Lonely.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Lonely Flower

Lonely.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Lonely.

“All alone! Whether you like it or not, alone is something you’ll be quite a lot!”

― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! and The Lorax

“You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re with.”

― Wayne Dyer

Living the past is a dull and lonely business; looking back strains the neck muscles, causing you to bump into people not going your way.

― Edna Ferber

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

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Therapy can make stress and anxiety disorders worse.

By David Joel Miller.

Traditional talk therapy may make your problems worse.

Pain, Anxiety, Depression, Stress

Pain, Anxiety, Depression, Stress.
Photo courtesy of Flickr (marsmet481)

Don’t get me wrong; talk therapy has been helpful to a large number people.  But occasionally I encounter a client whose condition has been made worse, not better, as a result of being in therapy.  One predictor of whether therapy will work for you is the fit between you and your therapist. If the kind of therapy they’re doing or the way they’re doing it is not helpful, begin by talking with the therapist about this. A good therapist will work with you to find helpful solutions. If you find you therapy making things worse, you may end up needing to switch to a new therapist. Below are some ways I have seen therapy be unhelpful and some suggestions for making it more helpful.

Repeated talking about it can retraumatize you.

Some therapists were trained that the way to be helpful to people, was to do a thorough biopsychosocial assessment before they began treatment.  This historical approach often means beginning with the first event in your life and move things forward one event at a time.  Therapists with this orientation may well believe that the key to fixing your current problems, is to thoroughly deal with your childhood issues first.

More than one client as told me that their therapist’s insistence that they needed to talk about past abuse in detail, became so painful they had to discontinue therapy. We often hear from victims of trauma that the having to go over and over the details was more painful than the initial experience.

There’s some truth to the idea that you can’t heal injuries, physical or emotional, that you deny exist. The problem comes from efforts to dig up the graveyard to get at the root causes before the person is even able to cope with life today.

What is often more helpful is a “solution-focused” approach to your problems. This approach means beginning at the top with the problem that is affecting you today. If today’s problem is unemployment or a bad relationship, that may need working on right now. Keep in mind that early life experiences may be impacting today’s issues. As you get today’s problems under control, you may decide you want to work on those old long-term problems, or you may decide that having solved today’s problems you need to move on with your life.

Talking in therapy can turn into co-rumination.

Sometimes therapy can perpetuate problems.  It’s easy to stay stuck, week after week, reviewing the exact same problems.  When this is done with a friend, it is sometimes described as co-rumination.  The same process can be harmful when done with a therapist or counselor.

Narrative therapists described this as staying stuck in a problem-saturated story. Repeating the same story over and over can magnify its control over you. The challenge is to stop the pain and begin to create a story of how the future can be better than the past.

Being in the wrong group therapy can make your problems worse.

We see this often in substance abuse treatment.  A young adult gets caught with some marijuana, which is illegal in his particular jurisdiction.  This person gets referred to drug treatment and placed in a group made up largely of heroin addicts.  Not only is this group not helpful, but there is an increased risk that this person will develop a worse problem than before.

An equally bad problem can be created when a woman with a history of domestic violence ends up in a PTSD group with some returning military veterans. Group therapy can be extremely powerful, but only if you’re in the right group.

Sometimes the symptoms become the problem.

Many of the things that are described as symptoms of a trauma-related disorder are in fact ways that people adapt to having survived that trauma. When therapy focuses too much on ending symptoms, it can become unhelpful.

For example, a victim of trauma may begin drinking, trying not to have to remember the painful experiences. Someone notices the person’s drinking, maybe because they’re drunk at work or they get a DUI. They may end up in treatment for alcohol use disorder. The difficulty here is that for this person the alcohol is not their problem, it is their solution. The problem is the recurring intrusive memories of the trauma.

Using “unhelpful” behaviors to manage your current symptoms can become a habit. Rather than focusing too much on the unhelpful behaviors, many therapists will work with you on creating new helpful behaviors. Under stress, humans tend to revert to their habitual way of behaving. The therapist will want you to continue to practice your new helpful behaviors until they become your new automatic way of coping.

Don’t give up before the healing miracle happens.

I hope this post will help you understand the ways in which therapy can be helpful, and the times it may not be. If you’re currently coping with the results of trauma and stressors or you have high levels of anxiety that are interfering with your day-to-day life, know that there is therapy out there that can make your life better. If you have been for counseling in the past and it was not helpful, seek out a therapist you can feel comfortable working with. If you’re currently working with someone and it’s not helping, talk to them about this issue.

One other thing you need to keep in mind is that when you’re in severe emotional pain, you may feel like you’re stuck and nothing is getting better. It’s very common for people to make large amounts of progress and not realize they’re getting better. Sometimes your counselor, family or friends will see the changes in you long before you do. Please don’t give up.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Playful.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Play with a Bubble

Playful.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Playful.

“It is a happy talent to know how to play.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.”

― Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

“Life must be lived as play, playing certain games, making sacrifices, singing and dancing, and then a man will be able to propitiate the gods, and defend himself against his enemies, and win in the contest.”

― Plato

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

Today Spring is officially here.

Today Spring is officially here.

Post by David Joel Miller.

Spring flowers

Spring is here.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

While Sunday was the day on which many people celebrated Easter, and thought about spring, today is the official start of the season of renewal.

Spring.

“Meanwhile, spring came, and with it the outpourings of Nature. The hills were soon splashed with wild flowers; the grass became an altogether new and richer shade of green; and the air became scented with fresh and surprising smells — of jasmine, honeysuckle, and lavender.”

― Dalai Lama XIV, Freedom in Exile: The Autobiography of the Dalai Lama

“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want—oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”

― Mark Twain

“Spring work is going on with joyful enthusiasm.”

― John Muir, The Wilderness World of John Muir

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

Time for a change?

By David Joel Miller.

Feeling like you need a change but don’t know what to do?

Time to change.

Time for a change.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

You have been plotting along, but things don’t seem to be getting any better. You may be feeling restless, irritable, confused and indecisive. There are times in most people’s lives they don’t like where they are, but they are not sure what to do about it.

Whether it is an unhappy romantic relationship or an unfulfilling dead-end job, the decision to stay or go can be a difficult one. If you’ve reached a point in your life where you feel you can’t stay stuck where you are, but you don’t see a way forward, here are some suggestions.

Enrich the relationship.

People start new relationships, romantic or occupation ones, full of enthusiasm. As time passes that relationship loses its luster and the job becomes boring. Couples who do not maintain their relationship can find it falling apart. Put some spark back in your relationship by doing more things together.

Add some new roles to your romantic relationship. Become activity partners. Do more things together. Set some couple goals. Some couples exercise together, cook meals together, read together, or they may even learn a new skill together.

On the job, learning a new skill, taking on additional responsibilities or transferring to another assignment can help you regain your interest and enthusiasm. Challenging yourself to grow in your work life prevents burnout and those trapped feelings.

Become open to new experiences.

One way to get unstuck is to open yourself up to novel experiences. Take up a hobby, begin an exercise routine, or learn to cook a new recipe. Do you have a special interest? Maybe like to read or garden? Consider joining a club focused on your interest. Joining clubs and organizations is a great way to make new friends and to vary the routine.

By being open to new experience, be very careful about making changes you will not be able to take back. It is common for people who are stuck to think the problem is their partner or their job. Using a new relationship as a parachute to get out of your current relationship, can result in emotional injury when you hit the ground hard.

Don’t overreact to an unsatisfying job situation by quitting your current job with no new job to go to. As you try new activities and learn new skills, keep your eyes open for jobs that might interest you or places you might want to work.

One reason you may feel stuck in your current situation could be you don’t feel confident in your skills. Take trainings when they are offered, take a night class or an online class to improve your skill. With more training and skills, you may find opportunities for advancement in the organization where you already work. The reason you are feeling trapped maybe you don’t yet have the skills needed to move forward.

Work on yourself.

When you are going through a rough patch, anxiety or depression, it is easy to blame the situation or the people around you. Sometimes the reason you are feeling stuck and confused is that there is work you need to do on yourself. New opportunities can’t present themselves until you develop the skills and attitudes you will need.

In couples counseling we often find the couple blaming each other for their unhappiness. Very shortly the couple separates, and one or both begin new relationships. Within a year or two, both new couples have turned unhappy. Happiness is an inside job. You need to be able to be happy by yourself before you can be happy in a relationship.

Develop distress tolerance.

Life has its ups and downs. Sometimes there are difficult patches. Don’t be too quick to make an impulsive change in your life. Sometimes the reason choices aren’t clear is because you are not yet ready to make that change. Sometimes discomfort lasts only briefly. Focus on the distress, and it becomes unbearable. Focus on living the best life possible, and the discomfort may fade away.

Use the calendar, not a watch.

Have you been feeling pressure, as if time was running out on you? Don’t be one of those people who has unrealistic high expectations for themselves. Life is not a destination but a process. In your rush to become successful, however, you define success, don’t lose the joys of the things you do accomplish.

A successful life is rarely the result of achieving great things at a young age. Don’t expect to be all you can be by a particular age. Ever hear of a musician called a one hit wonder? Longevity in any field is the result of continual practice and improvement.

Clarify your choices by seeking professional help.

One legitimate goal of counseling is to help you see your choices clearly and resolve your confusion. The counseling room is a good place to talk things out with an objective person. Whether you are currently confused, facing difficult choices or is a time for a change professional counselor can help you through the process.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Reasons to see a counselor before the breakdown.

By David Joel Miller.

Reasons to seek out a counselor before the breakdown.

Counseling

Counseling or Therapy
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Some people describe the onset of a mental health challenge as a “breakdown.” Breakdown implies that your problem came on suddenly. Most of the time problems develop slowly over time. You get yourself in trouble, not because of a sudden breakdown, but because you pretended you did not have a problem way too long.

You don’t have to wait for your car to break down for you get it serviced. And you don’t need to wait for your life to fall off the rails before you get a check up on your emotional life. High-performing athletes have coaches. Top executives often see life coaches, and many writers have writing coaches. While you can see your life, a therapist sees many people and can be helpful in identifying what you may be going through and how other people have solved that problem

Often people who noticed that they are feeling differently, forgetting more things, go to see a medical doctor. Sometimes that forgetfulness is a medical issue, but often it’s just that you have a lot on your mind. Lack of energy might signal an oncoming medical issue, but it can also be a symptom of depression or other emotional disorders. It’s always a good idea to get your physical health checked out first, but if the doctor doesn’t find anything significant, consider seeing a counselor or therapist to see how your emotions might be affecting your physical health.

What kinds of challenges might benefit from seeking counseling or coaching even when you do not think you have any mental illness?

You feel confused a lot.

Confusion is a good reason to look for help. Assuming you have ruled out medical issues like dementia and fatigue, you may be in a situation where you just do not know what you want to do or what the choices are.

People who are under a lot of stress, find that a large part of their mind is occupied trying to cope with that stress. Stress can be good, or it can be bad. If you find that your life is in transition, seeing a counselor can help you get some of that confusion clarified and make sense of what you’re going through.

Choice – You need to choose between A and B.

Most choices are not clear-cut.  If you pick A, it comes with good and bad parts.  The same for alternative B.  Often both choices involved things you would like to have and things you’d like to avoid.  While a counselor can’t tell you which choice to make, they can help you to sort out the good and bad parts of the two alternatives.  Sometimes it helps to have an outside objective party to talk things over with.

Most of us start off by talking to family and friends. Sometimes they can be very helpful. Everyone needs a support system. Unfortunately, family and friends aren’t always objective. If you’re considering taking a job, this may mean, you’ll leave co-workers who have become friends. They may want you to stay, but this may not be the best thing for your career. Decisions about going to school or back to school, often affect others in our lives. They will have their opinions about what they want you to do, but what you may need is help in sorting out what is best for you

Change can be very difficult.

Now, may be a time when your life needs to change. Change happens whether we want it to or not. Sometimes it’s a good thing; sometimes it’s a bad thing, but many times it just is. Everybody experiences times when their life changes.

You grew up, and it became time to leave home and start your life. You look for a job, or a career. Sometimes you need help finding a job, deciding on a career. Once you have that job, it’s easy to get stuck there. There may come a time when you decide you need to make a change.

Some people make the transition from young adult to parent easily. Other people struggle. There will be challenges and changes as your children grow. Some of these challenges can be made easier by seeing a counselor.

Many people find that the biggest changes in life come in the time’s past children. The children grow up and start their own lives. You may be somewhat involved in their lives and the lives of your grandchildren, but eventually, you should let that go to allow your children to become parents. The change to an empty nest is hard for some people. The change from your working years to retirement can also be difficult.

You may be facing a challenge.

When you are faced with a challenge and do not know if you have the abilities needed to reach your goals it may be helpful to talk with the professional. Sometimes what you need is to identify your strengths and your weaknesses especially in the emotional realm.

Counselors can help you learn the skills you need to face this challenge. Often counselors can see your potential even when you have your doubts.

If you’re struggling with your emotions or your life, now might be the time to enlist the services of a counselor or therapist.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books