Watch the video of Fin Williams’ talk at TEDxExeter 2014.
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Now we move from physical health to mental health. Fin focuses on the earliest connection we make: with our parents.
40% of us live stories that become prophecies and influence how we see the world. This is a problem, because they also influence the stories we tell our children. Hospitalisation for self-harm increased 68% in the last decade. Children have low well-being in the UK compared to other wealthy countries. We have become obsessed with progress, but has technology caused a loss of connection? If we are losing connection with our parents, then also losing connections with others.
We rely on what we receive. It’s hard to hear others if we haven’t been heard. We lose trust, and hence our curiosity and toleration for uncertainty. If we have limited ways of experiencing the world, we have limited ways to empathise.
Telling stories, or storying our lives, enables us to reflect and create new connections in our brains. A better understanding of our own experiences gives us empathy and compassion, and we can start to build communities.
Fin’s own story was negative up to aged 18, very rebellious and often grounded in her room. Her father worked long hours and was never seen; her mother ran the house and was disengaged. They coped by having strict control over their lives, and over their children’s. She suffered with anorexia and depression during her A’Levels. She went to university but became pregnant very early.
But she decided not to give up on her baby or her studies. Rebellion became determination and teamwork with her son. Her story changed. She started to remember good things about her childhood: her father building things, holidays and the fun fair. Her now-retired parents became supportive rocks in caring for her son. Rewriting the story changed challenge-in-opportunity into opportunity-in-challenge.
So write your own story. Look at the chapters, and what you learnt from them. Recognise the strength you’ve developed to survive. Ask where your funfair was. Tell someone your story, a friend who will listen without judging. A good story will help you become more resilient and trusting that that friend will be there for you.
Fin’s own story has just taken her out of the NHS, with the dream of turning her years of research into a new initiative to change children’s futures.
Dr Fin Williams is a Chartered Clinical Psychologist with a special interest in Perinatal Psychology and the application of Attachment Theory. After more than 11 years of working with children and families in the NHS, she has established Parent Perspectives Ltd, a big-thinking Social Enterprise that aims to support parents in their transition to parenthood, reduce the prevalence of postnatal depression, and improve well-being outcomes for parents and their children. Her vision is to create a more socially, emotionally, and economically connected society by focusing support on the earliest connection that we make: the connection with our parents.