Creative people stay childlike.

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

Original

Creative.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Extremely creative people nurture their inner child.

What is an “inner child” and why do we say that you need to get back there to foster creativity?

The idea of “inner child” work comes and goes. I think of an inner child as a developmental process. When you were young you were more in touch with feelings, more aware of not knowing things and maybe more open to experience. Many of our adult problems come from lessons that we learned or failed to learn as we grew up. If something happened to you and you concluded that was the way the world was, then from then on you lived your life based on that belief.

As a child for whom everything was new, you were more open to new experiences. Creative people practice returning to that place of not knowing and are more readily able to see things from new perspectives. If you can suspend your beliefs about what is and what has to be then you can see what might be. Here are a few ways in which a childlike view of not knowing, allowing your thinking to return to a more childlike or inner child state can boost your creativity and help you find new solutions to life’s challenges.

Keep asking why.

Children, early on, do not have fixed beliefs or interpretations of why things are and why they happen. The small child’s favorite question is why. The older we get the less we think about things. We come to believe that things are always the way we think they are. We adopt a stance of always knowing and become reluctant to admit we don’t know. We stop asking the why questions.

Practice each day asking yourself why? Why do things happen? Why do we do things this way? Remember to also ask “What” questions. Look for what could be that you have not created yet.

Daydream more.

The dream state is one in which all things are possible. The laws of time and space do not apply in the dream. In daydreaming things that appear unconnected may suddenly reveal their connection. Daydreaming increases the possibilities. Logical thinking reduces possibilities and makes them conform to the known rules of how things have worked so far.

Learn all you can.

Little children, many of them, are sponges. They are constantly learning. Remember that old saying that people use only a small portion of their brain. Truth is that we use all our brain but there are vast spaces where we have put very little. Use the rooms in your brain as workout centers, not as hallways leading to the same old conclusions.

Your brain needs furnishing just like your house. Fill your mind with bright shiny ideas and watch the creativity soar.

Apply what you learned one place to somewhere else.

A major source of innovation is taking an idea from one area and applying it somewhere else. Creative people find that taking an interest in other aspects of life increases their creativity.

Nothing is a failure if you did it.

Innovation requires a lot of trying on new things and learning from them. Life experiments need not be failures if you learn from them. Continuing to insist that there is one and only one way to do things keeps you stuck. Consider the risks but make sure you try out new things whenever possible. If you learn from the experiment then it was not failure it was a learning experience.

Curiosity did not kill the cat. Stay curious.

Contrary to popular sayings curiosity did not kill the cat. Being curious is how the cat catches the mouse. You will never find new things if you always look in the same old places. Cats die not from curiosity but from not looking and missing the oncoming car. Keep your eyes open and looking for the unexpected.

What can you make from that pile of stuff?

Our modern throwaway culture has encouraged the concept that we need to get rid of things and then get new. Some things do wear out or become obsolete. What we often forget to do is to “repurpose” the things we have. Reuse and repurpose things for creative solutions.

Things look different depending on where you are standing.

Keep looking from different angles till you see something new. Have a problem or situation that is not working out the way you want it? Try looking at it from all possible perspectives. Ask a lot of what-if questions.

Play well with others – be a team.

Most of the great inventions we praise as breakthroughs were the result of one person building on another’s work. Creativity is not plagiarizing or copying but it is seeing the merit in an idea and then making your contribution on top of that idea. Teams are often more creative than individuals. They can each see things from a new angle with a different knowledge base.

Want to be more creative? Spend some time with other people exploring their ideas and knowledge, then see how borrowing their viewpoint would alter the problem or project you are working on.

Don’t censor your thoughts. Let them run free.

Birds look a lot different when they are flying than when they are caged. Ideas do not show themselves to the best advantage when forced into rigid rules. Let the idea go where it wants. Do not chase it. Just watch where it goes and make note of how this idea would look if it were allowed to be a free-range idea.

Play till you drop. Do not let go of an idea till you wear it out.

Most ideas, especially novel ones, have more applications than they ever get allowed to visit. When you see a new idea, yours or one that is just new to you, play with it. Let it explore your mind. How could this idea change things?

To think hard you need naps.

Pushing harder and longer are OK for routine tasks but for creative endeavors, you need your brain working at peak efficiency. Thinking longer and harder does not maximize new thought patterns. Get plenty of rest, take naps or breaks and learn to practice your self-care. A well-rested mind goes running off in new directions.

There are two very different kinds of focus, “pinpoint” or staying on task and diffuse, scanning or looking all around kind of focus. A well-rested mind has the energy to explore new settings and ideas.

Go where everything is new.

Seek out the new and when you are a child it is all new. Reconnect with your child mind.

Novelty promotes creativity. Travel, take a class or explore anything new. Break out of your specialty and explore new topics and disciplines. To maximize creativity learn a new language, or develop a new skill. Take a different route to work or a different mental path.

Is there another way to show you that?

There is no right way to tell your story, sometimes you need to sing or draw it out.

People use different learning styles. Some people learn better by listening, auditory learners. Others learn by seeing, visual learners. Movement, kinesthetic, is the preferred learning system for some. Anytime you process information via a new system you can get different results.

Various learning styles make use of different parts and pathways in the brain. For maximum creativity use other parts of your brain. If you read and write a lot try using your visual system and draw out your projects. See if enacting a typical interaction with a client will create new ways of seeing your problem.

Have to? Do not!

Doing what you want to do is more fun than doing what others say you have to. People who love what they do are more productive and creative. Looks for a way to make your job fun. Get reacquainted with the things that made you interested in your occupation in the first place.

Not finding anything to motivate you? Then it may be time for a hobby or vacation. You may also need to switch assignments or positions. Some people find that a period of time working in a different department or on a different task re-energize them. Sometimes it is just time to get retrained for a new segment of your life.

There are some of my suggestions for increasing your creativity and making what you do all those hours we call work more rewarding. Do you have any other suggestions that you could share with the rest of us?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

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

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

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

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Boost your willpower.

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

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

Simple ways to increase your willpower.

Willpower, both the making yourself do unpleasant things and the “won’t power” type where you have to pass up things that might not be good for you, are often in short supply. Some people just seem to have plenty of willpower and other people are constantly running out.

Whatever supply of willpower you have, it seems to be at its peak in the early part of the day and then declines as the day moves on. Start your day with a good supply and you will get a lot more go out of your willpower. Here are some ways to recharge that willpower supply of yours.

Get more sleep for more willpower.

Lack of sleep, an adequate amount, can cause all sorts of problems. When you are tired you do not feel like doing things, particularly things that will require a lot of willpower. People who get enough sleep appear to have an extra dose of willpower as a result of that dose of sleep.

Sleep is the “low hanging” fruit of self-care. Add in a healthy diet, some exercise and some emotionally healthy things and your willpower is bound to expand.

Improve your support system and improve your willpower.

Having people on your side helps stretch your willpower. People who support you can encourage you to do the hard things that require more willpower. They can also support you in avoiding those things that are not healthy. People who have lots of friends are less troubled about willpower than those who have few friends.

Make sure these friends are positive. Remember that resisting peer pressure thing? Well, resisting peer pressure uses up tons of willpower. Having good friends that support you in doing the right thing will get you extra miles out of your existing willpower.

Manage your blood sugar to manage willpower.

Low blood sugar makes you feel tired and irritable. Eating a healthy diet and maintaining proper blood sugar can both help you have the energy to do the hard stuff. Not feeling out of sorts can also help you avoid the arguments and conflicts that come more frequently when you are low on brain fuel.

Careful though, over the long-term, high blood sugars, the kind that can lead to or be the result of diabetes, can cause you to just not want to do anything. Not sure? Talk to your doctor about your blood sugar. Do not wait until your body is totally out of go to get that diabetes diagnosis. Knowledge is power, especially in the health area.

Create a schedule – making choices uses up willpower.

People report that they have less difficulty with willpower early in the day. The first few things go well. But as you do more and more your willpower gets used up. Each time you have to make another decision you use some more of that precious willpower.

Start your day with a lot of those willpower-sapping decisions already done. End your day by making a list of the things you are going to need to do tomorrow. Each successive act you take needs less willpower as you just keep working your way down the list.

Establish routines to maximize willpower.

Routines become automatic default settings in your brain. If you do things in a certain order, that takes the pressure off you to decide what to do first, second and so on. Use your daily outline as a tool to propel you through the rest of the day’s activities without having to think each choice through all over again.

Write out your goals and look at this list often.

Out of sight out of mind especially applies to things that are harder to do. Make a written list of goals. Reward yourself as you accomplish each goal on your list. Reminding yourself why you are doing things today that are hard to do because you are working towards a set goal, can make staying on task much easier.

Rearrange your environment to reduce temptations – people, places, and things.

Does it take willpower to stay focused? Reduce the distractions in your environment. Do not go to places where you will be tempted and then blame your fall on your lack of willpower. Bakeries are not places to stay on your diet and bars will not be good places to help you avoid drinking.

Do you get distracted by social media or videos? Close the windows, turn off the set and see how much less willpower it takes when you are in the place to do what needs doing.

If you slip do not stay down – the F&@*it’s.

A single slip in your willpower is not an excuse to say that you just “can’t” do something. Learn from that slip and make the changes you need to make in order to stay on track. Giving up after one set back is a way to shrink your willpower.

Break tasks up into manageable chunks.

Facing one huge task can overwhelm anyone’s store of willpower. Break that task up into small pieces. Need to write a report – make up a list of the steps and check one or two off each day. Over time you will make amazing progress.

Trying to improve your life? You can’t do everything in one day. Make a few small changes and then practice these over and over. Of course, if your life is way far out of control, like addiction or homelessness you may need to do some of the large work first.  Getting off drugs or finding a safe place to stay is the first job. Making more friends and eating healthy can wait till you’re off the drugs.

Those are some of the suggestions I have found that can help expand that most precious resource willpower. Have you found any other things that help you to have an adequate supply of willpower?

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.

Problems staying motivated?

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

Motivation

Motivation.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Do you keep running out of motivation?

At the beginning of a new project or a new relationship, we all think we have plenty of motivation. Down the road, the motivation runs out and the forward progress stops. Here are some reasons you may be short on motivation and ways to overcome those obstacles.

What is keeping you from staying motivated and how do you overcome these obstacles?

The task is bigger than you thought.

Ten minutes jobs often take all day. At the start, we think things will be easier than they really are. When launching out on a new endeavor spend some time planning all the parts and how long each one will take. Having a written plan can reveal some of the steps you are not thinking of and can help you get a more realistic idea of how long something will really take.

Doing one large task straight through may be more than your daily ration of motivation will cover. Try breaking the task up into “chunks” bit size portions. Do a small part of this larger task each day and make it a point to notice the progress you are making.

Underestimated the time needed to complete this project reduces motivation.

If you underestimate the number of steps involved in getting this project completed it is likely that your time element is way off. Having taken a closer look at the steps involved you can devise a more realistic plan.

Wearing yourself out reduces motivation.

Failure to do good self-care and reward yourself along the way can take all the joy out of moving towards your goal. Trying to do too much too quickly is a formula to use up all your motivation.

Try to work in bursts with frequent breaks or days off in-between.

Lack an essential skill interferes with your motivation.

Not having the needed skills makes everything you do harder. In life, as in business, we sometimes need to add more skills to our repertoire. Developing a needed skill can result in accomplishing more in less time.

When things are not working, your working harder will wear you out while accomplishing nothing. Do not try to push over a stone wall by pushing harder. Get a bigger bulldozer.

If you are short on motivation you may need to work on yourself.

If you have “anger issues” or suffer from depression, an unhappy relationship, substance abuse, or another personal problem you need to get help for these issues.

Take a good look at yourself and you may see it is those personal issues that you have avoided working on that are interfering with your progress. Remove those obstacles and your motivation can spring back.

Develop the most essential tool for every job – you.

It is hard to stay motivated if you are working now for something later.

It is hard to stay motivated now when all the payoffs are way off in the distance. Set small goals along the way and reward yourself as you reach them. Breaking up the task into its elements makes it more manageable and giving yourself small rewards along the way keeps you motivated.

You won’t stay motivated if your heart is not in the task.

If you are doing something to please another and this not what you want, you will continue to run out of motivation. Just because you “can” do something does not mean you “should” do it. Pick goals in life that are consistent with who you are and what you want. Look for things that you feel passionate about and your motivation will stay high more of the time.

Small rewards will not motivate you.

Low motivation comes from having rewards at the end of projects that are not big enough. Make sure that the goal you are working towards really matters to you. Do not set your sights on getting a particular job if you do not want to work there once they hire you. Avoid getting a degree in something that you will not enjoy doing, no matter how well that field may pay.

Especially avoid going after a partner just because they are popular and other people want to them. For rewards to motivate you then need to be the kind of rewards that are special to you.

Not liking the process interferes with motivation.

You may want to lose some weight but if you hate the gym or find the exercise you are doing painful you will not keep it up. Pick life activities that you enjoy doing and the work will motivate you. Find a form of exercise that you enjoy. Look for people you love to be around and you will stay motivated much longer.

Using pain to motivate you won’t work.

Pain only works to motivate people to avoid the activity. If you want the result you can put up with the hardships along the way because you use the reward at the end to motivate you.

Trying to beat yourself into motivation is setting yourself up for failure. Our brains are wired to avoid pain and the more you beat yourself up trying to make yourself do something, the harder it will become to stay motivated.

Do not use pain to try to force yourself to be motivated.

Have you experienced difficulty staying motivated? Have you used any of these motivation-enhancing methods? What other ways have you found to keep yourself motivated and moving forward?

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.

Why leaders tell us stories.

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

Castle in the sky

Storybook world.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

The best leaders tell the best stories.

Throughout history, many of the greatest leaders have also been great storytellers. They knew that they needed to inspire their followers with images that were easy to understand and that made the personal connection with what they were teaching.

Now by telling stories, I do not mean the kind some of our politicians have been telling us recently. Those “stories” are just self-serving distortions of the truth. Their stories are designed to obscure the truth, not illuminate it.

Great leaders have used story’s to teach universal truths and to inspire their followers to action.

Martin Luther King Jr. gave us the story of a dream. Not simply that he dreamed things would be better someday, but he gave us a detailed description of this dream, children walking hand in hand, people being judged by who they are not by how they looked.

All the great religious books are full of stories. The Bible stories are often referred to as parables.  The story of the widow and her mite, the Good Samaritan, they bring moral teachings to life.

Jesus told a great many stories, they are the subject of Sunday school lessons and the weekly sermon to this day some two-thousand-plus years later.

Buddha taught using stories. So did a great many other religious leaders. The wisdom of the Native Americans was preserved and retold in their myths, legends, and stories.

The stories told on the big screen and the smaller ones have a huge power to influence the way we think. We see things happen, we can empathize with the characters in the movie and we learn vicarious lessons as a result. Those dramatic fictions hold tremendous power to influence how people think and what they think about.

The stories told in books have shaped the imagination and the opinions of the generations that read those books. Many of us remember our childhood through the connections to our favorite stories.

It is getting harder for our political leaders to inspire us with their stories. Too many of their stories are about whose fault things are, they are about blame and negativity. Telling us the sky is falling may scare us into running; it does not inspire a people to build for the future.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for our leaders to inspire us by the use of stories. Speeches full of bullet points won’t cut it. Should a politician try to inspire us with a story about a person, they had better have the facts right.

If that story about the Good Samaritan were told today there would be a network news investigation. They would find that person or force Jesus to admit he made the story up. The person in that parable would be interviewed and so would their family and neighbors.

Eventually, a whole lot of other information about that person’s private life would be in prime time news. The misdeeds this person had committed would become common knowledge and the impact of telling their story of suffering would be lost in the haze of blaming them for their suffering because they were less than perfect.

The role of the story-teller who can inspire us to be more and better has passed from the realm of the religious and political leader to the providence of the dramatic presentation. Our greatest inspiration comes from stories that take place in a distant galaxy and a time far off from the present.

Losing our storytellers to the press of commercial profit-making has enlarged the number and the drama of the stories. What is often missing is the ability of our leaders to inspire us to become better people. We have given up the story of what could happen in your lives for the fantasy of what only happens somewhere else to someone else.

In the process, we have become a more entertained people and a less inspired one.

Look for the stories that inspire you to a better, happier life no matter where you find them. And if you find those stories feel free to share them with us.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

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

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

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

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Why the B student is happier – good enough is often better

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

School success.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

How perfect do you need to be?

The connection between grades and happiness is a lot more tenuous than we used to think. A recent survey concluded that by and large students with a B average were a lot happier than those who got A’s.

Now, this was not a perfect correlation. Some A students were very happy and some B students were miserable but overall, a B just might make you happier than an A.

Why do B’s make you happier than A’s?

This is another example of that old 80/20 rule. Getting to be perfect at something takes a lot of your time. If you focus on doing one thing perfectly you need to devote large amounts of time to that task. The result is this one thing begins to take over your life. You need to ask yourself is this thing worth it?

If to get A’s a student has to give up sports or a club that they truly love, will they be better off with the A and no participation in that sport? This goes to goals.

If you want to get into a prestige school, then those A’s might be a minimum. You may also need to be in advanced placement classes and to have participated in a lot of extracurricular activities. That push to meet these requirements may keep you from many other things you want to do.

So ask yourself how important is that goal of making it into a particular Ivy League school worth? If it is not something you really want, then consider that spending less time on studying and more on other activities may optimize your happiness.

There is a more adult corollary to this. If you spend 20% of your time and do an 80% job you may optimize your happiness. I am not suggesting you will be happier if you do shoddy work. But sometimes that extra effort to be 100% perfect, results in taking too much time on a task, getting nothing else done, and in the end, this perfect job has sabotaged your career or your relationships.

Try to get your life in balance. Spend the time you need to in order to make something “good enough” without putting yourself in the place of being stressed out or having to neglect other things.

Trying to be perfect can be crazy making.

One author reports that to perfect a skill requires 10,000 hours of practice. You can do that for one, maybe two things in your life, but you can’t do that for everything. Some of your life roles need to be relegated to that “good enough” category where you do enough to get 80% of the project and then let the rest of it go to make room for the balance of your life.

What are the things in your life that you need to lighten up on and go for the B grade so you can concentrate on getting an A in the things that really matter to you? Have you spent the time to set goals and prioritize so that your time can be invested in what really matters?

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.

Motivational March

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

Motivation.

Motivation.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Getting yourself and others motivated.

Motivation is a major concern for many of us. How to get motivated, how to stay motivated, and how do you really translate motivation into results.

Whether you have a diagnosed mental illness, a substance abuse issue or just want to have a more effective and fulfilling life the role of motivation is an important one.

We spent January tidying up some issues related to happiness, what it is and how you get more. We have also spent some time on ways to take a good look at yourself and your situation and make some decisions about where you are and where you are going.

A list of some of the major posts on getting to know yourself and self-inventory can be found at, Taking stock of yourself.

During February we talked about the role of feelings in your life. There are times feelings can be beneficial even when at the time having to feel them is uncomfortable. We also looked at Alexithymia, that inability to know what you are feeling and to name the feeling.

A list of some of the Feelings February posts can be found at List of Feelings Posts

While the major theme this month has been motivation there were some detours as certain mental health issues require addressing. More on motivation and becoming the person you want to be will appear during future posts.

Here is hoping Motivation March was helpful and as always your comments on how you experience these topics are welcome. Please keep your comments on topic and positive. Particularly negative comments may not be approved or may be deleted.

Some past posts on Motivation are listed below.

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.

Social or anti-social drinker? Dangers of emotional drug use.

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

Bottles of alcohol.

Alcoholic Beverages.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Using drugs to regulate emotions is a high-risk behavior.

We have all heard and seen the use of drugs, especially alcohol to alter mood. Media has bought into this and it is a common perception. If you feel badly then you need a drink.

This is the worst possible way to use any substance.

People who are sad drink, to cheer themselves up. The angry person has a few to calm down why doesn’t this work?

Absolutely drinking and other drugs can change the way you feel. You feel a little down so you have a few. For a while, you feel better. That drinking makes you forget why you were down in the first place. Then it wears off.

As the alcohol wears off the feeling returns only now you have the consequences of drinking, money spent, maybe a hangover, maybe just an empty feeling that you are sad and nothing is getting better. So you need to drink again.

Each time you drink you feel a mood swing. When it wears off your mood moves back where it came from. Once you learn the mood swing that accompanies the use of your drug of choice it is reliable. Too reliable.

Over time, as tolerance builds it will take more of that drug to get the same feeling. Or the same amount will do less. Either way, the tendency is to do more, drink more, to try to change the way you feel. Each time the drug wears off you end up lower than where you were before you used.

Eventually, you need to drink or use all the time if you want to keep feeling good or stay out of that blackness. Then something changes.

You find that when the drug wears off you feel worse than before. You need to drink a few now just to get back to where you started. Eventually, you will need to drink just to feel normal. Whatever normal is for you and for many of us that normal was the reason we started to drink or use in the first place.

At this point, no amount of use will get you back to the feeling OK place. If only using and drinking could help you cope but at some point that substance that promised to be your solution, it has become your problem. Now you are drinking and using just to get by. You may reach a point where you can’t get back to normal anymore. Now you need some of that hair of the dog that bit you just to be able to function at all.

People who use alcohol because they are angry, find that once drunk they lose control of their emotions. That alcohol, it reduces inhibitions. A couple of drinks makes you social in the beginning but later a few drinks can make you antisocial. Under the influence, disinhibited, you may do things that you never would have done sober.

That person who needs a few to get up the courage to say what they think is now acting on that suppressed rage. One survey concluded that the vast majority of people in prison were drunk or high in the 24 hours before they committed the crime that sent them away.

That supposed friend that was helping you cope, your drug of choice, has it become the reason you are in jail or homeless?

People who are sad. Who drink to cheer themselves up, find they can forget their troubles for a while but eventually those troubles find them. And now those troubles have become worse because of failed responsibilities and things done and said while under the influence.

We know that people who are sad and depressed who drink are 55 times more likely to attempt suicide. Often with completed suicides and overdose deaths, there is alcohol in the bloodstream that reduced the inhibitions and permitted the act that brought this life to an end.

A single drink on a social occasion may make for fun. But if you find you need that drink to have fun, that without the drink, or the drug, your life is full of emotions that you just can’t stand, then that drink or drug is not your friend anymore, it has become your tormentor.

Having to drink or use to regulate emotions places you at high risk for addiction. Alcoholism, suicide or homicide. It also can induce mental and emotional illnesses or make a pre-existing mental health problem significantly worse.

You can’t learn much when unconscious and those emotional regulation lessons you learned while under the influence, there is a strong chance that you got those emotional lessons wrong.

Drinking and using for emotional reasons can take you in a really bad direction.

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.

5 motivation skills you should learn

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

Motivation.

Motivation.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Attitude will only get you so far – you need skills to stay motivated.

When people talk about motivation we hear a lot about some people having motivation and others not having it. Having a positive, motivated attitude is good, but that will only take you so far.

To get motivated and stay motivated you need some skills and these are abilities you can learn. Research suggests that simply wanting something is not enough; you need to develop the skills needed to make those dreams a reality.

1. Self-motivated people challenge themselves.

People who are high in motivation have learned how to learn new things. To them, a new situation is a challenge they know they can overcome because whatever information is needed they believe they can acquire it.

Self-motivated people seek out these challenges because they have the belief that if they try something they can accomplish it. This belief is built up over time by trying small things and being successful at them.

Self-motivated people may like applause or recognition from others, they may enjoy the money or recognition that comes their way, but they also are extremely pleased when they are able to do something that they have set out to accomplish.

2. Motivated people make a consistent effort.

Sprints won’t win any distance races and life is essentially a long distance race. Being highly motivated one day and getting a lot done pales next to the person who day in and day out does a little of what is needed to get the task done.

Lots of people start new projects, new businesses, school or relationships, but they fail because they think that you can do it all in the beginning and then no more effort will be required.

To be successful you need to keep doing a little or more every day, whether you feel motivated or not.

Do some work on your goal and it will produce motivation, not the other way round. Every writer hears the way to write is to sit with your rear in the chair and pound some keys. Eventually, you will get something done. The rest of life is like that also. Do a little each day and watch the results add up.

3. Manage your time.

Enough time for that great achievement will never come. Big projects get done one step at a time. Motivated people create a time budget just as they create a money budget. Each day includes some time for working on reaching your goal.

Don’t wait till you have extra time to write that book or start that business. Begin doing the footwork now. If all you have is thirty minutes a day, spend that on moving towards your goals and see what progress you can make.

4. Have a plan to reach your goal.

Great achievements rarely happen by accident. Yes, motivated people can make good use of opportunities when they appear, but they recognize those opportunities because they are already on the path to their goal.

Any achievement becomes more probable when you can break the task up into small steps and work on a little step each day. Make a plan and keep on the path towards your goal.

5. Continue to monitor your progress towards your goal.

If you follow a bad map you can get really lost. Some of us created plans for our lives and left steps out. This does not mean your life needs to be a failure. Any good plan needs frequent monitoring and revision. Keep an eye on the goal but keep checking your map to make sure you are headed in the right direction.

Work on these five skills and you will become a lot more motivated and can keep that motivation strong over the long course of life.

David Joel Miller, LMFT, LPCC

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.

Money and Friendships can cost you – ethical loophole #3

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

Ethics

Ethical loopholes strangle.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Dual relationships get a lot of counselors and clients into trouble.

 

Having multiple relationships can mess up therapy.

The big obvious one is sex, we will talk about that one later, but there are a bunch of other dual or “multiple” relationships that can cause problems. Here are some examples.

The client doesn’t have money to feed her kids; can I pay her to clean my house?

This sounds harmless enough. Counselors want to help people, that is why they became a counselor in the first place. So they might try to help out. Maybe give the client a little money. What about bus fare home? What about hiring the client to do a part-time job around the house? All this sounds good until it goes wrong.

You give that client bus fare once. They tell some friends who all ask you for bus fare. You have to start saying no. Now you have to tell that first client no. Then they all complain to your boss. Why does client X get bus fare and I don’t? Why did you give it to me and then take it away when I did not do what you wanted? See how that good deed can come back to get you?

What about paying them to help you? They could mow the lawn or clean your house. What if the lawn mower goes missing right after they cut that lawn? What do you do if your jewelry is missing? Can you make a police report on a client? Doesn’t that violate confidentiality? How can you explain that away?

The client is new to the city and does not have any friends. The counselor invites them, to attend church with them. The counselor goes and picks the client up and takes them to church. What could be wrong with that?

You are their therapist; you have power over their life. They are in a week vulnerable position and you tell them they need to attend church and you are taking them to yours. Can they really say no? Will you withdraw care, stop seeing them if they say no?

What if their religious or spiritual tradition is one you do not approve of? Will you pressure them to convert? What if they consider your religion a “cult” will they be able to say no?

Think this doesn’t happen? Clients tell me, they have been told that their child protective services worker wants to be sure that their children are being raised in a “good Christian home.”  Does that constitute bias? Can the client say anything if they risk having their children taken away or if they have a mental health issue or substance abuse problems? Could those problems be used against them?

Revealing your religious preference to a provider can result in discrimination, loss of jobs, denial of promotion, or even make you the victim of physical violence. That’s why in this day and age members of some religious traditions still need to use the “decline to state” response to the question about religious preference.

I am not saying that all discussion of religious or spiritual values should be off the table in therapy. People with a spiritual connection do better in recovery. What is a problem is when the therapist crosses the line from listening to the client about what the client believes, to doing a sales pitch or enabling the client to follow the counselor’s religion.

Encouraging them to practice a religious or spiritual tradition is a yes. Telling them they need to come to Zoroaster is a no.

Counselors do not have to stop going to church or another religious gathering place because their client attends, but they need be very careful about transporting or arranging to meet clients there. It is probably an ethical boundary violation to be seeing someone in therapy that you also sit in a religious service and socialize with.

Wow! That new client just told me about this great money-making deal.

Money and client relationships, what a dangerous mix. Yes, we have to think money. We need to get paid. But when we start thinking about money or other things first this can be a trap.

Investing money in a client’s business or investment opportunity or asking them to invest in one of yours, these are all bad ideas.

Lending money to your therapist is an absolute NO! If your counselor asks to borrow money run as fast as you can. Consider lodging a complaint on your way out to the appropriate person.

Think also about the insider trading issues. Do you want to end up in court because you made an investment based on a tip from a client? Clients, do you want your therapist testifying in court about your therapy session and how this investment idea came up in the first place?

All of these ethics issues can start with just that little finger through the ethical loophole. Giving someone bus fare out of your own pocket, paying them a few bucks to mow their lawn, becoming involved in their religious or social activities, all of these can lead to trouble.

Client, I know that you may like your therapist, want to do something nice but remember that their ethics code like a priest vow of poverty may preclude them from accepting gifts, stock tips or other offers by you to do things for them.

For me, as a therapist, the best gift a client can give me is to tell me that something we did in session has helped them have the happy life they want. Hearing that I have been able to help, that makes my day.

Sorry if we can’t hang out or attend some social event together. I like you as a person but I respect our professional relationship and you as a client too much to mess this up by getting into another dual relationship with a client.

Next Friday ethics part 4 – the bad news for all you romantics at heart. Why falling in love with clients or your therapist so often ends so very badly.

David Joel Miller, LMFT, LPCC

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 Build a Successes Machine – The technology of success

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

Success

Success.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Build a successes machine, turn the crank and out comes another goal accomplished.

 

How do successful people do it?

Ever meet one of those people who are able to accomplish most anything they set their mind to? They are able to reproduce their successes project after project. I am not talking about the Bill Gates and Steve Jobs; knock one out of the park kinds of success. For that, you need not only ability, but a great idea and some good timing helps.

What I am talking about is that person who is more successful than most. They are the people in the next cubicle or down the block who seem to get a lot done, accomplish their life goals and manage to be happy doing it. How do those people do it?

They have built a success machine and they are able to repeat those accomplishments over and over. Want to know how to build yourself a success machine? Here is how you train yourself to improve the odds that your next effort will work out the way you wanted it to.

1. Doing your homework increases success.

People who repeatedly accomplish things don’t go off half-cocked. They have done their homework and know which things have a chance of working and which don’t. They don’t jump into doing things because they want them to be possible. No wishful thinking here but sound research.

This does not mean they go along with the crowd. They evaluate things for themselves, do their homework and once they have the facts make their own decision. They get noticed because they made the effort to check out an opportunity that other people overlooked.

2. Create a plan for success.

Good results do not happen by chance. People who get a lot done have plans; doable, well-researched plans. They also have ways of measuring outcomes and monitoring their efforts to see if they are on track. This does not mean they give up every time they get behind schedule but they do know if they are headed in the right direction or not.

For most projects, these plans are written out in some detail. They have budgets for both time and money and they have criteria for evaluation.

3. Break that success plan up into manageable steps.

Getting out of debt does not generally happen because you get a sudden windfall of money. It happens a few dollars at a time. The same thing holds true for other life goals.

Want a new better-paying job? There will be a series of steps you will need to do to get from where you are to having that job. Do them one thing at a time and if your research and planning were done well then you have a good chance of landing that big one.

4. Don’t set yourself up for failure.

One major cause of failure to get things accomplished is trying to do too much too fast. You decide to go back to school for a new degree, get a new job, lose weight and get in shape all in the same month.

All of these things are good goals. Over time you can get there, but trying to do too much at one time sets you up for failure. You won’t do well in school if you are out exercising. It is also hard to concentrate on exams if you are looking for a new job.

Break these projects up into small manageable steps. Make small changes in your routine.  Monitor your progress and switch your emphasis to the next phase as you finish each thing.

5. Keep on the path to where you are going.

Excessive, frequent changes in goals are likely to undo all the effort you have made. Spend time evaluating goals before you start on the journey. At some point, it helps to recheck those plans. Some people do annual or even monthly reevaluations. But don’t change those plans from day-to-day without a good reason.

Switching goals from day-to-day ensure that you will not be successful at anything.

6. Enjoy the trip towards your version of success.

People who enjoy the process of exercising lose more weight. Find a form of exercise that you enjoy, maybe walking, maybe join a softball league. If you want to eat healthier consider learning to cook healthier.

If you enjoy the subject you are studying you get better grades. And if you like this new career you are more likely to get hired and do well. They can tell in the interview if you are only taking the job because you are desperate and will plan to leave the minute you can.

Follow these 6 steps. Pick a small goal, do the process and watch your progress. As one goal becomes a part of your normal routine add another until eventually, you can say you have built the life you want.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that happiness will come from having or accomplishing. True happiness is the result of the pride you will take in your progress along the way.

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.