Every day is April Fools’ Day when you are fooling yourself

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

Fool.

Fool.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Do you know what is real and what is a hoax?

Today is April First. In many places, people will be celebrating April Fools’ Day. This day is dedicated to a whole lot of fun practical jokes and good times. Not everyone should be laughing.

The challenge in life is to tell the difference between the truth and things that are not true, regardless of the label we choose to put on those less-than-true thoughts and comments. Today you may be able to get away with some untruths if you can tell the difference, but not every day.

The falsehoods told today in the course of the April Fools’ Day festivities are in the medieval tradition when Fools were jokesters, comedians and the like. When we know things are exaggerated and overblown they can be laughable and a bit of silly fun. Not all untruths are innocent.

The most dangerous types of lies are the kind we tell ourselves. People in recovery, from whatever they chose to call their problem, may find that they have been telling lies, giving people stories, so much they have begun to believe their own dishonesty. Substance abusers, required to be dishonest to continue their addiction are at special risk to have stopped seeing the distinction between the true and the false in their own minds.

If you have been telling yourself things that are not true and have started to believe those stories they can be a huge obstacle to overcome on your road to recovery.

People in recovery need to stop worrying about who they told what and begin to get honest with themselves. The most important person to tell the truth to is you.

Some recovering people have been told a lot of things that were not true. Those lies create a lot of pain and sometimes separating the true from the false can be a chore. When the addict starts to get honest the others around them are at risk to become confused about what is true and what is false.

Some people have families who have kept deep dark secrets. Those families can’t stand, to tell the truth. They pressure the other family members to deny things happened and to continue to rely on the make-believe family tale

Lie, falsehoods and the like are not the only untrue information that takes up residence in our heads. False memories and beliefs, delusions and hallucinations are also traps for the unwary.

There are technical distinctions between hallucinations and things that are really there. There is a realm of in-between things that the profession has to call in or out. Did you really see that or were you hallucinating? There are reports of things that look like a hallucination but are not.

People with addiction and mental illness may have seen and experienced things that other people tell you never happened.

Sometimes we see something and we decide what that means. If we are correct in our apprised that is all well and good. But what if you are mistaken in what you think this means or what has happened? We might call these false beliefs or even delusions.

It is likely that we can tell when someone else around us is delusional but can you tell when you are delusional? Are there things that kind of look like delusions but are not?

So while walking the road to recovery we need to take a look at hallucinations, false memories, and delusions and try to find ways to understand why our own mind may trick us into believing things that just are not so.

This whole area of what is true what is false and what you think you know is a lot confusing. In some posts over this month I want to explore delusions, hallucinations both true and pseudo and some other aspects of getting honest with ourselves. Since psychologists and therapists call some of these phenomena by different names and understand it differently I want to start by looking at how these two professions get such different answers and then proceed to some thoughts about why your brain and our survival may have benefited at times from believing things that turn out to not be true.

Stay tuned for more on the subject of the real and the false, truth and lies over the coming month. These posts will be interspersed with some other topics as they come up so as not to put all the readers to sleep at the same time.

Have a great day fooling around and we will return to the search for reality and recovery tomorrow.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Six 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.

Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.

What if your family secrets put you in danger?

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?

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.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Sasquatch. Wandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

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

Books are now available on Amazon.

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

For videos see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

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.

Will four beers get you drunk? – Video

A counselorssoapbox.com video by David Joel Miller, LMFT, LPCC.

Will for beers get you drunk? Will drinking light beer prevent intoxication? Does one kind of alcohol get you more intoxicated than another? This video discusses the connection between alcohol types and factors and intoxication.

Drug Counseling Video #2 Engagement

Drug Counseling Video #2 Engagement. The job functions of a drug and alcohol counselor, Screening, Intake, and Orientation. Modalities of treatment.

Memorial Day – What are you remembering?

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

Veterans.

Memorial Day.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Today here in America we are celebrating Memorial Day.

This day, officially called Memorial Day here in the United States of America, is reported to be the descendant of several past holidays where people remembered those who had gone before and had sacrificed to create the life we have.

Established on this the last Monday in May by the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, it occurs on this last Monday in May more as a concession to long weekends than any particular remembrance. It appears to be the most closely related to the former “Decoration Day.”

While we now tend to think of Memorial Day as strictly a remembrance of those who died in Military service in earlier times we are told it was a more general remembrance of people who had established our way of life.

Wikipedia reports that this time of year had long been celebrated as the beginning of the spring good weather and families would gather to hold family reunions often at family owned graveyards to celebrate those ancestors who created their lives.

Decoration Day came to be a time to remember those who died and were therefore decorated for their war service. It came to prominence after the American Civil War or The War Between the States as it is sometimes called, largely because that war beyond all other American wars touched everyone in the country. There was almost no family who had not had a member that served in that conflict.

Ancestors and those who gave their lives in the Wars of our country are not the only people who should be remembered on this Memorial Day.

The Memorial Day Massacre of 1937.

On May 30, 1937, police opened fire on a demonstration Of Union Members and their families. In the aftermath, 50 were wounded and ten died. Dorothy Day, an eye-witness, reported that 100 demonstrators were clubbed.

Today union strikes are less likely to be met with violence and death but in those days you risked your life as well as your livelihood to become a union member.

Today as we celebrate Memorial Day it is fitting to remember those who made sacrifices so that we could have the lives that we are able to enjoy.

Whether those you remember are Military members who gave their lives, family members who endured hardships to give their descendants a better life or union and political activists who sacrificed for those to come, we all should take time, in between the barbecues,  to remember that those blessings we enjoy were won by the sacrifices of those who went before.

Hope you are having a good Memorial Day.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

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

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

School is back in session.

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

School classroom

School

School went back in session which means all things work related have changed.

schoolroom

School classroom
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

With school back in session, I find my schedule has gotten way busy just at the time readers are checking out the blog and leaving comments. I believe that because of the topics I write about, mental health, substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders, more searches are happening just now on those topics. Some of this is school related.

This time of year, at least here in the northern hemisphere where I live, people start abandoning their outside activities and return to their indoor life. This shifts the attention from fun activities to relationships, careers and to where their life is going. So more interest in the winter, indoor months, in happy life, self-help, self-improvement and relationship issues.

As a result of this increased interest, my list of topics to write about has grown longer while my time to write has been reduced. My teaching and counseling work schedules are keeping me busy just now.

So please forgive me if it takes some extra time to respond to comments and questions and if occasionally there are some gaps in the publication schedule.

Counselorssoapbox.com is approaching one thousand posts and still growing. Thanks to all of you for reading and continuing to be supportive of this endeavor.

What is ahead for the coming months here on counselorssoapbox.com?

A new feature coming up will be a series of posts titled “What is.”  This started as a project for my beginning students and the masters level people I supervise. Knowing the vocabulary of mental health and recovery helps them think about what they will be doing and the issues in the field. These “What is” posts will be shorter than the regular long form ones.

The field is changing, counselorssoapbox and the posts on it need to reflect those changes. We are looking at milder cases of issues and the topic of prevention. The old idea that the mentally ill, addicts and alcoholics were fundamentally different from “normal people” has given way to seeing how anyone can at times have a substance use disorder when their drinking gets excessive and that you can move back and forth on a continuum of mental wellness.

The year ahead, academic not calendar year will need to include more posts on wellness and recovery and some things called strength based recovery. Parallel with those new ways of thinking is the emergence of non-medical counseling and coaching. All of these areas are fertile topics for thought and discussion.

Those who know me well, know that I love seeing clients, teaching, writing and supervising new counselors, because I learn so much in the process of listening to all of you and researching the topics I will write about.

Hope you will all continue to follow counselorssoapbox and thanks for your continued support in all I do. Keep those comments and questions coming and I will do my best to share what I know or can find out about those topics.

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.

Reduce Stress by saying NO!

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

Just say no.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Ways to say no and cut down on your stress.

There will always be more to do that there will be time to do it. The ability to say no and keep the stress in your life to a minimum is an important component of good mental health. Other people, of course, want you to do the things they want and so they take your yes for a given. Not telling people no can become the same as saying yes. Learning to be more assertive and to tell people no can help you keep your emotional life in balance.

Saying yes too much steals time from the things you really want to do. We would all like to make others happy. Sometimes it feels uncomfortable to say no to others. Every time you say yes or more importantly fail to say no you give up a little bit of you.

You get 168 hours of time each week. Spend them wisely. There will always be competing requests for your time. Your boss wants some, so does your spouse or partner. If you have kids they want all of your time they can get, at least until they become teens.

Your friends and family will also want some of your time. So do these people who call you on the phone or pound on your door wanting to sell you something.

Each time you let them have some time because you do not want to be rude or curt, you risk giving away some of the time you had planned to spend on something else.

When your life is over-full there is no room for new people or new activities.

If you let casual acquaintances take up your time, you spend that precious resource on them. If those people in your life ask you for money, whether you have it or not, remember that most of us have to give up some of our time to get that money. The more they ask of you the less there is for yourself or others.

If you have people in your life that take up your time and do not add value to your life, they are taking the place that could belong to someone else. Until you end a bad relationship there is no time or room in your life for a new one.

You can’t start something new till you end something you are doing now.

Any new activity will take time. Going back to school, starting a hobby, doing some traveling, they all require time.

You will not get any younger

Doing things you do not want to do spends your time. You will run out of that time reserve eventually.

Saying yes comes at a cost.

Saying yes creates an obligation, to yourself and others. The more the obligations the less the resources you have for you and the things that really matter. No not create obligations and then develop resentments because those other people are taking up your time.

Saying no does not make you a bad person.

If you feel that saying no is selfish or makes you a bad person think again. There are lots of good reasons to tell others no. Having good boundaries protects you and it protects others. Your children need to learn the word no and who but you is better qualified to teach them the power of no?

Giving reasons for your no sounds like you want to be talked into it.

If you have decided that the answer to this request should be no, state that answer and leave it at that. Offering reasons why you would like to do something but can’t just open the door for the other person to offer ways you can do what they requested.

Ever tell a salesman you do not have the money for something right now? And did they suggest using a credit card or time payments? See how your no’s may sound more like “talk me into it’s?”

Offer choices if you might want to do something another time or way.

In getting out of things, offering alternative choices can be a close cousin to saying no. The answer may be more like “I can’t do what you are asking but I can do —.” Consider this option if you do have something you would like to do with or for the person making the request but the original request is something you chose to not do.

Give yourself time to think it over.

You do not have to give everyone an answer the moment they ask the question. Many people have one of two default responses. They either say no to everything and regret it or they say yes to everything and regret a lot of those yes’s.

You can answer that you need time to think it over and then make that decision at your leisure.

Talk or write the decision out.

If you find it hard to make a decision and then stick to it consider writing out the request, the possible options and then what will happen if you say yes, no or yes with some changes and qualifications.

Writing things out can often bring the correct responses into focus. Talking things out with a trusted friend or adviser can help clarify both the right decision and why it may be difficult for you to tell this other person the “No!” you are really feeling.

Do you have difficulty telling people no? How might your life be different if you practiced the “saying no” skill?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Six David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.

What if your family secrets put you in danger?

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?

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.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

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.

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

Books are now available on Amazon.

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

For videos see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

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.

How will you feel when you feel better?

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

Happy children

Happy.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

You feel bad – you want to feel better – but how do you know when you get there.

We all know what it is like to feel bad. When we start feeling bad most of us instinctively want to feel better. But how do you get from bad to feeling better? And if you head off in a direction how will you know if this is taking you where you want to be.

Not everyone feels the same when they feel “bad” so the solution to changing how you feel may be different for each of us.

What is the feeling that you need more of in your life to move from feeling bad to feeling better?

Too much excitement becomes stress. Too much relaxation can turn into boredom. If you are feeling badly there just might be a lack of one of these other feelings in your life.

1. Contentment.

Contentment is the ability to enjoy where you are and what you have, now in the present. It is easy to spend your whole life running after more of this and less of that when what really matters, you, is always there.

Practice the art of contentment and you will feel less of a need for something else to make you feel “good.”

The stress created by chasing something, something else, to make us happy is the very thing that gets in our way. So rather than going after more of this or that consider stopping to enjoy what you have. Contentment, one way of understanding it anyway, is to stand still and enjoy where you are. Life will keep moving on and you will never be the same you that is there right now.

2. Relaxed.

Few people in western society are able to feel relaxed. Relaxing is something you can do anytime and any place if you learn the skill. Being relaxed is not the same feeling as being drugged out, drunk or unconscious.

Relaxed is a combined state where both the mind and the body come together to release the stress and the worries that become such heavy burdens.

It does not help if while we are doing throughout our day we are always rushing to get somewhere where we will be able to relax. Work on being able to relax anytime and any place.

3. Excited.

Ever watch little children play? They can become excited at the smallest things. If we restrict our focus, the things that bring us pleasure and excitement, to a few items, there will never be enough.

Work on getting excited whenever you do whatever it is you do.

4. Loving.

Practice the art of loving. Love yourself first and foremost. If you don’t like you no amount of love from anyone else will fill up that leaking container.

Love works better as a verb. Love and be loved. Try to make it a noun, I have love, I want more love and you may never get enough. Practice loving where you are, who you are with, the things you do and especially yourself.

If you are not able to love, let it go. You can’t do enough to get others to love you. They either do or don’t. Be the best person you can be and love yourself in the process.

That does not mean being selfish. Giving can make you happy also. Just make sure you are not giving yourself away. Being loved should not have a price. If you try to buy love, that is another thing.

5. Caring.

Want to feel good, care a lot. Care about yourself, do self-care whatever that means to you. Don’t know how to do “self-care?” Make that a top priority. Love yourself enough to take care of yourself.

Care about others around you. Care about life and living a good one. If you find yourself no longer caring. Work on finding something to care about

Saying “I don’t care” most often means you do care but are afraid to let yourself do so because you may be disappointed. Let yourself care but accept that the way things are is the way they are.

Remember that old prayer. Change what you can and accept what you can’t. The task of living is to learn the difference.

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.