sixty minutes before bedtime. If you do any exercise do the slow mindful type not the strenuous kind in those last few minutes.

Unplug from electronics. Those bright lights hitting your eye condition you for more awake time. Reduce the light. Relax and get yourself in the state to sleep.

Avoid stimulants at bedtime.

Do not drink coffee, tea, energy drinks or other stimulant beverages in the afternoon. Pay attention to the last one you had and see how this impacts your sleep. Some people can drink coffee late in the day and still sleep, others are more sensitive and even coffee at lunch will impact their sleep.

Train your brain to expect to sleep in bed.

Our brains quickly associate places with the thing you do there. Do not abuse the bed. Lounging around in bed reduces the sleep-bed connection. Use the bed only for sleep and sex. You brain can connect sex with lots of locations but it won’t connect sleep with standing up. Do not confuse the default setting in your brain by expecting it to stay awake and social media surf one time while another time you ask it to sleep in bed.

Clear you mind of worries before going to bed.

Use whatever practice works best for you to clear out the problems and worries from the day before trying to sleep. Pray and turn the worries over to your higher power, journal out those thoughts. You may be able to call someone and talk about your concerns before bedtime.

Empty your head of things you need to remember to do in the future. Writing this down can help get them off your mind.

Have a set bed time and a time to get up.

It can be hard to adjust to changes. Sleep is no exception to that rule. If every night you hit the sack at a different time your brain does not know when to let you get sleepy. Set a constant time and do your best to stick to it. People who stick to a wake up time even on the days off find that their body adjusts and lets them know when it is time to sleep.

If you have different times for getting up and going to bed on the weekend it makes it more difficult to switch back and forth. The result may be waking up at the right time despite staying up late. Many people create a sleep deficit over the weekend.

Avoid daytime naps.

Taking daytime naps results in not being able to sleep when bedtime comes. Staying up till your tired can leave you exhausted the next day. Over time these daytime naps shift your schedule and can make it harder to switch back when you have to stay awake for the full day.

Develop a bedtime routine.

Running around frantically at bed time wakes you up. You need a routine to let you wind down and get ready to sleep. Having a pre-bed routine reduces those last-minute things that need to be done and keep you up late.

Create a comfortable sleep place.

Dark sleep places help you sleep. Look for ways to reduce stray light. Turn off the electronics. Screen light tricks your brain into thinking you need to stay up a bit longer.

Do you sleep better when it is quiet? Do your best to curtail ambient noise. Ear plugs work for some. If you prefer noise to drown out other sounds around you look for something that will not be diverting your attention. Background music may be helpful in managing the sound environment.

Cool temperatures help get the body ready for sleep. In hot climates or in the summer mouths coolness may be at a premium. If you don’t have or can’t afford air conditioning opt for a fan or fans that move the air over you. Feeling cooler at night than you did while awake will increase the chances of a restful night’s sleep.

Weed out life factors – shift work or recent stressful events.

Shift work can alter your sleep cycle. Some people can adjust while others never seem to. If you work when others sleep and sleep when others are up you will need to look for ways to accommodate that schedule. Some of this will be environmental things like darkness and consistency.

If you find that stress, anxiety or trauma is impacting your ability to sleep, consider counseling or other help in reducing that stress. Mindfulness or meditation training can help.

Those are some thoughts on developing good sleep skills. Have you found any other things that improve your ability to sleep?

You might want to take a look at other posts on:

Sleep

Dreams and Nightmares 

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

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

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

7 Relationship Destroyers.

By David Joel Miller.

How many of these relationship destroying skills do you practice?

Couple

Couple
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Couples slip into patterns of behavior over time. Some of these repetitive behaviors make their relationship stronger, other relationship habits destroy your togetherness. What one partner does the other tends to copy. Over time using these relationship destroying skills becomes a habit.

Do you and your partner practice relationship destruction on a regular basis?

Attacking your partner devastates the relationship.

You want one thing and your partner wants another. It is easy to slip from disagreement to seeing your partner as the obstacle to getting what you want. Many couples start out with a conflict about a simple thing, household chores for example, but this conflict quickly escalates to an all-out attack on the partner.

Moving from complaining that you partner does not clean up after themselves in the kitchen to an all out global condemnation of them as a filthy, dirty slob is sure to damage your relationship.

Focus on the blame and make each other wrong.

Life can be hard. Bad things happen even to good people. When those inevitable difficulties come do you focus on making things better, what needs to be done, or do you slip into the blame game telling your partner it is all their fault.

Even if you partner has made a serious mistake staying stuck on the blaming part keeps you two from working together to figure out how you will get past this.

Control your partner for a one person relationship.

Many couples’ disagreements are not about the facts but about who gets to decide, who will be in control. Happy couples work together to make joint decisions. Generally they delegate some things to each person. If one of you is better at organization and scheduling let them set the schedule. If one person handles money better, then they may be the one to manage the finances.

Avoid arguments about who is in control of what and try to negotiate this. When someone is a “control freak” this often comes from a place of anxiety and fear. Help them to see that they can relax and let you do things and their world will still be fine.

Stop looking at control conflicts as who wins and who loses. Look for solutions where you both wins and no one has to be the loser.

Insisting on total control in the relationship is a formula for a dysfunctional unhappy relationship. If one person in the relationship has “control issues” consider getting professional help to work through this.

If you can’t win the argument enjoy the martyrdom. Placating and the victim stance.

Placating, giving in and taking on the victim role may work for a while. In the long run being the constant victim is a damaging part to play. Couples that adapt the winner and the loser way of communicating are less happy in their interactions. Playing the victim may take some of the sting out of not getting your way, but it undermines the relationship over the long haul.

Build walls to keep your partner out.

Relationships, primary sexual ones and even friendships, open you up to emotions. Wall building, cutting parts of who you are off from others can feel protective at the time. Over time the person who puts up the walls becomes progressively more isolated.

Put up enough walls and you end up living a lonely isolated life even in the midst of a relationship.

Avoiding the problems any way you can destroys relationships.

There are innumerable ways to avoid problems. Some people turn to drugs and alcohol to avoid painful feelings, others bounce from relationship to relationship. Affairs are a common way of avoiding dealing with the core issues a couple is experiencing.

When you use these negative coping strategies to avoid dealing with the problems you dig the hole deeper. Learning problem solving skills requires practice. If you don’t deal with an issue now you will need to deal with it later after it has grown to humongous proportions.

Resentments will keep you warm at night.

Resentments are a sorry companion. The feeling that it is someone else’s fault, refusing to let go of past hurts, will make you feel justified in staying stuck. Resentments can prevent any healing from taking place.

Holding onto resentments, large and small can isolate you and eventually Mr. or Miss Resentment becomes your primary friendship. It takes courage to let go of resentments but hanging on to them is a sure relationship destroyer.

Ready to let go of the resentment destroyers?

If you see that these relationship destroyers have taken up residence in your relationship, now is the time to start working on them. If possible talk with your partner about these issues and see if you can work through them. Pick a time when you are both calm and receptive.

If your relationship has been so badly damaged that fixing it is no longer a do it yourself project look for professional help, a Marriage or Couples Therapist, before the whole relationship gets condemned and torn down.

For more on this topic see:

Relationships

Family Problems

Couples Therapy 

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

What can you imagine?

Sunday Inspiration      Post By David Joel Miller.

Imnagination

What can you Imagine?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

“Everything you can imagine is real.”
― Pablo Picasso

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Sunday seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you please share them.

Do you have Borderline Personality Disorder?

By David Joel Miller

What are the signs and symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder?

Problems with identifying Borderline Personality Disorder.

Borderline

Borderline
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Borderline Personality Disorder formerly called Borderline conditions has received a lot of attention recently. It is one of those troubling conditions that looks differently to different people.

If you have Borderline Personality Disorder you know the suffering having this disorder can cause. If you have lived with someone who has Borderline Personality Disorder you know how frustrating this can be. This difference in perspective is one of the problems with the increased attention to the disorder.

Many of the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder overlap or are the sane as symptoms of other disorders. So when should someone get a Borderline diagnosis and when should we call it something else? Sometimes those iffy cases get a notation put on their chart “Borderline traits” rather than the full diagnosis. Electronic medical records are making it harder to leave notes like that and this may result in more people getting the full diagnosis.

For the record, diagnosis is not a do it yourself project. Mental Health as well as physical health diagnosing should be done by a professional. But so many people out there are being call Borderline these days and talking about it is so common, it is worth looking at the whole “what is Borderline Personality Disorder?” question.

There are efforts to come up with some kind of definitive test for borderline and other mental health conditions. At this time we can read research reports of “markers” and risk factors for many mental illness but we can’t be sure what is causing them. For example over 95% of people with Borderline Personality Disorder also have a sleep disorder.

Lacking a good test mental conditions are diagnosed by looking at symptoms and seeing if someone has enough symptoms and if they are severe enough to need treating.

With so many Borderline symptoms overlapping or look just like symptoms of other mental illnesses, what name something gets called may depend on which symptoms are seen at any given appointment and the perspective of the viewer. We want to avoid normal problems of life being called diseases but this causes another problem.

Many mental illnesses are caused by identifiable life events. PTSD and other stress disorders need an identifiable stressor to get diagnosed. Many, but not all, people with Borderline Personality Disorder can point to some life event that started their symptoms.

As more people know about Borderline Personality Disorder more people are coming to believe that they have the condition. Family, Friends and relationship partners are likely to blame all the interpersonal or relationship problems on someone having Borderline Personality Disorder. I suspect that professionals are going along with this and giving the diagnosis out more often.

Is Borderline Personality Disorder an illness or a lack of mental wellness?

Symptoms of Borderline personality disorder can vary from person to person and they may vary in intensity. This is resulted in an increasing amount of discussion, and a past counselors soapbox blog post about whether there may be Levels or Types of Borderline Personality Disorder.  There has also been some professional discussion about whether some clients have been given the diagnosis because they angered the treating professional.

Some of you have noticed from my other writings that I believe strongly in Wellness and Recovery. (See post on Mental Illness or Mental Health.)

Many of the things we call “Mental illness” are on a continuum. Those problems get better or they get worse. Sometimes in life we get sad. When that sadness keeps you from working or enjoying life we call it depression and it deserves to get treated. The same thing is true of Borderline Personality Disorder. Many people with this condition do get better.

As we look at the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder below I will comment on some of the questions you might have about each symptoms. This discussion is based on the SAMHS publication titled An Introduction to Co-Occurring Borderline Personality Disorder and Substance Use Disorders. This publication was written primarily for professionals but I include it here in case any of you want to see the original source. The SAMHSA publication draws on the DSM-5 (DSM is a registered trademark of the APA,which some of you may also want to consult. The paraphrasing and comments are mine so let’s hope I get this right. If you have or think you may have this condition please see a professional in your area.

Below are some of the typical features of Borderline Personality Disorder.

Borderline Personality is not common except in psychiatric hospitals.

Estimates of how common Borderline Personality really vary. In the general populations it is estimated at around one to two percent. In inpatient psychiatric facilities the rate of Borderline Personality Diagnosis can reach 20%. That suggests to me that this is a very impairing condition.

Notice as we go through these symptoms that many of these are things that have been considered “female” characteristics. Turns out that three out of every four people who get the Borderline Personality Disorder Diagnosis are female. Also many of these symptoms are exactly what we would expect in someone with a Stress or Trauma Related Disorder as in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder or a Dissociative Disorder.

Borderline Personality Disorder is not simply a matter of being overly dramatic or wanting attention. Most, about 80%, attempt suicide and they die from suicide attempts at about 50 TIMES the rate of the general population. This does not need to happen as there are effective treatments for Borderline Personality Disorder available. Additionally about 80 percent of those with this diagnosis cut on themselves, which is often called Non-Suicidal Self Injury. Some people with this condition both cut and attempt suicide.

Symptom – Intense fear of abandonment and efforts to avoid it.

Many, not all, people with Borderline Personality Disorder were abused or neglected as children. Some had this experience in adult life. This suggests that these fears are both rationally based on experience and learned. If you learned to be fearful you can learn to not be fearful. But lessons learned very early in life may be much more difficult to unlearn. For many this fear of abandonment makes sense.

Borderline symptom – troubled, vacillating relationships with others.

In a single session with a therapist someone high in borderline traits may tell the therapist that they love them and they are the only on that ever understood them and then later they will say that they hate the therapist and “you just don’t understand at all.”

The same thing happens in their personal relationships. They fall in love quickly and they fall out just as rapidly. They have over inflated views of their potential partners and then they feel tricked, deceived and angry. Relationships with someone who has Borderline Personality Disorder can include fabulous sex followed by violent fights.

Don’t know who you are and who you are keeps changing.

People with borderline conditions have more difficult than others in telling you what they like who they are and they look to others to define themselves.

Impulsive acts are common in Borderline Personality Disorders.

Risky sexual behaviors are the most commonly noted behaviors. Over-spending and reckless driving are also included in this definition. Frequent conflicts with others are common.

Suicidal Behaviors or Self-Mutilation.

People with borderline personality disorder are often overwhelmed by emotion and then hurt themselves rather than express their anger towards the person that angered or hurt them. This kind of sudden flip in their feelings towards others and then their impulsive behavior can look a lot like Bipolar and turns out that many people get both diagnosis or they are moved back and forth. It is of course very possible for someone to have more than one disorder.

Borderline make people feeling empty.

Since people with Borderline do not know who they are and they fear being abandoned. This makes sense, if you look for your self-worth from others and then feel empty or nothing at all when you are not getting positive interactions from those others. Some of these characteristics can sound like an immature or selfish person. If you did not get enough food as a child you may be physically stunted. If you are abused or neglected as a child or abused drugs and alcohol then you may not have learned the lessons you need to learn back then. The result is continuing to use coping strategies that may have kept you alive or got some of your needs met as a child but they are not working now. This is true of some people with Borderline Personality Disorder but not all.

Remember that these explanations are ideas about how things could happen but not precise formulas for how it did happen to any one particular person.

Episodes of strong, excessive anger.

There is no specific diagnosis for “anger issues” despite how common referrals to therapy for “Anger Management” are. Anger is a symptom reported in many other mental or emotional issues. What further clouds this picture is the high rate of Bipolar Disorder and Substance Use Disorders among those with Borderline Personality Disorder. Depression can also lead to irritability and then anger. What is looked for in Borderline Personality Disorders is sudden explosive anger often with fights and violence, that come on unexpectedly with someone who shortly before was a close friend or loved one.

Borderline may include Stress related Dissociation or Paranoia.

This can be a problematic symptom in practice. Part of the way we identify paranoia is that the fear is excessive. Men are taught to approach things they fear. Kill it if possible. This results in men getting acting out, violence related diagnosis. Women are taught to avoid danger and if you have been victimized in the past you recognize danger coming. So if you have been abused once fear that your new boyfriend will abuse you sounds reasonable not paranoid. See how this can be an issue?

It is also possible that “dissociation” gets pathologized. Some dissociating or “spacing out” is normal in children or those who are overwhelmed. People who suffer trauma may well dissociate. So it seems to me that cases of excessive dissociation may get swept into the Borderline Personality Disorder category rather than being recognized for what they are. As before someone could have both Borderline Personality Disorder and Dissociative Disorder.

Those are my thoughts on recognizing Borderline Personality Disorder and how it and other conditions may be getting mixed together. If you or someone you care about may have this condition consider professional help. If they do not have this problem please stop calling everyone you dislike Borderline. You may also want to check out other counselorssoapbox posts on Personality Disorders.

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