When should you stop trusting?

By David Joel Miller MS Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Have you continued to trust when you shouldn’t?

Trust.

Trust.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Trust issues commonly are of two types, being afraid to trust anyone when you really need to or continuing to trust people even when you shouldn’t. Not being able to trust when you should, can damage your relationships and leave you isolated and lonely. Trusting the wrong people, trusting too much, or continuing to trust someone who has harmed you in the past can cause you a lot of pain and suffering.

Every relationship whether it’s romantic, work related, or a casual social interaction begins with an initial level of trust. How high your trust is, initially depends on your personality and your past experiences. Based on your experiences with a person you begin to either trust them more or less.

Many people with trust issues confuse trust with power and control. It’s not trust if you control what they do or if you watch them constantly. If you must check up on them, that’s not trust.

What are the warning signs that you are trusting too much? When are the times you should stop trusting?

When the risks are high, you should trust less.

Lending someone a pen, is probably no big deal. If they don’t return it, you can buy another one pretty inexpensive. Lending that same person $20 is a little riskier. When them a thousand dollars and it could destroy your friendship. When a friend owes you something and can’t repay it, you lose not only the money but a friend, who is now embarrassed to see you and have to say they can’t afford to pay you back.

When your gut tells you, something is wrong.

Feelings are valuable sources of information. If you have this uneasy feeling, you shouldn’t trust some listen to your intuition. Feelings are not always right. Just because something scares you does not make it dangerous. When something doesn’t feel right, you need to proceed cautiously.

Trust weakens when their behavior changes.

Trust usually develops over time in a relationship. You trust someone you know more than you should trust someone you have just met. Someone you have known for a while begins to act differently pay attention.

Trust less when they are hiding something.

Whether it’s a romantic relationship or friendship when you discover a person is hiding things from you, be cautious about trusting them. People who are behaving honestly, don’t need to hide anything.

When they are unreliable at the small things, do not trust them with big things.

If someone is habitually late, says they will do something but doesn’t, be very careful trusting them. It’s easy to make excuses for people who let you down in small ways. Don’t make the mistake of trusting someone who is unreliable in small things with something that is important to you in a big way.

When they have been untrustworthy before, trust less.

People commonly behave consistently. When someone has hurt you before, anticipate they are likely to do it again.

When they are evasive and withhold information do not trust them.

Being evasive suggests this person doesn’t trust you or that they have something to hide. If they are leaving out part of the story, you should not trust them.

You ask for something they can’t or won’t do.

When you ask someone to do something for you, think for a minute about the nature of your request. If you’ve asked for something they can’t do, and you expect them to do it, that unreasonable request is creating your trust issues. When someone has told you no, pay attention.

The longer you have known someone, the more you expect from them.

To increase trust, you need to know more about them. It’s unreasonable to put a lot of trust in someone you have just met.

When they have mixed motives, trust less. It’s easier to trust in win-win situations. You should be more careful about trusting when their interests and yours do not coincide.

When their main goal is to get something from you, trust sparingly.

You should reduce your level of trust for someone if you find out that their main interest is in selling you something. In romantic relationships, it is important to identify when that other person is only interested in sex or wants you to pay for something, after which they don’t show interest in continuing to see you.

Look here more on the topic of trust.

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.

Sasquatch.

Wandering 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 wants 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, 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.

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What is trust?

By David Joel Miller.

Do you have trust issues?

Trust.

Trust.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Many people report they have trust issues.

It is a common complaint among people who come for counseling.

Some people are shy or anxious, others have been hurt. It’s tempting to believe that not trusting protects you from pain.

Not trusting can also cause you loneliness and isolation. The challenge is learning when to trust and when to be wary and cautious.

The definition of trust.

The dictionary, or denotative meaning, of trust as a noun is a firm belief in the truth, reliability, ability, or strength of someone or something. Synonyms for trust include your faith, confidence, certainty, and belief. This definition puts trust into the realm of your opinion or feelings about how much you are willing, or able to put aside your doubts and accept something is true because you want it to be true. This subjective quality of truth leads to differences in trust between people.

The many kinds of trust.

There is more than one kind of trust, depending on the nature of the relationship. The qualities you look for in a trustworthy car will be different from what you look for in deciding to trust a person. Learning who to trust, when to trust, and how much to trust is a valuable life skill. Here are some of the varieties of trust.

Competence-based trust.

Sometimes you must rely on the skills of others. You want a doctor can trust. You look for a medical professional who went to a good school, has a good reputation, or is a specialist. If your car needs fixing you should be looking for a good mechanic. The trust you have in professional people is primarily a belief that they can do what you want them to and that they will do their job correctly.

Situational trust.

When you go into a bank, you trust the teller and hand them your money. You would not trust a stranger on the street with your money. You are more likely to trust people you have just met at work man people you’ve recently met socially. Students initially trust a teacher who tells them to go somewhere or do something far more than they would trust a stranger standing outside the building. Situational trust is based on the role the other person fills rather than any other information you have about the individual.

Caring trust, trusting that they won’t try to hurt you.

Most people grow up believing that their families care about them. The universal expectation is that parents should care about their children and that siblings should care about each other. As parents grow older, there is an expectation that their children will care about them. Extended family members are likely to care more about you than strangers.

Throughout life, most people develop friendships which are based on mutual caring and trust. These early life experiences create a mental blueprint for how we should trust others and expect to be trusted. Having an early life caregiver who was not consistent and reliable can result in trust issues in adulthood. Learning inappropriate relationships because early caregivers were abusive or neglectful are called attachment disorders and are a major source of adult trust issues.

Having a friend who trusted violate the principle of caring trust makes it more difficult to form adult friendships.

Character-based trust.

Some people are easier to trust than others. Everything they do seems appropriate and consistent with what they say. People who are described as being of “good character” seem to be easier to trust. People we say have a good character I described as honest, loyal, and trustworthy. Many youth development programs are built on the idea that it is possible to teach children character values and that those who were good and well-behaved as children are likely to grow up to be trustworthy adults.

Character-based trust has become suspect in recent years. We hear on the news after someone has been arrested for a serious crime that the neighbors were surprised because “he always seemed like such a nice guy.” Despite adult skepticism that many people who appear honest and trustworthy just haven’t gotten caught yet, some people, because of their appearance and demeanor, give the outward appearance of warranting character based trust.

More information on this topic appears in the category – trust.

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

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. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Is watching porn causing your relationship problems?

By David Joel Miller.

What would your therapist say about watching pornography?

sex-on-a-cork-board

sex-on-a-cork-board.
FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In this Internet age, pornography is much more available and widely viewed. Occasionally a client tells their counselor they think they have problems with viewing pornography. Much more often this issue comes up in couple’s sessions when one partner, commonly the woman, is angry, or hurt, or feeling insecure, as a direct result of her partner’s watching of pornography.

Some counselors and therapists received a little bit of information on the problems connected to pornography during their training. Most did not. Those counselors who work with couples are likely to hear about the conflicts couples are having regarding pornography use. What they say to their client’s is probably largely based on their own beliefs, what other clients have told them or their personal “field research.” So just how big a problem is pornography causing in relationships?

The two questions above are, of course, two very different questions. Recently I came across a professional journal article which looked at the training, attitudes, and competencies counselors have when it comes to helping couples work through the issues involving pornography.

Pornography is hard to define.

Even the courts have found it difficult to define pornography. Contemporary standards have changed. You will see things on prime-time television now which once would’ve been considered inappropriate and pornographic. Technically the term pornography is customarily used to refer to explicit sexual material that crosses some line or boundary and therefore becomes illegal.

When clients talk about pornography what they usually mean is “adult entertainment” consisting of pictures of naked people or suggestive poses. Often it includes depictions of people engaging in a variety of sexual behaviors. The intended purpose of this material is to cause arousal in the viewer.

In the year 2000, sexual material was the number 1 item viewed on the Internet and accounted for more than half of the money spent on the Internet. It’s possible that Internet shopping, social media, and the increased popularity of videos has altered those numbers, the way doubt it’s changed that much. It’s quite possible that people viewing pornography were early adopters of the Internet. Whatever the statistics say today, it’s common for individuals and couples in counseling to report using the Internet for a variety of sexual activities (Ayres & Haddock, 2009.)

Pornography is the primary relationship problem for some couples.

Researchers have identified 5 ways internet usage may be harming a couple’s relationships

The largest consumers of pornography are reported to be married heterosexual males. There use of porn significantly impacts their partner, resulting in reduced self-esteem, loss of respect and trust, and impairment of the connection between the partners (Bergner & Bridges, 2002; Schneider, 2000.)

While some couples are reported to view porn together, this rarely brings them to counseling. The type of viewing which causes the largest problems is when one person, usually the male, views it privately and in secret. The keeping of secrets part significantly damages the trust in the relationship.

Time spent in this secret activity is time away from the partner and family. Discovery of this secret leads to marital discord and frequently separation and divorce.

Online sexual activity can lead to affairs.

Two types of affairs can be facilitated because of online sexual activity.

Cyber affairs and cybersex results in the parties meeting their needs online and having less sex with their regular partner. Online sexual activity can cause the same damage to relationships as real-world affairs.

Sexual activity online can also be a way to facilitate real-world hookups resulting in either a string of casual sexual relationships or a longer lasting affair. One of the ways these hookups, which are being facilitated online, comes to the attention of the relationship partner is the contraction of a sexually transmitted disease.

Pornography can create individual problems also.

About 10 percent of pornography viewers spend 90 minutes a day or more searching for and viewing sexually explicit materials. Individual issues may include an increase in erectile dysfunction at a young age. Internet viewing porn has been described as “the great porn experiment.” 

In addition to altering patterns of arousal, heavy use of cybersex and pornography has been reported to lead to sexual addictions. The diagnosing of sexual addictions remains controversial. But the pattern of behavior closely matches the pattern of drug addiction. The person addicted to sex spends more time seeking it, engaging in it, and more effort trying to hide what they are doing.

As a sexual addiction develops, the addict shows tolerance, needs more and more sexual encounters and seeks activities that will increase the arousal. The addict lowers their standards and will engage in sex with people they would not have found attractive in the past.

The typical content of adult entertainment is likely to create unrealistic expectations for partners and distorted beliefs about the roles of women. The plots are often bizarre, fantastic, and feature atypical behavior rather than the way in which most couples typically express their sexuality.

Can pornography and cybersex addiction be treated?

Individuals with the pornography problem or sexual addiction can be treated, often with good results. Where these activities have damaged the couple’s relationship, couples counseling can help. Just like in-person sexual affairs, couples can recover from these experiences.

Treatment for sexual issues is very specialized, and you should seek someone experienced in working in these areas. In addition to the couple’s issues, each of the parties probably needs to see a counselor for individual therapy.

If your partner has a problem with pornography or cybersex, it is important not to blame yourself. It’s common for women to believe there is something wrong with them and ask what it is that the other woman had that made them more attractive. The truth is it’s rarely the woman’s fault. What was attractive, whether it was online pornography, cybersex or an in-person affair, was largely the result of one person’s individual problems, their need to constantly seek something different. Individual counseling for the partners of sexual addicts is extremely important.

Pornography and sexual addictions are only one way in which trust can be damaged.

Look here for more on the topic of trust.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

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.

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. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Should you be more trusting?

By David Joel Miller.

How do you decide who and when to trust?

Trust sign.

Trust.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

People often described themselves as having “trust issues.” The question they should be asking is, are they trusting too much or too little? Trusting is a complicated issue. How much you trust is affected by your personality and your past experiences. The level of trust you have will and should change with the circumstance.

Trust has been studied largely in 2 situations. Individuals are largely concerned about the trustworthiness of their partners in romantic relationships. Occasionally, this extends to their ability to trust friends or people with whom they conduct financial transactions.

Companies have studied trust in the workplace. It can take a long time to develop group cohesion and teamwork. People today move from job to job, work with consultants, and contractors, and may work in small, temporary work groups. Productivity increases when new workers develop trust in each other.

Here are some factors affecting trust you need to consider.

Trust is challenged when you meet new people.

Trust generally develops slowly over time. The longer you know someone, the more you know about them, the more you will feel inclined to trust them. Some people are extroverts, very outgoing and easily able to strike up a conversation with strangers. If you’re an introvert, you may find you are wary when meeting new people.

Trust in these situations should be limited. Those who learn to use small talk do better in these situations.

Trust varies with the role this person will have in your life.

You will have one type of trust when you meet a new employee at work. The company selected this person, and it’s reasonable to trust they can do the job they were hired for. You will have a different type of trust with the new doctor or mechanic. This trust is based on their education, license or certification, and the setting in which you meet them.

Your trust should be different in both kind and quantity on a first date. You probably should trust the cashier at the grocery store to ring up your purchases and give you the correct change. You wouldn’t trust that same person to spend the weekend unchaperoned, with your spouse.

You should have levels of trust.

Trust is not an all or nothing characteristic. You’ll have people you trust at school or work, but you should not trust them with the keys to your house or your bank card and pin number. People who said they have “trust issues” often over-trust when they first meet a new person. Because of this excess trust, they are more likely to be hurt when that person fails to live up to their expectations.

Are you more trusting of strangers?

The longer you know someone, the more you learn about their faults. Far too many people jump into a romantic, sexual relationship, on a first or second date. They are trusting this other person because they want them to meet their needs. What they haven’t done is spend the time to get to know them and find out how trustworthy they are.

Your general level of trust is a part of your personality.

The characteristics we call personality are a mixture of your genetic material and your life experiences. How much you trust generally can also be affected by the way you think and the choices you make. Most people have some general underlying beliefs about who to trust, how much to trust, and when they should be trusting.

When many people first meet a new person they use their default level of trust. They are either high in trust or high in distrusting. The longer you know someone, the more information you have about that person, the more likely you are relying on information rather than a general level of trust.

Trust is influenced by the experiences you had before you met them.

Your early life experiences set your baseline level of trust. In mental health, we look at ways young children relate to others based on their experiences with their primary caregiver. Problems in these relationships are diagnosed as attachment disorders, which can be either reactive or disinhibited. Attachment disorders used to only be diagnosed in children, but recently was moved to the group of diagnoses referred to as “trauma- and stressor-related disorders.” With time, treatment, or both, many people alter these patterns of relationship. For some people, however, their adult “trust issues” can be traced back to having caregivers in early life who were untrustworthy.

Life experiences, having been involved in relationships with others who violated your trust, can make it more difficult to trust in the future. If your partner had an affair, it could be hard to trust them again. If you separate from them and begin a new relationship, you’re likely to find you will have difficulties trusting that new partner.

Trust involves things you can’t check on.

Trust is what they will do when you are not watching. If you are standing there watching what they are doing, there’s very little trust involved. One of the best ways to increase your level of trust is to observe what people are doing. Unfortunately, there are too many things in life for you to check up on all of them. That’s where you need to use your trust skills.

Relationships that involve a lack of trust can become very dysfunctional. If you find the need to follow your partner around, check their cell phone, and read their email, this lack of trust can destroy your relationship. Healthy couples can talk about their concerns.

Constant checking your partner can be a sign of excessive or even pathological jealousy. Some people develop delusional jealousy believing their partner is cheating on them even when there’s no evidence. If you have trust issues, you need to ask yourself if this is about them or is it about your fears and insecurities?

No amount of monitoring can prevent someone from violating your trust. You either must trust people or end the relationship. If a lack of trust and jealousy characterizes all your relationships, consider getting some professional help.

What are the risks of trusting this person in this situation?

It’s easy to trust when the risks are low. When you are faced with “trust issues” consider what are the risks? Some situations are relatively low risk. You go to make a purchase and hand them some money. You are trusting that they will give you your merchandise and your change. Giving them 20 dollars at the grocery store is low risk. Paying cash to someone you just met in an alley for something valuable is a high-risk situation.

What has been your experience with trust? Have you been too trusting? Or does your excessive lack of trust damage your relationships?

Look here more on the topic of trust.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

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.

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. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Coping with life’s regrets.

By David Joel Miller.

Don’t let regrets about the past ruin the present and future.

Regrets.

Regret.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Do you have regrets? Maybe they are small ones; you wish you bought the other color or model. Maybe your regrets are big ones, actions that caused you or others pain, things you wish you could go back and change. But you can’t change the past. Almost everyone has regrets, some small, some large, a few even gigantic. So, what to do with those regrets? How do you get past the pains of your past?

Fix the things you can.

You can repair some things. You said or did something that damaged a relationship. Sometimes you can apologize, say you’re sorry. If you owe somebody money you can pay it. Sometimes an apology is not enough. Maybe you need to do something to make it right, to make your amends to the person you have injured.

Undo yes and no decisions.

You can undo some decisions. You said yes to a job or attending a party and now you wish you hadn’t said yes. You’re entitled to change your mind. Call that person, send them an email. Maybe you said no to something or someone, and now you wish you had said yes. Check it out; sometimes it’s possible to change your mind.

Pick a new alternative from life’s menu.

Sometimes changing your decision is no longer a possibility. For example, you wanted to attend a concert but didn’t buy the tickets in time. Look for other options. Maybe the person or group you wanted to hear is performing somewhere else nearby. Maybe there’s some other event you would enjoy instead. Don’t stay stuck in regret over the relationship that didn’t work out, maybe it’s time to meet someone new.

Only take responsibility for your part of the problem.

A lot of life’s regrets are about relationships. Maybe it was an argument with a family member or friend, that conflict cost you a relationship. Take responsibility for your part of the conflict. You can’t take responsibility for what the other person did or said. If you can fix it do so, but not at the cost of ignoring the other person’s part in the problem.

Reevaluate the alternatives. You may have picked the best alternative you had.

Sometimes you must pick between two bad choices. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You may have made the best choice you could under the circumstances. Be careful of hindsight. If you would have had the information you have now back then, you might have made a different decision. But you didn’t have that information, and you had to choose. Don’t spend the rest of your life stuck in regret.

Learn from your mistakes.

Don’t be one of those people with tons of regret who keeps doing the same things over and over. Stop piling up new regrets by learning from your mistakes and making improved decisions in the present.

Practice extreme acceptance.

Staying stuck in regrets can use up a lot of energy. Practice accepting that what happened is in the past. Avoid ruminating and allowing your mind to enlarge the pain. Shift your focus from regrets about the past to opportunities for better future.

Stop looking over your shoulder at the past.

The past is gone. Don’t keep looking back at the things that can’t be altered. When the thought of that regret comes up, practice shifting your focus to the future. As long as your alive there will be more events ahead on the road of life. Look forward to making your future the best it can be. If you only look for the bad in life, you will find it. It’s quite possible that all around you are opportunities for happiness here in the present and in the future.

Do some psychological repair.

Make healing from life’s regrets a priority. Sometimes you will have a close friend with whom you can talk it through. You may need to be careful about who you tell what. Telling family or friends about things you regret may damage your relationship. If you are not sure how someone will react to hearing about your regrets, that person may not be the one to talk with. Once you tell that secret, it can’t be untold. Some people find it useful to journal, write out how they feel in a document meant for only them to see.

If you’re having trouble processing and dealing with regrets, you may need to seek professional counseling help. Don’t stay stuck in a life dominated by regrets. Use some of these approaches to change what you can, and accept what you cannot change.

You find more about this topic under Regret.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

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.

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. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Will you regret doing that?

By David Joel Miller.

Does anticipating regret increase protective actions and reduce risky behaviors?

Regret.

Regret.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Regrets happen when you find out, or imagine, that the results would’ve been better if you had made a different decision. What behaviors are you doing today that you may regret in the future? What positive, healthy, activities did you leave undone today that in the future you will wish you had done?

Thinking about the positive advantages of exercise and healthy diet doesn’t seem to be enough to get many people to engage in these activities. Thinking about the regrets you will have in the future provides additional motivation to do proactive healthy behaviors and to reduce risky behaviors. People who think about the regrets they will have the morning after casual sex are more likely to alter their behavioral plans.

Will you regret not protecting your health?

People who have thought about the need to maintain good health and could anticipate the regrets they will have in later life for not protecting their health are more likely to make the effort to eat a healthy diet.

We all know that getting more exercise would benefit our health. Being able to anticipate the regrets you will have about your appearance and your health in the future because of not exercising increases the chances that you will exercise today to avoid those painful regrets in the future. It takes a long time for regrets about not protecting your help to develop. People go through life not exercising or eating a healthy diet, telling themselves there’s always time to start healthy living tomorrow. The regrets take up a lot of your time when you’re older and out of time to have lived a healthy life.

There has been a lot of controversies recently about vaccination. Regardless of how you feel about getting your family members vaccinated, it’s important to think about the regrets you might have if you fail to get vaccinated. The larger regret is not that you might catch the flu, but that because you did not get vaccinated, you might transmit an infection to a baby, young child or older adult. Thinking about the possible regrets of infecting others might be just the motivation you need to get yourself vaccinated.

Will you regret not helping others?

When you’re busy with your life, you’re likely to forget about donating blood or designating yourself an organ donor. Thinking about possible regrets you might have because you didn’t donate blood and someone died may motivate you to make that donation.

Will you regret risky sexual behaviors?

Recent research tells us that the possibility of regretting unsafe sexual behaviors has strongly influenced some people’s sexual practices. Thinking beforehand about the possible regretted consequences of unprotected sex, both from contracting sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies increase the chances someone will use protection or abstain.

Will you regret your use or abuse of nicotine, marijuana, alcohol, or other drugs?

Prevention efforts around alcohol consumption and drug use have been generally disappointing. Having people think about drinking or drug use is unlikely to reduce the risk they will consume substances. One promising prevention effort has been having people think about possible regrets. Are there things you might do while drunk or high that you would later regret? As you grow older, raise your children and live your life, will you regret having abused drugs or becoming addicted to them?

Knowing that tobacco consumption is hazardous to your health is almost universal. That hasn’t been enough to keep most young people from trying cigarettes or other products containing nicotine. One promising approach has been asking people early in the nicotine using experience about possible, anticipated regrets. Thinking about health risks off in the future is not much of a deterrent. Thinking about the anticipated regrets from having contracted emphysema, heart disease, or cancer offers a different perspective.

Thinking about anticipated regrets from binge drinking has been shown to reduce the rates of intending to binge drink (Cooke, Sniehotta, & Schuz, 2007). There has been limited recent research on whether anticipated regrets related to substance use changes behavior. What little research there has been, shows that anticipating future regrets increases the intent to avoid or stop using substances.

Will you regret not keeping yourself safe?

In the spur of the moment, it’s easy to ignore the risks from taking a phone call or answering a text while driving. Take a moment to think how you will feel if your distraction results in an accident and someone loses their life.

When we don’t think about risks, they don’t alter our behavior. Considering possible risks in life and anticipating the regrets you will have from engaging in risky behaviors and neglecting to engage in healthy ones may help you put the way you are living your life in perspective.

Why doesn’t anticipating regrets change behaviors?

People who drive dangerously, speed or weave in and out of lanes, report they would have severe regrets if that behavior resulted in an accident. Unfortunately, in the moment, the urge to get somewhere more rapidly and the excitement of the speed, outweigh the anticipated regrets of a potential accident. Excitement and pleasure also offset the anticipated regrets from alcohol and drug use.

Any behaviors whose consequences will happen far in the future, such as poor health behaviors, tend to remain unchanged because people tell themselves that they will begin living in a healthy manner in the future.

Potential regrets from risky sexual practices respond poorly to potential regrets when people tell themselves that it will not happen to them, but sex will be less enjoyable when they use protection or that stopping for protection will ruin the spontaneity.

Stop and ask yourself what things you are doing today you regret in the future. Consider the things you’re not doing now which will be major sources of regret as you get older. The more aware you become of anticipatory regrets more likely you will be to change your current behavior.

The things you may be regretting now may be very different from the things you will regret in the future. You might want to look at the things that older people say with their biggest regrets in life which were described in the post – Top 6 life regrets.

You find more about this topic under Regret.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

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.

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. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Top 6 life regrets

By David Joel Miller.

Will you regret your action or inaction?

Regret.

Regret.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Regrets are a common human problem. Some regrets, for some people, are relatively minor, others can cause you a great deal of pain and may require professional intervention. Both economists and psychologists study regret, and they come to very different conclusions about the nature and behavior of regrets. Economist study regrets you might have after making a major purchase, buyer’s remorse, or failing to make a purchase and then seeing that item increased dramatically in price. Most economic regrets fade with time. Emotional regrets, jumping into a relationship or dropping out of school prematurely, are likely to become more painful as your life progresses.

Lifespan regrets happen when you look back at the past and wish something had happened or you wish that something that did happen had never occurred. Some regrets are a normal part of life others can be destructive of your mental and emotional health.

Troublesome regrets can lead to anxiety, depression, and lowered self-esteem. The most painful emotional regrets are about bad choices, things done and things undone. In the short-term, more people regret taking actions that turned out badly. Pessimists are more likely to accumulate regrets and to judge their action or inaction harshly.

Over the long-term, particularly as people grow older, for many people, their biggest regrets are the things they wish they had done, but their fears kept them from acting.

Unfortunately, sometimes regardless of what you decide, you will face regrets. If you choose to do something you may regret the outcome, and if you choose not to do it you may forever regret not taking action.

Regrets over life’s mistakes, the bad decisions, that involve action fade with time for most people. There are ways to correct or accept the results of many actions. People grow to love their children even when they regret the impulsive sex with an undesirable partner. It’s possible to end most bad relationships; you can break up or get a divorce. Remediating the effects of bad decisions can be painful, but they are possible. The regrets most likely to haunt you, as you grow older, are the regrets over your indecision and inaction.

Healthy regrets or Unhealthy regrets?

Regrets can affect you positive or negative. Regrets when someone has died remind us of our relationship with that person and can be a normal part of grieving. Regrets can also spur you to change your behavior or move in a new direction. The primary difference between regrets and all other negative emotions is that we regret things about which we had choices. Without a possible choice, you may dislike the outcome, but you are unlikely to regret the choices you made.

Some regrets can be just the push you need to change your course of action. If you regret shopping at a store or eating in a restaurant, you can easily change that decision the next time. Self-blame and rumination fuel unhealthy regrets. Beating yourself up over past choices will lower your self-esteem. In regret, you feel that you have made a bad choice rather than that outside forces have caused something undesirable to happen.

What decisions cause the most long-term regrets?

You are most likely to regret the decisions you made when you had lots of choices (Roese, N., Summerville, A., 2015.) Some choices are irrevocable, like having a child because of impulsive sex. Another major source of regret is those things you always wanted to do, told yourself someday, but just never got around to. Are there things you’re doing now, or things you’ve left undone that will be major sources of regret in the future? Below is a list of the things people frequently report as major causes of regret compiled by adding together the results of multiple studies.

1. Not getting education causes regrets.

In study after study the top regret people report has to do with education. On average one-third of the people surveyed regretted not getting more education They regret not staying in school, not studying hard enough or not pursuing a degree in a subject that interested them. Conflicts between education and finances cause some of these regrets. People drop out of school and take a job because the current income is more attractive than the larger income staying in school might have resulted in.

Many other people regret being seduced by the prospect of making a lot of money in one field, and as a result, pursuing a degree in a field they did not enjoy. They commonly regret not pursuing a degree in an area for which they had a passion. It’s easy to let the cost of more education keep you from following your dream. Following an education in a field because your parents or others talk you into it can also be a huge source of regret. Getting your education in a highly paid field can be a great mistake if you have neither the aptitude nor the interest in that field.

In middle and late life many people report their greatest life regret is not getting that degree in the subject they were most interested in. One reason, failure to get more education, is number 1 on the list of common regrets is the wide availability in the United States of additional or advanced education. Making the decision not to pursue education is not a one-time decision, but something people must continuously do.

In a survey of senior citizens, the number 1 regret of men was that they hadn’t gotten more education. The primary regret of women was similar; they wished they spent more time developing their mind or intellect (DeGenova MK, 1992.)

Researchers suggest the reason failing to get more education is the number 1 regret in America is because it is seen as the one thing an individual can do that greatly increases their opportunities in all the other life domains.

2. Career choice regrets.

Between 20 and 25 percent of all the people surveyed regretted their career choice. This regret is often linked to failure to get an advanced education or job-specific training. Starting out in life, you need to earn a living. For example, if your uncle owns a landscaping business, you might get a job working for him mowing lawns. After years of doing this kind of work, you may have severe regrets that you didn’t explore other possible career choices.

Other commonly reported regrets about career choices involved letting others talk you out of a career dream. If you always wanted to be an artist, dancer or other performer, you may have let people talk you out of following your dream. Many people avoid aiming high. Later they regret not having made an effort to become a doctor, lawyer or other respected professional.

3. Regrets about romantic decisions.

Surprisingly, given all the literature about love, and the number of divorces, only 15 percent of those surveyed reported ongoing regrets about their romantic decisions. One possible reason regrets in this area were less significant may be the frequency with which people can change romantic relationships. Young people were far more likely to express regrets about romantic decisions. Failure to ask someone out or to pursue a relationship with someone were reasons cited for regrets about romantic decisions.

4. Parenting choices can cause regrets.

Parenting choices were a source of regret for 10 percent of survey participants. In studies of the regrets of college students, they were more likely to regret choices involving friendships. As people age, regrets about social relationships become more focused on decisions having to do with children.

5. Self.

Just over 5 percent of people reported regrets in this area. People with regrets in this area are likely to show up in therapy or seek self-help materials to “find themselves.” Losing yourself in relationships and becoming alienated from your feelings can be sources of regrets in this area.

6. Regrets about leisure time activities.

Recreation and hobbies can contribute to good mental health. Surprisingly only about 2 ½ percent of people ever report regrets about their leisure time activities. When I have had clients mention regrets in this area, it usually involved working too much and giving up sports and hobbies that used to bring them joy.

Other areas of regret.

The literature on regret includes six other areas of life about which people sometimes express regret. While these areas can result in painful regrets, they all turned out to be less common than researchers had expected. The other areas of your life that might cause you regrets include finances, family, health, friends, spirituality, and community.

Decisions you are not likely to regret.

When the choice you make seems clearly superior to the alternative, you are less likely to regret that decision. If you fail several classes in your chosen major, you are less likely to regret giving up on that major. When there have been repeated problems in your relationship, breakups, cheating or violent fights, you are more likely to regret staying in that relationship then leaving it.

Do you have a life regrets? Which of those regrets are things from the past you need to accept that which are things in the present you need to change?

You find more about this topic under Regret.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

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.

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.

Want the latest on my writing projects, speaking and teaching, along with comments on recent news in the field of counseling – 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 the about the author page or my Facebook author’s page, David Joel Miller. 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.