Welcome to my Blog

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Can Depression Keep Me from Getting a Job?

Dear Ms Curtiss 

My depression keeps me fear from finding a job. 
I sometimes say how the employer will let me work if he knew or notice my case. 

I need help for this thoughts 


Dear R,

In the first place there are probably 100 million people in this country who are depressed some times. Make that 300 million. You are no different from everybody else. We all get depressed now and then. Some people just get out of it faster.

That's the only difference, some people get out of their depression faster. They can do that because they notice that first downer thought and zap it before it gets going good on their mood. Depression is much easing to zap when you make yourself aware of the downer shift right away.

The other difference is that some people who get depressed behave as if they are depressed. They sigh a lot, and look sad, and speak in a weak sad voice. The also put out their anger on other people. Others have decided that, even though they may be depressed at the moment, they will not BEHAVE in a depressed manner. They will be CHEERFUL, and mindful of others, and look for ways to feel better by connecting with other people. They will continue to concentrate on their work instead of their depression, and think about what they are doing and not think about feeling bad.

If you manage your behavior well, your depression need not keep you from doing well on the job. Go for it.

A. B. Curtiss

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Why do we Fight? Blame it on our Brains

Loved this article in the Wall Street Journal. Another way to look at relationships. Or maybe we should call them relationshops, as in workshops. A. B. Curtiss

Why Do We Fight? Blame It on Our Brains.

My husband is smart. Super smart. Like, not only does he devour fat history books, but he can talk about them in an engaging manner that's neither stuffy nor oversimplified. He's good with numbers, too. And he knows the meaning of Latin root words -- a big turn-on to a crossword-puzzle addict like me. (He had me at salve.)
I love his brain. It's Joe's dominant quadrants I could do without. Recently, I got absolutely walloped by his lower left.

The fight was among the dumbest we've ever had because we weren't in disagreement.
We were driving to yoga class on a Saturday when I glanced at my iPhone. There was a note from a friend whose daughter is in a play group with our daughter. My neighbor let me know that the price -- the parents pay a retired Montessori teacher to lead the group as well as for supplies and snacks -- was going up for the summer session. I looked up from my phone and told Joe that "the Little School," as we call it, was going to be a bit more expensive.

"How much more?" he asked.

"I don't know, but not much," I answered.

"What do you base that presumption on?" he asked.

"My sense of things, having talked a lot with the other moms," I said.

"In other words, you have no idea," he said.

"No, I do have an idea," I said. "My idea is that it won't be a big increase."

"Right, otherwise known as having no idea," he said. Then he added, "One other question, what's the extra money for?"

I didn't answer. We drove in silence for about five minutes. Then I spoke: "Do you have a problem with our paying more for the Little School?"

"There is virtually no amount that I can imagine being called for that I would have a problem with," he said. "The Little School is worth every dime."

"Then what is the issue?" I huffed.

"The issue is, I still would like to know the specifics," he said, exasperated.

The Little School is something I had a big hand in setting up, something I'm very proud of. Joe knows this. He said he wasn't even worried about the increase. Yet he badgered.

I seethed in downward-facing dog.

After class, Joe got mad that I was still mad. It would be hours before we spoke to each other again.

Earlier that week, Joe had spent a few days at a business conference at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

"I got my personality tested today," he told me when he called from the hotel after a day of seminars and meetings.

"Did it get a passing grade?" I asked. (One of us thought that was pretty funny.)

One of the things that makes my husband a great guy, and a smart person, is that he is always integrating lessons from one part of life into another. The day after the Little School blow-up had blown over, Joe said to me, "I think we have very different dominant brain quadrants and when we fight, that's getting in our way." Then he reached into his briefcase and pulled out a folder.

It was from Personality School!

He began to set on the kitchen counter graphs and charts, the results of a Herrmann International brain dominance survey.

These brain analysis surveys are meant to identify which segments of a person's brain -- the part that controls rational thinking versus that in which we process conceptual ideas, for example -- kick into gear in the course of conducting business and when crises erupt.

"Here is how my brain works," Joe said, pointing to a jumble of charts, lines and graphs. He is a big A Quadrant/upper left guy: strong in quantitative, analytical and technical thinking. When he gets stressed, the analysis explained, he gets even more detail-oriented and focused on the sequence of what happened and who said what (B Quadrant/lower left).

If I needed any evidence of his methodical thinking, I might point to the fact that Joe was using a chart to show me why he thinks we got in a fight.

"I've taken it upon myself to conduct an analysis of your brain and you're are all upper and lower right," he said. I consulted the chart. This means I think artistically, emotionally and conceptually.

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know these things about us," I said, tapping into my own Quadrant A logic. Joe looked a bit hurt that I was dismissing his PowerPoint presentation. So sensitive.

I kept thinking about the fight. Joe did, too. Last Friday evening we began to discuss it further. Instead of poring over charts, we poured glasses of wine.

"I felt like you were criticizing me," I said.

"I was asking very straightforward questions," he said.

We were saying what the chart said. In a stressful situation, I got emotional -- and unable to recognize that his questions were reasonable. He got singularly focused on the details. He couldn't see that I was feeling criticized by his peppering me with questions to which I didn't have immediate answers.

Joe and I know how different we are. In the course of daily life, we often consider our individual differences a source of team strength. But when the tension mounts, the differences turn on us and we turn on each other. Maybe recognizing that will help us to be a little more patient.

"I don't know how I feel about drawing marital insight from a chart," I said.

"Technically," he answered, "it's a graph."

I leaned over and kissed Joe on the head. That brain cracks me up.
Write to Katherine Rosman at katherine.rosman@wsj.com

Friday, June 24, 2011

Reality is in the Eye of the Beholder

Relationships are difficult because we usually think we are the reasonable ones. Then why do we sometimes seem unreasonable to others? Because reality is always in the eye of the beholder. And that is why if we can take a split second to imagine there might be something else going on than what we are just about to react to, we can effect a different outcome. We can effect a different outcome because we will be having a different emotional reaction to the same scene. Instead of being angry, depressed, or upset in some way which we will then feel we must communicate to the other person, we will be okay and connected to them instead of distancing them . This holds true at home or at work.

Case in point from my own life.

My husband and I were cleaning up the patio. I was using the blower and my husband asked me to stop doing the patio and, instead, blow the wood chips out of the back of his car so he could move it and not get the blower dust from the patio all over his car. I was quite willing to do this and headed in the direction of his car. I stopped on my way to the car and asked him to move the two dog pads off the patio.

HIS REALITY: I wasn’t doing what he wanted by blowing the wood chips out of the car first and, instead, was asking him to move the pads so I could continue to blow off the patio.

MY REALITY: I was on the way to the car to do what my husband asked and only stopped to ask him to move the dog pads because I didn’t want to be late for yoga class and this would save me time when I came back to blow off the patio.

Result: he got angry and threw the dog pads aside in disgust. I was annoyed by his temper which I thought was uncalled for.

Later when we discussed the really inconsequential incident (it’s easier to discuss inconsequential incidents than huge big disputes) my husband said he would have been quite willing to move the dog pads to make it faster for me if he realized I was going to do his car first before continuing to blow off the patio.  Therefore he wouldn’t have been angry and upset and neither would I.

Actually at first when we discussed the incident, it wasn’t so successful and my husband said:
“So what you are telling me is that I shouldn’t reveal my feelings to you, that I should hide my anger from you.“

Of course that wasn’t the point and we finally got to the point. The point that was most difficult for my husband to see is that had he seen a different reality, he wouldn’t have been angry in the first place. It wasn’t a matter of not being honest about “communicating our feelings” is was a matter of seeing a different reality causes us to have different feelings.  This is why some wise man once said “an unexamined life isn’t worth living.” 

LESSON FOR US: My husband could examine his negative emotions to see if he could look at the situation in a different way and see a different reality. I could communicate my intentions more clearly even if I'm in a hurry.

Monday, June 13, 2011

What Did I Do Wrong?

Dear A.B. Curtiss

I was reading in your book today because I'm having a particularly bad day/ week/ month/... you get the idea. I've tried to focus enough to use your method but it seems like my mind is like a gear box that has seized. I'm exhausted from a lack of sleep due to the tension/pain I live in with my ribs/back. I am in the most fear I have been in at this point in my life and at the very same time the most peace. It's strange to feel that way. I know that I know everything is going to be fine and at the very same time the background subconscious is running frantically around saying that everything is wrong. I believe in the cool calm conscious part of my mind thankfully but what gets me is the fact that although this is not permanent I need to figure out what work needs to be done so that the primal mind stops harassing me.

Page 268 in your book Depression is a Choice points out that if we have some pressing issues we need to address we had better take care of them or our primal mind defense system is going to keep beating us up. I wholeheartedly agree with that. My issue is, What is my problem? You quoted someone in your book as saying that enlightenment is just the realization that there is no problem. I guess in reality the problem is that my mind has given me thoughts that I took at face value and then labeled problems. so in that sense I don't really have problems only the illusion of problems. Which would explain why, under all this pain and pressure, I feel like everything is alright. It's actually kinda weird. Before reading your book and actually looking at my thoughts objectively I would have been in a serious fix right about now. 

So I guess what I am getting at after all that fluff is... What can I do to stop my mind from racing all over the place trying to find a comfortable/ controlled situation, which only ends up freezing me in more pain? What do I need to fix or take care of? Childhood wounds(I think that's bull)? The back pain ( that might never end because it has been chronic)? The inability to focus? I'm at a loss. This morning my brain felt like molasses. So slow and unable to think. The strange thing is that if I was unable to think I wouldn't be able to write you this email so obviously I can think and obviously it makes some kind of sense so all is not lost. 

Oh yes and another question. What on earth did I do wrong/ Where did I go wrong? I don't know that you can answer that not knowing me at all but I thought I'd ask anyways. –T

Dear  T,

I don’t think that we “do things wrong.” I think that we are always in the right place to learn the lessons we must learn in order to become stronger, wiser and advance to the next level of awareness.  Of course, the lessons are often painful ones.

I also believe that when we are at our lowest ebb, when we think we can’t go on, we can humbly ask for help and help will come to us from somewhere, in some form, to guide us through our difficulty. Whenever I ask for help I protect myself from any possible “dark power “by insisting that any help must be “for the good of humanity.”

For chronic pain I can suggest hypnosis. There are many books on self-hypnosis, tapes, and courses available. I would suggest you take a course in self-hypnosis. Hypnosis is not only good for chronic pain but for learning how to relax. Yoga is also wonderful too for strengthening the body and learning how to breathe properly and relax. A. B. Curtiss

Friday, June 10, 2011

What if the Person's Good Qualities Diminish or Disappear, Then What?

Thank you, A.B.

I am so sorry to say, I am pretty confused.  How embarrassing! 

I get your first paragraph in its entirety.  After that, I'm pretty lost.  I will keep reading over the rest.  Lights will come on! 

When you say, "Does it make a difference if the object of one’s love is noble, kind, and cheerful or dishonest and angry? Of course. "  Well, what does that mean?  My husband is honest and in his own way, noble, but not so cheerful or kind.  I do enjoy many qualities about him, and try to overlook and not take personally the grumpy, surly, unkind moods.

What I meant about falling in love with others' good qualities being conditional, is that sometimes  those qualities diminish or disappear, then what?  If my husband isn't as fun or funny as he used to be, I still love him. I would like to think I was not just in love with that pleasant trait, but rather, his "essence" or core self. 

My husband's affection for me seems very dependent upon my being and saying and doing all the "right" things at the right times.  He loses patience with me so often over such trivial matters, that I often wonder, "Can't you just love me?  Must I jump through hoops to win your love? I can't be perfect. I will make mistakes. I can't change my spots into stripes." G.

Dear G

It is human nature to be attracted to people because of their good qualities. I guess it’s a case of the good, the true and the beautiful are all one absolute source, and as people reflect some of this absolute source in their personal qualities, we are drawn to them with admiration and yes, love. It is our destiny, as we continue to raise our consciousness, to join with the good, the true and the beautiful. I think we approximate, or presage, that destiny sometimes in our relationships.

So what I meant is that our admiration and love for the qualities is unconditional. Now as for the love for the person, to the extent that the person has these qualities is “non-different” from the good, the true, and the beautiful, we love them to the extent that our heart is free to open to love, truth and beauty. What happens when the person doesn’t display these qualities periodically, or loses them over time, is a human predicament that is part of the human struggle. 

We would also suffer some loss, would go through some mourning of that loss, and would have to make something out of our relationship based on what remains. And were we to lose the person entirely through death or some kind of separation, the same is true. We would suffer and mourn our loss and begin to make something out of our lives based upon what remains to us, and in what creative manner we are still able to, sooner or later,“find a connection” to the one we have lost.

I think men, in general, are more dependent upon their woman doing what the men want in order to inspire their capacity to love us. The danger for us women is in betraying our principles (betraying the good the true and the beautiful) by “doing for” our men out of fear of something  (losing the relationship) rather than out of love of something (our guiding principles). The way to avoid this dilemma is to make sure that whatever we do is out of love for something and then our behavior will have the best chance of being appropriate. A. B. Curtiss

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Developing the Capacity to Love Somebody

Dear A.B.,

I read your comment about how it is more of an achievement to give than to receive love. It was a very thought-provoking remark.  In my view, you summed up the central message of the Gospels. In our culture, we hear much about the dynamic of reciprocity in relationships. "Unconditional love" is usually something we are often told to look only to our pets for! 

You have spoken about setting boundaries, saying "ouch," and acting to take care of oneself when another's behavior is not loving.  These are ways of loving ourselves. 

When thinking about "unconditional love"  the challenges are evident, and it becomes obvious that it is rare. 

Shared interests, emotional support, communication, are "conditions" most people expect. If love is unconditional, it remains present through betrayal, lies, long periods of no communication, severe moodiness, irritability and dramatic divergence of lifestyles and interests. How many relationships hold up under these circumstances?   Also, when we love someone's sense of humor, personality, intellect, or any other aspect of their identity, our love is conditional. Does our love depend on the presence of these pleasing qualities, or if the person ceased to be or have all the things that we enjoy about them, would our "love" still be available? So many times, clearly, the answer is "no."

Relationship gurus tell us that many conditions are reasonable expectations.  Better to be single, they tell us, than trapped in a one-way relationship.  Any lifestyle is better than being caught in the role as somebody's "doormat."

It's a slippery slope, defining where loving someone ends and becoming a doormat begins.  There's not a simple, one-size-fits-all answer, I know. 

Love is not easy!


Dear G.

In any case where the philosophy is tricky, it is good to use precise language—at least for one person to talk about another’s ideas, they should attempt to use the same terms. I didn’t say “give love to somebody” is the greatest achievement. I said “to be able to love another” is the greatest achievement. The idea is that you should spend your energy to develop, in yourself, the capacity to love someone rather than manipulating someone to love you.

Then there is the question of the object of one’s love. Does it make a difference if the object of one’s love is noble, kind, and cheerful or dishonest and angry? Of course. How does one manage to love under what kind of conditions? As they say, the devil is in the details.

What can you say for sure that will put you on the right track? What is the truth of loving? What is the truth of relationships. Is there a “right way” to do relationships—some hard and fast rules that we can commit to that will assure us of relationship happiness—like don’t put up with verbal abuse?

I’m afraid there isn’t any “right way” to do relationships except to continue to head yourself in the way of generally accepted human excellence—be kind, considerate, self-aware, understanding, wary, rational, develop your skills, etc. These traits are the tried and true standards that human beings are supposed to measure themselves by. A good guide for me has always been the Desiderata.

We have to always remind ourselves, as wise men have said before, that truth cannot be known as an object because truth is absolute and the human mind is finite. Joel Goldsmith said it this way: “One cannot arrive at truth through the reasoning process.” The truth of any situation only reveals itself to us when we work on ourselves, not on others--when we clean out our own closets of anger, fear, pride, and all those hidden emotional blocks that keep us from being loving people. Then, to the extent, that we have raised our own consciousness, our behavior toward “the other” is likely to be the most appropriate. We will find that, to the extent that we develop our own self-awareness, we will develop the capacity to treat our interactions with “the other” in a more and more satisfying way.

I know a lot of people think that relationships depend upon good negotiation of differences and balance of personal power. This, to me, is mechanistic and ultimately people who go this route of end up chosing power over love.

Our own appropriate behavior is the clue to our successful relationships. As our behavior becomes more and more appropriate, our whole life changes to accord with that fact. We cannot plan relationships because we cannot plan reality. Reality is like truth, an absolute. The only thing we can do with reality is to learn to recognize it by getting rid of our emotional blindfolds.

We can use these rather high-flung esoteric ideas and make them relevant to our lives by applying them to specific small interactions in our lives so that we can better understand them, one at a time. And it’s always good to start with “little stuff.”

I'm not sure that loving someone's good qualities like honesty and good humor is conditional love. What is conditional about it?

A. B. Curtiss

Sunday, June 5, 2011

More Verbal on Abuse

I received the following comment on the blog “More Verbal Abuse” Friday, July 9, 2010

“It is never acceptable to take verbal abuse. Some that is gets angered on occassion is normal, those who are doing it for control ... it is not. Just like any type of harrassment you ask them to stop speaking to you or whatever is less threatening the the abuser. All that will happen by allowing this behavior is your self esteen will be destroyed. The only thing you can control is your reactions to that person.”

My response: It is true that the only thing you can control is your reaction to another person, not the other person’s behavior. So it really is not possible to “allow” or “not allow” someone else’s behavior. The only thing you can “allow” or “not allow” is your own behavior.” (Except, of course, in the case of children you are raising.)

That being said, a lot of “emotional release” goes on in a relationship that is not necessarily specifically directed at the other person. It is not helpful to think of oneself as “the target” of someone’s anger because then you get angry and upset. There is no specific “right thing” to do in the case of another person “acting out.” 

If you can keep from getting so emotionally involved yourself, you can better deal with what is happening. If you can avoid “taking it personally” or otherwise putting your own “intentions” on what the other person is doing; if you can say to yourself “what can I do to take care of myself in this adverse situation” then your behavior will be appropriate and less harm will be done to each other and the relationship. 

Just because you don’t retaliate does not mean that you are “taking verbal abuse.” You can ignore it, absent yourself from the scene gracefully and quickly, but asking the other person to stop speaking to you is trying to control their behavior. 

It is an old cliché but still a true one that the way to meet a behavior is with a behavior. A. B. Curtiss