Ways counselors help you increase your hope.

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

Hope

Hope.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Seeing a therapist can help you develop more hope.

Many of the clients who come to see counselors tell us that they suffer from low self-esteem. Low self-esteem may create anxiety and depression, and it certainly makes those two problems worse. It’s hard to accomplish much if you don’t feel good about yourself.

One key component of low self-esteem is a lack of hope. Hope is made up of two parts, the belief that if you try something, you be able to do it, and the belief that you can generate multiple plans that will get you to your goal. Having more than one possible path forward gives you options and hope. The process of working with the counselor or therapist can increase your hope and raise your self-esteem. Here are some of the ways counseling may increase your hope and boost your self-esteem.

Counselors increase hope by showing unconditional positive regard.

If you suffer from low self-esteem, you likely have become hopeless, and don’t feel good about yourself. Sometimes this is because significant people in your life were abusive or negative towards you. It can also be the result of believing that one failure makes you a failure in life. Counselors call this black-and-white thinking. It’s an example of perfectionism at its worst.

Counselors are trained to see the potential in their clients, not the problems. Having the counselor believe in you when you don’t believe in yourself can provide you with another way of looking at your challenges. When you’re able to see things from a different point of view, the path forward looks brighter.

Counselors believe in your ability to make changes.

One thing that makes counseling helpful is the counselor’s ability to believe in your potential for change. The counselor frequently believes in your potential far more than you believe in yourself. While the counselor may not like some of the things you’ve done or are doing, a good counselor will continue to believe in your abilities to grow and change even when you don’t.

Counselors can help you see that you are not alone.

The technical term for this is normalizing problems. At many points in your life, you will face challenges that are specific to that time. It’s common to think you should be farther along in life than your chronological age. It can be helpful to hear that what you’re going through is common for other teenagers, new parents, people starting a new job, and so on.

One of the reasons self-help groups can be so useful is that you will meet other people who are going through exactly what you’re going through. It is reassuring to know that you’re not defective or crazy. That given what you’ve been through, how you’re feeling and acting makes sense. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any things you can do to improve your life.

Sometimes all you see are the problems, not the possibilities.

The counselor can help you by offering you other perspectives on the challenges you are facing. This process is sometimes called “a new pair of glasses.” The technical term counselors are taught is reframing. If you’ve gotten used to looking at the world through a dirty pair of glasses, the whole world begins to look filthy. Cleaning your glasses by using the counselor’s vision of your life and future can help you see new possibilities.

Being honest and genuine increases hope.

The counselor can teach you how to be honest and genuine by demonstrating those characteristics. There may be other people in your life who were dishonest and lied to you. Knowing the truth can set you on the path to change. Hopefully, the counselor will tell you these hard truths in a general way, and at a time, you can hear them. That process of experiencing someone in your life as extremely honest can help you grow.

Counselors can help you learn needed life skills.

You only know what you know, and sometimes the biggest impediment to growth is not knowing what you don’t know. Many of the most useful skills in life are not taught in school. If your parent or caregiver had their own problems, and they almost always do, you may have learned some things about life that worked when you were a child, but don’t work now that you’re an adult.

Counseling can be a corrective emotional experience.

You may have had damaging emotional experiences in the past. The counseling room is one place you can work through those experiences without having to worry about living with or seeing this person after the processes over.

The process of sharing your deepest secrets with another human can be freeing. If your past relationships have been one-sided or abusive, meeting someone whose primary concern is helping you may be a new experience.

The therapy or consulting room is inherently a unique situation. It’s a place where you can reveal your darkest secrets and know that the counselor is legally and ethically bound to keep those secrets unless you are harming someone who is helpless and can’t protect themselves. It’s important to remember that the counseling room is a laboratory where you can learn new skills and practice them, but it’s not real life.

As you begin to change and grow, your counselor should help you to transfer the skills you’ve learned as a result of the counseling process into your life outside the counseling room. Ideally, your counseling experience will have increased your level of hope and raised your self-esteem.

For more about hope, please see – Hope

For more on the process of counseling, please see the category – Counseling and Therapy

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.

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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.

The Times Loneliness Takes Over.

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

Lonely person

Loneliness.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Loneliness is worse at transition points.

It’s common for people to feel lonely at certain times in their lives. The feeling of loneliness can have survival value. One person, by themselves, is in a dangerous situation. A group of people together can protect each other. In limited amounts, loneliness can motivate you to seek out others and create new supportive relationships.

Sometimes loneliness becomes excessive and can result in feelings of rejection, isolation, and distrust. High levels of loneliness can damage your physical and emotional health, harm your relationships, and result in self-harm, or abusing substances.

The effects of loneliness intensify when you have fewer supportive relationships. Knowing when loneliness is likely to strike can help you to understand that this is a normal part of life rather than something wrong with you.

If you are feeling especially lonely right now, reach out to others and work on improving your support systems. If loneliness has gotten you in its grasp, consider getting some professional help to get you through this time. Here are some of the times in life you are likely to feel lonely and what that loneliness is trying to tell you.

When you don’t feel you belong, you get lonely.

People used to know where they “belonged.” Historically individuals were connected to groups and locations in ways that told them where they belonged and where they didn’t belong. Over the last hundred years, most of these connections have weakened to the point that people no longer can tell you where they belong.

For most of human history, people lived in small groups. First, there were small bands, then larger tribes. Over time humans progressed to building dwellings and being parts of families. Next people belonged to a particular city or state. The group you lived in might have been loving, or it might have been harsh and cruel. Either way, you were likely to feel that where you were was where you belonged. People who grow up in a rural community or a small town typically put down roots. No matter where you go afterward you can feel anchored to your “hometown.”

People used to be able to define themselves by their social role. Men, when asked to describe themselves, would tell you what they did for a living. They were farmers, fishermen, shopkeepers, or they worked in the factory or mine. Women used to define themselves as wives or mothers. Over the last hundred years or so women moved into the workplace. Certain occupations became traditional “women’s work.” When asked who she was, a working woman was likely to cite a handful of common women’s jobs. She might have been a teacher, a nurse, or a cashier in a retail store. The work role person a person “belongs in” is more fluid today.

Most people used to be affiliated with a group. Church or religious memberships were the norms. There was a time in America when you ask someone about their religious affiliation they would give you the name of a particular denomination. They would say they were Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, and so on. They likely attended functions at the church even if they didn’t fully believe that church’s doctrine. Membership in occupational groups, like a grange or union was much more common in the past. So was membership in social and fraternal organizations.

In this new millennium, most group affiliations have weakened. People move frequently. Most people must change their career multiple times in their life. Women have moved into jobs that were once exclusively done by men, and in a few areas, men moved into traditionally female occupations. Church membership has declined. Today most people describe themselves as “spiritual rather than religious” or as simply “Christian” rather than as a member of a specific denomination.

Along with church membership, participation in fraternal and social groups has declined. Even union membership has become more fluid. Many of the newer jobs are not unionized and as people move from job to job they may move from union to union. Rather than being able to define yourself by the groups you belong to, today people must define themselves by the things they have. As you move through life, your changing experiences are likely to trigger feelings of loneliness.

When you are a teenager, you are likely to experience loneliness.

Part of being a teenager is moving through changes in relationships. During these years, teens make the shift from being part of the family to becoming a separate, individual person. Loneliness can drive you to find out who you are as a separate individual. During these years, the relationship between you and your parents or caregivers needs to transform from being close and affectionate to being a more separate adult relationship. You will need to make your first step to overcoming loneliness by finding out who you are as a person.

The teen years are a time when being accepted is important. Teens want to be liked and be a part of a group. Some kids become part of the “in” popular group. Others may become “stoners” or “nerds and geeks.” Increasingly teens find it hard to fit in anywhere. This lack of belonging has resulted in increasing depression and anxiety.

Those who don’t find the group to belong to may become lonely, isolated and develop significant emotional problems. As difficult as this stage is for some teen’s learning to cope with changing social relationships as a part of the growing up process. The hard thing to understand for many as they pass through this stage is not to take it personally. Not being a part of the group doesn’t mean there something wrong with you.

During your teenage and early 20 something years, it’s important to learn the skills to make and to maintain relationships. One of the biggest hazards of being lonely at this point in your life is that you will rush into a romantic, sexual, relationship to avoid feeling lonely. The most important developmental task during this stage in your life is not finding a life partner but learning to tell the difference between the potentially good partners and the bad ones.

When you live alone, loneliness tries to move in.

One of life’s challenges is learning that when you are alone, you do not have to be lonely. Most people tried to avoid the loneliness beast by staying constantly busy. You’re either going to school or working. First, you are a part of a family. If you go away to school, you probably have roommates. Many people move rapidly into romantic relationships. Some of the clients I’ve worked with moved in with a partner after the first or second date. A few of these relationships succeed. Most do not.

At some point in your life are likely to find yourself living alone. The minute you’re sitting there in an empty house or apartment loneliness moves in. If you can learn to be your own best friend, to be happy and content when you’re all alone, there won’t be room for loneliness in your life. People who manage to achieve a good balance between the time they spend with others and the time they spend with themselves are more likely to create a contented life, free from the presence of the loneliness beast.

When you are unemployed, loneliness comes calling.

What you do gives your life meaning and purpose. When you are young, you go to school. When you get older, most people must work. All those activities involve interacting with other people. The day you wake up and don’t have anywhere to go, you are likely to experience loneliness. Whether you have left your job voluntarily, resigned, been fired or watched the workplace close not having some purpose can leave you feeling depressed and lonely. The cure for this loneliness is to get out there and find another job.

When you are sick or disabled, you may be lonely.

People with a significant disability or those faced with a serious illness spend a lot of time alone. The most difficult part of this experience can be the emptiness of the time you must be alone. During these life transitions, it’s important to stay as active and engaged as possible. Newer technologies have made staying connected easier than ever. But staying connected requires effort on your part.

When you become an older adult, you spend more time alone.

Time alone does not have to equal loneliness. Developing the skill of being comfortable when you are by yourself can ease this life transition. As you age, it becomes harder to maintain connections with other people. For some people, the retirement years are active ones. For other people, the exit from work leads to isolation and loneliness. Families move away, and friends pass away. Overcoming loneliness in later life requires effort to maintain your friendships and social connections.

Now that you know the times that loneliness may come calling, what efforts will you make to keep him out of your life?

Read more about the causes and cures for loneliness.

David Joel Miller MS is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC.)  Mr. Miller provides supervision for beginning counselors and therapists and teaches at the local college in the Substance Abuse Counseling program.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three 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.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

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

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and many other online stores.

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

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

How lonely will you be?

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

Lonely person

Loneliness.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Will loneliness cause you problems?

Loneliness can result in significant emotional problems. While loneliness isn’t considered a specific mental illness, it plays a role in creating and worsening several mental health issues. Loneliness can undermine self-esteem by making people feel, empty, worthless and unwanted. Loneliness is both a cause of and a result of social isolation. If you are feeling lonely, you probably feel that you lack something in your life. Loneliness coupled with anxiety and depression increases your risk of feeling threatened and may result in paranoia.

In its milder forms, loneliness can be a motivator for you to seek out human contact. Stronger versions of loneliness result from feeling you have too few social connections or the relationships you have are one-sided and unhelpful.

Researchers have discovered strong connections between loneliness and depression. Lonely people are at an increased risk to think about suicide or to even attempt suicide. Lonely people are more likely to use and abuse drugs and alcohol resulting in alcoholism and addiction. The combination of substance use disorders, feeling lonely and depressed, and believing that others are rejecting you, increases the risk of violent behavior. Loneliness has also been linked to physical health problems and poor emotional development.

The very young and very old are at increased risk for feelings of loneliness. Particular life transition points also increase these risks.

Your thinking can make your loneliness better or worse.

How lonely you feel is less likely to be the result of how many friends you have or how much time you spend with others, and is more connected to your attitudes about the quantity and quality of your social connections.

Your feelings of loneliness are primarily the result of your beliefs about four separate factors. When you’re feeling lonely, it is important to look at both the facts and your beliefs in these areas. One way to reduce the feelings of loneliness is to develop the skills you need to change your situation. The other way to feel less lonely is to reconsider your beliefs about things. Often negative emotions are caused not by the situation, but by the beliefs you have about your circumstances.

What do you think about your friendships?

Loneliness is reduced more by having close, true friends, than by the number of casual friendships you have. It’s not how many friends you have, especially your social media friends, but how close you and your friends are.

True friendships should be reciprocal. You care about them, and they care about you. You should be willing to do for them, and they should be equally willing to do for you. If you find that your relationship is all about that other person, that you must do what they want to keep their friendship, that’s not a healthy, positive friendship.

It’s wonderful to have a BFF (best friend forever.) Having only one close friend limits the ability of your friendship to be supportive. No one will be able to devote every minute of their life to meeting your needs. If you call that one best friend constantly about your problems, you are likely to burn them out.

Recovery programs often recommend that you have at least five separate people in your support system. Your friends should have other people in their lives beside you. If you’re in a relationship where you can’t have other friends or where you resent the other people in their life, these are not healthy relationships.

Emotionally healthy people belong to a group of friends rather than being dependent on only one person. Having only one person to meet their emotional needs is a large issue for couples. When there are difficulties in your relationship, you will find it hard to turn to your partner for emotional support. It’s risky to turn to friends with whom you might be tempted to develop a close sexual relationship. For heterosexual people, this is the time you need to have friends of your own gender.

Are you isolated?

Feeling socially isolated causes loneliness. If you feel like you have no friends and no one you can talk to, this should prompt you to reach out and make connections. For some people, this means professional counseling, which can help in the short-term. In the long-term, you need to put yourself into situations where you can make friends, and need to learn the skills necessary for creating and maintaining friendships.

Is being alone a bad thing?

Your attitude towards solitude will magnify or reduce your feelings of loneliness. Ask yourself how you feel about spending time with you? Some people find that when they are alone, they don’t know what to do. Are you bored when there’s no one else around?

Being alone shouldn’t make you unhappy. Alone time is an opportunity to find out about yourself. Focusing on the negative will increase your loneliness. Feeling negative about being alone will cause the time to drag. Filling the alone time with things you enjoy doing turns loneliness into happiness.

Can Solitude be a good thing?

When you are alone, look for the positives. Your time alone should be an opportunity to get to know yourself better. Develop a friendship with yourself. Throughout your life, the one constant will be you. Everywhere you go, every minute of your life, you will be there. Work on enjoying the time you by yourself.

Life can get hectic at times. Sometimes it’s nice to get away from it all. If when you get that chance to get away from life’s hassles, you discover you’re getting lonely, consider developing a stronger friendship with yourself.

Other posts about feeling lonely will are found in the category – Loneliness.

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

Could your overthinking be an illness?

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

Woman thinking

Overthinking.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Overthinking leads to mental health problems.

Overthinking, that constantly turning problems over in your mind, sometimes called rumination, may be a symptom of an existing or developing

Overthinking

Overthinking.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

mental illness. Constantly second-guessing your past leads to depression. Having doubts about the future increase your anxiety. How many of these overthinking problems are you experiencing?

Am I good enough?

Continually wondering how you compare to others can be a sign of social or performance anxiety. Accepting yourself as you are while striving for self-improvement will increase your mental health. Constantly comparing yourself and judging everything you do results in the bias of only seeing your faults and never recognizing your strengths.

Should I have said that?

Extreme concerns over what you should say or didn’t say is another sign of social anxiety. For many situations, there is no correct response. In social situations strive to be your genuine self. You can reduce the number of social errors you make by pausing before speaking. Not every thought should escape from your mouth. Learn from any mistakes you make but avoid continually rehashing every conversation.

You have a bad case of the “what if’s.”

If you are constantly on the alert for any presence of threats, you may have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Some people develop this condition because of past stress or trauma. But if you instinctively look for every possible way in which something could go wrong, you’ve developed the overanxious condition professionals call Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Most time spent on what if’s will be time wasted on thinking about unlikely possibilities. Focus your efforts on high probability events.

You worry about having an undiagnosed illness.

Worry about having an illness that hasn’t been diagnosed can be the result of a Somatic Symptom Disorder or an Illness Anxiety Disorder. When you have concerns about your health see your Dr. If your symptoms are severe, you may want to get a second opinion. Continuing to worry that you might develop an illness robs you of the opportunity to enjoy the life you have.

You worry about leaving the house.

This condition is called Agoraphobia, which translates to fear of the marketplace. People who worry constantly and excessively about leaving the house can also be afraid of crowds and meeting strangers. If you have this worry, seek professional help before your fears hold you prisoner in your own home. Agoraphobia can hold you hostage and deprive you of your family, friends, and your job.

You worry about having another panic attack.

People who are prone to panic attacks often know that the symptoms they have are from a panic attack. Still, during a panic attack, you may worry that this time you actually are having a heart attack or that you will not be able to catch your breath and will suffocate. It’s common for people with panic disorder to fear being somewhere where they will not be able to get help.

You fear something bad will happen and you need to do a ritual to prevent that.

This type of repetitive overthinking is characteristic of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. While the person with this disorder may know, the fear is irrational; they still feel compelled to do a repetitive behavior in the belief that this will prevent the danger.

Overthinking, or rumination can be both a cause of and a symptom of a serious mental health problem. If your overthinking is undermining your happy life, seek help.

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.

Overthinking takes you nowhere.

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

Woman thinking

Overthinking.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Thinking the same thoughts over and over does not lead to insight.

In overthinking you get stuck on thinking the same thoughts over and over. To gain insight, you need to think about things from a different perspective. Take a break from your problems, sleep on it overnight, have some fun, and your problem is likely to look different the next time you think about it.

Overthinking is sometimes described as racing thoughts. These racing thoughts are different from the kind of out of control thoughts described in Bipolar Disorder. Overthinking is related to anxiety disorders in that these thoughts look like a hamster in his wheel, running as fast as he can around and around in the same place. In overthinking your thoughts take you nowhere but they do increase your anxiety. The racing thoughts of bipolar take you farther and farther into grandiose beliefs and urges.

Things will change whether you think about them or not.

Whether you think about it or not the weather will change. You can prepare for the weather but worrying about it will neither prevent the storm nor make it worse. Know that, regardless of what you think, the summers and winters will come. Overthinking steals your life.

The time you spend overthinking is time you are not doing.

Living is about the things you do, not the things you think about doing. The best way to prepare for the future is by living today. It’s easy to stay busy thinking about the past, worrying about the future, all the while avoiding taking action in the present.

Don’t believe everything you think.

Sometimes we take our own thinking as evidence for the truth of what we believe. IF something is making you anxious, you need to take a good look at it, and sometimes you need to listen to your gut. Consider however that just because something scares you that does not make it dangerous. Often our preconceived views of things turn out to be wrong. Be careful that you don’t jump to the conclusion and then because you think it; you look for evidence to support that view.

Don’t recruit others to overthink with you.

Group overthinking has been called co-rumination. If every time you get together with your friends, you go over and over the same problems in life, these relationships have moved from being supportive to keeping you stuck in your problems. You don’t need half a dozen people helping you think about how awful things are.

The more baggage you accumulate, the harder it is to move forward.

Do you have a lot of baggage from the past? Do you spend a lot of time taking it out, looking it over and then packing it up again to take it with you into the future? Constantly dwelling on the mistakes and the pain of the past keeps you stuck. Learn life’s lessons but be careful not to carry any more baggage into the future than is absolutely necessary.

Overthinking prevents you from making decisions.

The more you think about something, the harder it may be to decide. Unfortunately, not deciding and not acting are decisions. Don’t let overthinking make your decisions for you by preventing you from ever doing something which might benefit you.

Overthinking destroys your creativity.

Creativity is about new ways of looking at things and new ways of combining them. If you are stuck in overthinking and worry about what the right way to do something is, you will become afraid to take the chances necessary to be truly creative. Overthinking will tell you that there’s only one correct answer and you need to find that answer. Creativity will tell you that there are many possible solutions and the more open you are to those solutions the more creative you will become.

Overthinking tells you there’s only one way to do things.

The longer you think about things more likely you are to doubt each possibility. Overthinking by pointing out the pitfalls of potential decisions takes away your choices. If you want to be truly free, don’t let your worried mind tell you that you shouldn’t make the choices that appeal to you. Often when presented with a choice, our first thought is the correct one. People who are high in test anxiety often find the more they go over their answers and change them, the lower their test score goes. Don’t let overthinking talk you out of the choice that’s right for 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.

How to stop overthinking.

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

Overthinking.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Overthinking is harmful to your mental health.

People who do a lot of overthinking, sometimes called rumination, increase their anxiety and their sadness. Unchecked overthinking, far from being helpful, can result in worry and leads to mental health issues such as anxiety disorders and depression. In overthinking your mind becomes your adversary, not your ally. If your mind is constantly turning things over and over and is wearing you out or if you find your overthinking has begun to interfere with your sleep and your relationships, it’s time to do something to put a stop to that overthinking.

If you suffer from overthinking here are some ways to get off that destructive path.

Notice when you overthink.

Overthinking can become an insidious habit. Become aware of when you are feeling distressed or anxious. The first step in getting overthinking out of your life is to become aware of how frequently you are overthinking. Avoid the trap of overthinking your overthinking.

Practice thought stopping.

When a child is doing something, they shouldn’t, we tell them to “knock that off.” When your mind starts taking you into bad neighborhoods, tell that mind to “stop that.” Another technique for stopping negative thoughts is to shift your focus to something positive. Search your memory for the happiest event in your life or imagine a happy event. When your brain begins to overthink possible negative occurrences, tell it to move to the positive.

Focus on the things that are likely to happen.

Most worry and overthinking is the result of an excessive focus on things that might or could happen but are very unlikely. Don’t spend large amounts of time thinking about things that are unlikely to happen. Most of the things we worry about never happen. Overthinking low probability events distracts you from dealing with the things that need doing today to prevent problems in the future.

Become a happiness expert.

Overthinking makes you an expert on unhappiness. Having a laser focus on what could go wrong obscures your vision of what could go right. People who are high in anxiety and depression develop a cognitive bias towards the negative. They don’t see the positive in their lives, and when they do they discount it. Notice small positive events in your life. When something good happens, don’t blink right away. Continue to look at and think about those positive, happy occurrences.

Avoid perfection paralysis.

Frequently people who are high in overthinking consider themselves perfectionists. An excessive focus on perfection can leave you paralyzed. Pursue excellence. Try to become the best person possible, but avoid an emphasis on absolute perfection. Whatever you achieve should be valued.

Accept yourself as you are.

Failure to accept yourself, as you are, leads to a lot of unhappiness. However, you are, is perfectly acceptable. Acceptance values how far you have come. If you spend all your time looking for flaws you will miss your unique, individual qualities. Acceptance of yourself, others as they are, and the world the way it is rather than insisting that people places and things must be the way you want them to be will increase your happiness and reduce your anxiety provoking overthinking.

Inventory what you have not what’s missing.

Our society today, with its emphasis on the lifestyles of the rich and famous, has resulted in a lot of people believing their life is missing something. Constantly thinking about what’s missing from your life robs you of the enjoyment of the things you do have. When your focus is on keeping up with the Trumps, you will never have enough. When you adopt an attitude of gratitude, you can enjoy the people and the things you do have rather than grieve over your lack of those things that others have.

Take the long view.

Overthinking takes the short view. The focus is on what’s lacking now, the problems of today. Ask yourself what difference today’s problem will make 20 years from now? How about 50 years from now? When you start focusing on where you want to be in the future the problems of today shrink and become insignificant.

Reframe the scary as exciting.

Before an athletic contest, teams try to psych themselves up. If you expect to be beaten badly, it will take all the energy out of your performance. Worry about failing a test is likely to result in lower scores. Go into life’s adventures expecting them to be exciting and regardless of what you do you can have fun. Focusing on the scary parts of life prevents you from ever-living.

Get into action.

A great way to overcome overthinking is to get into action. Stop ruminating about what could go wrong and start doing. Some of what you do today will be the great memories you will be storing up for the future.

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.

Do you overthink things?

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

Woman thinking

Overthinking.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

The more you think about things, the worse you feel.

Overthinking, sometimes described as rumination, is a common feature of several emotional problems, especially anxiety disorders. These constant thoughts can leave you both physically and emotionally exhausted. At times, you may feel as though your thoughts are racing away without you. Because you think these thoughts so often and they are so upsetting, you may begin to believe that the things you think about are very real possibilities.

Overthinking what might happen in the future increases your anxiety. Overthinking your past, beyond the point of learning from your mistakes, can result in depression. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that going over and over the same issue in your mind, in the same way, will result in additional insight. Overthinking increases self-doubt. The over-anxious brain is constantly on the lookout for threats and magnifies the smallest risk to terrifying proportions. Here are some of the common causes of overthinking.

Overthinking is about judging yourself too much.

Overthinkers judge themselves more harshly than they judge others. Self-evaluation, looking at both the things you do well and the things that you could improve on can be helpful. If your self-evaluation does not move beyond repeatedly reviewing less-than-perfect behaviors, you are judging yourself too harshly. Using the same scale to judge yourself that you use to judge others can reduce excessive self-criticism and prevent overthinking.

Comparing up causes overthinking.

Overthinkers always compare themselves to others who are better looking, more successful or seem more important. Constantly comparing yourself to others who have more or accomplish more, results in discounting everything you have accomplished. Rather than comparing yourself to someone you admire and feeling you are inferior, look for ways to learn from what they do and improve your performance.

Focusing on the negative increases your anxiety.

When you constantly look for the negative, that’s what you will find. Avoid focusing on what’s wrong in your life. Look for opportunities to improve yourself and the life you’re living. Spend less time thinking about what’s wrong and more time focused on the actions you need to take to reach your goals. Overthinkers look for the negative and disregard the positive.

Too much attention to other people’s opinion is harmful.

If you constantly are focused on other people’s opinions of you, your self-doubt increases. Everyone will have an opinion about your life. Sometimes it’s helpful to seek out advice and information from teachers or mentors. Too much attention to other people’s opinions results in you not having an opinion of your own. Be very careful whose opinion of you receives your attention. You are living a real life, and the person whose opinion matters most is yours.

Not knowing who you are creates confusion.

Not having a clear picture of who you are, results in a great deal of confusion and uncertain. Be careful not to be simply a reflection of other people’s opinions. Get clear on your values, your goals, and the person you want to become. Learning about yourself is one of the most important tasks you will undertake in your life.

Believing mistakes mean you are flawed undermines your self-confidence.

Focusing only on your mistakes put you on the path to overthinking, self-doubt and anxiety. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that you must be perfect to have value. All humans make mistakes. Cut yourself some slack. Accept that making mistakes is a necessary part of learning, growing and becoming who you can be. Learn from life experiences but don’t judge yourself harshly. Looking only at your mistakes leads to a very negative, biased, opinion about your self-worth.

Being overly judgmental of others creates uncertainty.

Avoid judging others using a stretched yardstick. If you expect an unreasonably high standard from others, you will find that you are unable to measure up to the standard you have set. The more judgmental you are of the people you meet, the more difficult it will become for you to feel good about yourself. Humans are not infallible computers, but then computers frequently make mistakes also. Avoid expecting impossibly high standards from yourself or others. Accept that you like all other humans are a work in progress.

Work on making overthinking a thing of the past. If you’re overthinking has gotten out of control, consider working with a counselor or therapist to get your thoughts back on a helpful path.

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.