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Sunday, March 28, 2010

I Have Very Low Self-Esteem

Dear A. B.

I continue to be amazed when you write me back. It is not often that I meet people as selfless as you have the ability to be. I actually find myself thanking a higher power for your existence. My heart-felt thanks to you.

I am struggling with the tactic of completely ignoring my thinking as the method out of this. I have very low self esteem, and I think that the world is a very messed up place right now. I am somewhat of a perfectionist, and you know how harmful that can be. I keep having the thoughts that this depression will not go away for good until I get to a place where I love me, and am OK with the way the world is. Can I really do that by just thinking Hippity-hop? What about the research that says CBT works...or is there really that much proof that it does?

I learned to think of myself as a poor and unwanted creature when I was young, as that is what I was. Do you think that I have some building or rewriting of old programs to do so that life is not filtered through that belief system? What I am saying is that I see the world through my vision which seems to be programmed pretty damn downer and negative...and it is hard for me to believe (though, trust me, I really want to) that all I have to do is ignore thoughts and I will feel better about myself.

What if I don't even know they are negative or that I am thinking them?

One of the hardest things right now is to not tell people how bad I feel. I feel like I am lying. They are thinking tra la la la, and I am thinking, hmm, to not be alive would be a break from this. Weird.

Do you think there is such a thing as Seasonal Depression? If so, can it be treated with Directed Thinking as effectively? Should I just damn move to CA? :)

It's so helpful to hear about your lack of fear. I long to be like you in that regard, I try to picture it sometimes. Just standing there thinking...ha, I am safe, depression can not get me for more then a few mins...ha! Now that sounds like living.

Major thanks,

Dear R,

Cognitive behavior therapy works, but it is not perfect because the creators of CBT didn't really study neuroscience to understand how the brain works, and how one really gets from one thought to the other via learned association. The creators of CBT probably never heard about the neurological process of pain perception upon which my work on brainswitching is built. CBT is mainly common sense which always works better than upsetness.

It is always better to think a rational instead of an irrational thought, and to use good rational proactive judgment instead of emotional reactive old habit judgment of recurring situations wherein you tend to come off as a loser due to habitual loser thinking.

One problem with CBT comes when the idea is to make you a winner instead of simply making you a wise, self-aware person, whether you win or lose.

The other problem is that CBT depends upon using your thinking faculties, which are pretty much offline when you are in the midst of a depression. When you are severely depressed, all your neural activity is in the subcortex and you have only limited access to your neocortex and thinking processes. Brainswitching can be used no matter how severely depressed your are. But you must prepare the brainswitching exercise ahead to have it “at the ready” for the same reason. You don’t have much neural activity going on in the neocortex.

As far as your feeling of unworthiness. It is my own belief that the self-view you learn as a child is always your default position. Mine was similar to yours. No matter how successful I am there is that recurring thought pattern that says "unworthy" that seems to be the bottom-line foundation of my persona. So what? My persona is not my soul. My persona is my character that I must strive to improve upon by trial and error in my life.

I strive to be honest and compassionate. I still find I can fall short and in those cases where I find myself selfish and shallow, I rededicate myself to being a better person. So the fact that my baseline thinking is "unworthy", when I am not actively engaged in productive behavior, or when I sink into self-focus, is not really a problem. It is rather a signal to me that I have become self-focused and negative, and I should redirect my thinking and my efforts in a more productive direction. So instead of "I'm unworthy" being a signal to despair, it is a signal to get out of self-focus. Ergo. "I'm unworthy" has been transformed into a friendly reminder, a gift.

Why spend a lot of effort to remake some old thinking patterns of unworthiness. Just don't think the old patterns when they pop up. Use them as a signal that you are not thinking positively or productively at the moment, and redirect your thinking to more worthy pursuits. You can't really change a thought anyway. You really just choose a new one.

Not everybody can be a winner. Look at me. I do honestly believe I know more about getting out of depression than most doctors or psychiatrists, yet my books are not best-sellers. Why? Most people want the easy lie, and don't want to be told that, it is hard work at first, but they could get out of depression without drugs. Best sellers wrap their small amount of wisdom in the conventional "you can be a winner" mantras, and "maybe you might need medication" that our culture gravitates to.

The best sellers about depression like Noonday Demon or Kay Redfield Jamison's books or Kathy Cronkite's or all the other celebrity sufferer writers are all glorifying the specialness of people who have depression, and the necessity for medication. I dissent from this specialness. So I'm not a "winner" when it comes to selling depression books. I content myself with the fact that I have done my best, and people who are ready to hear what I have to say about depression will have an opportunity that would not otherwise exist except for me. Some really famous people have read my work, and completely changed their lives. I don't publicize their names.

I stay away from pointing out the specialness of people who are depressed. People who are depressed are not special. They are simply ignorant of how their own brain works and lack the techniques and the practice to get out depression. People who get depressed are just ordinary people. They are not ruined, and do not need to go back and remake themselves. They are fine. They just need to take charge of their own brain and their own thinking.

Wisdom is not highly valued in our society. Truly wise psychiatrists like Thomas Szasz are side-lined as "anti-psychiatrists." Being ordinary and doing one's duty is not highly valued in our society. Being self-assured and self-confident is highly valued. Being a good person and doing the right thing and being a loser is not highly valued.

Think about the economic situation today. I'm of the older generation of people who had a good classical education in the Christian-Judeo Western civilization principles of being ethical and moral. A lot of men in my generation were not highly thought of on Wall Street for not being a "game player" because they didn't want to make money by short-changing their clients and cooking the books.

Many men I know were fired in the 80's because they wouldn't "go along". They were not dedicated to being "winners" if it went against their own core values and ethics. The people who rose to the top were the younger "winners" who were educated in the new values of situational ethics, and putting aside questions of essential right and wrong as "old-fashioned." They amassed millions for themselves but look at what they brought their country to. A recession. Those who remained honest and honorable, and refused to be corrupted may not be rich, but they sleep at night and they can look anybody in the eye because they know they didn't sell out, they didn't prosper by doing harm to others. A. B. Curtiss

Dear A. B.

Wow. I don't think I've ever been so blown away by an e-mail. I feel down-right lucky to be the recipient of it to be honest. You really answered my question and then went on to blow me away with...well, the freakin truth. Thank you sooooooo much.

So, that's my plan. No meds, no counselors and no more CBT books/sessions this time. This time I try just brainswitching. I am dedicated to it. Negative thought comes, and is promptly shown the door.

I just want to tell you that I am so glad you made it. You are the biggest winner I can think of. You, the woman who has figured out how to cure herself of the scariest damn thing most of us will ever encounter. I picture you laying in bed, rolling your eyes and smirking when the next wave of ill thoughts tries to come in. Like "heh, nice try depression, but the jigs up, I've got your number".

I love your story about Wall Street and ethics. It really hits home with me as I tend to sit around thinking, "Well I'm no Angelina Jolie. I am not rich, and super gorgeous and have a great career." I really need to stop comparing myself to these people. I don't watch much TV, and select movies very carefully because I don't want to feel badly about myself for not measuring up. I also don't want to fill my head with trash.

Got to the point that I was thinking "I need to get into acting or I am a total failure, and have not lived my dream. I should get some minor plastic surgery so I am more appealing. I should leave my husband for a rich man." I could not have a better husband, by the way...he is simply one of the most sincere, hardworking and kind persons on the planet. But it's like you pointed out, he's not rich, so I tend fall into the trap of thinking he is not as good as rich people, and neither am I. So easy to fall into that. Things really seem to be out of hand in that regard these days.

I hope you do hit the bestsellers list someday, because so many people would be in better shape for it.

thank you, thank you, thank you,

P. S. By the way, do you think there is anything to seasonal depression? At the very least I do wonder if it is easier to think more positively when the sun is shining. I seem to have an easier time of it. I struggle to find things to do to fill my time when it's rainy, and since I live in Portland now...it's always rainy! Going to be getting dark at about 5pm...rainy on the weekends...oh boy!

Dear R.

Seasonal depression is just another way for psychiatrists to make money on people who think too much about how they are feeling and do not think about what they are doing to move forward with their day. Downer thoughts are just downer thoughts. Why think downer thoughts about the rain. I love the rain because we need it so badly here in Southern California. The rain might have saved thousands of people's houses that burned in the last wildfires.

Imagine how those old farmers in the 1930s would have blessed the rain that might have saved their crops. People will always find excuses for why they are feeling bad. People feel bad because they do not think the things, and do the things that would make them feel good. Curl up with a good book and thank your lucky stars that you are not blind and so therefore you can read, and see the rain around you. Thank your lucky stars that when it rains you have a roof over your head, and don't have to sleep out in the street as millions of people in the world have to do. A. B. Curtiss

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