Life lessons you need to learn.

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

Learning lifes lessons

Life lessons you need to learn.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

What life lessons do you need to learn?

You probably went to school for a while or you wouldn’t be reading this. You learned your alphabet, reading and some math. Maybe a little history, very little history if you are typical. What most of us missed out on were the lessons about the required emotional skills. How you get through this life in one piece.

By life lessons, I am not necessarily talking about how to cook a meal or wash some clothes, though those are useful skills. What I am talking about is how to go about really “living” this thing we call a life. What do you do to create a happy life out of the raw material that will be thrown at you?

Below are some of the life lessons you may not have gotten enough training in. There are things counselors work on with their clients all the time. If you see any of these life lessons you feel you need to work on, consider some therapy or a good book on self-improvement that covers the part you still need to learn.

Stress reduction will keep you from stressing out.

Life is stressful. There is good stress and bad stress. Much of this thing we call stress is the result of our anticipating what will happen, not the actual happening. In another post about stress, I wrote about how people who are going through a really difficult time can be less stressed out than those who are afraid they will have to have that experience.  Accept that stress is a required part of living.  Learn to reduce the impact of that stress on your life.

Emotional Regulation is a skill that will keep you out of trouble.

It comes as a surprise to many people that they can regulate their emotions.  Most of us started out having feelings and then either getting in trouble for those feelings or being told we shouldn’t feel the way we were feeling.  Turns out that learning to regulate your emotions is an important life skill.

Many people end up having to take anger management classes where they learned that it is not other people who are “making them angry” but it is the way they view the situation that creates their anger.  Anger is not the only emotion you need to learn to regulate.  You will feel sadness and emotional pain. People who are good and regulating these emotions feel them but don’t get carried away.

Interpersonal communication is a make or break life skill.

Interpersonal communication is a skill that many people need to work on.  Some people get this skill wrong and develop the belief that interpersonal communication means learning how to tell other people things.  The biggest part of the interpersonal communications consists of learning how to accurately listen to others.  When you get a clear picture of what other people are saying you will discover that there are far fewer things you need to argue with.

Developing a support system isn’t always an easy skill to develop.

Having the support of people in your life makes life a whole lot easier.  For most people, friends were something that just happened.  In the early school grades, anyone that you spend time with could easily become your friend.  As we get older it becomes harder and harder to make real lasting friends.

When you are too close to things you miss the big picture.

One important life skill that an adult may still need to develop is the ability to look at things from different perspectives.  Often when people are caught up in the moment things look a very set way.  Learning to step back and analyze situations from other perspectives can help you solve life’s problems.

You can’t be objective about you.

People often work with coaches. counselors and therapists, because they can’t see their own behavior.  Even when it’s painful, it can be really helpful to have someone who will give you an honest version of what they see about you and your behavior.

Encouragement helps you change.

To really grow and progress people need positive reinforcement.  Many people grew up experiencing mostly negative feedback.  The belief in the past was that in order to get people to do better it was necessary to point out every single one of their flaws.  We’ve since learned that if you never hear anything positive it is easy to become discouraged and give up trying.

You need to learn being real can be scary.

Really young kids find it easy to be real.  Young people find it easy to spot people who are being fake.  As we get older, more and more we are likely to hide our real selves.  Often it’s easier to present a false image to others in the hope of being liked.  People who are able to be real have to take risks.  While being real involves taking some scary risks it also results in people being a lot happier.

Are any of these life lessons that you still need to learn?

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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Lessons Depression teaches you.

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

Depressed person

Depression.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Are you learning from your issues?

People who are able to learn from their problems do better in the future.  Whether you have an episode of  – Major Depressive Disorder, Persistent Depressive Disorder or some other type of anxiety or depression it is important to learn the lessons from that experience.  People who learn lessons from their issues seem to develop the skill of resiliency and they recover more quickly from future difficulties.  Below are some of the lessons that your depression may be able to teach you.

Sleep is more important than hard work.

One characteristic of depression is changes in sleep.  You may be sleeping far more than before or far less.  Not getting enough sleep puts you at risk to develop or worsen your depression.  Chronically getting too little sleep is one risk factor for episodes of depression and bipolar disorder.  If you’re losing sleep in order to work more or longer, that loss of sleep may impair your judgment and eventually undermine the progress you are making in your work.

You need to take care of yourself.

Just taking good care of yourself will not automatically prevent depression, but part of the process of recovering from depression is learning to take better care of yourself.  Depression teaches you the importance of good preventive self-care.

Taking care of you is not being selfish.

Another lesson depression can teach you is that in order to do for others you need to first take care of yourself.  You will find that taking care of yourself is not the same thing as being selfish.  Make self-care a priority to reduce the risks of future episodes of depression.

No one is perfect.

Depression can teach you that no one is perfect, there are plenty of improvement opportunities in every life.  Being too hard on yourself can easily put you in a negative frame of mind.  Trying to be perfect is setting yourself up for failure.  Learn to accept yourself just as you are.  Having this excepting frame of mind will help to inoculate you against future episodes of depression.

Sick people can do sick things.

Sometimes depression is a reaction to the hurtful things other people do to you.  Depression can teach you that other people can sometimes do very painful things.  Being a recipient of people’s negativity does not mean that you were at fault.  Sometimes people blame themselves for things that others have done when in fact that other person is a very sick person.  If someone has done something deliberately to harm you this does not mean you were at fault.

Stuff can’t make you happy.

It’s easy to slip into the trap of thinking if you just had more, bigger and prettier things, that then you would be happy.  Depression doesn’t care how much stuff you have.  Depression can teach you that experiences and relationships are far more important than material things.

Giving up on things can be a victory.

Persistence and dedication are virtues.  Sometimes we continue to try for far too long. Learning when to let go of something that is no longer making you happy is an important step in recovery.  Hanging on to lost causes is a sure way to increase your sadness and depression

It is OK to feel badly.

One lesson depression teaches is that sometimes it is OK to just feel the way you feel.  It is possible to feel badly and simply accept that feeling.  Just because something is hurtful, or painful does not mean that it needs to destroy you.

Feelings can be your friends.

Feelings, both good and bad can be your friends.  Feelings provide you with information.  They can tell you that things are good for you, or that they are bad for you.  Just because you feel badly you do not have to fall apart.

Your experiences made you who you are.

Living through feelings, good and bad, can be painful, but it ends up teaching you valuable lessons.  Your life experiences have made you who you are.  You can stay stuck in the past asking why things had to happen, or you can make peace with what happened and accept that this has become a part of who you are.

You need to measure your accomplishments, not the errors.

Most people have had many accomplishments.  Everyone who tries has some things that don’t work out the way they were planned.  If you only keep score of your errors you’ll run up a very large score.  When all you do was look at your faults it to be very discouraging.  Make sure you give yourself credit for the things you have accomplished.  It is likely that you accomplished far more things than you are aware of.  Depression likes to obscure your view of the positive things in life.

Friends will either buoy you up or pull you down.

Depression can tell you a lot about friends.  Some will help pull you up, others drag you down.  Let depression teach you about the characteristics of your friends.  Work on getting rid of friends who are negative.  A good support system can help you recover from any adversity.  Depression teaches you the value of good friends and encourages you to expand your support system.

What you tell yourself comes to be.

Words are powerful.  The things you tell yourself tend to come true.  Tell yourself that you can’t and you won’t be able to.  Tell yourself that somehow you will find a way to get past this and things go better.

How to really be grateful.

When everything is going well we forget to be grateful.  Depression teaches you to pay attention to the good things that happen in your life.  Sometimes we can become so discouraged by the things we don’t have, we lose the pleasure from the very many things we do have.  Recovery from depression can help you put all the parts of your life into proper perspective.

What lessons have you learned from your issues?

Take some time and consider what your personal issues may have taught you.  Have your life’s struggles make you stronger and more resilient or have you ignored the lessons they were trying to teach you?

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.

10 School of life lessons you need to learn.

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

School classroom

School

The School of life is still in session. You can’t stop learning when you leave school.

In many places here in the northern hemisphere, school is back in session or soon will be. Regardless of whether you are a student or a teacher the lessons don’t stop when school lets out. The most important lessons are often the ones we learn in the process of living. No matter how young or old you are it is never too early or too late to learn the lessons life is trying to teach you. Here are some of the lessons you should be learning from your life experiences.

Learn the difference between tools, crutches, and burdens.

When you feel tested or weak, when you struggle with a problem, tools can be helpful.  Friends can help you move forward or hold you back. Substances, drugs, and alcohol, creep into lives disguised as crutches. They tell you that you need a drink to cope. Truth is that those crutches, substances, and behaviors start out looking like crutches to help you get through difficult times. They end up being heavy burdens to overcome.

Whether it is “retail therapy,” shopping just for the sake of shopping, or hanging out with negative friends, using crutches to get through life’s difficulties comes at a huge price. That unhelpful habit may move from being a crutch to being a heavy lifelong burden when you have to clean up the messes.

You find the things, good or bad, you look for.

Are you looking for more anxiety or more calm? Some people are well acquainted with anxiety. He is their best friend. Having some anxiety around can help you if you are in danger. But if every morning you set off on a quest to find more things to be afraid of, anxiety is no longer protecting you, he is holding you captive.

The negative things in life scream out for attention. The quieter things, happiness, and joy take an effort to notice. Calmness sits silently by, waiting to be noticed. If you look only for the negative you will get more negativity in your life.

Learn to find the positive in the difficult situation. Detect the calm in the center of every storm of life. Look for the good if you want a good life.

Watch out for “agains.”

Humans make mistakes. The more you do in life the more possible mistakes and errors you will find. Try to learn from these less than ideal outcomes. Avoid having to say, I made that mistake again. I have the same problems again.

Learn life’s lessons and then move on. Failure to learn the lessons at one point in your life dooms you to repeat these same errors over and over “again.”

Do not wear yourself out pushing on walls.

Many obstacles in life will not be moved by the use of brute force. Even a small barrier can wear you out if you insist on trying to force that difficulty out of your way. Look for the gates. Think about ways to make that obstacle a path you need to follow to find the way around.

We can often take one big challenge well enough. It is the constant fighting of the same battles, never learning how to work smarter that eventually will do you in.

Good relationships are more important than being right.

Avoid wasting time and friendships on fighting over who is right and who is wrong. People resent having to deal with a right-fighter. Certainly, you can and should have your beliefs and values. It is not required that you change their minds.

Treasure your friendships and close relationships. Think before you argue. Will I really be happier if I win this argument but lose this friend? Allow your friends to be wrong sometimes. Give yourself that same opportunity.

If you want something you need to ask. Did you ask?

Don’t go through life wishing that others would see your needs and fulfill them. If you are wishing for something, have you expressed that wish to the person who could make this happen? It is easy to blame others for the things we lack. They seem obvious to you. But if you never ask do not fall into the trap of thinking that others should recognize your needs before you speak them.

A great pitfall in relationships is expecting the other person to read your mind and then act on your desire in the way you would want them to. Unless you partner or friend earns their living reading minds do not expect others in your life to spontaneously develop that skill.

Are you building things up or tearing them down.

Don’t tear everything down unless you are ready to rebuild afterward. It is easy to complain. You can find faults in most any situation. But when something gets torn down, for a time there is nothing left there. Eventually, some person sees the empty space created by the destruction and begins to rebuild.

An important life lesson is to learn how to make things better. Building meets people’s needs, destroying things does not. Become the architect of a bright future, not the demolisher of what is.

Look for the similarities.

People mostly have the same needs. Situations tend to have similarities. Do not think that the way you do things is the only possible alternative. Many problems have common solutions. Applying knowledge from one experience to another reduces the need to be reinventing behaviors.

It is easy to think that others are somehow very different from you. Underneath all the differences are those common needs and desires.

Be aware of the differences.

Differences are neither good nor bad in and of themselves. Recognize how others could look at things and see a different meaning. Consider that old saw that if the only tool you have is a hammer you will see everything as a nail. Different problems in life need different tools.  Around every bend in the road of life, there will be something. Look for the novel and look for the similar, expect neither.

It is always today.

We plan for tomorrow, we remember the past but we always live in today.  Learn to keep those distinctions clear. It is always today. You may repeat yesterday’s actions or you may choose to do, say and think something different. Change in life comes from getting up each day and living that day as fully as possible.

Are there other life lessons you have learned? Consider sharing what the school of life has taught you. You can leave a comment below or send a note directly to me by using the contact me form. I will do my best to get back to all of you who contact or email me.

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.