Why is it so hard to treat yourself well?

Taking care of yourself
Self-care. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

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

If self-care is so important, why is it so hard to do?

Good self-care is hugely connected to good mental health. Learning stress reduction techniques can improve your mental health and reduce the risk of burning out. Despite all the documented benefits of self-compassion and self-care, many people continue to push themselves relentlessly. Learning to take good care of yourself and show yourself kindness is a significant part of a happy and productive life.

Were you taught to take care of yourself?

Early life experiences set up patterns for the rest of our lives. If the people who should’ve taken care of you treated you poorly, you learned to treat yourself that way. People who have experienced abuse or neglect may have or internalize the message that they didn’t deserve to be treated well. You may have been taught that suffering was a virtue, and you find it hard to embrace happiness.

Even families that provided love and adequate care may have given you the message that you weren’t good enough. Some parents seem to think that the way to get a child to do better is to point out all their faults. There’s a myth out there that praising a child will cause them to become conceited. But if no one praised you for anything, you did well, and everything you did wasn’t good enough. You may have internalized the message that you were not good enough.

Your danger detector is turned up too high.

If you’ve grown up poor or lived in a dangerous environment, you may be on constant alert. High levels of stress hormones keep all your danger detection circuits active. When you’re hypervigilant, on a constant lookout for what could go wrong, self-soothing and self-care don’t happen.

If you suffer from an anxiety disorder, you may feel guilty about self-care. People who have adopted the high anxiety lifestyle choose to worry about everything that could go wrong in the mistaken belief that this will keep them safe. They live in a constant state of high alert. Doing anything that might lower that anxiety may make you feel guilty or unsafe.

You are too busy surviving to notice you are running on empty.

Sometimes the day-to-day struggles become so overwhelming that taking time for self-care seems like a waste of time. When life is a struggle, self-care may be something you tell yourself you don’t have time for. You may be so busy listening to your inner critic that you haven’t had time to take stock of what you need. You may not have realized that self-care was an option.

Have you turned suffering into a virtue?

Some people are so used to believing that life must be full of suffering that as soon as life goes well, they start to feel guilty. Some people just can’t bear to stop working long enough to have fun. You may have internalized the attitude that self-compassion will make you soft and weak. Taking good care of yourself both mentally and physically is not being self-indulgent.

Practicing self-compassion can be scary.

Change is usually scary, even when that change moves us in the direction of better health. Caring about yourself may be a new feeling for you. If you weren’t taught self-compassion, or those around you didn’t demonstrate it to you, it may be hard to recognize. Self-compassion is a skill you can learn. Like all skills, you may not be perfect at first, but the more you practice self-compassion, the better your life will become.

Would now be a good time to start practicing self-compassion?

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 seems 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

Learning to pay attention.

Attention. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

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

Being stingy with attention is a natural human characteristic.

The brain is made up of two thinking systems, a rapid system we sometimes call intuition. This system makes decisions based on past experiences, hunches, and deep gut feelings. When you rely heavily on this system, it is as if you are on autopilot. You’re able to do a great many things without any effort at being mindful. Some people describe this as a “mindless” activity.

The other system is slow and laborious. It gathers information, analyzes things, and decides based on facts and stored blueprints on how to make decisions.

Deep analytical thinking uses up a lot of brain capacity, which is why the brain avoids it and makes use of the automatic decision-making system as much as possible. Modern life presents us with many of these conflicts. Video games and brief videos cater to our instinctive short attention span brains. Employment and advanced learning require us to override the fast thinking process, slow down, and restrict our thinking to one task.

An increase in technical material has made advanced education more and more valuable. On the one hand, slow technical thinking is valued with a premium. But on the other hand, your day-to-day life is probably organized around activities that require almost no thought. This heavy reliance on accomplishing tasks without thinking has made many people believe that they lack the ability for prolonged thinking. Hence the incredible expansion of the diagnosis of ADHD.

Your ability to pay attention can be improved.

Some people’s ability to pay attention is so impaired that it requires medication for them to be able to meet their job requirements. But the overreliance on a pill to improve attention has obscured the fact that paying better attention is also a skill you can learn. Young children learn to pay better attention when parents reinforce their attention skills.

Your brain decides what to pay attention to.

In deciding what to pay attention to, your brain will use a series of priorities. Anytime your threat circuits are activated, paying attention to that danger is likely to take precedent over all else. Your current physical states or drives will also elevate certain items in the environment to a priority status. When you’re hungry, the brain notices food, restaurants, or things that remind you of eating everywhere you go. Loneliness primed you to notice other people.

The same phenomenon, sometimes called salience, is at work when people who ride a motorcycle notice motorcycles everywhere they go. Dog lovers are likely to notice dogs everywhere. Even subconsciously, our brains are biased toward seeing what we want to see and ignoring the rest.

The brain also must decide how much attention to pay to that item.

Some things only require a minimum of attention. Other situations require prolonged and intense concentration. Learning to shift your attention and to focus it are skills that can be learned.

You need to recognize when you’re struggling to pay attention.

A prime reason why people struggle with paying attention is that they are distracted. If you try to divide your attention between two items, one of them will get neglected. The first step in improving your ability to pay attention is to recognize when your attention has drifted off an important task, like driving, and onto a task that should be a lower priority, like playing a videogame on your cell phone or texting. In this situation, the easiest way to improve your attention is to put that cell phone somewhere where you can’t see it.

Start paying attention to your attention focusing process.

Don’t get caught up using your poor attention focusing as an excuse for not strengthening your attention skills. Whatever you find your attention drifting, mentally step back, and look at what’s going on in your attention focusing process. Is there something more salient in the environment? Are you trying to pay attention to something you would prefer not to be focused on? Becoming aware of how you utilize your ability to pay attention can improve your attention focusing skills.

Practice redirecting your attention.

As you become more and more aware of what you’re paying attention to and why, and how you determine your priorities for attention, you need to practice redirecting that attention. The more rapidly you’re able to shift that attention, and the more often you do it, the better you will become at keeping your attention focused on one object or task.

Learning to focus your attention better is a skill that will provide you lots of benefits.

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 seems 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

Could you use a little kindness?

Taking care of yourself
Self-care. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

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

Have things been rough lately?

Times have been difficult over the last year for a great many people. For some people, life has been a struggle for a lot longer than that. There’s an illness stalking the land. Maybe you’ve been sick, or someone close to you has, possibly someone you know has died.

There’s also been economic difficulties and political divisions. Maybe you’ve been out of work, or your business has closed. You may not have had the money to pay your bills, or you may even be facing homelessness. You may be feeling hopeless, not knowing how you will cope with the future. There are things you can do to ease your pain.

Right now, the world seems to be a pretty cruel place. Something that’s missing, something we all need more of right now, is basic kindness. The starting point for that is compassion. If you haven’t been getting enough compassion recently, what you need to do is begin to cultivate self-compassion.

What is self-compassion?

Compassion is feeling kindly toward someone who is suffering and wanting to help. Self-compassion happens when we give ourselves the same kindness and care we might give a friend or family member. Self-compassion begins when you recognize that it’s okay to acknowledge your pain and treat yourself kindly.

How do you create more self-compassion?

Creating more self-compassion does not mean giving in to your pain or giving up. It starts with the recognition that more kindness, more self-compassion, could ease your suffering. There are four necessary steps to cultivating more self-compassion. Take a look at each of these steps and see how you can apply it to your life.

Recognize that you are suffering.

Recognition doesn’t mean surrender. Tell yourself the truth about your suffering. You’re experiencing pain. Whether they are physical or emotional, those pains are trying to tell you something about the struggles you’re going through. Don’t ignore your pains. They deserve to be recognized.

Accept that feeling pain is normal.

Your pain is unique to you, but the experience of feeling pain is something that happens to everyone. That you’re currently going through hard times doesn’t mean you are somehow being singled out for punishment. What you’re experiencing probably isn’t fair, but don’t add to the pain by punishing yourself for feeling that pain. Tell yourself that it’s okay to feel whatever you are feeling.

Meet the pain with positive feelings.

When you’re in pain, don’t be cruel to yourself. Treat yourself with kindness. Do things to take care of yourself. Show yourself love, warmth, and positive feelings. Express to yourself your concern for your well-being. You deserve to experience love, and who better to show you love them yourself.

Soften the impact of the pain.

Do whatever you can to reduce the impact of the pain. Look for ways that you can take small incremental steps to reduce the pain or minimize the suffering.

For more on this topic, visit the self-compassion organization website.

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 seems 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

Silencing your inner critic.

Criticism
Inner critic. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

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

Is your inner critic so loud, you can’t concentrate?

The term inner critic refers to an inner voice that continually criticizes everything you do and puts you down. Most people know this is not a voice but their thoughts. Still, the negative thoughts are so persistent it feels like you aren’t in control of that inner critic.

Many people, maybe all of us, have an inner critic who tells us we’re not good enough. Your inner critic may tell you that you’re not smart enough. They may even tell you that you are stupid or an idiot. Some people’s inner critic tells them they’re too fat, too short, or too ugly.

People in artistic or competitive fields are particularly prone to attack by their inner critic. Writers and authors are often plagued by doubts about the value of their work. Athletes also know the challenges of having an overactive inner critic.

But anyone, regardless of their life circumstances, can expect a visit from the inner critic who seems to delight in destroying people’s self-esteem. Listening to your inner critic will undermine your confidence. When the inner critic talks about mistakes you’ve made, you may experience shame or guilt. Listening to the inner critic’s voice can lead to “imposter syndrome,” where people expect to be revealed as not worthy of their accomplishments.

Even highly accomplished people are plagued by visits from the inner critic who tells them that their accomplishment was an accident, they’re not that smart, or they’ll never be able to match that past achievement.

Because your inner critic lives in your own mind, you may start believing that what they tell you must be true. Just because you think something doesn’t make it true.

Your inner critic will oppose you.

Your inner critic will tell you that you shouldn’t try. Listening to them in the short run can keep you stuck in inaction. Over the long term listening to the inner critic can cause mental illnesses. Your inner critic would love it if you were too depressed to do anything, too anxious to ever venture out of the house, and too fearful to ever argue with them. Not taking action protects you from both failure and success.

Your thinking style may be magnifying your inner critic.

The voice of the inner critic is magnified by highly negative self-talk. Disparaging yourself, or berating yourself, activates the brain’s threat system or keeps it activated. This can keep you stuck in depression or anxiety.

Your inner critic tries to fool you with a hostile tone of voice.

That tone can be extremely cruel, harsh, and attacking. This can lead to a negative self-opinion. And may even convince you that you don’t deserve any better.

The inner critic uses cognitive distortions to fool you.

Inner critics flood your mind with unhelpful thoughts. They like to use labeling, shoulding, overgeneralizing, and other cognitive distortions to keep you stuck.

How do you fight the inner critic?

Struggling with your inner critic can be a long process. Learn thought-stopping techniques. Try to ignore what they’re saying. When your inner critic gets loud and insistent, tell them to shut up. Sometimes it’s helpful to analyze what your inner critic is saying. Here are some questions you should ask yourself.

What does the inner critic criticize you about?

Pay attention to the things the inner critic says to you. Are these areas where you need to improve your skills? Are these remnants from childhood when you never seem to be good enough? Make up a list of the common complaints of your inner critic and evaluate them for accuracy. You may want to go over this list with a trusted friend or a counselor.

What do you say to yourself?

A significant source of fodder for what your inner critic tells you are your negative self-statements. Stop saying things to yourself that are damaging. There’s no evidence that constantly criticizing yourself will spur you on to do better, and it may cause you to give up on something you could have accomplished.

Who does your inner critic sound like?

Some people’s inner critic is an internalized voice from childhood. Does your inner critic sound like a caregiver or family member? Is your inner critic impersonating a current or former romantic partner, or does it sound like someone who has abused you?

How does your inner critic make you feel?

Pay attention to how you feel when you hear the inner critic’s voice. Do those thoughts make you depressed or anxious? Do they lower your self-esteem? Is there any way in which these thoughts are helpful?

What are the long-term consequences of listening to your inner critic?

An occasional fleeting negative thought about yourself probably doesn’t matter. When the inner critic starts to talk, you can ignore them. But if listening to your inner critic is wearing you out, creating self-doubt, you need to act.

Your inner critic may be the result of mental health problems or may cause them.

Having a vocal inner critic may be a symptom of a severe mental health condition. People with various psychoses may hear voices telling them they are no good or should hurt themselves. If you have a history of trauma, the inner critic may be continuing to perpetuate that trauma. Even if you don’t have a severe mental health challenge, realize that unchallenged that inner critic will wear you out, which may lead to severe depression or anxiety.

Is your inner critic out of control?

Take active steps to silence those negative critical voices in your head. If you struggle with an inner critic and haven’t succeeded in silencing them, talk with your support system, and consider getting professional help from a counselor or therapist.

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 seems 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

What do you need?

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

What you need?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

It’s important to know what you genuinely need.

Many people find it challenging to get clear about what they actually need. Making sure that your needs are being met is part of having a happy, contented life. Needs can come in all sizes, from the mandatory life-threatening needs for food and shelter to the transient ones like tickets to Friday’s concert. One way to improve your mental health is to get clear on what you need and find ways to prioritize those needs.

Learn the difference between wants and needs.

Have you ever thought, “I need a new car?” If the car you have isn’t running and you depend on it for getting to and from work and grocery shopping, then yes, you may genuinely need a new car. But be careful here. What you may need is to get the vehicle you have fixed.

On the other hand, if you’re telling yourself that you need a new car because yours is a whole year old and your neighbor just got a brand-new luxury model, the truth is that it is a want, not a need. Learning the difference between what you need and what you want can take a lot of stress off your life, particularly in the financial area.

Your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations help you determine your needs.

In deciding what you truly need, you must deal with three separate sources of information. It’s tempting to believe that whatever you think – that must be true. But the more you examine and test your thoughts, the more you may come to understand that just because you think it doesn’t make it true. It’s useful to continually re-examine your thoughts to determine if they are logical and if there’s evidence for that thought. A lot of people believe things simply because they would like them to be true.

Feelings can be a useful source of information. It’s dangerous to dismiss your feelings as unimportant. Nerve cells don’t exist solely in the brain. There are scattered throughout the body. They collect information about how the body is functioning, and they also send signals to the muscles and body parts, telling them to prepare for action.

If you’ve ever thought that someone is a pain in the neck, reach up and feel your neck muscles. Chances are they are tight. Does someone make you sick to your stomach? This is your nervous system telling you to beware of that person. Learn to use the information your feelings are giving you but don’t let them take over running your life. Sometimes your feelings are not helpful. Just because something scares you doesn’t mean it is dangerous.

Please don’t ignore your physical body. It is a source of information about what you really need. You will function better, both physically and emotionally, if you take good care of your body. Your body has many ways to tell you that you are hungry and need to eat. Just be sure you’re eating because the body needs fuel, not because you’re using food as a drug and becoming an emotional eater. Many people confuse thirst with hunger or even emotions. Drinking enough water to hydrate your body is a need. Listen to your body when it tells you that you need to sleep. Getting adequate rest will help you think more clearly and function more efficiently.

Allocate time for determining your needs.

Life can be overwhelming at times. We run from one problem to another, all the while hours, days, months, and years are slipping away. Periodically we need to take a break and examine the life we are living. Identifying what you need and don’t need in your life is an essential part of that periodic review. Are you doing a lot of things that are not benefiting your life?

Get clear on your values and whether your actions are helping you achieve goals consistent with those values. If you know what you need and want out of life, this can guide the way you will spend your time, your money, and your effort.

Do a daily review of your progress toward meeting your needs.

If your life hasn’t been meeting your needs, getting clear on those needs is only the first step. Next, each day you should be taking some action, however small, that is leading you in the direction of a fulfilled life. Doing a daily review just before going to bed can help you see whether your efforts are producing the results you want. After doing your daily review, make sure to forgive yourself for any shortcomings and decide that you’ll begin your efforts again tomorrow.

Ask yourself what you are grateful for.

If you only look at the things that are lacking in your life, you will get a very distorted picture. Painful and unpleasant things have a way of taking over our minds. Make sure you spend time paying attention to the positive things that happen. Ask yourself repeatedly, what are you grateful for? If you’re having trouble making up that list, talk with your support system or a professional. Often, we don’t notice the things we’re grateful for until we lose them. Practicing gratitude has positive mental health benefits that will help you through the tough times.

Ask yourself, what am I doing that I wish I could stop doing?

Have you ever said you needed to find more time to do things? The idea that you can find time is an illusion. Each week we have precisely one hundred and sixty-eight hours. There’s no way you’re going to find any more. The way you free up more time for the things that matter is to stop spending some of those hours on things that are not benefiting you. If you find it difficult to get your needs met, especially your self-care needs, a first step is eliminating all the things you’re doing that are not benefiting you.

Make friends with your feelings.

Learn to recognize when you are feeling something and what it is that you’re feeling. Learn your feeling’s names and remember that emotions come in intensities. Think of feelings as cues for action. You don’t have to let them control you, but you should learn to listen to what they’re telling you.

Pay attention to the things you’re telling yourself.

Self-talk is powerful. If you tell yourself negative statements, you undermine your efforts. Positive self-talk can be a powerful motivator. If you’re telling yourself that you can’t, then you won’t be able to. People who tell themselves that they can achieve more. When using self-talk, it is especially important not to lie to yourself. If your brain thinks you are lying, it will create failure.

Make self-assessment a regular habit.

You can’t figure out where to go unless you know where you’re at. At regular intervals, do a self-assessment. How have you been feeling, and what thoughts have been occupying your mind? How are you spending your time? You need to be patient with yourself. Change frequently happens gradually. But if you’re not moving in the right direction, you either need to change what you’re doing or change your goal.

Is the life you’re living meeting your needs? If not, what action will you take to get those needs met? If something in this post started you thinking, please leave a comment below or feel free to use the contact me form.

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

6 Reasons you can’t make up your mind. – Video

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

Are you one of those people who struggles with decisions? Does your family or friends call you indecisive? There may be several reasons why you find it hard to make decisions. Struggling with decisions uses up a lot of mental capacity and may result in confusion or even memory challenges. In this video we will explore 6 different types of decisions and why you may find it difficult to choose.

Ways to perform well when you’re under pressure.

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

Performing well under pressure.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

How do you perform when you’re under pressure?

Are you one of those people who are at your best when under pressure? Or are you one of those people who choke when the pressure is on?

People who perform well under pressure have developed the right mindsets, attitudes, and skills. Challenges don’t derail them; they energize them. You too can learn to perform well under pressure. Here are some of the techniques that will help you do better when the pressure is on.

Giving yourself as much time as possible reduces the pressure.

Some people delude themselves into believing that the way to get something done is to wait until the last possible minute. They tell themselves that they perform better under pressure. Unfortunately, what many people do when the pressure is lower their standards. Students who wait until the night before the paper is due can get an essay written in a very short amount of time. They also often do poorly and then use the lack of time as an excuse. Start as soon as possible on any new project. That allows you to correct mistakes. Build some extra time in your plans for those tasks, which ended up taking longer than you expected.

Practice skills beforehand reduce the pressure.

When under pressure, humans tend to revert to their usual way of doing things. To be able to make use of skills you are learning, you need to over-practice those skills until they become automatic. The better prepared you are for the challenge, the less stressful it will be. If you have thoroughly practiced a necessary skill, your muscles will remember it and perform that task automatically.

Use positive affirmations to reduce stress.

Putting yourself down will damage your performance. People who believe in themselves do better. Positive affirmations shouldn’t be a matter of lying to yourself. Tell yourself you can do it, and you probably will be able to. Tell yourself this will be the best performance anyone has ever done, and your brain will know you’re lying and try to sabotage you. Positive affirmations are a way to psych yourself up and maximize your performance.

Developing a positive stress mindset improves performance.

Viewing the task ahead as stressful makes it more challenging to accomplish. Looking for opportunities to grow and develop improves your performance. People with a positive stress mindset are energized by opportunities rather than being exhausted by them.

Tell your inner critic to shut up.

The evidence from psychology tells us that self-criticism is rarely helpful. Everyone has an inner critic telling them they can’t do this, or they’re not good enough. Some people are so used to listening to the inner critic that they find daily life stressful. Other people have practiced ignoring that inner critic enough that they rarely hear the inner critic’s voice anymore. The time for evaluation of what you have done is after everything is over, not before. Don’t start making excuses before you even begin the project.

For more on this topic see this article.

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 break a bad habit?

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

Breaking Bad Habits.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Do you have some bad habits you’d like to stop?

Many people have behaviors they would call a “bad habit,” they say they would like to stop. Habits by their very nature are things we do automatically, without thought, which makes them extra challenging to stop. Psychologists have studied habits, how to create them, and how to break them. There are some things you need to consider if you want to change a habit.

You have been doing the things that have become a habit for a long time. In the early stages of habit formation, it may not take long for something to become a new habit. If a fast-food restaurant gets you to come in for three visits in a row you will probably be a regular customer. Breaking that habit will probably take a lot longer. Highly reinforcing habits such as drugs and alcohol will require even more effort to end.

Is this habit something you can really stop?

There’s a difference between changing a habit that you need and want you don’t need. Many people would like to stop overeating or reduce the amount of food they eat. Humans must eat some food so the techniques you would use to reduce the amount of food you’re eating, would be very different from the methods you would use to end a bad habit such as drug use, that needs to be stopped completely.

Do you really want to stop this “bad habit?”

I’ve mentioned more than once that my purchasing of books has become a bad habit. I buy a lot of books. Sometimes more than I can read. I also download quite a few free Kindle e-books. While I say I need to stop accumulating books faster than I can read them, this is not a habit I especially want to break. It’s easy for me to excuse this habit on the grounds that I’m an author with at least six publish books, and if I’m going to write books, I need to read a great many also. I don’t actually want to stop this habit.

Many of the clients I work with, in my therapy practice, have bad habits such as drug use, which they want to stop completely. The techniques you use for ending a bad habit altogether, are different from the methods you use if you’re only trying to keep your habit from getting out of control.

What techniques can be used to end a bad habit?

First, let’s look at the ways to end a bad habit you want to eliminate entirely. Second, we will look at some techniques for modifying “bad habits” you want to reduce or control. Lastly, let’s look at some methods that might be useful regardless of whether you want to stop altogether or want to reduce the time and money you spend on the “bad habit.”

Eliminate cues that remind you to engage in this bad habit.

Most habits have cues that automatically trigger a response. Your phone rings and you reach and answer it. It’s hard to ignore that ringing phone even when you want to do something else. Turning off the ringing sound may help you avoid answering it when you need to focus on something else. Reducing or eliminating cues is an essential step in ending a bad habit.

People in substance abuse recovery are encouraged to get rid of drugs, alcohol, and any paraphernalia they might use. For recovering alcoholic, that means getting rid of your collection of beer-themed decorations or your collection of shot glasses. People use other drugs should get rid of things like pipes.

Avoid places you used to go to engage in this bad habit.

For an alcoholic stopping at the liquor store, even to pick up a gallon of milk, or some bread is a risky behavior. Hanging out in the bar, even if it’s only to play pool is likely to trigger urges to drink. Hanging out with people who drink or use drugs is also a risky behavior. Seeing them engage in the action you’re trying to stop is likely to cue intense cravings.

How might you alter a habit you don’t want to end completely?

Here are some suggestions for modifying a habit when you don’t want to end completely. Psychologists have suggested these for things such as eating less or not drinking as much.

To eat less, reduce the amount available.

Serving food on smaller plates can help you cut down on how much you consume. Using smaller size glasses can reduce the volume of fluids you drink. Purchasing things like chocolate in smaller container sizes can reduce your consumption. Limiting the amount of food or beverages you consume by using smaller containers will only work if you don’t make repeated trips back to refill.

Use your nondominant hand for eating or drinking.

Using your nondominant hand slows down the eating or drinking process. People who ate popcorn with their nondominant hand ate smaller amounts, especially when the popcorn was stale. Changing how you do something, slows the process down, and may result in doing less of it.

Driving the “mindbus” can help you ignore automatic thoughts.

Sometimes it feels as if they’re a bunch of voices in your head urging you to do things you don’t want to do. I’m not talking about the voices that people with a serious mental illness experience. When you have those automatic thoughts telling you to do things you know, they are thoughts coming from your own brain. But when your mind is telling you that you need some more chocolate or another drink, it’s hard to ignore those automatic thoughts.

In the mindbus technique, you picture yourself as the driver of a bus taking yourself somewhere you want to go. All those loud voices in your head that are trying to distract you are the passengers on your bus. Ignore the noisy urges clamoring for you to turn the bus and take it in a different direction and stick to the route you have selected.

Substitute a positive behavior for a negative one.

If you have urges to eat some more chocolate, select a carrot or other fruit instead. Instead of heading to the bar go to an AA meeting or religious service. Rather than eat mindlessly go for a walk or do another exercise. By substituting positive behaviors for negative behaviors, you reduce your bad habits and improve the quality of your life.

What bad habits do you want to modify or end altogether?

For more on this topic, you might want to check out the British Psychological Society podcast on Breaking Bad Habits.

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

Grow Your Power.

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

No Power?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Empowerment – growing your power.

Ever wish you had more power? Would you like to be more in control of your own life? Do you feel helpless to change your life? There are ways to increase your power, be more effective, and have more of the things you want in life.

No matter how much or how little power you feel you have today, you can begin to grow that sense of personal power, step by step, starting today.

You may have learned to be helpless, been in a situation where no matter what you did, you were told you were wrong. Your efforts may have been invalidated and unrewarded. People may have taught you to be helpless. If you learned to be helpless you can unlearn that way of thinking.

Right now, what are you doing to enlarge your feelings of personal power? If not today, when will you begin to take control of your life?  Here are some ways to grow that personal power.

Look for areas in your life where you can take control.

If you focus only on the areas that are out of your control, you become debilitated and paralyzed. Focus on your choices.

When you think you have no control, you make it so. You may be in a situation where you are dependent on others. You have more control than you think. You may not be able to control your situation or surroundings, but you can control your attitude. You can think like a victim, or you can think like a survivor and be a participant in your life.

Look for help or a mentor to develop your skills.

If you are in a low power situation, an abusive relationship, or poverty, look for resources that can help you. Teachers, counselors, or mentors can help you to grow your power.

Can’t find a person to help you? Look for books on changing your life.

Begin making your own decisions.

Look for areas in your life where you can decide for yourself. Large or small, it does not matter, begin the process of thinking about how you feel about things and what you want. Cultivate the habit of making as many decisions about your life as possible. Especially pay attention to how you feel about things. If you feel helpless you may be giving up your power to someone else without even noticing you are giving your control away.

Try new things to grow your self-esteem.

Are you going for ice cream? Look for a new flavor to try. You may like it. You may not. Check off that one from your to-do list. The more experiences you have in life, the more you can adapt to change. Like it or not change is a part of life. Doing a wider variety of activities increases your sense of competency.

Volunteering to help others make you more confident.

This is a great way to try on new behaviors. In 12 step groups, people will become secretaries of meetings or chair a meeting. The experience of trying on a new behavior can increase your self-confidence. You may surprise yourself with how well you can do something.

Practice leadership to improve your confidence.

In many residential treatment facilities, the group selects client officials. Each week as clients come and go, these officials change. Clients frequently tell me this was the first time in their lives they have been in a leadership role. They discover talents they never knew they had.

Do something for yourself to feel more confident.

Taking good care of yourself is not being selfish. You can’t be of service to others if you don’t have it to give. Self-care is important. Making yourself a priority tells you that you are worth being cared for. Feeling good about yourself, knowing you mater will enlarge your sense of personal power and control of your life.

Make something “your own.”

Find something that brings joy to your life. Do you have a favorite author? Which sports team is “your” team? Do you crochet? Do you cook Italian? What interest or activity says, “you?” What is your religion or spiritual connection?  Feeling that there is something you connect to makes you feel more anchored, more a part of the community.

You’re going to spend your whole life with you. Invest some time in getting to know you.

Learning a new skill will make you feel more competent.

Expanding your skills is a great way to make you feel more competent and useful. Is there something you always wanted to try? If not now, when will you do this? Look for someone in your life who has this skill and ask them to teach you. Go to places where people who have this skill hang out and learn from them. Clubs, online blogs, and short-term classes are all great sources of information. Stores sometimes teach courses on how to use the products they sell.

Get more education or training, and you will feel more confident.

Opportunities for education and training are more available than at any time in history.  There are plenty of adults of all ages back in school, learning a new skill. Check out some of the online tutorials which show you how to do something. Staying current on your skills makes you feel better about yourself.

There are some suggestions for creating empowerment and growing your personal power. Have you found any other ways to feel more competent and in charge of your life?

Leave a comment and share with the rest of us the things you have done to empower yourself and grow that personal power.

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