Fear and anxiety not the same thing.

By David Joel Miller.

Confusing fear and anxiety cause you emotional pain.

When is fear real?

Fear, Anxiety, and Worry.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Many people are high in anxiety. They report that they are afraid of a great many things. To conquer anxiety, you need to learn the difference between the things you are afraid of, the ones you really should be afraid of, and the things that make you anxious for very personal reasons.

Recent research suggests that we may have been getting two different things confused.  While fear and anxiety may look a lot alike, the kind of behavior we do to defend ourselves, the circuits in the brain for these two things are quite different.

Fear is about an immediate danger.

Defensive behaviors are controlled in the human brain stem. The brainstem controls automatic reactions to things. It’s the part of the brain that keeps your heart beating when you fall asleep. Many fears are hardwired into the brainstem and function to protect humans from harm.

If you are too close to the edge of a cliff, and about to fall off, fear kicks in and tells you to step back. For most people avoiding falling off a cliff or from another high place keeps them from getting injured or even killed.

If you’re out in the wilderness, it is a good thing to be afraid of bears and lions, tigers and other wild animals. Most primates are instinctively afraid of snakes. Some steaks are poisonous and can kill you. Having an automatic fear eliminates the need to study the snake in front of you to determine if it’s poisonous. Experts, those who work with snakes on a regular basis, learn the difference between poisonous and non-poisonous snakes. Avoiding snakes, especially the poisonous ones, can save your life.

Anxiety is about distant possible dangers.

While fear is about a current immediate danger, anxiety is about future. The majority of things that anxious people worry about are things that are unlikely to happen. Often anxiety is related to rumination.

The part of the brain that appears to be involved in anxiety are the structures that should be used for thinking and planning as well as memory. People who are high in anxiety will attempt to improve results and keep themselves safe by trying to imagine all the things that could possibly go wrong.

The more you sit and try to think of things that might go wrong in the future, the more things you’ll find to be anxious about. It turns out that most of the things that we worry about will never happen. Anxiety is about trying to predict low probability events.

Planning for the future and for contingencies is a good thing. But if you find that you are spending a large amount of time trying to foresee everything that could possibly go wrong, you have moved from planning to trying to be a fortune teller.

The more you try to be perfect and never make a mistake, to create a life in which nothing can ever possibly go wrong, the more you will worry. Unfortunately, the belief that you can somehow protect yourself from every possible catastrophe turns out not to be true.

Whenever you find that you’re worrying about something and it’s making you anxious, the first question to ask yourself is how close am I to this potential danger? Is this something that could happen in the next minute? The second question you should be asking yourself is how likely is this bad outcome to be.

Ask yourself do you want to give up 99% of your life to avoid the things that have a 1% chance of happening. Living, and having good things happen in your life, requires doing lots of things. Unless you really love your anxiety, consider adding more spontaneous, exciting things to your life. Try more things and pay special attention to the things that go well not the few things that don’t turn out the way you want them to occur.

Learning the difference between realistic fears and the high anxiety that worrying brings can result in a much happier life.

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

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Feeding your worry.

By David Joel Miller.

Are you feeding the anxiety monster?

Scary fearful monster

Anxiety Monster.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

The more you feed your anxiety, the larger grows. It’s easy to miss the connection between worry and anxiety.

Some dictionary definitions of worry are:  to give in to anxiety or decrease, to let your mind dwell on your troubles and difficulties.

Continuing to worry increases your uncertainty and grows your anxiety until it takes over your life. How many of these ways are you feeding the anxiety monster with your worry?

Stay up all night keeping worry company.

When there is lots of uncertainty, potential problems ahead, many people hold on tightly to their worries. Often after a good night sleep, things look differently in the morning. A certain way to expand your anxiety is to sit up as long as possible, thinking through every possible negative outcome. Ruminating about low probability bad outcomes is just the sort of worry-food the anxiety monster craves.

You won’t let anyone else babysit your worry.

People who have their anxiety under control learn to use experts to manage their risks. One way to increase your anxiety is to keep all your worries to yourself, and never share them with anyone who might be able to put your mind at ease. Have financial challenges? You should talk to a financial professional. If you have medical issues, you need to see your doctor. For emotional issues, a good counselor can be helpful.

Some people become so attached to their anxiety that they would never consider allowing anyone else to babysit their anxiety monster. If you become unwilling to share your worry with anyone who might be able to help reduce the risks, you’ve taken on the care and feeding of an anxiety monster.

Every morning pick worry back up.

Should you ever get a good night’s sleep, make sure you pick up where you left off worrying the night before. Mentally healthy people can set aside their worries and engage in work and play and positive social relationships with others.

Some people come to view anxiety as their best friend. Their hope is that by worrying enough, they might be able to prevent something bad happening. If you’ve adopted this thought, you’re likely to find that even when the danger is past, after being able to do something enjoyable with others, as soon as you can, you will pick your worries back up and cuddle them tightly.

Stay angry to grow anxieties.

When you’re angry at someone, you’re likely to expect the worst from them. If you’re angry at others, you expect them to be angry back. Your anger at others and your anticipation of their retaliation are certain to feed your anxiety monster.

Indulge negative feelings.

Negative feelings are a super food for anxiety monsters. Indulging yourself in every possible negative feeling is guaranteed to increase your worry and anxiety. Should you ever chance to spot a silver lining, search carefully for the black cloud behind it.

People who are high in the ability to worry and make themselves anxious, are often skilled at seeing the worst in every person, place, or situation.

Remind yourself that it is your fault.

If you want to stay anxious and fearful all the time, take on the responsibility for the whole world. Tell yourself that you should have foreseen that earthquake and moved somewhere else. If something breaks, believe that it’s your fault. When others treat you badly, look for what you must’ve done wrong to create their bad behavior.

If someone you know abuses drugs or alcohol or gets in trouble with the law, ask yourself what you must have done wrong to make them misbehave. This constant believing that everything that goes wrong in the world must somehow have been the result of your failure to foresee it is guaranteed to keep you unhappy and anxious.

Search for evidence to grow your fears.

Whenever there is a doubt, do your best to find evidence to prove that the thing you’re afraid of is dangerous. If you can’t find reliable scientific evidence, post you worry on social media and ask people to tell you why you should be afraid of something. When there’s no evidence, believe that your fear is justified just because it feels scary to you.

The human brain has a bias towards negative information. Let ten good things happen, followed by one bad thing, most people will remember only the one problem. Say you get a job interview, and the interview goes well, you get the new job at a very good salary, but on the way home, you get a flat tire. Continue for the rest of your life to remind yourself nothing good ever happens to you “every time” you try to drive; you get a flat tire.

Especially worry about things you can’t change.

People with a well-developed anxiety monster rarely think about things they might be able to control. Nothing expands anxiety like focusing exclusively on things that are out of your control. To maximize anxiety don’t worry about working overtime and paying your electric bill, focus your worry on the possibility this will be an unusually cold winter, and there might be a worldwide shortage of fuel.

Have you had enough anxiety?

I tried to exaggerate all these ways in which people can increase their anxiety. I hope you can see that there may be thoughts you are practicing which are increasing your anxiety. Consider trying to have more helpful thoughts. Change some of the ways you’ve been dealing with life’s challenges and see if you can’t reduce your anxiety.

If your anxiety, worries, and fears have grown so large, that they are taking over your life, consider that now be might be the time to seek professional help. A good counselor or therapist can help you learn to manage and reduce your anxiety and fear.

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

Therapy can make stress and anxiety disorders worse.

By David Joel Miller.

Traditional talk therapy may make your problems worse.

Pain, Anxiety, Depression, Stress

Pain, Anxiety, Depression, Stress.
Photo courtesy of Flickr (marsmet481)

Don’t get me wrong; talk therapy has been helpful to a large number people.  But occasionally I encounter a client whose condition has been made worse, not better, as a result of being in therapy.  One predictor of whether therapy will work for you is the fit between you and your therapist. If the kind of therapy they’re doing or the way they’re doing it is not helpful, begin by talking with the therapist about this. A good therapist will work with you to find helpful solutions. If you find you therapy making things worse, you may end up needing to switch to a new therapist. Below are some ways I have seen therapy be unhelpful and some suggestions for making it more helpful.

Repeated talking about it can retraumatize you.

Some therapists were trained that the way to be helpful to people, was to do a thorough biopsychosocial assessment before they began treatment.  This historical approach often means beginning with the first event in your life and move things forward one event at a time.  Therapists with this orientation may well believe that the key to fixing your current problems, is to thoroughly deal with your childhood issues first.

More than one client as told me that their therapist’s insistence that they needed to talk about past abuse in detail, became so painful they had to discontinue therapy. We often hear from victims of trauma that the having to go over and over the details was more painful than the initial experience.

There’s some truth to the idea that you can’t heal injuries, physical or emotional, that you deny exist. The problem comes from efforts to dig up the graveyard to get at the root causes before the person is even able to cope with life today.

What is often more helpful is a “solution-focused” approach to your problems. This approach means beginning at the top with the problem that is affecting you today. If today’s problem is unemployment or a bad relationship, that may need working on right now. Keep in mind that early life experiences may be impacting today’s issues. As you get today’s problems under control, you may decide you want to work on those old long-term problems, or you may decide that having solved today’s problems you need to move on with your life.

Talking in therapy can turn into co-rumination.

Sometimes therapy can perpetuate problems.  It’s easy to stay stuck, week after week, reviewing the exact same problems.  When this is done with a friend, it is sometimes described as co-rumination.  The same process can be harmful when done with a therapist or counselor.

Narrative therapists described this as staying stuck in a problem-saturated story. Repeating the same story over and over can magnify its control over you. The challenge is to stop the pain and begin to create a story of how the future can be better than the past.

Being in the wrong group therapy can make your problems worse.

We see this often in substance abuse treatment.  A young adult gets caught with some marijuana, which is illegal in his particular jurisdiction.  This person gets referred to drug treatment and placed in a group made up largely of heroin addicts.  Not only is this group not helpful, but there is an increased risk that this person will develop a worse problem than before.

An equally bad problem can be created when a woman with a history of domestic violence ends up in a PTSD group with some returning military veterans. Group therapy can be extremely powerful, but only if you’re in the right group.

Sometimes the symptoms become the problem.

Many of the things that are described as symptoms of a trauma-related disorder are in fact ways that people adapt to having survived that trauma. When therapy focuses too much on ending symptoms, it can become unhelpful.

For example, a victim of trauma may begin drinking, trying not to have to remember the painful experiences. Someone notices the person’s drinking, maybe because they’re drunk at work or they get a DUI. They may end up in treatment for alcohol use disorder. The difficulty here is that for this person the alcohol is not their problem, it is their solution. The problem is the recurring intrusive memories of the trauma.

Using “unhelpful” behaviors to manage your current symptoms can become a habit. Rather than focusing too much on the unhelpful behaviors, many therapists will work with you on creating new helpful behaviors. Under stress, humans tend to revert to their habitual way of behaving. The therapist will want you to continue to practice your new helpful behaviors until they become your new automatic way of coping.

Don’t give up before the healing miracle happens.

I hope this post will help you understand the ways in which therapy can be helpful, and the times it may not be. If you’re currently coping with the results of trauma and stressors or you have high levels of anxiety that are interfering with your day-to-day life, know that there is therapy out there that can make your life better. If you have been for counseling in the past and it was not helpful, seek out a therapist you can feel comfortable working with. If you’re currently working with someone and it’s not helping, talk to them about this issue.

One other thing you need to keep in mind is that when you’re in severe emotional pain, you may feel like you’re stuck and nothing is getting better. It’s very common for people to make large amounts of progress and not realize they’re getting better. Sometimes your counselor, family or friends will see the changes in you long before you do. Please don’t give up.

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

Happiness Secrets.

By David Joel Miller.

Happy people know and practice these secrets.

Many happy faces

Happiness Secrets.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Happiness is not an accident. Being happy is not about luck. There are happy people in the humblest of situations and miserable people in mansions. Mostly this is about your attitude and developing the skills to keep your life in balance. Below is a list of happy life secrets gleaned from a variety of sources. You can have these as my gift to you. Pick through the list and see which happy life skills would benefit you and then adopt those principles today. Most of these are skills. To be effective you can’t just do it once. Being happy is a something you should be practicing every day.

Happy is a choice.

You can stay sad, angry or unhappy as long as you want. Being happy is less about what you have and what happens to you, and much more about how you decide you will react to the events of life.  Make a choice today that you plan to maximum your happiness.  When you look down you see the dirt.  When you look up you see the clouds and at night the stars.

You can be miserable if you chose.

Pain, that stuff comes and goes. Some people get way more than their share and others not so much, but the happy person learns that the pain is out of their control but the suffering is voluntary. You can make the worst of the situation or you can look for the gemstones that come mixed in the gravel of life.

Happy people study to become happiness experts.

An expert can see things other people miss. A finish carpenter will spot a flaw in construction as soon as they enter the room. Others will never notice that flaw. The happiness expert studies happiness, they can recognize it far off and they are practiced at scooping up and holding on to those little doses of happiness that run by each day.

Look for happiness every day and everywhere.

Happiness is a shy creature.  It is often hiding, mixed in with the activities of everyday life.  Make it your task to spot those fleeting glimpses of happiness.  Collect those happiness sightings the way a bird-watcher collects records of having seen a rare bird.

This is a real life, some days are happier than others.

Some days are inherently happier than others.  When there are less happy days make sure to remind yourself that there will be more happy days to come.  Stay open to the possibility that tomorrow something good might happen to you.

Life isn’t always the way you want it. You chose your attitude.

Be careful to not get hung up on the things that you don’t have, or the things that don’t go the way you want them to.  There will be times in life when things don’t go your way.  You may not get to choose the events but you do get to choose the attitude you take towards them.

When you are in a hole, stop digging.

When you find that the things you are doing are making your life worse stop doing those things.  Most of us have a hard time letting go of things that are not adding to our happiness.  Bad habits, drugs, and alcohol, gambling, don’t make you happy.  Don’t spend a lot of time on people who are negative and drag you down.  Dispose of the things in your life that are holding you back and treasurer the things that make you happy.

Divorce perfectionism.

Perfectionism it is the enemy of happiness.  Chasing being perfect is a great mirage.  Trying to be perfect leaves you unsatisfied with whenever and wherever you are.  Be kind and accept yourself just the way you are.  A focus on your flaws robs you of the joy of the things that you do well.

Go on a low-stress diet. – Stress is about attitude.

Life can be stressful.  Both the good things and the bad things can make you feel stressed.  Learn to not stress yourself out over things.  Accept what is.  Resolve not to stress yourself out over things which are outside your control.

Keep your life in balance.

A happy life needs to stay in balance.  You need time for family, for friends, for work and most importantly for you.  Take care of your body, your mental health, and your relationships.  You need some money for basic necessities but you also need to occasionally spend a little on yourself and enjoyment.

Laugh and learn every day.

To be happy you need to practice every day.  Don’t take yourself so seriously.  Learn to joke and have fun.  Learn something new every day.  Make life a great adventure, not a drudgery.

Happy people take risks.

You need to take some chances, stick your neck out and see what might happen.  Sometimes to find happiness, you have to run the risk of enduring some pain.  The turtle who keeps his head in the shell never gets anywhere.  You will never know the things you might be great at and that might bring you great joy until you have tried them at least once.

Tackle the hard stuff first.

As long as there’s something hard or unpleasant waiting for you, it’s hard to enjoy your day.  Tackle that difficult project first thing the rest of the day gets easier.  Start your day by dealing with something difficult or unpleasant and you will enjoy everything after.

Let it go. Don’t hold onto the bad stuff, grudges, and arguments.

Your negative emotions will poison you.  Anger, fear, or resentments can sicken your life.  Let go of all the things that you may be holding against someone else and you will lighten your load and reduce your baggage.

Share your happiness, there is plenty to go around. Encourage others.

The more you share happiness the more there is.  Smiling at others will make you feel happy.  No matter how much happiness you give away you will always have some left.  People who are stingy with their happiness find they run out quickly.  Be careful not to equate sharing happiness was spending money or doing work for other people.  You can use money, to create things which make people happy, but more money does not mean that you are able to buy more happiness.

Get honest with yourself.

You may be able to fool other people, but if you want to be happy stop fooling yourself.  Tell yourself lies and you will be in the most unhappy relationship possible.

Happy people can accept help.

Doing for others can make you feel happy.  Don’t cheat others out of the opportunities to feel happy by helping you.  Happiness is one of those things that the more you give it away the more you have.  There’s nothing wrong with allowing other people to help you.  Learn to accept help graciously with a thank you.

Love life.

To enlarge your happiness, develop a love of life and a joy of living.

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

Reasons to get mental health help now!

By David Joel Miller.

Some emotional problems need immediate attention.

Mental Health or Mental Illness

Mental Health or Mental Illness?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

There are some mental and emotional problems that shouldn’t be ignored.  Sometimes people think that if they’d just wait, the problem will go away all on its own.  Other people believe that by asking for help and let the problem get control of them. Unfortunately, many serious emotional problems get worse if they’re not attended to.  When should you wait to see if the problem resolves itself?  Which are the times that you need to take immediate action?

Here is my list of the times when you shouldn’t wait to see if a mental or emotional problem will get better. If you or someone you know is having any of the problems listed below don’t wait, seek help immediately.

Suicidal thoughts.

When someone is having thoughts of killing themselves, you should take immediate action.  Some people believe that when a person talks about suicide they won’t really do it.  That just is not true.  If someone you know has mentioned their thoughts of suicide, now is the time to take action.  If you are having these thoughts reach out for help immediately. One good resource is:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at: 1-800-273-8255.

Paranoia.

Paranoia is defined as an unreasonable fear.  When someone is becoming more and more afraid of situations or people around them they are at risk.  Paranoid people may take actions that put themselves or others at risk.

Hallucinations.

There are lots of reasons people might have hallucinations.  Hallucinations are a lot more complicated than just hearing voices or seeing things.  In another post, I wrote about other types of hallucinations. Hallucinations can be caused by a mental illness.  They can also be caused by drugs, both street drugs, and prescription medications.  Some other types of hallucinations may indicate a medical emergency.  When someone is hearing voices or other sounds, seeing things, feeling things crawling on their skin, or having another perceptual distortion, there’s no time to lose in getting them help.

Self-harm.

Besides suicidal behavior, there are other types of Self-harm.  Some people do self-injurious behavior, like cutting or burning themselves as a way to regulate emotions.  The Self-harming behaviors can get out of hand.  By Self-harm, I am not talking about everyone who does something dangerous or disturbing to their families.  If someone is doing things to themselves with the clear intention of hurting themselves, they need help.

Racing thoughts.

Many people have episodes racing thoughts.  Most of that time these turn out to be worry or excitement over upcoming events.  But when someone begins to experienced racing thoughts on a recurring basis this needs to be looked at by a professional.

Impulsive behavior that is out of character.

Many people have times in their life when they do something impulsively.  But if this impulsive behavior is dangerous, reckless, and completely out of character for that person, this is the time that they need help.

Need to punish yourself.

Someone who develops a need to punish themselves is at risk.  It’s not uncommon for someone to make a mistake and then continue to beat themselves up, at least mentally about that mistake.  But if this self-punishment moves from being upset and reminding themselves not to do this act again, to active self-injurious self-punishing behavior, this person needs help.

Sudden unexplained changes in sleep and appetite.

Changes in sleep and changes in appetite are two of the diagnostic criteria for depressive disorders.  There can also be changes in sleep and or appetite in a number of other mental illnesses.  But when someone suddenly develops unexplained changes in sleep or their appetite they need to seek professional assistance.

Overwhelming fear or anxiety.

A certain amount of fear or anxiety when you are in a risky or dangerous situation is normal.  Many people experience overwhelming, uncontrollable fear and intense anxiety about the future.  These kinds of fears or anxieties can interfere with people’s ability to live life.  Anxiety disorders rarely go away on their own.

Serious loss of motivation.

Serious loss of motivation is likely to be a symptom of a developing or worsening mental illness.  When someone loses their motivation it’s time to seek assistance.

Extreme loss of pleasure.

Extreme loss of pleasure, sometimes called anhedonia, is one of the symptoms of a serious depressive disorder.  People who were unable to feel any happiness or pleasure are at higher risk to develop depression or another serious mental illness.

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

Why you should talk to yourself.

By David Joel Miller.

Talking to yourself, especially out loud has some benefits.

Girl talking out loud.

Girl Talking.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

People who talk to themselves out loud can make people around them very nervous.  When we think about somebody who is talking out loud many people are likely to think of the psychotic person who was speaking to the voices or the disturbed person who is rambling on and on for no particular reason.  There can be some very definite positive benefits to talking to yourself.

Children are particularly likely to be talking to themselves out loud.  They have not yet developed the skills to self-monitoring and only speaking out loud when they are alone.  If you find that you are still talking out loud to yourself, this does not necessarily mean that are losing your mind.  But it may mean is that you have something very important on your mind and are forgetting to self-monitoring for other people around.  Below are some reasons that speaking to yourself out loud may be helpful.

You become a better public speaker.

Many famous public speakers began by practicing their speeches out loud.  If you know that you’re going to need to make a presentation, it can really improve your performance to practice that speech out loud.

Talking to yourself out loud reinforces memories.

If you just heard something and you need to remember it, saying it over and over again to yourself can help.  Going over a chain of events A happened and then B can help you to remember those events in sequence.

Talking allows you to practice what you are going to say.

Sometimes we know we’re going to have to have one of those difficult talks with someone.  It’s important to get the words just right.  Practicing what you’re going to say can help you identify things that may come out other than the way you want them to.  Listening to what you have to say can help you find just the right way to a convey that information.

Talking to yourself helps you learn the step to a process.

When you’re trying to learn a new procedure and there are several steps, it can help you to remember this process if you repeat each step as you do it.  In skills training, the trainer may initially repeat the steps out loud to the client.  They will then have the client do the process while repeating the steps out loud.  Finally, the client repeats the process while saying the steps silently in their head.

Talking aloud helps to clear a crowded mind.

People with very active, busy minds find that it can be helpful to clear that mind by going ahead and saying the things that are bothering them.  Sometimes this can be an automatic unconscious behavior.  While this is helpful to the person with a busy crowded mind it can be upsetting to others who might accidentally overhear.

You develop storytelling skills.

Good storytellers practice telling their story over and over.  If you’re going to be telling that story out loud to others it’s best to practice the story out loud.  Highly creative people often tell themselves stories. Sometimes when there alone they tell them out loud.  As you develop your storytelling and your self-monitoring skills you are likely to learn to tell the stories with your mouth closed and the words retained in your head.

You develop a supportive of relationship with yourself.

You’re going to spend a lot of time with yourself.  Work of becoming your own best friend.  One way of becoming supportive of yourself is to have those self-talks that you wish you could have with other people.  The more you practice these self-talks the better you will be able to contain them within your head instead of having them leak out and others hear them.

It helps you to focus on a task or conversation at hand.

Sometimes we repeat things out loud during a conversation with another person.  It can help to confirm that we’ve heard things accurately.  You can also use talking aloud to help you focus your attention on what is being discussed or what you need to do.

It improves self-monitoring skills.

People who are working on their self-monitoring skills may find it useful to comment on their activities as they do them.

Self-talk helps you self-sooth.

When you’re feeling upset or on edge talking to yourself can be helpful.  Remind yourself that you are safe.

You improve your creativity by exploring possibilities.

Creative people may find it useful to have these conversations out loud to explore possible conversations.

So if you or someone in your life makes a habit of talking out loud consider whether this is a helpful skill or a lack of self-monitoring.

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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 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

Types of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.)

By David Joel Miller.

Not all trauma and stressor-related disorders are the same.

Trauma

Trauma.
car crash photo from wikimedia

Most people are familiar with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) the granddaddy of all the trauma and stressor-related disorders.  In addition to PTSD, there are a number of other trauma and stressor-related disorders.  There are two types of attachment disorders, Acute Stress Disorder, a number of varieties of adjustment disorders, and even a category for other specified or unspecified Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders that don’t fit these categories of disorders.  For more on these other disorders take a look at these related posts on counselorssoapbox.com

In Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, there are recognized and unrecognized subtypes.

Recognized PTSD subtypes or specifiers.

Two subtypes of PTSD dissociative symptoms are recognized.

Depersonalization.

Depersonalization, that is the experience of feeling like you’re outside of yourself looking in.  You may feel like you’re in a dream or are an outside observer watching yourself.  It may feel as if time is moving more slowly or as if you are not real.

Derealization.

eDerealization is the experience of feeling like the world is unreal.  You may feel like you’re in a dream or that things are very distorted and different.

Delayed PTSD.

When someone experiences delayed PTSD we use the specifier “with delayed expression.” Delayed expression occurs when it takes more than six months after the event for the symptoms to become obvious.

PTSD subtypes used with children under six.

There are slightly different criteria used in diagnosing PTSD in children under the age of six.  As a result, we also have two additional subtypes for use with children.  All of the subtypes used with adults can also be applied to children.

PTSD with persistent avoidance of stimuli.

Children with this subtype go to great lengths to avoid anything that would remind them of the original traumatic event.

PTSD’s with negative alterations in cognitions.

Children with this subtype develop all kinds of negative thoughts about themselves and the world.  That may have high levels of fear, shame and guilt, confusion and sadness.  They may withdraw from other people and lose their interest in playing.

PTSD unrecognized subtypes.

Complex Trauma.

While not officially recognized in the DSM-5 a good deal has been written about a condition referred to as “complex trauma.”  Both research and practical experience suggests there is some validity to this idea.

 

This condition occurs when someone is repeatedly traumatized in a very similar way.  Think about somebody who breaks their leg and goes to the hospital.  They have it treated and the leg mends.  If they were to break the same leg again, in the same place, it is less likely to heal a second time.

These types of repeated traumatization are often the result of abuse or domestic violence.  Complex trauma also frequently coexists with substance use disorders or behavioral addictions.

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