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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Depression is a Failure to Love

One thing about depression, stress and anxiety is that it keeps us from connecting with others in a loving way. It's ironic because the way out of depression, anxiety, and stress is to figure out how to reconnect.

This Christmas season has us thrown together with some relatives and acquaintenances that we don't particularly "like." We find them annoying. They dampen our spirits. Hooray. For it is just such an occasion that can call us back to our essential selves and our essential connection to our fellow man. We don't often think of our least favorite relative as our fellow man. But in the cosmic scope of things, such is the case.

Instead of focusing our judgment on people during these emotional times when we secretly feel they are "ruining" the occasion for us, we could use these situations as a meditation on the path of veneration that Rudolf Steiner advises. Rather than focusing on the person through the screen of our dislike, we could decide to "enter lovingly into their merits." Because that helps our own heart to open. Our hearts will not open while we are in a mode of judgment. When our hearts are open is when we experience the joy of life. We cannot experience the joy with our heart closed up like a shaking fist.

Our hearts only open when we insist on trodding the path of veneration. Because in the final analysis, all is sacred. It always works. There is always another way to look at a person. We just need to move beyond our fear (dislike is a kind of fear) and be open to something new. It is only then when we get out of depression and approach reality. And reality is always a surprise. You can't plan reality but you can plan to move yourself onto a path that leads to it.

Merry Christman, A. B. Curtiss

Monday, December 21, 2015

It's Temporary

One of the important things to remember about depression when it hits is that it is temporary and you can reconnect with reality by a quick change of thinking and activity. It's an emotional game of dodge ball. The ball is coming at you and you step aside. A. B. Curtiss

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Words of Wisdom: Let it Be


I am reading and enjoying "Brain-Switch." I am wondering if I could employ the opening lines from the Beatles song, "Let It Be", as a means of sticking in a thought to distract from the depression thoughts. The lines: "When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be. And in my hour of darkness, she is standing right in front of me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be." My mother's name was Mary (as was Paul McCartney's). 

What do you think? Thanks for your thoughts on this and thanks for the books. I have communicated with you before and I have found your books to be helpful. All I need to do is get out of my own way.

Thanks for your letter. I’m glad that the books are helpful. You can certainly use this inspired and comforting song as a brainswitching tool. I have used it myself. A. B. Curtiss

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Attitude Chages Everything

I no longer believe I am my mind. I do not yield to depression. I do not take any drugs for depression or mania. My wide mood swings have not altered, nor has anything else around me changed in any significant way. My brain is the same; it is I who have changed. My mind is the same; it is my intentions that have changed. The world is the same; it is the attitude from which I view the world that has shifted since I live now by principle rather than by feeling.

I cannot make it on my own; I cannot hold on to my sanity all by myself. But connected, finding common ground with others, I still have pain but I can stand it. I still get groundless feelings of grandiosity, but I can usually refrain from announcing them to the world. I still get the old feelings of primal-mind depression and mania, but I can separate myself out from them by judging them as irrelevant to present reality.

Someone asked Buddha, after he became enlightened, if he “was happy.” He response was simply that “there is no pain.” This side of enlightenment we will always have pain. We can do nothing about that; that is the job of the subcortex driven primal mind. We just have to make sure that the pain does not have us. We can do something about that. That is our job.

Today is a good example of how a change of attitude can change our world view. Not just about depression. Here’s my story for today.  I ship out my books all the time. I got a call the other day from someone who said the mailman had delivered my book to her but put it on top of the mailbox and since it “rained all day” of course the book which was in cardboard packaging “was ruined.”

I couldn’t see how this could possibly be my fault and certainly not my responsibility. But the woman was quite adamant that I should send her another replacement book at no charge. At first I was annoyed. Her attitude seemed unreasonable. If the tables were turned I would figure it was either my fault or the mailman’s and indeed when I inquired at my own post office the manager told me the carrier shouldn’t have left it outside the mailbox on a rainy day.

So, what to do. I wasn’t going to mess around with amazon.com because they could care less. So, I thought, I surrender, I’ll send another book, dammit, so I don’t have to think about it anymore. I wrapped up a book, covered it entirely in a plastic bag so it could sit all day in the rain for all I cared (an act of irony which would not be noticed by anybody, I’m sure) and set off for the post office. My mood was not great as I had nothing else to mail and the post office is jammed today.

 But halfway there I started thinking along a different line. Hey, I said to myself. You are lucky people want to buy your books and you should be grateful instead of stressed out and annoyed. So sending this book should really be an act of gratitude, shouldn’t it, for all your success? That thought changed my whole attitude. I was mailing a book out of gratitude for being an author. Not because I gave in to an unreasonable person. In a way, mailing out this book was an act of love not anger. My mood jumped higher than the moon. Nothing had changed except my attitude. A. B. Curtiss


Monday, December 14, 2015

Question About Meditation


From the bottom of my Heart, I thank you for writing this book. I am an artist and also have a keen interest in yoga and meditation; from that standpoint could you please explain or elaborate just a little about Johann Wolfgang Goethe's quote at the top of page 8 regarding meditation and mental disease. 




This is the passage to which your question refers:


 “If the self does not choose to direct the mind, the mind may bury the self in all sorts of varieties of negative thinking and mood disorders. In the absence of any conscious direction by the self, the mind can direct itself right into mental illness.

Goethe was clearly referring to this same idea when he wrote, “Where a man has a passion for meditation without the capacity for thinking, a particular idea fixes itself fast, and soon creates a mental disease.” Yes, depression is strong and painful, and we can get very focused on it when we get into that downward spiral. But we don’t have to. We can cure our easy habitual reaction to depression, which is to succumb to it, and, as an act of will, regain our lost equanimity.

That is because we can improve the mind with education and practice. We don’t improve the self. Rather, we more or less uncover the self, or don’t uncover the self; use the self, or don’t use it. Human beings don’t just know something, we also know that we know it.  What we know (mind) may change as to improvement, but the awareness that we know (self) is not a matter of improvement or gradation, it is a matter of “either/or;” it is a matter of “asleep to it or awake to it.”


Another way of referring to the self is to think of it as “self awareness”,as being awake to yourself and what thoughts (including meditations) are bouncing around in your mind.

The point of this passage is that meditation should be done by the “self” not the mind. In a way, depression is a meditation that the mind does and the person erroneously thinks that the depressive thought pattern is somehow their reality, that it is their self that is suffering. Which isn’t true because your “self” can actually meditate on your depression without suffering at all.

But if your “self” is not meditating on your depression, and it is just your mind meditating on your depression, your depression can become a “disorder” instead of a momentary and habitual thought pattern of downer thoughts that triggers automatically due to the accidental triggering of the fight-or-flight response (fear.)

 Referring to Goethe’s quote: In just such a way a person can think that what they are meditating on is reality. Meditation done properly is done by the “self” observing what the mind is meditating on. Goethe is referring to the meditation done by the mind and not properly observed by the “self.”

If this explanation isn’t working for you, you can ask more questions and I will try again.


A. B. Curtiss



Sunday, December 13, 2015

Stuck in the Cul De Sac of Depression


When I get stuck in the downs, I just don’t know what to do. I feel helpless. I don’t see any road ahead. I feel stuck in a cul de sac. Around and around and no way out.


We all feel helpless when we get stuck in the downs. You just have to take the next step. So what is the next step? The next step is like any first step. Difficult because we lack the motivation. The downs deprives us of motivation so we have to take the next step ANYWAY.

How? There are exercises and meditations, and just doing the next thing that could comprise the next step. You have to make a template, a plan, that you can call upon so that when the downs hit, you follow the template, the plan, to move ahead and cease to follow your feelings which stick you in the cul de sac.  Brainswitching exercises make a wonderful template.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

I Will Take it On

Thank you so much, I will take it on again and again :-)

This thank you is for the previous post referring to my response to the question. This is absolutely the right attitude. We must take on what life sends us again and again. This includes the feelings that suddenly grip us and cause us fear and terror. We should not allow ourselves to be terrorized by our own emotions. We must take them on again and again.

One way to take them on is a meditative stategy. A wise man said to me recently: "I had an epiphany--everything is good. Everything is good. This rang so true for me. So often when I get hit with a deep dive into utter despair I choose to remember that phrase. "Wait a minute," I tell myself. "Everything is good. I can do this. And I can also think of something better than despair. I am not limited to that or confined by it or prevented by despair to turning about from it and turning toward a better thought."

Doesn't have to be a noble thought. It could just be a plain, solid thought like my grandmother would have suggested. "What is the next thing I can do today." Terror is not reality, it is a body state of alarm which has accidentally triggered. We don't have to give it credence. We can turn away toward something better. Because, no matter the sheer terror that momentarily bubbles up, everything is good. We can relax into that. Everything is good. A. B. Curtiss

Monday, December 7, 2015

We are Each Other's Angels


I bought your book (Depression is a choice) when you were booksigning at a small bookstore in San Diego. I'm divorced, and have children and a great career in one of the helping professions.

Everything makes perfect sense in your book. Your book is awesome. Haven't finished yet but 150 pages into it. I have heard most of it for many years, but you putting it together in the way you did and me being ready to hear and apply it has pushed me to a new awareness and practice. 

Someone recently suggested I get professional help in doing regression therapy for some unhealthy behavior that obviously stems from my childhood so I am reaching out to you for suggestions, help, guidance and most of all for connection.

I feel so disconnected and alone. I feel cynical and resigned with life. I am open to any suggestions, guidance, connection. I want to love life, I want to love and be grateful for what is in my life, I want to make a difference 

Thank you for reading and letting me share, you have already made a huge difference in my life and I am grateful for your sharing.

I’m much like you. I can easily dip into a hole of despair if I allow myself. Which I don’t. My husband never feels this way. I understand what you are telling me. No matter what the thought, no matter how reasonable it appears, if it is a negative one it is probably better ignored and if the negative feeling is intense, do a nonsense exercise until you can get going with something more profitable.

The feeling of isolation, of disconnection is because of fear. You can do two things with the fear, either ignore it, refuse to acknowledge it by use of mind tricks (brainswitching) or meditation (simply accept everything as if you were just a disinterested onlooker) by sitting quietly and allowing what is to be what is.

To release repressed fear you don’t really need regression therapy, you can just start to recognize and release all the little fears that you have always ignored. Read Chapter Ten for this. And make an effort to develop friends for a support system. Read my blog and you will see that you are not alone. The people who ask me questions are an important connection for me as well. It is a good thing to take connection wherever you can. Even the person standing ahead of you in the grocery line. Every human connection we make helps re-establish our own humanity. We never know how a smile or small bit of conversation helps someone else as well as ourselves. We are each other angels.  A. B. Curtiss

Friday, December 4, 2015

Thanks for Your Support

Thanks Curtiss for the support and the clarifications you sent yesterday.  It seems the current unstable situation  in the middle east where I live due to war has an impact too since I feel and read news. will work on reducing exposing to news too.


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Where Does My Sudden Arrogance Come From?


Hi Ms Curtiss

How are you and Hope you keeping well. My life as general has been improving after being busy with work and building a house. 

New symptoms has to me suddenly without knowledge of why this happens now. Its very annoying stops me from meeting people.

I really do not know if depression has a connections to it. 
- arrogant suddenly  to all people including my close family father and mom and work mate which cause lots of embarrassing to my self and annoying the psyche 
- stops me from facing people 
- easily noticed from people my face expressions

Is this because I have good work and going to have a small house which impact my life, really do not know what to do

Thanks for usual Supprort Curtiss 


First of all, I notice that your English is much improved.

Whenever you get discouraged just think how far you have advanced yourself. Not too long ago you couldn’t even get up the courage to apply for a job. We all have our forward advances and our setbacks. You are no different from millions of other people who struggle to keep themselves on the bright side of life. It takes effort to be a cheerful, peaceful and giving, loving person. 

Why aren’t we?The answer to that question is the answer to many questions. The answer is FEAR. REPRESSED FEAR. Despite all the work we do, we all have some lingering repressed fear that trips us up now and then. It is this unacknowledged repressed fear that causes all the arrogance and isolation for us. When we are afraid, we try to make ourselves seem bigger and better somehow to protect ourselves. We don’t need to protect ourselves but when we are afraid, we are just not aware that our fear causes us to fear those around us and either blame them or cause us to think ourselves better than they are. This is the way we keep from feeling vulnerable.

The good news is that we can just allow ourselves to be vulnerable. We can mentally surrender to those around us and let them do “their” thing. Yes, our fear will be hurting us but if we just accept that it is fear from the past that has been repressed and just needs to be accepted and finished, we can just “ride out” that painful feeling. It usually doesn’t last long. 

When we accept our emotional pain it just finishes itself and fades away. While dealing with our repressed fear we can treat the people around us with love and respect despite what flaws we may see in them. Fear causes us to blame as well. But in this way those around us are a great gift to us despite their flaws. They allow us to experience our repressed fear so that we can finally unload it instead of carrying it around with us. The less repressed fear we carry the more effective, joyful and peaceful we are.

Take this setback as a gift that you have further work to do with repressed fear. Read “The Ten Paradoxical Commandments” for a reminder how to treat people and for a reminder of how to get in tourch with repressed fear, review Chapter Ten in Depression is a Choice.  It takes courage to face our own limitations. But that is the way we grow and prosper. You have done so well so far. I’m sure you will continue to do well. Keep in touch. A. B. Curtiss

Monday, November 30, 2015

How do you Change Someone's Personality?


Do you have a book that can change someone's personality?I am estranged from my grown son and his family because he is so negative, insulting and hard to get along with that it just doesn't seem worth the effort anymore. Whenever my wife and I are with him it's so stressful. He is critical, and arrogant and treats everyone like he knows everything and they don't know anything. For instance, I spent a lot of time and effort to paint the family room. I was kind of proud of it and when I showed it to him he tells me that it's the ugliest color he's ever seen. That kind of thing.


It's hard enough to change yourself much less trying to change somebody else. Sometimes, by changing your own reaction to them, people may change because you yourself have changed. However when people are difficult to get along with, and are constantly abusive and critical of the people around them it's hard to meet their behavior with love and acceptance. You could if you can take a different view of the relationship.

Here I might suggest reading "the Ten Paradoxical Commandmants" for inspiration.

One thing that helps in dealing with difficult people is to realize that their negative behavior all comes from their own repressed fear. We all have a lot of repressed fear from our past and most of us never try to get in touch with it and let got of it because it's hard work.

So what happens is that people with a lot of repressed fear are always on the verge of feeling intimidated somehow. They don't know they are afraid and they don't know that, because of their own fear, they need to feel like they are always in charge or "one up." Because of their own unacknowledged fear, at any moment they feel at some kind of a disadvantage. If something goes wrong, they are not afraid, the other person is wrong or stupid. They themselves are never at fault. They can't be at fault because it is too fearful for them.

These people don't take advice or criticism very well, if at all. In the end, only love works. But it's kind of like hugging a porcupine until you get the hang of it. We all should remember that being unreasonable is not evil.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Doing the Right Thing Usually Takes Courage.

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 extraordinarily 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 inertia working against us.

So the first thing we should do is to put the law of inertia to work for us (a body in motion tends to stay in motion) 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 get into motion out of it. It is difficult, yes. And anything difficult always requires our courage.

A.B. Curtiss

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Do Something Difficult

Sometimes when you suddenly find yourself in a dark mood, you just don't feel like doing a dumb little exercise to get out of it. Doesn't matter whether or not the dumb mind exercise would work or not. If you don't feel like doing it, and haven't committed to doing one anyway, you won't do one. Okay. Then instead, do something difficult. Do a puzzle, or learn something difficult like playing the piano or the guitar and then practive like mad.

Tackle some difficult home repair. Work out until you are tired. When you do something difficult, it is necessary to bring your full concentration to what you are doing. Which means you have to withdraw your attention from concentrating on your dark mood. Dark moods cannot think themselves. They are completely dependent on your concentrating on them and thinking them to the exclusion of everything else.

The only way out is to concentrate on something else. If it is something difficult, that is even better.

Monday, November 23, 2015

We Can Always Help Each Other

While I was booksigning over the weekend, a woman passed by my author's table and told me that she had bought my book, Brainswitch out of Depression, earlier,  She said that it had been a great help and she always kept it by her bedside.

As she walked away she chanted "green frog, green frog, green frog." Then, as she waved a final goodbye she smiled and chanted  over her shoulder "roses and butterflies, roses and butterflies, roses and butterflies."

Of course I was gratified that my book had been helpful. The "green frog" chant was the first brainswitch exercise that I devised to help myself come out of a deep depression. The "roses and butterflies" must have been one that she made up for herself.

Funny thing is that for the last several days every time I got a small hit of that darkness that looms up;to grab at you when you least expect it, I found myself chanting "roses and butterflies. roses and butterflies." Worked for me just at well as "green frog."

I guess that makes two points. We can always help each other. And, any mind trick works. It doesn't matter which mind trick you use. Just that you do use one. Roses and butterflies. Roses and butterflies.     A. B. Curtiss

Friday, November 20, 2015

Plantar Fasciitis or Bone Spur

I had a bout of plantar fasciitis on my left foot about  5 years ago and it took about 2 months to heal. I got a pair of tennis shoes that didn't hurt. Of course I spent 3 hours trying on every shoe in the store but I finally found a pair and I wore them almost exclusively for 2 months. Then I did the exercise on the stair where you stand on the ball of your foot and slowly lift your heel up and then down as low as possible. I did it about ten times a day, ten lifts and lowers each time.

When I got it again this year on my left foot, I tried the same cure and after 4 months it still didn't abate. Finally I got an idea. Instead of doing the up and down foot lifts on the stair for ten times, I decided to do just the left foot for ten times. Surprise! I could only do four lifts and lowers. So my left arch was weak, I reasoned, that must be the source of the problem. So for the next week or two I just did the stair exercise on the left foot about ten times a day until I worked up to ten times. The pain disappeared in three weeks. A. B. Curtiss

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

You Have to do the Hard Work Yourself

Emotional self-responsibility requires courage. Succumbing to depression, anxiety, stress requires that we do absolutely nothing at all. The difference between the two involves making a choice, making a decision to be in charge of our own emotions instead of allowing our emotions to run our lives...to ruin our lives. Making a decision and sticking to it no matter what is difficult. 

But in the case of depression and anxiety the easy way turns out to be very hard on us. And the hard work involved in seeking out alternatives for succumbing to depression will, in the long run lead to an easy, calm way of life. Your choice. Your hard work. Your reward.

There is a wealth of information on alternative methods to manage our emotions, restorative breathing, yoga, exercise, service to others, reconnecting with others, meditation. They all work. But they only work if you do the work.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Another Way to Redirect Your Depressive Thinking

In addition to meditation, mindtricks and brainswitching to redirect your brain in another direction out of depression and toward more productive thinking is to do something that is really difficult for you.

Most of us avoid doing difficult things but in the case of a depression hit, it is such a good intervention. For myself, I decided to take piano lessons. It is difficult for me and and the most difficult parts are an instant cure for depressive thinking.

When I am concentrating on a difficult part, it is impossible to think about my depression at the same time. And remember, we must pay attention to our depression because it cannot continue in the absense of our thinking it. Depression cannot think itself. We have to think it. A. B. Curtiss

Friday, November 13, 2015

What is Depression?


What is depression, really? There's no real definition. It seems everybody knows depression when they get it. Why do we get it?


I didn't know what to call it but I certainly remember my first "hit" of depression when I was 12 years old. Like being hit by a truck. I couldn't let anybody know how I felt. I was totally lost and had no one to confide in. I couldn't talk to my parents about it. I don't know why. I just hid my depression from everyone for years until I finally went to a psychiatrist in my thirties.

Now I realize that, practically speaking, depression is more of a routine than a disease. By that I mean depression can be a downshift in your mood that you shrug off and turn your mind to something more productive—a quick choice of an alternative thought like a nonsense rhyme, a thought about something you’re grateful for.

Or when you get a downshift in your mood, you immediately let it slide into depression as a matter of course. You just naturally start withdrawing. You don’t “feel like jogging” or “going to work.” Of course you hate the bad feeling and the fact that you just got hit again is disheartening. “Oh no, not again.” And you give up and give in to depression and follow your regular depressive thinking and behavior.

You don’t have to follow a depressive routine. You don’t have to carry this heavy load. You can shrug it off. That's what I do when I get a hit. 

You can interrupt the downer thinking with a mind exercise or physical exercise or immediately turning to some small task at hand. Any small thing accomplished instead of just being depressed is a help. Think about that.

I haven’t done much this morning yet. Wait a minute. Yes I have. I made my bed, walked the dogs. Wrote my blog. I can think about that. Maybe I even encouraged somebody else to shrug off their heavy load of depression. I have a whole day ahead. Maybe just a routine day. But it won’t be a depressive routine. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

It's Never Too Late to Learn Something

I have a piano at my house which nobody has used since the lessons my children took never "stuck" and as adults they have no interest in playing. Except one of my daughters. From time to time, when she visits, I notice her playing a song she used to know so that she doesn't entirely forget it. Good for her.

I took lessons for about a year along with my children some 40 years ago but I long ago forgot what I learned. I tried, like my daughter, to keep playing the one song I remembered but then I waited too long and finally, when I tried to play it, I couldn't. Years have gone by since thenand I have often thought with a great deal of regret that I never kept up with my piano lessons. How much enjoyment it would be now.

A couple of weeks ago I asked my daughter in law if she know anybody that taught and she gave me a name and number. Finally last week I took the plunge and actually made an appointment. I felt a little foolish doing such a thing at my age. Some of my friends are accomplished piano players.

I had my first lesson last Monday. I was so delighted that I could actually play a simple tune with one hand. There is something about music that soothes the troubled soul.

In spare moments I memorized the white keys. I haven't done the black keys yet. Funny thing is when I got a small downer shift of mood  on Tuesday, I went over the white keys up and down the piano in my mind. The mood quickly gave way and vanished into thin air. An unlooked for benefit of learning to play the piano I thought.

I've been practicing the simple tunes in my kindergarten music book. I'm determined to stick with it this time. You can always call yourself a beginner and begin.Wish me luck. A. B. Curtiss

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Discipline of Depression

What psychology should have been doing all this time is the discipline of depression rather than the illness of depression. By that I mean that we can't insure we won't ever be hit by depression. However, we can insure, by educating ourselves, that when we do get hit, we don't have to become ill with depression. 

We can use methods easily and immediately available to us; to walk away from depression and get on with our day in a more productive way than concentrating on our suffering. Depression grows with your concentration upon it. How do you not concentrate on it? That takes educated discipline. A. B.Curtiss

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Never Surrender to Depressed Feelings

Depression is extremely powerful. But it is not at all intelligent and we can outsmart it seven days a week if we practice some simple mind exercises and mental techniques. 

And this eternal striving to take charge of our thinking helps us grow stronger and more confident in ourselves.

We must refuse to act upon our depressed feelings, knowing that they are not necessarily objective reality. Depression is not regular life. It is our own private hell of self-absorption. We can't sit around and wait for our life to get fixed up so we can then jump back into it like some kind of movie.  

Our only hope is to decide, as an act of will, to get up anyway, even if we don't feel like it, and take some small positive action. Run, or take a walk, take out the garbage, make the bed, volunteer to clean up the highway. Doing anything helps.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

I Wandered for Years in Confusion for Years

I spent 30-years as a manic-depressive, they call it bipolar now, wandering in confusion around my life, until I decided I would refuse all thoughts of despair because they were a waste of time and ultimately came to nothing except to exacerbate my downer feelings.

Why couldn’t I control these thoughts of mine? After all, weren’t they my thoughts, happening in my brain? Believe me I had tried despair for years and that certainly didn’t work.

I came to the rational conclusion that thinking negative or painful thoughts is a human being's most unnecessary, unintelligent and pointless activity. And I also came to the conclusion that I could choose to think any thought I wanted, that I had free choice of any thought I wanted to think. 

The conclusion I came to is that it is possible to insist that you not any longer care to think these unwanted thoughts. That it is possible to think another thought other than a negative one and insist, insist, insist on thinking your own chosen thought. So that is what I do.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Feelings are Like Electricity.

Feelings are like electricity in that it is very important that we learned control over them.

Feelings are neither rational, nor moral, and they do not have the least modicum of self—responsibility. 

Feelings have no regular, reality-based intelligence with which we can connect as, for instance, our rational mind. Feelings are like electricity, powerful but inaccessible to much of our understanding. We simply don't know why we have the feelings we do much of the time.

Like electricity, feelings simply exist and we either make use of them properly or not. We cannot avoid them. The trouble with both feelings and electricity is that unless we learn how to handle them both properly, either one of them can kill us. We cannot allow either one to be in charge of us. No pun intended.

We have pretty much been educated to the dangers of electricity. But feelings, not so much. If we want to study our feelings objectively instead of subjectively being terrorized by them, a good place to start is simply observing them without judgment. Choose a place and time where you will not be interrupted and allow yourself to observe them. As if you are a an uninvolved bystander to them instead of the victim of them. Meditation is extremely helpful for starting to get a feel for your feelings. No pun intended.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

What About the Connection Between Depression and Arrogance?


In your book Depression is a Choice, you talk about the connection between depression and arrogance. Do you mean denial?


They are both underpinnings of depression—denial and arrogance. Once deep into depression, we can't imagine that we were ever the slightest bit arrogant. But we mistake feelings of helplessness for humility. There is nothing more stubborn and imperious than abject helplessness. We force everyone around us to relate to us on the basis of our depression rather than joining in with whatever others are doing and concentrating on that. Instead, we continue to focus entirely on how bad we are feeling.

The denial part is that we insist that we can’t interact with others in whatever project they have going on. We deny that it is a possibility for us to do something other than being constantly aware of our own pain.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

How to Avoid Shutting the Door to New Possibilities


Can you comment further on the fact that depression is not reality. What does that really mean, practically speaking, in one's daily life?


As long as we are complaining about, or succumbing to depression, we are safe from doing anything or thinking anything that might change the status quo. Remember that the mind feels safer with a painful status quo than striving for some better unknown. The mind reasons that we have so far survived in the status quo no matter how painful and the mind can't be sure we will survive if we venture outside the status quo in which we have so far survived. The mind is not as smart as we think it is. That is why we have to manage our mind instead of allowing our mind to manage us.

I didn't know what complaining really was until I caught myself doing it all the time. I didn't know that I was unconsciously counting on having a perfect life and was therefore impatient with a normal, ordinary, mixed-bag life which alternated success and failure. I am sure that I was influenced in this by a modern-day tendency to look upon our success as more important than our character, the circumstances that befall us as more significant than how we respond to them; to look upon our roles in life as more important than our goals.

When we alternate blame, complaint, and depression like I used to do, all the doors to new possibilities are temporarily closed. We are not connected to our own present reality, and thus are not only lost to ourselves, but there is no way for us to really connect with any one else either. Depression is a wrongly triggered automatic instinct. Getting out of depression is rational, educated thinking and behavior.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

How About Exercise for Depression?


I've heard that exercise is good for depression. Is that true?


Exercise is more effective than anything else for depressed patients according to studies at Duke University. They have shown that three 30-minute workouts each week brought relief equal to drug treatment. Even hard work makes a person more cheerful. 

It is my opinion that Psychology has been too interested in the study of weakness and damage and not enough interested in the study of strength and virtue 

Monday, November 2, 2015

What Am I Doing Wrong that I Get Depressed?


What am I doing wrong that I struggle with depression?


We get depressed not because we are doing something wrong, but because there are a few essential things we have never been taught how to do at all. Depression is essentially a trick of the mind. We can learn how this trick works so that we won't be fooled by it so easily. 

The way out of the trick is to realize that depression is a thought and there is no thought that we are compelled to think. We can choose not to think any thought we want by choosing another thought instead of it.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

"Putting the Lie" to a Negative Thought


If I don't "put the lie" to some of these negative thoughts won't they keep returning? Don't they need looking at? Isn't there any benefit to answering back? Or do we just say "hi thought, I am not going to pay attention to you"?  I ask because I used to do these exercises that David Burns recommends: take the thought, write it down and then categorize it under one of his ten categories of irrational thoughts and "put the lie to it.”


Any attention you give a negative thought makes it stronger.

The exercise that David Burns uses is a good example of cognitive therapy, changing rational thinking for irrational, emotional thinking. But "putting the lie" to an irrational thought can never erase it. All you can do is keep doing the exercise when the thought pops up. Once you think a thought, it is forever in your memory banks. However, the less you think any thought, the less powerful it is.

David Burns' exercise is good because doing the "putting the lie" exercise is certainly better than thinking the negative thought. But once you understand how the mind works you can see that the exercise is, in a way, just going around in circles. Once you decide that any negative thought is no longer an option, you needn't put the lie to it (which, because the brain works by learned association, can even make the negative thought stronger). The most efficient thing to do is simply turn away from the negative thought, give it no more energy and proceed to think a different, more positive, objective, or productive thought which sets you going ahead in the right way with your day. Even a nonsense thought keeps you from thinking a negative thought. And from the nonsense thought you can move on to more productive thinking.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

We All Have Fearful Moments


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 cannot get me for more then a few mins...ha! Now that sounds like living.


I may have said that I am a pretty fearless person on occasion. I probably meant fearless because I am a risk taker and I don’t mind dumping myself into a situation where I don’t know anybody, and have no idea how the meeting, or conference or whatever will turn out or what others might be expecting of me. I figure I will be able to handle anything that comes up with common sense, a spirit of good will and the fact that I’m not a quitter, I am honest and I always try to do my best and treat other people as I would like to be treated.

But of course I cannot be fearless in the strict sense of the word. Fear is the basic motivating force in a human being. We only have one psychological defense mechanism—the flight or fight response. But to sink down into that fear/anxiety unnecessarily is something I have learned not to tolerate in myself. There is always something I can do other than think about the fact that suddenly find myself full of fear. As soon as I recognize that I am thinking I am afraid I realize that I am not in reality because reality doesn’t contain unnecessary fear.

If you are “in fear for your life” usually you are too busy at the task at hand (trying to save your life) to be afraid. The definition of reality is giving a pure act of attention to the task at hand. Also known as “being in the NOW.”

So when the fear makes its appearance I take steps to situate myself in reality as quickly as possible.

Friday, October 30, 2015

I See the World Through Sad Eyes


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 AB, 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?


You may have an inclination to think poorly about yourself because of the way you were treated as a child. But you did survive and since you are no longer a helpless child you can treat yourself with more love and respect. Our nature is not our enemy, it is our path. When you start feeling down you can check in with what you are thinking and you will usually catch some very negative thoughts chasing each other around.

Sit still. Relax your shoulders. Withdraw you attention from whatever you are thinking and focus it, instead, on RIGHT NOW. Look around. Past history doesn’t need to be rewritten. You are not hurting from past history. You are hurting because you are not situated in reality. Reality is a pure act of attention to what is at hand. If you are outside, focus on the trees and bits of alive nature that are near you. Allow them to nourish you. Nature can nourish us if we just allow ourselves to be nourished.

If inside, focus on the floor, a picture. Notice things around you in an objective way.Look for some small task that you can do and get up and do it. Then do another. And another. Just small things. No need to do great things ever. Just the next small thing. There is always the next thing.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

I Have This General "I'm Not Safe" Feeling


As I practice, how to I keep from feeling like I am under constant threat of thoughts? I have this general "I am not safe" feeling. Like I must be on alert at all times for the negative thoughts and therefore I can't relax.


The thought pattern "I am not safe" has become a strong one for you because as you think a thought over and over it becomes dominant. But just because a thought pattern is strong in your brain does not mean that the thought has any basis in reality. In reality you are safe. Your thoughts have no power over you. You can always think any thought you want to think, can't you? Hippoty hop.

Replace the thought "I am not safe" with the thought "I am safe in this moment." Whenever the thought "I am not safe" occurs, replace it with "I am safe in this moment." And then relax your shoulders at the same time. When your body takes a fearful position, just relaxing out of the fearful position helps to lessen the fear.

You always have the power over your own brain to think any thought you want to think. Fear is just a thought. You can replace fear with a nonsense thought or some other more productive or objective thought any time the fear thought comes up. You fear "bank" is full because you keep investing in fear thoughts. Your safe "bank" will fill up as you invest it with more "I am safe" thoughts.
A. B. Curtiss

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Why Can't I Be Happy LIke Other People?


I am practicing techniques from Brainswitch. I am determined to not give in this time. The first big depressed feelings came on Saturday (but there was the build up of negative thinking, and self doubt, and worrying when I’d get the next hit. I was so self-focused on all my fears). So, I immediately lose my appetite and you know , all the familiar symptoms start returning and I think "CRAP...I may not survive this one! Why can't I be like other people? What if I am not strong enough to derail this! Great there goes sleeping!"?


You have made a wonderful start really. To be self-aware that you are being self-focused is the very way out of self-focus.

And never forget, you are not the only one who suffers negative thinking and depression. You are in the company of millions of people who struggle with the same exact things that you describe.

But remember as well there are also people who have been able to pull themselves out of being a passive prisoner of their own thinking and have proactively taken charge of their thinking enough so they can make a good day out of a bad start by insisting on taking the positive fork in the road as soon as they realize they are on the negative highway of thinking.

One exercise is to actually visualize a sign up ahead—POSITIVE THINKING FORK JUST AHEAD. And then take it.  A. B. Curtiss

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

It's Good Enough to be Good Enough


You can see what trouble I’m in when I tell you my passing thoughts. And thanks for your books by the way. I am learning so much.  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 improve how I look. 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 to my thinking these days. How can I stop thinking like this, I hate it.


There’s a phrase in the Desiderata that seems to describe the problem you are writing about “…if you compare yourself with others you may become vain or bitter for always there will be greater and less persons than yourself.”

Of course, notwithstanding we know better, we all tend a little toward this kind of comparing ourselves anyway. It’s human nature. We are a herd animal and we need to feel connected to our fellow in order to feel secure. We also want to check ourselves out so that we do not do anything or become anything to cause our fellows to reject us. For a herd animal this is like being given a death warrant. For us humans, of course, this is hyperbolic to say being rejected is like a death warrant. But for all of us that flash of hurt is sometimes overwhelming because the primal instinct that we need to “belong” is still strong within us.

As humans beings, though, unlike other herd animals, we have our higher deductive reasoning powers which can come to our aid if we have sufficiently inputted into our memory banks some education, some ethics, some reasonable familiarity with calling upon our courage that we can access.

Remember that our brain is a defense mechanism. Its default position is fear. So when we compare ourselves with others, fall short of our own or other’s expectations or accomplishments we are vulnerable. If we know in advance about all this we are, of course, better prepared to deal with it when it comes upon us.
For all of us, I propose, the thought “not good enough” is our fall-back position whenever we feel vulnerable. When we walk into a roomful of strangers. When a friend bests us in some way.

From this automatic fall-back position, if we have educated ourselves, another neural pattern can trigger through learned association with our vulnerable position that reminds us “Hey, I’m good enough.  RELAX. I may not be perfect, but I’m a person who tries to do the right thing, I am doing the best I can, I’m a person of good will, I try to give others their due. Why am I kicking myself and knocking myself out to be better. Than who? For what reason? Ordinary and hardworking? Isn’t that me? Isn’t that enough? And if no one likes me right now. This is just the time I have to stand alone. Everybody has times like this. I’m no different.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

What About Seasonal Depression?


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 the Northwest now...it seems like it’s always rainy! Going to be getting dark at about 6pm...rainy on the weekends...oh boy! Scares me.


Maybe this sounds harsh, but this is what I think about seasonal depression. It may be a diagnosis for people who think too much about how they are feeling and do not think enough about what they are doing to move forward with their day. As Shakespeare put it, “there is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so.”

Downer thoughts are just downer thoughts. Why think downer thoughts about the rain.? For me, personally, I love the rain because we need it so badly here in Southern California. The rain might have saved thousands of people's houses here 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.

We can’t have a grateful thought and a depressive thought at the same time. So we have to choose which one we are going to think. Which do you think is the better choice? A. B. Curtiss

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Give Yourself an Ego Boost

Don’t wait around for somebody else to boost your spirits. Be your own best friend and pat yourself on the back now and then. 

I saw the movie “The Help” quite a while ago and found it fairly forgettable since it was all so stereotypical. However one small phrase must have impressed me because it came to mind recently. It was uttered by the nanny who said so lovingly to the baby, “You is beautiful, you is kind, you is smart.” Imagine having someone say that to you every day since you were a baby. Probably would have made a big difference in your life, wouldn’t it?

Maybe nobody told us such uplifting things very often when we were young. But so what? We can always tell it to ourselves. The thinking that we have to love ourselves first before we can love anybody else has some validity perhaps. But the reverse is certainly true. If we hate ourselves for any reason, if we are stressed to the limit, it will surely be difficult to connect with anyone else in a loving way. And since we are a herd animal, we have a primal need to feel connected. 

So we can use something even as simple as this, with all the incorrect grammar—use it as a mantra. It probably will do more good than what we may already be using as a mantra “I’m so discouraged.” “I feel so down on myself.” “I’m such a failure.” “I’m so damn stressed out.” All these thoughts, remember, since our brain works by learned association, are instructions to our brain to put us in touch with everything downer and negative in our memory banks. Yuck.

So I’m going to tell myself. And you tell yourself. And I’ll tell you as well, “You is beautiful, you is kind you is smart.” Believe it!  A.B.Curtiss

Monday, October 19, 2015

Don't Leave Room in Your Life for Depression

We have to keep elbowing depression/anxiety/angst/despair or whatever you call it out of our life. And we have to find an uptick wherever we can.

This morning I woke up in the old dark pit as usual. I picked some dumb phrase to thoughtjam it while I got up, made my bed, got on my inversion table for ten minutes while letting the the hot water run in the tub for my bath after I swam. But before I swam I took out the recycles, walked the dogs, checked on a leak in the irrigation system, took the book boxes out of the car since I did a booksigning this weekend (my husband helped me), asked my husband to get out the blower so I could blow off the patio(which I would do later). Then I took off the pool cover.

I just kept doing one small task after another which is why I can’t remember the dumb phrase I picked for thoughtjamming. Pretty soon my brain turned completely off the phrase because it had to keep up with all my little tasks which I made sure I was concentrating on as I did them. (Otherwise I know that sneaky mind of mine might try to dump me in the pit again.)

I never forget that the mind can only concentrate on one thought at a time and the brain always follows the direction of its most CURRENT dominant thought.

I keep a pool cover on the pool to save the water from evaporating since we have a drought here in California and, as I said, I have other leaks in my yard. Then I swam my 20 laps and during that time I had no thoughts except keeping count of my laps. “One, one, I’ve just begun,” “two two, zip de do.” and so on.  I always feel virtuous for doing 20 laps but that doesn’t mean I want to do 21.

When I finished my laps, I started to pull the cover back over the pool before I got out and was surprised that it seemed more difficult than usual. Wasn’t I doing enough weight lifting? (Not that I do all that much but I do some.) By the time the  pool was half-covered, I realized that the reason it was so hard was that one of my large German shepherd dogs had been sleeping on the cover and was enjoying the ride. I laughed. The joke was on me. Then (because I’m always looking for possibilities to raise my mood in the morning) I decided to REALLY LAUGH. Hey, thanks for the joke, God. I went in and told my husband about the dog. We both had a good laugh. Now I’m feeling good again. Sorry depression, no room for you this morning. See you tomorrow. Or whenever.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

I Feel Like a Loser


I think I get depressed because I’m always down on myself—I should lose weight, some of my younger friends are doing so much better than I am financially. Sometimes I just feel bad about not ever being a winner, not ever standing out in any way, not feeling special. I feel guilty for not being than I am. Is this normal?


I think that people who worry about being a better person feel that way because they are basically a good person. 

I think we all tend to be victims of the human motivation movement inspired by such speakers as Tony Robbins in the last decade or two that purported to make everyone a winner and rich. You could really make a case that being ordinary and doing one's duty is not highly valued in our society. Whereas being self-assured and self-confident and being a success is highly valued.

Too many people put aside questions of essential right and wrong as "old-fashioned" in order to succeed. Look at the car company recently that built in a device in the new models so that the car could “fool” the emissions tests. But these people are often found out and end up losing their important positions. Those who remain honest and honorable and refuse 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.

Build your life on doing your best every day and rededicating yourself when you fail. Don't build your life on how good you feel about yourself because you are a winner. And especially don’t build your life around how bad you feel about yourself because you’re not a winner. Many of us have tried to win some gold medal or other, lost, and must content ourselves with being good people and making the best out of our day. When you go out and look at the stars, you start to realize that you are a part of something really beautiful. Try to add to the beauty of life by being a beautiful person in your efforts to be just an ordinary good person not a wonderful, self-assured one. A. B. Curtiss

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Just Do the Next Thing When Anxious

You can't just give up and sink deeper into your anxiety. As soon as you feel that anguish and pain of anxiety you know that to think about it, to self-focus on what you are feeling will just make it worse. Think some objective thought, do some productive action and get your mind to focus on the present reality of the objective thought or action you are doing. Insist on thinking anything else except thinking about your anxiety. "Green frog" is the exercise I use most often. But sometimes I used "Bzzz Bzzz Bzzz" because it is so quick to say and easy to concentrate on. It's a good thoughtjammer for not thinking about your anxiety.

And relax your shoulders constantly because your muscles are so tight that your "back is up" and it will re-tense two seconds after you release it. Don't worry. Just keep releasing the tension that you can in your body. Every little bit of release helps the larger situation of the anxiety. Finally if you persevere,, your anxiety will "die the death of a thousand small cuts." And good riddance.