Dr. Keith Ablow


December 29, 2022

Beginning in 2015, I began publishing a list of ways to improve your life. Last year I published, “Twenty-Two Ways to Improve Your Life in 2022.” The year before that I published “Twenty-One Ways to Improve Your Life in 2021.” You get the idea. The tradition continues this year, with the addition of No. 23.

New Year’s resolutions often lose their power so quickly and completely that they have become cliché. But there are real, easily achieved ways to positively impact your life beginning this first week of January.

Here are 23 ways to unlock personal power in 2023. They aren’t in any particular order, so you can pick any one to start with.

If you complete just five, you’ll notice a demonstrable improvement in your existence. But if you get through nine of them, you could remake your life.

1. Try to recall one dream you had as a kid – whether it was being a poet or a rock drummer or a multimillionaire stock trader – and take just a single step in that direction. So often, the ideas we had as children were good ones, and we abandoned them out of fear. The step in the direction of your childhood dream can be very modest – signing up for a symposium on poetry, scheduling a single drum lesson, or buying a DVD on stock trading. Even just telling two people about your quiet dream can move it forward. Frozen dreams have a way of thawing out rapidly when you warm them just a tiny bit.

You’ve got to expect that your dream might well wrestle with you to remain just a fantasy. We resist our dreams because fully embracing them provokes anxiety – like jumping onto a raft that will take you down thrilling, but heart-stopping rapids. Your dream could argue that you should put it off until later, or that it’s entirely irrational, or that you don’t have the energy or the time or the money to pursue it. Don’t expect to feel great taking the first step in the direction of your dream. Take that step, in spite of your anxiety.

2. Think of your life story, going all the way back to infancy, as an autobiographical book that you can hold in your hands. Now, imagine which page or paragraph you are tempted to tear out and remove from the story. That page or paragraph might be the one that makes you feel profoundly sad or powerless or guilty or ashamed. Next, share it with someone who knows you well but has never heard about that event or phase in your life. Being willing to disclose the events in life we want to turn a blind eye to takes away the power those events have over us.

You can’t be loved unconditionally, especially by yourself, if you think some part of you or what you lived through is too dark to bring into the light.

3. Give a meaningful gift to a friend of yours on a random day – not his birthday or her anniversary or Christmas. Giving gifts on those days is fine, but that isn’t the same as an unexpected, unscheduled gift. Those are the ones that feel riskier to give and have more power to bond you to others who receive them. And that’s because they’re real and independent expressions of friendship, affection, admiration or love.

Giving gifts has an interesting side effect; you’ll feel wealthier, even though you’ve just spent a little money. Why?  Because human beings either feel bountiful or barren. Giving of yourself doesn’t deplete you. It fills you up.

4. Send handwritten notes to three people you admire most in the world, no matter how powerful or famous, tell them sincerely exactly why you admire them and ask to meet for 10 minutes. There’s a real chance one of them will take you up on the offer. And that one meeting could change you, because great energy is contagious and being in the company of it can stay with you.

Very few people actually reach out, personally, for help from those who can give it the most. Do you know why?  They worry they’ll be rejected or made fun of. But think about it. If you have no attachment to the outcome of your note-writing campaign, if you understand from the get-go that you may receive no replies to your three notes, then there’s really no risk. Here’s another hint:  You could send out 50 of them. Or 100. And there’s no rational reason not to.

5. Give some amount (no matter how small) to the charity you care most about. As I said above, giving is a miracle, because it helps others while also telling your unconscious mind that yours is a life of abundance, not scarcity. And that invites more treasures into your existence. Here’s one I founded, together with Commander Kirk Lippold, USN, Ret:, to help prevent veteran suicide.  Here’s another one I’ve given to, repeatedly, which saves animals:

6. Stop telling yourself you love people just because you grew up with them. This is a big one, but a really important one. Did your parents and siblings earn your love by unconditionally loving you as a child? If so, great. But if you’ve been wishing that had been the case and have felt unwilling to let the dream of having had unconditionally loving parents or siblings slip away, then loosen your grip. If the people you grew up with weren’t focused on helping you stay true to yourself, then admit it to yourself. You might stop unconsciously recruiting people just like them into your life.

Here’s the key question:  Who has loved you and who has been attached to you? Loving you requires the intent to know you as an individual and to honor and foster your uniqueness. Attachment can feel very powerful, but it is closer to owning you than celebrating you.

7. Schedule an initial life coaching, counseling or psychotherapy session. These are the gold standard ways to begin to get to become the person you were always meant to be. In a world of distractions and depersonalization, these are professions reliably focused on restoring your connection to your true self and your full potential. Hopefully, that first session will convince you of the power of teaming up with a coach or counselor to change your life, and you’ll schedule more. No one with the financial ability to do so should deny himself or herself that transformational opportunity.

One caveat: Not every coach, counselor or psychotherapist would be a good fit for you. Some aren’t a good fit for anyone, because they aren’t very talented. If your first session leaves you cold, try scheduling one more with someone else. The first counselor I went to wasn’t worth my time or my money. The second one utterly changed my life.

8. Get angry about something unfair, say so out loud and don’t stand for it. Anger gets a really bad rap in our culture; it’s accused of everything from destroying people spiritually to causing heart attacks. But suppressed anger can be more toxic. When you’re offended by something you hear about in the news or you see unfolding in your personal life, try saying so, in no uncertain terms, when you’re asked about it – or maybe even if you aren’t. For those of you who have been living lives of quiet frustration, letting yourselves be very direct and very mad about something that sincerely outrages you can start to crack the shell that has your most powerful self inside it.

Here’s one of my favorite Bible verses: Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? Galatians 4:16 King James Version (KJV)

9. Take two minutes to think about life as a labyrinth. Mazes are built to frustrate people and get them lost. They’re full of dead ends designed to make people give up and call for helicopters to pluck them out. Not so with labyrinths. Labyrinths may wind this way and that way. They may take you far from where you thought you were heading. But they always, always lead to the center. And that’s what life is like. Keep walking, keep your faith and life will take you where you are supposed to go. The turn toward the center could be just a few steps away, when you least expect it.

Now, keep this in mind, too:  You don’t get to choose the day or week or year that turn toward the center happens. It could be tomorrow or it could be many tomorrows from now. The point is to know that it is coming, not to know when.

10. Try praying, at least once. If you haven’t prayed ever or haven’t prayed lately, you’ll discover that the act of praying for what you care deeply about has the effect of reminding you what that thing or those things really are. It also has the effect of reminding you that there is a great power in the universe that you are a part of. There’s something interesting about praying; 

even people who say they don’t believe in God are loathe to pray for the opposite of what they really want. How come? Is it because that, underneath all that cynicism, they actually do believe?  I recently completed my graduate certificate in pastoral counseling at Liberty University.  The power of prayer has never been clearer to me.

11. Read “Franny and Zooey” by J.D. Salinger, “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield, “Self-Creation” by the great psychologist George Weinberg (used copies available online), “Blue Dog” by George Rodrigue, “Fear God and Take Your Own Part,” by Theodore Roosevelt, “Zen or the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert Pirsig, or “The Betrayal of the Self” by Arno Gruen (or, even better, all seven). These seven volumes have the power to transform people, and I keep handing them out to patients and friends (along with – please forgive the narcissism – my book, “Living the Truth”). If you’re really short on time or intention, just read the Afterword to a later edition of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.”

12. Buy one piece of original art. It doesn’t need to be expensive. It just needs to appeal to you. Why? Because art is the antidote to our sometimes sterile, technologically driven culture. It makes humanity go viral in a way that YouTube can’t. It also confirms your connection to things that can’t be measured – like your personal vision of beauty. A good alternative is to create a piece of art. Just be sure to buy yourself the proper brushes or paints or glue or wood to create it. That will be a signal to yourself that you value what you are manifesting.

13. Watch the movie “Miracle,” with Kurt Russell. This film about the 1980 U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team defeating Russia’s team is so good, it can convince you to take on the next great challenge in your life. I don’t know anyone who has watched it and been unaffected by it. Also watch the closing argument by Paul Newman at the end of the film “The Verdict,” the scene of Sylvester Stallone and Talia Shire on the beach in “Rocky III,” the monologue by Al Pacino toward the end of the film “The Scent of a Woman” and any performance of “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood. They can help make you a better person. No kidding.

14. Tell your romantic partner one thing you would find exciting that you have not yet told that person. In my experience as a therapist, I’ve found that people can remain strangers to one another, in terms of passion, even after 10 or 20 years of marriage. We keep secrets. Let one out. You can write it down and pass it to your partner as a note, like we did back in grade school, before cell phones. See what happens. Take the risk.

15. Stand up for someone else. You’ll have the opportunity this year. I promise. Maybe in your home. Maybe in your neighborhood. Maybe at work. Maybe online. Defending someone will reassure that person and empower you.

16. Take 20 minutes to pretend that you are speaking to yourself, from the heart, as though you are your own ideal parent. You can do this out loud, if you have the stage presence, or silently. An ideal parent is empathetic, but honest in assessing his or her child and giving that child advice. Sit yourself down, get very quiet and, then, tell yourself – with the same care you would summon for a son or daughter – two things you really admire about yourself and one very limiting, very disappointing thing about yourself you really wish you would try to change, because it could limit the whole rest of your life. That one thing should be so on-target and so necessary that it has the power to make you angry, make you anxious, bring you to tears or bring you to your knees. Focusing longer (say, 15 minutes) on the admirable qualities is something you’d do for your kid, to take the sting out of the next 5 minutes, so do that for yourself. And keep in mind that 20 minutes is a long time. You’ll be tempted to avoid it or shorten it. But you shouldn’t.

17. If you are a parent, resolve to mimic a habit I stumbled upon when my kids were younger. It really helps me stay balanced during times that might otherwise cause me lots of stress. Here it is:  Whenever I get a phone call or an email or a text from someone telling me a project of mine or a goal or a relationship has hit a rough patch, I tell myself silently: “Yeah, well this isn’t like a pediatrician calling me.” What I mean is that, short of bad news about a child of mine, coming from a pediatrician (or, if your kids are older, like mine, an internal medicine doctor), nothing can really rock me. Because all of us parents know exactly how much time we would have for what seem like the big problems of our day or our week, if the phone rang, and a doctor on the other end said something like, “Can I ask where you are? Because I’ve seen your son, and I have something serious to talk with you about. I’d like you to come in.” I’d have no time for all my other so-called problems, and neither would you. So, things are actually better than we actually realize, most all of the time.

18. Remind yourself that neither you, nor I, nor anyone else is assured of another New Year’s Eve. I know that may sound morbid, but it’s also true. This could be your last year. It could be my last year. Don’t deny that fact, embrace it. Try waking up as many days as you can thinking to yourself, “If I can leave a bit of a positive mark today, I will.”  Maybe it will be as simple as listening a little longer to someone than you might be inclined to. Maybe it will be complimenting someone who deserves it. Maybe it will be calling an old friend to tell her you were thinking of her. We are all a series of thousands of actions. Every single one of them matters. And there’s no way of knowing when we won’t have another chance to add to the list.

19. Write out a thoughtful, healing, motivating message to yourself and read it every morning.  Your journey through life is an ongoing one, but it also begins anew each waking day.  Reminding yourself of the grand roadmap you intend to travel can create a silent and powerful narrative that plays at the back of your mind, coaxing you toward higher self-esteem—and your dreams.

20.  Think of one person you respect or like a whole lot, whom you’ve lost touch with.  Get back in touch, by the end of the day on January 8.  That gives you a week to reach out—by email or text or, even better, by writing a letter or calling on the phone.  Chances are that the person you select is someone you’re “supposed” to be back in touch with. Why?  Because you’ll have chosen him or her, and the universe is a lot less random than you might think.  One other thing:  Let the person know that he or she was your first choice of 2020—of everyone possible—to reconnect with.

21.  Write out a list of goals for 2023.  I know that seems obvious, but most people never get around to it.  The goals can be related to your work or your personal life or—even better—to both.  Make them as specific as you can and try to follow each with as detailed a strategy as  you can think of to help you achieve it.  Before you make your list of goals, you may want to use a few free resources I developed to clarify your thoughts and expand your horizons.  Try out the ebook How to Let Go and Move Forward and the action sheets Purpose and Personal Empowerment.

22. Tell someone close to you that you disagree completely with what he or she believes, but love that person, anyhow.  Sounds like I’m trying to be a troublemaker, but that isn’t my point here.  We’re at such a divisive point in our culture that it makes sense to express your opinion clearly, but while reassuring those on the other side that you still value them as human beings.  So why not practice with someone close to you?  If you get back an, “I definitely disagree, but I love you, too,” then your relationship will only be strengthened.  If you get back something disparaging, you’ve diagnosed the person you thought was worthy of communicating with as anything but that.

23. Try to understand and to live the words Amor FatiAmor fati is a Latin phrase that means “love of fate” or “love of one’s fate.” It refers to the idea of accepting and embracing one’s circumstances, regardless of whether they are good or bad. The phrase is often attributed to the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.  Nietzsche suggests that amor fati is a way of finding meaning and purpose in life, even in the face of suffering and hardship. The idea is to embrace one’s fate, rather than trying to resist or avoid it, and to find ways to thrive and grow despite whatever challenges one may face. 

Here’s an example:  Let’s say you were on a battlefield with a few dozen other soldiers.  You look across the valley and see 300 soldiers you will be facing in battle.  There’s nowhere to run.  There’s nowhere to hide.  Do you walk timidly into battle with your head hung low, waiting for your inevitable demise or can you find the strength not only accept your fate, but to love it—to hold your head high, pump your fist in the air and to say, “If we win this, and let’s pray that we do, then it is one for the history books!”  

See, life is not random.  And the trials and tribulations you will face have been encoded in your story, perhaps through the generations.  If you can find the faith (and I believe you can) to believe they are not meant to ruin you, but to strengthen you, then you will find your way forward—powerfully, even through pain.

So, there are your 23 keys to making 2023 a transformational year. As I did last year, I give them to you with the certain knowledge that you still have, inside you, all the wonderful potential you did the very first day you were born. You haven’t lost one bit of it. It’s all there, just waiting for you to discover it.

Don’t delay. Start on the list today, and by this time next year, God willing, you’ll be ready for the 24 steps for 2024. Life is like that: a never-ending process of self-improvement.

Dr. Keith Ablow

What the Hell is Going On?

Dr. Keith Ablow

What the Hell is Going On?

May 24, 2022

The world may seem hard to make sense of right now, but there is one lens likely to bring everything into focus for you:  There is a massive struggle going on between forces that are grounded in reality and others hell bent on distorting or even destroying reality.

Let’s look at the dark side of the equation first.  It really shouldn’t come as any surprise that those who promote the idea of educating children to believe they might not be in the right bodies (having a gender that does not match their anatomy) are no friends of reality (i.e. truth).  There is precisely zero evidence that human beings are born with male anatomy and an XY chromosome, but are actually female.  Zero.  It is, barring any actual evidence emerging, nothing other than a dangerous fiction.

It also should not come as any surprise that companies like Facebook (now Meta) are investing in cleaving human beings from their physical and psychological realities and offering them technologies to leave reality behind—like high tech heroin.  They do this in part for profit and in part, I believe, as part of an inherent distrust of and distaste for the individual as an autonomous being who is laced rather inextricably to this time and this place and, therefore, has a vested interest in both.

Many political leaders are denying the reality of America having borders, of capital resources being finite, of economic laws applying to  . . . well . . . the economy.

There is precious little appetite amongst most folks to even figure out if our elected officials were actually elected consistent with state and federal law.

The reality haters also hate God because they want the state to be the most powerful force in the universe.  An individual’s true connection to the infinite, to the universe or to God (the particular word doesn’t matter, in making my point) is a threat to those who want to bend reality and the truth into pretzels of illogical, unproven and toxic sociological, psychological, economic and geopolitical theories that syphon off power from people and feed that insatiable beast they call “government.”

Those who love and respect truth are left to resist the obliteration of reality by summoning facts, seeking redress in the highest courts in the land and, when possible, resisting edicts that require them to agree that the king is wearing clothes when the naked truth is quite the opposite.

The difficulty of waging a war against fiction is that it is more arduous to put forward a factual argument.  It requires data and discernment, research and responsibility.  How much freer the reality haters are to simply make things up.  After all, since their agenda is to confuse and weaken people, it makes no sense for them to remain tied to accepted rules of debate.   Why would they sweat the details and appeal to people’s ability to reason when the ability to reason is what they want to crush?

Now, here’s why the most trouble is still only brewing:  The truth always wins.  See, when the reality haters run in the direction of disinformation and destruction of facts, they are running against the tide.  And there will be hell to pay when the waves of fact come crashing down upon them (and us, since we have yielded or lost to them, in many cases).  Economic principles will reassert themselves with a vengeance.  The fact that we have lost respect for our own nation’s Constitution will make us vulnerable to our enemies.  The fact that we have lost respect for the individual and for forces far greater than the state will force us to walk through fire, in order to again find ourSELVES.

Dr. Keith Ablow

Mental Health Awareness Month is Insane

Dr. Keith Ablow

Mental Health Awareness Month is Insane

May 4, 2022

It is Mental Health Awareness Month.  That is insane.  We’re just gladhanding one another, while avoiding the real diagnosis:  We’ve been so pathetically behind bringing people up to speed on recognizing and treating scourges like depression and anxiety that there is a massive epidemic of suicide gripping the nation, while hospitals and outpatient clinics remain fractured to the point of absurdity in delivering treatments that can save lives—like IV ketamine infusions, transcranial magnetic stimulation, expert psychopharmacology and high-level psychotherapy.

The fact is that while we talk about “awareness,” any individual in the United States struggling with symptoms of mental illness should be “aware,” of this:  You will need to take immediate charge of your own treatment, in order to defeat the symptoms plaguing you.  Unless you have lots of money to spend and great motivation to find a psychiatrist worthy of spending it on, no one will serve in the role of dedicated director of the care you need.

Why?  For one thing, the number of well-trained mental health professionals—and here I mean, experts, not hacks—is woefully inadequate to meet the need.  Psychiatrists have been coerced into being “medication visit” doctors who profit from seeing 30 patients a day, 15 minutes at a time, and who routinely fail to see patients as entire people who need a comprehensive approach to healing their disorders.  The same is now true for psychiatric nurse practitioners.  That leaves the gripping, intellectually and emotionally demanding work of deciphering the psychological roots of discontent, anxiety or delusions like paranoia to psychologists (some of whom are also now empowered to prescribe medications at the drop of a hat) or mental health counselors, some of whom have no more than a high school education and a modicum of training, thereafter. 

Secondly, mental health professionals turn out to be passive go-along-to-get-alongers, not incisive self-starters.  If you don’t ask about the newest ways to treat your depression or anxiety or attention-deficit disorder, they will probably take the path of least resistance and not bring it up.  It’s less work, frankly, to refill your medicines and lend an ear to listen to your suffering, than to do what is needed to defeat that suffering.

Thirdly, mental health professionals turn out to be scared of anything new.  That’s right. Scared.  While oncologists might embrace the “right to try” law that makes experimental drugs available as a last-ditch option to cancer patients with dire prognoses, psychiatrists won’t even routinely embrace the use, for instance, of ketamine, which has proven miraculous in defeating mental illness.  They have been far too slow to lobby for the use of psilocybin, despite the fact that it can be life-saving.  And they have been too frightened to push back against the DEA on being completely free to use opiates like the pain reliever Tramadol to treat depression, even though it works in a huge percentage of cases.

Fourth, no political will really exists to change all this.  If it did, you wouldn’t have insurance companies dictating lengths of stay for patients in inpatient units (which they do) and you wouldn’t have them lobbying emergency room clinicians to send patients on the edge of life and death back home because they “contract for safety.”  Imagine how well it would go over to have insurance companies sending cardiac patients home, unless they were likely to die within the next 24 hours.  That’s what will be happening, in emergency rooms all over America today.

The truth is that America doesn’t deserve to observe a Mental Health Awareness Month because we won’t really lift a finger to save lives devastated by mental illness this month or any other month.  We could win the whole battle, but we won’t even join it.

Dr. Keith Ablow

Turning on the Part of You that Turns the Key

Dr. Keith Ablow

Turning on the Part of You that Turns the Key

April 29, 2022

We all know it:  There’s cruising along and then there’s truly going for it.  And it takes an actual decision to switch gears and engage all 12 cylinders of your mental engine.

The cruising along mindset is the way you feel, mindset-wise, when you’re attending a meeting, and you know that you’re really not the one presenting and won’t likely be called upon to offer key insights.  It’s that feeling you may have had when you were in grade school, and another student was the one sharing her project for the next hour, or the teacher announced that he was going to show a movie.  You didn’t walk out. You didn’t fall asleep. But you weren’t laser-beam focused, either.  You felt “free” to glide through what you were listening to or watching, because the material “wouldn’t be on the test.”

Truly going for it, mindset-wise, feels much more like “digging in.”  You can feel it, as you lean into a meeting or really put yourself out there stating an opinion or really devote yourself to a project.  It’s what people mean when they say, “He really brought it.”  

The interesting thing about digging in or leaning in or bringing it is that you can, as I said, decide to do it.  It’s often a conscious choice, rather than a reflex.  You have to call yourself to action, metaphorically make sure that you’re attacking a problem, not just listening to it as a passive observer.  You have to talk yourself into igniting your energy and channeling it in a particular direction.

Here’s an example:  When I give speeches, I tell myself that it has to be a speech that leaves the audience changed, in an important way.  They have to be moved to question things they thought were for sure, or be brought to tears by stories that speak to them at a basic, human level, or get angry because I have very starkly stated something controversial that I deeply believe to be true.  I tell myself that members of my audience are giving me an hour of their time, and that it has to be a really important hour that they remember for a very long time.

Talking to myself in that way—with intention—is a way of immunizing myself from cruising along or “calling it in.”  The self-dialogue triggers neurological circuitry that is “listening” for real marching orders.  And whether through increased activity of norepinephrine or epinephrine or dopamine, those orders translate into more brain activity in brain pathways related to attention and intention.

That circuitry exists in all of us, by the way, but we should use it more.  It won’t ever get used up.  Using it, in fact, will only replenish its power.  

Whatever project or presentation or relationship you are actualizing, I wouldn’t assume that your brain will burn rubber at the starting line and race forward to the win, however many laps away.  You have to tell it too.  Because your brain is actually listening to you.

Dr. Keith Ablow

Begin at the Last Possible Moment

Dr. Keith Ablow

Begin at the Last Possible Moment

April 27, 2022

Before I had published my novels, I was lucky to hire a writing coach named Gary Provost.  One of Gary’s powerful pieces of advice was to begin at the last possible moment.  By this, he meant that novels shouldn’t begin with meandering paragraphs talking about rolling hills, the weather or even the main character’s profession.  They should start with action.  The main character gets a phone call.  The voice on the other end of the line says, “Dude, everything has changed.  We have to meet.”

That’s beginning at the last possible moment.  Everything has changed.  It’s urgent.  It gets your attention.  Why?  For one thing, human beings understand that massive shifts in the plot of a story—sometimes dramatically positive shifts, even life-changing shifts, can and do occur.  And they often occur suddenly, when the characters in stories least expect them.  

Here’s the most important point:  You are that character.  And the sudden shift in the plot can mean that anything or everything suddenly turns in your direction.  You won’t see it coming.  An opportunity visits you that you could never have predicted, or you fall in love, or you’re called upon to help out a friend when no one else can deliver, or your mood and energy rises when you’ve been battling depression, or you get a job you only dreamed of, or you finally sell that movie script after 100 rejection letters, or you find God, or you find yourSELF.  

You can begin, all over, again at the last possible moment.

Why would Gary Provost have given me the advice he gave me?  It certainly isn’t because no one reading a novel would ever will believe it if a riveting event changes everything for the main character in a story.  It’s because people know, deep in their hearts, that that is the way things happen in life.  They see the story as authentic, not inauthentic, when something unexpected spins the action in a whole new direction.  They see it as true to life.

It can be hard to believe that when you’re down, when you’ve lost a friend, when you’ve lost someone you love, when you’ve lost a fortune or when you’ve lost your way.  But I’m here to tell you that you should never lose hope.  Not ever.  Because your true-life story—and the best chapter of all—can begin at the last possible moment, too.

Wait for it.  Watch for it.  That’s sometimes all you can convince yourself to do.  And that’s going to be enough.  Just keep your eyes open in the dark long enough, and I promise you that you will see the light.

Dr. Keith Ablow

Dr Keith Ablow Art

Dr. Keith Ablow

Dr Keith Ablow Art

April 18, 2022

Project Prescription

Artist’s Statement

For decades, I have worked with individual clients to help them bring the truths about their lives into focus and to use those truths to become more loving and more POWERFUL. I believe the same lens I use in the healing art of counseling can be trained on our culture, in a search for insights that will move human beings toward bold thought and action. I reject the notion that counselors, therapists, life coaches, psychoanalysts and psychiatrists should only listen. I think we have a lot to say, given all we have been privileged to hear. If only, I have thought in lighthearted moments, I could write prescriptions to reflect deeply—the way clients will sit back in my office and wrestle with questions I have asked—then perhaps many people could be coaxed a bit closer to living with passion and purpose.

​PROJECT PRESCRIPTION is my way of harnessing the power of prescription writing and the power of art and media to make people think, make them debate (even with themselves) and bring them closer to their heartfelt beliefs, whether those beliefs be in perfect accord with the prescriptions I have written, or in direct opposition to them.

The prescriptions are written large because they are based on large ideas and ideals. They are ones I am willing to shout. I cannot easily step away from them once they exist, nor, I hope, can those who will come into contact with them.

Dr. Keith Ablow

A Pain-2-Power Easter and Passover Message From Dr. Keith Ablow

Dr. Keith Ablow

A Pain-2-Power Easter and Passover Message From Dr. Keith Ablow

April 16, 2022

Since I started, many people have asked me whether there are parallels between God’s teachings and the field of psychiatry psychology. In the end, I believe the two things are very nearly one, but I understand why the question would be raised.

Psychiatry, in its late 20th and 21st century incarnations, has focused a great deal on defining the 300 or so disorders that populate our Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV-TR) and matching medications (which often work) to each diagnosis.

The field has also been understandably intrigued by the promise of new technologies like Positron Emission Tomography, which produces a multi-colored map of metabolism in different areas of the brain, and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, in which powerful magnetic pulses are directed at areas of the brain thought to be involved in major depression, relieving symptoms in many people.

The key truths that people must seek out are those elements of self that define them as individuals—who they really, truly, finally and irrevocably are, deep inside.

Dr. Keith Ablow

Psychology has always had at its core a focus on administering people lengthy examinations designed to evaluate their personality characteristics and mood states and compare the to statistical norms. Cognitive behavioral therapy—in which specific habits and the thoughts associated with them are analyzed and reworked—has been touted as particularly relevant to treating conditions like major depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. And, psychologists, too, noticing how powerful medications can be, and how well we mental health professionals can be reimbursed for dispensing them, have sought prescribing privileges.

With this focus on classification, technology, statistics and medication, it would be easy to lose sight of the heart and soul of psychiatry and psychology, which has always been just this: People suffer to the extent that they are removed from the truth. People are healed to the extent that they embrace it, no matter the cost.

The key truths that people must seek out are those elements of self that define them as individuals—who they really, truly, finally and irrevocably are, deep inside. And in order to do that, they must rid themselves (with the psychiatrist or psychologist’s help) of illusions about all manner of forces that have distracted them and made them afraid, including traumatic experiences from childhood that made them worry about how punishing the world can be, as well as relationships with others who convinced them to abandon their deeply held beliefs or interests.

They must, essentially, reawaken some of what they were born with—the God-given, inexplicable, ultimately undefeatable capacity to move in the direction of their own, unique interests, abilities, beliefs and dreams.

People suffer to the extent that they are removed from the truth. People are healed to the extent that they embrace it, no matter the cost.

Dr. Keith Ablow

This is why the image of Christ on the cross is such a powerful one—in my mind—for psychiatrists and psychologists to keep in mind.

Christ doesn’t give up his core self for anything.

He doesn’t surrender it even when he is in terrible pain on the cross, wondering if he is totally alone.

He doesn’t pretend that those who have hated him for his beliefs are his friends.

He doesn’t fool himself into thinking that they love him.

He doesn’t down three scotches because of the gathering storm that will take his life. He doesn’t eat himself into oblivion.

He doesn’t change his appearance at the plastic surgeon’s office in order to avoid his persecutors or reality.

He doesn’t inject himself with heroin to kill the pain in his hands.

He doesn’t Tweet nonsense about his daily routine to people who say they’ll follow him when they really won’t and never intended to, anyhow.

He doesn’t even let hatred for his oppressors, in the final moments of his life on earth, cloud his vision of who he is and why he has come here.

This is precisely what is required of people who really want to find themselves. Because the way we lose ourselves is by turning away from realities that seemed too painful to bear as we grew up: people who insisted we abandon our feelings, our sense of right and wrong, our talents, our opinions, our most heartfelt goals, our likes and dislikes, our hopes for unconditional love.

This giving up of self is what causes all the suffering. It causes us to be depressed. It causes us to be anxious and panic. It causes us to seek all manner of self-defeating distraction. It even causes us to hear voices and see visions generated by our own thoughts boomeranging back to us as hallucinations because we have denied them an audience in our conscience minds. They’re too threatening, so we disown them, and then they own us.

In this way, psychiatrists and psychologists who embrace insight-oriented psychotherapy are shepherds bringing people back to what was inside them all along—from the moment they were born: Clarity, courage, compassion. And that is enough. That is always enough.

The fact that Christ is resurrected is a powerful fact for anyone seeking to restore themselves to well-being—to life. Because in order to achieve a spiritual or psychological rebirth (one in the same, if you ask me), you must be willing to abandon all the psychological defenses that have kept you from seeing your life story for what it has been. That is including the fact that some people you very much hoped would love you did not love you. That your hopes that the world would be predictable were dashed by unexpected losses. That you followed paths that felt easier when your real path would have been truer, but much harder, and that you are mortal and will have to say goodbye to everything and everyone you truly love, which should only immeasurably enhance your very love of those things and those people.

You have to be willing to die to live.

Happy Easter and Happy Passover, My Friends.

Dr. Keith Ablow

Air Force Refueling Tanker Size Matters – PJ Media

Dr. Keith Ablow

Air Force Refueling Tanker Size Matters – PJ Media

April 14, 2022

Psychological principles are the key to understanding any story—whether the story of a person, a business or a new technology.  In the piece that follows, I use them to address product development and deployment in the arena of military equipment where form and function are optimized by the same psychological calculus as products of every kind.  

If you have a business, I can help you see through to the psychology that can fuel it, in the best possible way (in this article, quite literally).

You Probably Don’t Know—Yet—How Strong You Are

Dr. Keith Ablow

You Probably Don’t Know—Yet—How Strong You Are

April 11, 2022

It is a remarkable quality of human beings that our strength is only visible when required.  The human mind and soul isn’t like the human body.  We don’t, of course, develop emotional muscles that telegraph to others (or reflect back to ourselves) how powerful we might be amidst adversity.  The evidence for that only comes during hardship.  But, having listened now to thousands of life stories and been privileged to work to optimize so many, I am convinced that vast reservoirs of strength remain untapped in countless individuals—very likely, including you. 

Each individual’s resume of personal power only gets written as life challenges that person.  The greater the challenges, the bolder the print on the resume.  Those are the entries that end up defining who we really are and stand as evidence, after we leave this earth, as to who we really were.

It is natural that human beings don’t invite pain and suffering upon themselves.  But many of us place ourselves in harm’s way, willingly, whether fully understanding the enormity of the risks, or not.  That’s true of anyone who serves in the military.  It’s true of firefighters and police officers and paramedics and doctors and nurses.  It’s true of those who stand up, against resistance, for what they believe in.  

Yet, aren’t we all in harm’s way?  And aren’t we all, therefore, writing lines of our Pain2Power resume’s, day after day, year after year?  Of course, we are.  When we have children and expose yourself to letting them go forth into this unpredictable, sometimes cruel world, you’re putting yourself in harm’s way.  When you invite a dog into your life, knowing full well that you are likely to grieve its loss, you are putting yourself in harm’s way.  When you tell someone you love him or her and risk that love being unrequited, or only temporarily shared, you put yourself in harm’s way. 

You probably don’t know yet how strong you are yet, even though you will find out.  Life tests all of us—again, and again.  No one completes the journey unscathed or unscarred.  So it is worth realizing that, underneath it all, tested or not, you are made of strong stuff—of steel.  Because if you suspect it, even before you know it, you can achieve remarkable things, stand for what you believe in, resist giving in to temptation or timidity and meet your greatest destiny head on.

You don’t need to wonder about your strength any more than you need to wonder whether your heart is beating at this moment.  But if you take your pulse, your heartbeat is suddenly at the front of your mind.  And if you simply remind yourself that you can carry all manner of metaphorical weight on your shoulders, then you are, in some measure, already Atlas.  

No, when you look in the mirror, the muscles of your heart and mind won’t jump out at you.  

But . . . look closer.  Look yourself in the eyes.  That’s where you’ll begin to see how strong you are.  Think about whether, if push came to shove, you would stand in the way of harm befalling someone you love.  Think about whether, if push came to shove, you would choose to keep on existing, even if you lost your worldly possessions.  Think about whether, if your business were to be on the brink of failure, you would work yourself to the bone to save it.  Think about whether, if push came to shove, you would defend what freedoms we have left in America, even if it cost you your life.  Think about whether you would donate a kidney to save one of your relatives.  Think about whether you would donate both your kidneys to save two of your kids.

Of course, you would.  Otherwise, you’d never be reading what I just wrote, all the way to the end.  

Dr. Keith Ablow

Be Not Afraid

Dr. Keith Ablow

Be Not Afraid

April 5, 2022

We are afraid of too much.  One of the things we fear is our own pain—so much of it rooted in early chapters of our life stories.  So we run from it.  And in running away, we experience anxiety.  We trip.  We fall.  We become despondent.  All those emotions make us panic more, so we lurch left and right, seeking goals that are not true to us, saying things that are not true to us, forming relationships that are not true to us.  If only we were to stop running and retrace our steps, with an open heart and mind, we would find out why we are fleeing from ourSELVES.  And learning about those early wounds would free us from guilt, from anger and from fear.  We would become the people we were meant to be from all time.  I discussed these themes—and more—with a brilliant interviewer, John Warren.  I hope you enjoy his podcast.

Dr. Keith Ablow


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