Surviving a relationship breakup.

Woman sitting alone

Alone after a breakup.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

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

Breaking up is difficult.

Breakups can be extremely painful. Sometimes they are catalysts for growth, and for other people, they can have a destructive result. As a professional therapist, I encourage people to do all they can to fix a relationship before calling it quits.

If you’ve had several breakups or failed relationships, you may need to do some work on yourself before getting into another relationship. You may also want to look at why you picked this person in the first place. But once the breakup has happened, it’s time to take stock and move on. Here are some suggestions to help you survive that breakup experience.

Grieving your loss is the first step in recovering from a relationship that ended.

At the start of a relationship, people have high hopes and expectations. The breakup destroys those hopes. Even a lousy relationship requires grieving. Not necessarily for the partner you have left, but for the hopes and dreams that have perished. Be gentle with yourself and give yourself plenty of time for grieving.

Avoid assessing blame for the relationship failure.

Going on a blame trip can take you to a terrible place. It’s much more productive to accept that what happened has happened. Now is not the time to decide whose fault it was. Later, you may want to look at how you contributed to the relationship breakup and what you will do differently in the future. Avoid dwelling on all the negative emotions of blaming yourself or becoming angry with your ex.

To recover, try on some new people, places, and things.

People change when they enter relationships, and they change when they leave them. Many people who come to counseling after a breakup tell me they are trying to “find themselves.” One way to find yourself is to do some exploring. Have some new experiences. Don’t hang out with the people who will remind you of your ex. Spend some time with new people. Rather than going to the same restaurants and stores you and your ex went to, explore some new options. Now may be an excellent time to develop some new hobbies and interests.

Cut the cord, or you will go bouncing back.

Avoid the bungee cord approach to breakups. It’s tempting to call them just to see how they’re doing or to tell them about something you forgot to say. Don’t keep reinitiating contact. You might want to examine the reasons for the breakup. Frequent breakups and getting back together are characteristics of an extremely unhealthy relationship.

To get over an ex, stay busy with your own life.

After the breakup is no time to sit around moping, get back into life. Create an individual life and enjoy the process of being a single person again. Work on your self-improvement plan. Learn a new skill. Read that book or watch that movie you never had time for.

Make this a learning experience.

Learn from your experiences. For some people, this is a good time to see a counselor. Do you keep picking the same kinds of people only to have the relationships not work out? Were there things about your ex you should have spotted before he got into a committed relationship? Do you get into relationships overlooking your partner’s faults or expecting them to change?

Don’t use sex, drugs, or alcohol to numb the pain.

Avoid using things to change the way you feel. Drugs and alcohol may seem like a quick way to numb the pain, but they come with severe consequences. If you have ended a relationship, you don’t want to destroy yourself over it. Behavioral addictions like sex and gambling may also be tempting, but they all provide short-term boosts but long-term letdowns.

Don’t expect apologies or closure from your former partner.

Once you’ve broken up with someone, you are way past the apologies stage, hoping for or expecting an apology from your ex will only set you up for more pain. You won’t get closure by calling or writing your ex. Any closure you will get will come from you doing your own work and finding a new meaning and purpose for your life.

Engage your support system during the transition.

Everyone should have a support system. And it shouldn’t be restricted to just your significant other. Expecting one person to be your total support system requires more than that one person might be able to provide. After a breakup is a good time to re-examine your support system; who are the people that you can go to when you face challenges? Your support system should be a two-way connection. Your supporters are not just people you rely on. They should also be able to depend on you. After a breakup is a good time to renew contacts with family, friends, and professionals such as counselors and therapists.

Ask for the help you need.

Don’t try to do everything all by yourself. Reach out for the help you need. Help can come in all kinds of forms. You may need to take some time off from work. You may need some emotional support. Let your friends and support system know what it is that you need.

Have you had to survive a breakup? Please leave a comment and let us know if you used any of these tips or found anything else that helped you cope with the breakup.

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 benefits of asking more questions.

Counseling questions

Asking questions.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

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

You shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions.

Many people don’t like to ask questions for fear; it will make them seem dumb. There’s an old saying that the dumbest question is the one you don’t ask. Research on asking questions shows that you can receive a lot of benefits from asking more questions. Learning to ask thoughtful questions can improve your knowledge and your career. Asking questions can show that you’re interested in what others have to say. Here are some ways in which asking more questions might benefit you.

Asking questions improves emotional intelligence.

High emotional intelligence can be a beneficial skill, particularly if you’re in a job or a situation that requires a lot of interaction with other people. People with high emotional intelligence are better at recognizing what their friends and partners are feeling, and it improves their interpersonal relationships.

Very few people announce what they’re feeling. Many people have trouble identifying their own feelings. Learning to understand what those around you are feeling can prevent a lot of problems. Asking people how they feel about things helps you learn to recognize other’s feelings and your own.

If you don’t ask, you won’t know.

A lot of errors and misunderstandings could be eliminated if only people would ask more questions. The people you’re talking with generally won’t know how much you know about the topic. Too much explanation may come across as demeaning and insulting. Too little explanation creates misunderstandings. By asking informed questions, you tell your conversation partner what things they need to explain better.

Good questions build relationships.

Asking questions shows that you’re interested in the other person and help build good relationships. By asking questions about the other person, you give them the opening to tell you more about themselves and their thinking. Allowing others to open up and talk about themselves deepens your connection.

Asking questions increase learning.

One way to consolidate learning is to ask questions about the material you have just been presented. If you’re reading something, pause periodically to ask yourself questions about the material. If you find it difficult to answer those questions, you need to reread or study the material more. Asking and answering these questions helps you to reinforce that learning. Asking questions of someone who is knowledgeable about a subject may reveal information you would not have learned otherwise.

Use open-ended questions.

Open-ended questions, ones that can’t be answered with a yes or no, increase communication. Closed-ended questions of the yes or no variety reduce communication. Too many closed-ended questions can shut down communication entirely and may come across as interrogation. Try asking people to tell you more about the topic. Encourage your conversation partner to expand on what they’ve already said.

You need to balance asking and answering questions.

Most people like being asked questions, but if you only ask them and never answer them, they find it hard to trust you. Good communication flows in both directions. If you want people to trust you and you expect them to answer your questions, you need to be trustworthy, and you need to answer their questions.

For more on the value of the skill of asking more and better questions, see the article in the Harvard Business Review titled The Surprising Power of Questions.

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

Is your relationship healthy?

Couple not talking

Unhappy relationship.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

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

What should you look for in a healthy relationship?

It’s easy to spot an unhealthy relationship. The couple never gets along. They fight about everything, and there’s a lot of collateral damage when they fight. When there is an unhappy relationship, family, friends, and even the children wish this couple would call it quits. But just because there are no outside signs of conflict doesn’t mean that this is a healthy relationship.

The notion that in healthy relationships, there are never any conflicts is a myth. The idea that people in a good relationship are soulmates who need to be together continually isn’t accurate either. To have a healthy relationship, there needs to be a balance of togetherness and individuality. People in a healthy relationship do have disagreements and conflicts, but they can solve them without harming each other or the relationship. Here are some of the signs of a healthy relationship.

There are no topics you can’t talk about.

Are you able to talk about what’s on your mind? In a good relationship, there are no topics that are taboo. You shouldn’t have to censor what you say to your partner. That doesn’t mean that rude or hurtful comments are okay. In healthy relationships, you can talk to your partner about anything, you don’t have to feel like you’re walking on eggshells, but you need to say things respectfully.

You can still be you while being a part of an “us.”

Being in a couple-relationship involves a balancing of the individual and the couple. In the early stages of getting together, couples typically go through a period during which they can’t get enough of each other. In the early stages, they want to spend every minute together. But for the relationship to develop, the two people need to reach a point where each of them can be a separate “me” while still being a part of “us.”

Not being able to transition from creating an “us” to balancing your individual needs and interests with the things you do together as a couple can result in an unhealthy relationship. If your partner is pathologically jealous and doesn’t want you to do anything or go anywhere without them, that’s not love. Not allowing your partner to have separate feelings and interests creates severe problems in a relationship.

You can disagree without hurting each other.

In a healthy relationship, you can disagree. You don’t feel the need to force your partner to change their thinking. If disagreement threatens you or your partner, it’s a good indication that this is an unhealthy relationship.

You look for solutions, not who’s right.

“Right fighting” continuing arguments to prove that you’re right and your partner is wrong, is both a sign of and a cause of unhealthy relationships. In healthy relationships, you can look for “win-win” solutions. If you feel the need to fight to the bitter end and approach every conflict thinking that one of you must be right and the other is wrong, you’re not in a healthy relationship.

You don’t have to change each other.

Getting into a relationship, expecting your partner to change leads to incredible conflict. If either one of you feels that your partner needs to change for this to be a good relationship, you’re headed in a terrible direction. Certainly, people do change both when they get into relationships and when they lead them. There’s plenty of room for both personal growth and growth as a couple. But if you’ve convinced yourself that your partner needs to change for you to be happy, you need to take another look at yourself.

You don’t need something to happen to be happy.

The belief that something must happen and then the two of you can be happy together is a sign of an unhealthy relationship. If you’re not satisfied and not getting along, thinking that having a child, moving to a different city, or getting a new job will fix this are likely signs that this is not a healthy relationship. If you don’t enjoy the process of where you are going, you’re very likely to be disappointed when you get to your destination.

You make decisions together.

Every couple evolves how they handled decision-making. If your relationship is characterized by one person having all the power and control, and they make all the decisions regardless of what you think, this is an unhealthy relationship.

Your relationship creates more joy than pain.

Every relationship has some problematic patches. But if the bulk of your time with your partner is painful and you struggle to hold on to small patches of joy, you’re in an unhealthy relationship. The joyous times should far outweigh the pain.

You’re able to divide up the duties fairly.

There are myriad ways in which couples divide up duties. I read somewhere that 50-50 marriages do not work. Generally, each person in a relationship feels they are doing more than half the work. But when you step back and look at it, both of you need to agree that there’s a fair distribution of the duties.

You appreciate your partner and feel appreciated.

If you don’t appreciate your partner and they never show you appreciation, this is not a healthy relationship. Knowing that each of you cares about the other helps the health of the relationship. Couples who expressed their appreciation for each other build their relationship. Taking each other for granted is a sign your relationship suffers from ill-health.

In a healthy relationship, you trust each other.

In healthy relationships, people trust each other. If you don’t trust your partner, it can feel like you’re living with the enemy. Sometimes something has happened in the relationship to make one partner distrusts the other. If that’s happened, you need to be working on rebuilding that trust. If you came into the relationship with “trust issues,” this is your issue, and you need to be working on it. People with trust issues may need to seek individual counseling. Healthy relationships are characterized by high levels of trust and acceptance for each other.

Neither of you holds on to resentments.

Resentments poison relationships. The resentments you harbor that you haven’t been able to release prevents you from being happy. Both people in a relationship need to be working on getting rid of their resentments. Unhealthy relationships are characterized by high levels of resentment on both party’s parts.

The two of you are emotionally intimate.

In romantic relationships, physical intimacy helps build the couple’s relationship. But physical intimacy by itself is not enough. Healthy relationships need to include emotional closeness. If you don’t feel you can share your feelings with your partner, this is a sign of an unhealthy relationship.

You feel safe when you’re with your partner.

Your partner should make you feel safe, and you should make them feel secure. Any relationship where someone feels unsafe is inherently unhealthy.

You can talk to each other about anything.

Open communication is essential for a healthy relationship. You should be able to talk with your partner about anything. That doesn’t mean your partner needs to agree with either your thinking or your feelings, but they should be open to hearing what you need to say. If there are things your partner wants to talk about that you don’t want to hear, you probably have work to do on yourself.

You both make repair efforts.

In healthy relationships, whenever there are problems, both parties need to make repair efforts. If you or your partner are holding onto grudges, unwilling to give in or even to discuss possible solutions, these are all signs that this is an unhealthy relationship.

You appreciate them and know they appreciate you.

Being appreciated and giving appreciation are not just nice things to have. High levels of appreciation flowing in both directions are essential for a healthy relationship.

While none of these characteristics are inherently all or nothing, each of the things I’ve described above is a good indicator of the health of your relationship. If your relationship is unhealthy, or simply not as healthy as you would like, you’ll need to decide if you are willing to work on yourself and work on your relationship with your partner. If you’ve discovered you’re in an unhealthy relationship, consider getting professional help either for the two of you or for each of you individually. Please don’t spend the rest of your life in an unhealthy relationship wishing that it would somehow miraculously change. Professional help is available for relationships and individual emotional problems.

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

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