Acting more rational - changing our automatic behavior | Ashley Zahabian | TEDxStanleyPark

Acting more rational – changing our automatic behavior | Ashley Zahabian | TEDxStanleyPark



many bright and capable people should move forward but they don't they're stuck and they're frustrated and I'm not just talking about teenagers I'm talking about everyone in here that's older than 19 as what you see I grew up as one of the most intelligent people in my class I had one of the highest IQs in my school according to this IQ chart I was deemed super intelligent but I still found myself stuck and frustrated and couldn't figure out why and then I learned something and what I learned was that being intelligent and acting intelligent are not the same thing go figure when you bridge the gap between being intelligent and acting intelligent you acquire emotional intelligence emotional intelligence is when you become aware of your own feelings and the feelings of those around you and you use those to guide your thoughts your actions and your behaviors you act intelligently something I didn't do now we are very beholden to our emotional state we like to act based on how we feel let's say for example we have John John just missed the bus by 2 minutes and then he gets a call because now he's late to work and he's frustrated and angry and he gets a call from his son that calls him and says dad can I go can I go to my friend's house tonight and then dad goes no home tonight early I'm sick and tired of staying up for you while you're out with your friends the reason that John was upset had nothing to do with his son but he took all of that out on his son and you see what John needed right here was not his IQ it was his EQ and if he had acted based off of his emotional intelligence he wouldn't have reacted that way but let's be fair you guys are probably wondering why is 22 year old on stage talking to me about brain science well let me take you a little bit back to my past growing up I had a Cinderella childhood I had amazing friends I had an amazing family great education I've really had it all my father was my coach for soccer so this girl got playing time all the time I was the cool girl and by the time I was 13 every boy wanted to hit on me and every girl wanted to hit me okay I was that girl but then at 14 something came over me and I went through this very emotional I just started feeling different you know when women grow older and they go through this phase and they just become super moody well I got what I can best describe to you as the teenage menopause do not come near this girl moody did not want to come near me and I went from being this vivacious bouncy boy magnet to this very quiet and secure and lonely girl all the things that I had enjoyed soccer no more friends no more family I even I would lock the door at home so that I could didn't have to talk to my family everything I enjoyed no more I'd look in the mirror in my room and I'd see this immensely overweight woman but it was all in my head I wasn't overweight and these feelings and demons started to take over my mind and I'd go to sleep and I'd look down at my stomach and say I can't eat tomorrow because I need my stomach to be flatter because I saw this enormous Lea over a woman in the mirror and every time that I would look in the mirror I'd get bigger and bigger but every time I stepped on the scale I'd get lighter and lighter what was going on in a matter of a few months I dropped 42 pounds and I was nothing but a bag of skin and bones my hair was falling out my nails were falling off I was pale I was anemic malnourished and I just remember crying myself to sleep almost every night listening to dreary sad music it got so bad to the point that I even missed my parents anniversary everybody was out to dinner but me I was pretending to sleep at home so I didn't have to sit at the table where there was food and then that night my parents came in my room and they said enough is enough you need help and so that day I went to sleep crying and I woke up my mother woke me up and she said well going to the doctors all the way in Somerset New Jersey about a three-hour ride so I woke up get to the doctor's office I'm sitting in this Brown chair you have the doctor and then you have my mother the doctor is taking my vitals taking my numbers and I said do it whatever you have to do and in my head I'm just to get me out of here I didn't want to be there at all and so this doctors taking my vitals and he turns and says actually let me have a word with you in my office and rightfully so like any other mother my mom goes can I come and the doctors let me just speak to her alone so now I'm anxious my mother's anxious I step into the doctor's office and I take a seat big leather chair that I sunk right into not only was I small was i small but I felt so small I felt so unimportant so belittled and so I sat in in this chair and like anger was raging out of my skin and the doctor turned to me and said Ashley you need to change your behavior or you're going to die die I'm thinking to myself I'm 14 years old how am I going to die his doctor walks out goes to speak to my mother and I'm left there in the room and I had so much anger is raging out of my skin because I have held belittled and exposed I had just felt and all these feelings were crawling up my chest and crawling up to my head and these demons are speaking to me and at that moment I just sat there and I had a meltdown the size of Manhattan and that that moment was when I learned that being intelligent has nothing to do with acting intelligent at all and no matter how smart I was up here what happens here was a determining force of how my life was going to play out and that's when I knew I had to change my behavior now I'm sure you can guess how this ends because I'm still here and I wish I could tell you that crawling out of that ditch was easy but it wasn't it took me four years of rehab four years of homeschooling four years of countless daily anxiety panic attacks and tears that could fill an entire swimming pool but what I learned and that was the gift of emotional intelligence I learned how to feel one way but act another way for a better outcome now lucky me being 22 years old prior to age 25 the rational part of my brain is not fully developed so sometimes people my age or younger tend to do things that you adults look at us like what are you thinking what are you doing and I'm going to stand up for all the young ones we are not thinking we're too busy feeling we all have an emotional mind and we all have a rational mind and the way things happen no matter what age you are is that when events occur to us it communicates with the emotional brain before it does to the rational brain so by the time it reaches the rational brain it's kind of too late you've already acted and that's why we become so impulsive so the question becomes how do we bring these two together how do we bridge that gap to create higher emotional intelligence how do we let these two parts of the brains communicate well there's two ways that I want to talk to you about today that we can all start today to increase our emotional intelligence number one is meditation now you guys are probably thinking Ashley are you telling me that the next time an emotionally-charged up situation you want me to just start meditating do not try this at home don't do that it doesn't work what I'm saying is meditation works like let's say for example soccer practice growing up playing soccer I used to go to practice everyday but in practice we don't necessarily shoot goals we tend to do more drills go around cones we tend to take it to each other run with the ball so we know it's in control we learn how to control the ball meditation works the same way we learn to control our thinking control our thoughts so that when we get in the game like we when we get in a soccer game and you go to shoot you're more likely to score to get that better outcome because you've practiced outside of that charged-up situation so when we meditate oftentimes lets you focus on just one thing and oftentimes your emotional brain gets in the way of that let's say your very life source your breath when you try to focus on that your emotional brain starts to kick in it jumps in it pushes you off and you start thinking about your boyfriend you start thinking about your girlfriend so I think about your day your work your school whatever it is and you it's so hard to focus on just your life breath for five minutes 10 minutes now I remember while going through rehab we used to play with horses it's a way of therapy and I remember getting on that field running straight to the horse and I wanted to put my foot on the horse and it pushed me it kicked me off and I fell to the ground and my trainer came running to me and said whoa you can't do that you can't just jump on a horse I said but you just did it he said yeah I've gained control of the horse I've have a relationship with the horse the horse trusts me and I said well how can I do that and he said well you're going to have to spend weeks looking at the horse and then you have to spend weeks petting the horse and then you have to spend weeks talking to the horse and another few weeks feeding the horse and another few weeks maybe just putting one foot on the horse and he said it takes time but once you can do this and the horse doesn't feel threatened anymore it's going to start to trust you and it will listen to your every command and meditation is just like that when we meditate the emotional mind is going to react just like that horse it's going to push us off it's going to kick us back and we're going to fall to the ground we're not going to be able to think because the emotional mind does not trust our rational mind yet and over time it learns to trust the rational mind in fact research shows that after just a few months meditating more activity starts to occur in the rational mind rather than the emotional mind making us more rational and emotionally intelligent human beings so now that we've practiced just like soccer practice we've been meditating what do we do when we're actually in a charged up situation well there are three things that you can do starting today that will help you when you're in the situation when you're in the game first become aware of how you're feeling and how those around you are feeling label them are you angry are you feeling her are you feeling anxious are you shy are you upset are you happy how are they feeling are they shy are they upset are they happy the second thing you can do is to harness those emotions think about it what is the best possible action I can take right now for the best possible outcome and the third thing you can do is act on the best possible outcome regardless of how you're feeling sometimes we feel angry but we have to act appropriate let's say for example somebody cuts you off you're going to be feeling emotionally charged up or let's say you're at work and somebody says you look pregnant when you're not or let's say your husband forgets your birthday okay that was a bad example no all bets are off if your husband forgets your birthday but when we're feeling emotionally charged up we become aware of how we're feeling and aware of how other people are feeling and then we harness those emotions and think about what is the best possible outcome that I can take right now for the best possible solution and the third thing you do you take that action you see I didn't know what emotional intelligence was when I was in that ditch I was acting on how I felt all the time I didn't know how to gain control of my emotions how to recognize what they were and act against them when needed but because I have a whole world of opportunities have opened up for me in my relationships in my career I'm able to focus now and study and do better in school I'm able to gain these business opportunities never happened before all because of this one gift that I can now control how I feel and behave everybody here you can do the same thing you can start today to practice at home meditate learn your mind learn the emotional mind become aware of it let it kick you off a few times continue and when you can finally do that you can behave differently and gain your emotional intelligence and become unstuck and less frustrated because of this one gift I now have opened a world of opportunities and you can do the same it is not only given me my life back it has given me so much more that I want you to have as well [Applause]

21 thoughts on “Acting more rational – changing our automatic behavior | Ashley Zahabian | TEDxStanleyPark

  1. I absolutely LOVE that you're teaching this powerful practice! These things you've taught are all outlined in detail in the evidence-based practice of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and I recommend to anyone that loves your presentation to take a course in DBT to protocol. It is life-changing and good for anyone who wants to truly advance Emotional Intelligence! Thank you Ashly for sharing your amazing story and journey and being an inspiration!

  2. Congratulation and thank you. That was worth watching, every secund of it. Is the best talk about EI ever heard. I'm a highly emotional person and now I think I've got the tools I need to harness my own emotions. It's gonna take time and a lot of efort, but now I know what to do. Thank you very much. I sure your talk is gonna change my live.

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