Do You Have This Problem?

I have a problem and I want to know if other people have it.

If I think of something embarrassing, even if it happened 30 years ago, I blurt out a curse. Or I say, “No!” really sharply.

Sometimes it might be for a few minutes straight. I can even feel it in my body. An urge to squeeze the last ketchup out of my sanity for that moment.

I can’t control it. Some years it happens more than others. If my kids have friends over, they have to explain, “Daddy does that. Ignore him.”

It’s not a Tourette’s thing. I’m not a big fan of labeling random things as diseases.

I rarely did it as a kid. It’s happened more since I’ve become an adult. And it doesn’t happen when I’m particularly anxious or down about anything. It just happens.

I did it this morning. The event that was embarrassing just pops into my head and then I can’t help myself. Here’s the things I say without having any control over it:


“I want to kill myself!”

“I’m dead!”

“I’m an idiot!”

And that’s just the things I said today. I don’t want to kill myself. I don’t think I’m an idiot (well, sometimes I do, but not right this moment). I just say these things and it’s hard to stop.

My friend got worried. She came over to me and had me do push-ups and situps like a drill sargent. Then she had me drink a lot of water.

Then she said, “I want to talk to ‘super-computer'”. She refers to the anxious part of my brain as “super computer”.

The part of me that calculates every thing that can go wrong, all the odds, all the anxieties that might spring forth like oil after a drill digs 1000 feet deep into my subconscious, unleashing whatever.

I said, “I don’t have a super computer.”

She said, “You do! I’m not talking to you. I’m talking to super computer. I want you to shut down. Can super computer answer.”

Honestly, I had to just say ‘Yes’ until she went away. Now I’m trying not to blurt things out again or she’s going to come back and make me drink more water until I drown inside.

I’m not particularly anxious about any life thing at the moment. I’m happy.

All I did was remember something embarrassing and then it gets triggered. And what I remember is sort of random although this time it was something relatively recent. A faux pas I made times ten.

Because I’m writing this, I’m not blurting anything out.

And I’m achieving my second goal by writing for the day. Always good to kill two or three birds with one stone.

And here’s my idea list for the day:


  • Drink water.
  • Do pushups and jumping jacks until you are out of breath. Then take deep breaths.

Breathing correctly is, of course, the undervalued component of all good living. Hence the expression, “take a deep breath” when angry or anxious.

  • Do something else (Claudia had me get ready a gift for my kids)
  • Find things to be grateful about.

I call this a “difficult gratitude problem”. The exact thing I am embarrassed about was actually something where I helped people so I’m grateful I had the opportunity to help people even though it made a fool out of me in other ways.

  • Find new people to help. Maybe this post, for instance.
  • Focus on the things I have to do today:

a. This post

b. Podcast at noon with Ashlee Vance, the author of the Elon Musk autobiography. I highly recommend the book.

c. Doing an “Ask Altucher” podcast with Claudia. Maybe we’ll do this topic.

d. Doing a Q&A on Twitter at 3:30 EST today where people can ask me anything. I’ve been doing that for 5.5 years now every Thursday. It’s usually the highlight of my week. I answer questions about business or failure or worry or anything.

e. Coming up with my ten ideas a day. The idea muscle always needs exercising. Even when “Super computer” is trying to take over my brain.

f. Work on something else completely different. I love the concept of having an “evil plan”. I always have my evil plan ready and it gives me pleasure to work on it, even if I never finish it.

Nothing ever really needs to be actually finished. A day is like a small version of life. And most people don’t die right when they say, “Ok, that about wraps up everything I needed to do in life.”

A day or a project is like that. I just do it And if it’s good and it finishes, then that’s great. Otherwise, no problem. At least I enjoyed the process.

Like, I have a confession. I was going to do a standup act tonight at an open mic. You have to try and learn every day, right?

So I prepared a little but then cancelled. That’s ok. I don’t punish myself. I had other things to do.

Now I’m feeling better. You know why? You made me feel better. And I can feel it.

I haven’t blurted out, “I want to kill myself” in at least ten minutes.

I hope your day is going as well as mine.

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