Why is it so hard to treat yourself well?

Taking care of yourself
Self-care. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

If self-care is so important, why is it so hard to do?

Good self-care is hugely connected to good mental health. Learning stress reduction techniques can improve your mental health and reduce the risk of burning out. Despite all the documented benefits of self-compassion and self-care, many people continue to push themselves relentlessly. Learning to take good care of yourself and show yourself kindness is a significant part of a happy and productive life.

Were you taught to take care of yourself?

Early life experiences set up patterns for the rest of our lives. If the people who should’ve taken care of you treated you poorly, you learned to treat yourself that way. People who have experienced abuse or neglect may have or internalize the message that they didn’t deserve to be treated well. You may have been taught that suffering was a virtue, and you find it hard to embrace happiness.

Even families that provided love and adequate care may have given you the message that you weren’t good enough. Some parents seem to think that the way to get a child to do better is to point out all their faults. There’s a myth out there that praising a child will cause them to become conceited. But if no one praised you for anything, you did well, and everything you did wasn’t good enough. You may have internalized the message that you were not good enough.

Your danger detector is turned up too high.

If you’ve grown up poor or lived in a dangerous environment, you may be on constant alert. High levels of stress hormones keep all your danger detection circuits active. When you’re hypervigilant, on a constant lookout for what could go wrong, self-soothing and self-care don’t happen.

If you suffer from an anxiety disorder, you may feel guilty about self-care. People who have adopted the high anxiety lifestyle choose to worry about everything that could go wrong in the mistaken belief that this will keep them safe. They live in a constant state of high alert. Doing anything that might lower that anxiety may make you feel guilty or unsafe.

You are too busy surviving to notice you are running on empty.

Sometimes the day-to-day struggles become so overwhelming that taking time for self-care seems like a waste of time. When life is a struggle, self-care may be something you tell yourself you don’t have time for. You may be so busy listening to your inner critic that you haven’t had time to take stock of what you need. You may not have realized that self-care was an option.

Have you turned suffering into a virtue?

Some people are so used to believing that life must be full of suffering that as soon as life goes well, they start to feel guilty. Some people just can’t bear to stop working long enough to have fun. You may have internalized the attitude that self-compassion will make you soft and weak. Taking good care of yourself both mentally and physically is not being self-indulgent.

Practicing self-compassion can be scary.

Change is usually scary, even when that change moves us in the direction of better health. Caring about yourself may be a new feeling for you. If you weren’t taught self-compassion, or those around you didn’t demonstrate it to you, it may be hard to recognize. Self-compassion is a skill you can learn. Like all skills, you may not be perfect at first, but the more you practice self-compassion, the better your life will become.

Would now be a good time to start practicing self-compassion?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seems like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Zest.

Zest. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Zest.

 “to teach without zest is a crime.”

― Virginia Woolf

“Zest. Gusto. How rarely one hears these words used. How rarely do we see people living, or for that matter, creating, by them.

― Ray Bradbury

“It requires the feminine temperament to repeat the same thing three times with unabated zest.”

― W. Somerset Maugham

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. There are an estimated 100,000 words in the English language that are feelings related. Some emotions are pleasant, and some are unpleasant, but all feelings can provide useful information. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Look at these related posts for more on this topic and other feelings.

Emotions and Feelings.

Inspiration

How do you create the best life possible?

Contentment
Contentment Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Three steps to a flourishing life.

Mental health programs frequently stop at just treating mental illness. We’ve learned that merely treating your depression or anxiety or other mental illness does not create a happy, flourishing life. When I ask people what makes them happy, many people struggle for an answer.

It’s easy to confuse happiness with temporary bursts of pleasure. The only way that many adults know how to have fun is to use drugs, alcohol, or engage in sex or other risky behaviors. It turns out there’s a lot of ways to have a pleasant, contented life that don’t involve the so-called adult pleasures.

Over the last couple of decades, a new movement has emerged in the mental health and wellness field called positive psychology. Positive psychology tries to look beyond reducing pain and temporary bursts of pleasure to the creation of those peak experiences that are sometimes described as the good life, flourishing, or experiencing episodes of flow. Here are some steps to take you to whenever you would subjectively describe as your good, ideal life.

Decrease your negative emotions.

Some negative emotions are an essential part of living life. Anxiety can be a productive emotion when it warns you of danger. If something awful happens in your life, when someone you love dies, when you lose a job, or a relationship ends, it’s reasonable and even normal to be sad for a while. But suppose your life is overwhelmed by anxiety and depression. In that case, we diagnose those as mental illnesses, and the first part of the journey to a good life is overcoming those excesses of negative emotions. Unfortunately, treating mental illness is where most mental health treatment programs end.

Increase your positive emotions.

The more you can experience positive emotions, as the quality of your life improves. The human brain is biased. It places a premium on recognizing danger and unhappiness. It’s easy to walk right past beauty and positive experiences without ever noticing them. Learn to become a happiness expert. Stop and smell the roses. Along the way don’t forget to smell all the other flowers and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Many people can readily recall all the problems they’ve had in relationships. It’s common for couples who come to marriage counseling to have a list of their complaints about their partner. What is usually missing are any memories of the happy occasions. If you want a flourishing life, make sure you collect as many positive feelings and memories as possible.

Create a flourishing life full of zest and vitality.

The people who say that they have a good quality of life are almost uniformly full of zest and vitality. Sometimes these two terms are used interchangeably. Vitality generally refers to physical health. The term zest, more commonly, is applied to emotional enthusiasm. If you enjoy what you do every day, you will have a subjectively more joyous life.

People who lack zest for life drift into inactivity and can become couch potatoes. They may burn out on their work and relationships. The best way to create a life worth living is to engage in the activities that energize you rather than wear you out. When you enjoyed the work you do for a living, it won’t wear you out or pull you down. If you want an exceptionally good life, emphasize the things that energize you.

Increase your life satisfaction.

In all these ways, seek to increase your life satisfaction. You only get one life. You can live each day burdened by your cares, or life can be a grand adventure in which every day adds to your quality of life.

I’ve listed some simple takeaways from the articles I’ve read on positive psychology and having a better life. Does the life you’re living bring you joy? What activities do you engage in which give your life meaning and purpose? Feel free to leave a comment in the box below.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seems like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Quotes from Abraham Lincoln.

Quotes from Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.

Abraham Lincoln

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

Abraham Lincoln

“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”

Abraham Lincoln

“Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.”

Abraham Lincoln

“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”

― Abraham Lincoln

Today on Presidents’ Day seems like a good time to look at the things Abraham Lincoln had to say.

Valentine’s Day Love.

Valentine’s Day love. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

“The only bubble in the flat champagne of February is Valentine’s Day. It was no accident that our ancestors pinned Valentine’s Day on February’s shirt: he or she lucky enough to have a lover in frigid, antsy February has cause for celebration, indeed.”

― Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

“Do what you do. This Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve, Twelfth Night, Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, St. Paddy’s Day, and every day henceforth. Just do what you do. Live out your life and your traditions on your own terms.

If it offends others, so be it. That’s their problem.”

― Chris Rose

“Valentine’s Day is the poet’s holiday.”

― Ted Kooser

“Let’s forgive someone for Valentines day, it’s a great way to show love, and forgive yourself too for the hurt you held onto.”

― Jay Woodman

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. There are an estimated 100,000 words in the English language that are feelings related. Some emotions are pleasant, and some are unpleasant, but all feelings can provide useful information. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Look at these related posts for more on this topic and other feelings.

Emotions and Feelings.

Inspiration

The Paradox of Pleasure.

Pleasure. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

What’s the connection between pleasure and happiness?

Wikipedia defines pleasure as “a mental experience that humans and other conscious animals find enjoyable, positive, or worthy of seeking. It can be a part of other mental states such as happiness, entertainment, enjoyment, ecstasy, and euphoria.” While pleasure is undoubtedly a part of happiness, it’s not the whole thing.

Positive psychology, a relatively new branch of mental health, tells us that being mentally healthy, having a good life is more than merely a lack of mental illness. If you have a mental illness such as depression or anxiety, it needs to be treated. But the elimination of a mental illness doesn’t equate with a life of fulfillment. How do you move from not being depressed to a life full of joy, happiness, contentment, meaning, and purpose? How far along that path will pleasure take you?

When most people think of happiness, they think of pleasure.

Pleasure is unquestionably a part of having a happy life, but it’s not the only part. A genuinely happy life, a life in which people are flourishing and finding meaning and purpose, needs a lot more than just pleasure. While pleasure may take you part of the way to the good life, it doesn’t take you all the way. Let’s look at how pleasure starts you out in the right direction but can get you stuck on the thing we call the hedonic treadmill.

Sometimes pleasure leads to happiness but not always.

The brain craves pleasure. Pleasure is our nervous system’s way of rewarding us for doing things that might benefit us. In small quantities, pleasure can increase your happiness. Pleasures produce the most happiness when they are unexpected. But too much of a good thing, especially on a regular basis, can be bad for you. The human brain is biased towards novel pleasures. So, each successive dose of a particular pleasure adds smaller and smaller amounts to happiness. The first slice of chocolate cake tastes good. Eating the second chocolate cake can impair your health. Eventually, most pleasures turn on you.

Pleasure wears off quickly, and this can lead to an addiction.

In psychology, this phenomenon is called habituation. The first drink can be enjoyable, but subsequent drinks each produce less pleasure. Each subsequent drink creates less subjective pleasure. When the pleasure fades, this can lead to cravings for more. Farther down the road, people find themselves drinking, using drugs, or engaging in behavioral addictions, not for the pleasure it brings them, but to prevent the cravings that come with withdrawal.

Pleasure must be taken in slowly.

Trying to maximize your happiness by consuming pleasure too quickly doesn’t work. You can’t see much of the scenery when you’re driving 100 miles an hour. Taking in pleasure slowly is a technique sometimes called savoring. In our fast-paced society, people are prone to suck in the pleasure as rapidly as possible and then move on to the next pleasurable event. This frantic search for pleasure results in absorbing very little of the pleasure from the things you do.

You can’t enjoy the taste of food when you swallow it whole.

The human brain seems to be biased to remember negative things. The threat circuits in our brain stem warn us of danger. Positive experiences, on the other hand, require effort to recognize. Modern life is moving at a pace that can be overwhelming. If you want more happiness in your life, you need to become a happiness expert. When positive events happen, we need to slow down and savor them. In this era of fast food and instant gratification savoring life’s positive experiences is becoming a lost art.

Throughout this year want to bring you some additional information about the elements of a good life and how to create a life full of joy, meaning, and purpose. If you have found ways to create a life that is flourishing, please share them by leaving a comment in the box below.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seems like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel