The relationship you have when you don’t have a relationship.

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

Family torn apart

Divorce.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

When non-relationships take up all your time.

Do you spend lots of time thinking about people you are NOT in a relationship with?

Counseling sessions are frequently about the pain and wreckage of the past. For many people, the reason they decide they need to get help is because of the unfinished business of that past. Unpacking and lightening the load of baggage you are carrying around is a reasonable goal of therapy. One major thing most people need to talk about are the relationships that have come and gone.

Sometimes this process goes way wrong. The person talks to their friends and family and then their therapist repeatedly about their ex, the person that wronged them. Despite all their claims that they are done with that other person, they start and end every conversation with a reference to that other person. What they desperately need is closure around that past relationship, only closure never comes.

That repeated discussion and rumination about your ex may be the thing that is keeping you connected to the pain from that relationship. For you, it will never be over until you let go of that connection. Relationships are one of the few places we spend a lot of time thinking about what we are NOT doing. It is difficult, downright impossible to move on when you are still holding on to the past.

Do you obsess about your ex or someone who has done you wrong?

Rehashing that memory of the one who hurt or rejected you can become the worst form of obsession or addiction. If you spend much of your time insisting that something was unfair, that they should not have done what they did, you are holding onto the connection and insisting that the world and that person must be the way you want them to be. The relationship did not turn out the way you wanted, that is one reason it is over.

When you are really over someone or something, you stop caring. People who have really ended it and moved on start thing about the future, not the past. If they are not in your life then you should stop thinking about them. Only that is so very hard to do when there is still that connection you are afraid to let go of.  As long as you revisit them mentally you keep alive the possibility of reconnecting psychical.

When you have unfinished business with someone the connection remains.

If you still want to know why? Or are wanting to win an argument. Then you are unready to let that relationship go. Holding onto a relationship that has ended is like keeping a dead pet around. No matter how much you loved it back when, if you keep it around, eventually it starts to stink up your life.

Revisiting the thing that was and the “what should have been” keeps the connection to the past alive. Living in the past sabotages the present and prevents the future that could be. Closure will not come from that other person. It arrives when you loosen your grip on that past that did not turn out the way you wanted and you open your arms to embrace the future.

People can take up way to much space in your head.

The human brain only has so much capacity for thought. Most of the time there is plenty of idle space in your brain to learn new information and engage novel thoughts. But like that older computer, sometimes the problem you have your brain working on takes up all the thinking capacity in your brain. Ruminating about the past leaves no thought capacity to think about the future.

Letting someone take up mental space crowds out the brain space you need to think about positive things. Hard to start a new relationship with anyone when you are still holding onto the one that ended. If you still have your ex as a friend on social media and their number has not been deleted from your phone, there will always be a part of you staying connected to what you wanted things to be.

Occupying your brain with the one you hate creates so much stress in your brain that love, of yourself or others, has no room to grow.

Hate, anger, and fear keep you connected even after the relationship ends.

Negative emotions keep the connection growing larger and in a more intense way than positive ones. The most enduring relationship are those driven by hate and a desire for revenge. If you love something you can let it go but the thing you hate holds onto you forever.

People who walk through your life leave footprints.

Every person who has been a part of your life has made a journey through your mind. Some for the better and some have left scars. Just because someone’s path has crossed yours and they have left their footprints on your existence does not mean your soul has to follow their soul to bad places.

Have you kept holding onto a dead relationship? Is it time to let it go?

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.

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How much baggage are you carrying?

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

Baggage

Baggage.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

You don’t realize how much stuff you are carrying until you empty that bag out.

Old luggage

Old Baggage holding you back?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

So much emotional baggage around these days. Most of the time when we say baggage, people think about past relationships and the scars left from those relationships. When you reach the point you are ready to move on in your life you might be amazed at all the emotional baggage you have stored away in your cupboards.

If you have reached the time of starting over in life, of reinventing yourself, here are some types of baggage you may need to go through and see what you can dispose of. That extra baggage can weigh you down badly and keep you from ever reaching the happy, recovered life you deserve.

Some people find they can dispose of this unwanted baggage all by themselves. They use acceptance, radical acceptance even, to get rid of unwanted emotional luggage. Other people find that it helps to get professional help. For a house, you might need the help of a cleaning crew or an exterminator. For emotional things consider getting help from a counselor or therapist. Here are a few of the things that people have found they needed to get rid of if they wanted to move on in their lives.

Childhood hurts that keep you from moving forward.

One serious form of emotional baggage that brings people to therapy, or should anyway, is those hurts from childhood or early adulthood that you can’t seem to let go of. If someone let you down, or they were not capable of meeting your needs back then you need to find ways to make sense of this and stop demanding that somehow the past needs to change for you to be able to be happy in the future.

One reason that childhood hurts can linger on is that we learned those pains from the child perspective. Now that you are grown you need to take another look at those life lessons and see if you want to reexamine the meaning of things that happened or didn’t happen way back when.

Some of you have life blueprints you learned way back when that are not suited for a happy adult life.

Negative self-beliefs are terrible burdens.

If you have negative beliefs about yourself, that you are not good enough or don’t deserve something, those will drag at you and keep you stuck in place.

We used to talk about self-esteem a lot. There are plenty of ways to boost your self-esteem. One primary way is to do more things you can be proud of.

Other ways to avoid the trap of negative self-beliefs are to work hard on self-acceptance. However, you are is acceptable. Cut out that constant self-evaluation, stop rating yourself and move on with life.

A counselor can help you with this, so can self-help books and positive affirmations.

Failed relationships don’t have to hold you back.

If you look at relationships that are no more and see them as failures, then you lose the lessons you needed to have learned. Process this experience with someone trustworthy and then see how much of that pain and suffering you are ready to let go of.

People come into and out of your life, for better or worse. That one relationship ended does not mean another cannot be. What you need to do is take a look at that past relationship. See what you can learn from it and see how it has made you who you are. From that vantage, you can decide where you want to go.

What you need to avoid is thinking that everything that went wrong was someone’s fault. Learn from the experience. Why did you pick them? What should you be looking for in the future?

Self-doubts are like a chain holding you back.

Stop doubting yourself. You are who you are. You need to try. You will accomplish some things and others will not happen for you. The only way to avoid failure would be to never try and that is the worst form of failure. Pick goals carefully and then aim high.

For a more fulfilling life let go of those doubts. No one knows how the game of life will turn out until it is over. Don’t let ruminating about what might happen to keep you from living in the present.

Unfinished business keeps you looking back over your shoulder.

It is hard to drive looking back over your shoulder. You can’t get on in life if your primary focus is on the past. Shift those experiences into memory and use the major part of your brain to keep your eyes on the present and the future.

Have unfinished business? Finish it! Write a letter to the past and then destroy it. Apologize or make amends. Please do not say that you can’t move on until someone else does something. Do your part to solve things and let the past go. Sometimes the only way to finish that unfinished business is to accept that what happened is the whole story and stop insisting that there should be another ending. Write “the end” and find your peace.

Addictions and bad habits own you.

If you have an addiction work on ending it. Bad habits will continue to hold you back until you toss them. Overcoming an addiction is not easy, but it has been done over and over. Look for help. Get support from a community of others that are seeking recovery and you will find that letting go of an addiction is the greatest achievement you can have.

Having gone through that baggage and tossed the things that are holding you back you will be ready to move on to the best possible future.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

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

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

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

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

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

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

12 ways you are self-sabotaging.

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

Comment

Bad neighborhood.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

How many of these self-sabotaging things do you do?

1. Hold onto the past.

Most people know they have baggage, resentments left over from the past. You can choose to hold onto those resentments as a justification for your failures or you can decide to toss those bags, unpack that baggage and lighten your load. You can’t change the past but you can stop letting it dictate the future. Put those old hurts in the coffin and bury them.

2. Unfinished business.

You should have been something, you were supposed to get something but it never happened. You can stay hung up on those failures or you can finish off that leftover business. Didn’t get to finish that schooling you wanted, go back no matter what the age and finish up. That or decide that even if you had that education you never finished it would not be helping you today.

Those first loves that got away, those were fairy tales. Those people who bullied you or rejected you are long gone. Resolve what you can and let the rest go. Continuing to brood over the unfinished business of the past keeps you from living the life of today.

3. Lie to yourself.

Do you have lies you tell yourself so often that you have started to believe them? You have to do this and you can’t do that. If you tell yourself so you make it true. You can make up excuses for your setbacks and failures that only you believe. Blaming others for your troubles may feel good now but it does not change anything. Blaming others keeps you stuck. Take responsibility for what you can do and move forward.

Of all the people you need to get honest with, getting honest with yourself is the most important one.

4. Wreckage – Clean up your messes.

If you have wreckage get it cleaned up. People often have unpaid fines or tickets. Bills that are still due and relationships that ended in disaster. Whenever possible clean up that wreckage. Do what you can to get those old debts, financial and emotional cleaned up so that you do not have to continue to pay on them well into your recovered life.

5. Hold on to harmful and hurtful people.

Are there people in your life that are harmful or hurtful but you just can’t seem to give them up? Just because they were there when you were down, does not mean you need to stay down with them. True friends will want to see you succeed. If you have to hold yourself back and be less than the person you were meant to be because of someone in your life these are not healthy relationships and they are not true friends.

6. Try to be perfect.

Perfectionism is the enemy of getting things done. You can tell yourself you never will be perfect and that excuses not trying at all. You miss out on all the things you never try. Students find that the pursuit of all A’s may keep them from graduating. If you insist on being perfect or not doing things at all you will keep quitting things that could have benefited you.

Do your best and call that good enough.

7. Doing nothing.

Doing nothing is a sure way to fail. Trying to be perfect is one way of alibiing your lack of effort. There are lots of other ways you can talk yourself out of ever trying.

The process of building the happy life begins with those first small steps. Get moving and the momentum will build.

8. Looking for happiness in all the wrong places – drugs – sex.

In the beginning, these crutches seem like ways to get by. You use drugs, alcohol or other addictions to try to be enough. Eventually, those addictions become all you can be. Do not get fooled by an illusion that more of an addiction will cure the emptiness inside.

9. Thinking money will buy happiness.

Money buys things. Having some things is better than having nothing. Things alone will never make you happy. Too many things will bury you. Make sure that in your pursuit of money you do not leave family, friends and your true self behind.

10. Beat yourself up.

There is no evidence, that I have seen, that beating yourself up makes you try harder. Love yourself and do your best. Be kind to yourself. Find the good in you and in others. Constantly reliving your failures keeps you stuck in failure.

11. Thinking you can control everything – worrying about things outside your control.

Most things in life are out of your control. You can’t make it rain. We have little control of the weather, who will get sick and a host of other things. Rather than fussing and worrying about things that are far beyond your control put your efforts into the things that you may be able to influence, that will mostly be your actions and your attitude. Catch your children and yourself doing things right and give yourself credit for the things you do well.

12. Do not accept credit for things done well.

Is it hard to accept a compliment? Do you find you can’t please yourself? Learn to give yourself credit for things well done. Be ready to give and receive compliments.

Compliments are an antidote for that feeling of failure that can creep in when all you ever hear and think is the things that you have been able to do in a less than perfect way.

How many of these 12 self-sabotaging practice do you use? Creating that happy recovered life may be largely a matter of discontinuing these self-defeating behaviors.

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.