Anxious.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Anxious.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.

If you are anxious you are living in the future.

If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

― Lao Tzu

“True love is not so much a matter of romance as it is a matter of anxious concern for the well-being of one’s companion.”

― Gordon B. Hinckley, Stand a Little Taller

“But life is very short and anxious for those who forget the past, neglect the present, and fear the future.”

― Seneca, On the Shortness of Life

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

Coping in the coronavirus world.

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

Illustrate illness storm.

Coronavirus storm.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

The coronavirus is changing the way we live our lives.

In my last post, I wrote about the macro issues, the big things we as a society need to grapple with as the coronavirus storm rages, people die, and our healthcare system strains to the breaking point. Today I wanted to share with you some of the micro issues, the challenges I faced in my own life, home, and relationships, as I try to cope with this changing situation. As you read this, please remember I am an old guy, born shortly after World War II and now in my seventies. Keeping up with new technology, changes in fashion, and an ever-evolving world has been a struggle for me even before the coronavirus. The changes now feel like a merry-go-round that has started to accelerate out of control.

What are my significant personal challenges?

Over the last two months, my life has changed more than I could ever imagine. I suspect it has for every one of you who is reading this blog. Now it a good time to share with all of you some of the changes I’ve been experiencing in my life and some thoughts for what the future holds.

Many counselors and therapists are reluctant to share about themselves. As my students, and probably most of you readers realize, I feel like I need to be more open and honest about my experiences. Here are a few of my experiences and observations on the way the coronavirus has changed my life.

Sheltering in place has changed everything.

I thought I had my schedule all worked out. Each week I have been spending part of one day at a local nonprofit doing clinical supervision. I had it down to a routine. Show up, run the group, sign the forms, and then go home. Because of the shelter in place order, the trainees and interns have had to learn to do therapy via telehealth. I’ve had to learn a whole new technology to do their supervision remotely. What had been a simple routine procedure has had a sharp learning curve.

Beyond the technical parts, every one of those therapists in training is also a person. It’s hard to think about your client when your life is in turmoil. The ever-present thought that by spending time in a small consulting room with the client, you’re putting your life in danger, must be reckoned with. Part of each training session now is devoted to having the therapist check-in and see how they are coping with the ominous threat of the coronavirus looming over them and their families.

Despite all the difficulties in shifting to an online way of life, I think the shelter in place was an enormously wise decision. I live in California, and we implemented the stay at home protocol early on. I also live in the Central Valley, a mostly rural and less densely populated area. Early action and sparse population have resulted in extremely low infection rates and even lower death rates. I have every reason to think the virus will get here eventually, but the slow spread has so far avoided overtaxing our medical system.

Shifting from teaching in-person classes to online classes has been traumatic.

I’ve been teaching classes at two different local colleges for over 12 years now. I had my system in place. I have created PowerPoints, quizzes, and tests; all the materials I need to run a class. Suddenly there were no in-person classes. The classes have all moved online. Fortunately, I’d taken a class and how to teach online courses back in the summer of 2016. My efforts to create videos for the counselorssoapbox YouTube Channel has turned out to be a significant blessing.

While it’s been a frantic pace of the last few weeks, I knew how to convert my lectures to videos and upload them to YouTube so that my students can watch them anytime they want from the relative safety of their home.

If only the transition had been that easy. This semester I’m teaching three separate classes. One is a 16-week long semester class. Another is an eight week, twice a week class. While the third class was a hybrid part in-class part online format, all three have a different start, midterm, and end date. Beyond that, the three classes are being conducted on two separate learning platforms. Over a couple of weeks, I’ve had to become considerably more familiar with both Moodle and Canvas.

Over the years, I’d accumulated quite a test bank of questions. It was easy to assort the questions, print out a copy, and make as many copies as needed for class. The process of turning these into online quizzes and tests turned out to be a whole lot more complicated.

Working from home requires confronting my age.

I’ve been retired from a full-time job for over two years now. Whenever I must enter my birthdate on anything, I am forced to recognize that I’m getting older. Despite having retired, I’ve been doing more part-time work and staying incredibly busy. Keeping busy and active, I suppose, is my way of avoiding admitting I’m not as young as I used to be.

Then, when I got the email from the college saying that anyone over a certain age was not to come on campus and I realized I was quite a few years past that age, I’ve been forced to admit to myself I’m now in that high risk older adult category. Furthermore, whatever I may think about taking risks with my own life, I have had to realize that I can’t take the risk of contracting something and bringing it home to others who are at an even higher risk.

I’ve had to transition my therapy clients to distance counseling.

A little over two months ago, I had never even considered using the technologies that today I use every day. I’ve had to learn to use Zoom, FaceTime, and several other online tools. Not only do I have to learn new technology, but I’ve also had to develop some new skills to do remote distance counseling. I remind myself that little over two years ago; I had to have one of my interns teach me how to answer a text message. And today I’m making videos and discussing them with people via Zoom, the process of technological change looks less like a gradual uphill climb and more like scaling a sheer vertical cliff.

Working from home has been exhausting.

When I first considered teaching an online class, I thought it would make my life so much easier. The amount of work that it has taken to prepare the curriculum and upload it to the various platforms has left me exhausted. Stress can be very tiring, even when it motivates you to produce something positive.

Sheltering in place increases isolation.

One of the things I loved about my busy mix of part-time jobs was that it got me out of the house and kept me socializing with a wide variety of friends, students, interns, and clients. I’ve come to feel that the coronavirus has made me a prisoner in my own home office.

One of my colleagues and I were in the graduate program together all those years ago and have made it a habit to keep in touch. We try to get together every month or two for lunch just to check in with each other. With the coronavirus lurking outside, and the restaurants we would generally eat at closed, that monthly lunch together isn’t likely to happen again for a long time.

This last week we had to improvise our monthly get together. We sat talking together over FaceTime while I ate my lunch. I suppose that, for me, is one of the visible aspects of this anxiety-producing situation. One after another, I have found ways to adapt. I continue to teach, albeit online. I still see clients via distance counseling technology. And while my physical contact with other humans has been extremely limited, we’ve created ways to stay in touch with those people who are most important to us.

That’s my story of adapting to the coronavirus threat.

While my life is different now, I’m slowly adapting to this new form of existence. Gradually I’m getting back to my writing. I’ve developed a whole new set of skills. Somehow, no matter what happens, we humans find a way to adapt.

How are you dealing with the changes the coronavirus forced upon you?

Please share a comment below or send me one through the contact me page. If you use the contact me form, please let me know if it’s okay for me to share your comment here on the blog. Take care of yourself and do everything you can to protect yourself and those who are close to you.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Six 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.

Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.

What if your family secrets put you in danger?

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?

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.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Sasquatch. Wandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

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

Books are now available on Amazon.

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

For videos see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking, and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – 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 my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter.

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

Six 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.

Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.

What if your family secrets put you in danger?

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?

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.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Sasquatch. Wandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

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

Books are now available on Amazon.

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

For videos see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking, and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – 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 my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter.

Feelings fill you up.

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

Angry child

What is he feeling?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Some feelings expand like blowing up a balloon.

Remember the old saying “nature abhors a vacuum?” This is especially true when it comes to feelings. Emotions and feelings are an essential part of human nature. Somewhere along the line, feelings got a bad rap. Some people think the way to deal with feelings is to stuff them down inside and pretend they don’t exist. Other people believe whatever they feel needs to be released before they explode. They justify dumping their feelings all over others by saying venting feelings is healthy.

It’s essential to learn to manage feelings.

Learning to manage feelings is a three-part process. First, you need to learn to recognize that you are feeling something. Next, you will need to determine what this feeling is. Lastly, you’ll need to decide what you want to do with it.

What you don’t want to do is dismiss positive feelings as unimportant and hold onto the negative feelings, the anger the fear and the resentment, as you watch them grow.

Have you ever noticed that whenever you feel intensifies when you hold onto that feeling? Going over that feeling repeatedly, a process called rumination, causes it to take root and grow.

Anger expands rapidly.

Have you ever tried to simply sit with your anger? You will notice the longer you sit holding that anger, the larger it becomes. Anger is a high-pressure emotion. It can quickly take over all the space in a human being. Hold onto a little irritation, long enough, and will become chronically filled with rage. Learning to de-escalate your anger is an important skill.

Negative emotions make you heavy and bloated.

Just like some food can upset your stomach, negative emotions, anger, fears, resentments, can leave you feeling tired and drained of energy. It is best to consume these feelings in minimal quantities. Better yet, for good health, avoid putting these feelings into your system in the first place. When you can’t avoid negative emotions, try taking some positive feelings to settle your stomach.

Gratitude is a satisfying feeling.

If you consume a little gratitude each day, you will find your life becomes more satisfying. Like a desert, there is always room for a bit of gratefulness. No matter how happy you feel, you will find there is still room for a little more gratitude.

Some feelings are like cut flowers.

Some feelings will never fill you up. Peak excitement feelings like alcohol, drugs, and sex, frequently are confused with happiness. All these feelings increase the amount of dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter chemical, in the brain – temporarily. The problem with trying to fill up on peak experience feelings is that they fade very quickly. You can’t create a beautiful garden by planting cut flowers. An occasional bouquet of flowers in the house can be lovely. But if you try to fill your life with only cut flowers, it quickly comes to look and smell like a funeral parlor. Once people feel these sharp feelings, the bloom fades very quickly. Requiring them to continually hunt for more peak experience feelings to fill their emptiness.

Some feelings are timid and need room to grow.

Some of the most satisfying feelings, contentment, serenity, and satisfaction, grow slowly and are quickly crowded out by the more aggressive, faster-growing feelings. If you spend time cultivating these shy, slow-growing feelings, they will eventually fill your life with joy.

What feelings are you cultivating?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Six 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.

Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.

What if your family secrets put you in danger?

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?

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.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Sasquatch. Wandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

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

Books are now available on Amazon.

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

For videos see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking, and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – 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 my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter.

Anger triggers – what get you angry? – Video.

Anger triggers – what get you angry? – Video.

A counselorssoapbox.com video by David Joel Miller, LMFT, LPCC

Learning to recognize what’s triggering your anger is a first step in learning to manage your anger. In this video, we look at possible anger triggers and how to recognize when you becoming angry.

Attention.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Attention.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it. (21)”

― Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

“I pay no attention whatever to anybody’s praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings.”

― Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

“The writer should never be ashamed of staring. There is nothing that does not require his attention.”

― Flannery O’Connor

“We must do our work for its own sake, not for fortune or attention or applause.”

― Steven Pressfield, The War of Art.

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

Why can’t we forget the painful past? – Video

A counselorssoapbox.com video by David Joel Miller, LMFT, LPCC

Do you have trouble forgetting the painful past? Do the traumas and mistakes of the past make it difficult to enjoy life in the present? There are reasons why your brain wants to remember the pain and can’t remember happy life events. This video explores why you can’t forget the pain of the past and ways to shift the balance, so you remember more happy things and fewer unpleasant events.