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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

I'm Anxious About Upcoming Test

My Question Is:

Shortly I will have final exam for becoming a tourist guide. It is my second time attending because first time I failed. It can be difficult exam, because as a guide I will lead small group of people ( including committee professors) either on the bus or outside.

My last experience was not so good, because I was so self-focused and I disliked feeling the stress before my turn. Thanks to you, I understand that it is mind’s survival mechanism and I know very well to direct my mind into different direction, using non-emotional and neutral thought.
Anyway, I am afraid that emotions will prevail again and that I will lose clarity of mind. Last time on the exam my brain was really excited to perform, I was maybe too confident and I made some big mistakes. 

For instance, I knew the right name for mountains ahead of us, but brain told me wrong names and it was only at the end that somebody told me I made a mistake with names of the mountains. I was really puzzled, because I was sure I was correct during the performance. 

To make it short, how can I focus my brain and keep calm before my performance starts. Usually it gets very wild minutes before I will perform. My heart starts racing and lots of heat goes in the head. 
The second question is, how to avoid depression that hits afterward, when such events are finished? Usually I need 2 days to recover and rest. 

I thank you again for this great work you do. Thank you for reply. 

My Answer:

Most people have social anxiety about speaking in public. Many have test anxiety. Both can be helped by a deep breath, relaxing the shoulder muscles and focusing on the task ahead rather than self-focusing on your fear.  

For public speaking, substitute a pat on the back for yourself instead of frightening yourself. “You studied, the words will come to you. It’s all right to hesitate and collect your wits. You can actually pause and look around at the crowd or the person you are addressing or even say out loud something like, I’m really happy to be here or some such innocuous phrase.

For tests, always use the self-falk “I know this, the answer is coming to me now.” Or any positive or neutral thought to replace the panic thought—“I don’t know this, I’m going to fail,” which are not helpful. Hope this helps.

As for depression, fear dumps adrenalin into the brain which is very hard on the metabolic processes and causes the down shift in energy. But fear accepted and the adrenalin used up in thinking or speaking activity does not have the same downshift effect. Remember that depression is a thought. It cannot think itself when you direct your thought process in another direction and refuse to think the depression. A. B. Curtiss

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

I Lost the Feeling of Love for my Husband

Unknown has left a new comment on your post "My Husband is Mean and Yells at Me. I'm being Bull...":

Hi,,, I am 10 years married now to my husband, and it's starting to get really hard for me to endure my husband's attitude,, I have left my family behind to be with him, and now after 7 years of not seeing them is getting to me.. Anything that I try to do in a good way for him never satisfies him, instead its always mean words do degrade me and call me names while screaming so loud the neighbors hear him.. when he does yell at me he spits because he is talking so loud.. I forgive him for the way he does things but now I think I am falling in depression,,

We never do anything any more and I have lost the feeling of making love, it’s like I am dead inside... tears are starting to build up in my eyes talking about it.. I don't know what to do, I am afraid alone,, no help... it is hard I just feel like leaving, but my heart still clings to him... I just don't know what to do,, I give him everything and anything he wants but it’s not enough. His aggression is horrible!!!

Dear Friend,

You are living in a constant state of fear. But that is not your husband’s fault. At least in this country you can count on your personal freedom so if your husband is physically abusive, you can call 911. Meanwhile you are totally responsible once you reach adulthood to take care of yourself, physically, mentally and spiritually.

One clue is that blaming others is the way we avoid the pain of our own fear. Your husband has the same problem. His own fear is causing him to blame you for whatever is going wrong or whatever failure he senses about his own life.

 One of you has to wake up to the fact that no one is here on earth to take care of you and everyone on the planet is doing the best that he can at the moment. There is always the possibility of redemption. You are supposed to take care of yourself and share your life with others.

Most of us suffer from repressed fear left over from our childhood. Fear is painful. To avoid the pain of our own fear we, instead, focus our attention on what others are doing wrong. And we can always find it in the people around us. Especially in our own family.

Anything you do out of fear is not going to be inappropriate to your own life in some way. So all our action should be, as much as possible, out of love. Since you love your husband you are probably confusing the issue by thinking that if you give in to him, it is an act of love when it may, instead, be an act of fear and therefore have a totally inappropriate outcome.

Anything you do out of love is bound to be appropriate to your life in some way. So you must take care of yourself in these adverse situations with your husband out of your love of doing the right. you won’t be able to do that unless you can call upon your courage by acknowledging your fear first. I had the same problem many years ago and my marriage at that time was very unhappy. I finally got the message and when he would raise his voice to bully me, or silence me, or criticize me I would say to myself “How can I take care of myself in this adverse situation.”  My typical response had been to slink away and get depressed.

After a while when my husband could no longer bully me because I was no longer impressed with the inappropriate way he handled his own fear, he was left with his own outrageous and bullying behavior and I could either walk away, perfectly happy with myself, or point out to him that I was not impressed that he was so out of control.

It is hard work to be a human being sometimes. But we can’t blame others for our failure to take care of ourselves. And you can visit your family whenever you want.

A lot of information on this topic is on my depression website or on my blog (you are not the only one  who is struggling) or in my book DEPRESSION IS A CHOICE.

I’ll be glad answer any other questions you have.  A. B. Curtiss

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

I Refer to Your Book Often

Dear A.B.

I met you at one of your book signings a year or so ago. I have referred back to your book "Depression is a Choice" many times. I find it a valuable read, considering the alternative systemized approach of prescription drug solutions that have NOT enhanced my life. It has been a tough battle and I want to win-without prescription drugs dragging me down.

I would like to surround myself with like minded people. Can you offer any suggestions with CBT groups or perhaps an up-coming lecture to attend? I want to break out of this programmed mindset and see things from a different perspective. Thank you for any positive feedback /suggestions /new directions you might have on this journey.Thank you again ,

A fellow traveler

Dear Fellow Traveler,

Thank you for your letter. The main thing to remember is that anything you do in a proactive way by thinking anything other than a depressive thought, is heading       your mind in the right direction 

And if you keep heading in the right direction, since the brain always follows the direction of its most current dominant thought and you can make any thought dominant by thinking it over and over, you will ultimately be victorious. When depression hits, you do the same proactive thinking,

You might check into some of the possibilities at the Deepak Chopra Center in Carlsbad, CA. They have many valuable programs and updates.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Your Work Connects Well with non-dual Eastern Wisdom

Dear AB

I read your books some 10 years ago and today I again find so much refreshment and clarity in what you say. I tried to understand and study non- dual wisdom from East. I think your work beautifully connects both. The life of a person and awareness which we all are as one source. The understanding how the brain works and how one thinks is very important and I think it is like a pre-qualifiaction if we really want to re-cognize who or what we are in the absolute sense.

I would like to ask you, if you also study or learn about the non-dual wisdom (Advaita Vedanta) or Self Knowledge?

My second question is, why are humans so attracted to self centeredness and thinking about one self-misery is so much easier than thinking a neutral thought? I know it very well for myself and it looks I am just starting again from the start. Like you say, it is a good news that our brain has endless capacities for new neural acitivities.

I want to thank you for your effort you put in through writting and speaking. The video on your website is amazing and gives us very important message.

With love from Europe,

Dear With Love from Europe

Thank you so much for your letter. I’m happy that my work has been helpful to you.

To answer your first question: I studied Vedanta under Dr. Alan Anderson of San Diego State University. This great professor is no longer there but I began to understand what an unusual teacher he was when I realized that there were three members of the class that were quantum physicists who had traveled from Los Angeles to San Diego three days a week for ten years to study under him. They helped the class understand some of the Eastern religion maxims in terms of quantum physics. Lately I have been studying the work of Deepak Chopra.

As to your second question: The reason we are all so self-centered is based upon our primitive survival instinct, our flight or fight response, which gives us increased energy in times of danger and which can also be triggered by other events than real danger. We must not forget that the mind is basically a defense mechanism and therefore as paranoid as a secret service agent looking for something that might go wrong when the President is traveling. It is our default mechanism when we are not engaged in other on- purpose thinking activities.When we allow ourselves to slip into accidental rather than on-purpose thinking we can easily trigger the fight-or-flight response because it is always turned on and ready to defend us.

 A. B. Curtiss

Friday, June 10, 2016

Difficulty Shouldn't be the Test

Whether or not you do something should not depend on how difficult it is but rather on whether it is to your good or not. Perhaps I derived this idea from the observance of how easy it is to fall into things that are not to our good.

Brainswitching is in this category. It is extraordinarily difficult to do, even though it is simple. It is difficult to do because depression and anxiety are so easy to fall into and once we fall into them it is just so much easier to stay there than to exert ourselves to get out of them, the law of enertia working against us.

So the first thing we should do is to put the law of intertia to work for us instead of against us (a body at rest tends to stay at rest). We are resting (albeit uncomfortably) in our anxiety or depression. We need to move out of it. It is difficult, yes. And anyting difficult always requires our courage.

(a body in motion tends to stay in motion)

I Need Your Help Again


I needed to connect with you once again. I am down and I have your tools. Everything is helping that you so graciously guided me through. I had many years of personal empowerment from your support. But I have hit another bump in the road where I feel over whelmed and lost. I would like to connect by email or phone with you to share what I am now facing.

I am looking to re-ground myself and I need to get my footing. My home is now too big for me to manage so I am selling it. My dog has been ill. I would like to stop my suffering about his suffering. As I am writing to you he just threw up.


It is easier to connect via email.


Thank you for getting back to me. I am keeping a journal and it is helping some. But each day I wake up feeling like I cannot go on. Each day it is very different, never the same fears or worries of depression. I have never felt bad in the morning before--this is new. I fear that my brain is drying up and because of that there is no hope. That might be true but me worried about that happening is only hastening the brain loss. Well there it is. Today in a nut shell. Thank you for listening.

My aging is taking my full attention. I want to get back to my earlier feeling of well-being and I know it is in me to do it but it is not happening. I am under the weather. I am either depressed or fearful and up tight. What do you think?

Warmly and appreciated,

All of us have fearful moments. If we are worried about brain loss, we should remember that the brain has the capacity for neuroplasticity, which means that the brain can produce new neurons and neural patterns indefinitely even in old age. However we have to exercise our brain just the way we do the rest of our body. Anything new helps to renew the production of neurons in our brain. If you’ve never done crosswords before, now it the time to start doing them. If you’ve never played card games before, now is the time to start doing them.

For instance, I have just taken up the piano which is very difficult for me. When I feel discouraged that it is hard to learn something, then I remember, good then this is really going to help improve my brain.

And if I let my fear escalate into a panic attack I put on my thinking brakes immediately and turn from thoughts about how afraid I am to some nursery rhyme or some inspirational poem. I have committed many poems to memory just so I have something to think about instead of my fear. For instance those I have learned include the 23rd Psalm, the Gettysburg Address, Desiderata, IF by Rudyard Kipling, Crossing the Bar by Tennyson, Milton’s sonnet on his blindness and Invictus. The next thing I’m going to memorize is the Ten Paradoxical Commandments by Kent Keith.

And I try to remember that I am not alone. There is always someone, some human being that I can connect with in some small way, say hello to--even if it’s only the person standing next to me in the Post Office. We should not allow negative and downer thinking. As soon as we catch ourselves doing it, we can chose another thought and some more positive action, no matter how humble.

A. B. Curtiss


Thank you for your leads. I will try crossword puzzles. I also do drawings. I am going to start the piano.  Staying busy also helps me. I still use
‘Green Frog.”

I have my business and a couple are moving into my house and that is bringing up my mood. I also have been listening to the 4 agreements. I want to be better but just when things are getting better for sure,then I cast my eyes on things in the far off future and loose all my feelings in my fingers and legs.

Or I notice an cut on my finger and then see my aging bringing me more and more challenges. I’ve just got to find a way to be a better person for myself in this aging process. I want to feel loved, safe and secure and that I can handle suffering like my mother did. I need a community of friends that are going through the same thing that are helping each other to stay strong.

I must admit that I have times I feel really good but I see that these times come from events outside of myself. I want to find peace and comfort from just being alive. I want my comfort to come from inside me like Eckhart Tolle 

When asked what life is; a great sage said that life is like the fragrance of jasmine carried on the spring breeze. I want that kind of awareness. Then I want to be able to handle my emotiond so I can least  retutn to a  neutral state of conciousness. I want neutral to be enough if that is all I can reach.

I do not want to need a party.  When I freak out, I want to be able to calm myself.
I do not want my fear to take me to depression because I cannot handle my fear.
I want to feel my healing growing inside of me rather than the decaying. I want to respect myself.

I have found that listing wants helps me. Thank you for giving me things that really work. One think I know it is that it is... dealing with it works better than not.


Sounds like you are headed down the right track. Just remember that when you are going in the wrong direction the smallest positive thing you can do turns you 180 degrees in the right direction. A small positive action or thought has great power. It’s not the greatness of the thought or action that matters. A simple acknowledgment of your intent to do better is enough.

 “I’m doing my very best today, even though it seems I haven’t accomplished much. I have taken a step in the right direction. Tomorrow I may take two steps forward or even backward. No matter, right now I am intending to be better. And I I will concentrate on my intention, not my fear.”

A.B. Curtiss

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

I'd like to Become a Therapist


I have been suffering from anxiety and depression. And reading your book is really helping me understand the whole thinking pattern. And with me I need to understand something before I can change it. If that makes sense. I am in my 30s with 2 young kids. I work but it's not my passion. I want to do something I love rather than something I know. A few years ago I was thinking about becoming a therapist. But I put it off and dealt with life’s events.

And recently I've been doing a lot of reading and reflecting, realizing that becoming a therapist feels like my calling. It's something I would love doing rather than just to have a job. Ever since I can remember I've enjoyed helping others. I'm not sure what kind of therapist I want to become. How did you come to choose to become a psychotherapy?


Thanks for your letter. My becoming a therapist was totally coincidental. I was taking a friend to SDSU trying to get her interested in some course of study to get her mind off her recent divorce. I was behind her in line and looking at the list of courses when I realized the woman at the counter was asking me what course I was interested in. Thinking this was merely idle conversation I answered I was kind of interested in the counseling education course. “Oh, that’s closed,” she said. “Oh that’s okay,” I said.

And I thought of my best friend in high school who became a biofeedback counselor and realized I had been slightly envious but never before had given a  thought that I myself could aspire to such a lofty calling. The clerk said to me then “But you could take it on an at-risk basis and hope to get into the program after the semester ends. “Fine,” said I, “I’ve been at risk all my life.” So, on a whim I just signed up then and there. And that’s how I became a therapist. To become an MFT (marriage family counselor) is time intensive. You need at least 1000  hours of practice (usually unpaid) before you can even take the license exam. (You’ll have to check on that figure it may be as much as 3,000 hours. I don’t remember for sure.

And there are many different kinds of therapists. Hypnotherapists,  and Spiritual therapists besides the marriage family (MFT). You can get a degree on line. Of if you belong to a church you could become a “lay counselor.”  On the other hand, some people simply develop a helpful expertise, write a book and give lectures without any official designation. Read Dale Carnegie’s book How to Make Friends and Influence People. He started out by doing small free talks at the YWCA and his course in now known throughout the world. Some people just start by writing a helpful blog and reach out to help people that way. Some people begin by doing Tarot readings for people in some kind of psychic community like Elfin Forest. Good luck on your path.

You might find Deepak Chopra’s book The Essential Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire helpful in finding out what your next step might be. It’s less than 150 pages. A. B. Curtiss