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Sunday, September 30, 2012

My Grandchild has been Stealing. What Should I say to her?

Dear AB
What can I do to help my grandchild from stealing? She is ten.  I want to talk to her about it, but I don’t know what to say. I need some ideas. Thanks. I

Dear I.

First of all don't get all crazy. All children steal at some point. They have to be taught not to steal. If your child is caught stealing it does not mean they are bad. It means they haven't been taught yet. 

Here are some of my thoughts about stealing—maybe they might help somehow. I don’t know if there is someway you could have this conversation. But some of the ideas may help no matter what conversation you might have with your granddaughter.

"Nobody has the power to stop you from stealing in the same way that no one can stop you from eating. You will find some way to eat what you want. This is why nobody can stop their child from getting really fat."
"And nobody can stop their child from stealing. Now you may think this is a good thing that nobody can stop you from stealing.  But think again. Stealing is addictive. It gives you a sense of power. You want something, you get it. But since this is not the right way to get personal power, but the wrong way, in the end you lose. You get caught and have to pay the consequences. You are embarrassed. You shoplift and end up in jail. Instead of feeling good about yourself because you got something you want, you only feel bad about yourself because you lose respect from people. And then you lose respect for yourself.

"Even if you don’t get caught you could become addicted to stealing because you start loving the sense of power you get when you steal. You become a kleptomaniac and can’t even keep yourself from stealing. This is very bad when you can’t even stop yourself from stealing. Bad enough that nobody else can stop you from stealing, it’s really terrible when you can’t even stop yourself.  Now how powerful are you? You are not powerful you are weak.  Stealing, instead of making you powerful has made you weak.

"When you steal you are making your bad power stronger because you are using your bad power. You are making your good power (to do better by yourself) weaker because you are not using your good power. When you don’t use your good power, your good power becomes weak., so when you steal you are not becoming more powerful but more weak. Each time you steal, you get weaker.

"This is the worst thing of all-- because stealing is evil , and ultimately, stealing makes you ugly. If you want to be a beautiful person s stop stealing because stealing makes you an ugly person. At first you don’t notice the ugliness but it gets more noticeable. But do not despair, each time you successfully keep yourself from stealing, you get stronger. Doing the right thing makes your good power stronger.

"Doing the right thing makes you a beautiful person. Only you can decide to be a beautiful person. Nobody can make you a beautiful person. That is your decision. Each person can choose what side they want to be on—the bad, the weak and the ugly. The good, the true and the beautiful.

"This choice is not easy to maintain. It is not just one choice, it is a series of choices. You may fail sometimes. No problem, you must re-dedicate yourself and begin again. When you take a wrong turn and do something wrong, you must make amends, apologize and re-dedicate yourself. Turn around from going the bad way, and go the better way.

In the end maybe you can say something like this. “I cannot stop you from stealing but I can help you stop yourself from stealing. Come to me at any time. When you are successful and especially when you fail. I am always on your side. As you keep turning to the good way, you become a more a beautiful person. It is good to be a beautiful person. I want you to be a beautiful person because I love you.  

Hope this helps. A. B. Curtiss

Saturday, September 29, 2012

How Can I Recconcile Mindfulness with Brainswitching

Dear AB

I am reading a book called The Mindful Way through Depression. I am also taking a mindfulness based stress reduction class. I am just having some difficulty reconciling the ways I am trying to learn how to forge ahead in my life.

The mindfulness book seems to suggest, if I am reading it correctly, that we should not fight negative thoughts or feelings, but instead let them come and go. The focus is on the awareness of these thoughts and feelings. The authors suggest that fighting these thoughts and feelings is the cause of depression. As in, we all have bad thoughts and feelings, but it is the fighting of them that is the problem.

I'm just a little confused about reconciling this with the depression is a choice way. Do you have any thoughts about this? I am struggling in my life and I am trying to get help through lots of books, therapy, advice from family, religion. I guess I'm looking for one way to follow.

My mother tells me to pray and follow my own guidance and God.  I also feel I'm inundating myself...maybe I am reading too many books. I know you are interested in transcendental meditation so maybe you have some thoughts about this.

I'm training for a marathon. I work a lot. I try to schedule things for my free time. It’s just a struggle...I just want a safe place in society and I'm so stressed about being single and a bit lonely.

Thanks for everything. I’ve written to you a bunch and appreciate every word of advice.

Dear T,

Mindfulness is much like transcendental meditation in which you become the witness to your thoughts rather than becoming your thoughts. This is also the basis of ACT, Awareness and Commitment Therapy where you simply accept the bad thoughts and feelings. In this way the acceptance becomes the dominant thought instead of the bad thought and the brain turns in the direction of acceptance rather than the upset caused by the bad thought.

There is no way, really, to fight bad thoughts anyway. In order to fight them you have to keep thinking them and thinking bad thoughts is the very problem. When bad thoughts come, you can simply acknowledge that they have made their appearance and replace thinking them with thinking more productive thoughts. It is a more productive thought to witness that you are having a bad thought instead of reacting to a bad thought by succumbing to it as if the bad thought is some kind of reality instead of merely some negative thought pattern that popped up and you recognize right away that you can jolly well think something else. It is your choice what you think.

Remember that the brain works by learned association. This means that the brain always follows the direction of its most current dominant thought. The way to make any thought dominant is to insist upon thinking it over and over. When you insist upon thinking a good thought, or a nonsense thought, you make that thought dominant and the brain will turn away from the bad thoughts and feelings in the direction of the newer, now dominant thought which is not painful to think.

Your mother is also right. If you pray to God and insist on making your prayer dominant, the brain will turn in the direction of your prayer and away from the painful negative thought. Depression cannot long survive a person falling on their knees and asking God for help.

All the therapies say the same thing as the Bible, turn from the negative and turn toward the positive. Phillipeans 4:8 says: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Here’s the first chapter in the book As a Man Thinketh by James Allen that says the same thing.

“The aphorism, "As a man thinketh in his heart so is he," not only embraces the whole of a man's being, but is so comprehensive as to reach out to every condition and circumstance of his life. A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.
As the plant springs from, and could not be without, the seed, so every act of a man springs from the hidden seeds of thought, and could not have appeared without them. This applies equally to those acts called "spontaneous" and "unpremeditated" as to those which are deliberately executed.

Act is the blossom of thought, and joy and suffering are its fruits; thus does a man garner in the sweet and bitter fruitage of his own husbandry.
Thought in the mind hath made us. What we are
By thought we wrought and built. If a man's mind
Hath evil thoughts, pain comes on him as comes
The wheel the ox behind . . . If one endure in purity
of thought joy follows him as his own shadow - sure.

Man is a growth by law, and not a creation by artifice, and cause and effect is as absolute and undeviating in the hidden realm of thought as in the world of visible and material things. A noble and Godlike character is not a thing of favor or chance, but is the natural result of continued effort in right thinking, the effect of long-cherished association with Godlike thoughts. An ignoble and bestial character, by the same process, is the result of the continued harboring of groveling thoughts.

Man is made or unmade by himself; in the armory of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself. He also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace. By the right choice and true application of thought, man ascends to the Divine Perfection; by the abuse and wrong application of thought, he descends below the level of the beast. Between these two extremes are all the grades of character, and man is their maker and master.

Of all the beautiful truths pertaining to the soul which have been restored and brought to light in this age, none is more gladdening or fruitful of divine promise and confidence than this - that man is the master of thought, the molder of character, and maker and shaper of condition, environment, and destiny.

As a being of Power, Intelligence, and Love, and the lord of his own thoughts, man holds the key to every situation, and contains within himself that transforming and regenerative agency by which he may make himself what he wills.

Man is always the master, even in his weakest and most abandoned state; but in his weakness and degradation he is the foolish master who misgoverns his "household." When he begins to reflect upon his condition, and to search diligently for the Law upon which his being is established, he then becomes the wise master, directing his energies with intelligence, and fashioning his thoughts to fruitful issues. Such is the conscious master, and man can only thus become by discovering within himself the laws of thought; which discovery is totally a matter of application, self-analysis, and experience.

Only by much searching and mining are gold an diamonds obtained, and man can find every truth connected with his being if he will dig deep into the mine of his soul. And that he is the maker of his character, the molder of his life, and the builder of his destiny, he may unerringly prove: if he will watch, control, and alter his thoughts, tracing their effects upon himself, upon others, and upon his life and circumstances; if he will link cause and effect by patient practice and investigation, utilizing his every experience, even to the most trivial, as a means of obtaining that knowledge of himself.

In this direction, as in no other, is the law absolute that "He that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened"; for only by patience, practice, and ceaseless importunity can a man enter the Door of the Temple of Knowledge.”
A. B. Curtiss

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

More Confused and Terrified

Dear AB

Thank you for your quick reply!

Do you think you can go through life not thinking about stuff that brings stress and fear and depression? Can I just use brain switch always? I don't mean day to day stuff, I mean past times and thoughts that just don't make sense? I hope you get what I'm saying. I tend to dwell on others misfortune and say why not me? Then I get scared. I know you believe that depression is a chemical imbalance but is it behavior also? My mother had depression but she blamed my dad for it as well as a pretty bad childhood.

When it comes to money, we are pretty fortunate, but I can't see myself being a stay home mom. Ill go crazy being at home. I need to do something. What should I do? Go back to work? With anxiety, I'm suppose to keep stress down but if I'm at home, I'll just stir.

I stopped working because I thought the stress of it would make my anxiety worse. But now I have some depression that I've been using brain switch on as well with my anxiety. I'm going through a midlife crisis. Did you have past issues that brought on your depression or how did it start?

Thank you so much,  S

Dear S,

Congratulations on being so good on your iphone. I couldn't possible manage such a long message.

There is no sense in thinking about stuff that brings on fear, stress and depression. I always use brainswitching for them. Sometimes there are one or two really bad thoughts for which I first groan a little right out loud before I drop them in favor of brainswitching. Feeling empathy for others can also escalate into a problem. A particularly brutal rape of a child for instance can make a mess of your normal sex life if you dwell on it.

Sudden deaths of friends or even strangers can make you fearful of how vulnerable you are as a human being and it makes no sense to dwell on such bad thoughts. You can have equally horrible thoughts about your own impending catastrophe or your family's. Again this is not helpful thinking. Honest mourning of a loss is okay. But obsessive negative thoughts are BAD. They are not helpful in any way.

A good Silva Mind Control trick for fearful imaginings is to imagine one of those signs with the black hash mark through it, meaning NO, and say to yourself three times, cancel, cancel, cancel so that the bad thing you have imagined will be nullified and therefore NEVER HAPPEN.

Negative thinking, if it in not nipped in the bud,  usually skews the brain chemistry and ends up in stress which then can turn into depression or a panic attack. You must remember that there is a chemical consequence in the brain for every thought that you think.

If it is not financially necessary to work for money you can always work for a good cause, something that you care about. You can try one or two things and see if they work out. I'm thinking that when my career in writing slows down I will probably volunteer for Hospice. My husband plays duplicate bridge and raquetball 4 times a week and for a civic duty picks up trash on the roads from our house to the highway. I did find time to volunteer for poll duty. This first year I will only be an observer but I hope to be a poll worker by the next election.

The doctor of Chinese medicine whom I have been seeing for two years told me that since my first depression began with my first period that perhaps my depression was caused by out of whack hormones.

I have been on hormone replacement therapy since and it has made a big difference. I still get depression when I wake at night but not nearly so much and it is easily handled by brainswitching. My anxiety, cause by a bad reaction to oxcycodene for a back injury lasted until I was lucky enough to find this particular doctor who prescribed a number of hormones, amino acids and other dietary supplements.

At my age my organs are not nearly as efficient as they used to be. You are just at the age when hormonal changes can cause depression and I would suggest you see a good nutritionist or doctor of Chinese medicine--or any homeopathic practitioner to check up on your hormones. As we age our organs are less able to produce what the body needs to function perfectly. And I'd just as soon, given the opportunity, function as perfectly as possible thank you very much. A. B. Curtiss


Sunday, September 23, 2012

I'm Confused and Terrified

Hi AB!

I'm a 40 year old female and in the last few months developed anxiety and had an attack, I think. I started on an antidepressant a few weeks ago. Not that that matters, but I just been reading your Brain Switch book. Parts are so eye opening, but I struggle with what to do in my life. I recently stopped work because I thought the stress would make me worse. I have two children and an amazing husband. A while ago I started feeling lost and down when I realized I didn't know what was next for me! My babes are a little more independent and I feel completely lost and scared and depressed for the rest of my life. I'm trying to live in the Now, but I feel like I need something to do. I'm embarrassed to go back to work because I've always been a rock there for 15 years! What had happened to me. I'm so confused! I'm so afraid. How can I use your techniques to get doing something.  Any insight, thanks

Dear S,

First of all you need to look around you and make sure that in your anxiety to save yourself you haven't been as concerned as you might be for the friends and loved ones around you. When we are stressed we are usually mean to the people closest to us in small ways that we don't see ourselves. We tend to be judgmental about their faults and small errors because they are
so easy to see. It is only our own faults that are difficult to pinpoint.

Another thing about human nature is that most of us confuse image with resource. People who are spendthrifts and make foolish financial decisions see money as image rather than resource. They buy an expensive car instead of putting that extra money away for a rainy day. I think we do the same thing with our own emotional strengths. We see them as image rather than resource.

This is why we are embarrassed and shamed when we have shown emotional weakness and failure to others. The fact that you have been a rock at work may be the problem. Rocks don't allow much emotional give and takewith others for fear the "rock" image might be spoiled. A lot of this is just habit. We just never thought about it before. We never asked ourselves why we hide our secret selves away in fear.

What would be so terrible about returning to work and admitting you had struggled with a period of anxiety. It is not easy to admit we are vulnerable. It's human nature because we are a herd animal and need the acceptance of our peers. There is no worse feeling than feeling all alone.
Instead of being a rock, this time maybe you could be just an ordinary person who had a down time and are coming back. Maybe you could be an inspiration instead of a rock, and show others how youare bravely going ahead when you are experiencing difficulties.

They say that you have to love yourself before you can love others. I suppose that's true in a way. But sometimes we can learn to love ourselves by learning to concern ourselves with other people. I think we can learn to make a connection with ourselves sometimes when we learn how to connect with others. Perhaps  this is because, as some say, we are all one. Start in small ways. Sometimes a small conversation with a drugstore clerk whom you really see when you look at them can bring a bit of loving humanity into your heart and help to soften and open it up some.

You ask what happened to you. What happened to you is that you were a human pretending to be a rock. Now that you know you are not really a rock, you can join the rest of us and be just an ordinary human being who, though accomplished and talented in many ways, still stumbles and bumbles now and then. When you grow afraid, it is time to reach out to others, loved ones, husband or wife, dear friends. Don’t wait for complete havoc. You will do better if you catch yourself falling and reach out to reconnect with others before you get so terrified. Do you really think any single human being, no matter how excellent, avoids fear and terror in his life? Here's an excerpt from my book Depression is a Choice about William James, known as the Father of Psychology.

"William James, the "father of psychology," suffered terribly from depression. He would become famous for separating out psychology from "mental philosophy" and bringing the experience of human emotions to the scientific laboratory. But he would not find a cure for his own pain there. It would not be to science that this great scientist turned for salvation when depression threatened to overwhelm him. In his hour of need, this world-renowned physician used the simplistic device of repeating simple religious sayings over and over to himself

"I awoke morning after morning with a horrible dread at the pit of my
stomach, and with a sense of the insecurity of life that I never knew
before, and that I have never felt since. It was like a revelation; and
although the immediate feelings passed away, the experience has made me
sympathetic with the morbid feelings of others ever since. It gradually
faded, but  for months I was unable to go out into the dark alone...I mean
that the fear was so invasive and powerful that if I had not clung to
scripture-texts like 'the eternal God is my refuge,' etc., 'Come unto me,
all ye that labor and are heavy-laden,'etc., 'I am the resurrection and the
life,' etc., I think I should have grown really insane."

William James      (1842-1910)

I hope this helps some. You can ask me questions any time. A. B. Curtiss