Loneliness is a disease that changes the brain.

Person alone

Loneliness.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

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

Loneliness doesn’t just feel bad; it makes you sick.

According to the British Psychological Society, researchers have concluded that loneliness, rather than being the result of physical and mental health problems, may be a direct cause. Higher than normal levels of loneliness have been connected with a number of physical diseases. Loneliness not only changes the way you think about things and your feelings but eventually, over time, it can change the very structure and chemistry of your brain. Here are some of the ways that loneliness affects your physical and mental health.

Loneliness is bad for your physical health.

Loneliness, living alone, and poor social connections are as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. (Holt-Lunstad, 2010) Loneliness is worse for you than obesity. (Holt-Lunstad, 2010)

Loneliness impairs your sleep.

One study in Health Psychology found that loneliness impairs the quality of sleep and leaves you feeling more tired the next day, even if you get the same number of hours of sleep that night.

This connection works in both directions. Being lonely impairs the quality of your sleep. Poor sleep quality impairs your daytime functioning, making you more likely to avoid others and increases your loneliness.

Lonely people have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep.

Being lonely increases sleep latency, meaning it takes you longer to fall asleep and may result in difficulty staying asleep. Both of these lead to daytime drowsiness and impaired health and functioning.

Lonely people have higher blood pressure.

Loneliness can increase your blood pressure as much is thirty points. Loneliness increases the blood pressure just about as much as losing weight decreases it. People with the highest blood pressure also are likely to score highest on measures of loneliness.

Being lonely decreases your resistance to diseases.

Loneliness leads to chronic stress and inflammation, which can weaken your immune system. It’s the feeling of being lonely rather than the objective measure of social isolation, which leads to reduced resistance to diseases. Even when you have plenty of relationships, you can feel lonely if the quality of those relationships is poor

Lonely people have impaired cognitive function.

While being lonely affects sleep and lack of sleep impairs cognitive function, the relationship goes even deeper. When you’re using up a lot of your cognitive abilities being under constant stress and feeling lonely, you don’t have much capacity left to focus your thinking.

Lonely people have an increased risk of developing dementia.

Considering all the other things loneliness does to your nervous system, it’s not surprising that being lonely puts you at an increased risk of developing dementia. Of course, that probably runs in the other direction also, people with dementia are more likely to experience loneliness. Lonely people are more likely to suffer from dementia, heart disease, and depression. (Valtorta et al, 2016) (James et al, 2011) (Cacioppo et al, 2006)

Loneliness causes depression.

Feelings of loneliness are a major factor in depression. Not feeling loved or supported is depressing. People with depression tend to avoid other people and often have negative thinking patterns. If you believe you’re being rejected, you are likely to develop depression.

You won’t live as long if you’re lonely.

Chronic loneliness shortens the lifespan. Other mental illnesses reduce lifespan also. Having a mental or emotional problem that goes untreated puts you at risk for early death. Loneliness is likely to increase your risk of death by 29% (Holt-Lunstad, 2015)

Health risk information from The Campaign to End Loneliness.

For more on this topic, look at the materials on The Campaign to End Loneliness website.

Have you been feeling more or less lonely lately? What have you done to cope with feelings of loneliness and isolation?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story BureauStory Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty Baldwin takes a job in the capital city working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

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

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

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

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

For videos see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Grandparents.

Grandparents.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Grandparents.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

“The simplest toy, one which even the youngest child can operate, is called a grandparent.”

― Sam Levenson

“When grandparents enter the door, discipline flies out the window.

~ Ogden Nash”

“The reason grandparents and grandchildren get along so well is that they have a common enemy.”

― Sam Levenson

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. There are an estimated 100,000 words in the English language that are feelings related. Some emotions are pleasant, and some are unpleasant, but all feelings can provide useful information. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Look at these related posts for more on this topic and other feelings.

Emotions and Feelings.

Inspiration

Signs of gaslighting.

Gaslighting
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

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

What is gaslighting?

Gaslighting is the attempt to manipulate a person or group psychologically. The perpetrator wants to get the victim to doubt their own perceptions. Gaslighting is done to obtain power and control over the victim. The process happens slowly and gradually until the victim comes to question their perception of reality.

The origin of the term is a play from the late nineteen-thirties, which was later turned into a movie. When someone is gaslighting, they are trying to convince you that you are insane and that what you’re seeing happen isn’t happening.

Abusers often resort to gaslighting techniques to try to convince their victims that they are not doing anything wrong. By destroying the victim’s sense of reality, the abuser gains control over that individual. Cults often engage in gaslighting to convince their followers that only the leader correctly perceives things. To be effective, the person doing the gaslighting has to get the victim to doubt their own perceptions. Gradually the judgment of the victim is invalidated, and they look to the abuser for their sense of reality.

One technique that is used for gaslighting is to repeat a lie that they want others to believe continually. Repeating something often enough and loudly enough can convince many people to believe that lie and to doubt their perceptions.

Gaslighting techniques, sometimes called disinformation campaigns, have become extremely common on social media. Something completely untrue can spread rapidly when an altered video or non-true news story is reposted often enough. Both antisocial sociopaths and narcissists make extensive use of gaslighting methods. Here are some ways that you can spot attempts to gaslight.

They tell blatant lies.

The lies are often so extreme that they are hard to believe. No matter how often they are challenged, the perpetrator sticks to their deception and attacks the victim. By using huge lies, they keep the victims from knowing when they’re telling the truth, and when they are lying. The goal is to keep the victim emotionally off-balance.

When challenged, they deny everything, even if you have evidence.

The person using gaslighting techniques never admits they’re wrong about anything. They explain away the evidence. Tell you that you miss read something or you are misinterpreting things. Their repeated denials can get you to question your perceptions.

They tell you that you are wrong, crazy, or just imagining things.

When confronted with something the gaslighter has done, they will deny that the actions ever took place. You may know you saw them doing something, but they will offer a different explanation. They’ll tell you that you didn’t see what you thought you did. That makes excuses that you’ve been stressed out recently, that you’re taking things too seriously. They may even tell you that something you remember didn’t happen or didn’t happen the way you remember it.

They withhold information from you.

The person doing the gaslighting will tell you that you don’t need to think about that. They will try to handle everything for you. As with other forms of abuse, they’ll try to cut you off from other sources of information. Abusers often take over controlling the finances and may object to your seeing your family or friends.

They wear you down over time.

The person using gaslighting never lets up. The lying and contradicting you, coupled with attacks on your perceptions, are relentless. They stick to their script, gradually wearing their victims down.

Their actions don’t match their words.

They often give you stories of what they’re going to do and why it’s for your benefit. But when you look at their actions, they don’t match the promises they made and are primarily for their own self-interest.

They distract from their behavior by projecting it on you.

Do you think your partner is cheating on you? If you confront them about this, they’re likely to accuse you of being the cheater. Criticize their drinking or drug use, and they’ll find something you do and accuse you of being addicted to reading books, watching your TV show, or eating your favorite dessert.

Degrading comments are followed by positive reinforcement.

They’ll tell you that you’re stupid or crazy. Often these degrading comments come in the form of jokes. After running you down repeatedly, they’ll offer you a small amount of praise for some minor things you did. The goal here is to get you to doubt your abilities and to be hungry for their praise and approval.

They block or are unsupportive of your growth.

Anytime you try to develop a new friendship or new interest, the abuser is likely to tell you that that person is no good for you, and you will never be able to handle the new activity.

Gaslighters hide things from their victim’s.

People who engage in gaslighting may have secret bank accounts, a second cell phone, and develop other ways to hide information.

Abusers try to change you.

They may tell you that you need to change your appearance, your habits, or your interests. They will often use derogatory comments about you to undermine your self-esteem, gradually changing their victims into the person they want them to be.

Abusers try to isolate you.

Techniques frequently used by those people who are gaslighting others are to cut them off from their families and friends. They tell you that people you are close to are jealous of your relationship and out to harm you. They may also tell friends and family that you’ve been acting crazy and are close to a mental breakdown. The goal is to eliminate any contact you have with other people so that no one supports your version of reality.

Have you been affected by gaslighting? What have you done to try to reestablish your independence?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

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

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

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

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

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

How do you combat loneliness?

Person alone

Loneliness.

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

Why is loneliness on the rise?

With all the electronic interconnectedness we have these days, you wouldn’t expect people to be increasingly lonely. But the reality of the situation is that social media friends don’t take the place of real in-person friends. An increase in electronic connections doesn’t equate to an increase in friendships and emotional connections.

Loneliness causes enough damage to your brain’s structure and function that experts have begun to believe it should be considered a disease. Being lonely affects both your physical and your mental health. What can you do to combat loneliness? Here are a few of the strategies that some people have adopted to tackle their feelings of loneliness.

New research published in Aging & Mental Health by Alejandra Morlett Paredes from the University of California, San Diego, and colleagues describes some possible coping strategies for loneliness.

Many of the coping mechanisms directly challenge the causes of loneliness. As people age, we experience losses. People you loved and who have loved you may have exited your life. Over the years, you may lose physical and mental abilities. There’s less time left to do anything and you may begin to wonder what your life has meant. While you may be surrounded by lots of people, the loss of quality relationships can make you lonely even in a crowd.

Acceptance of your limitations reduces isolation.

People who continue to insist they should be able to do the things they were able to do earlier in life are more likely to isolate. Accept that some activities may be more difficult for you to do. You may also have to make some accommodations for reduced abilities. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do. Embrace the use of newer technologies. If you need one, use a wheelchair to increase your mobility. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Don’t feel embarrassed by your limitations.

Practicing self-compassion reduces feelings of loneliness.

There’s no evidence that being critical of yourself will motivate you. Practicing effective self-compassion allows you to accept yourself as you are. Treat yourself as well as you would others. If you have been hard on others your whole life, learn to be more empathetic and compassionate towards them, and then use those new skills to increase your compassion toward yourself.

Engaging with your spirituality helps reduce feelings of loneliness.

Spirituality can increase your feeling of connectedness both to other people and to your meaning and purpose in life. Even when you can’t be physically present with other people who share your religion or spirituality, practicing the behaviors your faith tells you that you should be doing helps to maintain those connections. Pray, meditate, and practice good thoughts and deeds.

Stay socially connected and develop new friendships.

One aspect of loneliness is a lack of social connectedness. Friendships are built and strengthened by shared activities. The more things you do, the more friendships you can make. In the coronavirus age, many of these shared activities must be done when not physically present with each other.

When we first began socially distancing, I expected to feel more disconnected from my usual social circle. We’ve all learned to use videoconferencing and frequent emails to maintain those feelings of connectedness. Sharing about topics that are of mutual interest has helped to reinforce our connectedness.

Strengthen the relationships with the people you spend your time with.

A second aspect of loneliness is the feeling that the relationships you have aren’t meeting your needs. Sometimes that means you need to change your relationships. But that’s not the only option. Use your time around others to strengthen your relationships. Learn to communicate with those you care about in more positive ways. If your primary relationships aren’t meeting your emotional needs, consider either individual counseling to work through your own issues or relationship counseling to improve the communication between you and the others who are significant in your life.

Research the strategies others use to cope with loneliness.

There are several articles available on the Internet these days on how to cope with feelings of loneliness. Read some of these and try incorporating some of their suggestions into your life. One article I found particularly interesting was from the British Psychological Society, which reported on some of the strategies older adults use for combating loneliness.

If you have found any strategies that have helped you cope with loneliness, please leave a comment below.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

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

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

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

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

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Father.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Fatherhood

Happy Father’s Day.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

“It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived.”

― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

― Mark Twain

“We are taught you must blame your father, your sisters, your brothers, the school, the teachers – but never blame yourself. It’s never your fault. But it’s always your fault, because if you wanted to change you’re the one who has got to change.”

― Katharine Hepburn, Me: Stories of My Life

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. There are an estimated 100,000 words in the English language that are feelings related. Some emotions are pleasant, and some are unpleasant, but all feelings can provide useful information. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Look at these related posts for more on this topic and other feelings.

Emotions and Feelings.

Inspiration

How to improve your communication skills.

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

Couple

Good Relationship.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Would better communication improve your relationships?

Communication between people, both verbal communication and nonverbal communication, are the primary ways we build and strengthen a relationship. Communication is a vital part of relationships. Communication has two elements, what you’re communicating and how you’re doing that communication. Good communicators can convey difficult messages in ways that improve the relationship. Poor communication skills can turn even the smallest conflict into a major battle.

When couples come for relationship counseling, they commonly say the problem is communication. Unfortunately, many of them are communicating very effectively, but what they are sharing is all the negative, hostile feelings they have towards their partner. It’s easy to believe that your partner has caused the problems in the relationship. Frequently one or both partners need to look at themselves. For many couples, individual therapy is a prerequisite for effective couples’ therapy.

Improving your communication can facilitate resolving some of these conflicts, but better communication by itself will not make your partner agree with you or change them. First, let’s look at some of the ways that people communicate that increase the number of problems.

Ineffective communication styles can destroy a relationship.

Some communication styles turn every statement into a conflict. Some communication destroys relationships.

Ways to damage communication in a relationship.

Stonewalling destroys communication.

Stonewalling is the process where one or both parties refuse to talk to the other party. Some couples go weeks or even months without ever talking about things. Families may have relatives they haven’t spoken to in years. Stonewalling – refusing to communicate may include walking away while they are talking.

Other harmful styles of communication may result in creating so much pain in your partner that you teach them to withdraw whenever communication gets difficult.

It’s impossible to avoid communicating. Your failure to talk to someone says volumes. This failure to communicate doesn’t solve problems it adds to them.

Criticism – attacking the person rather than asking for change is destructive.

One way people attempt to tackle difficult communication and conflicts is to begin by an all-out attack on the other person. Knock them down and make them give in. Letting your frustration with your partner’s behavior get the better of you and venting all your anger at them isn’t likely to improve the situation. While telling someone what you think of them, venting may feel like a solution at the moment you attack; it now becomes a wound in your partner, which requires them to counterattack or withdraw. Criticism will sabotage your open communication.

Contempt – sarcasm, mocking, put down’s, escalate conflicts.

Belittling someone doesn’t lead to solving the problem. If anything, it pushes the conflict to the breaking point. If you have such a low opinion of someone, why do you have this relationship with them, and why did you start it? Attacking the other person says more about the attacker than the relationship partner.

Defensiveness – taking things as attacks and attacking back undermines communication.

Some people’s responses are all out of proportion to what was said to them. If you take everything your partner says as criticism or attack, you may need to do some work on yourself. People who come from abusive backgrounds, have lived with or grown up around narcissists, develop low self-esteem. Low self-esteem leads to taking any comment as hurtful.

Running away creates distance and destroys intimacy.

For many people in relationships, their go-to way of dealing with uncomfortable topics is to avoid them. When something comes up, they need to talk about; they run away. I’ve seen couples keep this up for decades. Some couples even seem to prefer this way of dealing with problems.

The issues you don’t talk about will continue to get worse, and eventually, they blow up in your face. After years of not dealing with the problems, couples can look at each other and wonder if they have anything in common and any reason to stay together. Lack of communication is not a solution to your communication problems.

Holding on to resentments will poison you and the relationship.

Many people like to hold on to resentments. Their anger keeps them warm at night. While you may not be able to forget something someone did to you, letting go of the resentment benefits you. The need to be right and to make the other person wrong is a corrosive chemical that eats away at your connection.

Not paying attention to your partner sabotages communication.

If the person you’re trying to talk to keeps repeating themselves, it’s likely they don’t believe you are hearing them. One of the best ways to improve communication is to listen to what they’re saying and try to figure out what they mean. Double-check if you’ve gotten their message correctly. Don’t waste your time in a conversation planning what you’re going to say in reply. Most of us humans can’t listen and understand what someone is saying while rehearsing what we are going to say in response at the same time. Failure to understand what they meant leaves you arguing about things they didn’t say and didn’t mean.

Don’t assume you know what they’re talking about.

Jumping to conclusions can sabotage communications. Ask meaningful questions. Make sure you understand their point before you reply.

Don’t over speak, interrupt, or start talking before they finished.

Not only is this rude, but it tells the party talking to you don’t care what they have to say. If you can be patient and listen longer, they may say something useful.

Accept silence as part of a conversation.

Some people are very uncomfortable with silence. Don’t expect your partner to have an instant answer to everything you say. Sometimes a little silence is a good thing. Ask yourself during the silence if your partner has stopped talking to you, or do they need some time to think it over? Things said in anger often damage the relationship, and if you give yourself some time to think of the right way to say something, you can improve communication.

Don’t cross-examine your partner.

Cross-examination should be reserved for the courtroom. You can ask for explanations, but if you are asking questions trying to trip them up and get them to tell you the truth, your relationship is already in serious trouble. Work on making your communication safe and your partner will tell you a lot more. If you don’t trust them, you probably shouldn’t be in this relationship.

Planning communication, when not together improves relationships.

When you’re apart for any length of time, include communication as part of your relationship maintenance. Set a time for phone calls and have rules for when you will text and whether your partner will respond to all your texts.

More tips on improving communication will be found at – Communication.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

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

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

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

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

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Do you need a friend makeover?

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

Friends
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

True friends can improve your life.

Having good long-term friends in your life can be even more beneficial than being in a good relationship. With today’s high rates of breakups and divorces, you’re more likely to have one of your school friends in your life than your ex when you grow older. Studies have shown that friends are even more critical to your happiness than your romantic partner.

Humans are inherently social animals, and we don’t do well when we don’t feel we belong in the herd. The strong sense of connection positive friends provide can improve both your physical and your mental health.

People with close mutual friendships are healthier and live longer.

Being connected with friends and spending time with them reduces stress. It makes you less likely to be lonely or to feel isolated. Being lonely and isolated is just as damaging to your physical health as smoking, drinking, or being seriously overweight. People with networks of positive friendships tend to live longer. Spending time with friends can brighten your day and improve your mood.

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

Have you ever noticed that some people start to look like their dogs? People also begin to act like their friends. Hang out with the winners, and you’re likely to be a winner. Hang out with losers – will you know what will happen. Positive friends help motivate you to do things. Negative friends suck all the energy out of you.

One of the things people in recovery from drugs and alcohol learn quickly is that they begin to act like the people they hang out with. If you want to stop smoking, don’t spend a lot of time around smokers. You won’t get sober spending a lot of time in a bar. If all your friends go to college, you’re more likely to go there, and even if you don’t, you’re likely to learn a lot from those friends.

Friends can provide emotional support.

Whatever the goals you are trying to accomplish, friends can support you. People with positive friends are more productive and more likely to take the actions needed to take you where you’re going. Whether it’s writing your book or losing that weight, telling your friends what you’re working on can engage them in supporting you. Having someone cheering you on can motivate you to keep going when things get tough.

There’s a difference between friends and acquaintances.

I wish social media had never started calling those links to your profile “friends.” While you may connect with one or two real friends on any social media platform, the bulk of the people you’re calling friends are electronic imposters. Those are pixels, not people. Real friendships are reciprocal. They would do something for you, and you would do something for them. And I don’t mean just push the like button on their latest post.

Beware of friends who are only around when they need something from you. When you’re going through the tough times in life, look around and see who still considers themselves your friend.

Developing genuine friendships can be challenging.

Making friends can be a struggle. As our lives progress, it’s harder to put yourself out there and meet new people. If you are an introvert, or high in anxiety, making new friends may seem impossible. Despite all the challenges in making new friends, the benefits of friendship are well worth the effort. Remember, there are others out there who would like to make a new friend just as much as you do.

Another way to increase the quality of your friendships is to reconnect with old friends you’ve lost touch with. Life gets busy, and sometimes we forget to stay in contact. Some of those friends you haven’t talked to for a while would love to hear from you again.

You make friends through shared activities.

Most friendships develop around something you do together. Lifelong friends are often someone you met in elementary school or high school. Old school friends are likely to be in your life come what may. If you engage in an activity, have a hobby or other interest, your involvement in that activity is a great way to create new friends.

If you want to make new friends, do more positive activities.

Whatever your interests, stop being passive and become involved. People who garden and join the gardening club frequently make lifelong friends. People who are active in sports develop friends who play the same sports.

Be careful about having your entire social circle revolve around your work. If the only thing you have in common is where you work, that friendship may not outlast your employment. People whose only friends are work friends may find themselves alone once they retire or leave the company. The people you enjoy spending time with are the ones who will contribute the most to having a happy life.

How satisfied are you with the quality of your friendships?

If friendships are an important part of your life, please leave a comment below. If you’d like to learn more about improving the quality of your friendships, please look at the other posts in the category – friends.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

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

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

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

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

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

The challenge of long-distance relationships.

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

Long-distance relationships.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Long-distance relationships are a challenge.

There are three different types of long-distance relationships. There are those people who prefer living apart. I see this mostly in people in midlife or later years. They have had relationships before, then they spent a period alone and have gotten comfortable living by themselves. They’re not sure they want to give up their independence and accommodate another person in their living space.

The shelter at home of the coronavirus has resulted in couples spending more time together with an increase in arguments and even domestic violence. Sometimes too much togetherness is a bad thing, and people can find together begin to have more than normal conflicts.

Then there are those people who are newly in a relationship. Maybe they met on vacation, or while traveling, or increasingly they met online. Someday they’d like to move and live together, but they’re just not sure about the relationship yet. They struggle with building a relationship with a lot of distance between them.

The most challenging type of long-distance relationship is those couples who would prefer to be living together, but the circumstances are keeping them apart. Military families often must endure long periods of separation. Sometimes one of the partners needs to live separately to care for an ailing parent. And increasingly, with two-career couples, particularly in government or corporate management, one may be working in one city while the other is working many states or countries away. All these enforced separations present challenges. There are ways to strengthen and maintain long-distance relationships, but there are inherent dangers.

Maintaining good communication when you’re apart can be difficult.

When you live together, you talk to each other a lot. Sometimes there’s conflict, but when you live in the same place, you can talk it out and resolve those conflicts. Modern communication makes it more feasible to stay in contact. You can email, text, or videoconference. But none of those distance communication methods has the intimacy of being able to reach out and touch your partner’s hand or hug them.

The majority of human communication happens through nonverbal communication. Even video conferencing isn’t as effective with communicating nonverbally. Emails and texts are notoriously open to misinterpretation. You can’t tell what the tone of voice was, and it’s hard to pick up on sarcasm.

Poor communication can lead to negativity when you’re apart.

When you don’t know what your partner is thinking or what they meant by that, you start to imagine all sorts of things. When you live together, you can ask your partner, “what did you mean by that.” But when you live apart, you can spend a lot of time between phone calls ruminating about what your partner was thinking and what they meant by that.

Separations can make trust issues worse.

Lack of trust is a problem couples commonly bring to therapy. Sometimes it’s because one partner has damaged the trust between them. Maybe there’s been an affair or secrets between them. Once trust has been damaged, it’s hard to rebuild. Many people enter a relationship already having trust issues. They may have trust issues from childhood or previous relationships. Some people are insecure, and some people value their privacy, even if it means keeping their partner at a distance.

One of the ways to improve trust in a relationship is to be extremely open and honest. If you’ve got nothing to hide, it doesn’t matter if your partner checks your email or your text messages. When you live together, you know what time your partner gets home at night. But when you live apart, there’s plenty of opportunities for your partner to be doing things they shouldn’t be. Not knowing leads to doubt, and doubt makes trust issues worse.

When you’re living apart, you don’t see your partner realistically.

Couples who live apart, particularly if it if it’s a new relationship, or if they are early in their relationship when the separation occurs, only see one or two facets of their partner. You see the things they want you to see. We all want to be liked, and we tend to engage in “impression management.” On a date, you try to put your best foot forward.

When you live together, you see them in the morning when their hair is a mess. You see them when they’re sick. You see all the flaws. Seeing your partner when they are vulnerable can increase your feeling of closeness. Seeing them when their greedy, selfish, and disrespectful can make you question the relationship. The challenge of long-distance relationships is wondering what other facets your partner has that they’re not revealing to you.

People change over time.

Life experiences can change us. Couples who live together share those life experiences and tend to change in the same direction. Couples and long-distance relationships are each having separate experiences. Some for the good and some not so good. Sharing verbally, over the phone, your experience with your long-distance partner is not the same thing as the two of you having gone to that concert together.

You may hear about your partner’s job or coworkers, but when you’ve never met them, you haven’t experienced those people in the same way your partner has. While it may be true that absence makes the heart grow fonder, it’s also true that when you can’t see your partner, your eyes may start to wander.

It’s easier to defer problems when you live apart.

People tend to bottle up their negative feelings whether those feelings have to do with the relationship or come from other sources. One of the ways couples grow closer to each other is by working through those problems and negative emotions. When you live apart, it’s important not to defer dealing with issues. It can be tempting to make that short phone call or text a positive moment in your day. But that hides the reality of your life from your absent partner.

People living in long-distance relationships can become conflict avoidant. Afraid of damaging the relationship, their problems never get discussed. Eventually, these issues can fester and poison the relationship, or if you do begin to live together, you may continue to be conflict-avoidant, which prevents you from developing close emotional intimacy.

Contact can become an afterthought when you live separately.

When you’re apart, particularly when you don’t know your partner’s schedule, exchanging communication can become one person’s job. One person may sit by the phone or watch their email waiting for their partner to contact you. It’s imperative for communication to be a two-way street and for each person to take an active role in communicating, but that’s not always possible.

When you’re living separate lives in separate places, you both can get busy. The result is that rather than spending an hour each night over dinner talking, your communication can get reduced to the bare minimum. What should have been a lively discussion between the two of you may be confined to a single sentence text. One or both partners can begin to feel that they are an afterthought in their partner’s busy life.

Are you in a long-distance relationship? Are you considering one?

If so, please leave a comment and share your experience with others who are facing the same situation.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

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

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

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

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

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Signs of a healthy relationship.

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

Couple

Good Relationship.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Is your relationship healthy, or are you headed for trouble?

Every relationship has its ups and downs. Those happy, feel-good movies always seem to end at the wedding. With more than half of all marriages ending in divorce and a lot of people moving in and out of relationships without ever marrying, what will tell if your relationship is headed in the right direction?

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the way to tell if your relationship is happy is to take a hard look at your partner. In most failed relationships, both parties believe the problem was the other person. To predict a good relationship, take a hard look at yourself and see how you may have changed as a part of this relationship.

Who you are isn’t a fixed commodity. While some likes and dislikes may be with you for a lifetime, many people find their personality changes gradually across the lifespan. We change because of life experiences, new learning, and we often change in relationships. While primary sexual relationships may change people in easily identifiable ways, your relationship with your children, your boss, and coworkers can also impact how you see yourself.

Liking yourself is a sign of a healthy relationship.

If you found that your self-confidence and self-esteem have declined since you been in this relationship, that’s a bad sign. While every relationship has its challenges and fluctuations, your interactions with your partner should leave you feeling loved and supported, not worthless.

You have done or are doing your own work is a good sign.

When couples come for marriage counseling, they often complain that the problem is their communication. While that’s sometimes true, more often, the problem is neither one of them has worked on themselves. The most troublesome issues in relationships are often the baggage people brought with them when they moved in together.

If you got into the relationship expecting that your partner would fix you and make you happy, you’re headed for disappointment. People with this point of view often get into another relationship as quickly as they can, thinking that changing partners will fix them. Two sick people don’t make for a healthy relationship. Both parties in a relationship should be working on their own issues and improving together, not expecting their partner to make them okay.

If your partner is okay the way they are, that’s a good sign.

If you enter a relationship telling yourself that you will change them or planning that your partner will need to change in some way, even if that partner says they’re willing, you’re headed in the wrong direction. Under stress, people revert to their customary behavior. Life can be stressful especially when you’re in a close intimate relationship. If you’re starting out thinking your partner will need to change for this to work, think again.

You’re not threatened if your partner disagrees with you about something.

Nobody’s perfect, and everybody may disagree. But if you continuously are finding fault with your partner, look at yourself and why you selected a partner like that. If having your partner disagrees threatens your self-esteem, that’s not a good sign for either of you or the relationship. People in healthy relationships can work through issues together. They can agree to disagree, or they can find solutions that will meet both of their needs.

You don’t feel you have to censor what you say.

A healthy relationship is one in which you can express your thoughts and feelings. If there are topics that you can’t talk about and things you’re not allowed to say, in the presence of your partner, you probably are not in a healthy relationship.

While it should be okay for you to say things, that doesn’t excuse blurting out rude or hurtful words. You can’t justify your lack of tact by saying you are just being honest. It’s tough to stay in a relationship when your partner is always running down your family, your friends, or the work you do.

Now that there is an “us,” you can still be you.

In the early stages of most relationships, people want to spend a tremendous amount of time together. As the relationship progresses, one person may start to wonder if now that there is an us, do I still get to be me? You should still be able to engage in hobbies and activities that you use to enjoy before you became a couple. You shouldn’t have to give up your likes and personality and always do with your partner wants. In healthy relationships, there’s a good balance of doing things together and people being able to have their separate activities.

Practicing healthy communication styles indicates a healthy relationship.

Sometimes it’s not so much the disagreement, but the way it’s expressed. When you disagree, can you do it without stonewalling, attacking, criticizing, and blaming? Disagreeing about a topic is something you can work through. Using your communication as a way of crushing your partner to bend them to your will, is a sure sign of an unhealthy relationship. If disagreements turn into personal attacks, pointing out the other’s faults, or looking for blame, you’re communicating in a very unhealthy manner. Relationships that include a lot of refusals to talk about things and the silent treatment are headed for trouble.

In healthy relationships, you’re able to make joint decisions.

Healthy relationships are characterized by people’s ability to make joint decisions that are in the interest of both parties. If your relationship involves one person just going ahead and doing what they want without consulting the other, that’s a very problematic sign. One person in the relationship shouldn’t always have to give in. Joint decisions don’t have to be win-lose. The goal here should be to find solutions to problems that work for both of you.

Healthy relationships include joy and happiness.

To maintain a healthy relationship, positive interactions need to exceed negative interactions significantly. When you think about your relationship, if all you remember the bad times, you’re in an unhealthy relationship. There need to be plenty of times when you feel joyful and happy. If you’re not satisfied and you never experience joy, either your relationship is bad or you came into the relationship already unhappy and made your partner responsible for your happiness. Work on being happy all by yourself and you’ll have a happier relationship.

You shouldn’t have “trust issues when the relationship is healthy.”

If your relationship is characterized by trust issues, you must ask yourself why. Is it because you don’t trust yourself? Have you done things you know violated your partner’s trust? Or has your partner done things repeatedly that violate your trust?

In healthy relationships, you can let things go.

The inability to let things go to be both a personal and a relationship issue. If every time there’s a disagreement, one or both of you bring up stuff from years gone by, your either in an unhealthy relationship or you’re creating it being unhealthy.

You are intimate in multiple ways.

Being intimate or close involves more than just sex. Intimate also includes sharing your feelings and sharing experiences. Do you go to for walks together? Do you talk with each other? Joint activities increase the emotional connection.

Your partner is the one you talked to about the difficult things.

When you have challenges in your life, who do you go to? In healthy relationships, it’s the partner people seek out to talk to. If you find yourself going to family or friends instead of your partner, it’s either a sign you’re in an unhealthy relationship or your lack of willingness to communicate with your partner is taking you in that direction.

You make happiness your responsibility.

Don’t make the mistake of believing that if you were with a particular person that you’ll be happy. Don’t expect to wait until you achieve one specific goal or buy a certain thing, and then you’ll be happy. If you’re not satisfied with the journey, you’re very unlikely to be pleased with the destination. Learn to make yourself as happy as possible each day and you’re making an excellent contribution to a healthy relationship.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

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

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

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

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

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Are you a Parentified child? – Video

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

Parentified children grow up too soon. They often must take care of siblings or work at an early age. Children in dysfunctional homes don’t get a chance to be children. This can result in problems when they become adults. This video discusses the signs that you may be a Parentified child.