Yes… Your Relationship Problems Are Your Fault

So often I see clients come into the office with relationship problems.  There is usually blame on the other person.  Often I hear blame on the other person such as, “their drinking is ruining our relationship.”  Well yes, that’s part of the problem.  But your relationship problems is… your fault.

Now I’m not saying that the person’s problems aren’t affecting the relationship.  Yes, if they weren’t taking destructive actions then there would probably be less intense problems.  There are two people in a relationship.  

You are choosing to be with this person.  I am not saying you need to leave this person, but if you’re choosing to be in this relationship you are responsible for your own happiness regardless of what the other person does.  Don’t try to save the other person.  If you are worrying about what your partner is doing more than they are… then your problems are your fault.

I get it, we want the people we love to be in the best place.  Let’s face it… that’s not your responsibility.  You cannot control what others do.  You can’t control if your loved one is addicted to heroin, gambling,  or getting angry and yelling.  All you can control is your reactions to this.

You can continue to try to change that person, but… you’re going to end up even more sick than that person.  The reason is, you’re practicing self destruction and not self care.  You are not going to be able to take care of ANYONE if you are depressed, anxious, stressed, worn out, overwhelmed, and numb.

Let this be the start of your happiness.  Focus on your own happiness.  Trying to help a person that won’t help themselves is co dependence.    Believe it or not, you are the reason your life is this way.   Take responsibility for yourself.  Grown adults are responsible for their own happiness.  Responsibility for you lies on you.

My New Path

It’s been a while guys!  I’m sorry I haven’t shown up recently.    I needed a break.  It was important for me to figure out a new path.

It’s been difficult but I’ve been searching for what my next step is.  Finally, I have been able to become a therapist for the VA!  Not just the VA but as a readjustment counselor at the Vet Center.

Since I’ve started I saw a lot of me in the Veterans that come in.   Guys drinking alcohol daily for years.  Some men having parenting problems.  Others having money problems.

I’ve been caught as a Social Worker.  Do I choose to self-disclose and relate to them?  I said yes, I need to let them know they are me and I am them.  I’ve let them know that alcohol made things worse for me, I should have been homeless a decade ago, and it’s a long and hard road for success.

The thing is, it’s been a long journey to get this far, and it’s not the end of my journey.  It’s important for everyone to know this.  Keep fighting to get to where you want to be, once you are there, start thinking about the next step.

I’m going, to be honest, I’m not sure what the next step is in my career.  I might be where I’m meant to be, and I might not move for a very long time.  Now, taking the next step doesn’t mean you have to move anywhere career-wise.

For me, taking the next step means managing my money.    So I started new online accounts with my bank (one in which many veterans and service members use).

1.  I created one account for things needed to live such as bills, gas for work, and such.

2.  I created one account for things I need to save up for.

3.  I created one account for money I will never touch.

4.  I created one account for me to buy what I want.

I realized after listening to the following seminar that I need to manage my money.

I don’t necessarily need to manage my money the way T.Harv Eker told me to a T but he did make me realize that I wasn’t managing my money.  I was “trying not to lose” rather than “trying to win.”

So after that video, I split up all my money in those accounts.  I also took a percentage of that money and opened a mutual fund located on my banking website.  I took some of that money and invested it into my IRA, and some of it to invest in my child’s college fund.

I’m not any richer, but for some reason, I feel a million times better knowing what I did with my money!  It’s like, money suddenly made sense to me.  I spent so much time to mismanage my money the way my parents did.

So I guess I need to continue figuring out this passive income thing.  That’s what separates the rich from the poor, and it makes soo much sense.  It’s financial freedom, the ability to create wealth and not need your working wage.  I’m in the very early stages of this.  But I’m very excited to know what the next step is.

Keys to Recovery and Wellness

We get stuck.  That is all there is to it. In life, stress happens, we get stuck in events and judgments.  All problems have a solution.  The problem is, sometimes the solution is not what we want.

The solution is always yourself.  It is how we react to a problem, think of a problem, and/or how long we stick with a problem. 

When we decide we want to make a change or get past the problem, we have a difficult time.  We sometimes do not know what to do or where to go.  The solution is based on us, and not any outside factors.  Sometimes we hope for that knight in shining armor to swoop in and save us.  Unfortunately, that is usually not reality.   


1.       Mindfulness

The present moment.  There is no point on focusing on the future when we do not know for sure that the worst is going to happen.  Focus, and observe the now.  It is about the moment, your five senses, and everything else in the now.

Being wrapped up in fear and worry does not solve anything.  Focusing on guilt and resentment… again, does not solve anything.   The only time you can do anything about anything is in the present moment.  You can plan, you can learn from the past, but you cannot do anything at any time except for the present time.

2.      Focus on yourself, not on what others think and do

 “He shouldn’t have done that to me!”  Have you ever had this thought?  It might be true.  Does it matter if it is true?  Does that truth make you feel better?  If not then you are not solving the problem.


You are not responsible for what anyone else says and does.  Focusing on what others do and think and keeping that in your head only leaves you suffering.  You cannot make anyone else do or say something you want him or her to.  Stop focusing on them. Focus on yourself. 


Many people’s reaction is to get aggressive with someone when we feel frustrated by them.  That is not a good way to be a good person.  It is a very good way to create resentments and guilt.  It is a great way to ruin a relationship and create uncomfortable working environments.

 3.      Acceptance

I could probably stop here.  I could probably just write acceptance on a piece of paper and say “done.”  This is the key, right here. Why do I put the most important one number 3?  Does it irritate you?  Well, you are going to have to accept it because I am not responsible for how you feel!  (See what I did there?)

It is not just about focusing on yourself instead of others.  Things happen that are nobody’s fault, not even your own.  Even when they are your fault, it is done.  Accept it.

The hardest part about acceptance is that although people know they cannot change things, they still want things to change.  Life is long enough, but not long enough for you to focus on things you can’t control.  You do not have to like the situation, but if you want to live a life of wellness, you are going to have to let go of control of things. 

4.      Focus on the positive and appreciate what you have

Okay, I get it, there is negative in your life.  The negative is making you feel down, or worried.  Many people focus on the negative although there is good in their life.  Heck, some even forget that there is good in their life.

Are you breathing?  Then there is something good in your life.  There could be 1000,000,000,000,000 bad things in your life, but if there is one thing good in your life then it is not bad. 

5.      Work on improving the negative, not dwelling in it

Figure out how to improve it.  Go google “How to ____” and look at studies, research, articles, and what others have done to make changes.  Not a good enough answer for you?  There is probably a good reason for that. 


Usually, we do not follow through with change because we do not see results.  Would it make you feel better to know that it might take 90 days to 6 months to even scratch the surface and make results?  No?  Then you are going to have to accept that because things are not changing just because you want them to.  The good thing is, you are very capable.  The bad thing is, it’s not easy.  Is there really anything that’s easy that’s worth pursuing?

6.      Work on solutions

I’m kind of reiterating many things but I’ll explain.  Is there a way to fix it?  Yes?  Then fix it.  Is there no way to fix it?  Then do small things that you can handle and control right now.  The only reason you should focus on things you can’t control is to work on a solution.  Stop focusing on the worst possible consequence.  That is not a solution.  And if you have to focus on the worst possible consequence, focus on accepting the worst possible consequence.

7.      Keep an open mind, Always Learn

“That won’t work.”  Of course, it will not work.  You are not open to the possibility!   Maybe sometimes you have to learn how not to do things by listening to what doesn’t work.  However, do not just write off someone’s advice just because they can’t understand (by your own judgment usually).  Just because you cannot see why it works doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it. 

8.      There is no failure, only learning opportunities

Stop worrying about failing.  Failing is AWESOME!  Every time you fail, you get new information on what does not work.  Fail!  It is the best thing you can do.  Then, learn from it, accept it, come up with a solution, and keep an open mind that your way might not be the best way!

9.      Do the best you can with what you have

It might not be perfect right now.  You might not have the means right now.  Be patient with yourself. 

If you do not have money then work with the funds, you have.  Be ready to give up a lot of time to have funds.  5 years from now might be a different story.  As you work towards your goals, you will slowly gain more.  The more you gain, the more you have to work with. 

In Conclusion…

Take it slow, be patient, do the best you can.  Do not be perfect.  You do not have the means to be perfect.  Do the best you can. Next time you do it, you will do better.   Be okay with sadness, anxiety, lack of skill, lack of funds, or whatever your deficits you have right now.  Focusing on deficits is not a solution.  Solutions can only be achieved if you accept that you do not have everything you need for the perfect consequences.  Do not look for the perfect solution.  Look for the solution that gives you the best you can get, with what you already have. 


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Get the Most Out of Therapy

In therapy, the number one question I get from clients is, “have you ever had this problem before?”  This is especially true for my substance abuse clients.

It makes sense, people want to hear from somebody who has been “cured.”  Unfortunately in substance abuse and mental health, “cured” is generally not a thing.  Usually, we become “stabilized.”  A problem can always come back.

Emotions, cravings, and problems can return to our lives at any time.

I think the problem with the question is that me having an addiction is not going to help you deal with yours.  Having depression myself, will not “cure” your depression.  And for me to say “yes” to that question would give you the opportunity to zero in on me, the therapist.  Your therapy session is not about me.

It is about you.

Often times, people don’t want to talk about themselves, it’s uncomfortable.  As weird as it may seem, some people don’t even want to feel better.  They want everything to be perfect, or they want to feel sad or angry until they get their way.  This leads to more suffering.  Some people feel comfortable in their own self-loathing.

If I go to a dentist appointment I don’t ask, my dentist “do you have a cavity?”  I don’t ask my brain surgeon, “Have you had brain surgery?”  That isn’t what treatment is about.  So why should mental health be any different?

Everyone has their own stuff, and a therapist is trying to focus on your stuff.  They aren’t trying to focus on their own.  The fact of the matter is, if you want to make a positive change then YOU will have to work.  If you want someone around that has stayed sober, I’d suggest getting a sponsor.  In fact, I recommend that on top of your treatment.  I think that can be a very good part.

The question is, how can you get the most out of treatment?

  1.  Be Open-minded

Listen to your therapist.  Often times they have been in the field for a significant amount of time.  They have seen what works and what doesn’t work.

2.  Work Between Sessions

One thing I find is that people say they “don’t have time” between sessions to work on the homework the therapist has given them.  You’re not going to make life changes in a 45-minute session.  You’re going to make changes based on what you do between sessions.

3.  Know What You Want to be Different

Don’t expect your therapist to know what you want out of treatment.  I have literally had clients who do not want to change a thing in their life, they just want someone to talk to.  If you want to stay with the garbage boyfriend who’s spending all your money, make that known.

  4.  It’s Up to You to Make Life Improvements

If you choose to stay with this boyfriend that refuses to get a job and lays around your house eating your food and spending your money, know that your life will stay the change whether you see a therapist or not.

You’re wondering why I’m giving such a specific example, it’s because I’ve seen it before.  If you do nothing, nothing will change.  If you don’t like all your therapists’ suggestions, then it’s up to you to make the best decision you think you need to make.  You have to be okay with those consequences, then so am I.

5.  Don’t Come to Treatment High

I don’t care if you smoke marijuana, but don’t come in high before a session with me.  You’re getting nothing out of the session and you’re wasting everyone’s time.  I’m here to help you, but if you’re not willing to help yourself then it’s just not going to work.

 6.  Be Honest

What’s the point of going to a therapist if you’re just trying to make yourself look good?

In Conclusion

Therapy can be greatly successful if you want it to be.  The trouble is, most people don’t know what to expect when they go to treatment.  Most don’t want to work when they go.  I’m not quite sure what it is, but some people get something out of self-pity.

I heard someone say earlier today “You are not what you do.”  And I agree with that to a certain extent.  I personally think “You are your effort.”  And that’s what I’m looking for when you have treatment with me.

“Maximum Effort”


Stop Self-Pity

What is self-pity?  You’re sitting at home, worrying about how you aren’t successful.  You didn’t make that sale.  Maybe you didn’t lock down that client.

“I’m worthless.”

“I don’t deserve this job.”

“I’m a failure!”

I have one question for you.  Is this helping?  The self-pity, is it changing what happened?  I would venture to say it’s not.  These are just a bunch of words that are making you feel bad about a situation.

  The Victim

When we get into this mode, we are just taking the position of a victim.  Thinking like a victim is never a good idea, even if you meet the definition of a victim.  Victim thinking, self-pity, keeps you stuck.  If you think this way, your problem will never get solved.  And that’s the key

In all actuality, we victimize or self-pity ourselves because we want things to change.  Things don’t change unless you take action.  In order to take action, you need to have set goals.  Then you need to make a plan to reach those goals.

If you are only thinking about how bad you are at life, you are doing nothing to improve your life.  In fact, you are going the opposite way.  Instead of climbing the mountain, you are sinking down a deep hole.

I get it though.  It’s hard to change this way of thinking.  Don’t think that I am just trying to make it sound easy.  Our brains and bodies want us to think like victims want to think it’s helping us.  When we try to change this way of thinking, our body and brain fight back at us.

This is why acceptance is important.  Acceptance is about being okay with the way things are.  This doesn’t mean you like the way things are.  You just stop trying to control things.  You let go of everything you cannot control.  There is only one thing you can control, and that’s yourself.

Other People

Things constantly happen that are out of our controls.  That sale you lost, out of your control.  It’s not your fault the consumer isn’t interested in your product.  Maybe they don’t need it.  Maybe they prefer a cheaper product.  That client you lost, there could be many reasons why they didn’t want to stick with you.  It may have nothing to do with you.  Don’t sweat it.  You don’t have to like it, you just have to accept that you can’t control their decision.

Focusing on that loss is focusing on someone else’s decision.  You can’t control another person’s decision.  You can only control how you handle that decision.

The Change

We get into these “poopy” way of thinking sometimes.  It’s automatic.  We don’t actively try to victimize our self.  We’re not trying to actively practice self-pity.  It just happens.  Much of the time we don’t realize when it is happening.   We need to figure out how to catch ourselves.

I have had clients figure out creative ways to remind themselves to challenge their thinking.  Some clients have told me they write down things they feel gratitude for and place them on sticky notes.  They put the sticky notes up on places they see them like doors, the bathroom mirror, or the dashboard in their car.

It might be good to put a reminder on your phone.  Email yourself at work is a good idea as well.  Sometimes you might just need to catch yourself in the act of “stinking thinking.”

There was a time in my life where I turned to the bottle.  I did this because I was actively trying to hide from myself.  My thoughts constantly reminded me that I was a bad person, I am unlovable, and everyone hates me.  It was a dark murky place.  It was constant anxiety and depression.

I spent a lot of time being a victim.  Jealousy of everyone else reared its ugly head at me.  I had no money.  A future where I was a successful person was out of reach.

And Now?

Years later I have a Master’s degree, a professional license, and a career.  There was a time where I had to think like a Viking.  I had to be ruthless.  “F*&% everyone!”  I’d say to myself.  “I’m going to succeed and p*** a lot of people off!”

Maybe this was not the best way of thinking.  I became very angry and pushed forward in spite of everyone.  It became second nature to walk over everyone.  I took it the opposite way of victim thinking a bit too much.

My Experience

Something that can be learned from it though.  I didn’t allow my thoughts to keep me down.  Everyone else’s decisions and choices didn’t affect my life.  I took control and responsibility of my own life.

The fact of the matter is, I used my perception of everyone’s doubts as fuel for motivation.  A lot of people have had a distaste for me in this life. I stopped caring about that.  I can’t control what others think of me.  It’s none of my business what others think of me.    If I try to vindictively hurt those that have hurt me, it only makes me worse of a person.  It makes me feel guilty and gives my self-pity more fuel.

Succeeding disappoints haters, and at the same time makes me feel good.  If someone else feels pain or anger because I succeed, they are responsible for that.  If I vindictively try to hurt them by calling them names or slashing their tires, their pain is my responsibility.

In Conclusion…

You don’t owe anyone anything.  The only person you owe is yourself.  You are responsible for your success.  That client that didn’t want to sign on is not responsible for your success.  If it’s not working out, continue pushing forward.

If you start with the self-pity train, you are wasting time and energy.  Time is precious.  That time could have been used resting, having a mindful experience with your family, or putting energy into your next move.

Life Is Hard

Life is hard.  We would like it to be fair.  We often spend time focusing on the way we think things should be.  Reality and the way things should be are two different things.

I, myself, have had a problem with my humility for a very long time.  I have gotten angry and aggressive with things not going my way.  Often times with people not fitting my expectations.  I’m not the only one.  I see it every day.

The truth is, it takes a strong person to smile and not react in a destructive way.  You can’t use your past as an excuse.  I’ve grown up watching grown people throw fits and deal with reality in the most destructive of manners.  For a long time, it was how I dealt with things.  This led to lost friends and trouble with authority.

Sooner or later, we must take responsibility for our actions.  More accurately, we must take responsibility for our reactions.  That is what drives us to destruction.

Some people end with self-pity.  Often feeling other people hate them when they only hate themselves.  The truth is, we must be unapologetic for who we are.  We can’t help who we became, but we can start taking responsibility and be better now.

We must take care of ourselves.  If we can’t take care of ourselves, we absolutely will not be able to take care of anyone else; and we will not be able to gain respect from others.  So how can we better take care of ourselves?

1. Don’t Turn to Drugs or Alcohol

When we become ambivalent or stop caring, we are at higher risk of abuse drugs or alcohol.  Why?  It makes us feel good… for a couple of hours.  Overall, it makes things worse.  It’s merely a short escape followed by regrets.

When we escape, what happens to our problems?  They go unsolved.  When we come from our high, we become more anxious, angry, or depressed.  After this, we tend to make that hole that we created deeper and deeper.

Don’t let self-pity drive you to destroy yourself.  That’s generally when I see drugs and alcohol becoming a BIGGER problem.  Life isn’t going one’s way, a loved one dies, or our boyfriend/girlfriend left us.  We start pitying ourselves, hide it with anger then the drug/alcohol abuse escalates.  Don’t let this happen.

2. Continue Practicing Good Hygiene

When we stop caring, we become less motivated.  Some people might wait longer between bathing.  Maybe they skimp on brushing their teeth.  They might become too depressed to wash their clothes.

Even when you don’t feel like doing it, continue doing it.  You will look better.  People are more likely to connect with you.  It will be less likely to affect your work.

3. Redirect Thoughts

Automatic thoughts are words and pictures that just kind of, automatically pop up in your head.  When my thoughts go towards the worst, I redirect it to what’s really important.  I think about how lucky I am to be a father, have a house, have a job, have a car, whatever it is that I’m lucky to have.

Don’t get stuck in thoughts that are not making you better.  If it’s not helping, change your mind to something more productive.  What you think affects what you feel and what you do.

4. Set Clear Short-Term Goals

Much of the time we feel hopeless because we are directionless.  Figure out where you want to go, and what you need to do to get there.  It’s that simple.

The road to where you want to be isn’t simple… hence ‘life is hard.’  Your plan won’t always work out the way you wanted it to.  If you are driven, you will make it to your end goal.  You might even change your goals on the way to something more feasible, or better.

5. Life is Hard, But Don’t Let the Negative Win

Nothing is stopping you but yourself.  You can blame anyone you want.  In the end, you hold yourself back.  It doesn’t matter what your circumstances are.  Certain circumstances will make the path harder, but not impossible.

In Conclusion…

As Han Solo said, “Never tell me the odds.”  Stop over thinking things and just do it.  I want to start a business.  Well, I need $10,000 first.  It might take me a year or a few years, but I need to put money aside to get there.

Mind:  “But it takes so long.  You’re never going to make it.  You’re going to fail.”

Me redirecting my mind:  “This paycheck I succeeded in putting $100 in my savings.  Today I did not fail.  I reached a short-term goal which is to START saving.”

Take control of your future.  Life is hard, but nothing easy is worth pursuing… nothing.