Feelings: Handle them before they handle you | Mandy Saligari | TEDxGuildford


Translator: Peter van de Ven
Reviewer: Ellen Maloney I’m an addictions therapist; I’m also a recovering addict; I’m a parent; and I do a lot of work now
in the field of recovery and looking at addiction,
looking at mental health, and most importantly,
looking at early intervention and what is the one thing
that we could really home in on, that will be the best
preventative measure, and I think that that falls
into those two little words: self-esteem. But self-esteem
is a very well-known phrase, but what actually is it? And I think that in it’s, kind of, core, self-esteem is how I feel about myself,
and therefore how I treat myself, therefore how I behave. When I say to people,
“I’m a recovering addict,” they say things like,
“What were you addicted to?” And I kind of (Moans), you know? It’s not about what I’m addicted to
or was addicted to, this is about why would I use
something outside of myself, in an attempt to fix how I feel,
to the detriment of myself? So my first message to you, really, is that addiction
isn’t the drug of choice, of which, I believe, there are probably 15 or 16
regular manifestations of addiction. But it is the pattern of delegating, of outsourcing your emotional process
on to something else that backfires. So there’s nothing
more normal than any of you, or indeed anyone who might be
sitting next to me at a dinner party who’s having a drink, and they’re having
a nice time and relaxing, and they ask me,
“What do you do for a living?” And I say, “You might
want to finish your drink first” because my experience is
that you will get really defensive when I say, “I’m an addictions therapist!” I either get, “Do you know what? I think I’ve been drinking quite a lot” or “I’m worried about my daughter,” or I get, “I don’t usually
drink this much, I’ve just had a really big week.”
(Laughter) We’re very defensive
about being seen, really being seen. You know, when you walk
down the street you trip over, the first thing you don’t do is go “Ow,” the first thing you do
is say, “Oh, who saw that?” My experience of my vulnerability, my experience of what it’s like
for me to be in the world and to be seen is exactly what makes me
want to defend myself, control a little bit what you think of me,
how you see me, your access to me. And that’s normal. But if you’re like me
or like millions of other people like me, and you have had, if you like, an upbringing
or an experience in your life that means that very early on, your experience of vulnerability was one
that left you afraid and uncertain, and actually, what you wanted to do
was get out of your skin, leave that behind, and be someone else. And maybe, in that
kind of naught to six years, you might want to be a ‘good girl.’ Let’s just say that in the environment where there is a family
and there is somebody of high need – it’s nobody’s fault – but there’s somebody
with high need in that family, they’re depressed, or they’re anxious,
or they’re angry, or they’re unhappy, or they’re ill in some way. Let’s say the child has a sibling
who is high-maintenance, and they see all the family resources
looking after this child, all of them worrying about this child. And the sibling will say,
“Do you know what? I don’t want to ask anything
of the family system. I’ll give to it; I’ll be a good girl. So when mum needs help,
I’ll say: ‘I’ll lay the table.’ ‘I’ll go and get my brother for supper.’ ‘That’s okay. No, I’ve already
done my homework.’ And my mum says,
‘Where would I be without you? Where would I be without you?
You’re my good girl.’ And I’m all validated. And then I go to school,
and I do tidy-up time, and when a new girl comes in
I show her around. I’m quite happy to do that.” And the parents hear:
“Such a nice child to have around. Really doesn’t get
into all of those cliques.” And then that child
goes to secondary school, and this is when I as a therapist
meet the parents, who say, “My daughter’s fallen in
with a bad crowd.” I don’t really believe
in a bad crowd, by the way. My question to the parents is, why would your daughter feel at home
around people who are troubled? Tell me. Tell me something
about her family background that would indicate why she might
feel comfortable around troubled people. Why is it her role to be
an emotional shock absorber, a rock, a good girl, a nice girl – “Don’t worry about me; I’ll be all right.
Let’s worry about you.” And I bet your bottom dollar that later on, she will fall in love
with someone who is high-maintenance. She will translate those feelings, about who she is and how she feels
about herself, as love. Her eyes will meet
across the bar against someone, and of course this person
is going to be high-maintenance. And they will demand that she stays
in that role of caretaker, that she stays in that role of giving – “Don’t worry about me.
Let’s worry about you.” And as a result, she is likely
to end up running on empty, because she doesn’t know
how to take for herself, and actually, as a child, she learned that: “I’m not
going to take from the family system. I’ll just be a good girl.
I’ll get my validation that way.” So her giving is conditional:
“If I’m a good girl, will you like me?” So all my giving, all my comforting
when you’re crying is: if you’re crying,
and I come and comfort you, and you don’t feel better,
I feel like I’ve failed. So as your caretaker
in this particular role, you will feel obliged to feel better
when I start to comfort you. Now, you might wonder
why I’m talking about this, and the reason I’m talking about this
is because high-maintenance individuals will always attract
the compulsive caretaker. You must always have this formula of somebody else, if you like,
picking up the pieces of the other person. The enablement that allows somebody
to be the emotional shock absorber, somebody to be sweeping up the pieces
after somebody else’s mistakes. And when I meet those people later on, and they may have children themselves, and the children treat them
with no respect, and they say, “Why? Why? I do everything. After all I’ve done for you,
and you treat me like this.” And I look at them and I think,
“You’re running on empty. Why are you running on empty,
and why is your giving so conditional?” And they will often present
with depression or anxiety, they will present with symptoms
that they feel bad about having. And as a therapist, I am saying to you, I would like to go back to look at
what is your ability to receive; what is your ability
to say, “I need help,”; what is your ability to say “no,”; what is your ability to have self-respect,
so that you can look after yourself and therefore give generously
from a place of abundance, instead of giving from a place
that is running on empty, because your giving has come
from there not being enough to go around. I’m very interested
in looking at addictive processes, often anxiety and depression, and working with these kind of diagnoses – but with the person. Yes, we work with people who might
want to take medication alongside, but I’m really interested in the person. There is no point in me telling you
techniques of parenting for prevention. I can’t tell you those things, unless you get comfortably
in your own shoes, and you have self-respect,
and you maintain that, because then, whomever you’re talking to,
cannot shoot the messenger. So, when I am thinking
about how somebody feels, if I was to ask some of you
in the audience how you feel, maybe not now but another time,
you might say something like, “Fine.” And I’m thinking, “Well,
I still don’t know how you feel.” And then you’ll say, “Okay,” and I’m thinking, “Well,
I still don’t know how you feel. What are the feelings you experience?” And then people often feel
embarrassed, or awkward, or, “I don’t know what you’re asking me.
I don’t know what you mean by a feeling.” And I’m thinking,
“Really. Stop. How do you feel?” Because if you know
the feelings that you’re having, then you have a chance
of taking responsibility and representing yourself in the world
with dignity and with respect. So, when I was working with a teacher
with this child in her classroom, she was very excited, and this little girl
used to want attention, she’d go, “Please, please.
I’m so excited. I’ll get it, I’ll get it.” Very excited. And the teacher would say, “For goodness sake,
Mandy, will you calm down.” And the child will be (Gasps) – shame. And we talked about this,
so the child would still get very excited, and then she’d start to displace and take
hostages and get other people to giggle. And the teacher started to say,
“She’s very disruptive.” And then this girl started to say,
“I’m so excited.” Bang. And she’d slam her hand
on the desk or on the wall. When we were talking, I was thinking, this is her external way
of managing her emotions; this little girl does not know
how to handle excitement and possibly the other end
of the scale, depression. So we need to look at that child and think, “You need to be taught
how to handle your excitement, instead of being labeled as difficult.” Because as a parent body, a child is a heat-seeking missile
for what they want. I have no idea
how many of you are parents, but I am a parent, and I know that children are heat-seeking missiles
for what they want. They will come at the parent,
as the person who’s going to deliver that. The parent, generally speaking,
will do one of two things: “For goodness sake,
will you leave me alone!” And the child goes into shame, fear,
“Have I hurt my parent?” “What’s wrong with me?” Or: “Go on, then;
do exactly what you want.” Entitled behavior. So when this parent next time
tries to hold a boundary – I’m going to say no – the child will say, “Somewhere
around here is that button, that if I press it hard enough,
I get what I want!” And then parents say,
“They’re a nightmare.” “I don’t know my child anymore.”
“I feel deskilled.” “I’m not in control of my family.” And I’m like, take your eye
off your kids for a minute because all they’re doing
is showing you where your weak point is. If you’re busy doing the washing-up,
and you’re kind of stressed, and they come in and start going,
“Ma’am, ma’am, ma’am, ma’am … ,” then you need to know
that they have chosen that exact moment because it gives them
exactly what they want. And what you will do is, “Oh, go on then, go on the PlayStation.
I don’t care; do what you want.” “Well, yeah! I got exactly what I wanted.” If you’re able to stand there and think, “I’m feeling really irritated.
I’m feeling like put under pressure,” and you know that, you can actually stand there and think,
“I’m getting really cross here,” and you can say,
“Listen, I’ve just said ‘no.'” Now, if your child does not know
that you’ve got a ‘no’ up your sleeve, and that you can hold a ‘no,’
they will push, and push, and push. Once they know you can hold a ‘no,’ once they know that you can
actually give them a boundary that they can push safely up against,
then they will respect it. So if you can stand there
and be in touch with your feelings, and instead of behaving like,
“Oh, for god’s sake, just go away,” and then they’re off happy,
and you’re thinking, “Why am I so upset?” you can actually say, “I need you
to calm down; the answer’s ‘no.'” And then they nag, and nag, and nag,
you need to be thinking, “Wow I must have given in a lot
in the past, for them to be so persistent. Not, “Why are you doing this to me?” No. I’ve set you up for this,
and I actually need to start getting a handle on how I behave
as a result of how I feel, otherwise I am not going to know me, I’m going to be
in resentment against my kids, I’m going to be feeling “poor me,” I’m going to be in that space
of expectation and resentment, which is a pernicious cycle. And then perhaps in comes a husband: “What’s all this going on in here?
What’s all this noise?” And you’re like:
“It’s nothing, don’t worry.” “What you mean it’s nothing? What’s she doing
on the PlayStation again?” And you’re just in there, angry, upset. You’re picking a fight now
with your husband, you’re feeling isolated. And you’re thinking: “What about me? “Why is it always me who has to do
everything around here?” And you’ll find that the family dynamics,
subtle as they may be, start to fracture a little,
and maybe like I did as I grew up, one of these children might start
to think that they’re difficult. I was told that I was difficult,
as I grew up, and I believed it. And so somewhere deep inside me,
before I was even 13, I believed that if you got close to me,
that if you got to know me, you’d find out
that I’m not what I look like, that there’s something wrong with me,
and I felt that you would reject me. So there’s no way I’m actually
going to let you close. So I used to spend my life playing,
performing, people-pleasing, being defiant, being the rebel,
being anyone, anything other than me, because if you get close to me,
it’s going to hurt. But suddenly, when I discover something
more potent than all those behaviors, that does the job, defends me
from feeling vulnerable in front of you, because believe me, I judge how I feel
against how you look, and that sets me up to lose because I can’t see your frailties
if I’m in my self-centered fear. If I’m thinking,
I’m going to go out somewhere, and I’m full of that fear,
and I’m thinking, “I don’t know what to wear, I don’t know what to say,
I’m not interesting, and I go into the room with all of that,
I’m not looking at anyone else, I’m walking into the room like that. I’ll probably pick up somebody
who’s codependent, a caretaker, so they’d go, “Would you
like a drink? Are you okay?” And they’re looking for someone
like me to take care of, and we can stand together,
pretending to be at a party together, but actually all we’re doing is preventing each other
from feeling vulnerable and isolated. If I know I am in my self-centered fear, if I know I’m in that space
whereby there’s a sense, maybe an early childhood sense
that there is something wrong with me, I can actually put my arm around myself, and I can say, “You know,
Mandy, I love you. I love you, and I’m going to be with you,
and we can do this thing. It’s not all about you,
there are loads of people there, go and chat to someone. Just go and have
a conversation with someone; it’s not such a big deal.” And I manage to take myself
out of that fear, suddenly, I am available to talk to you,
I am available to live. So when we’re treating addiction, sure, we got to get people sober
from whatever their addictive pattern is, but then we need to get them out
of the self-harming behaviors so that when they look in the mirror, they’re not going, “Oh my god,
I’m so wrinkly, it’s disgusting.” No! That is self-harming thinking. I want you to look in the mirror,
and get to know your face; I want you to appreciate
the lines on your face like they are the map of your life. Wherever the pain is, wherever the carving is
and the shaping is, it’s yours. And when you look in the mirror
to really appreciate that and to make the best friend
you can of yourself because if you are friends with yourself, you will not persistently
do something to yourself, to hurt yourself over and over again. In 2006, I got rheumatoid arthritis and I was laid up for nearly a year, and I was unable to walk, unable to move,
unable to use my hands, unable to do anything. This friend of mine said, “Have you thought of working
the 12-step program around this?” This is the AA 12-step fellowship program, which fundamentally is
about “surrender to help.” And I was furious! I was lying on this bed thinking,
“You don’t understand what it is like!” But I was a captive audience, and I thought, “Surrender to help.
Surrender to help.” Oh, take the medication with gratitude; start looking outside of this tiny world
of pain that I was living in; and just start committing
to each tiny step. And today, truly, I feel like a complete miracle
of all the medication that I’ve taken in the last ten years
to treat this condition. I feel really grateful
for the recovery I’ve got, and for the opportunity to be able to say that I know that addiction is known
as a chronic relapsing condition, but I don’t agree. I think one of the reasons
that it is a chronic relapsing condition is because we are looking
in the wrong place. We are looking at the thing
that people use, and we are trying to control it. Now, if addiction is the delegation
of my emotions onto something else, if you take that away, I’m just going
over here until you’re not looking, and I’m going back there again. Chronic relapsing condition. Unless you teach me
how to take care of me. And how do you do that? Simple things. When you look in the mirror,
say nice things to yourself. And if that’s difficult, get a picture of yourself
around six or seven years old, and pop it up in your bathroom,
and start to talk to her or him. Start to talk to her. Literally. “Morning.” Hmm, felt really weird. I want you to start
to create a relationship with a part of yourself
that might feel vulnerable, and who really needs you on side, and at the end of the day,
write down what you’re grateful for. Because there are people
that I have known in my life who would give their eyeteeth
to be here today. It is such a precious gift,
each one of us as individual, as long as we remember that, and we remain completely
invested in the curiosity, instead of the offense, when we meet people
and interact with them. Thank you very much for this. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “Feelings: Handle them before they handle you | Mandy Saligari | TEDxGuildford”

  1. relate too much to The six years old good girl. But instead of a high maintenance sibling., I have a high maintenance father who is emotionally incapable. Can't hold my tears that she made me realize what has happened to me this past three years being such a "difficult" person

  2. This was incredible. Thank you so much for sharing your personal and professional experiences and perspectives.

  3. Breathtaking. Insightful. Refreshing. Why are policy makers not funding this treatment of addiction.

  4. You have hit the nail so very much on its head for me and brought me a lot further on my way to healing. THANK YOU!!! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

  5. I know what emotional shock absorber feels like. But i now really love the me i see in the mirror and took a while to tell her she rocks and i love her.

  6. This is great information. I think she is speaking from the heart. Love is the answer. And it starts with self love. And gratitude.

  7. I wish she would speak softly and slower, and not shout at times. She has a good grip on her subject, though

  8. This made me tear up. This talk was perfectly delivered, great speaker, and such clarity with the information. Thank you 🍀

  9. The kids that pound to get attention are exactly the people in society that cause the problems, because they cannot consider other's feelings, yet they will regularly service other pathological individuals. In other words, they don't care about being nice to nice people but seek acceptance from needy/manipulative people.

  10. Thanks Ms. Mandy, for connecting some dots in my head and giving words to them that describe them so clearly !! Listened to the talk twice within an hour !!

  11. This hit home… self care is important. I think I will actually have a conversation with the younger me… we got a lot to discuss

  12. I really hated this TedX; this woman spoke like she had ADD. She was brilliant on her last few sentences but before that all the stories and animations were ridiculous. Not one syllable was spoken without the help of her hands and her thesis was not consistent. I honestly could not wait until she was done. I have never been this critical of a TedX, but this speech was really badly written, spoken, presented, unfocused.

  13. How to take care of yourself;
    1. Say nice things to yourself. Create a relationship with a part of yourself that might feel vulnerable.
    2. Write down what you're grateful today.
    3. Simply be your own best friend. Treat yourself like your own best friend, ok?
    4. Self-respect; it's not always just about giving, but it's also about receiving, the ability to say 'i need help', or 'no'. Be true to yourself.

  14. Thank you everyone for watching this talk and for your comments, which mean a huge amount to me. Ive only just realised I can reply/comment! If you're interested in my approach, I've just released a book too: Proactive Parenting on Amazon THANK YOU!

  15. not sure why but this made me emotional watching it. Resonated so well with me. I'm grateful to find this video <3

  16. i am a nautral carer i love to help people but i come from massive trauma im going to a counsellor. learning loads about myself. but need to be honest about my feelings

  17. Such an amazing ted talk.. the awareness of ourselves through the symptoms of feelings makes us so powerful.. just think about it

  18. You are an amaing speaker and a very wise woman. Thank you for sharing your insights with so much passion and dedication. I could listen to you for hours!

  19. Such an insightful talk about parenting. Absolutely amazing! I remember her talking about how much we care about others than ourselves. Like how much we're bothered by our surroundings rather than paying attention to us. Am I only one who feels that she drifted apart from what she was saying and elaborated on parenting or has she built her talk on the same premise?

  20. After a whole night of having ted talks on as background noise while studying, I was about to switch to some buzzfeed or whatever and I happened to accidentally click on it. And I stayed because whatever. After this video, I am glad I did. This is something that has been what I have been searching for. Its like I knew there was something I was avoiding but couldn’t find out what. After the tears I am now at peace. Thank you so much.

  21. I like certain messages in this talk but use of high voice and acting out was too much and too disturbing at times and made me lose my concentration.

  22. This is one of the best talks on TED and best approach I have seen about addiction. I have watched it thrice now, took notes and still keep it on my browser. I wish she had more talks like this about how to connect with our vulnerable selves and learn to ask for help when we need it. It has been a big struggle for me as well. Even if I am in deep need of help, I can not ask for it.

  23. I thank God I saw this talk today. Struggled with addiction, depression, anxiety and dysfunctional relationships for so many years. Now realize why I've been this messed up for so long. Thank you so much for your words

  24. She hit me with the sad, bitter truths that I didn’t know I tried to hide deep buried inside me. Had to shed a tear little bit because what she said actually hit the nail on the head. She described my childhood truthfully. Somehow kind of relieved I’m not the only one who’s experiencing this.

  25. Being a child from India where your emotions and mental health Is almost non existent where everyone's idiology of parenting is pushing your kid into the pool without any safety belts…and that coming to either u learn to swim after the struggle or give up 😶
    As a child I had experienced every kind of emotional wound that there is possibly…parents who were yellers – shame and embarrassment,
    constant comparison – gives u the feeling of not being enough, overachiever and always being the nice one..
    Overcriticism – from people going as friends and famliy
    Dealing with bullies – that's a whole new level of fear and self-resentment..not being able to fit-in being left the odd one out – u become a people pleaser obviously
    And That's just to start with

    When your mom dies of illness – dealing with all the pain and confusion that arises from seeing her sick the one person u thought was your rock of support and shield , there comes this entire era of feeling like a burden to people around you and dealing with the pain of death of a loved one then fighting too hard to get your old life back trying to be normal around friends in high school and around sympathy – eventually makes you a rebel as a defence mechanism and then there's puberty and dealing with womenhood without mom and u get rejected every single time when u ask for help..
    Then there is the pressure to meet expectations of Ur single parent who had made the ultimate sacrifices to raise you alone..being the nice one you are left with no choice but to fulfill the expectations never even had the luxury to think about what I wanted to do in life…some part of you still looking for a home still there attracts you to boys who only and only want to take advantage of you and you being a giver gives and gives and let's and let's untill you are empty and the only people in your life are either because u begged them to stay,or co-dependent, or people who profit from you
    Leaving you numb like all Ur emotions are locked up in a box and thrown deep into an ocean and you are at shore with no access to it, with my self worth completely depleted only attracting boys with needs and with the burden to do well in a career I dint choose well I am 'stuck'
    To the world: "" am fine ""
    Because none of this is physical and you can't see it
    Yours sincerely
    21 year old dealing with trauma depression and lonliness

  26. Being a child from India where your emotions and mental health Is almost non existent where everyone's idiology of parenting is pushing your kid into the pool without any safety belts…and that coming to either u learn to swim after the struggle or give up 😶
    As a child I had experienced every kind of emotional wound that there is possibly…parents who were yellers – shame and embarrassment,
    constant comparison – gives u the feeling of not being enough, overachiever and always being the nice one..
    Overcriticism – from people going as friends and famliy
    Dealing with bullies – that's a whole new level of fear and self-resentment..not being able to fit-in being left the odd one out – u become a people pleaser obviously
    And That's just to start with

    When your mom dies of illness – dealing with all the pain and confusion that arises from seeing her sick the one person u thought was your rock of support and shield , there comes this entire era of feeling like a burden to people around you and dealing with the pain of death of a loved one then fighting too hard to get your old life back trying to be normal around friends in high school and around sympathy – eventually makes you a rebel as a defence mechanism and then there's puberty and dealing with womenhood without mom and u get rejected every single time when u ask for help..
    Then there is the pressure to meet expectations of Ur single parent who had made the ultimate sacrifices to raise you alone..being the nice one you are left with no choice but to fulfill the expectations never even had the luxury to think about what I wanted to do in life…some part of you still looking for a home still there attracts you to boys who only and only want to take advantage of you and you being a giver gives and gives and let's and let's untill you are empty and the only people in your life are either because u begged them to stay,or co-dependent, or people who profit from you
    Leaving you numb like all Ur emotions are locked up in a box and thrown deep into an ocean and you are at shore with no access to it, with my self worth l depression and lonliness

  27. Being a child from South east Asia where your emotions and mental health Is almost non existent where everyone's idiology of parenting is pushing your kid into the pool without any safety belts…and that coming to either u learn to swim after the struggle or give up 😶
    As a child I had experienced every kind of emotional wound that there is possibly…parents who were yellers – shame and embarrassment,
    constant comparison – gives u the feeling of not being enough, overachiever and always being the nice one..
    Overcriticism – from people going as friends and famliy
    Dealing with bullies – that's a whole new level of fear and self-resentment..not being able to fit-in being left the odd one out – u become a people pleaser obviously
    And That's just to start with

    When your mom dies of illness – dealing with all the pain and confusion that arises from seeing her sick the one person u thought was your rock of support and shield , there comes this entire era of feeling like a burden to people around you and dealing with the pain of death of a loved one then fighting too hard to get your old life back trying to be normal around friends in high school and around sympathy – eventually makes you a rebel as a defence mechanism and then there's puberty and dealing with womenhood without mom and u get rejected every single time when u ask for help..
    Then there is the pressure to meet expectations of Ur single parent who had made the ultimate sacrifices to raise you alone..being the nice one you are left with no choice but to fulfill the expectations never even had the luxury to think about what I wanted to do in life…some part of you still looking for a home still there attracts you to boys who only and only want to take advantage of you and you being a giver gives and gives and let's and let's untill you are empty and the only people in your life are either because u begged them to stay,or co-dependent, or people who profit from you
    Leaving you numb like all Ur emotions are locked up in a box and thrown deep into an ocean and you are at shore with no access to it, with my self worth l depression and lonliness

  28. Thank you very much for your amazing speech! That’s exactly what I need to heal my soul. I realized that how bad I treat myself from the whole time. I feel really sorry for myself because I always sabotage myself whenever something goes wrong. I realized that I am to difficult to myself and easy on others. That’s why I always feel unhappy and vulnerable. In the past, I was really depressed and sometimes want to suicide to be happier cause I felt like nobody in this world understands or care about me, even my parents. However, what you just said in this speech awaken me and help me to realize what the most important thing is for me. From now on I’ll try to become my best friend and learn to respect myself, not a people pleaser any more.

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