What Are Learning Disabilities?


In earlier articles we have discussed learning and how our brains and learning methods affect the learning process. Today let us talk about learning disabilities.

The first person that comes to my mind when thinking of learning disabilities is Richard Branson of Virgin Group, with over 400 companies.

“I left school when I was 16 years old,” says Branson, “partly because of my dyslexia. I couldn’t always follow what was going on, so I didn’t find the lessons interesting and became distracted. My teachers thought I was just lazy because back then; people didn’t understand as much about dyslexia as they do today.”

Although things are different today, the average person, including most teachers around the world, are unaware of learning disabilities, what they are, the early signs, how they come into being and whether they can be cured. But the good news is that there are people like Richard Branson who have proven learning disabilities do not doom you to a life of insignificance and inactivity. “On one of my last days at school, the headmaster told me that I would either end up in prison or become a millionaire,” says Branson. It was quite a prediction and he values the recognition that the master could see that he “seemed to think in a different way from my classmates, and had from an early age.”

In reading more about learning disabilities I also came across this comment from a young American, HB, who had been placed in the class with learning disabilities from the time he/she was six (in 1996) and kept in that class for much of elementary school. Today HB is still wondering in what capacity he/she has a learning disability.

“I have no problem with any form of learning today,” says HB. “I’m 23 and about two years from completing my Ph.D. in a field that requires me to traverse math, science, and the humanities, write extensively, and engage with people on a daily basis. Not to sound like a jerk, but if anything, everyone in the program seems to be having trouble but me. I find myself tutoring the students who were likely placed in the “gifted” programs in elementary school.”

Both these cases should offer hope for parents with kids who have learning disabilities. And it should inspire people who struggle with their learning disabilities.

What are learning disabilities?

Learning disabilities (LD), which are also called learning differences or learning disorders affect how we capture and process information. According to Dr. Sheldon H. Horowitz at the National Centre for Learning Disabilities in the US, LD is an umbrella term.

LDs can be defined as disorders of basic psychological processes that involve understanding and using language. These are disorders that affect our ability to receive, process, recall or communicate information.

Within the specific LD umbrella, fall a number of disorders.

Specific learning disabilities


Dyslexia, commonly known as a LD affecting reading is not just confined to reading words. It also includes issues with understanding what you read as well as the speed and accuracy in doing so.


Dysgraphia is the term for specific learning disorders involving writing. Dysgraphia could affect a number of aspects involving writing, and mean different things to different people at different stages of learning and in life. It is not just about how a person writes or holds a pen, but also about how they plan, organize and edit their writing. Dysgraphia includes anything falling within the domain of expressive written language.


LD involving spelling can affect both reading and writing in a significant way.


Dyscalculia or LD in math involves not just the ability to count, but also the way a person operates in the numbers domain including the fluidity and flexibility they show with figures, in estimating, measurement, money or in understanding rules and patterns that have to do with numbers.

Learning disabilities involve our senses

LDs are impacted by the ways we process information that we receive from our senses, says Dr Horowitz. “The way we listen, the way we view things and the way we organize information that comes in through our senses, through our ears, through our eyes, touch and any number of sensory processes.”

Auditory or visual processing

Some children, and indeed adults, may have very strong preferences about how they receive information. If they have challenges in the auditory processing area, they’d have trouble if the teacher comes to the front of the classroom and merely speaks or dictates notes without writing anything on the board or showing any pictures and other demonstrations. Those with visual processing on the other hand would prefer this method of instruction, as they’d be unable to fully and clearly process the information if the teacher silently writes on the board or tells them to copy something from a notebook.

The effective learning for each group depends on how effectively the information they must learn is presented, in accordance with their learning preferences. Not only will they have problems with understanding, but also in retrieving the information they heard or saw, in remembering that info and in processing it so some use can be made of that info.

And this is true not just for those with LDs, but for everyone.

Sensory and motor integration

This means how well we are able to coordinate what we do with what we sense and vice versa. Manual dexterity, fine motor control, eye-hand coordination are all affected when there are problems with sensory and motor integration.

There is a lot of research going on into how and whether learning handwriting, like many of today’s adults did affects our brains, including our capacity for sensory motor integration.

Social and emotional functioning

“Students with LDs are not necessarily those kinds of kids who have problems in the social domain”, says Dr Horowitz. But because so many of them often miscue language, mean something and say something else, or fail to find the right words, they could often be misunderstood or even ridiculed. They may also fail to pick up on non verbal cues when interacting with peers. They may not always know what is appropriate or inappropriate in a situation.

With maturity and practice kids with LDs can overcome these challenges. But educators have a key role to play in helping these kids develop self confidence. For example, if a teacher is going to ask a kid with learning disability in reading to get up and read in front of the class, that child is going to be fearful of this possibility. This affects both confidence and ability to learn in that classroom. By being sensitive to such issues, teachers can help children do well, and overcome the many challenges they face.

Children may have issues with transitions and changing class rooms and teachers.

What LDs are not

LDs are not a result of poor vision or poor hearing. People with LDs should not be confused with those who have Autism spectrum disorders. They are also not the same as those with intellectual disabilities, or mental retardation, as both the examples I cited above prove so clearly.

LDs should not also be confused with emotional disturbances, emotional or mental health issues.

Learning disabilities do not stem from cultural, economical or social disadvantages or your family background.

Nilooka Dissanayake is a Chartered Management Accountant by profession with an MBA from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. She is a freelance trainer with nearly two decades of experience. Her current focus is on providing attitudes, knowledge and skills needed to achieve personal, professional and business success. She is also a ghostwriter and is currently writing a book about success and related topics for a client in the US.

Nilooka can be contacted at sbimagazine@yahoo.co.uk | Twitter: @NVEDissanayake | Blogs: http://nilookadissanayake.wordpress.comhttps://mindculture.wordpress.com

This article was first published in The Nation on Sunday 31 August 2014.


The Blueprint of Success Formula

Photo by Designecologist from Pexels

GUEST WRITER: Shantanu Das Sharma, author of Awaken The Incredible Within – Incredible is the New Giant, an Amazon #1 bestseller

Success is a lousy teacher.
It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.
– Bill Gates

Okay, now that we get to understand that we all have the identical bio-hardware, the identical mental resources and it’s just a choice of our installing the appropriate programs, let us begin by treading in the footsteps of the winners, the people who produce extraordinary results… the people who have learned to direct their resources in an optimal way. If we can just model the patterns of excellence they exhibit, then certainly we can reproduce the same outstanding results they have!

Is it that simple?

Is there a formula for success?

Well, a question that I have always asked myself is this: Is there a formula for success? Do all successful individuals follow a pattern that enable them to get what they want? After studying sufficient number of role models from books, interviews and seminars, I got convinced that although many successful individuals, in all fields of their endeavours, appear to make very different decisions given similar situations and they also use very different approaches and strategies, yet all of them have something in common. And it is just this. All of them take a series of distinctive steps to get to what they want. I call these series of steps the Blueprint of Success Formula.

Moreover, it does not really matter if you want to be a whiz inventor, successful marketer or a salesperson, inspiring trainer, pioneering entrepreneur, top-notch doctor or journalist. The universal steps remain identical. And from it emerges a pattern which necessarily involves six major steps. Follow this pattern or success formula, and you will be able to achieve anything you want. Miss any of these steps, and your dreams will never become the reality that you deserve.

Step 1. Be Very Specific About Your Goal


The first step to getting what you desire is to know exactly what it is that you want.

This sounds simple and obvious enough. Yet, unfortunately, most people never seem to get what they want, simply because they are not clear with specificity about what it is they want in the first place! Most people say that they want to be successful in life, yet ask them what they want to achieve specifically and most would say, ‘I am not really sure’ or they will give vague answers such as, ‘I want to be happy’, ‘I want to have more money’, ‘I want a better job’, ’I want to have less worries‘- all of which are generic in nature and hence in reality nonspecific.

Well, know this. Unless you have a specific goal, there is nothing tangible you can focus your time and energy on. This is why most people find themselves going in all other directions, ending up nowhere.

Unless you have a specific target, you cannot develop an effective strategy to get there. The strategy required to make Rs. 200,000 is uniquely different from the strategy needed to make Rs. 20 Crores in all obvious terms.

The moment you can clarify your goals, you can see them in your mind’s-eye (it’s called creative visualization) and you will begin to have focus in your life. It will then become crystal clear to you what it is you must do to get there.

Biographies of the most successful and legendary people, again in all pursuits, show time and again that their outstanding achievements are rarely outcomes of accident or chance. They did not have success thrust onto them. Their phenomenal successes are the results of clearly defined outcomes that they had predetermined, and worked towards unwaveringly, often at a very early stage of their life.

Biographies of the most successful and legendary people in all pursuits, show that their outstanding achievements are rarely outcomes of accident or chance.

Their phenomenal successes are the results of clearly defined outcomes that they had predetermined, and worked towards unwaveringly, often at a very early stage of their life.

Rarely few successful experiences happen by chance… whether it is winning a position or a race. Most of all happen by design. Yet, the unfortunate fact is that most people do not have a plan for their lives, and hence they end up falling into somebody else’s plan. It’s only when we know what we want very specifically that we are able to focus all our talents and energy like a laser beam honing in on its target. And in moving unwaveringly towards it, we develop the resources necessary to make it happen. Wherever you are in your life right now, you must begin to set specific goals (instead of generic goals) on what you want to actually achieve in the different areas of your life. In subsequent articles we will focus on how you can design the ultimate destiny for yourself!

Step 2. Develop a Strategy

Everything is possible. It is only a question of the strategy used.

Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

Goal >>> Strategy

The second step in the Blueprint of Success Formula is to develop a strategy that will move you towards your outcome. Again, the more specific your goal is, the easier it is to develop an appropriate strategy. You can have all the drive and energy, but without the right strategy, you will never get what you want.

By the same token, every outcome is possible, given an effective strategy.

For example, imagine yourself as the small business owner of a fruit shop that makes Rs. 10,000 in profits a month. Let’s say that you decided to set a goal of increasing profits to Rs. 15,000 a month.

Would that be possible? Probably. You could work a lot harder, raise prices, increase trading hours, sell on-line or create a loyalty program.

What if you set a goal of making Rs. 3 crores a month from your fruit business? Would it be achievable?

Most people would say, ‘Of course not, there is no way you can make that kind of money from a fruit business like that!’

True enough. Making Rs. 3 crores a month from that fruit business is impossible, if the owner continues to use the same business strategy. Yet, if he were to completely change the way he now does his small localized fruit business, would it be possible?

For instance, the strategy he could use would start by his studying how to greatly expand his market: he would write a dynamic business plan, raise capital through investments, invest in R & D to develop a superior brand of fruit (for example, Organic Certified food products are seeing phenomenal growth everywhere as people become health conscious) and widen his range of fruit (e.g. offer sun dried fruit without sulphur, candied fruit using organic sugar, pureed fruit rolls for kids), support reliable new suppliers, build a franchise system and then license thousands of business owners around the world to sell his fruit.

Would it then be possible for him to earn Rs.3 crores a month? Of course it would! With enough flexibility in our strategy, we can achieve just about anything. You still wonder how a local fruit shop can possibly expand and go global. Impossible?

Step 3. Take Consistent Action


Goal >>> Strategy >>> Action

The third step is to get yourself to take consistent action, using the strategy you have crafted. This will move you, step by step, towards your goal. Consistent action is what separates the thinkers or dreamers from the doers. Many highly educated people know what to do, they think they know how to do it, but they never do anything about it.

That is why many of them end up as professionals and consultants, working for successful entrepreneurs who had mediocre grades in school. Fine, if that’s what they want in life, there is nothing wrong as long as they are fulfilled.

But if you are not satisfied with your status quo, then DO something about it.

Do you know someone who may be less talented and intelligent than you are but is a lot more successful?

Have you ever asked yourself, ‘I know I am better than they are, but why are they so much more successful?’

Well, you may be smarter, but they take a lot more action and that is why they get a lot more results! And one of the actions they take may well mean their learning rapport/social building skills and teamwork skills, all necessary tools for any kind of success.

The third step is to get yourself to take consistent action, using the strategy you have crafted.
This will move you, step by step, towards your goal.

So why do so many intelligent people fail to take consistent action towards their goals?

Well, first understand that what drives our actions are the emotional states that we experience. Emotions like fear, inertia, anxiety and uncertainty paralyze us from taking action.

On the other hand emotions like enthusiasm, motivation and confidence excite us and get us to make things happen. The ability to direct and manage your states for peak performance is what is called Personal Mastery.

Author’s Note

I facilitate Thought Leaders, Change Makers; Professionals & Business Owners translate NLP concepts into actions to achieve and elicit personal excellence. I conduct NLP Lifestyle Coaching Certification programs for individuals, corporate and celebrity clients. In the next article, I will reveal about ‘Neuro-Connections – The Key to Human Behavioural Patterns & Thoughts’ and after that you will come to know in the following articles, how you can utilise concepts of NLP+ in all walks of your life to replicate the success blueprint of a winner mindset. So, stay tuned every week to this series and fasten your seat belt to ‘Enhance Your Lifestyle With NLP+’

About the Author

Shantanu Das Sharma is the creator of the concept NLP Lifestyle Coaching with NLP+, founder of Neuromind Leadership Academy, India and author of an Amazon #1 Best Seller, NLP Lifestyle Master Trainer & Coach, Clean Language Facilitator & Strategic Interventionist. He is a Senior Associate Editor, ICN Group.

This article was initially published by the ICN Group under the Patterns of Excellence in Lifestyle, Enhance your Lifestyle with NLP+: Part 3

Previous Articles in This Series

You Got Every Resource You May Ever Require To Succeed In This Lifetime

Neuro Connections Are the Key to Boosting Your Brain Power – Here’s What You Can Do Today

Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

Photo by Ann H from Pexels

Photo by Designecologist from Pexels

Little by Little, a Little Becomes a Lot — By Cristian Mihai


Some two and a half millennia ago, in what is now Southern Italy, there lived a legendary wrestler by the name of Milo of Croton. A six-time Olimpic Champion, Milo’s career spanned over 24 years, during which he was undoubtedly the best wrestler of his generation. He is said to have been able to carry […]

via Little by Little, a Little Becomes a Lot — Cristian Mihai

Put Your Glass Down! Dealing With Stress via @MindcultureGuru

BizTrainerSL Worry what others think

This is our Put The Glass Down! edition of #stressmanagement tweets.

Ibrahim shares a nice visualization of what stress means via @WHO.


Stoked Superfoods reminds us that stress is dangerous. Here’s why.

Lorna Lewis @LornaLe51527935 shares an article from @Healthline
by Brian Mastroianni @Brimastroianni about how Americans are more stressed than ever and the reasons for it. 

@Healthline puts your mind at rest about stress leading to death.
By @laurensharkey_ reviewed by Dr. Janet Brito. Learn the facts and how to cope.

A nice video from @Khaans
Watch it and put the glass down! 

@AboutKidsHealth shares a simple tool
with an animated video for mindfulness.

Kristie Leong M.D. shares the idea of forest bathing.

Green is good. Here’s an article I wrote about it: Treat Brain Fatigue with a Green Break. 

@GretchenRubin talks about stress at work. 

@KariJoys of #JoyTrain fame reminds us to feel blessed. 


Neuro Connections Are the Key to Boosting Your Brain Power – Here’s What You Can Do Today


GUEST WRITER: Shantanu Das Sharma, author of Awaken The Incredible Within – Incredible is the New Giant, an Amazon #1 bestseller

Neuro connections are the key to human behavioural patterns and thoughts. Yes, you can boost up your brain power if you want to. This articles tells you what you can do to boost up your brain power.

When we have such immensely powerful internal resources, why so few produce extraordinary results? How is it that only a few in every community or country are able to produce exceptional ideas, stay motivated & focused, take action consistently and create a level of success we can only admire with a sense of awe?

The difference lies once again in the way we use our brain. Or misuse it. Or abuse it.

How Many Brain Cells Have You?

Our behaviors, thoughts, skills and abilities are determined not by the number of brain cells that we possess, but rather by how our neurons are connected together. Each of us has different neuro connections and that is the reason how and why we think and behave differently. Like, if someone you know is very good with numbers, it is just because he has a lot richer neuro-connections in the area of mathematical-logical thinking. And at the same time, this person might not be very confident in ways that he communicates, because he might have poorer neural connections in this different area of intellect.

Your Emotions and Habits

Similarly, it goes for your emotions and habits. If we are always lazy and demotivated, it is because our brain cells are wired in certain ways. It is wired in such a way that that if you are like this, then your brain cells are wired in a way that you constantly fire off negative emotions like procrastination.

Those who are always focussed and motivated have a very different set of neural patterns wired up in their brain. The type of neuro-connections you have now is set by how your brain has been stimulated and exposed, even before you were born. Your neural patterns begin developing twenty weeks from the time of conception, in your mother’s womb. If you got a gift of mathematics, it possibly could be because your brain had been exposed to lot of mathematical stimuli by your mother or people around you. Continue reading “Neuro Connections Are the Key to Boosting Your Brain Power – Here’s What You Can Do Today”

10 Life Skills You Should Master


These are the 10 Life skills you should master via @TheStrangeSecret
1. Empathy
2. Creativity
3. Awareness
4. Critical thinking
5. Problem solving
6. Decision making
7. Stress management
8. Building relationships
9. Coping with emotions
10. Effective communication

6 Things On MindCulture – 23 July 2020

Photo by Jansel Ferma2 from Pexels

From today we are starting the @MindcultureGuru Twitter Roll bringing you useful information on protecting your physical and mental health and boosting your brain power.

From @PsychToday
Psychology Today articles on How to protect your brain from cognitive decline and 12 Ways to Show Respect in Relationships.

@WebMD on sleep positions and health impacts.

Stanford Medicine shares advice from @repjohnlewis:

“Never give up. Never give in. Never lose this sense of hope that we can all make our country a better place.”

Johns Hopkins Medicine shares 5 #heart facts that may surprise you.

@NIMHgov – Mental Health from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
offers tips on coping with #COVID-19, and the #fear #stress and #anxiety that comes with it.


The Philosophy Of Mental Illness — Banter Republic

We’re all mostly insane. I visited a family once and I must say that even though insanity didn’t run in that family, I’m convinced it strolled through, taking time to get to know each of them personally. I should have known. The first warning sign was that they all talked at the top of their […]

via The Philosophy Of Mental Illness — Banter Republic

VIDEO: The Benefits of Expressing Your Emotions Constructively

Question always is, The experiences we have in life, how will that impact your and my ability to, let’s say, be there with somebody and feel these feelings?

The same way as David needed somebody to be there, the same way Lucy needed somebody to be there, even I need somebody there to be there for me.

And I hope every single one of you has the experience that not somebody understands you, but somebody feels you.

In this TED Talk Psychotherapist Artūrs Miksons lays out the benefits of discarding unhelpful social stigma and explains why expressing our emotions constructively can help build resilience to endure trying times.


It’s a Friday afternoon, I have finally finished my workday, and there is just one thing on my mind: I can finally go to the supermarket and get those cookies I’ve been dreaming about my whole day.

I get to the local store which is near my flat, I get near the aisle where there’s bunch of cookies, and I’m standing there with a gaze, and I notice there’s a little girl next to me. She’s about four or five, let’s call her Lucy. And Lucy has that same smile on her face like, “All of these are going to be mine!”

At that moment, I just take one or two packs for myself, she sees how I do this, she’s like, “Aha, this is how it works.” She takes ten of them, puts them in her armpits and victoriously goes to the cashier’s office. And you have that sensation there’s like ponies and rainbows and the sun is shining and she’s going to have a blastly Friday.

I gather my stuff, get to the cashier’s, and I notice we are in the same queue. Lucy is there with her mom, she’s thrown all the cookies there in the basket and unfortunately, as life is, mom takes all the cookies out, just leaves one pack. And when she takes them out, you notice that the sunshine and rainbows slowly start to fade.

And that’s when Lucy starts to become a bit grim, she becomes a bit angry and starts to say, “Wait, wait, hold on there Sparky, what’s going on?” And then she realizes this is not going to end well, and those rainbows and sunshine turn into rainy clouds and a thunderstorm, and that small sweet Lucy isn’t sweet Lucy anymore. She becomes angry and shouts, and yells, “Why? Why are you doing this to me? Why? I want those cookies!” and so on and starts to cry suddenly.

And then there’s kind of a fuss around the situation – everybody looks at how the mom is going to react – and at this magical moment, all of you probably know, a magical thing happens. Somewhere from the store, the granny appears. She appears and starts to have an opinion, of course, on the matter. “Oh, in my time, things were different.” Yada yada yadda.

Let’s pause for a brief moment here. What you’ve just heard is basically a part of my daily life. Being a medical doctor and a psychotherapist, I hear a lot of stories which people go through. And there is this myth that you have to, as a doctor, distance yourself a bit from patients in order to not get too involved, too attached and so on, which is not quite true. When you are a psychotherapist, you need to actually let yourself feel to some degree, to some extent what the patient feels.

How that works is not magic, it’s simple biology. You have a part of your brain that is called the limbic system, which is responsible for how you feel, where your emotions, yours and mine, reside.

And when you have an emotional reaction, it’s never logical, it’s neurophysiological, it’s biology, it could be completely illogical. And when somebody feels something, you can start to feel in a similar manner.

To give you an example, few years ago, me and my girlfriend were asked to babysit our friend’s infant. Let’s call him David. David is about eight, yeah, eight months old. We arrive at their place, we go in, and you have like a déjà vu feeling, like sunshine and rainbows and ponies. Everything is great, you go in, it’s going to be a blasty evening. The parents leave; we have a very nice time with David. But the infant who is eight month old is at a very special age. Everything’s kind of nice up until one point David notices something.

“You’re not my real parents, now, are you?”

At which point, David starts to cry, as babies do. For five minutes. “Oh, David, it’s going to be fine.” “We just have to caress him, maybe put him to bed.” Fifteen. OK, then. “Let’s change the diaper.” “Yeah, sure, let’s change the diaper.” We change the diaper. Twenty five, for Christ’s sake. “Let’s feed him?” “Yes, let’s feed him!” We feed him. Forty.

At this point, you start to have various ideas in your head, like, for example, “David! Shut up, David! Please shut up!” or that you would just leave him somewhere, or you could just ignore him for the rest of the evening. But you realize you can’t do that. An hour. An hour and ten.

And I remember so vividly, my girlfriend was holding David in her hands, and he’s still crying, We’re standing in the doorway, we look at each other, and we realize we’re screwed!

At that moment, what basically happens on a neurobiological level, you can’t act out in this instance when you want to shake David, you want to put him away, you want to do something else. But it’s interesting to notice in yourself how you actually feel. And how I actually felt at that moment was completely helpless, angry, in despair, scared at the same time, I don’t know what to do. If you think about it, it’s the same way how David feels. He’s been abandoned by his parents – bastards left him all alone with these two strangers at home. God knows what they’re doing. So he’s abandoned, all alone, helpless, hopeless and scared.

And the only thing you can do in this instance is to just be there with him and to feel him and to help him in his feelings what he’s feeling. It’s interesting, when we start to feel something, how our minds change, kind of to some degree tell us what we actually feel. Every single one of us has been born with a completely different set of a brain, how we experience feelings, how intensively that happens – but we experience all the same feelings.

The odd thing is while we are growing up we are taught, mostly by our parents,  what feelings to feel and not to feel. Stereotypes exist because to some degree, they are true. If we are very open about things, then if I ask the ladies of the audience you’ll probably want your men to be emotional, right?

I can just – “No.” Someone said no. No? See? Proves my point! So, to some degree you want him to be emotional, but if you’re very open to yourself, you don’t want the whole emotional spectrum. You want him to be firm and stable, a man on a high horse – or Mercedes, whatever you prefer. But you don’t want that embarrassment, the shame, the fear, the excessive jealousy. You don’t want that, do you?

The same question would be for the men. You do want your lady next to you to be emotional, right? Of course not. You want her to be on the shy side, maybe be afraid sometimes. You’re going again ride on your high horse and your Mercedes, and save them from despair, but … good girls don’t get angry, do they? You don’t like the hysteria, you don’t like the anger.

These are the stereotypes that are taught to kids already from day one, to basically eradicate some of the feelings that they have. And the more the years go by, you start to actually think you don’t feel something, and then you put your feelings somewhere else.

You start to think you’re angry at somebody else, you start to think you’re afraid or ashamed of something else, which is not quite true. To maybe not talk so much broadly and saying everything about you, I’d like to share the story about me, how my feelings get in the way of my work.

Four months ago, I received one of the worst phone calls you can get. In the evening, when I finished my work, my mom called me and told me those words I was always afraid to hear from her: that my father had passed away. And I remember when I came home, how filled with rage I was. I screamed and I yelled, I broke some furniture in my apartment. And my girlfriend was there to see that thing happening to me.

Of course, the funeral goes by and life goes on. Then you start to notice something interesting, that some weeks have passed, and walking on the streets to work, I don’t even think about my dad in any way, any shape or form, but I’m looking at the people around me, and I notice a feeling in myself: I hate every single one of them. I hate their smile, even hate babies that I see. You start to notice, What the hell is happening to me? You get to work, you’re angry at your colleagues. You want to tell them how important it is to cherish relationships, how important it is to do stuff, to do things on time, not to let things go, and so on and so on and so on.

Months have passed, and I was asked to do this TED Talk. I was preparing the speech for my TED Talk, and every single time I did it, I realized it is not good enough. This isn’t good enough, that isn’t good enough. At some point, I even had the idea I’m going to cancel this whole TED thing. I called up my mom and said, “You know, I think I’m going to give up all this TED thing. I don’t want to do it.”

And she said, “Why?” “Well, because, I don’t know, because I am going to stand there and don’t know what I’m going to say and so on.” And then it hit me, why I didn’t want to be here. It’s not because I don’t know what to say. I give lectures all the time. I know what I am going to talk about. The reason why I didn’t want to be here because I know I would feel something standing right here. What I am actually feeling right now.

I notice my heart racing. I notice that I’m sad that he is not here. He’s not going to call me after this lecture. I notice that I’m angry that that’s an inevitable thing of life. At the same time, I’m to some degree maybe scared or ashamed: What if I drop a tear while I’m talking to you? How awful is that going to look?

But I didn’t finish the story about Lucy, did I? If we go back to Lucy, Lucy’s mom could’ve done anything. She could’ve told her, “That’s not how a girl behaves. Look at that granny who’s shouting at you. Look at the man, that tall man behind you, he is looking weirdly at you.”

I’m looking what was actually happening. And she didn’t just keep silent and not say anything. She didn’t devalue her, she didn’t condemn her, she didn’t do anything of the sort. All she did was to get the groceries that she had, took Lucy on her arms, and I heard her just so vaguely that Lucy continued to tell mom, “I want those cookies so badly,” and “I wanted them.”

And the only thing Lucy’s mom said to Lucy was, “I know, honey. I know you did. But it’s OK to be angry, it’s OK to be sad.” And I remember I’m walking home from this very simple scene any one of you has maybe already seen. I go in my apartment. My girlfriend meets me. She asks me, “Well, how was your day?” I said, “I started off with a smile on my face,” said, “I just saw a girl not get any cookies.”

She’s like, “What? Are you OK?” I’m probably in a psychotic state right now. I said no. I told her the whole story about the store. And at some point I notice that my smile turns into a single tear that I have.

She asked me, “Why are you crying? Is everything OK?” I said “No. I miss him, like a lot.” And the hardest thing about feelings, actually, is that it’s easy, to some degree, to think about them in your head. But it’s much harder to actually express them out loud.

And all of my patients every single time ask me one of the same questions: “What’s the difference that I tell you that I’m angry, I’m scared, I’m helpless, I’m hopeless, I’m happy? What’s the difference?”

And I tell them, “This is the difference, that somebody’s here – this time it’s me – who actually doesn’t just understand what you are going through, but I feel what you’re feeling to a certain amount.”

Question always is, The experiences we have in life, how will that impact your and my ability to, let’s say, be there with somebody and feel these feelings? The same way as David needed somebody to be there, the same way Lucy needed somebody to be there, even I need somebody there to be there for me. And I hope every single one of you has the experience that not somebody understands you, but somebody feels you.

Thank you.