Why you are burned out.

By David Joel Miller.

Are you experiencing burnout?

Burning out

Burnout.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Burnout has been one of the major problems of the last century, and it’s getting worse, not better. As more people work in jobs that involve contact with other people, stress has been magnified. Among social worker’s burnout was called “compassion fatigue.” Teachers experience burnout, so do bankers. Customer service representatives and those who work in phone centers commonly experience burnout.

High levels of stress, particularly in situations where you are low in your abilities to control the situation, can result in burnout. Once you experience burnout, you may never be able to return to that job again. For some people, burnout is so complete that they become disabled and are never able to work afterward. Here are some of the things that may be putting you at high risk for burnout.

Trying to do too much results in burnout.

Worldwide, everyone seems to be doing more and finding less happiness. Today most families are either single parents or both parents work. With more hours put in on the job, there is less time for children, relationships, and self-care.

The price we have paid for more material possessions has been long commutes, more stress on the job, and declining life satisfaction. Recently we have seen a tremendous increase in anxiety disorders, depression, and stress-related disorders. Poor mental and emotional health is resulting in poor physical health. If your whole life consists of running from one thing to the next you’re at high risk to break down and not be to do anything in the future.

When you don’t say no, you take on too much.

Whether it’s on the job, or in your personal life; not being able to say no puts you at an increased risk of burnout. If you’re one of those people, who feel guilty when you say no, you are sacrificing your health for other people’s approval. Taking on that one more project may be the one to many that lead to emotional exhaustion.

Not taking care of your body, leads to burnout.

Most people are chronically sleep deprived, not out of necessity but out of choice. In that respect electricity, has been a mixed blessing. People set their alarms so they can get up before the sun. It’s a rush to get yourselves and your family ready for the day. The evenings are spent binging on electronic entertainment. It’s common for people of all ages to stay up late online, frantically pursuing pleasure. Junk food provides the bulk of the fuel for human bodies today. Being overweight or obese adds another burden, physically and mentally, for you to carry around each day. Poor physical self-care leaves you emotionally depleted as well and at high risk for permanent burnout.

When other people’s opinion matters too much, you risk burnout.

Social media likes have become the measure of personal satisfaction. A diet of craving other people’s approval leaves you starved for self-esteem. If you don’t feel good about yourself, you will never be able to get enough approval from others. One of the first signs of burnout is feeling chronically, physically and emotionally exhausted.

You will burn out if your brain never gets time off.

It’s common for people in therapy to report that their mind races. An unquiet mind can be a symptom of a particular mental illness, but it can also indicate stimulus overload. The human brain is designed to do most things automatically, without thought. Fewer things require serious deep thinking. When your brain is full of things you need to remember, and you are thinking deeply, your thought processes will slow down. When your brain is full, trying to do your daily job, life can be overwhelming.

Pursuing someone else’s goals causes burnout.

Some people look forward to their daily tasks. When you enjoy what you do each day, it energizes you. If you are pursuing your passions, are on the jazz about what you do each day, you were unlikely to experience burnout. Many people find they can tolerate an unpleasant workday if their leisure time allows them to pursue their passions. The more of each day you spend pursuing someone else’s goals, the less time you will have to reach your objectives.

Negative thoughts result in burnout.

The thoughts you have, produce the feelings you feel. If your typical way of thinking is pessimistic, full of negative, unhelpful thoughts, you will become emotionally drained. As burnout progresses people move from feeling physically and emotionally exhausted to being cynical and negative about other people, the situation, and the future. When you begin to feel that you are incompetent, unable to do your daily task correctly, you are at the end of the line for burnout.

More posts about – Burnout.

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

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

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

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

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

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

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Advertisements

Your “feeling bad” may be Dysphoria.

By David Joel Miller.

Dysphoria – the feeling bad problem.

Unhappy

Dysphoric.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Sometimes you just feel bad. Many times, people feel bad but can’t describe what that feeling is. Ask someone at random how they feel, and the most common answers will be, good, bad, or angry. Some of this stems from the bad reputation feelings have received. Many people go to great lengths to avoid any negative feelings. When you tried to avoid negative feelings, it’s no surprise that when you do feel bad, you have difficulty identifying that feeling and giving it a name.

You may have been labeled dysphoric without your knowledge.

If you have been to see a professional because you were “feeling bad” but you didn’t know the specific reason, the professional may have written down somewhere in your file that you were “dysphoric.”

When you’re under stress, the chemicals your nervous system produces are felt widely throughout your body. Panic attacks can feel like a heart attack. Depression can leave you exhausted, lacking the energy to get out of bed. A high percentage of clients who experienced these symptoms go to the medical doctor first. Which is not a bad idea. You need to rule out a medical issue. Sitting and talking to your counselor during your heart attack could be fatal.

Once your medical Doctor has ruled out immediate, life-threatening illnesses, you may be referred to see a psychiatrist, counselor, or therapist. Seeing a counselor does not mean you are crazy. What it tells us is that your nervous system has been sending out chemicals alerting the body to an emotional crisis. The result is an episode of dysphoria.

Is dysphoria a mental illness?

Dysphoria is a term that goes back to the days of Freud. Back then someone was either diagnosed with psychosis, that meant you were crazy, or neuroses which largely meant you were struggling with the problems of living. I have seen the term dysphoria in a lot of the older literature from the fields of psychology and psychoanalysis. Today professionals use the DSM-5 to diagnose mental illness. The DSM lists about 400 different varieties of mental illnesses. Dysphoria can be an underlying symptom of many of these illnesses, but it is not one specific disorder.

No client has ever told me they felt dysphoric. But I’ve heard that they “feel bad” plenty of times. I have seen the word dysphoria on assessment forms several times, usually as a checkbox for a feeling the client might be having. As my students have heard, I think of a good assessment as more than just checking the boxes and filling out a form.

To help someone who is “feeling bad” the counselor needs to examine that feeling, identify the specific feelings involved and ideally match them up with a specific mental, emotional, or behavioral problem.

What exactly is dysphoria?

OxfordDictionaries defines dysphoria as “a state of unease or generalized dissatisfaction with life. The opposite of euphoria.” Some words are easiest to define by saying that they are the opposite of something else. Unfortunately defining dysphoria by saying it’s the opposite of euphoria is not much help.

The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia, from 1889, gets us closer to a useful definition. I think this is an important point. When you are reading books which were written a long time ago, Freud and Jung, even the psychoanalysts who wrote before the DSM Four, it’s important to ask what the words meant to them. The English language has always been in a state of change.

The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia defines dysphoria as; pain hard to be borne, anguish, impatience under affliction, a state of dissatisfaction, restlessness, fidgeting, or inquietude.

In Psychology dysphoria generally means one of 3 things.

Martin Seligman in his book What You Can Change and What You Can’t begins with the idea of dysphoria and then breaks it down into three specific negative emotions. I would highly recommend this book by the way. One point he makes here is that to date there is no medication which cures any mental illness. At the time he wrote this book; he listed 14 mental illnesses that could be effectively treated, cured, or greatly reduced, using specific forms of talk therapy. I’m inclined to think in the years since he wrote this book other therapies have proven effective for additional mental and emotional disorders.

Anxiety can look like a physical illness.

Anxiety disorders are the “great pretenders.” During episodes of anxiety, the thoughts in the brain mobilize the body for flight or flight activities. Anxiety reduces a lot of physical symptoms in your body and is frequently mistaken for a physical illness.

Professionals split anxiety disorders into a number of specific types. Most are temporarily manageable with medication, but when the medication wears off the anxiety returns worse than before. Therapy of several varieties, coupled with relaxation techniques and life skills training can greatly reduce the levels of anxiety.

Recently, trauma and stressor-related disorders such as PTSD were separated from the Anxiety Disorders. These problems have added symptoms such as nightmares and flashbacks. There are treatments for these disorders, but those treatments are very different from the ones used for anxiety.

Depression comes in many varieties.

Professionals categorize depression more by the physical symptoms you experience than by the cause of the depression. Some types of depression have a specific cause, and others don’t. Many of the symptoms of depression look like those of physical illness. Changes in appetite, eating either too much or too little, can all be part of depression. Changes in sleep are also an element of depression. Some people, when depressed, experience significant fatigue. Depressed people may take to bed and feel too tired to get up. Underlying depression is the loss of the ability to experience happiness. Some people can feel a few bursts of pleasure, but the temporary pleasant sensation quickly fades.

Anger and irritability are often components of dysphoria.

When someone doesn’t feel well, they are out of sorts, they become irritable and push others away. Some people feel “bad” and experience a lot of anger. Neither anger nor irritability is considered a specific mental illness, but they may be symptoms of several mental health challenges.

It would be wonderful if there were specific blood tests or x-rays that would determine that the physical symptoms you have are the result of dysphoria and could be identified as one specific mental illness. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. First, you need to see a medical Doctor to rule out physical illness. Next, you would see a counselor who would talk to you about your symptoms. Based on the number and severity of symptoms you would get a specific diagnosis.

Treatment should be tailored to you and your particular symptoms. Therapy is not something the counselor should do to you. Therapy is something the counselor and client do together. As a result of counseling, you should learn skills and new ways of thinking that will help you manage dysphoric feelings and learn to increase the number of positive feelings you experience.

If you have been feeling bad, one or more of the dysphoric feelings, please consider getting help.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller.

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

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

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

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

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

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

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

How will you solve that problem?

By David Joel Miller.

Is your life full of problems?

Problem Solving

Problem Solving.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

If you’re one of those people who seems to go from problem to problem, maybe it’s time to change the way you handle problems. Problems can cause you a lot of unhappiness, derail your life and result in depression and anxiety, or they can simply be one more thing you must handle today. Unresolved problems can fester and damage relationships at home and work.

The problems you don’t tackle can undermine your self-esteem and hold you back from the life you want to have. Here are some simple steps you can take to move from a problem-filled life to a “problems handled” way of living.

This approach is often used by companies or businesses, but you can easily modify it for solving personal issues or family and relationship problems.

Define the problem accurately.

A couple comes in for relationship counseling, the problem they describe is that they are constantly fighting over money. Before this couple can solve this problem, we need to get more specific about what the problem is. For some couples, this is largely a financial problem. Scraping by from month-to-month, not being sure you’ll be able to pay the rent and the power bill can put a strain on any relationship. The solution will be learning some financials skills.

Another couple has plenty of income, and their expenses would be manageable if they could agree on how to spend their money. What we need to establish is whether this is a relationship issue or is it about power and control? Maybe one of them is a saver, and the other wants to spend. If one’s goal is a large savings account and the other’s goal is to do lots of traveling the problem to solve is not financial, but how they make decisions.

For couples whose problems are primarily fighting about money, the real issue may be that they barely have enough income to survive. When you live a life where what you earn each month is less than what you must spend, and you make up the deficit by using credit cards, eventually something must give, either before bankruptcy or after. The stress of unpaid bills can result in a lot of irritability and arguments.

Start any effort to solve your problems by creating an as specific as possible definition of the problem.

Who owns this problem?

What if your problem is someone else? Your partner makes you angry, or your kids won’t behave. It’s hard to develop a plan for anything you can do when the problem is someone else. There are three possible approaches, try to change the other person, change yourself, or stay miserable while insisting that things shouldn’t be the way they are.

While it’s difficult, it is sometimes possible to change the other person. Every relationship, especially couples and families, develop a pattern of how they relate to each other. Therapists call this the “family dance.” If you want to change the interaction, you must change the dance, and you begin this by doing different steps than you’ve done before. As you change others will be forced to change in response, though they may not always change in the way you want them to change.

Both changing yourself and the process of encouraging others to change are skills you can learn. You might want to look at the posts about problem ownership and behavioral modification.

Generate possible solutions for your identified problem.

Once you are clear on what the problem is and who needs to make the changes, you can begin to generate a list of possible solutions. Let’s take the “fighting about money” problem.

It may be hard work, but a first step would be to develop a budget. You need to know how much money is coming in each month and where it is going. The couple needs to agree on how important savings are to them. What percentage of each month’s income do they plan to save? Saving should include putting something away for retirement. A small amount saved each year can grow to a substantial amount over your working lifetime.

You also need to prioritize what you spend your money on. That mixed coffee drink can be a nice treat. But if you add up what you spend on those lattes and compare it to the cost of making a pot of coffee and taking a mug with you, having the money to pay the power bill the first of the month may be worth more than those daily splurges.

Solutions you might consider for solving your financial issues could be ways to earn more income, ways to reduce expenses, or sell something you have, to raise some extra cash. Many people find that their payments on expensive cars or credit card balances are the hole the drains money faster than they can earn it.

Solving financial problems is often painful, but if you don’t solve these problems, the stress can damage your mental health and destroying your relationship.

Explore the advantages and disadvantages.

Any effort to solve a problem comes with pros and cons. The last real estate downturn forced people to choose between making large payments for houses that were worth less than what they still owed on them, or giving up their dream home.

To solve a specific problem, you may have to give up something or do something you don’t wish to do. Evaluating your options can be difficult. You will never have all the information you would wish for. But eventually, you must choose to change something, or you will choose to continue to live with the pain of an unresolved issue.

Implement your selected solution.

This step trips up a lot of people. The couple decides they need to let things from the past go and focus on the future, but the next time there’s a disagreement about raising the kids or spending money all that past stuff gets thrown into the argument.

You may have decided to stop splurging on little expenses, and the next day, when you feel a little down, you start spending again. If you decided the way to solve your financial problems was to stop making impulsive purchases and pay down your credit card debt, be careful of making exceptions and buying something just this one time because you want it.

When you have these little slips and don’t follow your plan, don’t beat yourself up and don’t toss the plan away. Accept that you’re not going to be perfect the following the plan. Redouble your efforts again the next day.

Evaluate the results you are getting from your plan.

Whatever the problems you’re trying to solve, you need to do periodic reviews and evaluate whether what you’re doing is moving you in the right direction. Some problems may be easily solved. Others may require effort over a long period. Don’t get discouraged. Do give yourself credit for the effort you put in and for whatever results you achieve.

Modify the solution as needed.

Be careful about getting locked into one solution. Some ideas you may have had for solving your problem won’t work. Others may take more effort and time than you’re willing to put into them. Make whatever changes you need to make to reach your goal.

What should you do if your solutions don’t work?

At any point in the process, you might want to seek out professional help. For financial problems, you may need financial counseling. For work-related issues, you might need to see an educational or career counselor. For mental health and emotional problems consider therapy. If the problem is your relationship consider couples, marriage, or family counseling.

Behavioral problems such as excessive anger or a substance use disorder are likely to require professional help also. If your relationship is full of conflict, a relationship counselor can help you work through the conflict.

Don’t feel that it’s a sign of weakness to seek professional help. Athletes have coaches and businesses hire consultants. Sometimes the investment of a few dollars spent on professional help can pay off in huge improvements in solving your emotional and relationship problems.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller.

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

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

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

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

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

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

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Becoming more resilient.

By David Joel Miller.

Resiliant

Resilient. 
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

How do you get back up when life knocks you down?

Resiliency is the key to getting back up when life knocks you down. Resiliency is a skill that you can learn, but it requires practice. When you’re going through difficult times, it can be hard to imagine life getting better. Here are some tips for improving your resiliency and learning to bounce back from adversity.

Shift your focus from where you are to where you’re going.

When life has knocked you down, avoid wallowing in the mud. When your down, it is tempting to spend your time thinking about how bad things are and how unfair it is. It’s inviting to look for someone to blame. Don’t make the mistake of believing that there is something inherently wrong or defective about you. Don’t become paranoid and believe your difficulties are caused by others who are out to get you.

Do spend your time planning for and working to become the best person you can. Learn from your mistakes. Change what you can. Do the work you need to do to change where you are.

Strengthen or develop a support system.

Humans do best when they are part of a group. When times are tough, you will find out who your real friends are. If there are ruptures in your support system, try to repair those relationships that you can fix. Evaluate the people you spend your time with. Hang out with negative people, and you will become more negative. To be a healthy, happy person, you need to have positive people in your life.

Stay connected to family, friends, faith, support systems, and your community. When times are hard, your connections are vital. Friendships cannot be one-way streets. If someone only takes from you but never gives, that’s not a friend. If you have a particular faith or religion, make sure you stay connected. Stay involved in positive things in your community.

Contribute to the world around you.

Doing things to make the world a better place will improve your self-esteem and self-confidence. Do what you can. It’s not necessary to donate large amounts to causes. If you can afford to, give small amounts of money. More important than the money you give, is the time and the giving of yourself.

The smile you give some may be exactly what they needed. If you give a smile, you may get one in return.

Identify the areas in your life you can control.

Sometimes bad things happen, and they are out of your control. You may have an illness. You didn’t pick that sickness. Pretending you’re not ill will not help. Suffering in silence is not a virtue.

What you can do may be significant. You can see a doctor. You can take your medicine as prescribed. You can illuminate unhealthy habits. Quit smoking, give up or reduce your drinking. Get plenty of sleep. Get up off the couch and move around as much as you are able.

When you start looking for the things that are in your control you may find many opportunities to improve your life. Small improvements here and there can add up.

Identify and develop your skills.

The situations in your life will change. The skills you learn in one situation may be useful in the next situation you encounter. Don’t focus on what you can’t do. Identify the strengths you have and build on them.

Develop the good parts of yourself.

Begin by identifying the good parts of you. If you have trouble thinking of those parts right now, ask yourself what a good friend might say about you. Maybe you’re creative. Some people are naturally curious, and they love to learn new things. Perhaps you are a kind person or someone who cares about fairness. Do you have a good sense of humor? Whatever your qualities look for ways to strengthen them and to build on them to create a better future.

Learn to manage stress.

Stress is a part of life. As long as you live, you will experience stress. Even good things can be stressful. Learn some simple stress reduction techniques. You may find that deep breathing can slow down the floods of emotion that can overwhelm you. Many stressful events have both good and bad features. Avoid focusing on only the distressing parts of the situation.

Practice coping with adversity.

Use the small, everyday problems as an opportunity to identify your strengths and to practice your coping skills. Coping with everyday irritations develops your coping skills for the big challenges in life.

Increase your self-confidence.

In parenting education, we tell people to build resiliency in children by catching them doing something right. Hopefully, you had people in your early life who gave you praise for the things you did well. If you didn’t get that praise, start today to recognize and acknowledge your accomplishments. If you have difficulty accepting, compliments learn to compliment yourself and receive the gift of a compliment rather than returning it as being of no value.

Avoid shaming and guilt tripping yourself.

The field of positive psychology tells us that shame and negative motivation does not spur people to do better. Recognize what you can improve on but don’t fall into the trap of believing that calling yourself names and beating yourself up will result in doing better. Making a mistake does not make you a “bad person.”

Try to fix the things you can and accept the things you can’t. What other ways have you found to increase your resilience? What will you start doing today to create a better future?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

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

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

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

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

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

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

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Is your paranoia showing?

By David Joel Miller.

Increasing paranoia – the mental health challenge of this millennium?

Fearfulness

Paranoia.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

The growing problem of paranoia is gone unrecognized for very long time. Currently, anxiety disorders are the number one diagnosed mental illness. The category of anxiety disorders has grown so large that recently professionals separated this family of disorders into two groups, the disorders of excessive anxiety, called anxiety disorders, and the disorders caused by real-life events, now referred to as trauma and stressor-related disorders. What has often overlooked is the prevalence of Paranoia.

The problem of paranoia frequently gets ignored.

Many people describe themselves as paranoid, or “a little bit paranoid.” Professionals often dismiss these labels as exaggerations. Over the last 25 years, as there has been more study of paranoia, professionals are starting to recognize how common paranoid symptoms are in the general population. Recent studies conclude that among the general population, people who have never been diagnosed with a serious mental illness, the rates of paranoia may run between 15 and 20 percent.

There’s no specific diagnosis for paranoia.

When we say paranoia, most people immediately think “paranoid schizophrenic.” We have come to understand that not everyone who has schizophrenia is paranoid. Paranoia can also be part of several other serious mental illnesses. Paranoia is also a part of paranoid personality disorder, delusional disorder, and may even be a feature of severe major depressive disorder. Many drugs of abuse can cause paranoia. Paranoia in its less extreme forms may go under the label “excessive suspicion” or “trust issues.” In it’s more dangerous form; paranoia can be a feature of delusional jealousy.

Humans are often poor judges of danger.

In the 1950’s almost every small child look forward to getting their first bicycle. Kids commonly walk to and from schools which were often a considerable distance away. Today many people do not let their children play outside. One explanation for this is they are afraid something bad will happen to their child.

The statistics tell us that the most dangerous place for most children is at home. Every year in America more children are shot and killed at home by a biological parent who then turns the gun on themselves than all the children killed in school shootings. Absolutely school shootings are a problem that needs to be tackled, but we are fooling ourselves by thinking that it strangers who are the major danger.

America and many other industrial countries are facing an epidemic of childhood obesity. The risk of poor health and shortened lifespan from lack of exercise far outweigh the risk to most children from going outside to play.

Many people worry every time they take to the road that they will encounter someone with road rage will run them off the road or shoot them. These are certainly risks, but the far greater risk comes from people being injured or killed in automobile accidents while not wearing your seatbelt.

Why have we all become more fearful?

High levels of danger are often associated with the big city and crowded urban environments. A hundred years ago less than 5 percent of the world’s population lived in large cities; most people lived in small towns and rural settings. Since the year 2000 more than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in large cities. Today television and the online news are available 24/7 to tell you about every awful event.

Belief in conspiracy theories has become more common than not.

Humans use to accept widespread death from illness as normal increasingly people believe these epidemics must be the result of some government or international conspiracy. Throughout history, there have been plagues which devastated humanity. During the Middle Ages, there were places where as much as 70 percent of the population died. These same epidemics would recur periodically. In the 1800’s epidemics of yellow fever and cholera resulted in death rates of 30 to 50 percent of the population of some towns. In the U.S. Civil War, for every man killed in battle mortality in camp due to illness could run from 5 to 10 men. During World War I, deaths from Spanish influenza ran into the millions. These recurring illnesses used to be blamed on devils and demons, religious minorities and more recently bacteria and viruses. Today, when a new illness is discovered many people’s first thought, is that someone has deliberately created this illness or that there is a cure for it, but someone is withholding that cure.

People who believe in conspiracy theories often believe in mutually contradictory ones. The same person who believes that Jimmy Hoffa was killed by the CIA might also believe that he faked his own death and is currently living in Bolivia. The average person’s willingness to believe a conspiracy theory seems to be growing exponentially.

Some increased trust issues, even paranoia, may be reality based.

Modern society has created dangers that didn’t exist past. With larger numbers of people working for the same employer competition on the job becomes fiercer. Many of the people you work with you may never see outside of work. This has led to more competition on the job and less cooperation. When we were an agricultural society, farmers tended to help each other. Today it’s likely that the person in the next cubicle may be undermining you in the competition for promotion or to avoid the downsizing layoff.

Your increased dependence on technology put you at risk.

Technology is becoming more complicated and more pervasive, growing at an exponential rate. Your personal information is no longer safe because you keep it locked up. Every company you do business with, every detail of your financial and healthcare life may be at risk. Online companies know more about the person you sleep with.

How are trust issues, suspiciousness, anxiety, and paranoia connected?

In upcoming posts, I want to talk to you more about why “trust issues, suspiciousness, anxiety and even paranoia have become so prevalent, how they may be connected and how you can cope with your fears and not let the forces of anxiety and paranoia take over your life. But I don’t want to overwhelm you with the problems without talking about the solutions.

The future is not all bleak.

At the same time psychologists and counselors have been looking at some under recognize problems, things like paranoia, burnout, and the role of the Internet in changing human relationships some positive things have also been recognized. Positive psychology has revealed an entire technology centered around having a happy life. We now know happiness is not the result of constant doses of temporary pleasure but comes from long-term ways of thinking and behaving. We are also recognizing that people have certain inherent strengths. Whether you know it or not, you and your children have some talents and abilities just waiting to be discovered and perfected.

For more on these topics see:

Paranoia

Anxiety

Happiness

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

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

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

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

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

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

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

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

20 Reasons you’re not reaching your goals.

By David Joel Miller.

What is getting in the way of reaching your goals?

Finish line

Reaching Goals.

You started out with a lot of goals you wanted to reach, but along the way, something went wrong.

Things are not turning out the way you wanted them to and are taking longer than you expected.

Sometimes you may feel like that hamster stuck in the wheel, running harder and harder but getting nowhere.

What can you do to finally reach your goals?

Here is my top 20 list of reasons you’re not reaching your goals.

1. Chasing someone else’s goal takes you in the wrong direction.

Make sure your goal reflects your passion in life. Pursuing someone else’s dream for you results in you neglecting your own dreams. Examine the goal you are working towards, are you the one who selected this goal and will reaching it satisfy you. If you are pursuing a goal to make someone else approve of you, it’s not your goal. You won’t be able to put your all into building something that’s not meaningful to you.

2. You’re pursuing the wrong goal.

Chasing money will not get you to love or happiness. Don’t make the mistake of pursuing one goal when what you want is something else. Many people make the mistake of pursuing money thinking this will get them the love and respect of others. Everyone needs enough money to meet their basic needs, but beyond that more money will not necessarily make you happier. Don’t tell yourself your pursuit of money is for your family if it takes you farther and farther away from them.

3. Your goals are fuzzy.

Beware of nebulous goals that are hard to define. You need to write goals down and research them. If your goal is success, you need to know how that success will be measured. Do you want to have a lot of friends? Do you want to do important work? Which would more say success to you, spending years alone in a lab in finding a cure for a rare disease or spending night after night on stage with people laughing at your jokes?

4. You’re waiting for “someday.”

Make inertia work for you. A body at rest requires a lot of energy to get it moving, once you start moving it takes a lot less energy to keep the progress going. Most people, when they reached their retirement years, find that their greatest regrets are not the things they did that didn’t turn out well. The biggest regrets with the things they said they would do something but never got around to doing them.

5. You’re not clear on your priorities.

If the goal you are working towards is not your top priority, it’s likely to keep getting pushed back. What you spend your time on each day is how you spend your life. As the time passes, if you’re not working on the thing you say is your goal, you haven’t made it your top priority. If you’re too busy to act on reaching your goal, then what you have in mind is a fantasy, not a goal.

6. You’ve left out some steps.

You tell yourself your goals to become a professional, a doctor, nurse, or lawyer but you have left school. Before you can be a teacher or any other professional you first must learn. If you don’t seem to be making progress toward your goal, re-examine your plan and see if there are any steps you need to take that you’ve left out of your planning.

7. Trying to do too much.

Trying to rise to the top of a profession requires you to start at the bottom. Whatever you want to accomplish, you must put in the time practicing. Working on too many things at once dilutes your effort. Highly successful people weed out the unimportant things and focus on their top priorities.

8. Trying to reach your goals too fast.

When you look closely at overnight successes, what you often find are people who spent years learning and honing their skills. Don’t be disappointed when reaching your goals takes longer than you expected.

9. You’re using the wrong tools.

Looking for a better paying job, when you require more education or training won’t get you where you want to go. Are the skills you have the ones you need to reach your goal? The world keeps changing. If you’re not updating your skills, they are becoming obsolete.

10. Your goals are negative and punitive.

Set positive goals. The evidence doesn’t support the helpfulness of using negative self-talk or punishing yourself in reaching positive outcomes.

11. You failed to develop your team.

Everyone needs a support system. The journey to reaching goals involves many people. If you want to reach goals, look for teachers, mentors, and companions for your journey. Some things you will need to become an expert on, for other tasks you will need to learn to identify the experts who can support you in your quest.

12. The closer you get to your goal the stronger resistance becomes.

Don’t slack off when you get close to your goal. If you go to college for three years and then quit what do you have? You don’t have a degree. In my lifetime, I’ve known several people who always wanted to write a book. Some of them even had a manuscript tucked away in a drawer. What they didn’t do was write that last chapter, send that book off to the publisher, or learn the skills they would need to publish it themselves. In the early stages of your journey towards your goal you can see the progress but the closer you get to your goal, the more effort it takes to break through that resistance and reach the finish line.

13. You aim low and hit the mark.

Your goals should encourage you to stretch. Many people self-handicap. The set their goals so low that they can’t possibly fail to meet them. If you repeatedly set low goals, you are planning a life of low achievement.

14. You’re not reviewing and updating your goals.

The goals you set in middle school won’t mean much when you are middle-aged. Some of the goals no longer fit you. Reevaluate those goals. If you are no closer, revise your plan. If you met them all, you might have set your expectations too low and need to raise the bar.

15. You’re using the wrong “worry process.”

Some people try to protect themselves from failure by considering every possible thing that could go wrong. They worry endlessly that they’ll make a mistake or something bad will happen. The worry-about-everything approach leaves you paralyzed in inaction. People who reach their goals consider the big possibilities. They use a “worry-enough” process. Once they have thought it through enough, they stop worrying and take action.

16. You talk about your goals rather than working towards them.

Psychologists discovered that people who talk about their goals a great deal get their satisfaction out of discussing those goals with others. As a result, they rarely take significant action. People who reach goals discuss them with fewer others. Limit your discussion of your goals to mentors, advisers and those who can support you in the process. Don’t tell everyone, but do have a few accountability partners who will encourage you to keep working towards your goals.

17. You don’t recognize what you accomplish.

Many people who feel they’re not reaching their goals have failed to recognize all the things that they have accomplished. Your big goals need to be broken down into smaller segments, and you need to recognize each of those smaller goals as you accomplish them. You don’t get a college degree by taking all the classes at once. You take a few classes each semester, and at the end, your payoff is the degree. If you’re writing a book, you write it one chapter, maybe even one paragraph at a time. Pay attention to the things you accomplish. Don’t dismiss your achievements as unimportant. Not giving yourself credit where credit is due will leave you too discouraged to continue your journey towards even larger goals.

18. You have not learned from the mistakes of others.

Whatever goal you are pursuing, make it a practice to look at how others have tried to reach similar goals. Learn from their mistakes, so you don’t have to make them all yourself.

19. You can’t picture what reaching your goals would look like.

High performers can picture what their life will be like once they reach their goal. Olympic athletes practice imagining that perfect performance, then standing on the gold medal stand. If you don’t believe you can succeed, you sow seeds of doubt in your mind. Your mind is likely to protect you by creating that failure you imagine. Avoid fantasy images of sudden wealth and fame. Picture the very real results of long, hard, work towards your goals.

20. You haven’t become your own best friend.

If you don’t like yourself, no matter how many goals you reach, it will never be enough. Spend time getting to know who you are and work on accepting that how you are right now is adequate. Self-acceptance doesn’t lead to complacency. Negative self-thoughts become obstacles in your path to reaching your goals.

Take another look at your goals. Re-examine your plans and your attitudes. Change the things you’ve been doing that are not working and head back out there in your pursuit of the life you want to have.

You will find related posts under –

motivation 

success

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

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

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

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

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

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

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

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Preventing life’s regrets.

By David Joel Miller.

How can you prevent accumulating painful regrets?

Regrets.

Regret.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Are there any ways you can anticipate things you might regret and live your life in ways that would prevent having to recover from regrets?”

Here are some of the ways you can prevent a life filled with regrets and some thoughts about what to do when you discover your regrets.

Consider potential regrets before acting.

Most of the things people regret fall into one of 2 categories, things they did they wish they hadn’t and things that didn’t do they wish they had. Before taking any major action, ask yourself, will I regret this? If the answer is yes I will regret it, this course of action bears some more thought. A lot of the things people regret were those impulsive “spur of the moment” decisions. Often these are the result of jumping to conclusions or acting on impulse without considering the consequences.

Can this decision be undone?

Some decisions can easily be undone. You sign up for class and wish you hadn’t; you can drop that class if you do so quickly. Make a date with someone and get cold feet, you can cancel that date. For some things undoing that action may have a cost. But it’s often wiser to cancel that purchase and pay the fee, than to be stuck making payments on a car or house you don’t want, for years to come.

One of the major areas which can’t be undone is relationships. Once you’ve slept with someone, it is harder to break up. You can break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, but your baby’s mother or father is forever. Once you’re married, with or without children, ending that marriage comes with both emotional and financial costs.

Delay your decision until you have more information.

Many of the decisions people regret having made were a result of not giving yourself enough time to think it over. In some places, buyers have a time period to void the sale of a major purchase. I don’t recommend you count on this. I think it’s a good idea to give buyers of expensive items time to check their purchase out and rescind the transaction is there something wrong with the item they bought. But don’t expect to return something just because you changed your mind. Once you have used something you can’t return it in the same new condition it was in when you bought it. There are lots of other actions in life, especially when it comes to relationships with other people, where you don’t have to act the moment the idea enters your head.

Think carefully about possible outcomes.

Regret often comes from the human tendency to think all your ideas are great ones when you first think them. Where possible, before you act on your inclinations, ask yourself what are the possible outcomes? Are any potential negative outcomes so severe that you’re not willing to take the chance? Regardless of how good or how exciting this possible action is if there’s a large chance it could result in a death or ruin the rest of your life you must be realistic in evaluating the risks. Be careful of the natural human fallacy to believe that you’re lucky or smart and that only the good outcomes will happen to you.

Don’t waste time on the impossible. What alternatives are available to you?

Don’t make the mistake of choosing between an action and an impossibility. Sometimes you will be forced to pick the best of 2 bad options. Sometimes you’ll hesitate because your preferred choice turns out to be an impossibility. If you are choosing between 2 very likely, very good options, use some of the other decision-making rules coming up. But, if you don’t feel comfortable with any choice, make sure you have ruled out all the impossible choices.

Consider how you feel about possible outcomes.

Many people make the mistake of trying to be totally logical and rational about the choices. Choose with your head, and you will feel the regret in your heart. While your feelings shouldn’t rule you all the time, feelings do provide valuable information. If in your heart, this doesn’t feel right, you probably should not do it.

Search for other alternatives.

Before you decide something, ask yourself are there any other possible choices? A significant source of regrets are times people chose between 2 options, say picking A instead of B, neither of which were that good a choice. Where they went wrong was failing to think about some of the other letters of the alphabet that might have been better choices.

What would a good decision maker do in this situation?

When faced with a difficult decision think about the people you know. Who that you are aware of appears to be exceptionally good at making decisions? What would that person choose?

How does this decision relate to your life goals and values?

Don’t get distracted by things the promise short-term pleasure and excitement, the next bright shiny thing. You will make better decisions when you pause to think about what are your personal values?

Once you decide against an alternative stop looking for evidence to support it.

Seems to be a part of human nature to doubt yourself. There is a problem with the way the human brain works. It’s called confirmatory bias. If we want to do something all we are likely to see re other reasons in favor of it. Unfortunately, people who decided against an alternative keep going back to that thing they decided against and looking for other reasons to go ahead and do it anyway. Once you have decided no, it is probably best to stay with that decision. On the other side of the coin if you decided to do something and suddenly get some new information that makes that decision look like one you’ll regret, don’t disregard that new information.

Use an outside expert’s advice and feedback.

Sometimes we get hung up on our own thinking. Because we think something, it must be true. When the decision has huge consequences, costs a lot of money, or might get you stuck in a situation that would be hard to get out of, it pays to seek advice from an expert. If that expert is a counselor they probably won’t, and shouldn’t, tell you what to do. What they can do is help you sort out your conflicted feelings and provide you with information about what has happened to other clients faced with this decision. Sometimes it helps just to know you’re not the only one who has had trouble making this decision.

Weigh the consequences of not deciding.

If it’s a tough decision, you need to ask yourself, what will it cost me to put the decision off? Not responding to a lawsuit or a bill may make the situation worse. Just because it’s the “best price of the year” doesn’t mean you should decide to make that purchase today. It is quite possible that the difference between today’s “best price of the year” and next week’s “sale price” won’t be all that different. Don’t convince yourself that if you don’t get into a relationship with the person you’re out with now, you will never have another chance and you’ll be alone the rest of your life. If you have doubts about relationships, it may save you a lot of pain to wait until you are sure.

For many people, life’s greatest regrets are the things they wanted to do but never did. Don’t live your life putting off getting the education you want. Reach for your dreams. Try out for that acting job. Write your book. Have you let fear keep you from deciding to do things that are especially important to you?

Talk your decision through with an empathetic person.

Besides professionals, most of us have close friends and family we can talk to about the decisions we are struggling with. Ask yourself who among them are empathetic and can understand the struggle you’re going through to make this decision. It can help to talk it out with an understanding person. Pick that person carefully. You don’t need somebody telling you what to do or putting you down for what you’re thinking.

Expect to have regrets; they are an unavoidable part of life.

Nobody gets through life without having some things that they regret. Accept that you must live life and you will never have all the information before the decision that you will have afterward. Everybody must make some decisions, and they will regret some of those. Expect those crystal balls to be cloudy and hard to see into.

If you have regrets, make repair efforts a priority.

As you move through life, you will accumulate some regrets. Where possible, try to make repairs. Forgive yourself for your mistakes. If you have regrets because you have harmed others, do your best to make your amends and make things right with them.

Learn from your mistakes, improve decision-making skills.

Make conscious decisions. Consider each decision you make in life another learning opportunity. Learn from your mistakes. Watch how others around you live and learn from their mistakes. Become aware of how you make your decisions and make them consciously. Most importantly learn from those things that you regret and try to stop making the same mistakes repeatedly.

Some additional posts about regrets:

Top 6 life regrets

Will you regret doing that?

Top regrets after the breakup.

Regret. 

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

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

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

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

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

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

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

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.