Functional Family Roles.

By David Joel Miller.

The varieties of family roles.

Family Roles.

Family Roles

In a previous post, and we talked about the way dysfunctional families may create roles which take the focus off the dysfunction.

Well-functioning families create functional roles, which change over time.

Adult roles.

Healthy families require their members to be healthy individuals. Certainly, two people who have mental health issues or disabilities can come together to create healthy families. What those two people need to do is each work on themselves. Two sick people do not result in a healthy couple.

In well-functioning families, the adults need to assume the adult’s role and allow the children to be children. When the children take on too many adult duties, the structure of the family becomes unbalanced. In dysfunctional families, it is common to see young children rushing home from school to care for their preschool siblings because parents are incapacitated due to addictions.

Children who act like adults too early in life are at increased risk to have children themselves at young ages. Never having the opportunity to play as children, they are prone to engaging in excess adult play. Their idea of how to play as adults often centers around drugs, alcohol, or multiple sexual partners. Children who become adults too soon may have difficulty parenting their own children and the cycle repeats itself.

Functional families teach children adult roles by letting them babysit or performing chores but do not deprive children of their opportunity to be children.

The Partner role – Couplehood.

In healthy families, the adults need to have adult relationships. Partners need to maintain the partner relationship. Adults need time to do things with other adults. Parents need to take care to not talk to children about problems they have with their partner. For a well-functioning family, don’t make one of the children your best friend and confidant. Reserve your closest relationship for your partner.

Plan throughout your relationship for life after children. Children need to grow up and live their own lives. Couples who fail to nurture their partner relationship may find they have no reason to stay together once the children leave home.

The Parent Role.

In functional families, parents don’t try to become their children’s best friend. It’s wonderful to foster a close relationship, but sometimes parents need to tell their children no.

The Child Role.

In a well-functioning family, children need the emotion space to play and develop. Play is not a waste of time. Play allows children to try new behaviors. Pushing children too much to grow up and stop playing can result in children whose emotional growth has been stunted. Functional families do not expect children to be able to do things they are not yet mature enough to do.

Few families are always completely functional. But, Functional families encourage their members to fill appropriate roles rather than dysfunctional family roles.

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.

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Dysfunctional family roles.

By David Joel Miller.

Were you the good kid or the bad kid?

Family Roles.

Family Roles.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

It’s common in dysfunctional families for people to be assigned roles. It’s almost as if the family had a closet full of hats and when you were born you were given one of those hats. Just like every person may become depressed sometimes, every family will have a little bit of dysfunction. The more dysfunction the family, the more rigid the roles are likely to become.

Discussion of dysfunctional family roles is common, in substance use disorder treatment, but these roles may occur in any family with noticeable dysfunction. Various authors have used alternative names for these roles. In large families, additional roles may be created, and in small families, one person may have to play several roles.

Having these defined roles takes the attention off the family dysfunction. Do you recognize some or all of these roles from the family you grew up in? Which role did you play?

The black sheep – the bad child.

Dysfunctional families often select one person to be the scapegoat. That might be, the oldest child, the one whose conception forced the couple into a relationship. Other times it was a younger child who came along as the dysfunction became apparent. The black sheep could have been sickly, overactive, or had difficulty in school. Ever after this child is blamed for everything that goes wrong in the family.

Hero – the good child.

Were you the hero in your family? The one who was expected to get all A’s, be a star athlete, and still help around the house. The hero child may have worked a part-time job to help with the family expenses.

The clown – comic relief.

Some families had a resident comedian. The clown makes funny noises, tells jokes, and acts crazy, anything for a laugh. Some families combine the clown job with the black sheep role.

The lost child – missing in action.

The lost child never got noticed. They may have been a great student. Or the lost child may have spent their childhood anxious and depressed, hold up in their room. When the lost child turns eighteen, they may pack their bags and move to France. They will be gone for months before anyone notices they are missing.

Junior mom.

Junior mom, or Junior dad, might be eight years old, and in the third grade, but they rushed home to change their baby brothers diaper and feed their younger siblings, because, by the time school let out mom would be too drunk or high to function.

The over functioning person – codependent or enabler.

Some families had one person, usually a parent, who tried to do everything. Mom may have worked, managed the finances, took care of the children, and still found time to provide care for dad, whose drinking prevented him from functioning at all.

The under-functioning person – alcoholic, addict, or the compulsive gambler.

At the heart of every dysfunctional family is the under-functioning person. That may have been the mother, the father, a grandparent or any other family member. These dysfunctional family roles, like hats, could have been handed out to any family member, regardless of their age.

How about you?

Did you play one of these roles? Did you come to believe the role was who you are? For some people, over time, they played several of these roles. You may have been the black sheep who later became the alcoholic. The hero may grow up to marry an addict, and they become the codependent. Dysfunction families have a way of repeating these roles, generation after generation.

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 to recognize a pathological liar.

By David Joel Miller.

Is someone in your life a pathological liar?

Lies

Lies.
Photo courtesy of Flickr (renaissancechambara)

Having a pathological liar in your life can wreak havoc on your mental and emotional health. It can take a long time to identify the habitual liar. Learn to spot the people who are lying to you.

They lie even when the truth would work better.

Pathological liars will invent tales rather than tell you the truth. They will continue to insist that what they say is true even when their elaborations have become outlandish. They try to make their story more believable by adding lots of fictional details.

They often don’t realize they’re lying.

It’s common for compulsive liars to repeat their falsehoods so often that they begin to believe them themselves. They believe things should be true because they want them to be so. Since they believe their fictions, they will continue to insist they are telling the truth despite mountains of evidence to the contrary.

Their life sounds illogical.

When someone’s stories don’t make sense, with their entire life sounds illogical, there’s a good chance they believe many things that are not true. Pathological liars create elaborate life stories which are a complete fabrication.

They use lies to manipulate people.

If you feel someone repeatedly tries to manipulate you, look for the lies and false stories embedded in their narrative. When someone’s trying to get you to do something, ask yourself how honest do you believe they are.

Their failure, to tell the truth, hurts people.

Pathological liars are not concerned about what their untruths will harm others. They lie to get what they want. They do not feel that it’s wrong for them to lie. They will continue their dishonesty even when they know it is hurting those who are closest to them.

Pathological lying is a behavior pattern, not a specific mental illness.

There’s no specific diagnosis for pathological lying. It is currently considered a pattern of behavior. This condition overlaps several personality disorders, particularly antisocial personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder.

Everything they say is meant to make them look good.

Narcissists in particular, repeatedly lie, to make themselves look better and more important. The recurrent liar tries to manage other people’s opinion of them by manipulating the facts even if some of their purported facts are complete fictions.

They blame others for everything that goes wrong. It is always someone else’s fault.

Chronic liars are never willing to take responsibility for what they’ve done. Anything that has gone wrong must be someone else fault.

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. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Thoughts to make you happier.

By David Joel Miller.

Practice these thoughts to increase your happiness.

What you think repeatedly determines how you feel. Think lots of unhappy thoughts and

Happiness

Thoughts to make you happier.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

you can make yourself depressed. Tell yourself negative statements, and your brain will begin to believe them.

There is no virtue in being miserable.

If you would like a more positive life, here are some ways to change your thoughts to create a better life.

Making mistakes is okay.

All humans make mistakes. I’m beginning to think all computers and artificial intelligence make mistakes also. You don’t have to be perfect. However, you are, will be perfectly fine. Strive each day to become better but don’t focus on the mistakes. What you pay attention to, you get more of. Learn to recognize your achievements, compliment yourself for things well done, and accept compliments from others gracious.

Do more things to feel better about yourself.

If you want more positive things in your life, do more things. You can’t claim credit for things you didn’t do. Possessions won’t make you happy. Possessions you have should be visual reminders of what you have accomplished.

Determined to become happiness expert.

Don’t be one of those people whose brain is biased towards negative. Study happiness, learn to recognize joy when you see it. As you become a happiness expert, you will be able to find happiness everywhere you go.

It is always today.  Don’t procrastinate.

Nothing is ever done tomorrow. Everything is done today. Small actions each day accumulate into large results. Do the things that make you happy every day. Choose the things you do every day to make you happy.

What others think about you doesn’t matter.

Occupy your time being the best person can be. Don’t waste time worrying about what other people will think. There will always be jealous people. The more you accomplish, the more they will criticize you. Become someone who accomplishes something for others to be jealous of.

Self-talk and creative visualization are powerful.

Tell yourself you can and you will. Emphasize positive self-talk. Positive affirmations create positive feelings which creates spectacular results. What you tell yourself repeatedly is likely to come true. Highly successful people not only use positive self-talk but they also practice creative-visualization. If you can picture yourself having succeeded at something, your well along the path to reaching your goals.

You are OK the way you are.

Self-acceptance is the key to contented life. Accept yourself, as you are, while always striving for improvement. Unhappy people have a habit of believing they are never good enough. There’s a difference between what you do in life and who you are. You don’t have to do anything spectacular to be a worthwhile person.

You are capable of growth.

So long as you are alive, you have the potential for personal growth. Continue to learn new things, develop new skills and share the joys of your progress. Expect each day to learn something new and to become better at an existing skill.

It’s OK to say no.

You only have so many minutes of life, use them wisely. Don’t give yourself away. What you do for others, do it because it makes you feel happy to be of service. Don’t say yes because you’re afraid of disappointing someone.

Accept the world the way it is while working to make it better.

Don’t waste time complaining about the way things are. Work to change what you can. Learn to accept what is. The greatest unhappiness comes from blaming your problems on people or things that are outside your control.

Remember that You are the boss of your life.

You may not be able to control everything in your life. Regardless your options, you are the CEO of your life. Choose your attitude. When you’re presented with choices, make them. There is no benefit in blaming someone else for your miserable life.

Believe in your individual worth.

You have value, just because you are you. Believe deeply that you have worth. You do not need to do or change anything to be a worthwhile individual.

Let others be who they are.

Give up insisting that others change to suit you. Accept others for who they are. Learn to see them accurately, defects and all. Don’t put your effort into getting others to change to suit you, change yourself.

Pick good friends.

You will become like the people you associate with. Select positive friends. The old saying goes “show me your friends, and I will tell you who you are.” People will judge you by the company you keep. If you want to be a winner, hang out with the positive people. Don’t mistake acquaintances and fair-weather friends for true friends.

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. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

When fear takes you away – Panic Attacks.

By David Joel Miller.

What is a panic attack?

Panic Disorder.

Panic Disorder.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Panic attacks are sudden, unexpected increases or surges of intense fear. These waves of fear rise rapidly like the waves of the ocean. They normally reach maximum intensity within a few minutes. Panic attacks are levels of fear which far exceed the actual level of danger.

Having a single panic attack or mild levels of anxiety recurrently don’t meet the threshold to be diagnosed with a mental illness. Milder forms are often referred to as anxiety attacks. Severe forms of panic attacks are overwhelming. If your panic attacks become frequent and disabling, then you may be suffering from the more serious condition called Panic Disorder.

16 types of panic attacks.

Panic attacks are technically classified as one of the following 16 types. People who meet the criteria for a diagnosis of panic disorder are expected to have 4 or more of these symptoms. (The DSM-5, by the APA, combines several of these and lists them as 13 criteria.)

  1. Fear of dying. Not because the danger is real but because you are so scared you think you will die.
  2. Fear of going crazy.
  3. Fear of losing control.
  4. This can’t be real. Technically this is called Derealization.
  5. Is this me doing this? (Depersonalization.)
  6. Numb all over.
  7. Tingling – when your electrical system shorts out.
  8. Hot and cold flashes and you’re not menopausal.
  9. I think I will faint.
  10. My tummy hurts, and I may throw up.
  11. Is this the big one? – Heart pain.
  12. Choking again.
  13. I can’t breathe.
  14. Why am I shaking?
  15. Is it hot in the refrigerator? Why you may sweat in the snow.
  16. Your heart is trying to leave your body.

Many common reactions to intense fear are considered culturally approved and do not get counted to make up the definition of either panic attacks or Panic Disorder. These symptoms which may be an acceptable reaction to intense fear include pains in the neck, ringing in the ears, headaches, uncontrollable screaming, or uncontrollable crying.

If you experience panic attacks occasionally or because of particular stressors you may benefit from counseling or stress management training. If these panic attacks are recurrent, or interfere with work, relationships, upset you, or prevent you from enjoying other parts of your life you may have Panic Disorder. Untreated these conditions almost never get better on their own. With professional help, it is possible to overcome panic attacks or panic disorder.

FYI These “What is” sometimes “What are” posts are my efforts to explain terms commonly used in Mental Health, Clinical Counseling, Substance Use Disorder Counseling, Psychology, Life Coaching and related disciplines in a plain language way. Many are based on the new DSM-5, some of the older posts were based on the DSM-IV-TR, both published by the APA. For the more technical versions, please consult the DSM or other appropriate references.                      See Recommended Books.         More “What is” posts will be found at “What is.”

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. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Signs others opinions matter too much.

By David Joel Miller.

Are you paying too much attention to other people’s opinions?

Living your life based on other people’s opinions results in you living someone else’s

Self-confidence

Self-Confidence
Believe in yourself.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

life. Do you find yourself asking other people for their opinions on what you should do? If you find it hard to make decisions about your life without consulting others, the problem may be that you are paying too much attention to what others think and not enough attention to your own feelings. Here are some signs that what others think is running your life more than you are.

You measure yourself by other people’s opinions.

You are the expert on your life. No one else knows your particular struggles and challenges. Constantly seeking others approval results in a needy person. The person whose opinion most matters is yours. If your primary yardstick for measuring your self-worth is other people’s opinions, you are using the wrong ruler.

You ask what they mean by that a lot.

Do you find yourself questioning what others mean? If you’re asking “why did you say that” and “what did you mean by that?” a lot, it is very likely that you have become overreliance on other people’s opinions.

You let their opinion stop you.

If you find yourself not doing things that you enjoy or that might benefit you because of other people’s opinions, you’re losing control of your life. Other people’s opinions may be fine for them, but if you over-rely on their opinions, you are living their life and forgoing your own.

You worry about saying the right thing.

Healthy communication includes being able to tell others what you think and how you feel. You find yourself censoring what you want to say and searching for just the right words to say it you’re probably overly concerned about what other people think.

You try to please everyone.

If you try to please everyone, you’re likely to end up pleasing no one. In your effort to please everyone you will end up sacrificing your own opinions. No matter what view you take of things, some people will disagree, and some will not like what you say.

You put others needs before yours.

You must take care of yourself for you to be able to help others. It is not selfish to take care of yourself. Neglecting your own need in the process of caring for others robs you of the life you should have.

It is hard to say no.

Not being able to tell others no devalues you and your needs. You have the right to say no.

Taking credit embarrasses you.

Good self-esteem comes from recognizing the things you do well. When somebody gives you a compliment, accepted it.

You are ashamed of things you like to do.

Everyone has the right to have interests in life. Don’t be ashamed of your hobbies and interests.

You continue to do things that don’t make you happy.

If you find that you’re doing things that don’t bring you joy, weed them out of your life. Filling up your life with things that do not contribute to your happiness is sacrificing the life you should be leading to live

You let others set your goals.

Are you living your life pursuing someone else’s goals? That’s clear evidence their opinions are outweighing your own. You will only get this one life. Get clear on your goals. If our not clear on what you want out of life, you may be paying too much attention to other people’s opinions and not enough attention to your own.

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. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

6 Top Reasons to Go for Counseling.

By David Joel Miller.

Reasons you may want to consult a counselor.

Many people avoid going to see a professional counselor until their life falls apart.

Counseling

Counseling or Therapy
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

There’s been a growing acceptance of preventative medicine for physical health issues. Still, some people believe that going to see the doctor or the therapist is a sign of weakness.

An increasing number companies provide E.A.P.’s (employee assistance programs) for their employees. There are plenty of good reasons to see a counselor before your problems become severe.

Avoiding counseling appears to me like walking around town with a broken leg. See the doctor, and that leg might heal, keep walking on that broken leg you may do permanent damage to it.

1. There are things you can’t talk to your family and friends about.

Your family and friends may be sympathetic but if you keep talking to them repeatedly about the same problems you can burn them out. People close to you may judge you for what you think or how you feel. A professional counselor can listen to you nonjudgmentally.

2. You don’t know what you don’t know.

Professional counselors can provide you with the information you may need. They talk to many people with similar problems. They may be able to fill in gaps in what you know and refer you to resources where you can find answers to your questions.

3. They can mentor you on life skills.

If you didn’t have a knowledgeable adult or older sibling in your life, a counselor could fill that need. Even when you have great role models, you may not have learned every lesson. Counselors can help you with skills to reduce or manage your anger. They can help you cope with your anxiety. If there are feelings you find it difficult to manage, a good therapist can help you learn the needed skills.

4. When you get counseling, they can tell you the truth.

The smartest people sometimes get extraordinarily dumb ideas. Top executives need to beware of yes-men and yes-women. The people close to you may not want to hurt you or offend you by telling you the truth. A professional counselor can help you do something called reality testing. They can help you sort out your thoughts and separate the good ideas from the fanciful ones.

5. Prevention is cheaper and faster than cure.

Dealing with emotional problems in the early stage can prevent them becoming huge problems.

6. Counselors can give you another perspective.

Successful athletes have coaches. You can’t see your own swing.  A good counselor can give you a fresh perspective on the challenges you face.

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. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.