Tricked

From a TED Talk by Guy WInch:

I once visited a day care center, where I saw three toddlers play with identical plastic toys. You had to slide the red button, and a cute doggie would pop out. One little girl tried pulling the purple button, then pushing it, and then she just sat back and looked at the box, with her lower lip trembling. The little boy next to her watched this happen, then turned to his box and and burst into tears without even touching it. Meanwhile, another little girl tried everything she could think of until she slid the red button, the cute doggie popped out, and she squealed with delight. So three toddlers with identical plastic toys, but with very different reactions to failure. The first two toddlers were perfectly capable of sliding a red button. The only thing that prevented them from succeeding was that their mind tricked them into believing they could not. Now, adults get tricked this way as well, all the time. In fact, we all have a default set of feelings and beliefs that gets triggered whenever we encounter frustrations and setbacks.

Are you aware of how your mind reacts to failure? You need to be. Because if your mind tries to convince you you’re incapable of something and you believe it, then like those two toddlers, you’ll begin to feel helpless and you’ll stop trying too soon, or you won’t even try at all. And then you’ll be even more convinced you can’t succeed. You see, that’s why so many people function below their actual potential. Because somewhere along the way, sometimes a single failure convinced them that they couldn’t succeed, and they believed it.

You can see his whole talk online HERE.  It’s one of the best talks I’ve seen, and I think you’ll find it worth your time.

Depression

My favorite part is when he talks about depression in Africa:

And yet, when I went to look at alternative treatments, I also gained perspective on other treatments. I went through a tribal exorcism in Senegal that involved a great deal of ram’s blood and that I’m not going to detail right now, but a few years afterwards I was in Rwanda working on a different project, and I happened to describe my experience to someone, and he said, “Well, you know, that’s West Africa, and we’re in East Africa, and our rituals are in some ways very different, but we do have some rituals that have something in common with what you’re describing.” And I said, “Oh.” And he said, “Yes,” he said, “but we’ve had a lot of trouble with Western mental health workers, especially the ones who came right after the genocide.” And I said, “What kind of trouble did you have?” And he said, “Well, they would do this bizarre thing. They didn’t take people out in the sunshine where you begin to feel better. They didn’t include drumming or music to get people’s blood going. They didn’t involve the whole community. They didn’t externalize the depression as an invasive spirit. Instead what they did was they took people one at a time into dingy little rooms and had them talk for an hour about bad things that had happened to them.”

He said, “We had to ask them to leave the country.”

My depression was similar to what Andrew Solomon described earlier in the talk:  I made it through the hard times, and later- when it I thought it was behind me- Pow, right between the eyes.

I wish I had sought help sooner.  I was afraid medication would turn me into either a zombie or a grinning idiot, but it did neither of those things; it just made me feel like myself again.

In retrospect, I don’t know why I feared becoming a Grinning Idiot.  Some people spend a lot of money on drugs for just that purpose, and really, it doesn’t sound too bad to me now.

Anyway.

If you have 30 minutes, the video is worth your time.  There is also a transcript HERE.