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← TEDxTelAviv - Hedy Schleifer - The Power of Connection

Clinical psychologist and a couple and relationship therapy expert Hedy Schleifer "crosses the bridge" with TEDxTelAviv audience and brings laughter and passion to the adventure of learning the art of listening.

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Showing Revision 8 created 09/06/2013 by TED.

  1. I feel really privileged to be here.

  2. I have cried, I have laughed,
  3. I have been profoundly touched
  4. and I feel really privileged to be alive.
  5. I am grateful that I am alive.
  6. In 1944, my parents were in a concentration camp
  7. in Vichy, France.
  8. My mother engineered an escape.
  9. She actually got my father out.
  10. And my parents walked through the Alps.
  11. My mother was pregnant with me.
  12. And when they got to the Swiss border,
  13. the border was closed to refugees.
  14. My mother threw herself into Switzerland.
  15. Anything for her was better than going back
  16. to the hell she came from.
  17. And my father succeeded in smuggling
    himself a few days later.
  18. And in 1944, I was born.
  19. Decades later I am sitting with my mother
  20. in an old age home in Israel.
  21. And I cannot bear to see her.
  22. (fights, tears, sighs)
  23. She is sitting in a wheel-chair.
  24. She doesn't know who I am.
  25. I feel guilty. I feel sad. I am struggling. I am angry.
  26. This is my hero. Why should she be here?
  27. And I realize that I am not visiting her.
  28. I am with my own emotions.
  29. And I make a decision.
  30. I am going to cross the bridge
  31. to the world of my mother.
  32. I will leave the world where I am struggling.
  33. I and will go and meet her.
  34. And I will bring with me new eyes.
  35. And so I did. I came, I sat across from her
    and I crossed the bridge.
  36. And I landed in her world. And I looked at her.
  37. And she looked at me.
  38. And in Yiddish she said:
  39. "Du bist mein Tochter."
  40. You are my daughter.
  41. And I started to cry and with her hands
    she gently wiped my tears.

  42. She hadn't recognized me for months.
  43. Of course, I hadn't been there - emotionally.
  44. This miracle with my mother illustrates
  45. the three invisible connectors
    that I want to talk to you about today.

  46. It is the relational space - the space.
  47. It is the bridge between the worlds - the bridge.
  48. And it is the encounter.
  49. Human essence to human essence. The encounter.
  50. These three invisible connectors - you know them.
  51. You live them.
  52. But you may never have framed them that way.
  53. And in working with couples for many, many years
  54. I have come to see that those are
    the three invisible connectors.
  55. Let me start by talking to you about the space.
  56. It is the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber who said:
  57. "Our relationship lives in the space between us."
  58. It doesn't live in me or in you
  59. or even in the dialogue between the two of us.
  60. It lives in the space that we live together.
  61. And he said: "That space is sacred space."
  62. Now, if we don't know about the space,
  63. if we don't know how to take responsibility
  64. for the space we live together,

  65. we will actually pollute it
  66. the way I polluted the space with my mother.
  67. I polluted the space with my mother
  68. not because I was feeling my feelings.
  69. I polluted the space with my mother
  70. because I unconsciously put all these
    emotions in the middle between us
  71. - unconsciously.
  72. When we don't know about the space,
  73. we pollute it quite automatically.
  74. A word, a look, a reaction, a withdrawal,
  75. a criticism, a judgement.
  76. We put it there, unconsciously.
  77. And the space becomes uncomfortable.
  78. And when the space is uncomfortable,
  79. we react to the discomfort in the space
  80. and the space becomes more uncomfortable.
  81. And slowly but surely, discomfort after
    discomfort, the space becomes dangerous.
  82. And then we react to the danger in the space.
  83. And how do we react?
  84. Some of us react by exploding our energy.
  85. We talk louder, we shout, we say many words,
  86. we are in your face.
  87. Some of us react to the danger in the space
  88. by constricting, hiding, withdrawing our energy.
  89. And once those two reactions come together
  90. as a reaction to the danger in the space,
  91. the danger grows
  92. and now we are reacting together
    to the pollution and danger
  93. we co-created in the relational space.
  94. What shall we do?
  95. How do we take responsibility for the space between us?
  96. Which is sacred, as says Martin Buber.
  97. Here comes the metaphor of the bridge.
  98. We take responsibility for the space between us
  99. by crossing the bridge to the world of the other
  100. and bringing our full presence on the other side.
  101. How do we do it?
  102. First, sit down.
  103. Take a deep breath.
  104. Put your feet on the ground.
  105. Allow yourself to get to the present moment.
  106. Align yourself with here and now.
  107. Know that you are alive! Be grateful
  108. for this moment of your life. Right now!
  109. That already is a very important beginning
  110. for your journey across the bridge.
  111. And then, you begin to consciously and deliberately
  112. walk the bridge -- slipping the rubber band
  113. that pulls you back to your prejudices,
    your story, your identity,
  114. who you think you are, your feelings,
    your emotions, whatever it is in your world.
  115. All you take with you across the bridge
  116. is a little plastic bag, transparent,
  117. with a passport and a visa.
  118. The reason it needs to be transparent:
  119. you cannot bring anything of yours
    to the other side of the bridge.
  120. And when you have landed
  121. on the other side, what do you do?
  122. You listen.
  123. You listen with an open heart.
  124. You listen with new eyes.
  125. It is Marcel Proust, the French writer, who said:
  126. "The adventure of life is not about
    discovering new landscape.
  127. The adventure of life is
    seeing the old ones with new eyes."
  128. And you bring your new eyes and your open heart
  129. and your generosity of spirit
  130. and you listen as if you're
    learning a new language,
  131. a new music, a new rhythm.
  132. You listen by repeating the words.
  133. I hear you say.
  134. "Have I got you?"
  135. And you learn. You learn about
    the landscape in this other world.
  136. And so what can happen on the other side?

  137. And what happens on the other side
  138. is the encounter.
  139. Now, what is the encounter?
  140. On a biological level, the encounter
  141. is the resonance between two brains.
  142. The relational neurobiologists
    call this resonance the brain bridge.
  143. Two limbic systems that resonate together.
  144. The seed of our emotions
    beginning to resonate together.
  145. And relational neurobiologists have found that
  146. when there is this resonance between two brains,
  147. our central nervous system begins to calm down.
  148. Because, they have also discovered,
  149. that our brain is the only organ inside of us
  150. that doesn't regulate from within.
  151. It regulates on the outside
    through another brain.
  152. We need each other for self-regulation.
  153. We can only regulate through the other.
  154. Through the eyes of the other.
    Through that resonance.
  155. And what happens then is very interesting
  156. because, 10 years ago approximately,
    relational neurobiologists
  157. discovered those mirror neurons
  158. that we have in our brain.
  159. Our capacity for compassion,
  160. for empathy,
  161. for deep, deep understanding of the other.
  162. And during the encounter these
    mirror neurons become very alive.
  163. And what happens then?
  164. New neural pathways begin to form in the brain.
  165. New neural pathways that give us
  166. the capacity to be in relationship.
  167. Because the brain has been found
    to have an enormous plasticity.
  168. It can change at any time during our lifetime.
  169. And so these new neuro-pathways
    that are formed in our brain
  170. give us a chance to become
  171. more relationally intelligent
  172. and more relationally mature.
  173. So, that is the encounter in the biological sense.
  174. But in another domain it is harder to define
  175. what the encounter is.
  176. It is the meeting of two full human presences.
  177. Or two human essences.
    Or the life force in each person.
  178. Or the meeting of two souls.
  179. And what is that life force?
  180. What is the human essence?
  181. My father has a story about that.
  182. My father had the largest collection of
    Yiddish stories in the universe.
  183. And he loved to tell them.
  184. And he laughed harder than anyone
  185. when he told his stories.
  186. This story is about Mr. Goldberg, the tailor.
  187. So somebody came to get a suit
    from Mr. Goldberg, the tailor.
  188. And he tries on the suit and he says:
  189. "Mr. Goldberg, this suit looks very strange.
  190. This sleeve doesn't fit at all."
  191. And Mr. Goldberg looks very seriously and he says:
  192. "You are right. For that sleeve you
    have to hold your hand like that. OK?"
  193. The man says: "You know,
    the other sleeve doesn't fit at all."
  194. "Look, look at it!" - Mr. Goldberg says:
  195. "You are completely right. For that
    sleeve you hold your hand like that
  196. and you put this shoulder like this. OK?"
  197. "What about the right leg? The right leg
    looks very strange. What about it?"
  198. And Mr. Goldberg says: "You are right.
    You just have to put your foot
  199. a little bit inside like that."
  200. "What about this one?", he says.
    "Well, that one you put your foot like this."
  201. Well, now the suit was fine and
    the man comes out of the tailor store
  202. and as he is walking in the street
    this couple comes by
  203. and the woman says to her husband:
    "What an amazing tailor!
  204. A man in this condition - the suit fits him perfectly!"
  205. (Applause)
  206. Well... This is us. We are in this suit.
  207. We walk around in this suit
    because we have adapted to our life.
  208. And we don't even know that
    this is a suit, a survival suit.
  209. We know that this is us.
  210. For example, if I adapted by being
    withdrawn and cold and really distant,
  211. I think this is me.
  212. Inside the suit is our human essence - intact!
  213. Inside of our survival adaptation
    we are our essence.
  214. And coming over the bridge
    allows our spirit to be nourished.
  215. And this transformation to happen
    from this survival suit
  216. to our true human essence.
  217. It is in being with each other
    that our essence becomes revealed.
  218. It so it reminds me of this wonderful saying:
  219. "I used to be different.
    And now I am the same."
  220. I started with a story about my mother.
  221. I'd like to tell you one now
    about my grandson Leo.
  222. I was in Istanbul with Leo.
    And we were in bed
  223. snuggling and watching a movie.
  224. And at the end of the movie
    Leo looked at me
  225. and he said:
  226. "Bube, grandma, I love you."
  227. And I said: "I love you, too, Leo."
  228. And he said: "No. I love you."
  229. And I said: "Sure, sweety,
    you love me and I love you."
  230. He said: "No, Bube. I love you."
  231. And then I understood.
  232. He didn't want me to deflect his love.
  233. He wanted me to step over the bridge to come to him
  234. to take in the pure,
    essential love he was giving me.
  235. And so I did. I looked at him. I took him in.
  236. I let what he was giving me
    in that moment penetrate.
  237. And I said: "Leo, I hear you say: You love me."
  238. And his face just shone.
  239. He was teaching me that
    it takes courage to be connected.
  240. I'd like to share with you
    one of my favourite quotes
  241. by the Sufi poet Rumi, of the 13th century,
  242. who said: "Beyond right thinking
  243. and beyond wrong thinking
  244. there is a field.
  245. I will meet you there."
  246. I have a dream.
    I envision 90 million couples
  247. honoring the three invisible connectors,
  248. honoring the space between them,
    crossing the bridge to each other
  249. and encountering each other,
    human essence to human essence.
  250. It is enormously important to me
    because our children grow
  251. in the space between us.
  252. The space between the couple
  253. is the playground of the child.
  254. And when we know how to honor that space
  255. and make it sacred, our children can blossom
  256. in sacred space.
  257. And I have a date in mind.
    November 11th, 2012.
  258. International Crossing The Bridge Day.
  259. It isn't just for couples.
  260. It is for human beings
    and it is for nations.
  261. I envision a time when nations
  262. will know that the space between them
  263. is sacred space.
    That there is a bridge
  264. to cross to know the culture of the other.
  265. And that we can encounter each other.
  266. Human essence to human essence.
  267. Beyond right thinking
    and beyond wrong thinking
  268. there is a field.
  269. I will you meet you there.
  270. Thank you.
  271. (Applause)