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← How to rewire the brain? | Isabelle Filliozat | TEDxVaugirardRoad

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Showing Revision 59 created 03/16/2016 by Denise RQ.

  1. Being in a couple is about
    tenderness and loving one another.
  2. You dream of having kids together.
  3. You picture a future filled with
    laughter and loving embraces.
  4. And then, one day,
    you come back down to earth,
  5. and that's not exactly how it goes
    every single time.
  6. One day, with our partner,
    as with our kids,
  7. things are bound to get out of hand.
  8. Sometimes, we overreact.
  9. I could never have imagined
    having such feelings of violence
  10. rise up inside of me
  11. towards the people
    I love most in the world.
  12. I'm a psychotherapist,
  13. and, my whole life,
    I've tried to figure out
  14. what makes us behave the way we do.
  15. Why do adults behave in
    such an over-the-top way?
  16. And why don't children
  17. just do as they're asked?
  18. (Laughter)
  19. In order to answer these questions,
    I looked at scientists for my research.
  20. These days, everyone talks about stress.
  21. It was the professor Hans Selye
    who introduced the concept, in the 1950s,
  22. to describe the way the body adapts
    in response to any kind of stimulation.
  23. Stress is therefore an adaptive response.
  24. To ensure our survival, a little gland
    in our brain keeps watch, the amygdala.
  25. Since the dawn of time,
    at the slightest hint of danger,
  26. it has set the body's alarm bells ringing,
    adrenaline, cortisol.
  27. Our body is prepared for fight or flee.
  28. If I can't fight, or flee,
  29. I freeze, I play dead,
    my body goes numb.
  30. Danger, or even frustration, or pressure,
  31. can trigger stress
    in young and older alike.
  32. Stress can be recognized
    as a physical response,
  33. adrenaline, cortisol,
    coursing through my body,
  34. increased heart rate,
    muscles tensed, jaw clenched,
  35. we get the feeling in our arms
    of wanting to thump and to throw things,
  36. our legs want to stamp, to run.
  37. We, as adults, are able to bring
    this stress response under control.
  38. Though it's not always easy
    when our partner doesn't tidy up,
  39. or a two-year old child
    doesn't want to put their boots on.
  40. But a child's brain
    doesn't yet allow them
  41. to control this stress.
  42. When our child acts up,
    everyone always says,
  43. "You should set some boundaries!"
  44. And we embark upon a struggle
    to be the strongest
  45. even if it means we lose
    our strength along the way
  46. because that's what happens.
  47. Fighting to come out on top
    means that everyone loses.
  48. Sometimes, we think we've managed
    to get a child to see reason.
  49. Because he stops.
    He's not being well-behaved.
  50. He's just... frozen
    as a reaction to stress.
  51. Setting boundaries is like
    putting a lid on boiling milk.
  52. It boils over, all the same.
    It must be held firmly.
  53. You have to clean up around it.
  54. No question of simply watching
    the milk boil over without doing anything.
  55. And what if I turned off the gas?
  56. I'm going to tell you about how, one day,
  57. my mother managed to turn off the gas
    when I'd boiled over.
  58. I was 13 years old.
  59. I slapped my mother.
  60. That's right, I slapped my mother.
  61. The action wasn't entirely voluntary.
  62. And she understood that.
  63. Of course, at the time,
    she slapped me back.
  64. But, after that knee-jerk reaction,
    she came to talk to me about it.
  65. To make me talk about it.
  66. She knew that when a child
    goes to the doctor
  67. to have an injection,
  68. when they get home,
  69. all they want to do is to give
    everyone else injections.
  70. They're on the safe side of the syringe.
  71. My mother wanted to know
    where that slap came from.
  72. I was on my way back
    from a friend's house,
  73. and I told my mother about
    the scene that had shaken me up.
  74. My friend had had a huge fight
    with her mother,
  75. who had slapped her,
    and my friend had slapped her back.
  76. I was transfixed.
  77. I didn't understand.
  78. I made my way home on autopilot.
  79. Unable to think, to feel, to speak,
  80. to even understand
    what was going on inside of me,
  81. until I saw my mother.
  82. At that moment, getting back
    to my mother, my safety net,
  83. it was as if my body
    had been given permission
  84. to come out of its frozen state.
  85. And then, the tension,
  86. pent up inside since witnessing
    the slapping at my friend's house,
  87. came rushing back up to the surface.
  88. Adrenaline, cortisol,
    my body was waking up.
  89. My muscles tightening,
    I started to feel like I was
  90. getting angrier and angrier
    and more and more tense.
  91. As I'd started feeling this aggression
  92. since seeing my mother,
    I thought it was because of her.
  93. I got into a fight with her
    over next to nothing.
  94. And then, my body did something
    that stunned me.
  95. It reenacted the slap.
  96. My brain, unable to find the words
    to explain things to my mother,
  97. had led my body to show my mother
    the slap that had upset me so.
  98. So that she would help me.
  99. And she did help me.
  100. She helped me
    to put my feelings into words.
  101. She helped me to turn off the gas
  102. under the milk
    that was boiling inside of me.
  103. I could trust her.
  104. Another situation.
  105. In the street, a mother and her child.
  106. The child is walking quietly
    down the street.
  107. There's traffic, and the mother
    gets annoyed and says,
  108. "Hold my hand right now!"
  109. The child avoids holding
    his mother's hand and moves away.
  110. To the child, avoidance
    isn't a conscious decision.
  111. It's an autonomic stress response.
  112. Our stress puts stress on our children,
  113. and triggers a biological
    reaction in their brain
  114. that disconnects
    the outer layers of their brain.
  115. Sometimes, we ask a child who is acting up
  116. to think on their behaviour,
    to little effect.
  117. Obviously, since their brain
    is no longer connected.
  118. How can we reconnect
    our children's brains?
  119. How can we shut off the stress circuit?
  120. That's where the white knight,
    oxytocin, comes in.
  121. Oxytocin, the hormone of love,
    of relationships,
  122. the hormone that helps
    to reduce this stress.
  123. Touching a child,
    looking at them lovingly,
  124. communicating warmly with them,
  125. helps them to fully recover their brain,
    and to manage stress.
  126. That's what my mother did with me.
  127. "But isn't that rewarding
    unacceptable behavior?"
  128. some would say.
  129. Most of us have learned to think of
    love as a reward.
  130. Neuroscience has shown
  131. that showing our children love
  132. triggers the release of oxytocin,
  133. increases the number
    of oxytocin receptors in the brain,
  134. reduces stress hormones,
    boosts the immune system,
  135. and develops neuronal circuits
    in the prefrontal area of the brain.
  136. The prefrontal area of the brain,
    which allows us to feel empathy,
  137. enables self-control,
    helps us to regulate our emotions,
  138. anticipation,
  139. the ability to understand and identify
    the impact of our actions, responsibility,
  140. that's the kind of brain
    we want our children to develop.
  141. Through a gesture, a smile,
  142. a show of attentiveness,
  143. we are preparing
    our children for happiness.
  144. We are literally equipping
    them to handle stress.
  145. We are helping them
    to learn not to overreact,
  146. not to overreact later
    on when they have children of their own.
  147. Love is the fuel we need to manage stress.
  148. Specifically speaking,
  149. I want to share with you
    a little technique we've developed,
  150. my partner and I.
  151. Picture the scenario, it's 7 p.m.,
    I've been with the kids all day,
  152. he's running slightly late,
    and gets home
  153. having forgotten to do
    the shopping I asked him to do.
  154. Then I freak out.
  155. My other half feels guilty.
  156. He sits down in front of the television
    or goes off to the pharmacy.
  157. That's normal; men aren't allowed
    to hurt women.
  158. He can't fight. He flees.
  159. But if he goes back out to do
    the shopping I asked him to do,
  160. that's totally out of line.
  161. Because, really, the shopping,
    the pharmacy, was just an excuse.
  162. What I needed him to do was to hold me.
  163. Why didn't I just ask him?
  164. Clearly, it doesn't make sense
    to yell at him.
  165. But, even so, you have to see
    that it makes sense.
  166. I feel helpless, powerless, all day long.
  167. So I have to summon up a little power,
  168. act tough, pull myself together,
    for one thing at least.
  169. So I shout, I attack,
    I'm under stress.
  170. That's where our technique comes in.
  171. He approaches me
    when I'm getting all worked up,
  172. and takes me gently in his arms.
  173. He says to me,
  174. "There you go. There you go."
  175. Well, then, I push him away, obviously.
  176. Because that would be too easy.
  177. (Laughter)
  178. And then I'm not sure
  179. if he'd still love me
    if I were stronger and without flaws.
  180. It's amazing when you think about it.
  181. I attack him or I push him away,
    so that he will love me.
  182. Then I say to him,
  183. "Cut it out! Can't you see
    I've got stuff to do?
  184. And that's all you can think about!"
  185. (Laughter)
  186. I flee, because I can't attack anymore.
    I'm still under stress.
  187. If he holds me for seven seconds,
  188. oxytocin starts to flood my brain.
  189. I feel better.
  190. The oxytocin triggers
    feelings of well-being, confidence,
  191. kind thoughts towards others.
  192. After 20 seconds, I feel much better.
  193. I start to unwind,
    and cry on his shoulder.
  194. Of course, that doesn't work
    for everybody.
  195. Sometimes, certain people
    really can't stand being held.
  196. The kind of people who,
    when they were children,
  197. experienced a great deal of rejection
    by their own parents.
  198. They have fewer oxytocin receptors.
  199. They have a hyperactive stress circuit,
    and are highly impulsive.
  200. But that can be repaired, with love.
  201. Love is also highly effective
    with our children.
  202. Love is also highly effective
    with our children.
  203. Remember the milk?
  204. Love is a super-effective way
    to turn off the gas.
  205. The next time you feel
    a power struggle developing,
  206. you will have something new to try out,
  207. I breathe, I reconnect
    with the love I feel for my child,
  208. and I take them in my arms.
  209. At the very least, I let them see
    the affection in my eyes.
  210. He might not calm down straight away.
  211. He may need to release
    a little more tension first.
  212. The most important thing is
    to stay connected to one another.
  213. When we are connected,
    I reconnect his brain.
  214. I recover mine,
  215. and I regain the ability, in the street,
    to calmly give the command,
  216. "Hold my hand in the street."
  217. And to send my other half a text
    containing a single word, "Pharmacy."
  218. Responding with love,
    when the going gets tough,
  219. takes care and effort
    that is very soon rewarded.
  220. It's a huge time saver.
  221. And what if you topped up
    your anti-stress fuel tank
  222. first thing each day?
  223. What if you prepared in advance,
    to better face the day ahead?
  224. What if five minutes
    of tender loving care every morning
  225. changed your life?
  226. It's worth a try!
  227. Thank you.
  228. (Applause)