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

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

Trying to push the wall.
Photo courtesy of

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

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

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

Complaining about the way things are.

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

Insisting others need to change for you to be happy.

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

Playing the blame game.

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

Blaming your life on where you are.

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

This formula works for lots of things. People tell me that they can’t quit drinking or drugging because of the neighborhood they live in like there is somewhere that you can move where there is no drugs and alcohol. Work on what you can change and do not blame where you are for your defects. It also helps if you are working on changing the place you find yourself in.

Expecting things to go your way.

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

Thinking someone is your missing part.

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

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

Right fighting.

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

Focusing on what others think about you.

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

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

Believing you have to be perfect.

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

Trying to drive while looking in the rearview mirror.

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

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

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

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

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

Worrying about the future instead of preparing.

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

Being afraid to get off the beaten path.

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

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

Putting off your dreams until someday.

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

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

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.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

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

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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 my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at

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