Why is it so hard to treat yourself well?

Taking care of yourself
Self-care. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

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

If self-care is so important, why is it so hard to do?

Good self-care is hugely connected to good mental health. Learning stress reduction techniques can improve your mental health and reduce the risk of burning out. Despite all the documented benefits of self-compassion and self-care, many people continue to push themselves relentlessly. Learning to take good care of yourself and show yourself kindness is a significant part of a happy and productive life.

Were you taught to take care of yourself?

Early life experiences set up patterns for the rest of our lives. If the people who should’ve taken care of you treated you poorly, you learned to treat yourself that way. People who have experienced abuse or neglect may have or internalize the message that they didn’t deserve to be treated well. You may have been taught that suffering was a virtue, and you find it hard to embrace happiness.

Even families that provided love and adequate care may have given you the message that you weren’t good enough. Some parents seem to think that the way to get a child to do better is to point out all their faults. There’s a myth out there that praising a child will cause them to become conceited. But if no one praised you for anything, you did well, and everything you did wasn’t good enough. You may have internalized the message that you were not good enough.

Your danger detector is turned up too high.

If you’ve grown up poor or lived in a dangerous environment, you may be on constant alert. High levels of stress hormones keep all your danger detection circuits active. When you’re hypervigilant, on a constant lookout for what could go wrong, self-soothing and self-care don’t happen.

If you suffer from an anxiety disorder, you may feel guilty about self-care. People who have adopted the high anxiety lifestyle choose to worry about everything that could go wrong in the mistaken belief that this will keep them safe. They live in a constant state of high alert. Doing anything that might lower that anxiety may make you feel guilty or unsafe.

You are too busy surviving to notice you are running on empty.

Sometimes the day-to-day struggles become so overwhelming that taking time for self-care seems like a waste of time. When life is a struggle, self-care may be something you tell yourself you don’t have time for. You may be so busy listening to your inner critic that you haven’t had time to take stock of what you need. You may not have realized that self-care was an option.

Have you turned suffering into a virtue?

Some people are so used to believing that life must be full of suffering that as soon as life goes well, they start to feel guilty. Some people just can’t bear to stop working long enough to have fun. You may have internalized the attitude that self-compassion will make you soft and weak. Taking good care of yourself both mentally and physically is not being self-indulgent.

Practicing self-compassion can be scary.

Change is usually scary, even when that change moves us in the direction of better health. Caring about yourself may be a new feeling for you. If you weren’t taught self-compassion, or those around you didn’t demonstrate it to you, it may be hard to recognize. Self-compassion is a skill you can learn. Like all skills, you may not be perfect at first, but the more you practice self-compassion, the better your life will become.

Would now be a good time to start practicing self-compassion?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seems like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

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: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

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, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

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

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

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Could you use a little kindness?

Taking care of yourself
Self-care. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

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

Have things been rough lately?

Times have been difficult over the last year for a great many people. For some people, life has been a struggle for a lot longer than that. There’s an illness stalking the land. Maybe you’ve been sick, or someone close to you has, possibly someone you know has died.

There’s also been economic difficulties and political divisions. Maybe you’ve been out of work, or your business has closed. You may not have had the money to pay your bills, or you may even be facing homelessness. You may be feeling hopeless, not knowing how you will cope with the future. There are things you can do to ease your pain.

Right now, the world seems to be a pretty cruel place. Something that’s missing, something we all need more of right now, is basic kindness. The starting point for that is compassion. If you haven’t been getting enough compassion recently, what you need to do is begin to cultivate self-compassion.

What is self-compassion?

Compassion is feeling kindly toward someone who is suffering and wanting to help. Self-compassion happens when we give ourselves the same kindness and care we might give a friend or family member. Self-compassion begins when you recognize that it’s okay to acknowledge your pain and treat yourself kindly.

How do you create more self-compassion?

Creating more self-compassion does not mean giving in to your pain or giving up. It starts with the recognition that more kindness, more self-compassion, could ease your suffering. There are four necessary steps to cultivating more self-compassion. Take a look at each of these steps and see how you can apply it to your life.

Recognize that you are suffering.

Recognition doesn’t mean surrender. Tell yourself the truth about your suffering. You’re experiencing pain. Whether they are physical or emotional, those pains are trying to tell you something about the struggles you’re going through. Don’t ignore your pains. They deserve to be recognized.

Accept that feeling pain is normal.

Your pain is unique to you, but the experience of feeling pain is something that happens to everyone. That you’re currently going through hard times doesn’t mean you are somehow being singled out for punishment. What you’re experiencing probably isn’t fair, but don’t add to the pain by punishing yourself for feeling that pain. Tell yourself that it’s okay to feel whatever you are feeling.

Meet the pain with positive feelings.

When you’re in pain, don’t be cruel to yourself. Treat yourself with kindness. Do things to take care of yourself. Show yourself love, warmth, and positive feelings. Express to yourself your concern for your well-being. You deserve to experience love, and who better to show you love them yourself.

Soften the impact of the pain.

Do whatever you can to reduce the impact of the pain. Look for ways that you can take small incremental steps to reduce the pain or minimize the suffering.

For more on this topic, visit the self-compassion organization website.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seems like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

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: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

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, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

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

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

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Ways to do better self-care

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

Compassion

Compassion.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Ever thought you need to take better care of yourself?

Let’s people say they need to do better self-care, but often the things they do in the name of self-care make the situation worse. Indulging yourself in harmful things shouldn’t be a part of your self-care. A late-night out with friends or having an alcoholic drink may feel good in the short run but that lack of sleep and the damage alcohol can cause to your mood will leave you in worse shape than when you began.

Self-care shouldn’t be allowing yourself to indulge in negative habits. Of course, your routine should include some pleasure in life. But beware of doing harmful things in the name of self-care. The best way to improve your self-care is to build some positive aspects into your life which you want to do repeatedly. Self-care should be something you do every day not something you do as a binge when life overwhelms you. Here are a few of the things you should include in your life to improve your self-care.

Self-care includes practicing self-compassion.

Be kind and gentle to yourself. Treat yourself at least as well as you would treat a child or a pet. Don’t belittle yourself, call yourself names, or tell yourself you’re no good. Learn to accept yourself as you are. Self-compassion includes forgiving your mistakes.

Take care of yourself by becoming a happiness expert.

It’s easy to move through life, seeing the negative and experiencing self-induced suffering. Look for the happy moments in life. Happiness doesn’t come from another shot of adrenaline. An occasional ride on the roller coaster may be enjoyable but don’t be misled into thinking that happiness consists only of those peak excitement experiences. Contentment and solitude are also parts of happiness.

Self-care includes getting plenty of sleep.

Don’t fall into the trap of believing that sleep is a waste of time. Cumulatively a lack of sleep will affect your thinking and your physical health. Self-care includes building into your daily routine plenty of sleep.

Engaging in a spiritual practice is part of self-care.

Whatever your spiritual or religious beliefs, make sure that you practice them. Say your prayers. Do your meditation. Allow some time for quiet contemplation. Building some form of spiritual practice in your life will help carry you through the rough times in life. People who have religious beliefs but failed to practice them develop cognitive dissonance which makes their life far more stressful.

Embrace stress.

Excessive stress can be harmful. Far more important than the absolute level of stress in your life is your stress mindset. People who see stress as always harmful and something that shouldn’t happen to them are easily overwhelmed. Look at the challenges in your life as opportunities for growth and accomplishment. People who view new challenges as exciting are far less likely to experience stress is harmful.

Self-care includes adding healthy foods to your diet.

Many people approach their diet as a form of punishment. Trying to eliminate things from your diet and deprive yourself makes life unpleasant. Those kinds of diets are easily given up. Instead of approaching your diet as what you should give up, try adding more healthy foods. Look for healthy choices that you enjoy eating and gradually displaced those unhealthy food items you’ve been eating with healthy ones you will enjoy eating.

Cut things out of your schedule.

In this modern life full of electronic instruments and constant activity, it’s easy to have schedules that start before you wake up in and after you’re already in bed. Don’t overwhelm yourself. One of the keys to productivity is figuring out what things to cut out of your schedule so that you have time for those things that are important. You need to be a top priority on your schedule. Improve your self-care by cutting tasks out of your schedule and leaving more time for the things that matter.

Buy things you will enjoy using.

Doing some “retail therapy” may feel like self-care at the moment, but when the credit card bills come due or your money spent before the month is over your effort at self-care has backfired. Trying to get pleasure out of buying something is doing it backward. The purchase may provide a small temporary positive experience but that fades very quickly especially if you have to continue to make payments on that purchase.

The thing that will bring you the most pleasure, in the long run, is having something you will use regularly. Spend your money on experiences rather than things. The latest fashion quickly goes out of style. There will be a new model electronic device sometimes even before you get the one you bought out of the package.

The trip of a lifetime adds to your happiness and is an excellent form of self-care. Don’t focus on spending time making more money to buy yourself and your family things. Include in your budget some time spent doing something with those that are close to you.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

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: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

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, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

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

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

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Ways to take care of yourself.

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

Taking care of yourself

Self-care.

You deserve to be well cared for.

Did anyone teach you how to take care of yourself? Did they tell you that taking care of yourself is being selfish? Don’t listen to that kind of talk.

Taking good care of yourself is not being selfish. You can’t give others something you do not have. How can you expect your children and others around you to take care of themselves when you do not set a good example?

Having the guts and determination to keep on pushing forward despite the obstacles is an admirable quality. But eventually, even the superheroes need to rest and relax. Living your life as if the objective is to see how much you can suffer and push yourself is no way to live.

You are only here for one life. Try to get the most out of that life by living a life full of self-compassion.

Here is a list of simple to do self-care acts that can make you a more self-compassionate person.

1. Let yourself rest when tired – sleep.

This one is at the top of the list for a reason. Sleep is not unproductive time. You do not get more accomplished by sleeping less. When needed you can probably get by on less sleep for a few days or even weeks but eventually, that lack of rest catches up with you.

Sleep is the time when your brain cools down, increases blood flow, and cleans out all the waste products. Your brain and nerves heal and memory’s get consolidated during sleep.

Fail to get enough sleep and your daily performance will decline. You may even damage that computer in your head and there are no replacement parts for the model brain you are using.

2. Take care of your body.

Eat healthily and get some exercise. If you are too busy to eat well or exercise you are too busy. Eventually, parts of the body get worn. You need good nutrition and some physical exercise to keep the machine you call your body working well.

Pushing yourself long hours on poor quality fuel results in excessive wear on your body and a shortened lifespan.

Want to get the most done in your career or home. Keep yourself in good shape for the whole journey.

3. Respect how you feel.

Do not ignore your feelings. If something is bothering you attend to it before it becomes a major problem. Talk that issue through with a trusted friend or professional. If the issue is between you and your spouse then your partner is the one you need to be talking with.

Having healthy supportive relationships keeps you mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy.

If your emotions are running rough do not ignore the feelings. Take yourself in for an emotional tune-up if needed. Most people think that seeing a counselor or therapist is something you do after you have a nervous breakdown. Get emotional help in the early stages and there may be no breakdown.

4. Schedule time for you.

Never have any time for yourself? Then you are giving too much of your life away. Make time for yourself, your interests, and enjoying life.

You are the only you there will ever be. Enjoy every minute you spend with yourself. Being alone some of the time should not equal being lonely. Balance the time around others with the time you spend in solitude.

5. Pause to take stock of where you are in life – have goals.

One good habit to get into is a periodic review of your life. Businesses take inventory at least once a year. Are there things in your life that are obsolete? Have a clearance sale and get those activities that are taking up your time but providing no value out of your life.

Are your activities taking you where you want to go? Review your goals and the strategies and tactics you are using to get to those goals.

6. Reward your hard work.

Make sure you build in rewards for the hard work you do. What special rewards will you give yourself when you reach a goal?

7. Challenge yourself to build a sense of accomplishment.

People have comfort zones. When you step just a little outside that zone you feel some anxiety but when you try on a new behavior and are successful you get used to this new area. Keep moving just a step outside that comfort zone and you will stretch out the area of things that you can comfortably do.

8. Give yourself a round of applause for things well done.

Be your most enthusiastic cheerleader. Make sure you notice the things that you do and give yourself a round of applause every time you are able to master a new skill or challenge.

Accept compliments when offered. Do not reject those compliments with a self-deprecating “It was nothing.” A simple thank you to the party that offered you the praise will go a long way in building your self-esteem and theirs.

9. Invest time and money in yourself.

You have a set amount of time each week. You can spend that time wisely or foolishly. Budget those hours and include an investment in yourself as part of that budget. Take a class, read something that interests you.

There is a difference between spending money and time for momentary pleasure and investing in yourself for the long run. Investments in yourself, in learning new skills, or expanding your experiences, pay dividends down the road.

What other ways have you found that help you take care of yourself?

Start taking care of yourself.  

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

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: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

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, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

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

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

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Has our diet of self-esteem spoiled?

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

Low Self-esteem

Low Self-esteem.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Is self-esteem making us sick?

We have reached the point, in much of this world, where everyone needs to be above average. What this means for us and for our future is yet to be determined. But it is possible that this constantly forced diet of having more self-esteem is starting to make us all sick.

First, we need to figure out what above average means. Average used to be a mathematical concept, take scores, add them up and divide by the number of people. We also had mathematic concepts for the most common score and the score in the middle.

I have never heard any individual referred to as being a “modal” or “median” person. But lots of people get referred to as “average” and this is customarily used in a derogatory manner as if being average was somehow to be less than acceptable.

There are some huge consequences of this “everyone needs to be above average” theorem.

First, we need to lower the standards until at least half of us can get above that score. So it has become common practice for some years now that everyone in a class needs to get an A. Anyone who did not get an A is now considered a failure. That requirement for perfection has resulted in a culture of giving out lots of A’s. Everyone gets an A now.

Now when I was in school a perfect GPA was a 4.0. If anyone was getting a grade better than that, they never told us. Yes, some really smart kids when over to the college for a few classes the last year in High school but they might get a B or even a C in that college class and we will all very impressed that they were taking college classes.

Today I hear that kids are taking AP classes in high school. This has been going on for a while now. So the good colleges now will not look at a student with a 4.0 GPA which used to be a perfect score. Now you need a 4.2 or 4.3 to get considered.

The result, more kids get A’s but the “average” kid can’t read or write and they get their education from watching television.

We are in fact distorting things so that reality is no longer real. Everyone is above average and anyone who is not perfect is a failure. Life has become a virtual adventure. Homes include virtual pets and virtual parents.

Thank god for prisons. Because the prisons are our great housing project for people who are not above average. Many prison inmates are in fact illiterate. So we are close to making being below average a qualification for being a permanent member of the incarcerated class.

Now if you are above average always, even if they have had to lower the bar so you can always be above it, you might come to think of yourself as better than average, superior, even entitled. We used to call this narcissistic. We have stopped thinking of people who feel superior as narcissistic and we now evaluate them as either “average” or a political candidate. Those who have refined narcissism to a science get to lose other people’s money on Wall Street.

Now if you are above average, and everyone is above average and to be below average means you are a worthless failure, what do you do when you fail to be above average at something.

Why you get angry, very, very angry. You blame the test, the teacher and the whole school system. And if no one agrees with us that being less than average is not fair then we could sue or get violent.

This whole need to be better than others to be OK is at the root of a lot of this world’s problem. My religion needs to be more correct than yours otherwise I may be wrong and less right than you and that would mean that I am defective somehow. So if you do not believe like I do I need to kill you to make me more religiously correct. See how this whole need to always be better than others and more correct can be a rabbit hole down which society may disappear to never be seen again.

Mr. Ellis liked to remind us, I kind of miss that guy these days, that the problem was not low self-esteem. The problem is this whole notion of rating ourselves as if our whole life were some sort of televised bowl game and we needed to die with the highest score.

Rather than this whole truckload of self-esteem and how we need to be better than everyone else, we need to be talking about how to be more accepting, of ourselves and those who are different from us in so many ways.

Higher levels of compassion are desperately needed and the place that most needs an increase in compassion is right in our own homes. Start by having more compassion for yourself and those around you and then when you have some excesses of compassion spread that around. Unlike self-esteem where you dare not give it away or you will run out, compassion has a much better flow rate. You can spread compassion around and it seems to go on forever.

Want a healthier world? Switch from a high self-esteem diet to a high compassion diet.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

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: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

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, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

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

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

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel