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← The secret of becoming mentally strong | Amy Morin | TEDxOcala

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Showing Revision 17 created 07/08/2016 by TED Translators admin.

  1. So, I have a Facebook friend
    whose life seems perfect.
  2. She lives in a gorgeous house.
  3. And she has a really rewarding career.
  4. And she and her family go
  5. on all these exciting adventures
    together on the weekends.
  6. And I swear that they must take
  7. a professional photographer
    along with them,
  8. (Laughter)
  9. because no matter where they go
    or what they do,
  10. the whole family just looks beautiful.
  11. And she's always posting
    about how blessed she is,
  12. and how grateful she is
    for the life that she has.
  13. And I get the feeling
    that she's not just saying those things
  14. for the sake of Facebook,
    but she truly means it.
  15. How many of you have a friend
    kind of like that?
  16. And how many of you
  17. kind of don't like that person sometimes?
  18. (Laughter)
  19. We all do this, right?
  20. It's hard not to do.
  21. But that way of thinking
    costs us something.
  22. And that's what I want to talk
    to you about today--
  23. is what our bad habits cost us.
  24. Maybe you've scrolled through
    your Facebook feed
  25. and you think, "So what
    if I roll my eyes?
  26. It's just five seconds of my time.
  27. How could it be hurting me?"
  28. Well, researchers have found
  29. that envying your friends on Facebook,
  30. actually leads to depression.
  31. That's just one of the traps
    that our minds can set for us.
  32. Have you ever complained about your boss?
  33. Or looked at your friends'
    lives and thought,
  34. "Why do they have all the luck?"
  35. You can't help thinking that way, right?
  36. That way of thinking seems
    small in the moment.
  37. In fact, it might even make you feel
    better in the moment.
  38. But that way of thinking is
    eating away at your mental strength.
  39. There's three kinds of destructive beliefs
  40. that make us less effective,
  41. and rob us of our mental strength.
  42. The first one is unhealthy
    beliefs about ourselves.
  43. We tend to feel sorry for ourselves.
  44. And while it's OK to be sad
    when something bad happens,
  45. self-pity goes beyond that.
  46. It's when you start
    to magnify your misfortune.
  47. When you think things like,
  48. "Why do these things
    always have to happen to me?"
  49. "I shouldn't have to deal with it."
  50. That way of thinking keeps you stuck,
  51. keeps you focused on the problem,
  52. keeps you from finding a solution.
  53. And even when you can't create a solution,
  54. you can always take steps to make
    your life or somebody else's life better.
  55. But you can't do that
  56. when you're busy
    hosting your own pity party.
  57. The second type of destructive
    belief that holds us back
  58. is unhealthy beliefs about others.
  59. We think that other people can control us,
  60. and we give away our power.
  61. But as adults who live in a free country,
  62. there's very few things in life
    that you have to do.
  63. So when you say, "I have to work late,"
  64. you give away your power.
  65. Yeah, maybe there will be
    consequences if you don't work late,
  66. but it's still a choice.
  67. Or when you say, "My
    mother-in-law drives me crazy,"
  68. you give away your power.
  69. Maybe she's not the nicest
    person on earth,
  70. but it's up to you how you respond to her,
  71. because you're in control.
  72. The third type of unhealthy
    belief that holds us back,
  73. is unhealthy beliefs about the world.
  74. We tend to think that the world
    owes us something.
  75. We think, "If I put in enough hard work,
  76. then I deserve success."
  77. But expecting success
    to fall into your lap
  78. like some sort of cosmic reward,
  79. will only lead to disappointment.
  80. But I know it's hard to give up
    our bad mental habits.
  81. It's hard to get rid of those
    unhealthy beliefs
  82. that we've carried around
    with us for so long.
  83. But you can't afford not to give them up.
  84. Because sooner or later, you're
    going to hit a time in your life
  85. where you need all the mental
    strength that you can muster.
  86. When I was 23 years old,
  87. I thought I had life all figured out.
  88. I graduated from grad school.
  89. I landed my first big job as a therapist.
  90. I got married.
  91. And I even bought a house.
  92. And I thought,
    "This is going to be great!"
  93. "I've got this incredible
    jump start on success."
  94. What could go wrong?
  95. That all changed for me one day
  96. when I got a phone call from my sister.
  97. She said that our mother
    was found unresponsive
  98. and she'd been taken to the hospital.
  99. My husband Lincoln and I jumped
    in the car and rushed to the hospital.
  100. We couldn't imagine what could be wrong.
  101. My mother was only 51.
  102. She didn't have any history
    of any kind of health problems.
  103. When we got to the hospital,
  104. doctors explained she'd had
    a brain aneurysm.
  105. And within 24 hours, my mother,
  106. who used to wake up in the morning
    saying, "It's a great day to be alive,"
  107. passed away.
  108. That news was devastating to me.
  109. My mother and I had been very close.
  110. As a therapist, I knew on an intellectual
    level how to go through grief.
  111. But knowing it, and doing it,
    can be two very different things.
  112. It took a long time before I felt
    like I was really healing.
  113. And then on the three year anniversary
    of my mother's death,
  114. some friends called,
  115. and invited Lincoln and me
    to a basketball game.
  116. Coincidentally, it was being played
  117. at the same auditorium
    where I'd last seen my mother,
  118. on the night before she'd passed away.
  119. I hadn't been back there since.
  120. I wasn't even sure I wanted to go back.
  121. But Lincoln and I talked about it,
    and ultimately we said,
  122. "Maybe that would be a good way
    to honor her memory."
  123. So we went to the game.
  124. And we actually had a really good
    time with our friends.
  125. On the drive home that night,
  126. we talked about how great it was
  127. to finally be able to go
    back to that place,
  128. and remember my mother with a smile,
  129. rather than all those feelings of sadness.
  130. But shortly after we got home that night,
    Lincoln said he didn't feel well.
  131. A few minutes later, he collapsed.
  132. I had to call for an ambulance.
  133. His family met me at the emergency room.
  134. We waited for what seemed like forever,
  135. until finally a doctor came out.
  136. But rather than taking
    us out back to see Lincoln,
  137. he took us back to a private room,
  138. and sat us down,
  139. and explained to us that Lincoln,
  140. who was the most adventurous
    person I'd ever met,
  141. was gone.
  142. We didn't know at the time,
    but he'd had a heart attack.
  143. He was only 26.
  144. He didn't have any history
    of heart problems.
  145. So now I found myself a 26-year-old widow,
  146. and I didn't have my mom.
  147. I thought, "How am I going
    to get through this/"
  148. And to describe that
    as a painful period in my life
  149. feels like an understatement.
  150. And it was during that time
    that I realized
  151. when you're really going
    through tough times,
  152. good habits aren't enough.
  153. It only takes one or two small habits
  154. to really hold you back.
  155. I worked as hard as I could,
  156. not just to create good habits in my life,
  157. but to get rid of those small habits,
  158. no matter how small they might seem.
  159. Throughout it all,
  160. I held out hope that someday
    life could get better.
  161. And eventually it did.
  162. A few years down the road, I met Steve.
  163. And we fell in love.
  164. And I got remarried.
  165. We sold the house that
    Lincoln and I had lived in,
  166. and we bought a new house, in a new area,
  167. and I got a new job.
  168. But almost as quickly
    as I breathed my sigh of relief
  169. over that fresh start that I had,
  170. we got the news that Steve's dad
    had terminal cancer.
  171. And I started to think,
  172. "Why do these things always
    have to keep happening?"
  173. "Why do I have to keep losing
    all my loved ones?"
  174. "This isn't fair."
  175. But if I'd learned anything,
  176. it was that that way of thinking
    would hold me back.
  177. I knew I was going to need
  178. as much mental strength as I could muster,
  179. to get through one more loss.
  180. So I sat down and I wrote a list
  181. of all the things mentally
    strong people don't do.
  182. And I read over that list.
  183. It was a reminder of all
    of those bad habits
  184. that I'd done at one time or another,
    that would keep me stuck.
  185. And I kept reading
    that list over and over.
  186. And I really needed it.
  187. Because within a few weeks of writing it,
  188. Steve's dad passed away.
  189. My journey taught me that the secret
    to being mentally strong,
  190. was that you had to give up
    your bad mental habits.
  191. Mental strength is a lot
    like physical strength.
  192. If you wanted to be physically strong,
  193. you'd need to go to the gym
    and lift weights.
  194. But if you really wanted to see results,
  195. you'd also have to give up
    eating junk food.
  196. Mental strength is the same.
  197. If you want to be mentally strong,
  198. you need good habits
    like practicing gratitude.
  199. But you also have to give up bad habits,
  200. like resenting somebody else's success.
  201. No matter how often that happens,
  202. it will hold you back.
  203. So, how do you train
    your brain to think differently?
  204. How do you give up those bad mental habits
  205. that you've carried around with you?
  206. It starts by countering those
    unhealthy beliefs that I talked about,
  207. with healthier ones.
  208. For example, unhealthy
    beliefs about ourselves
  209. mostly come about because we're
    uncomfortable with our feelings.
  210. Feeling sad, or hurt, or angry, or scared,
  211. those things are all uncomfortable.
  212. So we go to great lengths
    to avoid that discomfort.
  213. We try to escape it
  214. by doing things like hosting a pity party.
  215. And although that's
    a temporary distraction,
  216. it just prolongs the pain.
  217. The only way to get through
    uncomfortable emotions,
  218. the only way to deal with them,
    is you have to go through them.
  219. To let yourself feel sad,
    and then move on.
  220. To gain confidence in your ability
  221. to deal with that discomfort.
  222. Unhealthy beliefs about others come about
  223. because we compare
    ourselves to other people.
  224. We think that they're
    either above us or below us.
  225. Or we think that they can
    control how we feel.
  226. Or that we can control how they behave.
  227. Or we blame them for holding us back.
  228. But really, it's our own
    choices that do that.
  229. You have to accept
    that you're your own person,
  230. and other people are separate from you.
  231. The only person you should
    compare yourself to,
  232. is the person that you were yesterday.
  233. And unhealthy beliefs
    about the world come about
  234. because deep down,
    we want the world to be fair.
  235. We want to think that if we
    put in enough good deeds,
  236. enough good things will happen to us.
  237. Or if we tough it out
    through enough bad times,
  238. we'll get some sort of reward.
  239. But ultimately you have
    to accept that life isn't fair.
  240. And that can be liberating.
  241. Yeah, it means you won't necessarily
    be rewarded for your goodness,
  242. but it also means no matter
    how much you've suffered,
  243. you're not doomed to keep suffering.
  244. The world doesn't work that way.
  245. Your world is what you make it.
  246. But of course before you
    can change your world,
  247. you have to believe
    that you can change it.
  248. I once worked with this man
    who had been diabetic for years.
  249. His doctor referred him to therapy
  250. because he had some bad mental habits
  251. that were starting to affect
    his physical health.
  252. His mother had died from complications
    of diabetes at a young age,
  253. so he just believed he was doomed,
  254. and he'd given up trying to manage
    his blood sugar altogether.
  255. In fact, his blood sugar
    had gotten so high lately,
  256. that it was starting to affect his vision.
  257. And he had his driver's
    license taken away.
  258. And his world was shrinking.
  259. When he came into my office, it was clear
  260. he knew all the things
    he could do to manage his blood sugar.
  261. He just didn't think
    it was worth the effort.
  262. But eventually, he agreed
    to make one small change.
  263. He said, "I'll give up
    my two liter-a-day Pepsi habit,
  264. and I'll trade it in for Diet Pepsi."
  265. And he couldn't believe how quickly
    his numbers started to improve.
  266. And even though he came every week
  267. to remind me how horrible
    Diet Pepsi tasted,
  268. he stuck with it.
  269. And once he started to see
    a little bit of improvement,
  270. he said, "Well, maybe I could
    look at some of my other habits."
  271. He said, "I could trade in
    my nightly bowl of ice cream
  272. for a snack with a little less sugar."
  273. And then one day he was at a thrift
    store with some friends,
  274. and he found this beat-up
    old exercise bike.
  275. He bought it for a couple of bucks,
  276. and he brought it home,
    and he parked it in front of his TV.
  277. And he started to pedal
  278. while he'd watch some
    of his favorite shows every night.
  279. And not only did he lose weight,
  280. but one day, he noticed
    he could see the TV
  281. just a little bit more clearly
    than he had before.
  282. And suddenly it occurred to him,
  283. maybe the damage done
    to his eyesight wasn't permanent.
  284. So he set a new goal for himself--
  285. to get his driver's license back.
  286. And from that day forward, he was on fire.
  287. By the end of our time together,
    he was coming in every week
  288. saying, "OK, what are we
    going to do this week?"
  289. Because he finally believed
    that he could change his world.
  290. And that he had the mental
    strength to change it.
  291. And that he could give up
    his bad mental habits.
  292. And it all started
    with just one small step.
  293. So I invite you to consider
  294. what bad mental habits
    are holding you back?
  295. What unhealthy beliefs
  296. are keeping you from being
    as mentally strong as you could be?
  297. And what is one small step
    that you could take today?
  298. Right here, right now.
  299. Thank you.
  300. (Applause)