Feelings fill you up.

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

Angry child

What is he feeling?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Some feelings expand like blowing up a balloon.

Remember the old saying “nature abhors a vacuum?” This is especially true when it comes to feelings. Emotions and feelings are an essential part of human nature. Somewhere along the line, feelings got a bad rap. Some people think the way to deal with feelings is to stuff them down inside and pretend they don’t exist. Other people believe whatever they feel needs to be released before they explode. They justify dumping their feelings all over others by saying venting feelings is healthy.

It’s essential to learn to manage feelings.

Learning to manage feelings is a three-part process. First, you need to learn to recognize that you are feeling something. Next, you will need to determine what this feeling is. Lastly, you’ll need to decide what you want to do with it.

What you don’t want to do is dismiss positive feelings as unimportant and hold onto the negative feelings, the anger the fear and the resentment, as you watch them grow.

Have you ever noticed that whenever you feel intensifies when you hold onto that feeling? Going over that feeling repeatedly, a process called rumination, causes it to take root and grow.

Anger expands rapidly.

Have you ever tried to simply sit with your anger? You will notice the longer you sit holding that anger, the larger it becomes. Anger is a high-pressure emotion. It can quickly take over all the space in a human being. Hold onto a little irritation, long enough, and will become chronically filled with rage. Learning to de-escalate your anger is an important skill.

Negative emotions make you heavy and bloated.

Just like some food can upset your stomach, negative emotions, anger, fears, resentments, can leave you feeling tired and drained of energy. It is best to consume these feelings in minimal quantities. Better yet, for good health, avoid putting these feelings into your system in the first place. When you can’t avoid negative emotions, try taking some positive feelings to settle your stomach.

Gratitude is a satisfying feeling.

If you consume a little gratitude each day, you will find your life becomes more satisfying. Like a desert, there is always room for a bit of gratefulness. No matter how happy you feel, you will find there is still room for a little more gratitude.

Some feelings are like cut flowers.

Some feelings will never fill you up. Peak excitement feelings like alcohol, drugs, and sex, frequently are confused with happiness. All these feelings increase the amount of dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter chemical, in the brain – temporarily. The problem with trying to fill up on peak experience feelings is that they fade very quickly. You can’t create a beautiful garden by planting cut flowers. An occasional bouquet of flowers in the house can be lovely. But if you try to fill your life with only cut flowers, it quickly comes to look and smell like a funeral parlor. Once people feel these sharp feelings, the bloom fades very quickly. Requiring them to continually hunt for more peak experience feelings to fill their emptiness.

Some feelings are timid and need room to grow.

Some of the most satisfying feelings, contentment, serenity, and satisfaction, grow slowly and are quickly crowded out by the more aggressive, faster-growing feelings. If you spend time cultivating these shy, slow-growing feelings, they will eventually fill your life with joy.

What feelings are you cultivating?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Six David Joel Miller Books are available now!

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

Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.

What if your family secrets put you in danger?

Letters from the Dead The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead?

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

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

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

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

Books are now available on Amazon.

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

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders, see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter.

Lady Diana, Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder

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

Lady Diana headstone.
Photo courtesy pixabay.

Did Lady Diana have Bipolar disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder or what?

Some interesting questions from reader Gledwood about Bipolar, Borderline Personality Disorder and Lady Diana. See the comments after Levels or Types of Borderline Personality Disorder.

I never met Lady Diana and am not so much a follower of royalty, so I can’t give you a specific diagnosis about her. In fact, it is considered unprofessional for therapists to give opinions on someone they have not assessed. But maybe I can give you some general answers on these two conditions and on how psychiatric labels may not fit celebrities very well.

1. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Bipolar are very different conditions.

There may be some small similarities and someone could have both but my thinking is there are quite different conditions.

BPD is like a volcano erupting. Huge uncontrollable emotions. They love you – then they hate you, sometimes the emotions change in the same hour. BPD has a huge pain component. Most people with BPD were abused, molested or had a non-affirming childhood. People with BPD often self-harm and they do it to relieve the pain not to find pleasure. They have trouble coping with negative emotions and will frantically try to find ways to stop having to feel bad.

Medication may help BPD and so will therapy but it is a slow process.

Bipolar is like a ride through the mountain in a car.

Sometimes down in the valleys in the shade and other times up near the top in the sun. Bipolar also involves some irresponsible impulsive behavior when manic but it is more about impulsive over-seeking of pleasure than anger driven. The ups and downs happen more slowly and someone with Bipolar can have years of depressed behavior and mouths or years of overactive pressured behavior. Bipolar Disorder often responds to medication. Over-responding to antidepressants is one characteristic that makes us think – Bipolar.

Someone with Bipolar can be trapped by depression for long periods of time and stay stuck there.

Diana Spencer and Lady Diana were probably very different people.

Public figures are often very different in their personal lives than their public lives. The Royals can’t very well hang out at the local bar (or Pub.) Take that press about what someone is like based on their public appearances with a lot of salt. Many comedians and singers are very shy in small groups but once on stage, they can assume a whole other “persona.”

Fans need to be careful to not confuse the person with the character they play. Celebrities have the same problem and start thinking they are their character. There is a difference between being “type cast” and always portraying the villain and those performers who play themselves while on stage. My guess is that having to play the role made it hard for her to maintain old friendships and relationships.

The diagnostic criteria professionals use and the popular meaning of terms are not the same.

I see way too many people who are being called “Bipolar” who are moody, irritable or just plain hard to get along with but they do not necessarily have periods of either depression or mania.

The DSM descriptions are a lot longer than the oversimplified description in most blog posts. There are 11 factors listed for mania and mania is only one factor needed for a diagnosis of Bipolar I Disorder. Professionals need a lot of information before making these decisions.

Symptoms of both these and other disorders are normal traits that get out of control.

Despite the fact that I get paid to treat people with mental illnesses and substance use disorders I think we are trying to turn a lot of normal human emotions into diseases.

Everybody gets sad sometimes. Most of us do impulsive things. If you have never acted on an impulse we think you may have a problem with being obsessive or compulsive. Lots of us get into disagreements and don’t want to be around or talk to others who annoyed us. Someone who has BPD has a pattern of lots of unstable relationships their whole life.

The labels Bipolar and BPD apply to people with severe forms of these conditions; there are a whole lot of other people who have a few characteristics, sort of like one of these conditions. If you have just a few symptoms, counseling or other preventative measures may help you avoid developing a full-blown disease.

Other posts on Borderline Personality Disorder include:

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

What causes Borderline Personality Disorder?

Levels or types of Borderline Personality Disorder

Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder

Hope that helped with the case of Lady Diana, Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two kinds of fear

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

Fear.

Fear.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Underneath much of life’s problems is an ancient enemy – fear. It is at the bottom of most negative emotions, the ones that infect our lives and undermine our happiness. Fear is at the bottom of anxiety, depression and the problems of daily living that keep knocking us off the road to happiness. Whatever disguise fears are wearing, we each have our own special boogeyman, there seem to be two primary species of fear. This is not a new idea, I heard it a long time ago in a self-help meeting, but the more I have thought about it, the truer it seems to me.

We are usually either afraid of not getting something we want or afraid of losing something we have.

Most often we are afraid of not getting something we want. The fear that you will not get your needs or desires met is a powerful one. Unfortunately the more we have the more we need.

Think about stalkers here. They become obsessed with wanting someone, usually someone that is out of reach. I know there are stories about someone who pursued a romantic interest over a long time and much difficulty and in the end, the relationship happened. But once your intended romantic partner has gotten married, had children and gotten a restraining order against you, it is time to give it up.

Some people try so hard for a particular job only to fall into a deep depression when it doesn’t come through. Wanting a career is wonderful. Pursuing your dream is great. But what will happen if that doesn’t pan out? You might be surprised at how many kids tell me they plan to go into major league sports. Most don’t make it. Some can’t make it and it ruins their whole life. What is really sad is when they become so fearful about failure that they self-sabotage and destroy their chances.

Ever hear the story of – well the name doesn’t matter – He was so sure his girlfriend was going to break up with him that he broke up with her first. Do you ever do that? Let your fear get control of you and destroy your chances before they began?

Therapists see some very sad cases of this fear. We see people who are not happy when alone, jump into a relationship because they are afraid that they will never be happy without a partner. Often they settle for a partner, any partner, and a relationship that is far short of what they wanted or deserved. Not surprisingly, to their counselor, they find that their partner is not happy either. Two unhappy people rarely make a happy relationship.

The second big cause of fear: We can be so in fear of losing something we have we forget to notice what we do have.

We old people have trouble keeping up. Two kids are sitting on a bench, each busily texting, neither one is speaking. I look over their shoulders. What could be so engrossing they don’t have time to talk? They are texting each other. I remember a time when my grandparents got a phone. Not everyone in the town had one. They felt lucky to be one of the first families to have one. I see a teen come into the psychiatric hospital, she cut her wrists, her parents had taken away her cell phone and she felt she had nothing to live for.

An old saying, only the rocks, and the hills are forever. Today with strip mining that may not be true. But we can get so into fear of losing something we miss out on the joy of having it. Remember in a hundred years not very many people, maybe no one will remember. For everything we have, we probably gave up something else that could have been.

Yes eventually that old car of yours, the one you saved to buy, it will break down. Keep it in the garage and never drive it and it will not get wrecked until your descendants take it out and drive it if it still runs then.

So have your fears controlled you? Do you fear you won’t get something you want and does that lead to anger, depression or anxiety? Is that fear keeping you from trying?

Do you fear losing something so much that you can’t enjoy what you have? Is it time to challenge your fears? Don’t let fear keep you from having a happy life.

More on this is at 2 large reasons for your fear and Anxiety

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.