Can you talk to your therapist on the internet? Online dual relationships

Online dual relationships.

Computer

Internet.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

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

Has the internet changed relationships between clients and therapists?

A member of an online group to which I belong sent in this question

“Is it ever proper for a life coach or therapist to invite their clients to an online group, or for a client and therapist to be in the same group, or work on online projects together?  Can that cause a lot of problems?”

How this affects life coaches and how it might affect therapists and counselors are miles apart.

This is a problematic area for therapists and counselors. We are taught to avoid “Dual relationships” with clients. Some of these issues are pretty clear, dating, sex, borrowing money and so on. Some dual relationships are easy to see and clearly, can cause problems.

The goal of avoiding dual relationships is to avoid harming the client, once you see the client outside the office there are risks for the client and the therapist.

We do not want to do or say things outside the office that identify this client as a patient in a mental health treatment setting. Sometimes there is just no way of avoiding the client when we are out in the community, so in those settings, most therapist’s will not say anything to the client and wait for them to say something first. That way they do not identify this person as a patient.

The smaller the town the more the risk of a second relationship. I live in Fresno; my clients live in Fresno, so far no problem. They shop at the same grocery store as I do.  I do not need to stop shopping there but I do need to not make the first move to say hi and especially we do not talk about their therapy in the store.

Then let’s say I go visit a new church. I run into a client there. Now can I talk to them? Maybe. I do not think I need to avoid churches or schools or civic organizations because my client might attend. What I do need to avoid is getting into a close friendship relationship with a client.

What happens when we both belong to a local group, say NAMI and then we end up on a committee together? This may begin to create problems. I need to remember what they said in therapy and keep that separate from what they told me at the group meeting.

In that kind of situation, I might consider not being on the committee or ending therapy with the client so we do not have two separate relationships going. At this point, no matter what I do there are ethical implications. Dropping a client to be on the committee is a problem, being on together is a problem, telling the client they can’t be in this group is a huge problem.

Therapists need to consult.

Once these problems begin, or that possibility crops up, we therapists should get an opinion from our colleagues, maybe from a lawyer, and we may talk this over with the client.

Some therapists try to avoid these things by not joining or attending meetings, but you can only go so far with that before you give up your right to have a life.

Some therapists have tried to avoid these problems by not being online or having a social media account. While this may prevent some problems it can create others.

The hard part is keeping all your separate roles or “hats” separate.

Lots of therapists teach classes. We may see current or former clients there. I do trainings, Mental Health First Aid for example. Good chance that a former or current clients could show up there. I do not cancel the class or throw the client out of the training because they have seen me for therapy, but it can be a challenge if they start asking questions and I know this is an issue we have worked on in therapy.

The internet has changed all that.

Millions of people all over the world are now connected. I can run into clients current and former and not ever know it. So we need to work on making sure that while we all engage in those activates nothing I do might harm any client current past or even a potential future client.

So here are some suggestions for both therapists and counselors and clients on the multiple relationships that can form on the internet. Let’s get specific with this reader’s questions.

Is it ever proper for a life coach or therapist to invite their clients to an online group?

Therapists should not be maintaining email lists of clients and then start mailing anything to them. If they happen to subscribe to my blog or a list of trainings or classes I treat them just like any other subscribers, not like clients.

For a client and therapist to be in the same group or work on online projects together? 

If they join a group and I join, so be it. I do not suggest this as a rule but if they are interested in homelessness and so am I, then I might give them the information about an online group. What they do with that web address is up to them.

Working together on an online project sounds like something I would not do until a lot of time had elapsed between them being a client and the project. If I had a client who was a web designer I would not pull out his file and call him for some help on my website.

If someone who worked for me got a list of designers and called him, then next session I would need to discuss this with him and we would need to decide if we were going to end therapy or he would not be able to also be working for me.

Can multiple relationships cause a lot of problems?

Yes having multiple relationships can cause lots of problems. I do not let that keep me from writing a blog or teaching classes but I am always looking out for these possible conflicts and avoiding them whenever I can.

Therapists and clients do run into each other, in the community and on the internet. The rules are essentially the same.

Do not get into a second relationship that will harm the client. Do not do things to identify them as clients or to violate their confidentiality and treat you various roles professionally and appropriately.

About life coaches.

There is no licensing for life coaches that I know of. Some have taken classes, anything from a one hour webinar on up. Some join coaching associations and they may or may not have codes of ethics. But coaches do not get confidentiality and you get no privilege in talking to them. They can say and do what they want and they may engage in all sorts of multiple relationships. If they hurt you really badly you have to sue them. It is common for coaches to keep mailing lists of former clients and to keep trying to sell you thinks and they can use your name or story in their materials or trainings. While there are some good coaches out there coaching is not meant to help you with emotional problems that might include a mental illness.

I am sure that this will not be the last time we need to look at how the internet, blogs, and social media are changing relationships and how that might affect clients and therapist’s, but at least it is a start.

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.

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Why memories keep changing

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

Old pictures

Memories.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

You think your memories don’t change?

What if memories were like time travel in the science fiction stories? Every time you visit them there is a risk that you will do or say something that could change that memory and as a result, your personal history would change?

Researchers in memory quote Endel Tulving as saying that is exactly what is happening to many of us much of the time. Those memories we think were exactly so, they have changed for us every time we revisit them. Let me explain how this works.

We have some things stored in our memories as pictures. That place you worked at, the people who worked with you, what your office looked like. Years later you might remember that setting. Or do you?

Over time the office changes. You move furniture around, the company gets a new copier and then a newer computer system, your brain stores those new pictures. It updates the scene “what the office looks like.”

During this time your coworker may change her look. She gets a new hairstyle and wears different clothes and then gains or loses weight. Your brain tries to keep up but it can’t remember all those outfits your coworker wore so it stores a few “typical” outfits for her.

Your brain also stores some stories. The time someone important visited, the conversation you had about that new book you had read and so on.

One day years afterward you go to tell another mutual friend about this incident you and your coworker had with that one, particularly difficult client. Your brain pulls up the story and you are ready to go.

One problem here, the brain may not have an accurate description of where things were that day and what she was wearing. So it pulls up one of the other pictures it has stored and fills in the missing details. Did the customer pull on that necklace she was wearing? What if she didn’t get that necklace until a few years later? What was it that customer grabbed? You can’t be sure.

Your brain will try to fill in enough details to make this story work using pictures from other times. So we can’t be sure what your coworker was wearing or even where the copier was situated when this incident happened. But we do now have the story of the incident freshly relieved in our mind.

Each time we revisit this story our mind may update the memory adding new pictures of your coworker and the office. What if she changes her hair color? Your memory may begin to include her as a blond in the old pictures because that is the way she looks now. After a few visits back to these old memories we can’t be sure when she changed her hair color. So now when asked to describe the incident and we are told that the person who was assaulted was the blond, was that our coworker or was this someone else who was there that day?

See how memories might change with the retelling of the story and the retrieval of the memories?

Now add drugs, alcohol or high levels of certain stress hormones and the way in which the memories were stored and retrieved will be affected. Feelings we have now will affect the memories and now we begin to think that person must have looked really scary because remembering the incident scares us.

Each time we recall the memory some part is at risk of changing.

Eventually, if we revisit this memory enough times it gets stored completely like a movie and from then on it is less likely to change by repeated viewing.

Adding to this problem is the brain’s ability to confuse things we imagine vividly with things we actually saw. Writers and hopefully their readers can describe in vivid detail characters from the novels they have written or read. These images are so clear it is as if they have really met that person. Only, as many a writer will find, the way the reader experienced that character and the way the author saw them are very different.

While recalling that memory, if you tell it to someone else and they ask you questions, your brain will begin to look for answers to those questions and add that information to the memory clip. This is a problem for people in therapy when the brain begins to mix up memories of different times and places.

If the therapist asked you if you were ever abused you might say no and fully believe this. But if a psychologist were to test you and then tell you that your personality scores suggest that you were molested and that most people who had this experience forget that experience you may now question your memory.

Our brains will revise memories if we see alternative explanations for why we are the way we are or how something may have happened. These memories are at extra risk of revision if the person offering the explanation is an important respected person and if they offer you an explanation of why you might have forgotten the experience or that detail.

This whole idea that memories are changeable and that revisiting them may change them may scare some people. Realize that our minds are constantly trying to make sense of things whether they are happening today or happened years in the past.

Don’t start doubting all your old childhood memories just be aware that some of the details may not be the way you remember them and that there may have been other explanations for what you thought happened and how you felt.

Make your memory your employee not your boss.

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.

How many senses do you use? Mindfulness and memory.

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

Mindfulness

Mindfulness.
Photo courtesy of pixabay.

A mindfulness exercise for all the senses to improve mental efficiency and memory.

Most people rely on one or two senses to do all the work. How many do you routinely use?

One reason memories fade over time is our excessive reliance on one or two senses to store and anchor information. You were probably taught to remember things by converting them to words and then creating a story about the person or thing you needed to remember.

Memory functions better when you use more than one sense to store that memory.

Writers struggle with this problem frequently. We envision a scene; paint it with colors and plenty of verbal descriptions. We describe the shape of things, the size and arrangement. With all that description the scene should come to life. It doesn’t. Our scene is flat.

What has gone wrong?

Life is more than shapes and colors. Visual is important, ask any photographer. There is more to a life event than what is customarily captured in a two-dimensional picture.

Here is a simple mindfulness exercise to help you improve your powers of observation, use of multiple senses and improve your memory as a result.

Take a walk. Find a place where you can pause to explore your situation without the use of your eyes. A park bench, bus stop or seating areas at public buildings make great places for this exercise.

Sit with your eyes closed, or if safety is a concern look down and focus on something small and plain. (Check my post on Shrinking the World by Staring at a Rock.)

Don’t try to figure things out, simply experience them.

What smells do you smell? Are they constant or do they fluctuate? Can you identify them? Are they pleasant or disturbing? How would you name them?

What are the sounds you hear? Without looking can you identify what is creating those sounds? Can you imagine the bird making that song? As you concentrate on the sounds you may well find that you notice more sounds and that they vary in pitch and intensity.

If you hear traffic, is it a car, truck or bus? Which direction is it traveling? If there are people nearby what are they talking about? With whom?

What sensations do you feel on your body? Can you feel the wind on your skin? Where is the sun? Find the sun by feeling not by looking.

What tastes are you sensing? Was this something you brought with you, part of your breakfast or lunch or does this place have a taste as well as a smell?

Notice, but do not dwell on what you mind is thinking. If thoughts come racing through your mind let them go in peace. If you must capture that thought and not let it go I find that having a pen and paper in my pocket allows me to write the thought down and get it free of my mind, and then I return to my mindfulness exercise.

Do not allow yourself to judge your senses. Unless a professional has told you that there is some reason for a deficit in one of your senses it is likely that you can improve your underutilized senses by practice and by being more observant of the things they try to tell you.

Pay special attention to the times your senses of smell, taste or hearing disagree with the story your eyes told you about this place when you sat down here. Sitting by a fountain can be especially helpful here.

I once sat on a bench by the fountain on the college campus where I teach. There are many fountains down the center of that walkway. I had walked by repeatedly and seen only fountains that constantly throw water in the air. This day seated and experiencing the fountains I discovered that they each had a cycle, the flow fluctuated and with that fluctuation, the sounds varied. It length I realized I could predict when the fountain nearest me was about to subside by a faint feeling of spray on my cheek even before the fountain had dropped in volume.

The constant pattern of fountains masked constant changes in the same way our over-reliance on sight may mask the changes in smells and sounds that go unnoticed in our daily life.

Learn to rely on more senses and you will find that your mental efficiency grows and your memory improves.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

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.

Increase mental efficiency – Remembering people better.

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

Brain

Memory.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

How to improve mental efficiency and rev up the memory.

Improve your mental efficiency and improve your memory by practicing skills of observation. Becoming more observant is a skill you can learn.

Before you can remember someone you first need to get a good look at them. You need to be really observant.

There is an exercise that can help you with your ability to observe and remember people. It is an old exercise, from back in the pre-computer age, but still, one worth doing.

Think of a person you know socially but not necessarily well. Try to visualize this person. Get out a piece of paper you can save and write the answers to the following questions down.

Briefly, who is this person and how do you know them?

Male or female?

How old do you estimate they are? What would you guess their weight to be? How tall are they?

What is their hairstyle? Identifying hairstyle may be a challenge for some men. As we saw in a previous post about the expert effect if you don’t know what to call a particular hair style you may have trouble remembering it.

If they are a male do they have a beard? A mustache? How long are their sideburns?

How are their nails done?

What do they usually wear?

What did they wear the last time you saw them?

What are some of their common expressions? If you received a note from them that was unsigned could you pick it out from the handwriting or from expressions they use?

What is their predominant mood?

Repeat this exercise for at least three people including at least one man and one woman.

Next time you see this person check back and see how much you got correct. What did you have wrong?

Repeatedly practicing this exercise will improve your powers of observation. It will sensitize you to individual variations and make you more aware of the people you meet.

How well did you do at remembering other people? Can you see a value of practicing to improve your mental efficiency and memory?

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.

3 reasons why people keep telling you that.

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

Writing through a flood

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Everyone seems to keep telling me the same thing!

Ever had this experience? All over town seems like you keep hearing the same things. You go to your friend and they tell you something. Later that day a parent or spouse tells you something very much like what your friend says. When you ask your counselor they tell you more or less the same thing again. What is going on here?

Clients frequently remark to me after I have made a statement, “that what my — said.” There are some therapists who never tell clients anything. They just ask “how does that make you feel” and sit back and listen. I can’t and don’t do it that way. But I do sometimes provide the client with some information or my opinion.

We professionals try or should try to avoid telling clients what to do. It is your life not mine that we are talking about and what is right for me is not necessarily right for you. But sometimes clients are missing what is going on and I owe it to them to tell them if I am seeing something in them they don’t. That can be a good or a bad thing I see.

Plenty of clients come in depressed and discouraged. They don’t think they can do much of anything. I often see the potential. I also see what they would need to do to reach that potential. I think they need to know both that I think they could accomplish a goal if they tried and also what trying for one goal might cost them in other opportunities given up. The choice is of course up to them.

When professionals do this sort of suggesting, we try to make it clear that this is your life and you are stuck with the results. You better make the decision that is right for you. Other people in your life may not be thinking that way.

So when you hear the same thing over and over you may need to consider who is saying it and why.

There is a saying in recovery circles that if several people tell you the same thing you need to take a serious look at that. There may be three reasons or more that this keeps happening.

1. We are never very objective about ourselves.

We tend to get into a rut in our thinking. We think we are doing things correctly. Not just you and I but people in general. So when someone says we should be doing things in our lives differently we tend to discount that advice.

If several people tell us this same thing they may be seeing something in us or in our situation that we have not been able to see. Take a look at how they perceive the situation. If these are friends or other recovering people they may be trying to be helpful telling you the way you appear to the world. Quite often we do not look to others anything like we think we do.

Sometimes the worst kinds of secrets we have are the ones we keep from ourselves. These are things we do not want to recognize about ourselves but they are painfully obvious to others around us. These kinds of truths are agonizing to hear but the worst kinds of lies are the ones we tell ourselves.

Don’t keep things about yourself a secret from you.

2. You may now be ready to hear this information.

Remember the old saying “When the student is ready the teacher will appear?” Sometimes we have not been ready or able to hear something, especially something negative about ourselves and our lives. Once we become open to hearing this sort of feedback people become more open and willing to tell us like it really is, not the way we would like to hear them say things are.

Your friends and family may try to avoid telling you things because they think you are not ready to hear them. They may also avoid telling you the truth because people who are not ready for the truth are likely to get angry or hurt.

3. Sometimes the people who are telling us things have ulterior motives.

If your drug-using friends tell you something, they may want you to stay sick and using. Misery does indeed like company, especially if that miserable person can get something out of you.

People who are abusive or want to keep you from trying will be glad to point out all your faults. They usually do this by way of discouraging you from trying.

People who want you to be your best will not only point out your faults but may be willing to make suggestions on how you can overcome those obstacles.

If the message you are getting is don’t try, you will never be successful, discount that message. If the message you are hearing is that you have some defects of character that are holding you back, then seriously consider if those are things you are ready and willing to change about yourself.

If you have been hearing the same thing from multiple sources, take some time to consider if this is useful information that you need to hear.

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.

Are you a Mind Reader?

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

Fortuneteller.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

How good are you at reading minds?

I see a lot of mind readers and would be mind readers every day. I also see a lot of people in relationships that seem to believe their partner should be able to read their mind. These folks think they know what other people are thinking. These are amateur mind readers or spouses of amateur mind readers.

We are not talking here about the professional mind readers. The ones who study nonverbal communication and can tell about your feelings from your behavior. Professionals use intuition, that mix of gut felt-sense and small clues, which let them read the person in front of them. They couple that with some standard lines, some stage presence and a lot of luck and skill.

Amateur mind readers are neither skilled not willing to practice reading others. They just assume that they know what everyone else thinks about them. They are sure that no one likes them; everyone is talking about them and that the world is out to get them.

These would-be mind readers also believe that everyone else can, or should be able to, read their minds. They love to say. You know what I mean – without further explanation. If questioned they are indignant that you don’t know what they mean and will tell you that you should know how your speech and actions will affect them.

Mind readers are also quick to tell you that if they have to explain something to you then you wouldn’t get it anyway. There are also surprised at how often people just don’t get them. Their thinking goes that since you should know what they want and how what you say and do is affecting them, you must be doing things deliberately to hurt them.

Mind readers make serious efforts to guilt people into behavior. When that effort to guilt you into knowing their wants and needs fails to work, they are quick to tell you that if they have to explain it then you wouldn’t be able to get it anyway. You, of course, know what I mean?

Mind reading, the belief that we know what others are thinking about us, is one of those “cognitive distortions” that result in maladaptive or irrational thoughts. As we have seen in previous posts (see – Are they laughing at you) if you believe that others do not like you or disapprove of you, and you look for evidence of that, you just might find it.

These mind-reading problems result in a lot of couple’s relationship problems. One partner believes that the way the other acts or something they say “means” that they don’t like you, don’t want to be with you and so on.

Occasionally these beliefs turn out to be correct not because of this current situation but cumulatively a person’s behavior and statements can give you that gut feeling we call intuition.

One thing that amateur mind readers fail to do is directly check out this belief about why others are saying and doing the things they do with the person involved. Getting couples to talk to each other and really hear what the other partner is saying and feeling, is a large part of couples counseling.

Despite what most mind readers believe, most partners have no idea what the other partner is talking about a good part of the time. They are often not attaching the same meanings to the words they say. (See post on Denotative and Connotative meanings of words.)

Continuing to act as if the person has the feelings and motives you have assigned to them creates actions that can bring this to reality. Remember when we talked about how thinking you are sick can actually make you sick? (The Nocebo effect) The same thing happens in relationships if you practice this amateur mind-reading.

You partner walks in the door, there is a disgusted look on their face. You realize that there are some things in the living room that you did not get picked up. You KNOW that they are thinking that you are a slob, they hate you and they wished they had never married you.

Your response to this partner’s look of disgust is to start to cry followed by a loud outburst. “I hate you.” Men skip the crying part and just storm out of the room.

The key problem with mind reading is that we decide what the other person is thinking without getting information from them. We also make the mistake of thinking that what others think and do is somehow about us. Often the others in our lives are preoccupied with their own problems and issues.

That partner of yours, they may have had a really bad day at work. Something went wrong and they are thoroughly disgusted with a coworker. They came home expecting to tell you the story. They were expecting some support from you. But your mind reading, your belief that everything the partner does is about you, has resulted in your statement “I hate you.”

Mind readers need to learn to check out these thoughts and beliefs at a calm rational time. We also need to stop thinking that everything others do is somehow about us and that others are responsible to do and not do things that might upset us.

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.

How far is it to Contentment?

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

Contentment

Contentment
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

We know about wants and needs, pain and suffering but what about contentment?

 

Contentment has been defined variously as “calm satisfaction” or the feeling you get when you reach your destination. Some say it includes ease of mind making it a very rare commodity indeed.

One traditional belief was that you worked hard here on earth, lived correctly and then when you died you go to heaven, or something like that, where you are allowed to finally be happy and contented. With the decline in religious beliefs, it is becoming difficult for people to fathom the idea of waiting till you die to finally be happy or contented.

There are some who would argue that contentment is not a good thing. Contented people are happy where they are. Contented people enjoy the journey and are in no rush to reach the destination. Most of us live life as if we can’t wait for it to be over.

There are those who argue that human progress is dependent on pain. That without an unhappiness people would become lazy and unmotivated. There is no denying that pain can motivate. Some find it hard to give up their belief that we need to be in pain and suffering. They tell us that it is part of the human condition. In truth, the pain may happen to all of us but the suffering is optional.

Two people can live is similar life circumstances, experience similar pain or trauma and one is able to maintain their attitude while the other suffers. The difference is not in what they experience but in their attitude towards the events of their life.

One source of unhappiness is the constantly moving expectations we set for our lives and ourselves. When your goal is “more” no amount of having can get you there.

Many a person who has struggled to reach a goal finds a deep depression after their accomplishment. They lack the ability to appreciate what they have accomplished, always wanting more.

Contentment is the emotional equivalent of eating. Some people are driven to eat long after the hunger has been satiated. You can feel intense pain if having arrived at a goal you are unable to enjoy that success and need to constantly be chasing the next one.

Those who do things because they love what they do, in addition to finding they may be paid to do what they would want to do anyway, also find that they are happy and content because they are enjoying the journey not fretting about the goal.

One great source of contentment is having friends and a positive support system. People who have supportive others in their life are more likely to be content. Extroverts find it easy to be with and around others and are often happy as a result. But introverts who make conscious efforts to develop and maintain a positive relationship with others are also more likely to be content.

Reaching a goal that you have set for yourself is extremely important in achieving happiness and contentment. People who have struggled to reach a goal in order to please a parent or other person in their life are frequently disappointed when reaching that goal is hollow and emotionally unrewarding. Make sure the goal you are working on is one that matters to you.

While poverty may make us unhappy, no amount of money seems to make people content. As our income or wealth expands beyond our basic needs so do our expectations. The wealthy pay larger bills than the poor but are often no more content. As you climb the pyramid the danger of being pushed off rises. The truly content person is able to pause and enjoy the things they have accomplished, the friends they have and give themselves credit for what they have accomplished along the way.

Contentment we find is not so much a feeling as it is a skill which you can practice any time or place you find yourself.

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

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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.