Experiencing Change.

Sunday Inspiration.   Post By David Joel Miller.

Change.

Change

Experiencing change.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Change can be scary, frightening, until after you experience the results.https://counselorssoapbox.com/category/self-help/self-help-skills/

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

― Lao Tzu

“Love can change a person the way a parent can change a baby – awkwardly, and often with a great deal of mess.”

― Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

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

Time for change.

Change

Sunday Inspiration.   Post By David Joel Miller.

Changing your life

Time for a life change?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

― Leo Tolstoy

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

― Rumi

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

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

Can you change a mentally ill family member – Powerlessness?

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

Change

Change.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

What is powerlessness?

Does powerlessness have anything to do with mental illness and family members? The more we move from a model of mental illness that emphasizes permanent disability to a wellness and recovery model the more we see terms like powerlessness applied to the recovery from mental illness process. One blog reader asked about applying Al-anon principles to their problems with mentally ill family members.

Are people really powerless over mental illness and addiction? Doesn’t saying you are powerless just breed an attitude of helplessness, a victim mentality? Not at all.

There are some things in life we have control over, there are a lot of other things that we have little or no control over. The important thing is learning which is which.

This kid was walking along texting on his phone and generally not watching where he was going. He walked straight into a cement wall. The whole situation looked humorous to me, but I am quite sure it was not a laughing matter to that teen. He became quite angry and hit that wall a good one with his fist.

That teen could stand there pounding away at the cement wall but in the end, he is likely to find he is powerless over that wall. Eventually, he may damage the wall but he is going to harm himself seriously in the process.

Now insisting that the wall is wrong, that it needs to get out of his way is unlikely to be helpful. But isn’t that what happens to so many people, especially people in recovery, every day. Despite clear indications that the current approach we are taking is not working we continue to insist that the world change to accommodate us.

Looking at that wall in an objective way it was easy to see that there was a gate only a short distance away. The teen could have taken the gate, or at the other end the wall ended and with a few extra steps he could have gone around, still, he insisted the wall change.

The alcoholic is like that. Every time they drink they end up drunk. They struggle to control their drinking. The anxious or depressed person tries to deny they have a problem. Ignore the problem and it will go away is the universal motto.

Even after untold negative consequences, alcoholics tell themselves they will find a way to keep drinking and not have problems. The sad truth is that if anything has become an addiction in your life you will never be able to control that thing again. You are powerless to make that thing do what you want it to.

We are all powerless over rain. Now anyone can take a few raindrops. But I have never been able to make it rain or not rain on command. Facing a hurricane I can walk into the storm contending that I am not powerless over a little rain but eventually the storm will get the better of me.

The surest course of action when encountering the hurricane is to admit you are powerless over the storm and take cover in as safe a place as possible. Accepting that you are powerless over hurricanes and that the storm will do what it will do is a wise use of thought. Accepting help for your emotional problem is a wise course also.

The safest thing to do when encountering a drug is to admit that the tiny little thing can whip you any day. Struggling to do a little of the drug and still not let it control you is looking for disaster. No one controls their addiction. Learning that you can say no before the first taste, that is power.

We also need to learn that we are powerless over others. All that begging and bribing, the threatening and the use of force, this approach never really gets you control of the person. If your partner is addicted do you really think you can somehow win the battle to control the substance? We are powerless over people and things.

People will struggle for years to not be sick even when an effective treatment for their problem is right in front of them.

So the idea that a family member might by some special effort get their family member to change and presumably not have a mental illness, that is the clearest sort of delusion.

A central message of Al-anon as I understand it is the same as the message to addict’s, continued efforts to pretend that we have control over others, people, or things, are an illusion. Once you admit you are powerless over the mental illness, then the person can stop trying to pretend they don’t have the problem and begin to look for help in living with their issue.

The key to helping others is to first change yourself. The serenity prayer tells us to change the things we can, mostly that is ourselves, accept the things we cannot change, and develop the wisdom to know the difference.

Absolutely spiritual principles like those of A.A., Al-anon, and other 12 step groups apply to mental illness just as they apply to addiction and alcoholism.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

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

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

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

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

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Why giving up the drugs and alcohol didn’t make you happy

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

Drugs.

Drugs.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

What being a “dry drunk” means.

It’s a common problem; someone gives up the drugs and the alcohol. Time goes by and they are still miserable and their lives are a mess. They expected to quit and things would be better. They quit and things did not get better. They ask “Why?”

For most people who arrive at substance recovery, the drugs, and the alcohol are not the problems. For far too long they have been that person’s solution. The problem is they don’t know how to live life without drugs and alcohol.

People with a mental illness fall into the same trap. They see a doctor take a pill or complete a therapy program. They expect it to help. It may help a little, for a while, but then they feel worse and the recovery they have begins to slip away.

You may know deep down you need to give something up. Is it a drug, alcohol or is it Anger and feeling sorry for yourself? Yes, others may have wronged you. But they are gone and you are still suffering. The past fills up your mind with pain and suffering, leaving no room for a happy contented present or future.

You may have lost a relationship, a job, or been to jail or prison. Some people lose their children because they can’t stop drinking and drugging. Your doctor may have told you “one more drink and you will die.” None of those reasons are good enough to stop and stay stopped if life after drugs was dull, boring, and unhappy.

Some people quit, they stay off the sauce for a period of time, but they are still miserable. You can see someone like this at most any A.A. meeting, you see them in churches and self-help groups. Five years or ten without drugs and they are still angry, hate themselves and others. They know they can’t drink or drug but they wish they could. In recovery language, they are called dry drunks.

Anger, fear, and resentments, those are the poisons that keep people sick. Hard to let go of that resentment. Who wants to admit that holding on to that grudge may make them feel “right” but it also makes them feel miserable?

A dry drunk has all the behaviors of a drunk. They don’t like life and can’t cope without something outside themselves to make them feel better. Sometimes they move from addiction to addiction, they try gambling or spending, sometimes it is sex or a new religion. What they don’t do is try to change themselves.

Recovery is more than putting the plug in the jug. It is more than taking medication or completing a program. Recovery takes work. There is a process you need to go through to make peace with yourself and the past. Recovering people most often find they need to work on themselves a lot. Recovery is an inside job, you hear the recovered people say. Looking at yourself is painful sometimes. The pain of self-examination leads to healing. The pain of substance abuse leads to failed relationships, jails, prisons, psych hospitals, and eventually death.

Therapists have a saying “never work harder than the client.” What we mean by that is that recovery is not something we can do to a client. Recovery is a process we can guide someone through but they need to do the work.

As long as you hold on to that addiction, the anger, the blame, you don’t have to begin to take the responsibility for your own recovery.

Living with an addiction requires a skill set. So does living with a mental illness. People learn those skills whether they intend to or not.

Recovery requires learning a new set of skills, getting a new toolkit. It also requires putting those tools to work; you need to get your recovery tools dirty by using them.

What new skills have you learned? Have you gotten honest with yourself? Do you write about things in your journal? Do you talk with your counselor, or sponsor? Have you stopped running from crisis to crisis and started making up longer-term plans, not plans of what you will have, but plans for what you will do?

Recovery is a journey. If you stick to the route you will find that the trip gets better and better.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

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

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

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

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

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

How does therapy help people?

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

Therapy

Therapy.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

People ask just how it is that therapy or counseling works.

The short answer is that there are many ways, not just one way in which therapy may work to help someone. Professionals all have their own preferred theory of therapy which is the basis of their practice. What they do is highly influenced by the theory they use, though the truth be told most of us borrow from other theories if we see a procedure that might help a client.

The way counseling might help also varies with the problem the client brings to the office. In the early days, there was one profession that largely dealt with problems of the mind, psychiatrists. Today there are many specialties that work to help people with their problems of living. A caveat here, I have my preferred way of trying to be helpful. This is my opinion so I won’t pretend to fully explain all the procedures.

Therapists are empathetic, non-judgmental listeners.

There are some things people don’t feel comfortable talking to their families and friends about. One school of therapists, Rogerians, believe that most of us have the answers to life’s problems we just need to talk them out. Being able to talk through urges and fantasies helps people to understand themselves and may lead to an improved ability to control their behavior. Clients sometimes say their therapist just sat there, listened, and didn’t tell them anything. If you want or need more than listening, discuss that with your counselor.

Therapy can be a corrective emotional experience.

Many clients tell me they have trust issues. Often this is because there has been no one in their lives they could trust or because they were not trustworthy themselves. If their family was never very affirming, a positive therapist can help them to learn to affirm themselves. Group therapy is especially good at teaching people how to deal with interpersonal problems by allowing them to experiment with new behaviors.

The counselor can provide reality testing.

Clients may come to therapy with incorrect perceptions. People think they are fat when they are normal or below in weight. They think of themselves as too old or too dumb when they are in fact at a normal developmental point in their life. People make plans that they do not have the skills or resources for, they have expectations of others that are not realistic. Having someone to “bounced ideas off” can help ground plans in the real world.

Counselors help people change life stories.

Many people have a “story” about themselves that started in early life and which they have been unable to alter. People with call themselves “a loser.” This personal story, saturated with problems, may keep them from trying new things because they expect to fail at any new effort.  Narrative therapists help people create a new story.  Cognitive therapists would call this a “thinking distortion” and use various methods to get the client to challenge this belief and create a new belief about themselves that was more adaptive. Instead of thinking of themselves as a “loser”, the client may begin to see themselves as a “survivor” who has continued to try in spite of obstacles.

Counselors teach clients new skills.

A substance abuse counselor would teach a client refusal skills. A career counselor might teach his client how to use online career inventories, interviewing skills, or resources to use to conduct a job search. Marriage counselors may teach couples communication skills. Family counselors may teach parenting skills. Skills-based approaches may involve recommendations for books to read and real-life homework to increase skills. School counselors primarily work on academic issues, what classes to take, and how to succeed in school.

Counselors help clients get in touch with themselves.

Exploration of the self, personal growth, and discovery are all legitimate reasons to see a counselor. Counselors don’t make decisions for clients, but they can teach clients decision-making skills and encourage clients to practice these skills. Therapy can help clarify values and assist clients in evaluating choices. People may come to counseling confused and in need of help in gaining clarity.

Psychotherapy can assist in changing personality.

Psychotherapists often focus on basic personality characteristics. Psychologists can give and administer personality tests while psychotherapists can spend time working through personality characteristics the client may wish to change.  Changing an underlying personality characteristic takes more time and effort than the crisis-driven techniques but it can result in long-term changes in coping skills. Psychodynamic therapists work on the unconscious. More cognitive therapists would approach personality issues by trying to help the client gain a new worldview. “Getting a new pair of glasses” results in seeing the world and problems differently.

There are sure to be more ways in which counseling is helpful. What do you think? Are you a client who has been helped? What was helpful? If you are a therapist, what do you think helps clients?

This post was featured in “Best of Blog – May 2012

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

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

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

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

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

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

The Inside and Outside of Relapse triggers.

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

Relapse

Relapse.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Relapse triggers, either internal or external, are those things that set off cravings in a recovering person. The failure to do maintenance steps in the process of change increase the risk of giving into triggers.

External triggers are the things outside ourselves that place us at risk to resume old behaviors and give up on the progress of recovery. Shorthand ways of understanding these triggers are people, places, and things.

People are one of the biggest reasons people relapse. There is a huge temptation to look up old friends. Often the only thing that you have in common with an old friend is a history of using drugs or drinking. Sometimes there was a history of other dysfunctional activities, codependency, or abusive relationships. If the people you had around you in the past supported your addiction or if they were not affirming, or made you feel bad about yourself, being around them can take you back there. Avoiding people who are bad for you is not being selfish.it is being self-caring. In early recovery it is suggested you not make a change you can’t take back like changing jobs or relationships. Surround yourself with people who support your recovery.

Places are another important external trigger to pay attention to. Alcoholics need to avoid bars; drug addicts should avoid dope houses. But there are other places to avoid. People with relationship issues should avoid revisiting places they used to go with a partner who is no longer in your life. Should someone on a diet visit a candy store? I wouldn’t recommend it. Think about places that you may need to avoid if you want to be secure in your recovery. Is there a family member or former friend who triggers your issues?

Things can also reignite thoughts of returning to an old lifestyle. Music can be a powerful memory trigger, so can some smells. People with relationship issues, sometimes we call these people love-addicts, find it hard to let a relationship go. They keep the old moments out. They think about the things they did together. One last call to see how that person is doing is likely to set off a new round of problems. Carrying lots of cash can trigger some people, especially gambling addicts and former drug dealers. Sometimes it is a pipe or a lighter you find hard to get rid of. Is there something that reminds you of your issue but which you find hard to give up?

Internal triggers are the other part of the equation. The things going on inside our bodies and our minds are also relapse triggers. The word HALT standing for, Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired is used as a reminder of those triggers.

Hunger, thirst, and many other physical sensations can make you feel restless, irritable, and unleash the cravings. Negative emotions are powerful relapse triggers. Feeling anger fear or resentment, any number of negative emotions can cause someone to catch a case of “who cares.” Loneliness sends people back to their disorder quickly. Being tired is likely to upset recovery also. All of these internal triggers have to do with not taking care of ourselves. It is a short hop from not taking care of yourself to thinking you don’t deserve care, after that why should you hang on? Why not go back to the old life? People who don’t provide good self-care don’t encourage others to care for them. They start believing they don’t deserve to be treated well and then they stop treating themselves well.

Another way of understanding internal and external triggers is to look at the two main causes of relapse, romances, and finances. Romances are all about your feelings, feelings of loving and being loved, self-worth, and self-esteem. Finances, mostly money, is the ultimate thing. Lack of money can sap our will to change. Having a lot of money makes some people feel they are invincible; the rules don’t apply to them. Pay attention to the healthiness of your relationships with things and with people. When one of these relationships gets out of balance, your life is headed out of balance.

These are only some of the things that might cause you to relapse. We each have our own triggers. What are yours? Knowing your triggers and how to defuse them strengthens your recovery.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

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

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

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

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

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Maintenance is a part of change

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

Changing your life

Time for a life change?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

How do you stay changed?

How can maintenance be a part of change? Isn’t maintenance what you do, as needed after the successful results of change are obvious? No, not at all. Not including maintenance as a step in the change process is where many improvement projects, public and private get themselves into trouble. Let me give you a more visual example.

The other day I drove through an older part of town. This part of town, built throughout the Victorian era to the turn of the century was really something once. Today this part of town is a poor neighborhood. While there are still a few houses that reflect the old glory days most of them are getting run down now. A couple of houses are slated for demolition. What happened to those grand old houses? There was no earthquake or fire, nothing dramatic, just the slow process of decomposition.

A roof was torn off, the owner had not bothered to get it fixed and the rain had rotted out the lumber. Another has a porch that has fallen down. Lots of homes have not been painted in a while, broken windows are covered with cardboard, and sometimes there is an old blue tarp over the destruction. Realtors describe these homes as having “deferred maintenance.” Last time I talked with you about relapse as the result of the failure to do a maintenance step. Relapse is a sort of deferred maintenance.

What do we hear from people who relapsed on substances? You hear the story so often it starts to sound like a well-rehearsed poem. The recovering person says they, stopped going to meetings, stopped calling their sponsor, and started hanging out at the old spots. The dieter gets the goal pounds off and then eases up on the diet. The change has been a short-term project and now the deferral of maintenance starts. Eventually, when the change is completely reversed by the relapse the person starts to wonder when they tried to make that change in the first place.

We tell recovering people that whatever you did to get better, you need to keep doing it to stay recovered. Most people don’t want to accept the idea that what was needed was not a quick repair but an ongoing plan of preventative maintenance.

One important component of that relapse prevention plan is learning to provide good self-care. Having a good support system is also vital. People who have positive people in their life, people that want them to do well, are more likely to succeed. Never get to busy to call your support system. One study found that schizophrenics with a warm supportive person in the home with them cut their risk of ending up in a psychiatric hospital by almost 50%. People who attend AA drink less even if they don’t stop altogether. Many weight loss programs include a group component. Being surrounded by others who are also working on their own recovery is likely to strengthen your recovery.

Real lasting change has to include a commitment to a different lifestyle. This does not mean that every self-improvement plan needs to take over your life. If the changes you make are hard to do the chances are that you will stop doing them when the urgency is gone. Urgency is an often-overlooked factor. If your doctor tells you to lose twenty pounds or he can’t do a life-saving surgery, that is motivation. If the judge says to stay off drugs or you will go back to prison that is motivation. But if the diet is a lot of work to keep up it will probably be forgotten way too soon.

The end of this tale is that whatever got you better, diet, meetings, a religious practice, or time with friends, keep doing them. Don’t give up these positive things as you see results from your change efforts.

That is the story of my understanding of stages of change. In future blog posts, I want to talk more about relapse prevention and triggers. We should also talk more about the connection between depression, bipolar, and abuse of a couple of substances. There is a huge connection between mood disorders and substances and not always in the direction you might think. I also want to talk about why it seems there is so much controversy, especially among professionals about the diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

I read your comments and appreciate them. I also try to read as many blogs as I can that are written by recovering people of all types. The things you say remind me of things I need to talk about.

There is a lot of pain out there and we know how to help more than ever before – so why is it hard for people to find the help they need?  Why doesn’t therapy always work? What makes counseling helpful? I will give you my take on these issues and would appreciate yours.

I also want to talk to all of you, very soon, about how you might find help when you don’t have the money to pay for the help you need. Till then, here is wishing you all a happy life.

Other posts on this topic can be found at Pre-contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Early Action, Late Action, Maintenance, relapse, recovery, triggers, support system, more on support systems, Resiliency

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

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

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

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

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

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Stages of change – Late Action

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

Change

Change.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Late Action – The change accelerates.

Last time we talked about how I might be full of enthusiasm as my self-improvement program gets going. In the weight loss example, I begin to exercise and maybe even get interested in nutrition and diet. Are deep-fried Twinkies a healthy diet? The diet guru says no. I eat low-fat and lots of greens. I hate greens but I eat them anyway. My efforts at change are taking shape and encouraged by my own persistence I may even expand my efforts.

On days when I can’t get to the gym, workdays, I start walking on my lunch hour. It is a mile around the park. If I walk fast I can make two trips and eat during my lunch period. I discover that if I bring a healthy lunch, a sandwich, and some low-fat yogurt, and I walk around the park fast, some days I lose weight. Even if I don’t actually lose weight, at least those days I do not gain any more. At this point, the intensity of my workouts is increasing. I am really getting into this.

In substance abuse recovery terms, the person involved may not only be attending meetings, but they also have a regular home group they go to every week, maybe even a fellowship they attend every night. Some people “get into service” meaning they make coffee, take out the trash, and so on. We get trainers, sponsors, and a support system. At this point, my change is beginning to be something I tell people about.

For people who have an emotional problem, like depression or anxiety, their recovery action might be seeing their therapist on a regular basis, improving self-care, or journaling. There is a huge connection between emotional issues and eating problems. One of the key issues a professional looks for in making a mental health diagnosis is changes in eating and sleep. Binge eating, overeating or not being able to eat, as well as sleeping too much or too little are all symptoms of problems. They can also be causes. More about that mind-body connection and the relationship between sleep, eating, and other life problems in a future blog.

So in late action, I am getting somewhere on my self-change program. Losing a few pounds, not drinking or drugging and I am no longer so depressed I don’t want to get out of bed. Everything should be going fine. Right?

Then what happens? Why do so many people successfully make a change only to return to the place they were before? Why do most weight loss programs, diet, and exercise, end in putting on more pounds than we lost? Why do so many people get a thirty-day sober chip only to drink again? And how is it that depression and anxiety return after a period of time?

I start wondering, am I fixed? Do I have to give up those quadruple thick burgers with the pound of fries? How long will I need to take these psych meds? Can’t I just have a donut or a glass of wine? What kind of wine goes best with donuts? My mind starts looking for ways out of the change process.

For substance abuse, we call this relapse. For depression or anxiety, we are starting to think in those terms also. For weight loss programs the part that we don’t like to talk about is why after losing twenty pounds, do I put it all back on and then some. Every time I have been on a diet I have needed to get new larger clothes.

This is the point where people start talking to us about maintenance plans.  You mean I can’t just crash diet off ten pounds and then I will be able to eat like other people? Can’t you AA folks just teach me to control my drinking? So my depression is gone. I will never feel that way again. Time to get back to the way things were before my self-improvement program. So next time let’s talk about putting the weight back on, the relapse, and the return of emotional problems.

Other posts on this topic can be found at Pre-contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Early Action, Late Action, Maintenance, relapse, recovery, triggers, support system, more on support systems, Resiliency

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

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

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

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

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

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Stages of change – early action

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

Change

Change.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Early Action – the beginning of visible change.

So here we are in that process of change at the point where we start to do some action steps. Up till now, we have had someone or something that created a reason to consider the need for change. No catalyst and probably most people would never embark on the journey. So we were pre-contemplative. Then we started thinking about the problem, gathering information. We called that contemplation. At some point, people get into preparation, join groups, buy books seek out resources. Still, no change has occurred, not real lasting change anyway. But now it is time for the do or die part, – getting into action.

Stage of change four – Early Action.

Some authors only have five stages of change and they have only one stage for action. I am separating action here into early and late stages as we find that the things people do at the beginning of their recovery process is often different from what they do later on. I got this formulation from Ken Minkhoff and Christine Cline at Zia Partners. You might want to check out their website and the Change Agent Movement they have spawned. The difference between early and late action is easier to see when people have multiple problems, like substance abuse and depression, this is a condition we call co-occurring disorders or complex clients. For someone with depression and a drug problem and a weight loss problem, in the beginning, all they may be able to do is get dressed and go somewhere. For them, this may be early action. Later they will be able to do more.

Now on with our story, first the weight loss example and then examples of other possible changes we might want to make.

So remember my story. I discovered others though I was gaining weight even though I hadn’t noticed. I weighed myself and gathering information and decided I needed to lose weight, maybe even change to some healthier habits. I joined a gym and bought some exercise videos maybe even some getting healthy books. Now I am at the point of starting to do something. I am ready to start exercising and eating healthier.

So at the gym, I seek out a trainer or a fellow member he shows me how to use the equipment, the routines, and the whole culture of healthy living. I like the hanging out and the talking about fitness, the exercises not so much but I do it anyway. Right now my goal is to lose that weight, get that old suit to button closed again, and generally shut up my friends who say I am fat.

At first, I wander around the gym. I try out a machine or two. I check out the weights to see what I can lift. I talk with people who show me how to do things. It amazed me how friendly some people at the gym where and how much they were willing to help a newcomer. The same things happen at AA or other self-help groups, people trying to help each other. In gyms and recovery centers there are professionals also, trainers or therapists, and counselors; they can be especially helpful.

So the workouts continue. The weight is coming off, a little anyway, and I am feeling better and better about myself. The scale still is not saying I have lost that much weight but I always suspected it of being out to get me. One thing I noticed was that even when I was not exercising at the gym, just wandering around, the whole time I was not eating. Even if I wasn’t losing weight I had stopped gaining.

If this were a substance abuse example the person would be going to AA meetings, getting a book, and a sponsor. They might start to share at meetings. There is an old adage that a closed mouth does not get feed so you need to talk as well as listening. Now just like the guy at the gym, the person at AA might still be having thoughts of drinking, but they start to notice that while they are at meetings, they are not drinking. If they can make it from meeting to meeting without drinking the periods of sobriety start getting longer.

Each different recovery group, AA, overeaters anonymous, gamblers anonymous, or weight watchers has its own culture. You need to find one that is comfortable for you. There are over 200 twelve-step groups now and hundreds more of peer and self-help groups. Some gyms program is about exercise and flexibility other groups are all about weight lifting and setting records. A group for cancer patients is not much help to an alcoholic unless they have cancer also. Find the group that is right for you.

Eventually I settle into a routine. I am doing the things I need to do to recover, but I am not there yet. I also am not sure I want to keep this up after I lose the weight. Here is where we start to hear the word maintenance and we also start to talk about relapse. The question becomes – is what I am currently doing enough or is there more. Many people quit drinking or take off the planned weight and then they are good with that. Others want a new healthy lifestyle. So what will it be for you?

So in my weight loss example, I have started an exercise routine, lost a few pounds, though the buttons on that suit are still tight. For a substance abuser, they have made it two or three days without their drug, maybe even three weeks. So now what? What will I do next? Next blog we can talk about how my weight loss or substance abuse recovery program may change as my action moves from a few times to a regular routine.

Other posts on this topic can be found at Pre-contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Early Action, Late Action, Maintenance, relapse, recovery, triggers, support system, more on support systems, Resiliency

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

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

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

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

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

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

How do people change? Preparation

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

Change

Change.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Stages of Change – Preparation.

In the last two blogs (Stages of Change – Pre-contemplation, Contemplation) we explored steps one and two of a model of change. Some of you will remember that I was using a weight loss example. The need to change could be weight loss but it might also be an addiction, job or career change, or a relationship event. So to recap past episodes of my little story, I go to a reunion, people tell me I have put on a lot of weight. At first, I deny this, and I argue about it. That stage of change is called pre-contemplation. Next, I do some thinking about it. I weigh myself, ask the advice of others and I do lots of thinking about it. Finally despite all my efforts to avoid having a problem I discovered that in fact, I do have a problem. Now I am faced with a choice.

At this point, I could just accept the fact that I am now FAT!  Accept and go on with my life maybe embrace the idea. Yes, I am fat and proud of it. Since I am fat why not be the best that I can be and let my fatness shine through. Some people accept their problem. Many alcoholics go on drinking until the bitter end. Or – as strange as this may seem to some people I could decide to make a change and face my problem. That brings us to the third stage of change.

Stage of change 3 – Preparation. Some authors call this determination.

So I decide to challenge my fatness or my joblessness or – could be any other problem. I get out the phone book and look up gyms. There is one right around the corner and I call them. Then for good measure, I call a few more. Most gyms have sales on new memberships around the first of every year. Three months for the price of two and so on. They know that lots of us will decide to exercise, get in shape, join a gym as part of our New Year’s resolution. They also know to get the cash now, because by February at the latest most of the new gym members will have stopped coming. But a few people will stay at it and next year they will be that slim trim self I want to be. So how do they do it?

So I go down and tour this gym. I like the place, friendly people and all, so I join. And I get ready. There is a sporting goods store in that shopping center and I go there and buy some new exercise clothing. Notice I still haven’t exercised much but my credit card at this point. But there is more.

I see a video sales and rental place in the center. I go in there and find some exercise videos. I am in whole hog. I buy three videos. Now I take them home and put them in the VCR.  (Update this to DVD or Blue Ray or Hollow-suite program as needed.) I pop a big bowl of popcorn put my feet up and sit and watch these three videos, faithfully for a week. I really like watching exercise videos. Not so sure about actually exercising though. See a problem here?

Pause this picture for a minute. Doesn’t this apply to most any planned change? People buy books, self-help, or AA books, and then they take them home and pile them on the table and balance a drink on them. Other people put that new self-help book under their pillow in the hope that by osmosis the book will change us while we sleep. Unfortunately, change requires more than preparation. Don’t misunderstand here. Getting a list of meetings for AA or weight loss places is good. Joining a gym is good also. But doesn’t it take more than preparation to make a change?

At some point, I need to stop preparing, use that determination, and actually do something. Next blog we will talk about that next fourth stage of change where the rubber meets the road, where we finally start doing some things that result in change. So if you still want to learn about stages of change stay tuned for the next blog post. If you have decided to stay the way you are or to change someone else, skip the next couple of posts and rejoin us for the episode after the change is over. Feel free to share your thoughts along the way.

Other posts on this topic can be found at Pre-contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Early Action, Late Action, Maintenance, relapse, recovery, triggers, support system, more on support systems, Resiliency

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

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

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

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

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

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel