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  • I grew up with my identical twin,

  • who was an incredibly loving brother.

  • Now, one thing about being a twin is it makes you an expert

  • at spotting favoritism.

  • If his cookie was even slightly bigger than my cookie, I had questions.

  • And clearly I wasn't starving.

  • (Laughter)

  • When I became a psychologist,

  • I began to notice favoritism of a different kind.

  • And that is how much more we value the body than we do the mind.

  • I spent nine years at University earning my doctorate in Psychology,

  • and I can't tell you how many people look at my business card and say,

  • "Oh, a psychologist, so not a real doctor."

  • As if it should say that on my card.

  • (Laughter)

  • This favoritism we show the body over the mind,

  • I see it everywhere.

  • I recently was at a friends' house,

  • and their five-year-old was getting ready for bed.

  • He was standing on a stool by the sink brushing his teeth,

  • when he slipped, and scratched his leg on the stool when he fell.

  • He cried for a minute, but then he got back up,

  • got back on the stool and reached out for a box of Band-Aids

  • to put one on his cut.

  • Now this kid could barely tie his shoelaces,

  • but he knew you have to cover a cut, so it doesn't become infected,

  • and you have to care for your teeth by brushing twice a day.

  • We all know how to maintain our physical health

  • and how to practice dental hygiene, right?

  • We've known it since we were five years old.

  • But what do we know about maintaining our psychological health?

  • Well, nothing.

  • What do we teach our children about emotional hygiene?

  • Nothing.

  • How is it we spend more time

  • taking care our teeth than we do our minds?

  • Why is it our physical health is so much more important to us

  • than our psychological health?

  • You know we sustain psychological injuries

  • even more often than we do physical ones.

  • Injuries like failure or rejection, or loneliness,

  • and they can also get worse if we ignore them.

  • And they can impact our lives in dramatic ways.

  • And yet, even though there are scientifically proven techniques

  • we could use to treat these kinds of psychological injuries, we don't.

  • It doesn't even occur to us that we should.

  • "Oh, you're feeling depressed, just shake it off, it's all in your head."

  • Can you imagine saying that to somebody with a broken leg,

  • "Just walk it off, it's all in your leg."

  • (Laughter)

  • It is time we close the gap between our physical and our psychological health.

  • It's time we made them more equal.

  • More like twins.

  • Speaking of which, my brother is also a psychologist.

  • So he's not a real doctor, either.

  • (Laughter)

  • We didn't study together, though.

  • In fact, the hardest thing I've ever done in my life

  • is move across the Atlantic to New York city

  • to get my doctorate in psychology.

  • We were apart then, for the first time in our lives,

  • and the separation was brutal for both of us.

  • But while he remained among family and friends,

  • I was alone in a new country.

  • We missed each other terribly,

  • but international phone calls were really expensive then,

  • and we could only afford to speak for 5 minutes a week.

  • When our birthday rolled around,

  • it was the first we wouldn't be spending together,

  • we decide to splurge,

  • and that week we would talk for ten minutes.

  • I spent the morning pacing around my room,

  • waiting for him to call,

  • and waiting,

  • and waiting,

  • but the phone didn't ring.

  • Given the time difference, I assumed

  • "OK, he's out with friends, he will call later."

  • There were no cell phones then.

  • But he didn't.

  • And I began to realize, after being away for over ten months,

  • he no longer missed me the way I missed him.

  • And I knew he would call in the morning,

  • but that night was one of the saddest and longest nights of my life.

  • I woke up the next morning,

  • I glanced down at the phone,

  • and I realized I had kicked it off the hook

  • when pacing the day before.

  • I stumbled out of bed,

  • I put the phone back on the receiver,

  • and it rang a second later,

  • and it was my brother, and, boy, was he pissed.

  • (Laughter)

  • It was the saddest and longest night of his life as well.

  • I tried to explain what happened, but he said,

  • "I don't understand, if you saw I wasn't calling you,

  • why didn't you just pick up the phone and call me?"

  • He was right.

  • Why didn't I call him?

  • I didn't have an answer then, but I do today, and it's a simple one.

  • Loneliness.

  • Loneliness creates a deep psychological wound.

  • One that distorts our perceptions

  • and scrambles our thinking,

  • It makes us believe

  • those around us care much less than they actually do.

  • It makes us really afraid to reach out,

  • because why set yourself up for rejection and heartache,

  • when your heart is already aching more than you can stand?

  • I was in the grips of real loneliness back then,

  • but I was surrounded by people all day,

  • so it never occurred to me.

  • But loneliness, is defined purely, subjectively.

  • It depends solely on whether you feel

  • emotionally or socially disconnected from those around you.

  • And I did.

  • There's a lot research on loneliness

  • and all of it is horrifying.

  • Loneliness won't just make you miserable, it will kill you.

  • I am not kidding.

  • Chronic loneliness increases your likelihood of an early death

  • by 14 percent.

  • Fourteen percent.

  • Loneliness causes high blood pressure, high cholesterol,

  • it even suppresses the functioning of your immune system,

  • making you vulnerable to all kinds of illnesses and diseases.

  • In fact, scientist have concluded that taken together,

  • chronic loneliness poses a significant a risk

  • for your longterm health and longevity as cigarette smoking.

  • Now, cigarette packs come with warnings saying, "This could kill you."

  • But loneliness doesn't.

  • And that's why it's so important

  • we prioritize our psychological health.

  • That we practice emotional hygiene.

  • Because you can't treat a psychological wound

  • if you don't even know you are injured.

  • [Pay attention to emotional pain]

  • Loneliness isn't the only psychological wound

  • that distorts our perceptions and misleads us.

  • [Failure]

  • Failure does that as well.

  • I once visited a daycare center where I saw three toddlers

  • play with identical plastic toys.

  • You had to slide the red button, and a cute doggy 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 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 doggy 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 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 will 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 they couldn't succeed,

  • and they believed it.

  • Once we become convinced of something,

  • it's very difficult to change our mind.

  • I learned that lesson the hard way.

  • When I was a teenager with my brother.

  • We were driving with friends down a dark road at night,

  • when the police car stopped us.

  • There had been a robbery in the area, they were looking for suspects.

  • The officer approached the car,

  • and he shined his flashlight on the driver.

  • Then on my brother in the front seat, and then on me.

  • And his eyes opened wide, and he said,

  • "Where have I seen your face before?"

  • (Laughter)

  • And I said, "In the front seat."

  • (Laughter)

  • But that made no sense to him whatsoever.

  • So now he thought I was on drugs.

  • (Laughter)

  • So he drags me out of the car, he searches me,

  • he marches me over to the police car,

  • and only when he verified I don't have a police record,

  • could I show him I had a twin in the front seat.

  • But even as we were driving away, you could see by the look on his face,

  • he was convinced I was getting away with something.

  • Our mind is hard to change once we become convinced.

  • So it might be very natural to feel demoralized and defeated after you fail.

  • But you cannot allow yourself to become convinced you can't succeed.

  • You have to fight feelings of helplessness.

  • You have to gain control over the situation,

  • and you have to break this kind of negative cycle before it begins.

  • [Stop emotional bleeding]

  • Our minds and our feelings,

  • they are not the trustworthy friends we thought they were.

  • They are more like a really moody friend,

  • who can be totally supportive one minute, and really unpleasant the next.

  • I once worked with this woman

  • who after 20 years of marriage and an extremely ugly divorce,

  • was finally ready for her first date.

  • She had met this guy online, he seemed nice and successful,

  • and most importantly, he seemed really into her.

  • So she was very excited, and she bought a new dress,

  • and they met at an upscale New York City bar for a drink.

  • Ten minutes into the date, the man stands up and says,

  • "I'm not interested", and walks out.

  • [Rejection]

  • Rejection is extremely painful.

  • The woman was so hurt, she could't move.

  • All she could do is call a friend.

  • And here's what the friend said, "Well, what do you expect,

  • you have big hips, you have nothing interesting to say,

  • why would a handsome, successful man like that

  • ever go out with a loser like you?"

  • Shocking, right, that a friend could be so cruel.

  • But it would be much less shocking

  • if I told you it wasn't the friend who said that.

  • It's what the woman said to herself.

  • And that's something we all do.

  • Especially after a rejection.

  • We all start thinking of all our faults and all our shortcomings

  • what we wish we were, what we wish we weren't,

  • we call ourselves names.

  • Maybe not as harshly, but we all do it.

  • It's interesting that we do, because our self-esteem is already hurting.

  • Why would we want to go and damage it even further?

  • We wouldn't make a physical injury worse on purpose.

  • You wouldn't get a cut on your arm and decide,

  • "Oh, I know, I am going to take a knife and see how much deeper I can make it."

  • But we do that with psychological injuries all the time.

  • Why? Because of poor emotional hygiene.

  • Because we don't prioritize our psychological health.

  • We know from dozens of studies,

  • that when your self-esteem is lower,

  • you are more vulnerable to stress and to anxiety,

  • that failures and rejections hurt more,

  • and it takes longer to recover from them.

  • So when you get rejected, the first thing you should be doing

  • is to revive your self-esteem,

  • not join Fight Club and beat it into a pulp.

  • When you are in emotional pain,

  • treat yourself with the same compassion