How is your mental health?

How is your mental health?

Mental Health or Mental Illness

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

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

Being mentally healthy is more than just not being mentally ill.

There’s a lot of difference between having a physical illness and being healthy. The same thing is true of mental health. Being mentally healthy takes some skills and some practice. Whether you are someone with a mental illness or someone who just has difficulty coping with life, there are ways to become more mentally healthy.

What are some of the characteristics of the mentally healthy person?

Mentally healthy people have goals they’re working towards but see those goals as opportunities. They don’t see themselves as failures because they haven’t reached those goals yet. They adapt to changing circumstances and are continually learning new things. Mentally healthy people can have meaningful relationships with others, and they work on those relationships.

Mentally healthy people experience contentment.

The mentally healthy person has perfected the art of being content. Lots of people mistake excitement, those peak adrenaline experiences, for happiness. Your attitude in life is a significant factor in your mental health. Always chasing the next thing you want can leave you feeling empty. Make sure you pause to enjoy what you have and never underestimate the value of intangible things, like your spiritual beliefs and your friendships.

Life is fun when you’re mentally healthy.

A mentally healthy person enjoys life. They look forward to each day for what it might bring. They don’t avoid life’s challenges but look at those experiences as opportunities. They don’t wake up saying good God its morning. They thank their higher power for another morning.

Mentally healthy people make hope their friend.

Mentally healthy people hold onto the belief that if they try, they can reach their goals. They believe that their efforts will be rewarded. They avoid the belief that their successes are outside their control. People who are high in hope can generate multiple plans to reach their goals, and they don’t get stuck in believing that if one thing doesn’t work, they will never be successful.

The mentally healthy person cultivates resilience.

Things happen. People with mental illness struggle to cope with daily life. Mentally healthy people experience problems in life, but when something destroys their dreams, they build new dreams. Going through difficult times doesn’t mean you’re a terrible person or that life will never get better. Don’t focus on the obstacles; instead, focus on the opportunities. Many of the people who have been highly successful in life had been knocked down multiple times. The reason for their success was often their ability to get back up and try again. Resilience doesn’t mean rigidity. If what you’re doing isn’t working, re-examine your goals and your approaches.

Learning a new skill can improve your opportunities. Developing new and better friendships can also provide you with a support system that carries you through the tough times.

Learn stress management techniques to improve your mental health.

Life can be stressful. Some people experience more stress than others, and some days are more stressful for all of us. But learning to manage your stress rather than getting stuck in it will make you less susceptible to the ill effects of stress.

Mentally healthy people know who they are.

They pursue their goals because they reflect their core values, not someone else’s values. One road to mental health is getting to know yourself, who you really are, at a profound level. Expect that who you are will change across the lifetime as a result of life experiences and the relationships you enter or exit. Cultivate the belief that setbacks are an opportunity for growth in another direction.

Learning to adapt to new situations increases your mental health.

Sometimes we’re faced with challenges, and we don’t like them. Whether you like them or not, the mentally healthy thing to do is to adapt. Rather than staying stuck on what you can’t do, people who take the attitude of looking for what they can do, strengthen their mental health. Learning to adapt to new situations and new technology fosters mental health. Resisting change adds to your stress and harms your mental health.

Keeping your life in balance strengthens your mental health.

Life consists of many segments, like the spokes on a wheel. Meaningful work is an essential part of keeping your life in balance, and that work doesn’t necessarily have to be paid employment. It does need to be something that gives you a feeling of accomplishment.

The other spokes in your life wheel should include relationships, both close intimate family relationships and friendships. Your physical health, religious or spiritual beliefs, and the ability to play and have fun, all contribute to keeping your life in balance and you mentally healthy.

Mentally healthy people feel good about themselves and others.

We found little evidence that beating yourself up for mistakes makes you work harder. The way to increase your self-esteem is to do more worthwhile things. The more things you do, the more room there is for some of those efforts to turn out poorly. Don’t take failing at a task to mean that you are a failure. No one hits a home run every time they’re at-bat. Forgiving yourself when you’re less-than-perfect, and trying again should build your self-esteem.

Consider that if you don’t like yourself, you make it very hard for others to like you. Mentally healthy people accept themselves, warts and all. Part of a happy life is learning to be your own best friend. You should love yourself just as much as you love others.

Mentally healthy people do what they can to care for their physical bodies.

Get plenty of sleep. It’s not a waste of time. Lack of sleep is a significant cause of mental health issues. When you don’t sleep enough, you don’t think well, and everything is overwhelming. Eat adequate healthy food, but don’t let food become your drug of choice. Make sure you stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water.

If you drink alcohol, do it in moderation. Alcohol dehydrates you, and it is a depressant. Don’t try to see how much of a dangerous substance you can use before you become depressed.

What steps will you take to improve your mental health?

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.

What are you wishing for? What is on your holiday list?

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

What is on your holiday wish list this year?

As we kick off the run-up to Christmas, the stores are getting busy. There are black-whatever deals and there are wish lists for Santa, mom, dad and the government.

Watching the news this season has made me wonder whether we should be so disappointed with what we do not have or grateful for the things we do have.

Are you saying that you need a newer larger house?

No Roof.

No Roof.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

OR – Do you wish your house had a roof?

Are you griping about the electricity bill?

No Power.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

OR – Do you wish you had electricity?

Are you carving Chocolate?

Empty Refrigerator.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

OR – Are you carving some food for your children?

Are you wishing for more time off from work?

Unemployed.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

OR – Do you wish you had a job?

Maybe this season we should continue to remember the lists we made of things to be thankful for and expand our gratitude lists at a faster rate than we add to our wish lists.

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.

Manic relaxation.

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

Manic relaxation.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Does your weekend disappear in a blur?

For many people, the workweek, whatever days and hours that is for you, drags by slowly. But your weekend disappears in seconds. Frantic weekends can often leave you exhausted when it’s time to return to work. There are always chores to do, taking care of where you live and the necessities of life. There’s also trying to squeeze in as much fun and relaxation as possible.

Can you relax at high speed?

With your life going by at a frantic pace how do you maximize your relaxation? Do you feel like you’re desperately trying to squeeze in time for relaxation and pleasure and the time is gone before it even begins? What you may be doing is manic relaxation, rushing from activity to activity trying to enjoy all the pleasure you can before your time off is gone.

Some people live their lives like racecars. You sit at the starting line with your engine all revved up ready to race all weekend at top speed trying to win the relaxation derby. The result of the rapid pursuit of pleasure may take you nowhere.

Does your manic relaxation lead to Monday blues?

Trying to cram too much fun and enjoyment into your weekend may leave you neither happy nor rested. Relaxation requires taking the pressure off, slowing down the pace and going with the flow.

Having worn yourself out over the weekend trying to do rest and relaxation at warp speed results in a sudden stop come Monday morning. Having raised through the pleasure game you and up hitting the wall. Some people experience Monday morning blues. They are both exhausted from the weekend and down and depressed because they are back to the grind of the week before they’ve even found their pleasure and relaxation.

Overindulgence in pleasure doesn’t help you recover from overwork.

Learning to work to live rather than live to work is good advice. The contrary suggestion is also valid. Overindulgence in pleasure devalues the happy experiences you have. Chasing pleasure during your downtime wears you out. Learn to relax and enjoy the pleasures that come your way. There’s a minimum amount of time that every human needs to sleep and to relax. Make sure you include plenty of rest in that R and R time outside of work.

The human nervous system builds up tolerance. We can develop tolerance to drugs, to alcohol, and to many behaviors. Learn to take your pleasures in small doses.

Have you worn yourself out in the manic pursuit of relaxation?

Instead of wearing yourself out trying to swim against the tide to reach the ultimate pleasure and relaxation try hopping in the inner tube and floating leisurely down the river of life. Relaxation is not something you can guzzle. Relaxation is a healthy beverage that should be patiently sipped.

Have you fallen into the trap of manic relaxation?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Four David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery i

s 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, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and many other online stores.

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.

How healthy is your pie of life?

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

Life pie

Healthy Pie of Life.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

A healthy, balanced life is made up of many “slices” they all need to be healthy.

Recovery programs, whether they are mental health or substance use programs, frequently have clients fill out a form sometimes called a “pie of life” or a “grapefruit diagram.”

Your life is made up of many separate components. Each of these portions needs to be in balance for you to have a healthy emotional life. Periodically, it is useful to look at each of these life domains and see which require improvement.

Social Relationships support good mental health.

One of the four criteria for diagnosing a problem as a mental illness is when it interferes with your ability to have healthy relationships. These relationships can be primary sexual relationships, or they might be family or friends. The problems involved in getting together and breaking up bring a lot of people to counseling so do conflicts with relatives. Today, in America, more than fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce, and there are lots of families who are not speaking to each other.

One reason for the high divorce rate is a failure to develop and maintain a good couple’s relationship. In the early stages of a couple’s relationship, loneliness and sexual urges drive people together. Failure to develop deep friendship dooms many couple’s relationships.

Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, humans need support from other people. Failure to develop social skills can impair your mental health. People in early recovery are encouraged to work on their friend making skills and to develop a support system of at least five friends, where possible family members may meet that need.

Another part of social relationships is your relationship to society in general. Dealing with legal issues, staying inside the law, is a part of recovery. Ask yourself how healthy is your relationship to society in general.

Work and meaning impact your emotional health.

Work provides more than just economic advantages. People who enjoy what they do each day are more mentally healthy. Work Burnout is a major source of emotional distress. People who feel that what they do for a living makes a difference are more emotionally stable.

Beyond simply working for the money, finding meaning and purpose in life will positively affect your mental health.

Your physical world impacts your emotional health.

Part of having a happy, healthy, and successful life is getting your body and physical environment into the best shape possible. Many people face serious physical and environmental challenges. Making the best of the situation you’re in can help to bring your life into emotional balance.

Manage your physical health to maximize your emotional health and your recovery. Good physical health starts with getting adequate sleep. You don’t have to become a healthy diet fanatic to eat a healthier diet. Make small changes and maintain them. Eat more healthy items and reduce the amount of the unhealthy foods you consume.

Get some physical activity each day. Exercise is an important part of keeping your body healthy, and a healthy body has a positive effect on your emotional health. Even people with significant physical disabilities can still find ways to improve physical activity. People who are bedridden can be given physical exercises which they can do in bed. Talk with your medical doctor about ways you can increase your physical activity. Stand if you can, walk more each day when possible. Whatever you do, don’t give up. Each day, strive to take the best care of your body possible and your physical health will help care for your mental health.

Safety and security are also parts of caring for your physical health. If you’re in a dangerous situation, work on making it safer. Whatever you can do to make the place you stay feel comfortable and safe will improve your emotional health.

Intellectual growth encourages emotional growth.

A day where you don’t learn something new is a wasted day. Pursue hobbies, read books and take classes whenever possible. If your mental illness or substance use disorder interfered with your education get back on track. Part of recovery is learning new things. Continue to challenge yourself.

Spiritual and religious practices support recovery.

Part of the process of growing up is deciding what you believe. If you have a religious or spiritual tradition, be sure you are following it. People with strong beliefs and a commitment to follow those beliefs find their faith will support their mental health. Be careful about falling into the need to make everyone else follow your religion. If you’re comfortable in your own faith, you are less likely to need to force others to agree with you.

Emotional and Psychological health, thinking, feeling, behaving.

Make friends with your feelings; they are valuable sources of information. Learn to regulate your emotions rather than letting them control you. If you have recurring thoughts or feelings that are causing your life to stay out of balance get professional help. If your behavior frequently brings you into conflict with others study anger management.

Financial health supports emotional health.

How much money you make, or how much you have, does not determine your financial health. When you are trying to get by on a very small income, it can be a struggle. But having lots of money does not guarantee emotional health. It’s possible to have a happy life despite having a very small income. Some very miserable people live in mansions.

The secret to financial health is to spend less than your income. What makes people unhappy is the gap between what they have and what they want. A large part of the world now owes more than they own. The fastest way to become financially unhealthy is to spend beyond your income and finance that gap on short-term credit card debt.

Part of your recovery may well be getting your financial life in order. Look for ways to increase your income. Invest in yourself by getting more education or job training. Look for ways to reduce your spending. Start a beginners savings account and then begin paying off your debts.

The downturn in 2008 resulted in a lot of people having to do some drastic belt-tightening. One lesson many learned was that when forced to do so they could live on a lot less income than they previously thought possible. For maximum financial health get your finances in order as soon as possible and don’t wait for a crisis to begin paying off bills and saving for a rainy day.

Some of these categories could be split or combined, but they are a starting point for taking an inventory of your life and deciding what most needs improvement. Getting your life in balance is an important part of recovery from whatever you may call your challenges.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

David Joel Miller MS is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC.)  Mr. Miller provides supervision for beginning counselors and therapists and teaches at the local college in the Substance Abuse Counseling program.

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

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

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

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

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. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

The gift of Self-forgiveness.

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

Forgiveness written in the sand.

Forgiveness.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

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 grabbed 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.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

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

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

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

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. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Recovery, Resiliency and Healing from Pain.

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

Ball recovery

Recovery and Resiliency.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

How do you get through hard times?

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 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.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

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

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

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

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. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Thinking mistakes you are making.

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

Negative thoughts

Unhelpful negative thoughts.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Is your thinking full of bad habits?

It is easy to drift into bad habits. Do something a certain way a few times and that becomes the default setting for your brain. After that, you need to put conscious effort into responding in a different way.

Many times people drift into bad thought habits and from then on having unhelpful thoughts pop into your mind becomes your usual way of thinking. Just because this is the way you always think about things does not make those thoughts true. Your bad thought habits may be making your problems worse and interfering with your having a happy life.

There are 11 ways your thinking may be full of bad habits.

1. Thinking it is all about you, personalizing.

If you walk into the room and people laugh you might think they were all talking about you. When someone is short or curt with you, do you think they are being disrespectful? Many times in life when someone ignores us or is less than helpful it has nothing to do with us. One of the great lessons of growing up is that most of the time other people are just too preoccupied with their own lives and problems to give you a second thought.

2. You magnifying mind blows things out of proportion.

When you think about what could happen, do you imagine the worst possible thing? If your mind can turn a minor inconvenience into the end of the world you have trained your thinking to be a magic magnifying mind.

You went on a date, you liked that other person and they said they would give you a call. But the next day comes and goes and no call. You are now convinced that they will never call, that you will never meet that special someone and that you will live the rest of your life alone. When they call an hour later you are now so bummed out from ruminating about this life alone you just don’t want to talk to them and you do not answer the phone.

There are lots of variations to this thought pattern. It rains for a few minutes and you are sure it will flood, you get stuck behind a truck and are sure you will be late to work and get fired. In each scenario, your mind leaps from a small problem to a happy-life threatening outcome.

3. Minimizing, discounting the positive.

You got ninety-nine questions out of a hundred right, but you are upset about the question you missed. Some people find it hard to take credit for the things they do well. The underlying thought here is that you should be perfect and that anything less is not acceptable.

If you can’t take a compliment, or you find it hard to accept credit for what you have done, you may have trained your brain to ignore anything you did well and focus only on the mistakes of life. This can result in a pretty bleak, discouraging way of looking at things.

4. Either Or, Black and White thinking, means you are either a winner or a loser.

High achievers are at extra risk for this one. If you have trained your brain to go for being the best at everything it can be hard to accept the size of the achievement that a second place might be.

Do not let your brain cheat you out of enjoying an accomplishment by insisting you have to be better than everyone else to be worthwhile.

5. Taking events out of context.

So you get the job but all you remember from the process is that you did not have a good answer for one of the questions. One criticism from your partner becomes they “never” like anything you do. You are on vacation for two weeks but the thing you most remember is the traffic jam on the way out-of-town that first day.

If when you think back on past events all you can remember are the rough spots you are falling into making too much of the small things and forgetting the big ones.

6. Jumping to conclusions.

He didn’t return my text right away so that means he does not want to talk to me. You feel a lump somewhere and don’t go to the doctor convinced you must have cancer and only days to live. Many people have developed the habit of jumping over all the possible good outcomes and landing in a pit of pain.

7. Overgeneralizing leads you to bad places.

“I did not get this job” becomes “I will never get a job.” That thought can get you so worked up that you stop looking for work. Believing because something did not go your way once that means you will never achieve your objective, can become the greatest obstacle to progress.

8. Self-Blame, believing you made a mistake so you are stupid, no good.

This mental and verbal self-abuse does not motivate you to work harder. Beating yourself up leads to feelings of helplessness and giving up. You shouldn’t accept this kind of treatment from others. Don’t abuse yourself this way.

9. Are you that good at mind reading?

Do you tell yourself, “When he does that it means — If she loved me she would know.”

Believing others should know what you want and need and then thinking less of them for not reading your mindsets your relationships up for failure. Believing that others should be able to read your mind and anticipate your needs without your voicing them creates misunderstandings.

10. Comparing up, that model or star is better than me.

Comparing yourself to others sets you up for disappointment. There are always people who have more friends on social media and who make more money. To feel better about yourself stop comparing. Especially do not compare yourself in your gardening outfit to someone walking down the red carpet.

11. Catastrophizing is thinking the worst possible outcome will happen.

Do you think “he is late, he probably got in an accident and died?” When things happen that are not to your liking is your first thought that this absolutely must not happen? Catastrophizing is looking for the worst possible outcome and then mentally rehearsing that thought in your head until it demolishes your sanity.

If you are practicing any of these bad thought habits work with someone on changing these unhelpful thoughts to more adaptive ones.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

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

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

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

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. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

What is Aftercare?

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

What is

What is Aftercare?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

How does aftercare relate to treatment?

Aftercare is continuing or follow-up care that is received after the initial intense round of treatment. This is common in counseling those with a substance use disorder. It should be more common for those with most types of mental illness also. Aftercare is intended to prevent a return to active symptoms of the disorder. In the case of substance use disorders, this means aftercare should reduce the risk of relapse.

This term probably originated back in the days when the 28-day rehab was common practice. You got your initial drug or alcohol treatment in a residential treatment center and then after that initial period, you went home. Remember that while medical treatment for physical health problems has been around for centuries, treatment for substance use disorders and mental illness are relatively new procedures.

It is easier staying clean and especially sober when you are in a residential program. It is possible to get drugs and alcohol into a rehab facility but many of the people who are there are really trying to quit and they will report that kind of thing. Programs try their hardest to keep drugs out, kind of like jails do.

What often happened when people left the program was that they ended up back in the same environment as before. Everywhere you go there are people using drugs, drinking and so on. The temptation to revert to the old ways of behavior is tremendous. Think of the alcoholic in early recovery. Everywhere they go there is alcohol. Why even the grocery store is out to get them. You have to walk past the wine to get produce and the beer is in front of the meat case.

To help people who had done a residential drug treatment program stay sober aftercare of some kind is a big help. This may be as little as one time a week or it could be more. Some aftercare’s are even a meeting every night.

Having this ongoing connection to other clean and sober people helps keep the person focused on their recovery and reduced the temptation to do what others were doing and get high or drunk. If you hang out with sober people you are less likely to drink.

Recently we have seen this same aftercare advantage with those with a mental illness. You can go see a therapist, get and take meds but if at the end of a few weeks you go back to your old way of living and nothing changes then you can end up feeling the way you used to feel. The depression has returned.

Staying connected to meds and therapy longer reduces the risk of relapse. One study I read reported that those who stayed on antidepressants meds for two years had fewer relapses even after discontinuing the medications.

Whatever you do to change your life. Keep doing it after that initial change effort starts working. That is aftercare in practice. Maintaining your changes are the primary purpose of attending an aftercare program.

FYI These “What is” sometimes “What are” posts are my efforts to explain terms commonly used in Mental Health, Clinical Counseling, Substance Use Disorder Counseling, Psychology, Life Coaching and related disciplines in a plain language way. Many are based on the new DSM-5, some of the older posts were based on the DSM-IV-TR, both published by the APA. For the more technical versions please consult the DSM or other appropriate references.

You might also want to check out these other posts Drug Use, Abuse, and Addiction 

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

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

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

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

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. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

When You Fall Get Back Up.

Sunday Inspiration    Post By David Joel Miller.

Falling down

When you fall get back up.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

It’s about getting back up.

“There is no disgrace in being knocked down, there is only shame in not getting back up; never quit!”

― Ken Poirot

“We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future.”

― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

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

Is this the year you will change?

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

Changing your life

Time for a life change?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Will anything change for you this year?

Look at that! New Year’s come and gone. Some resolutions have already been abandon. Change is hard, staying the same is easier. Have you ever thought that someday you will make some changes, but time continues on and nothing much changes? You may even have told yourself that you are too old to change, yet all around you others are making changes, small ones, major ones. Some of those people are older than you. Some have illnesses and challenges. And yet they change. Have you asked yourself when will you finally make those changes?

You may see from the blog title, counselorssoapbox Counseling, Therapy, Recovery, and a Happy Life, that I believe in people having a happy life. I believe in wellness and recovery. You can too. Improving your life does not need to be done all at once in huge seismic shifts. That old snowball effect, small changes mounting up, is at work here. Let’s start walking through the process of making life improvements and see where it takes us.

Self-improvement begins with finding out where you are.

Anyone can benefit from a conscious effort to make their life better. You start by looking at where you are and then you decide where you want to go. Don’t get sidetracked into how awful your current life is. View any problems you have as opportunities for improvement.

Some people call this process taking a life inventory. It is important to add to your inventory, not just the marked down and worthless items, but those skills and talents that may take you where you need to go. Make a concerted effort to look for undeveloped talents, those things you said you would do someday that you have not yet tried. One of those yet to be tried activities may be just the thing that has been missing from your life.

Do not rush the inventory process. If you sketch out a house on the back of a napkin you could rush out, buy materials, and start building. It is better to have a good blueprint. This keeps you from having to tear down your house because you forgot the foundation or a way to install electrical and plumbing.

Put your life improvement plan down in writing.

Some time back, a few decades ago, I started working on a written Happy Emotional Life Plan (H.E.L.P.) I carry this around in a loose leaf binder. This plan is one section in the binder that includes sections for the classes I teach and my other important life activities. I look at this plan periodically, about one per week. It reminds me where I have been and where I am going. It is surprising many years, when I get to the end of the year, how far I have come.

Along the way, I discovered that a WRAP plan (Wellness and Recovery Action Plan) was a part of the things I needed to work on. Staying emotionally healthy is a prerequisite for me if I want to reach my goals. But my H.E.L.P. plan includes a bunch of other things also.

You do not need to be lost to check a road map.

Having a Happy Emotional Life Plan does not require you to believe there is something wrong with you. Take a look at the post “Why do successful people have coaches” for more on the way in which anyone can use some help in reaching their life goals.

No matter how difficult or awful the place you are in you can still benefit from doing some things to make your life a better place.

It is not just where you are going but how you wish to travel that matters.

Part of creating a life change plan, one that will make your life what you want it to be, is getting clear on your values. Values clarification should always come before setting goals. If a goal for you is having more money, why do you want that and what are you willing to do or not do to get there.

Don’t try to visit all the countries in Europe in one week.

A common error in trying to improve your life is to try to tackle too many goals at once. People in early recovery from mental illness, substance use, disintegrating relationships and so on often make the mistake of trying to fix all their problems the first week.

You may decide you would like a more abundant life so you take a job working forty plus hours a week. Then you see the need for more education so you enroll in school as a full-time student. Some love in your life would make things better so you begin dating and start a new relationship. All that gets done in the first week of the year. What will you do for the second week?

Trying to make too many changes at once reduces the chances of success. Start by making a few small changes and practice them over and over until those new habits become automatic.

Start any self-improvement plan with a few selected goals and as you make progress towards those goals you can add more to the list.

Plans for self-improvement are life maps for a journey.

It is easier to say you want to be healthy. Taking action on that goal is more difficult. Break those goals you have set up into small steps. Take one step at a time and see how far you can travel. Include periodic reviews for your goals and progress as part of a life plan review.

Sometimes it helps to consult a travel adviser or guide.

If your life plan includes some serious renovations consider getting some professional help. A career counselor can help you look for the new job you want. If you have emotional or relationship issues you need to work on, then a counselor or therapist can help.

Throughout this year we will revisit this theme of transforming your life into the one you would like to have and how you can navigate this process of change.

How are you wanting to change yourself and the life you live?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

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

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

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

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. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.