Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother's Day

By David Joel Miller.

To all the mothers out there who have given their unconditional love regardless of what your children look like or do here is wishing you a happy mother’s day.

If you didn’t have a mother like that, then work on giving yourself that love on this day devoted to the way a caring mother can make us all happy.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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The gift of Self-forgiveness.

By David Joel Miller

To be happy, you need to forgive yourself.

Forgiveness written in the sand.

Forgiveness.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

One of the hardest things to do sometimes is to forgive yourself.  For a lot of good reasons, your recovery needs, to begin with healing the wounds within and forgiving yourself.  Self-hatred and loathing stand in the way of many people’s recovery.  While you may never be able to forget some things, learning to forgive is an important step on your pathway to happiness.  Here are some reasons that you need to work on forgiving yourself and others.

What you hate you keep in you.

When you’re busy hating something, yourself or others, you can’t let it go.  To continue to hate, you must hold on to things.  The harder you hold onto them for more pain you inflict on yourself.  Healing often begins with letting go of the thing that is causing you the pain. Forgive yourself for the mistakes you may have made and move on.

Happiness requires forgetting and forgiving.

If you are holding onto the regrets of the past, you can’t enjoy the present nor can you move forward into the future. Having a life full of regrets crowds out the room needed for happiness to grow. Don’t fill up your present life with regrets about the past.

Letting it go is healing.

Letting things go does not mean that you need to let people who hurt you in the past back into your life. Holding onto resentments keeps you stuck in the suffering. Let go of the painful memories of the past, forgive yourself for your part in them. Learn from the past but live in the present.

Anger is the burden on your back.

Holding on to anger is tempting.  The longer you hold onto it, the more it will wear you out. Continuing to carry around past mistakes prevents you living in the present. The longer you carry anger, the heavier it gets, and the less energy you have for living life today.

You need to let the pain go before it destroys you.

If you’ve ever grab something that’s very hot, the longer you hold onto it, the more pain you’ll feel. We instinctively drop something that’s burning our hand. What we forget to do is to drop emotional pain. People think that by holding on to that pain, they are protecting themselves. What’s important to do is to learn the lesson you needed to learn from that experience and then let it go.

Self-forgiveness is empowering.

Learn to forgive you. Holding onto that burden keeps you from moving forward. Forgiving yourself and moving on creates a whole other source of personal power. All humans make mistakes. People who live full lives do more, and as a result, make more mistakes. Let the past go if you want to prepare for the future.

Forgiveness lets you grow.

Think about one of those lawns were people cut across repeatedly. Eventually, the grass stops growing. If you keep going back over the times where you wish you would have done better, you create a deep rut in your life. To grow as a person, you need to take a new path. You can’t embark on a new life direction if you keep looking over your shoulder at the past.

Staying angry is easy, letting it go is hard.

Most of us have encountered a person was constantly angry, angry about everything. It’s easy to live in the anger; its heat keeps you warm. Letting it go can be difficult. When you stay angry at yourself, you continue to inflict pain on you. Love yourself more and forgive yourself.

Forgiveness is letting go of the badge of pain.

Continuing to flaunt your pain make cause some people to feel sorry for you for a while. Eventually, people get tired of being around someone who uses their injury as an excuse for not trying again. Don’t hold on to the pain as an excuse for why you’re not moving forward. Heal yourself by shifting your focus from how you were injured, to the ways in which you can move forward.

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

Recovery, Resiliency and Healing from Pain.

By David Joel Miller.

How do you get through hard times?

Ball recovery

Recovery and Resiliency. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Some people just have the uncanny ability to come through the hardest of times and bounce back.  Other people come from apparently wonderful backgrounds and still, they struggle.  How do those resilient people do that?  Most of us can think of people who have come through really trying times and it’s easy to understand how they can struggle with their life.  It takes a lot of effort to think of someone who has come from those difficult situations and still has been able to accomplish wonderful things.

Risk factors are about causes of problems.

Stress is a major risk factor.  But not everyone who experiences stress ends up succumbing to problems.  Early life problems can put you at risk for adult difficulties.  Risk factors for mental health problems are just like risk factors for physical illness.  Just because and you have your risk factor for cancer does not mean that you will get it.  Having had a lot of risk factors in your past is not the whole story.

Strength or protective factors are about what causes things to go right.

Protective factors can be either internal or external.  Sometimes it’s about the strength that a person finds inside themselves.  Other times it is about the resources that are available to them in the environment.

One major protective factor is the presence of one caring adults in a child’s life.  But an equally important protective factor is your locus of control.  Are you mainly taking in the opinions of others?  Or do you have the personal strength to do what you believe you should do and want to do?  Highly resilient people believe that what they do matters.  They believe that their results are based on their own efforts.  They think of themselves as capable and not victims.

Resilient people have the belief that what they do affects the outcome.

There’s a thing called learned helplessness in which people have been told or felt that they couldn’t do things so many times they give up trying.  Resilient people develop the belief that what they do matters that if they try hard enough they can do things.

Resiliency like willpower is a finite resource.

Resiliency is not infinite.  It’s hard to measure just how many times someone can be knocked down and still be able to get back that.  People seem to be able to get back up from one severe problem, but if that same person is knocked down repeatedly it becomes more difficult each time to get back up.

Resiliency is not something you’re just born with.

Resiliency is a skill that develops over time.  Having small life problems and learning how to successfully get past them helps to build resilience.  Having good life skills makes you more resilient.

Some people become more resilient as they grow older.

People who had little resiliency when they were children often learn and become more resilient as they grow older.  Learn all you can about resiliency and make it a point to learn from each setback or failure you encounter.

Not every difficulty needs to be traumatic.

Not every physically strenuous activity results in injury.  Many emotional events can be growth opportunities rather than causes of traumatic conditions.  People with more resources, emotional skills, support systems or financial resources may be a better position to deal with life’s up’s and downs.

Not every bad event is caused by you. Attribution.

Resilient people do not attribute every difficulty in life to a personal failing.  Be careful of your attributions.  Not everything that happens is about you.  Sometimes you can be the best person on earth and still bad things can happen to you.

Rumination can reduce resiliency.

Rumination, that common human characteristic of turning life’s difficulties over and over in your mind, increases the risk that you will become anxious or depressed.  Having an emotional problem such as anxiety or depression lower your ability to cope with other difficulties.

Take another look at where you are in life.  Look for ways that you may be able to increase your resilience.

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

Could you have a Mental Illness?

By David Joel Miller.

You think you might have a mental illness, what should you do?

Could you be mentally ill?

What Causes Mental Illness?

Have you ever thought that you were someone close to you might have a mental illness?  Being faced with mental illness doesn’t mean you’re crazy or have lost your mind.  Many people go through episodes of depression, or you may have excess anxiety.  Sometimes the stress of life just is overwhelming.  Or you may be having conflicts with your family, your spouse, or your children.  If you are having difficulties with your thinking, feeling, or behavior you may be at risk for developing a mental illness.  If so what should you do in this situation?  Below are some do’s and do not’s for people who are at risk for emotional problems.

Don’t ignore it, get help.

Just like physical illnesses, mental, emotional, or behavioral problems don’t get better without attention.  Pretending you don’t have an illness doesn’t keep you healthy.  There’s no great virtue in toughing it out and suffering.  Seeking help when under stress can help prevent more serious emotional problems from developing.

Discuss your problem with someone who feels safe.

If you are thinking your problems have gotten out of control, now is the time to find someone safe you can talk to about it.  Sometimes that trusted person will be your friend or family member.

Talk about your symptoms with your medical doctor.

Whenever you’re feeling out of sorts, the first thing you need to do is talk to a medical doctor. Physical problems can often look like mental health symptoms.  It is important to make sure that your feelings of sadness or depression are not a physical illness.  Sometimes prescription medications can create symptoms that look like emotional disorders.

See a counselor or therapist.

Going to see a counselor or therapist does not mean that you have given in to a mental illness.  Professional athletes have coaches because they can help them improve their performance.  In the emotional area, it helps to see a counselor to work on your stress and issues before they turn into something more serious.  Counselors are specially trained to listen to what’s going on in your life, evaluate your symptoms, and decide whether what you’re experiencing is normal or qualifies for a mental illness diagnosis.

Reduce your stress.

A little bit of stress is good for you.  We exercise to keep our bodies in top condition.  But holding onto too much stress over too long a period of time can overwhelm our emotional system.  Often it is not a huge overwhelming stress the causes people difficulty, it’s the accumulations of lots of little stress day after day.  Work on ways to reduce those little stressors and learn to stop stressing over the things that don’t really matter.

Increase your self-care.

Failing to take care of yourself is not a value.  Learn to take good care of yourself physically and emotionally.  Get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat as healthy a diet as possible.

Work on solving those other life problems.

Often emotional crises are the result of failure to deal with other real life problems.  Work on career problems.  Get some help with financial issues.  Tackle those legal problems you’ve been putting off.

Consider taking medication for your problems.

Taking medication to help you live a healthy life is a reasonable thing to do.  It doesn’t matter whether those problems are physical or emotional, medications can sometimes help.  Have that talk with your doctor, and see if there’s some medication which might help you deal with your depression, anxiety or other emotional issues.

Taking inventory of where you are at.

After looking at all the possibilities listed above if you’re thinking that you might be experiencing a mental, emotional, or behavioral issues, something we might call a mental illness, now is the time to take action.  I hope some of the suggestions in this blog post are helpful.

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

Finding your direction.

Finding your direction.

Directions

Finding your direction.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

“Study the past if you would define the future.”
― Confucius

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.”

― Zig Ziglar

“It is a mistake to think that moving fast is the same as actually going somewhere.”

― Steve Goodier

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Which part of you wants that?

By David Joel Miller.

Are you fighting yourself?

Fighting yourself

Are you fighting yourself?
Which part of you wants that?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Do you ever feel like there are two parts of you that are arguing about things?  One part of you wants to do something and the other part doesn’t.  Part of you likes your job and wants to stay there and part of you would like to get a new job.  Part of you likes to hang out with friends and part you would just like to stay home and be alone.

Having struggles and conflicts within yourself is a common occurrence.  I’m not talking about severe mental illness or split personality, but just that human quality of being of two minds at the same time.  Sometimes there may be six or seven parts of your mind wanting to take you in a whole variety of directions at once.

Can’t make up your mind?

Having difficulty trying to make up your mind?  Sometimes this is the result of having choices to make and not knowing how each of those choices might turn out.  Wouldn’t it be great if we knew how all of life’s choices were going to end before we make them?

Other times difficulty in making up your mind may be that you simply don’t know what all the choices available to you are.

I’m not talking about Freud’s theory of the conflict between the id that wants to have its own way and be gratified and the super-ego that is responsible and wants to do the right thing.  Most of the time life is not as simple as choosing between the moral thing you should do and the bad thing that you really wanted to do.

Many times you have to choose between two alternatives, both of which have good and bad parts.  Below are some reasons that the emotional parts of you may be having difficulty with their choices.

Life is not yes or no choices.

One reason you may be having a conflict about two choices is that much of life is not simply yes or no choices.  Sometimes you have a whole lot of options, stay on your current job, go look for another job or go back to school to further your education.  Each one of those options comes with a range of possible choices.

You have way more parts than you think.

When it comes to these conflicting parts of you, there may be a lot more of those than you think.  Each of us has many roles to play in life and sometimes those roles are in conflict.  You have your role as partner and your role as a parent. Also, you’re a child of some other parents and on top of that, you’re an employee or boss.  You may have political or religious affiliations also.  Each of these parts if you has conflicting claims, for your time, your money, your energy, and your emotional commitments.

You also have emotional and personality parts of you.  What interests you, what will make you happy, what you feel you should do, what you really want to do, these can all be in conflict.

You may need all those parts of you.

Sometimes you have a part of you that makes you uncomfortable.  Anxiety may be a friend that keeps you from danger.  That anxiety could also be a bully who keep you from doing things which might make you happy.

Sadness can be a consequence of feeling connected to and in love with other people.  Too much sadness and you become depressed, it immobilizes you.  Not being able to feel sadness results in being numb and you lose your connection with other people.

The trick is keeping your parts in balance.

The difficult part often is keeping all these many parts of you in balance.  Couples are often at risk of getting their life parts out of balance.  Too much time spent on that job interferes with the couplehood.  There can be a tendency to spend all your time and energy on your children.  It’s hard to balance those child-rearing responsibilities with the effort you needed to put into being a couple.  Sometimes you feel like these various parts of you, the roles you have to fulfill, are in conflict.

Each part needs to know its role.

Sometimes parts try to assume a role that’s not theirs.  Anxiety is supposed to protect you from danger but it may get in the way of you doing things that might be fun and an enjoyable.  Sadness should tell you that you have lost something.  The part you that wants to achieve should motivate you to do more and better things. Sometimes that achievement part tries to crowd out your relationships with family and friends.

Your parts need to respect each other.

Your many parts, your roles, your skills, your interests, your relationships, all need to work in harmony.  When one part takes over and becomes your sole mode of existence the other parts suffer.  The work part needs to respect your family life part.  The part of you that feels the guilt needs to learn to respect the part of you that needs to grow.

You can’t keep discarding parts of yourself.

It’s tempting to start discarding parts.  You don’t like feeling sad so you try to avoid anything that might involve more risk.  Your fear of losing something prevents you from ever having it.  Some people cut off feelings.  Others may discard memories, skills, and hobbies that they used to love.

Too much healthy food can make you sick.

I thought I should include this warning.  People who have been through difficult times, who think of themselves as being in recovery, are often tempted to binge on healthy activities.  Too much hard work can take away all the pleasures of life.  Be careful that in your effort to improve your life and be healthy, you don’t avoid everything that might be fun and enjoyable or those activities that could be a growth promoting opportunity.

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

Too hard on yourself?

By David Joel Miller.

Being kind to yourself is hard to do.

Pillory

Too hard on yourself?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Are you harder on yourself than other people are?  Do you find it difficult to be nice to yourself?  Some people think that the way to make themselves a better person is to push themselves unmercifully.  If you’re one of those people who has difficulty being kind to yourself, you may be beating yourself up again and again.  There’s no evidence that beating yourself up is a way to motivate yourself to do better.  Continued harsh self-criticism can lead to depression and giving up.  How many of these self-critical habits do you have?

14 Ways you are beating yourself up again.

1. Can’t ever forgive your mistakes.

Everyone makes mistakes.  Making mistakes is required for humans to learn.  If all you do is keep track of the score, this list of mistakes you made can lead to discouragement.  Learning to forgive your mistakes and move on is part of being a healthy, happy, human.

2. Nothing you do is ever good enough.

If you have come to believe that nothing you do is ever good enough, you are undermining your own life.  Being constantly negative about yourself lowers your self-esteem and your ability to accomplish anything in the future.

3. Criticism hurts like a deep wound.

If you allow criticism, yours or others, to live on after it is first given, you create deep wounds.  If you continue to hold on to criticism you’ve taken on the role of abuser.  Stop the self-abuse, accept yourself as you are and move on.

4. You can’t accept compliments.

Not being able to accept compliments sets you up for poor self-esteem.  If you find it difficult to accept compliments take a look at why.  Declining compliments is not a form of modesty.  Learn to accept people’s compliments whether you can understand them or not.  When you get a compliment, rather than saying that was no big deal, learn to just say thank you.

5. You are constantly hoping for others approval.

People who constantly need others approval become dependent on that outside source of acceptance.  Learn to give yourself approval for things well done and to accept when they are less than well done.  The person whose approval should really matter to you is yourself.

6. You are afraid to let others see your flaws.

Not being able to let other see your flaws keeps people at a distance.  In close, honest, relationships you should feel comfortable enough to let other people see you as you really are.  If you feel you need to hide your flaws, take a look at the people around you and at yourself.  Good friends will accept you the way you are.  Feeling good about yourself begins with you excepting yourself the way you are.

7. You punish yourself before others can.

If you find that you are routinely punishing yourself for mistakes, you are being far too hard on yourself.  Punishment is only one-half of discipline.  Too much punishment becomes abuse.  Stop beating yourself up and learn to take care of yourself.

8. You need to fix everyone else. You are responsible for making them happy.

Your feelings are your feelings.  Other people’s feelings are their feelings.  You can try all you want but you can’t make somebody else feel happy.  If you find that you are constantly trying to fix everyone else, you are taking on responsibility for things that are not your job.  Allow other people to be responsible for their feelings.  Take responsibility for how you feel.

9. You try to be perfect so one flaw is a failure.

One very unhelpful thought is that you need to be perfect.  This all or nothing, black and white type thinking can be very damaging to your mental health.  Work on becoming more realistic.  No one is ever perfect.  Requiring yourself to make no mistakes is an unrealistic and impossible goal.  Take credit for the things you do well and correctly.  Accept that sometimes you make mistakes and move on.

10. You expect more from yourself than you expect from others.

If you consistently expect more from yourself than you expect from others, you have an unrealistic view of both yourself and them.  Learn to cut yourself some slack.  Accept that other people can do things also.  Stop trying to take responsibility for things that are out of your control.

11. You apologize even when it is not your fault.

A sure sign of being far too hard on yourself it is the need to apologize even when you are not at fault.  Apologize when you have a reason to apologize.  Do not apologize for things that are out of your control or other people’s errors.

12. You can’t ever accept help – even when you really need it.

The inability to accept help is another way in which many people are far too hard on themselves.  Learn to help others when they need it and accept help when you are in need.

13. You are afraid of disappointing anyone ever.

How others feel is their responsibility.  Sometimes you have to make choices.  You can’t do everything for everybody without completely giving away yourself.  Doing good self-care and keeping your life in balance means sometimes people will be disappointed.  Let them learn to deal with disappointment.

14. Your life is filled with regrets.

If you did it, then it wasn’t good enough, and if you didn’t do it, you should have. Every life has some requests.  Keep yours to a minimum.  You did what you did, and didn’t do what you didn’t do.  Accept what happened.  Your life, good and bad, has made you who you are.  Stop holding onto the regrets and move on.

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