The Avatar Will See You Now

We’ve stumbled upon an Achilles’ heel in the human psyche, and no one seems to have identified it as such: Human beings can’t resist technology, artificial intelligence and robots.  And we’ll destroy ourSELVES to interact with them as much as possible.

I’m not talking just about iPhones and Facebook and video games sucking the life out of our young people, like a voracious, insatiable vampire (which they are, of course).  I am talking about how ready and excited we are by anything that simulates human behavior that is a machine.  That includes avatars that talk like and increasingly look like humans, but it also includes actual robots that are now appearing at CVS store checkouts in lieu of clerks, that are being deployed as “security officers” and “police officers” (https://www.knightscope.com/) and that are even being sold as sexual partners (https://www.realdoll.com/product/harmony-x/).

The psychological ingredients that make up our fascination with, and increasing addiction to, robots seem to include an element of intellectual narcissism.  We like the idea that our brain power has unlocked the tools to create facsimiles of ourselves.  We are titillated by seeing our creations mimic us.  We like playing God.

The trouble is that increasingly embracing robots will inevitably lead to no longer embracing one another, and to not having anything like a firm grip on ourSELVES.  That’s because things like human empathy are more like plants than computer chips.  Fail to water the capacities to love and empathize with one another (and with oneSELF) and those living miracles of humanity will die—in individuals and then in the whole species.

Avatars will be everywhere soon enough.  Already, they are interacting with us in the health care arena, education and romance.  And, soon enough, they will short-circuit human kindness and consideration and courage and turn us into—well, them.

Interesting, isn’t it?  We made avatars and robots in our image, but, in the end, they could certainly make us morph into their image.  An avatar watching an avatar, on a computer screen that screens out the best of us.

Dr. Keith Ablow

Click HERE to schedule a complimentary discovery call with Dr. Keith Ablow.

What are You and Your Company Up Against?

I can put this really simply:  Major forces in our culture are now aligned to deprive you, your employees, your colleagues and your company of the self-confidence and self-determination necessary to achieve success.

What are some of these forces?  Again, I can be direct:

  • Economic, social and public health forces pitting employers against employees
  • Intrusion of the state in private enterprise in ways designed to create uncertainty about private property rights
  • Legalization of certain drugs by many states, with unclear rules about what can be dictated about their use in the workplace or what the risk of the drugs (including, of course, marijuana) might actually be
  • Massive, seismic forces aligned to make you, your family members, your employees and your customers wonder if they have any authentic self from which to deploy dedicated energy, focus or creativity. I believe you can count among these forces those that encourage people to wonder if they may have been born into the wrong body (i.e. the LGBTQ movement).
  • Uncertainty about the future of the country (whether there will BE a future of the country) fostered by nonexistent borders, top leaders seemingly working for foreign entitites or foreign governments and anemic or absent efforts to protect American citizens.

Trying to live a life, let alone operate a business, amidst such uncertain tides isn’t simple.  It’s daunting.  And, make no mistake about it, the tides are intended to drown you and your business.

Can you fight back?  Yes.   Can you win.  Yes.  But you’ll need a strategy designed to insulate and elevate you over these raging tides, in order for you or your team to get anything done in the world.

The strategy has to put individual initiative and original thought and courage and authenticity first—where they belong.  You, or your family or your business have to be proactive, in order to be insulated from the worst winds of the new world order (which is disorder).

Dr. Keith Ablow

Click HERE to schedule a complimentary discovery call with Dr. Keith Ablow.

Staging Your Own Comeback

Staging Your Own Comeback

Be honest.  You need one.  Everyone does.

If you think you don’t, you’re not thinking hard enough.

The comeback is the iconic story of humankind.  It is at the foundation of every heroic journey.  There must be a reversal, and there must be a decision to walk through the storm to higher ground, into the light.

The Resurrection is the story of Jesus, but it is also the story of every man or woman who claims it.

What will your comeback be?

Is there a relationship you owe it to yourSELF to rekindle?  Is there a SELF-destructive habit you need to quit?  Is there a manuscript tucked in the back of your closet that was rejected by so many publishers that you wrongly gave up on the writer inside you?  Is there a dream you deferred and then forgot about?  Have you been too worried about past missteps or even misdeeds to kindle your potential to share your gifts with the world?

Do not wait.  Time is a hunter.  You do not have infinite days to write the chapters of your life story that make you its hero.  And you can, indeed, in deeds, write those chapters.

I promise you.

Do you think that the detours and hurdles and reversals that have been part of your journey have been random?  They have not.  They were encoded in your life story as the very detours, hurdles and reversals you needed to navigate, clear and confront, in order to become an even stronger version of yourSELF.

Was the journey of those who crossed the desert with Moses, after fleeing Egypt, one without trouble and even calamity?  No.  There were all manner of detours, doubts and failings on the way to the Promised Land.

Do you know there are people jailed for life who find new lives as poets?  Do you know there are people who find themselves bankrupt who make new fortunes?  Do you know that there are people who try to end their lives during periods of depression who find joy and success in life within the same year?

Recovery and redemption are the normal course of events, so long as you claim them as your own.

Dr. Keith Ablow

Click HERE to schedule a complimentary discovery call with Dr. Keith Ablow.

Be the Hero of Your Own Life Story

Every one of us is a story.  The past chapters of our lives comprise our back story – childhood, adolescence and the rest.  The present is being written this very moment.  And the arc of each of our stories will be determined by the future chapters that will unfold.

Every event in our stories matters because it defines, to a lesser or greater extent, what we have lived through and how we responded in each situation.

It is part of the human condition that we tend to see things as happening “to” us, rather than “because of” us.  We can easily lapse into being passive as our life stories are written “around” us.

You can imagine that a passive main character wouldn’t make for a compelling movie or novel.  Would you want to sit in a theatre and watch a film about someone who goes through the motions of her life story, simply reacting with happiness or sadness or anger or disappointment to events and never taking action to influence how future events will unfold?  Of course not.

A passive main character doesn’t make for a compelling life story, either.

Since you must be the main character and the writer of your life story—since you must take action—why not resolve to make yourself the hero of the story?

That’s a pretty simple idea, right?

It doesn’t take a big ego to cast yourself as the hero of your life story.  It takes some commitment and courage.  But you wouldn’t have reached this paragraph of my blog, if you didn’t have both.  The title would probably have been enough to make you run away.

Once you resolve to be the hero of your own life story, the next question is, “How?”

That’s where you get to be creative and truthful, at the same time.  Because you’re going to metaphorically “write” (meaning, live) the most gripping, exciting and uplifting story you can imagine.

So, what will that be, for you?

Here are some ways to decide:  Ask yourself what would define the greatest comeback you could ever imagine making.  Ask yourself what would be the most unexpected, yet heartfelt and genuine decision you could ever imagine acting upon.  Ask yourself who in your life you could come to the aid of, unexpectedly, and very substantially.  Ask yourself who or what you have lived in fear of and how you will demonstrate you aren’t going to live in fear, anymore.

Now, take one step in the direction of actualizing that turn of events.  Just one step.  Don’t jump ahead in the book.  Don’t fast forward to the last five minutes of the movie to “see what happens.”  You can’t see that, right now, so you’d be showing anxiety, instead of faith.  Anxiety kills dreams.  Faith manifests dreams.

One step.  Then the next.  Then the next.  Keep the arc of the story in mind, all the way along, but stay focused on each paragraph of the story, while “writing” that paragraph.  Stay grounded and determined that you will not rush because you know you’ll be the hero of the story, by the end.

And, then, you will.  See, you can will that you will.

Godspeed.

Dr. Keith Ablow

Click HERE to schedule a complimentary discovery call with Dr. Keith Ablow.

“I Can Still Buy A $4 Cup of Coffee”

Sometimes, it’s the little things that bring the big things back into perspective.  A friend of mine who runs a technology startup was in the midst of sharing with me some of the very real challenges he faces in getting his company up and running.  His brow was furrowed, and hhe kept sighing.  He seemed very tense.  Then, after he rattled off some of the issues with cost overruns and staffing problems, he stopped, all of a sudden, sat back in his chair and smiled.  “I sound like my world is coming to an end,” he said.  “Meanwhile, I can still walk down the street and buy a $4 cup of coffee without worrying about it.”

Yup.  That little moment of insight was worth the 4 bucks—and a whole lot more.  Because sometimes it really helps to remember that the creative and economic stresses that those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to pay our bills can still feel, along with the sense of impending doom that visits us despite relative peace and prosperity, are created by us.  We conjure them up.  It’s almost as though we suspend disbelief and generate a false narrative of our lives that makes it seem life threatening if we don’t climb the next rung on the ladder of success or meet rather artificial deadlines or milestones.

Sometimes, we should just sit back, realize there are no holes in our jeans (unless we bought them that way or like them that way), remember that we won’t be at a loss to buy our next $4 cup of coffee and let our lives and hearts and minds breathe a bit.

I am not diminishing the stress of high achievement, nor am I saying that there are not many, many people in the world who are quite clearly not in any position to buy a cup of coffee—at any price.  I am definitely not saying that folks who are dealing with tragedies in their lives would get anything out of remembering they have the dough and the convenience to pick up a fine cup of java around the corner.  At those moments, who cares about coffee or anything other than what is right in front of you?

I am saying that my friend’s moment of clarity is worth summoning for yourself, if you’re lucky enough that you’re going to be just fine, by the world’s standards, despite whether the project at hand, or the job you’re doing, or the second date you’re hoping for should fall through.  There’s still that $4 cup of coffee.  Life is still treating you pretty well.

You may well want to come up with your own version of the $4 cup of coffee.  I’m going big and trying out this one:  “Meanwhile, I still bring my shirts to the cleaners.”  See, that kind of luxury and self-indulgence isn’t normal, if normal is what most of the population in the world can avail themselves of.  It’s an outrageous level of convenience and luxury, in fact, by the world’s standards.

So, when revenue is down a bit, or the stock market falls some, or that new hire turns out to be a “B” or “C,” not an “A,” I don’t expect you not to register it.  Of course, you should and you will. And you have to respond to it, as well.  But, I think it’s smart to prepare your $4 cup of coffee quip for those moments.  It can bring you back to reality.

 

Dr. Keith Ablow

Click HERE to schedule a complimentary discovery call with Dr. Keith Ablow.

Pain-2-Power Person of the Week: Robert Paylor

On May 6, 2017, during Robert Paylor’s sophomore year playing on the University of California, Berkeley’s rugby team he was paralyzed during the national championship game against Arkansas State.  Rendered quadriplegic, he was told he would never walk, again.

The immediate aftermath of Paylor’s horrific injury meant he could not swallow or breathe independently.  He lost 60 pounds.  His lungs would fill with so much fluid that they had to be pumped every few hours.

But Paylor, 24, never gave up hope.  And he understood, very early on, that his journey toward healing would one day inspire others.

His dream was to walk across the stage to receive his college diploma.  Just a few weeks ago, he did just that, with the aid of a walker, accepting his diploma from the Haas School of Business, in front of a roaring crowd who gave him a standing ovation.

It had been 1,576 days since Paylor’s injury.  Paylor stood up from his wheelchair, took hold of his walker and did exactly what he had worked for years to do.

Even during his darkest days, Paylor never gave up.  He must have known that his power could come from his pain.

Aric Crabb, who writes for the Bay Area News Group, quoted these words from Paylor, “There was a time I was lying in a hospital bed and I couldn’t move anything. I couldn’t feel anything,” he said. “I’m fighting for my life and the thing that was getting me through that moment was the eventual dream that I had, to be able to walk across the stage and to be able to share this story with thousands — I hope millions — of people across this world . . . I hope when they saw me walk across that stage they saw themselves overcoming their own challenges.”

Exactly.  Robert Paylor knew that when one person turns pain into power, that can kindle the possibility in many other people.  We are moved—word choice, intentional—by the courage and commitment of others to manifest our own.

No one will ever be able to explain, scientifically, why one person’s heroic journey can inspire others to pursue their own dreams, but it happens.  And just as no MRI of Robert Paylor’s spine after his injury could have found his resolve to walk, no MRI of anyone’s brain who was watching him take the steps to receive his diploma could reveal how that person may have been inspired to overcome challenges in his or her own life.  The most powerful forces in the universe are the ones that can’t be seen or measured.  Like courage, faith and love.

Paylor is going further to inspire others.  He’s an inspirational speaker and has started work on a book likely to be titled, “Paralyzed and Powerful.”  I’ll be buying it.

Dr. Keith Ablow

Click HERE to schedule a complimentary discovery call with Dr. Keith Ablow.

Countering Disempowering Messages from Government

Now, maybe more than ever in this country, messaging from many quarters of government is contrary to the Pain-2-Power philosophy.  Stated simply that philosophy is:  Boldly pursue your true SELF and true goals, being willing and even eager to confront the discomfort of doing so, in order to become the strongest you can be.  Government seems to be saying:  Rely on us for your decision-making and your very survival.  Your SELF will lead you astray.

Given the disconnect between the prevailing narrative from political leaders currently in power, this is an extraordinarily perilous time for individuality, self-esteem and personal achievement.  Said another way, it is an incredibly perilous time for liberty.  Now, more than ever, a countervailing narrative to that being promulgated by the federal government is needed.  Pain-2-Power aims to continue providing such a narrative.

In what ways has the government attacked individuality and autonomy?  Here are a few:

  • Severely curtailing rights to private property by insisting landlords have no right to collect rent from those who can pay, but choose not to, and have no right to evict those who choose not to.
  • Insisting that individuals accept as fact certain scientific theories related to Covid prevention and treatment, when the theories are unproven.
  • Insisting new forms of identification, such as proof of vaccination, be used to enter private businesses, such as restaurants in New York City.
  • Arresting, conducting raids upon the premises of, and/or removing the professional licenses or otherwise attempting to destroy professionals (particularly physicians) who practice medicine according to the dictates of their understandings of science and healing.
  • Legalizing marijuana without any significant public information campaign or treatment strategies to address the dangers of overusing marijuana.
  • Launching IRS, FBI or other investigations to target politicians or other leaders deemed to be out of step with “group think.”
  • Failing to rein in technology companies that suppress free speech.
  • Failing to protect the first and second amendment rights of Americans.

These examples aren’t all that I could list, by any means.  Taken together, however, they should make it clear that a passive posture in attempting to remain strong and autonomous won’t suffice.  A proactive plan and posture—leaning into the storm—is the way to not be swept away by it.

I believe Pain-2-Power is a platform that offers elements of such a proactive plan and posture.  There are others, of course.  Stoicism is a philosophy, for example, that informs parts of Pain-2-Power and readings on stoicism abound.

What are some other ways to stay strong when the government wants you to be weak?

Meditation:  Meditation settles chaotic thoughts and allows the self to “speak.”

A Fitness Routine: Being grounded in one’s body makes it harder for Facebook and the like to substitute profiles or “likes” for personhood or respect.

Owning a Firearm:  Exercising one’s second amendment rights is becoming part and parcel of self-sufficiency.

Pursuing One’s Heartfelt Goals:  When the government pays you not to work and not to think and suggests its just fine to get high and stay high, one antidote is to work hard on what truly matters to you.

Using Those Remedies and Supplements that YOU Deem Effective:  Barring the use of dangerous medicines or supplements, many exist that are exceedingly unlikely to do any harm and might do a lot of good when suffering with Covid or many other conditions.

There are other elements of the Pain-2-Power prescription, but getting started with one or more of these five is what this doctor recommends.

Dr. Keith Ablow

Click HERE to schedule a complimentary discovery call with Dr. Keith Ablow.

Pain-2-Power Person of the Week: Colonel Sanders

The late Harland David Sanders, a.k.a. “Colonel Sanders” is known as the face and force behind Kentucky Fried Chicken.  What could he have to do with Pain-2-Power?

Well, I have said, again and again, that the comeback story is the iconic story of human beings.  It is when adversity visits that those who dig deep for more creativity and courage find buried treasure inside themselves and in the world.

Sanders is a great example.  Colonel Sanders, you see, had run a motel and restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky for a couple decades when an interstate highway built in 1955 bypassed Corbin, entirely.  Sanders was hit hard by the rerouting of traffic and had to sell his all his assets.  He was broke.

Did Sanders throw in the cards and get a job at another local restaurant?  Not even close.  Since he had already begun the work of creating a franchise of his chicken restaurant, he took to the road full-time to get other restauranteurs to sign up.  In other words, he doubled down.  Within five years, he had 190 franchisees and 400 locations.

I don’t know if Sanders read the tea leaves this way, but he might have:  “A new road has choked off my business.  I can either feel run over, again and again, for the rest of my days, or I can get on that road and travel to my destiny.  Maybe the road being built right ‘through me’ is a sign.”

Is this an easy way to think?  No.  Is it better than lying down in the middle of the road and waiting to be run over?  Yes.

Give yourself the right to think that the hurdles placed in front of you might be measuring your future progress, not ending it.  Give yourself the right to imagine the gate in front of you is a starting gate.  Interpreting resistance as a sign to double or triple down is your God-given right.

Using an example from the Old Testament, when the Hebrew people reached the Red Sea, with the Egyptians in hot pursuit and hoping to slaughter all of them, they could have despaired and cursed their lot.  Instead, they believed.  They believed that the road to the Promised Land was straight through the Red Sea.  They conquered their fear and put one foot in front of the other because they had faith.  And they were right to have faith.

Sometimes, the whole universe aligns to test your commitment.  I don’t know why.  I just know it does.  And when you meet the test, you are rewarded.  Does that mean it will happen soon?  No.  Does it mean that you won’t be tested, again and again?  It does not.  What it means is that you can’t be defeated—ever—until you give up your ability to believe your story will be a comeback story, a story of renewal, a story of resurrection.

This is true in your personal life, your business life, the life of every company and the life of every nation.  There is no other truth as powerful.  That’s why persistence and determination are omnipotent, and why the truth always wins.

Dr. Keith Ablow

Click HERE to schedule a complimentary discovery call with Dr. Keith Ablow.

The Ego Climber

In Robert Pirsig’s book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, he talks about what he calls the “ego climber.”  These are individuals whose energy to pursue goals doesn’t emanate from a core passion aligned with a true sense of self, but, instead, from a desire to prop up a false self—one connected to trying to convince themselves and others that they are smart or successful or worthy of envy.  While the ego climber might think that the ascent to wealth or fame or admiration or a remarkable physique is indistinguishable from the growth and achievement that comes from expressing one’s true self and true goals, that isn’t so.  Pirsig describes the difference by invoking the metaphor of climbing of an actual mountain:

To the untrained eye ego-climbing and selfless climbing may appear identical. Both kinds of climbers place one foot in front of the other. Both breathe in and out at the same rate. Both stop when tired. Both go forward when rested. But what a difference! The ego-climber is like an instrument that’s out of adjustment. He puts his foot down an instant too soon or too late. He’s likely to miss a beautiful passage of sunlight through the trees. He goes on when the sloppiness of his step shows he’s tired. He rests at odd times. He looks up the trail trying to see what’s ahead even when he knows what’s ahead because he just looked a second before. He goes too fast or too slow for the conditions and when he talks his talk is forever about somewhere else, something else. He’s here but he’s not here. He rejects the here, he’s unhappy with it, wants to be farther up the trail but when he gets there will be just as unhappy because then “it” will be “here.” What he’s looking for, what he wants, is all around him, but he doesn’t want that because it “is” all around him. Every step’s an effort, both physically and spiritually, because he imagines his goal to be external and distant.

“An instrument out of adjustment.”  Indeed.  The only way to move naturally, even when great effort is required to traverse rough terrain, is to move according to the dictates of one’s true, core self.  That’s why competing with an entrepreneur who loves his or her work and for whom it is an expression of himSELF or herSELF is a real battle.  It’s likely one you won’t be able to win, unless you are drawing on the same reservoir of deep and genuine motivation.

There’s also something infinitely exhausting about ego climbing.  That’s because the peak of the mountain keeps receding as you approach it.  You can’t ever get that feeling of having reached the pinnacle because that kind of celebration and sense of SELF-satisfaction are reserved for those who climb to meet themselves at the top of the mountain, not to escape themselves.

How can you relax and enjoy yourself after an accomplishment when it wasn’t what you TRULY wanted to accomplish, in the first place.  No, you have to go find the next mountain.  And fast.  Because without the distraction of the climb, you might start to think and feel—for real.

See, ego climbers are on the run.  They are trying to outdistance something inside them that makes them uncomfortable.  Some inner truth.  And only once they stop and turn to face that very thing that makes them scurry up mountains, turning ankles and skinning knees and possibly falling into one tragic accident after another, do they realize there was nothing to fear, to begin with.  Why?  Because we are, each and every one of us, is greater than that which haunts us—all the second-guessing and self-doubt and past, unresolved traumas and disappointments and embarrassment and grief and seeming defeats.  I promise you.  In our pain is our power.  We just have to turn and face it.

 

Dr. Keith Ablow

Click HERE to schedule a complimentary discovery call with Dr. Keith Ablow.

Drs. Marion Gruber and Philip Krause: Pain-2-Power People of the Week

Dr. Marion Gruber, the director of the FDA’s Office of Vaccines Research and Review, along with her deputy, Dr. Philip Krause, submitted their resignation notices last week.  They believe that the Biden White House has been prematurely pushing for Americans to receive a third Covid immunization (the “booster”) prior to a formal FDA approval of the additional dose.  That makes Gruber and Krause well-deserving of Pain-2-Power People of the Week honors.

Gruber has been with the agency for 32 years.  She has offered service to the country as a scientist, serving in various capacities, since 1989.  Marks was Chief Clinical Officer of the Yale New Haven Hospital Cancer Center before joining the FDA in 2012.

Whatever you think of vaccines for COVID (the number, the timing or whether they should be given at all), when two scientists quit their coveted positions because they can’t countenance what they perceive as potentially putting Americans at risk by rushing to inject many millions of us with a third shot, they’re showing a willingness to endure pain to do what they feel is right.  It isn’t easy to speak your truth to power.  In this case it might mean being jettisoned from the inner circle of government science.  It might mean that companies which aren’t looking for scientists to make waves when data looks “good enough” to some, but not good enough to them, won’t be so interested in hiring them.  Going with the flow seems like a job requirement for more and more positions these days.

Gruber and Krause resigned, anyhow.  They seem to understand that enduring pain, in the service of integrity, is an inevitable part of being powerful as a human being.  It is, in fact, inescapable.  At points in life, we have the “easy” path and the “difficult” path before us.  When the difficult path is also the one of your personal truth, you must take it or diminish yourSELF.

Mind you, neither Gruber nor Marks are actually “stick in the mud” kind of scientists.  Marks, for one, was instrumental in establishing Operation Warp Speed, the partnership between corporations and the federal government designed to remove unnecessary administrative hurdles in the way of drug discovery and dissemination to the public. So, when he resigns because he feels that the White House is strongarming the FDA to get in line and get a medication into people before it would seem wise, you know that something may be amiss.

I am not saying that booster vaccines are bad.  I don’t know.  I am applauding two scientists willing to say that they don’t feel comfortable that the scientific evidence and public health rationale behind a third dose of the vaccine are clear and that they don’t appreciate being pushed to say that they are.

Gruber and Marks obviously know that personal gain doesn’t justify rolling over, where the health of millions and millions of Americans is concerned.  They know that personal gain doesn’t justify rolling over where the sanctity of scientific inquiry is concerned.  You’d think that would be the case for every scientific researcher or public health administrator or pharmaceutical company CEO.  But it isn’t.

I hope that Dr. Marion Gruber and Dr. Philip Krause continue to contribute to viral research and drug development in another forum.  We sorely need them.  They know science.  They know government.  And they clearly know that the painful path is sometimes the good and decent and smart and empowering one.

Dr. Keith Ablow

Click HERE to schedule a complimentary discovery call with Dr. Keith Ablow.