Emotional Mastery: The Gifted Wisdom of Unpleasant Feelings | Dr Joan Rosenberg | TEDxSantaBarbara

Translator: Leonardo Silva
Reviewer: Mile Živković I’m 19 years old. I’m a camp counselor
to northern Minnesota summer camp, and I’m on a hayride. It’s a beautiful night, and I’m listening in
to the conversation next to me, trying to figure out how to break in, just keeping kind of to myself, not sure where it was going,
how I could break in. And just as we’re about to turn
into the girls camp to the boys camp, which is where we were headed, one of the counselors
turns to me, looks at me and elbows me in the ribs and says, “Hey, Joan, you know what? You’re boring.” (Laughter) “Whoa! Boring? What?” It felt like she took a fork,
stabbed it in my gut and just spun it around. Now, most of us have our own versions
of those gut-punch moments. I’m not sure what it is for you,
but that was a big moment for me. And that moment and a few other
key life experiences really sparked my interest
to become a psychologist and to understand what it was that really helps someone develop
self-esteem and self-confidence. Across 35 years of research, tens of thousands of hours
of counseling other individuals and teaching and supervising, there was one element
that I remained captivated by and still am to this day, and it’s unpleasant feelings. Unpleasant feelings. More than anything else, what I found is what holds people back is their inability or their challenges
with dealing with unpleasant feelings. Yet, nobody really teaches us what to do
or how to handle them. It seems so silly, so silly: I’m excited about unpleasant feelings. (Laughter) Who the heck gets excited
about unpleasant feelings? If you can experience and move
through eight unpleasant feelings, you can pursue anything you want in life. How? One choice, 8 feelings, 90 seconds. It’s a simple formula, and it’s one my colleagues and clients
affectionately call the Rosenberg reset. Now, most of us believe that our happiness in life comes
from the big choices that we make. And it’s actually not the big choices. There’s a real misconception there. It’s the moment-to-moment choices. Those big choices
we think help us determine the degree of our happiness
from a day-to-day basis, or our well-being from a day-to-day basis. Not true. It’s actually the little choices,
the moment-to-moment ones. Ponder the moments
that you have denied your feelings as opposed to pay attention to them. It’s those that matter. That’s what’s going to free you up. So, let’s unpack the formula. One choice: Make the choice
to stay present, fully present. Be aware of and in touch with
your moment-to-moment experience. It’s about awareness, not avoidance. Think of a time that you’ve had
a conversation with somebody. Perhaps you’ve been disappointed
in a conversation with your friend, or with your partner, or your spouse. And check in with yourself here. Be gentle. Did you do what most of us do? Did you run? Did you hide? Did you shut down? Did you distract in really obvious ways, like, I don’t know, food? Alcohol or drugs? Sex? Pornography? Shopping? Social media? Did you distract or escape
in less obvious ways, like tightening up,
tightening those muscles, or holding your breath, or swallowing hard, just to try to keep those feelings at bay? Or did you stay fully present, aware of and in touch with
your moment-to-moment experience? That’s the best choice, except it’s your choice. You make that one. My prescription: stay present, stay fully present. You can do this. In fact, we can all do this. It just takes a willingness, it takes a formula and it takes a decision. Let’s go to the second step. The second step has to do with dealing
with eight unpleasant feelings. They’re the unpleasant
feelings of sadness, shame, helplessness, anger, vulnerability, embarrassment, disappointment and frustration. Now, most of us like to see
those feelings as bad or negative. They’re not bad or negative. They’re simply unpleasant
and uncomfortable. So, going forward, can we make an agreement
that you’re going to shift your language and it’s no longer going to be
bad or negative feelings? They’re simply going to be
unpleasant and uncomfortable. It’s an important shift. Why then do we want to avoid
all those feelings? Well, we’re afraid that,
if they start, they’ll never stop, or they’ll be too intense
and they will overwhelm us, or we will lose control
or we’ll go out of control. Except the key here
is why they’re also so important. Why does it matter so much? And it matters because our experience
of feeling capable in the world, of experiencing emotional strength, is directly tied to our capacity to both experience and move through
those unpleasant feelings. It it all eight at once? No, it’s not. It’s one or a few at a time. Like, we can feel disappointment
and anger at the same time. So, again, if you can experience and move
through those eight unpleasant feelings of sadness, shame, helplessness, anger, vulnerability, embarrassment,
disappointment and frustration, then you will experience
growing confidence and emotional strength. And what do I mean by this “move through”? Well, neuroscientists suggest that, when an emotional
feeling gets triggered, chemicals are released by our brain
that flush through our blood stream and they activate bodily sensations. It’s sort of a biochemical rush, and then flush. Let me translate. And this is super important. What we feel emotionally is felt in the body first,
as a bodily or physical sensation. It doesn’t feel good. Let me repeat that. What we feel emotionally is experienced in the body first, as a bodily or physical sensation. That’s what we want to distract from! That’s what we want to get away from. It’s not that we don’t want to feel
something emotionally. We absolutely do want to feel emotionally! We want the whole range of feelings. We just don’t want the bodily sensations
that let us know what we’re feeling. What unpleasant feelings might you be moving away from? What might be holding you back? Stop and notice where you might
experience it in your body. And – And if there’s a time
where you ever said to yourself, “I never want to experience that again,” it’s probably some of those – Those feelings are ones to move towards, to start to embrace. For me, it was involved
with that gut-punch. Embarrassment was really difficult. So was disappointment, and so was vulnerability. But let’s get to the solution. The solution has to do
with riding the wave. Remember that biochemical rush
I mentioned a few moments ago? That biochemical rush
we can think of as a wave, and, when that wave
gets fired off in the body, it lasts roughly 60 to 90 seconds, which means feelings are temporary. So, from the time
it gets fired off in the brain and it goes through our blood stream
and then dissipates: 60 to 90 seconds. You can handle 60 to 90 seconds, right? Heck! That’s less than half a song! (Laughter) All of us can do that. And if you think of a beach – Let me draw a parallel:
If you think of a beach, then, as you walk along that shoreline, what you’ll notice is that the waves
can come up to tumultuously, they can come up moderately,
they can come up mildly. And, if we’re walking
along that shoreline, we’ll notice that the waves seem
to just hang and linger for a moment, before they subside. And you know what?
That’s also true for our feelings. They can come up tumultuously,
moderately, mildly, and they seem to linger
or hang for a moment, and then, they always subside. That’s the beauty of it. “Always subside.” Is it one wave? No, it’s not. It’s more than one wave. Any time we think about the same memory, it’s going to fire off
that same approximate wave. And grief? Grief is waves of waves, the feelings of anger,
and sadness, and disappointment kind of all mixed together. Anybody who’s experienced
a significant loss knows this. Those waves can come up so tumultuously
and unexpectedly or spontaneously, and it’s like we’re just
kind of left with them, and they will always subside. So, the thing again here for you to do is to stay present to the experience, surf those ninety-second waves,
surf them any way you want, and just let them ride out their course. In the moment, you’ll feel centered,
you’ll feel calm and you’ll feel relief. Insights will follow. And, with consistent practice, you may even be able to unhook
from old-life stories. I have been the joyful recipient
of countless stories of individuals who have
mended relationships, who have engaged
in courageous conversations, who have pursued goals
that they wanted to pursue. And the most important one I think
is when people come back and tell me that they feel so much more
comfortable in their own skin. That’s the benefit. I thought when I was called boring
was a low moment in my life. It turns out that moment shifted me, and it’s enabled me
to shift countless thousands of lives. So, the next time you experience
unpleasant feelings, embrace them, join me in the excitement, know that they are the path back
to you being more fully you. Stay present. Stay fully present. Experience them. Surf those waves. It won’t take years. It won’t even take a day. In fact, it will take just a moment. Start right now. Thank you. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “Emotional Mastery: The Gifted Wisdom of Unpleasant Feelings | Dr Joan Rosenberg | TEDxSantaBarbara

  1. How do we deal with all the unpleasant feelings with a NPD partner? Can we make them understand us and to comprehend how we felt?

  2. FEEL!! AND EXPRESS IT HEALTHFULLY!! We build our Feeling wheel 5.0 for just this purpose!

  3. This is very specific advice given to a very mixed audience. It's also decadent, not at all applying to situations in which there are real problems – when the feeling of fear itself is not the biggest issue. But yeah, if you're safe and still willfully unaware, you've got a common problem.

    Facing reality (which everyone should) is not at all the key to happiness. If anything, those who stick their head underground are the happiest, even if willfully foolish. Being a realist, understanding what is going on in the world and willing to face widespread suffering, is a difficult and emotionally draining lifestyle. Intensely fulfilling, but not *happy*.

    Life's worth going through the hard way as most problems are caused by those who don't, but it's certainly not pleasant. It's a responsibility.

    Also, aren't people getting tired of hearing this same rant over and over again from hundreds of different psychologists? We get it; you're finally catching up to Buddhism after a few millennia.

  4. This works for me but it doesn't seem so quick and easy to severely depressed and anxious people.

  5. My goodness!!! She is a fantastic speaker! The pace, the tone, the articulation and the message. I think I found my role model

  6. "In-between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom." Viktor Frankl

  7. I wish my feelings of shame or embarrassment lasted 60-90 seconds… I can't shake them for hours… when distractions don't help I know it's bad.

  8. Redefine Your Emotions – Mind ReMapping – Explain what emotions are and how to use them.

  9. This is an old tip, nothing new here. Feel the emotion and walk towards it. 'Surf' the emotion. I heard this stuff a long time ago.

    The 2 strongest feelings are (1) powerlessness and (2) worthlessness (I actually believe nearly all feelings are sub-feelings of these two). From those feelings, resentment arises. Resentments are the number one feeling most people feel when they feel a 'negative' or 'unpleasant' emotion. It usually feels like frustration, annoyance or irritation due to the words or actions of another. Resentment comes from Latin "to feel again" and means that you perceive your need or wants have been disregarded or dismissed by another. If you try to feel a resentment every time it arises as this lady seems to suggest, in other words to keep re-feeling resentment rover and over again, it could consume you. There will be an 'originating' event of the resentment and it could have been years ago!

    Say someone says something to you making you feel worthless, or powerless. Like this lady being told she is boring. You can try to keep feeling that sense of worthlessness again and again. See where that gets you! It will keep coming back in waves.

    Rather, what I'd suggest doing is to:

    Interpretation – see if there is another way of interpreting it. Clarify and ask ‘oh how do you mean’? (which is being assertive). They then have to explain. You then get a better idea of what the person actually means and may get a fuller explanation (or you may not). There may be conflicting interests or values at play – it may not be personal and they may not be intending to hurt you. For example someone calls you boring, God only knows what is going on in their mind. They may be thinking, you are boring today / this week, or may be thinking you are beginning to get more boring, or that they are trying to 'kick start' you before you head down a depression route. However, it is true they could just see you as weak in which case it is time to..…….

    Empathise – you may be feeling a resentment now over her statement, but they too are probably full of resentments, either against you for your previous behaviour or words (I know, we all think we are saints, we even don't do anything unintentional that might frustrate others!!) or resentment against other people. From a higher level they may have experienced little love when they were younger, or may have been given no affection or attention and now yearn for that. Who knows the other person could be harbouring major resentments and you were the person at that time caught in their cross hairs.

    Own your own role in the resentment – think about your own role in how the issue developed. Think about whether you did anything to cause this situation or make it worse? Be mindful of the victim mentality, self-pity is a common response to stressful events. People tend to look at their side of events only. Maybe this lady had been a little too demanding on the person who called her boring, or maybe she has not been assertive enough in the past when similar events happened, or maybe she is thinking about a time she refused to go into town shopping with her 2 weeks ago. God only knows human minds are a little crazy sometimes.

    Perspective – all hurt and suffering is impermanent, it will pass. You will also have moments and stages of your life in which you have less or more hurt than other moments or stages. Life too is transient and impermanent. Don't waste your time stressing on the small things you will be dead in a few years!

    Expectations and fairness – let go of the myth of things should be a particular way and social norms, ‘that’s not fair.’ There is no fairness judge who keeps an eye on adversities and sees to it that they are doled out equitably to each person on a given day. Everything good and bad is exactly as it is, when it is. Everyone gets unpleasant things done and said to them.

    Common humanity – all humans suffer and are hurt, for example they harbour resentments and frustrated ambitions. All people encounter frustrations, make mistakes, bump up against limitations, and situations fall short of ideals. This is the human condition, a reality shared by all of us. Life is imperfect for everyone and hurt for humans is normal and natural. Hurt and pain doesn’t need to isolate, it can also bring us together. Hurt is a constant in all adults and you have not been singled out.

    Challenge and pain – sometimes we grow the most when we allow ourselves to be challenged and to be in pain.

    Some or all of the above could be useful next time that niggling frustration / resentment crops up. With most people they are oblivious that they are going around all day with pent up resentments.

  10. what an earthly fix, avoiding consequences !! how about your ego ? emotional reactions show ego blocks. They are to help one realise own limitations! By realising you can free yourself from them for good instead of keep on managing them …

  11. This video simplified and easy to copy/paste:
    1 Choice – Stay fully present, in the moment, it's about awareness, not avoidance.
    8 Emotions – Sadness, Shame, Helplessness, Anger, Vulnerability, Embarrassment, Disappointment, and Frustration.
    90 Seconds – Emotion is only temporary. After the feelings are identified, breathe and embrace and experience them, don't run
    *Keynote: For best understanding, watch the video once or more*

  12. What about teaching respect and dignity. Everyone Matters. Dr Joan Rosenberg, I would prefer your profession had less to do with fixing what may never have become broken. The DSM definitions focused on how to help nurture the nature of a child. Each persons ability to share their individual talents without bias.

  13. I needed this. I'm not at mastery. It's still a challenge. But understanding the 90 second wave helped me in my present unpleasantnessness.

  14. I prayed very hard for the Almighty AbbA Father to share love to my family, and to please help me love again… Minutes later I found your two wonderful YouTubes. I am going to "Live again." Thank you so much dear Joan.


  16. I paused the video several times to rewind and listen again. Thank you so much😘

  17. Being wise and intelligent is never boring. I have fun learning. Great video!

  18. Ok…….yeah. ..Experience feelings that's right yet, not profound

  19. I hope this does work for some people, but my negative emotions do not dissipate in 90 seconds. If something hurts me emotionally the pain never goes away.

  20. Extremely interesting! Regarding how our emotions are insights into things that we "feel" we know deep inside, but can't really identify of articulate.
    Seems similar to some of JBP's stuff.

  21. This lovely lady and her very nice wave analogy has never heard of tsunamis? THESE do not last for 60 – 90 seconds I assure you!

  22. This is one of most insightful and useful TED talk for me. Really helped me put things into perspective.

  23. Really helpful and insightful video. I am wondering though, how come stress was not one of the unpleasant feelings

  24. Very good talk! I agree and will endeavor to ride the wave until it quickly subsides.

  25. Love this video! Thank you so much. I would just like further clarification. On a day to day practical level, how does one actually ride the wave of emotions?

  26. I have the opposite problem: the unpleasant feelings dont last 60-90 seconds for me. I get stuck in them and they last for days, weeks and even months. They lead to depression and hopelessness. I don't know how to move through them quickly.

  27. In my life, I've been fortunate enough to befriend people from all over the world. It would be safe to say that in my experience, 80% of the time, Americans are afraid of being vulnerable and expressive with their feelings. If you want to get along with everybody, you can't be too "real." 🙄 😕 Being authentic takes courage and self-esteem (not ego). This talk makes a lot of sense but sadly, common sense is not common practice.

  28. Oh my Gosh Guilty as charged! But I can never run too fast, feelings simply will not let me!

  29. Good talk! Thank you. Meditation and Yoga taught me to "lean in" feel it. You can feel, watch and then think about your reaction. It sounds like BS. But it actually works. She is right. And You Aren't Boring!! Thank you! ♡ Tauney

  30. S. Shaved F.
    What ?
    S.adness, s.hame, h.elplessness, a.nger, v.ulnerability, e.mbarrassment, d.isappointment, f.rustration.
    – – –
    I like the idea of exploring each and processing each after the emotion's wave passes through your body. But I'm unclear how to do that in the heat of the moment, say during an argument an issue at work.
    Oh well, guess you have to buy the book :
    90 Seconds to a Life You Love: How to Master Your Difficult Feelings to Cultivate Lasting Confidence, Resilience, and Authenticity
    — Rosenberg

  31. Rush and flush 60-90 seconds of…

    I choose to feel it and let it go.

  32. We feel the emotions First, in the body because mind is in dna Not in the Brain.
    The Brain does not create any chemical then send it rushing through the body.
    Physical science is very behind in the area &a its teaching a Lie.
    Dna is in every cell, Emotion is in every cell ing, feeling an emotion in the body is Litterally feeling within every cell of the body.

  33. I loved this talk. It's helped my with my smoking addiction.

  34. What does she mean present moment? What are the details? Is it staying with the punch that she received, being punched in the guts, I guess she means, stay with the unpleasant moments is what she means.

  35. This topic is very similar to that of the Buddha’s teachings.
    “Be at the present moment”
    It all makes sense when you talk about our physiologic change involving the working of the mind.
    It really enlightens my heart.
    Thank you so much.

  36. This doesn't address trauma patients and it becoming constant.

  37. I was suffering from high level anxiety about 6 months and it was very,very unpleasant experience. At one point, I could not take it anymore so I decided to work on myself as much as I can.. I cannot explain to you guys how much staying in the moment, excepting yourself and believing that everything will pass is essential for your mental health. Experiencing emotions and letting them go was key to freeing myself from anxiety. Now, I am trying to say to everybody that emotions are just EMOTIONS, you feel them and let them go, over some period of time, they'll notice how much less power they have over you so they are gonna to disappear and you'll stay in wonder..Where the heck they are ??? Same goes for bad thoughts.. Take care of yourself people, wish you all peace !!!

  38. This is my #1 most helpful Tedx vids I've ever seen. I began that very day to ride the waves of feelings & the transformation to my inner self was almost immediate, thank you!

  39. One of the best Ted talks I have ever listened to with good advice on controlling your emotions rather than letting your emotions control you.

  40. Ye, thank you Dr Rosenberg, that was one of the best Ted Talks or any talks I have heard in a very long while, very useful and very [practical! Loved it and thank you for being here on my journey to guide the way forward. I started practising straight away and I can already feel the power lurching behind so called unfcomfortable feelings; they are a power house! I am now looking at the opposites of these feeling, cos I now understand it is just aflip coin, head or tails = cannot be separated and its only by accepting both sides, do you get the balance necessary. can intellectualize it but the proof of the pudding is in the eating! thank you!

  41. This is so educating.l am very glad to accidentally came across you on YouTube.Thank you very much.

  42. it's only 1 unpleasant feeling called discomfort
    learn to embrace it and it'll no longer exist
    fear of distress and distress intolerance holds u back
    good luck everyone!
    edit: I almost didn't post this comment due to anxiety 🙂
    what are you stopping yourself from doing?

  43. One of the most valuable and important ted talks I've ever watched. 🙂

  44. I've experienced five of the eight unpleasant feelings in the last few hours. But, luckily I was aware enough to get out of a possible "scam" before being scammed. This too has passed. TY, Dr. Joan for your talk.

  45. I'm not sure if she's mentioned SHAME…? That's one of my most difficult emotions I sometimes deal with. I'm listening, admittedly while scribbling and colouring my art, deciding what dissonant colour can sit next to the other, after all nature does it!!! Just waiting for her to say 'shame'… So we'll see then.

  46. What about if they are not 90 second waves and the feelings are persistent through the day… And it makes you anxious and sick in your stomach, the feeling of not being enough, or being abandoned.

  47. I am a couple minutes into the video, but find it mind blowing that someone would "study" self-esteem for thirty plus years!
    I may not finish this video, but just wanted to comment that. It's early!

  48. 90 Second





    then flush

    can I surf

    the flow?

    can I let

    it go?

  49. Absolutely brilliant content and delivery – many thanks! 🌹💐

  50. Making the choice to stay present also takes loads of practice.

  51. This talk is focused on pretty strange area what we feel, and we can control our sadness fear by denying negative feelings. important

  52. As far as we know, we are the only beings that have 8 unpleasant feelings. That and language is what makes us unique. Feeling is our highest achievement.

  53. I think I must have a mental "timeline" for grief, but I can see now that denying the emotions that come up because I should be "ok" by now just makes tidal waves. This is amazing..thank you so much!

  54. Thank yog and thank you again. This was absolutely brilliant and it really helped me! <3

  55. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom. You are indeed a qualified Master😊

  56. This is literally a scientific explanation of vipassana meditation 🙂 great video

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