Keep Your Coronavirus Perspectives Forever

The Coronavirus is impacting us and the world in ways none of us have experienced or witnessed in our lifetimes.  Just a few months ago, witnessing hand sanitizer and masks becoming precious items, grappling with the specter of rationing of health care resources and keeping one another safe by keeping our distance were confined to novels, movies and television series.  Just a few months ago, cruise ships with ill people being denied entry to ports would have seemed almost unthinkable.  Now, it is our reality.

What is unfolding is unprecedented in our lifetimes and brings up very powerful thoughts about everything from the role of government in our lives, to the extent to which we would go to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe, to the contributions to others we are making or would like to make at this moment.  The pandemic brings to the surface deeply held philosophical, economic, spiritual and political views that may have been much further from the front of our minds than they are today.  Coronavirus can also, of course, make people think about their mortality and, therefore, their entire lives—what they have achieved, what they hope to still achieve, good decisions they have made and decisions they regret.

Because Coronavirus does trigger such powerful thoughts and emotions, it can also bring up powerful reminders of other times we lived through crises or experienced losses in life or were called upon to summon courage and show compassion.  That’s how emotional memory tends to work; one deeply emotional moment kindles memories of others.

Documenting your thoughts and feelings at this time can be an important part of responding, in a very personal way, to Coronavirus.  You can do that by writing a daily journal or by recording your thoughts and perspectives as they come to you—via audio or video.  These reflections can become an emotional outlet, a form of intellectual exercise and a treasured archive for you and your family to keep for many years to come—essentially forever, if properly stored away.  If more than one member of your family or several friends take on this challenge, you could share one another’s reflections and use them simply to know one another even better or as points of departure for deep discussion.

I share this advice with you partly because we can tend to keep our innermost thoughts and feelings to ourselves at times like this, or to even keep them from consciousness.  But if we make thinking, feeling and sharing part of our consciousplan right now, we can overcome those emotional reflexes.

Dr. Keith Ablow

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ONE KEY TO REKINDLING YOUR CREATIVITY

This blog has a pretty simple premise:  People are often afraid of the creativity of others. Not infrequently, we’re also afraid of our own, by the way.  Why? Because we aren’t the originators of the energy behind that creativity.  The universe or God is.  And being the conduit for inexplicable, immeasurable creative energy can be anxiety-provoking.  We can fear being obliterated by the sheer force of it.

This is the same reason that adults often advise truly gifted children that their creative interests might make for fun hobbies, but aren’t necessarily a proper way to spend a whole lot of their time. I think the adults feel their kids could be lost to those interests—absorbed by them.

I have helped hundreds of men and women who listened to adults when they were children and all-but-forgot very deep interests they had in painting, music, writing and many other forms of self-expression. Coaxed to share with me any beloved hobby they had as kids, it’s not at all unusual for them to mention an art form and then recall someone who advised them that they needed to be less obsessed with it—that being well-rounded was the key to a happy life.

How about you?  Did you have a passion as a child, adolescent or young adult that you shelved because someone told you it was taking up too much of your time, or that it was an unlikely way to make a living, or that you could use a part of it in service to a “real” career?

One of my clients was a very successful and very unhappy lawyer who recalled drawing houses and buildings as a junior high school student and loving it.  She was actually disciplined by more than one teacher for drawing during math and science classes.  And she forgot all about it, until we discussed interests she had left behind early in life.  Once she remembered it, though, she couldn’t quite get it out of her mind.  She took an architecture course at a local college and then decided to take the huge and life-affirming leap to get a degree in it. Today, she no longer practices law, instead designing and building magnificent homes.

Another client of mine—a car dealer—loved music as a boy.  He played more than one musical instrument.  But something about his love for music seemed to threaten his parents. Maybe, he wondered in adulthood, his parents were worried he loved the music more than he loved them.  They set rigid standards for his grades and, when he couldn’t meet those standards, they punished him by taking away his time to play music—his “hobby.”

My client didn’t stop working as a car dealer.  But he did rekindle his love for music by buying a guitar, taking guitar lessons and starting a band.  Summoning the memory of a deep interest of his from long ago that was resisted by others turned out to be a key to his creativity as an adult.

How about you?  Did someone talk you out of a creative passion when you were young?  If so, that may be a good hint that it’s worth revisiting.  Because it may well have been a genuine love of yours—and, therefore, a little scary (or more than a little scary) to those around you.

 

Keith Ablow, MD

Founder

KeithAblowCreative.com

[email protected]

 

(Note: Some details of clients have been changed to preserve their anonymity.)

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HOW TO WRITE NOVELS WITH CAPTIVATING DIALOGUE

After writing three novels that had resulted in about 100 rejection letters, I was really lucky to have two experiences that led to the sale of my six novels featuring forensic psychiatrist Frank Clevenger.

The first lucky experience was visiting with a psychiatrist way back in 1991 when I was chief resident in psychiatry at Tufts/New England Medical Centers.  Yes, we psychiatrists also get psychotherapy. My psychiatrist was about 80 years old and a no-nonsense man with true genius for getting to the bottom of things.  He could summon soaring insights, but could also cut right to the core with a piercing observation or question.  During our first visit, when I told him that those 100 rejection letters for novels were one of the things on my mind, he said this, “Maybe you don’t know how to write a novel.”

That wasn’t fun to hear.  “Why do you say that?” I asked.

“Because you have a hundred rejection letters.”

Now, I know that the world is imperfect.  I know that Robert Pirsig, author of the brilliant book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance which sold millions of copies, accumulated well over 100 rejection letters before one lone publisher offered him a small advance.  Still, I couldn’t ignore the challenging, somewhat stinging gem of an observation my psychiatrist had been good enough to offer up:  Maybe you don’t know how to write a novel.

About a week later, I hired a writing coach (the late Gary Provost) and also purchased his Video Novel Workshop.

That purchase was the second really lucky experience I referred to at the start of this blog.  In Gary’s course were keys to writing novels that really worked—first and foremost, because they included some structural elements Gary argued all novels must include (much the way in which buildings, for instance, need things like foundations) and some very strong suggestions about how to hold the attention of one’s readers.

Here’s the essence of what Gary said about writing dialogue in novels:  If you want to hold a reader’s attention, make the dialogue about conflict.  People pay attention to disagreements between characters, not peaceful exchanges or pleasantries.  Take a simple situation like the bill coming for dinner.  There’s no reason to write about two characters agreeing to split the tab, then saying goodbye and leaving the pretty restaurant.  That’s pretty boring.  You could skip it.  Instead, maybe one of the characters named Nancy who always worries about being taken advantage of picks up the bill, looks it over and says, “You had the wine and the chicken, so . . .”

Her dinner companion Paula says, “Can I point something out, without you getting angry?”

“Sure,” Nancy says, efforting a smile, “even though that usually means you’re going to say something to make me angry.”

Paula shrugs.  “Why do you always figure out who had what?  Why wouldn’t we just each pay half.”

Nancy puts the bill down.  “Interesting.  I think you’re saying I’m a stickler for a few dollars, but you’re actually the one who thinks I should pay for half your wine.”

Now, you’ve got the reader’s attention. Why?  Because conflict tends to reveal deeper levels of character—not just in dialogue, by the way, but in many aspects of life.  We get to know who people really are when they have to defend themselves or debate their beliefs or take a chance to stand up for those they love.

By the way, that’s probably why my psychiatrist made his helpful comment in the piercing way he did.  Maybe you don’t know how to write a novel.

That got my attention and got me moving—just like you want your reader moving right to the next page.

 

Dr. Keith Ablow

Keith Ablow is the founder of www.keithablowcreative.com

[email protected]

978-462-1125

 

 

 

 

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TURNING PAIN INTO POWER

Years ago I wrote a series of six psychological thrillers featuring a very flawed forensic psychiatrist named Frank Clevenger. Clevenger was in deep emotional turmoil, but that was precisely the energy he drew upon to resonate with the suffering of others and render extraordinary and life changing insights—not just as he investigated crimes, but as he explored the underlying pain of many of the characters who populated the novels.

I have thought about Frank Clevenger a good deal, lately, as I have faced very painful events in my own life—untrue accusations that have then been trumpeted by the media and that require me to defend my character.  Because I have noticed something about the wounds I have endured:  They have made me especially able to identify wounds in others and help transform those wounds into growing places for personal power.

Why is this?  By what alchemy does pain not only connect us, one to another, but also fuel spiritual and psychological strategies for survival and growth?

First, I believe that all human beings live behind shields, something I have written extensively about in my self-help book Living the Truth. The shields can include getting lost in computer games, or materialism, or food, or alcohol, or work, or anger, or tumultuous relationships, or any number of other distractions from our true selves.  They keep us hidden from one another and from ourselves. When we have to lower these shields, however, due to the force of the trouble in our lives, we can emerge as especially sensitive and connected versions of ourselves, unleashing extraordinary empathy.  It may well be that we feel most for one another when we are in touch with how each and every one us can be hurt.

Our resumes don’t create bonds between us.  Our successes don’t bind us, one to another.  Our metaphorical injuries do.

It is when we (even those of us who coach and counsel and provide therapy) encounter real life challenges that we have the most raw and accurate vision of the profound pain they can bring.  This has motivated me to fight harder than ever to restore the clients I work with to well-being and to also set the stage for them to become everything they are destined to be.

Second, I believe that living through adversity can strengthen one’s belief—one’s faith—that difficult chapters of one’s life story are just that—chapters.  They don’t constitute the whole of one’s story.  This has certainly been the case for me.  I am more certain than ever that pain can pave the way for better, truer chapters being “written” by me, in the future.  I believe more deeply than ever that adversity can purify, rather than destroy a human being.  I believe that pain can be transformed into power.  And that belief is setting the stage for actually helping others to “write” (i.e. live) the most powerful parts of their own lives.

Just days ago, I wrote and posted this to Facebook:

 

Your pain is your invitation to become more powerful.  Every challenge and crisis in life is also a calling to become your greater self.

 

I believe this to the core of my being.  I believe it more than ever before, as recent life events have cut me to my core.

Pain is meant to be turned into power.  Every time.  In my life and in yours.  When you’re ready to team up to make that happen for you, so am I.  Especially, now.

 

Dr. Keith Ablow

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INHALING A SCENT DURING SLEEP CAN IMPROVE MEMORY

Researchers in Germany have confirmed and added new data to an amazing finding that has implications for learning.  It also points out how astoundingly powerful some natural remedies can be for memory, mood, anxiety, sleep, attention and energy.

Scents are Powerful Brain Modulators

Here’s the basic idea:  The brain responds to odors in very powerful ways.  Just the smell of lavender  or frankincense for example, is known to decrease anxiety.  They aren’t the only scents with that effect, and lavender oil and frankincense can also be ingested (e.g. in capsule form).

But what about memory?

Well, the German researchers took 54 young people and split them into two groups.  One group was exposed to the scent of roses (via an unlighted incense stick) while studying or sleeping or both.  The other group studied and slept without the scent. Both groups were then assessed for their performance on memory tests related to what they had attempted to memorize.

The incense sticks, by the way, produced a detectable scent, even though they were not lighted.

The results showed that the group of students who studied with the rose incense and then also slept with the incense nearby performed 30 percent better on the tests.  Why?  Well, it turns out that the brain “decides” partly during sleep what information from the day is worth storing away.  And somehow the scent of roses helped deposit information in the brain’s memory banks.

Natural Supplements Also Combat Low Mood, Anxiety and Inattention

When this research is seen in the context of other research that indicates, for example, that curcumin is as powerful as Prozac in treating depression, and that lavender oil is as powerful as some benzodiazepine anti-anxiety medications, the potential of natural remedies to improve emotional suffering, increase attention, promote learning and enhance many other aspects of well-being should be plain.

In just the last several months, I have seen the power of supplements, including special probiotics, to dramatically improve the following in my clients:

  • Low Mood
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty Sleeping
  • Low Energy
  • Problems Concentrating
  • Brain Fog

What has also become clear is that combining the proper natural remedies with counseling and life coaching triggers real synergies that help folks address the problems they need to in life and start on the paths that they want to in life.

Here’s how to start on this powerful healing path, when you are ready.  Simply schedule a one hour consultation by emailing [email protected] or calling 978-462-1125.

 

Keith Ablow, MD

Founder of The Ablow Center

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Natural Supplements Are Powerful Mood Enhancers and Anxiety Reducers

The Ablow Center offers a unique and powerful combination of life coaching and spiritual counseling.  At the same time, I have devised unique protocols of natural supplements to increase mood, reduce anxiety, increase focus and improve sleep.

Prior to founding The Ablow Center I wrote several books that talked about the power of psychotherapy, sometimes combined with medications, to treat psychological suffering. They included How to Cope with Depression (co-written with the Chairman of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins), Anatomy of a Psychiatric Illness (written for the American Psychiatric Association) and Living the Truth, which became an international self-help bestseller.

Yet, something was missing: Harnessing the astounding power of natural supplements to address emotional pain, low energy and lack of focus (among other challenges).

Over the past year, I have extensively researched which vitamins, minerals, herbs and probiotics have the most scientific data behind them regarding lifting mood and improving many other facets of mental well-being. It’s amazing how powerful and safe these supplements are and truly an honor to be able to share the best of them with my clients.

One example, is the use of Curcumin.  Multiple studies that compare Curcumin—derived from a spice—to prescription antidepressants find that Curcumin is just as effective at increasing mood.

Another example is the use of Lavender Oil to treat anxiety.  Again, multiple studies have found that the effect of this simple, natural, incredibly safe oil from flowers compares favorably with prescription tranquilizers.

When I combine life coaching or counseling with these all-natural remedies, I find myself getting as good or better results in many of those who need their mood improved or anxiety reduced or energy increased than I got when I practiced psychiatry and prescribed medications.  That’s stunning information.

I have now developed protocols that use multiple supplements, when needed, to achieve life-changing results in clients.

Very often, going through a client’s history and recommending the right supplements is amazing, in and of itself. But when I have the opportunity to combine the supplements with life coaching and counseling, the system becomes transformational.

If that’s the kind of help that sounds like the right path for you, let’s get started. Just email [email protected]or call 978-462-1125.

 

Keith Ablow, MD

Founder of The Ablow Center

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