About David Joel Miller

David Miller is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Clinical Counselor, faculty member at a local college, certified trainer and writer.

Activating your self-soothing system.

Self Soothing – photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

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

What is self-soothing, and why is it important?

Self-soothing is the things you do to help yourself calm down and relax. These techniques are useful for regulating your emotions. We readily recognize these behaviors when we see a parent rocking their baby or patting them on the back. Unfortunately, most people weren’t taught how to self-soothe. As people grow older, it becomes increasingly beneficial to develop appropriate self-soothing behaviors.

It’s easier to activate the threat system than the self-soothing system.

Our emotional systems have developed over considerable lengths of time to aid in our survival. Recognizing when there is a threat can keep you alive in a dangerous situation. The threat system is on automatic and has relatively few responses to choose from. The threat system largely depends on a few behaviors.

Freezing is the most primitive of those behaviors. People who have a history of having been abused or neglected frequently freeze when the situation looks dangerous. Freezing can lead to the inability to think or spacing out, which is technically called dissociation. If when you get upset, you find that chunks of time are missing, you’ve probably been experiencing some form of freezing or dissociation.

Fleeing, which is running away, is another primitive threat system response to anything that seems dangerous. Running away might increase your chances of survival in a hazardous situation, but if your flight response is always on alert you are likely to become increasingly limited in your options. Fleeing can keep you from having good relationships or even prevent your being able to hold a job.

The fight response is the threat system’s last line of defense. People with a history of traumatic experiences may violently explode each time their threat system is activated. Continually engaging your fight system drives other people away. When you have constant conflicts with others, you may end up doing things you later regret.

If your threat system is easily activated, especially when the threats you experience in life are minimal, you can get yourself in a lot of trouble.

The solution to an overactive threat system is to learn to self-soothe and reduce the activation of your threat system. Here are some techniques which might help you reduce the threat system’s hyperarousal.

Slowing your roll with deep breathing.

Deep breathing is an extremely simple technique that can almost instantly calm you down. The simple version of learning deep breathing consists of a few simple steps. Breathe very deeply from your diaphragm. When upset, most people take short, frequent breaths from very high up in their chest the way a puppy would pant.

Take that deep breath in slowly and thoroughly. Hold it for several seconds. When you exhale, pause for several seconds before the next breath. With a little practice, you can lengthen the intervals between breaths. As you increase the intervals, your activated threat system will decline. Deep breathing can lower your heart rate, which is another signal to your brain to calm down because the threat has passed.

Remembering your happy place.

When your threat system is activated, but it’s not appropriate or possible to freeze, flee, or fight, creating a mental image of a calming, happy place can reduce the threat system activation. Many people have difficulty thinking of a happy place when the threat system is activated. Practice visualizing your happy place frequently, so you’re able to remember it when the time comes. If you look back through recent posts on this blog, you will find one in which I shared some pictures of happy places that people have suggested.

Becoming more self-compassionate.

One cause of an overactive threat circuit is being too hard on yourself. Many people find it easy to be compassionate towards others. Think of the way you would show compassion to a baby or small child if they were in pain—practice showing yourself Self-Compassion. Taking care of yourself is not being selfish. If you don’t love yourself and take care of yourself, you make it hard for other people to show you compassion.

Changing your thinking.

Many people think that it is another person or event which has triggered their threat system. If you look carefully at your thinking, you will find that whenever something upset you, it was followed immediately by a belief about why that happened. If you re-examine that belief, you’re likely to find an alternate belief that will reduce your threat response system’s activation. This system of challenging beliefs is frequently referred to as the ABCDE technique. It’s extremely useful for helping people overcome excess anger.

There are several other “unhelpful thoughts” which function to maintain negative emotions. Learn to recognize these unhelpful thoughts, challenge them, and watch your self-soothing system take control. Unhelpful thoughts are sometimes also called “dysfunctional thoughts” or “irrational thoughts.” Whether they are dysfunctional or irrational or not, if you have automatic thoughts that keep your threat system activated, you may want to take another look at those thoughts.

Watch your self-talk.

Negative self-talk can work you up into a frenzy. Telling yourself that this can’t be happening will put you on high arousal. Make a habit of practicing helpful self-talk. Tell yourself that while this is something you would prefer not happening, you can handle it. Even in worst-case scenarios, people who tell themselves they are survivors and that they will get through this fare better than those who tell themselves I can’t do this, or I won’t be able to handle this.

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

Brave

Brave. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

“Bran thought about it. ‘Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?’

‘That is the only time a man can be brave,’ his father told him.”

― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

“A brave man acknowledges the strength of others.”

― Veronica Roth, Divergent

“Live the Life of Your Dreams: Be brave enough to live the life of your dreams according to your vision and purpose instead of the expectations and opinions of others.”

― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

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

Cool.

Cool. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

“He was fond of books, for they are cool and sure friends”

― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

“Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.”

― Thomas Jefferson, Letters of Thomas Jefferson

“Is it still cool to go to the mall?’ she asked. ‘I take quite a lot of pride in not knowing what’s cool,’ I answered.”

― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

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

You can grow your personality.

personality disorder
Can Personality change? Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

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

Personality characteristics aren’t as fixed as we used to think.

Research has found that personality characteristics can change gradually across the lifespan. Data from national health plans has helped identify this change. People who have taken personality inventories multiple times throughout their lives often show a slow, gradual change as they age. Not everyone changes, but it happens often enough that we now believe personality traits are not fixed but are changeable.

The change in any short period of time is relatively small, but cumulatively your personality in your retirement years can be quite different from your personality in childhood or adolescence. For some people, this is a good thing; for others, not so much.

The belief that personality characteristics are largely unchangeable spawned the group of diagnoses called personality disorders, such as narcissism, borderline personality, and antisocial personality disorder, which are considered pervasive patterns of behavior and very difficult to treat. Understanding how life experiences contributed to creating these disorders has also helped us understand how they can be changed.

There can be sudden spontaneous shifts in personality.

Transitions from adolescence to young adulthood can alter personality by exposing a young person to new situations. Agreeableness, openness, and conscientiousness tend to increase while extraversion often decreases. However, the personality in the teen years is a better predictor of success in later life.

Undergoing a stressful or traumatic experience can also result in a shift in worldview. While some people who experience trauma develop PTSD, others can develop posttraumatic growth. How someone navigates this traumatic experience can impact their future behavior and the way their personality is expressed.

There are multiple ways in which personality can change across the lifespan.

Some personality changes may be the result of aging.

Extraversion and conscientiousness tend to decline across the lifespan. Openness to experience tends to be relatively stable, then gradually decreases in old age. Neuroticism that largely undesirable characteristic that leads to an increased risk for depression and anxiety tends to be high in childhood and adolescence, declines throughout middle age, and often increases sharply among older people.

You can deliberately change some personality characteristics.

A significant amount of personality changes happened because of your life experiences rather than deliberate efforts to change your personality. But there are ways in which people’s deliberate efforts have resulted in a long-term change in their personality. The research is pretty clear that simply wanting to change your personality will not be sufficient. Personally induced personality change requires conscious effort and action.

The personality traits most often chosen as the goal for change are to decrease neuroticism, that excess of negative emotions, and to increase extraversion. Extraversion can be increased by deliberately going out of your way to say hello to people you encounter or putting your hand out when meeting a stranger at a meeting. Not only does developing these behaviors make you less uncomfortable around others, practiced often enough, but you also begin to be more extroverted, a change that will eventually show up if you take repeated personality inventories.

Your behavior can change your personality.

Engaging in uncomfortable behavior can result in significant personality change as you become more comfortable doing things that used to be outside your normal range. Simply wanting to change your personality will not be effective without engaging in the new behaviors. If you want to be more extroverted, you must act “as if” you are more extroverted. Planning to do personality-changing behaviors but then failing to do them backfires. If you say you want to be more extroverted but then chickened out on the opportunity to talk to a stranger, you reinforce being introverted.

Do you like your personality? What parts of your personality would you like to change? And are you willing to take action to create that change?

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

Spring

Spring. Picture courtesy of Pixabay.

Sunday Inspiration. Post by David Joel Miller.


“What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again.”
― Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay


“Spring is the time of plans and projects.”
― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
“If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”
― Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ode to the West Wind


“Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart.”
― Victor Hugo
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

Every day is April Fools’ Day when you are fooling yourself

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

Fool.

Fool.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Do you know what is real and what is a hoax?

Today is April First. In many places, people will be celebrating April Fools’ Day. This day is dedicated to a whole lot of fun practical jokes and good times. Not everyone should be laughing.

The challenge in life is to tell the difference between the truth and things that are not true, regardless of the label we choose to put on those less-than-true thoughts and comments. Today you may be able to get away with some untruths if you can tell the difference, but not every day.

The falsehoods told today in the course of the April Fools’ Day festivities are in the medieval tradition when Fools were jokesters, comedians and the like. When we know things are exaggerated and overblown they can be laughable and a bit of silly fun. Not all untruths are innocent.

The most dangerous types of lies are the kind we tell ourselves. People in recovery, from whatever they chose to call their problem, may find that they have been telling lies, giving people stories, so much they have begun to believe their own dishonesty. Substance abusers, required to be dishonest to continue their addiction are at special risk to have stopped seeing the distinction between the true and the false in their own minds.

If you have been telling yourself things that are not true and have started to believe those stories they can be a huge obstacle to overcome on your road to recovery.

People in recovery need to stop worrying about who they told what and begin to get honest with themselves. The most important person to tell the truth to is you.

Some recovering people have been told a lot of things that were not true. Those lies create a lot of pain and sometimes separating the true from the false can be a chore. When the addict starts to get honest the others around them are at risk to become confused about what is true and what is false.

Some people have families who have kept deep dark secrets. Those families can’t stand, to tell the truth. They pressure the other family members to deny things happened and to continue to rely on the make-believe family tale

Lie, falsehoods and the like are not the only untrue information that takes up residence in our heads. False memories and beliefs, delusions and hallucinations are also traps for the unwary.

There are technical distinctions between hallucinations and things that are really there. There is a realm of in-between things that the profession has to call in or out. Did you really see that or were you hallucinating? There are reports of things that look like a hallucination but are not.

People with addiction and mental illness may have seen and experienced things that other people tell you never happened.

Sometimes we see something and we decide what that means. If we are correct in our apprised that is all well and good. But what if you are mistaken in what you think this means or what has happened? We might call these false beliefs or even delusions.

It is likely that we can tell when someone else around us is delusional but can you tell when you are delusional? Are there things that kind of look like delusions but are not?

So while walking the road to recovery we need to take a look at hallucinations, false memories, and delusions and try to find ways to understand why our own mind may trick us into believing things that just are not so.

This whole area of what is true what is false and what you think you know is a lot confusing. In some posts over this month I want to explore delusions, hallucinations both true and pseudo and some other aspects of getting honest with ourselves. Since psychologists and therapists call some of these phenomena by different names and understand it differently I want to start by looking at how these two professions get such different answers and then proceed to some thoughts about why your brain and our survival may have benefited at times from believing things that turn out to not be true.

Stay tuned for more on the subject of the real and the false, truth and lies over the coming month. These posts will be interspersed with some other topics as they come up so as not to put all the readers to sleep at the same time.

Have a great day fooling around and we will return to the search for reality and recovery tomorrow.

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 seem 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

How to cope with failure.

Failure – Photo courtesy of Pixabay

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

How well do you cope with failure?

Some people overcome failure more readily than others. Rather than being a natural inborn trait that some people have, and others don’t, coping with failures consists of several learnable skills. Some people stumble upon these failure-overcoming skills naturally, while other people need to study them to learn them. If you’ve experienced disappointments in your life that you’re still struggling with, here are some skills you need to develop to improve your ability to overcome life’s adversities.

Practicing self-compassion blunts the impact of failure.

Recognizing that you’re not alone in failing and exercising your self-compassion leads to better mental health. In one study, students who failed an exam but practiced Self-Compassion went on to study harder and do better on a subsequent exam. There’s no good scientific evidence that you can improve your performance by beating yourself up but being compassionate with yourself – that works.

Develop a success mindset, not a failure mindset.

Focusing on your mistakes and why you made them reduces your ability to take on the next life challenge. Learn to focus on what you need to learn and what you need to change to be successful, and you will become more resilient and better able to tackle future challenges.

Learn from other people’s experiences.

To more successfully bounce back from setbacks, study other people’s experiences. Why have others failed, and how have the successful people accomplished their goals. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that your experience is unique. Look for the similarities in other people’s experiences.

Avoid the perfectionism trap.

Efforts to live up to other people’s expectations that you should be perfect make it even more difficult to overcome failure. People who successfully overcome failures don’t try to live up to other people’s standards. They accept some failures as part of the process of learning and growing. Perfectionism, rather than helping you improve performance, can get in the way of taking the steps you need to improve your performance.

View failures as a part of the learning process, not a defect of character.

Failures, particularly those that are the result of overconfidence, are learning opportunities. Don’t believe that your mistake means there something wrong with you, but instead look for the lessons you still need to absorb. Recognizing your errors of judgment can be an essential part of improving your decision-making process. When you treat failure as part of the learning process, each unsuccessful attempt takes you one step closer to achieving your goal.

Don’t take your failures personally.

Approaching failure with a pessimistic attitude, the belief that your failure means you are defective leads to depression, anxiety, and poor mental health. Try not to personalize every error as evidence of your inability.

Don’t believe that one failure means you will never be successful.

Avoid generalizing from one unsuccessful experience to the belief that because you failed once, you will always fail. This unhelpful thought of overgeneralization interferes with your ability to try again and can lead to paralyzing depression. Most highly successful people had experienced repeated failures before they finally learned how to be successful.

Don’t believe that because you failed in one area, you will fail and everything.

If you’re honest with yourself, you will find there are some things you are better at than others. Struggling in a chemistry class doesn’t mean you can’t be successful in business, history, or some other field. If you play sports, you’re probably better at one sport than another. One element of success in life is finding the areas where your interests match your talents.

Start practicing the skills you need to bounce back from adversity.

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

Introvert.

Introvert. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Introvert.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

“Don’t think of introversion as something that needs to be cured.”

― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

“I am rarely bored alone; I am often bored in groups and crowds.”

― Laurie Helgoe, Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength

“I’m an introvert… I love being by myself, love being outdoors, love taking a long walk with my dogs and looking at the trees, flowers, the sky.”

― Audrey Hepburn

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