Dr. Nicole LePera was trained in clinical psychology at Cornell University and the New School for Social Research. She also studied at the Philadelphia School of Psychoanalysis. As a clinical psychologist in private practice, Dr. Nicole LePera often found herself frustrated by the limitations of traditional psychotherapy. Wanting more for her patients— and for self— she began a journey to develop a united philosophy of mental, physical, and spiritual health that equips people with the tools necessary to heal themselves. She is the creator of the #SelfHealers movement where people from around the world are joining together in community to take healing into their own hands. Her first book, How to Do the Work, is currently #1 on the New York Times Best-Sellers List!
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- How to Do the Work: Recognize Your Patterns, Heal from Your Past, & Create Your Self by Dr. Nicole LePera
- Not Nice: Stop People Pleasing, Staying Silent, & Feeling Guilty… And Start Speaking Up, Saying No, Asking Boldly, And Unapologetically Being Yourself by Dr. Aziz Gazipura
Show NotesIn this jam-packed episode, Lindsey and The Holistic Psychologist, Dr. Nicole LePera…
- discuss the new release of Dr. Nicole’s new book, How to Do the Work
- discuss inner child work and how to re-parent ourselves
- disclose the part of the brain that only allows us to “see” confirmatory evidence of our limiting beliefs
- reveal a question that, if answered with radical honesty, will bring us back to awareness every time
- share why people, particularly with anxiety, struggle to chill, remain calm, and just “be” even though they truly want to
- talk about emotional addiction — becoming so used to a dysregulated nervous system state that a non-activated state is unbearably uncomfortable and agitating
- discuss the spectrum of nervous system dysregulation and how to create safety for ourselves
- talk about early childhood development and attachment
- share why it’s important to slowly expand our windows of tolerance
- discuss the fawn trauma response, conflict avoidance, and dysfunctional family dynamics
- talk about Dr. Nicole’s 2-step process for change
- discuss boundaries, people-pleasing, and creating healthier relationships by showing up authentically
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TranscriptLINDSEY: Hello there. Welcome back to the holistic trauma healing podcast. I’m so excited to share today’s episode with you. I am interviewing Dr. Nicole Lepera AKA the holistic psychologist. Maybe you’ve heard of her. Of course we have. We love Dr. Nicole. She’s here and we are talking all things Inner child, Reparenting fawning people, pleasing trauma, bonds, boundaries. All the good stuff. Dr. Nicole LePera was trained in clinical psychology at Cornell university and the new school for social research. She also studied at the Philadelphia school of psychoanalysis as a clinical psychologist in private practice. Dr. Nicola often found herself frustrated by the limitations of traditional psychotherapy, wanting more for her patients and for herself, she began a journey to develop a United philosophy of mental, physical, and spiritual health that equips people with.
The tools necessary to heal themselves. She is the creator of the self healers movement, where people from around the world are joining together in community to take healing into their own hands. Her first book, how to do the work has published and it is out and ready for you to benefit from it. Read it, he’ll share it, all the things.In this episode, we are discussing the release of Dr. Nicole’s new book, how to do the work. We’re also talking about inner child work and reparenting, we’re discussing limiting beliefs. And we’re telling you about a part of the brain that only allows us to see confirmatory evidence of our limiting beliefs. So if you’ve ever wondered where limiting beliefs come from, and if there’s neuroscience to back it up, there absolutely is.
We’re revealing a question that we can ask ourselves that if answered with radical honesty will put us back into awareness every single time. We share why we struggle to relax, chill, and just be even when that’s what we really want. It’s so hard people with anxiety, you’re going to want to listen to that part. We’re talking about emotional addiction, which is being so familiar with that dysregulated nervous system state that a nonactivated state is unbearably uncomfortable and agitating. We discussed the spectrum of nervous system dysregulation and how to create safety for ourselves. We’re talking about early childhood development and attachment sharing. Why it’s so important to slowly and gently expand our windows of tolerance. We’re discussing my favorite trauma response, the fawn response, conflict avoidance and dysfunctional family dynamics. Dr. Nicole is sharing her two-step process for change and we’re discussing boundaries, people pleasing and creating healthier relationships by showing up authentically. So enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. You are going to be blown away by this episode.
Hello, Dr. Nicole, welcome to the holistic trauma healing podcast.
DR. NICOLE: Thank you so much, Lindsey, for having,
LINDSEY: Oh my God. I’m honored to have you thank you for being here and your recording and your new podcast studio, which is super exciting. Congratulations.
DR. NICOLE: Thank you. Thank you.
LINDSEY: And you also have a book coming out in March, right?
DR. NICOLE: In March 9th, a month yesterday.
LINDSEY: Oh my gosh. Who’s counting, right? Nobody’s counting. Who cares? So I have a list of like things I want to talk to you about, but first you want to just tell us about your book.
DR. NICOLE: It’s been a wild ride. This book I’m super excited. This for me is really the first opportunity that outside of Instagram, which obviously has been a gift for me, in my opinion, in terms of my own healing journey. And also getting this work out there. So somewhat limited in terms of the squares and how deep we can go into some of these concepts. And of course also how deep I can go into sharing my own journey. So for me the book is really the first place where from top to bottom, start to finish holistic whole, however we want to call it. I really outline the model that I do believe is the pathway to wellness, really honoring our physical bodies. Acknowledging the different imbalances that are keeping in my opinion, many of us stuck really honoring our emotional bodies and of course our spiritual selves.
So for me, how to do the work is the Testament of holistic healing. Not only outlying, like I said, The reasons why many of us struggle to create change in our lives. But also gives us the practical tools. I make a point to not only illustrate with my own journey and those in the community, cause I know hearing other people’s stories can be really helpful in our own. But I really go into the different tools translating. Okay. These concepts are great. How do I live with these concepts to create change? So that’s what the book. Represents for me. I’m so hopeful for what this is going to offer the collective.
LINDSEY: Absolutely. That sounds amazing. I actually just posted on Instagram today that I believe healing should be accessible, approachable, affordable, and available. And to me, your book sounds like it is all of those things. That’s cause a lot of people can’t afford a therapist. A lot of people can’t afford a psychologist or a psychiatrist, even some self-help courses on the internet are out of reach for a lot of people. And I think a lot of people think that they have to like put their financial wellbeing or their material wellbeing at risk if they actually want to get healing. And I love your book to sounds to me, like it aligns with what I believe about healing and like our healing shouldn’t be for sale. Like it should be accessible and available for everybody. So I love it.
DR. NICOLE: Couldn’t agree more. And thank you for acknowledging that outside the book, one of the main reasons why I’m on Instagram. I’m still on Instagram and I will remain on Instagram is for that access. Cause for me quite early on, I saw how internationally universally resonant the work that I was putting out there was gaining followers from all these different countries who didn’t literally have access to whether it’s this information. We do live in a world where information is censored and to a large extent where they can’t get readings on, on, on some of this work, let alone access to the practitioner. So I know how much of a privilege it is to have that access.
And I saw very early on how Instagram gave the opportunity to put tools out there to attempt to level that playing field. So for me, it’s very important than very important part of the work that I still do and will always remain outside of the book. Of course, the book is, an item where you can dive deeper, but my goal for the Instagram account is always to keep these tools free.
LINDSEY: Absolutely. Yeah same here. And the, for the podcast, for me, it’s always going to be free. I’m going to try to keep it ad-free as long as I possibly can. But yeah it’s these types of resources need to be available and free to everyone. Like it’s a basic human right to know about your nervous system and to know about trauma. And I love your Instagram account and. Like I don’t advocate for anybody to just use Instagram in place of like therapy or doing work or something like that, but you definitely give like a lot of information about a lot of things that, to be honest with you even my therapist, hasn’t taught me about like trauma bonds, for example, or attachment styles, for example, which I know are a couple of the topics that we’re going to cover here today. So is it okay if we just dive in.
DR. NICOLE: Let’s dive in.
LINDSEY: Okay, awesome. Let’s start with the concept of something that you talk about a lot in your Instagram feed is inner child work and reparenting. Can you talk to us about that?
DR. NICOLE: Yeah, absolutely. And just to acknowledge what you’re sharing about your own work in your own therapy. These weren’t things that I myself were taught either. And I did gain training. I went to a bunch of different, I was the person and in school put this way, who. There was a new modality. If there was a new way to work with clients, with patients, I wanted to learn it. So I really put myself out there in a lot of ways to expose myself to all of the different mindsets in the field. And yet there were still big glaring absences. It took what I now understand is my own dark night of the soul, which sent me online first and foremost to diagnose what was wrong with me. Very gratefully though I was met with a whole new world of information. So one of the reasons why I speak and I share the way I do is because I do want to acknowledge that a lot of this isn’t being taught globally yet in the mainstream.
And so there are a lot of therapists that, aren’t working as fully or as comprehensively as they can. I know what it feels like to be that therapist. It feels very disempowering. Not only was I able to show up in a way that helped my clients create change in their lives. I wasn’t. People to do it in my own life. So a lot of these concepts, like I said, are either not being talked about, or maybe aren’t being talked about in a practical or applicable way to go back to one of your A’s that I love. So what is inner child work? For me, what the inner child is it’s a part within us that we live with, even into adulthood. So I’m sure a lot of listeners are adults hearing us right now speak and might hear the word child and might either cringe or, just from the sheer age of yourself so past that stage I believe that there’s a, that childlike part of ourself. I believe that we’re impacted by our past well into adulthood.
The subtitle of my book is recognize your patterns heal from your past, create your self. So I believe that we carry so much with us and with the inner child is it lives in a part of the mind that I talk a lot about the subconscious I’m really, I speak simplistically quite often just for applicability. So we understand what we’re talking about. Subconscious just means out of awareness and what lives in that subconscious I’ve come to realize is incredibly powerful. It’s typically for most of us, the space we’re living our lives and what lives in there is habits and patterns that many of us have developed in childhood. The ways that we learn to show up for our physical body that began very young. We are born as humans in a complete state of dependency. Meaning we can’t physically survive on our own or interpersonal. So we’re wired, as they say to connect, we’re born into some caregiving unit. It looks different for all of us.
And we are born with this brainwave state. Our brain is firing and theta waves are wide-eyed. We’re really just learning how to be human learning, how to meet the physical needs of my body. Learning how to navigate this very complicated and often confusing emotional space, our emotional world learning how to express ourselves, just be us. And all of that learning happens early. And for all of us, it happens in environments and we are impacted by those environments, by the relationships that we’re forming again, in that state of dependency. And what happens, what gets stored in that subconscious are very patterned ways of being everything from again. Yes, how do I care for my physical body? We tend to be very patterned in the way we do or we don’t do we become very patterned the way we navigate our emotions, we become very patterned the way we show up for our relationships, the way we express ourselves and the patterns that many of us are carrying are the ones that we formed in childhood and what I’ve come to realize observing myself living my own life. And of course, witnessing the clients and the people around me is that they don’t typically serve us into our adulthood for the most part. So what reparenting is, it’s a two-part process. It’s acknowledging that we all have that inner child part of ourself, that some of us are just living habitually in day in and day out.
Never having updated those habits and patterns. Some of us just slip in and out of it. Our inner child comes up when we’re activated, when we’re stressed or when we’re angry. And we slip into those older ways of coping with things. And again, so it’s acknowledging that we all have that space within us. And the next step of the process is what I call reparenting beginning to lay down some new habits and patterns to either better care for our physical bodies. To be a little more consistent, right? In our emotional coping tools and or again, to create the safety in our lives and learn how to express ourselves most fully. So acknowledging our inner child and becomes an active process of reparenting of creating habits and patterns that will now serve our adult self, creating a future that’s different than that past.
LINDSEY: So creating a reality that isn’t ruled by your past. Amazing.
DR. NICOLE: It’s just a dream. This idea, is it possible maybe with a little hope that it could be and as you begin to lean into that and live that journey, that’s what I, that’s where I believe empowerment begins to take place where we, again, because a lot of us do feel so trapped. And in, in that trapped feeling, you’re reacting or reacting from that past space and the more that happens over time, which for most of us it’s repeated over time. We become an adult. Who’s so incredibly disempowered that we don’t actually believe we can, a divorce the past.
LINDSEY: Yeah. So on and a couple of past episodes of the podcast , we’ve talked about the hidden programming that is created in childhood. So I’m wondering if maybe you could give some practical examples of what that hidden programming could look like. What we learn during development and how that can play out on a day-to-day basis for people who are like, really, because it is hidden programming, like a lot of people are literally asleep when it comes to how their past is creating the reality that they have now. So could you maybe give one or two, like practical examples of what this can look like in a person’s life?
DR. NICOLE: So we can go practical in terms of behavioral. So many of us are disconnected from the lived reality of our life. We might think, Oh, I sleep more than I do, or, Oh, I eat healthier than I really knew. So for some of us, it’s pulling back that veil. And how do we do that by witnessing, by looking at our actual. Daily habits. I threw out sleep as an example. Cause I believe sleep is incredibly important for our mental wellness, our physical wellness, and I believe it’s the area that we could put it simply lie to our self, or we’re a little bit delusional around. We think we sleep more. We think we have better habits than we do. We might get into bed at say nine or 10 though. I get into bed with my cell phone until really one or two. So I’m like how are, why am I so tired? I got into bed at nine.
If I’m honest though, was I in bed to sleep? So you get it. That’s one practical example. Really take a hard, honest look. At your daily, just behavioral habits, knowing that they have an impact. Because again, in the book, I talk a lot about the different levels of dysregulation and I, I love the work you put out about our nervous system, our body’s health and its regulation, or lack of regulation really does affect our mind. So having that honest look and creating new habits or modifying our habits in some of our areas I think is a really practical, great place to start. Going a little more up into the mind of things. We’re so habitual in the thoughts that we think the more we think of thought this is what I, how I define this. At least a belief, in my opinion, is a practice thought that over time has been confirmed by our lived experience. Though it began as a practice thought and what we come to realize as we now observe our internal world. So now not just looking at how are you in the world? What are the activities you do day in and day out?
Now, I want you to turn your focus point into your internal narratives. Noticing first that they’re there all day long. We are narrating our life from typically most of us, the second, our eyes open until some of us, even throughout our dream state, we’re constantly telling ourselves things. We have thoughts going through our head. And if we explore those thoughts a bit, or just observe them for an extended period of time, we’ll notice again how habitual we are, how we have these beliefs. They again, can be varied. We have beliefs that our cell, our way in the world, am I a shy person? Am I an outgoing person? Am I someone who’s loved? Am I someone who’s considered? Am I someone who’s overlooked and not considered at all times? Is my future bright or is it. Negative. I’m just giving examples but really observing those narratives because they can give us a glimpse into again how patterned we are, because for many of us it’s the, that those become the filters that we’re viewing our current experience.
And we become so locked in a repetitive narrative that we can’t make space for a new one. So my one that I talk about often, and I visited in the book. When I began to pay attention to my internal world, especially when I became agitated or upset by something, I would find a narrative that had some version of dialogue around how I wasn’t considered the person didn’t text me back. Oh, that cause they don’t, they’re not considering how that is for me on the other end or they didn’t buy me this thing or do the thing that they said, no, one’s considering me. And what I realized is I was viewing the whole world through that narrative. And all I was looking for was confirmation of how I wasn’t considered and what we come to find. And again, I talk about this in the book. We actually have a little part of our brain that does that. It’s called the reticular activating system, and it actually works as a filter where it will filter out all evidence, just using my example. Of all of the ways that I was considered in that day, in that hour, in that moment, and only allow me to quote unquote, see that confirmatory evidence of that belief that I have. So I use my example. Then I urge everyone to do that. Internal exploration begin to pay attention to your thoughts. And before long it’ll become clear. Someone listening and be like, Oh, I know my narrative about redness. On repeat, I’m worthless. I’m useless. We tend to visit those a lot. But again, they can be different and if we pay attention, we can see.
LINDSEY: Wow. My favorite question for examining those types of, belief systems, repetitive thoughts, things that I think about myself and other people when I’m in my awareness is what purpose does that serve? And if I can just take a moment, even when I’m annoyed with myself, if I can take a moment and just go, okay, I’m going to step into my higher self here. Get out of my ego for a minute. Get out of that. Five-year-old kid inside of me who wants to throw a fit and ask. What purpose does it serve for me to think this about another person or myself? What purpose does it serve for me to believe this, about this thing? What purpose does it serve for me to get in bed and scroll on my phone until almost midnight? And that question has literally been the only way that I’ve been able to break through some of those. For lack of a better term, like ceilings that I put in my own life, do you have a question or a way that you can help people get into their awareness and start to examine some of those belief systems and that hidden programming more clearly?
DR. NICOLE: I love that question of does it serve and I think I want to extend on that and acknowledge. The importance of what we could call radical honesty, transparency of acknowledging the truth of that answer, because, and this is why I bring this up, but I came to realize, and I talk a lot about a concept that I term emotional addiction. Oftentimes for some of us, the purpose it serves. And again, I’m going to really simplify all of this is to keep us in our familiar, whatever that familiar might be. So I’ll use myself as an example. I am someone who is the experience of anxiety for as long as I can remember. I was a little girl that every bump in the night was the bad guy that was going to come in to cause myself or my family, along with anxiety. Let’s talk about the physiology of it. Anxiety maps on to spikes and adrenaline and the stress hormone cortisol. The more consistently we feel that. So for me, anxiety was a very consistent part of my life. So that became in a sense, a normal for me, my body got so used to how it felt to be agitated on edge, waiting for that next shoe to drop that what I started to notice, though, if you would have spoken to me logically as a friend, as a partner, whomever, you would have heard me proclaiming, right? This hippiness at heart peace, man. I just want to chill. Can everyone just relax and calm down? All I want is peace and what I came to observe in myself.
And this is why, or just to be honest with ourselves. Say I have a peaceful moment. Maybe I’m alone, or maybe I’m having a quiet moment with my partner and nothing’s going on, nothing’s happening. But I would notice is I would do one of two things. If I was alone, I would feel it almost indescribable agitation. And before I know it, the way my outlet would become, I would be up tearing around the house cleaning. Couldn’t sit still.
LINDSEY: Oh my gosh. Me too. Ah, yes.
DR. NICOLE: I’m comfortable in my peaceful moment. One might say probably annoyed that the house is clean. Dirty, annoyed, first gala watch station. And now I’m hearing around, or if someone had the gift of being near me, perhaps my partner, I might agitate the situation. I might revisit that look that, I wasn’t sure of what you meant when you looked at me that way, partner lolly. So can we revisit that this morning, even, and before I know it, if I’m lucky, we’re in a fight, we’re in a conflict. I’m agitated again. Now, why am I describing this? This is what I call is an example of emotional addiction, my baseline. And I became so used to how it feels when my body is agitated. That the unfamiliar nothing going on, no stress that not having that level of activation in my nervous system and in my hormones, felt uncomfortable back to that. Subconscious that subconscious operates very evolutionarily driven with the purpose of keeping us safe. According to our subconscious safety is in the familiar. So my familiar stress reaction was my safe place. And when my body didn’t get that at wondered what was wrong.
So I created it. So this is what I, why I bring this up now because what I would see myself and the honest truth I had a conversation I had to have with myself was just, that was Nicole. What is the purpose? My purpose is to create stress in that moment. So when I became aware of my purpose in that moment was to revert to my normal. I could relieve myself of the shame out by having that compulsion or feeling that drive because now I could just break it down. Okay. Am I in mind is doing what it does. That’s what it feels like it needs to do right now to be safe. I might even be, I’ll have compassion for myself in that moment. And that in that space over time, I can begin to cultivate and create comfort and safety then insecurity with feeling differently.
So I love your question and I just want to stand on it in this moment. What am I doing? What is my intention? What am I trying to get here? And sometimes you might be surprised of what it is and if, and when we are surprised, Oh, I’m trying to get stressed or I’m trying to get anger. I’m trying to go back to my normal. Here’s where again, I offer you the reassurance that we’re normal, your subconscious is doing what it does. And again, offering you the possibility of extending that compassion to yourself.
LINDSEY: Okay. First of all, as you’re telling that, Both about like feverish early cleaning, because you can’t just sit still and be, and also about picking out your partner like that. Look that look you gave me last Sunday. What did that mean? I feel like we might’ve been separated at birth because that literally describes me to a T. But the other thing that was coming up for me, as you were saying, that was, we adopted a dog. About eight years ago and she, we went through a rescue organization that shuts down puppy mills and takes the dogs out of these puppy mills and then puts them in foster homes and rehabilitates them. And then. It’s basically like adopting a child. You have to fill out an application and you have to send in pictures of your home and your fence, and you have to tell them all about your kids and all of this stuff. And we were selected to adopt one of these rescued, bearded collies. We were so excited about it.
We drove six hours to go get her. We got her home and she ran underneath mine and my husband’s bed and just stayed there. And we tried everything to get her to come out from under that bed. She just, we had the hardest time getting her to go outside. She was afraid to go in and out of doorways. Like it was so difficult. And I called the rescue organization and I was telling them about the troubles that we were having with the stock. And they were like here’s her history. And her history was that she was two years old when she was rescued from a puppy mill. She had been kept in a crate that entire time, like peed, pooped, slept and ate in the same two foot by three foot space. Bearded, collies have very long hair. And so her hair had grown, but it was like matted altogether. She had rashes on her skin. That was part of her rehabilitation process was a lot of veterinary care when they came into this puppy mill and shut it down, they pulled her out of the crate.
And for the first time in her life set her on grass and she didn’t know what to do. And so they thought that they had rehabilitated her to the point of being able to be adopted, or they wouldn’t have adopted her out to us, but we got her home. And even though she was free to come and go, as she pleased, she had the run of the entire house, she could go wherever she wanted and she could go outside and lay in the sun, be in the grass. She had two little kids who were there to play with her. She got to lay in bed with my husband and me and night while we watched Netflix, like she was just so safe. But because her norm for her whole life had been being in a cage, not being on grass, not being free. That was what became familiar to her.
So even though we put her in what would now be a very healthy, safe environment, her nervous system actually proceeded as a threat because it was completely unfamiliar to her. And I think that’s important when we’re talking about. Like our inner child, because a lot of us had childhoods that were so very unsafe and so dysfunctional. And then we get into adulthood and we have the ability to create a completely different outcome for ourselves than what we were raised with. And we don’t know how, because. The dysfunction, the lack of safety, the drama, the family dynamics, the codependency, all of those things is what is familiar to us.
And so being able to just sit and be, and not have to be up cleaning feels. Impossible. It’s it annoys us. I remember the feeling I used to get, whenever my husband would come home and he would just sit on the couch and do nothing. And I was like up making dinner and I was up cleaning and I was taking care of him, the kids. And I’m like, why are you doing anything? Because I didn’t know how to just go sit on the couch next to him and just enjoy him being home. I thought I had to be up doing something all the time. So can you speak a little bit too? How do you in your work, how do you help people get to that place where they can be in a safe, functional, non co-dependent environment and not feel like they want to crawl out of their skin.
DR. NICOLE: Really good question. And it’s still mind blowing to me. And in my book, I talk a lot about an expanded definition of trauma, though. It’s mind blowing to me is how many of us feel unsafe. And again, I expand the definition of trauma to include, other consistent patterns typically of relating and our relationships to self portrayal of not showing up in, in full expression of ourself, that the more consistently that happens. I believe lead to the same outcome, which is at that state of dysregulation in the body, in particular, in our relationships lacking safety, meaning a lot of us don’t feel safe a lot of the time is my takeaway. So I am someone, the reason why I bring up the expanded definition of trauma in particular. It’s because when I was taught the definition of trauma the big T sexual, physical, emotional, severe abuse or neglect took the ACEs scale, scored a whopping one. Yet a lot of, again, the habits and patterns, my degree of association, which I think, having very little memory of my entire life really was moderate I would say. I was mad. I was seeing the same symptoms yet I didn’t have the same cause. And for me that was really confusing. And I think for a lot of us, it can create a lot of shame. A lot of this idea of brokenness. I shouldn’t be struggling in this way because quote unquote, nothing happened to me.
So again, I talk about other pathways that I believe result in many of us being adults who lack safety in ourselves, in our bodies and in our relationship. So to answer the question a acknowledging that we are someone who maybe is stuck due to that level of dysregulation. I talk about the symptoms as do you have nervous system dysregulation? How do I know if I’m stuck? In that hypervigilant sympathetic fight or flight state, always waiting for the next shoe to drop my heart. Rate’s always elevated. I’m always on edge. Really simple description or some of us get stuck in that hypo parasympathetic state, right? Where I have no energy. No, I almost can’t move light feels totally laborious. It’s just hard. And then there’s the whole spectrum in between. So knowing I believe for some of us can be really relieving because we can maybe understand physiologically now why we’re struggling in the way that we are. So it can be come less of a defect, in our personality or in who we are and more of a function of what we’ve experienced.
So for many of us that’s healing in and of itself. Most of us acknowledging that we are in some degree of dysregulation, then need to learn how to create safety. For some of us that begins in our own bodies. So if you’re like me is to associate it as I was learning how to safely drop in little by little and not diving into the deep end and thinking the most, problematic or difficult thing that’s happened to me little by little learning, how to be in my body when I’m doing something neutral. For me, it became through movement. Going on the walk instead of being lost in thought like, I love to be, worrying about tomorrow or stressing over yesterday, just being present on my walk, learning how to drop into my body when it naturally felt a bit safer. Led me to learn how to drop into my body when it felt less see when it felt agitated and then learning of course, how to ride those feelings or how to learn, how to expend them or cope with them in a different way than checking out.
So for some of us it’s in our bodies. For most of us, then we have to learn how to create safety in our relationships. For so many of us, we don’t feel safe around the people that we are around. Most of the time. One of the reasons why not only is this the self healer community in and of itself, so important to me the circle as well, the membership is so important to me, because for many of us, this it’s within those communities virtually even that we begin to find the safety. People especially again, given our living circumstances and our neighborhoods and our homes and where we’re living, when they’re actually not safe. Many of us do have to then go online and find those people. So safety is a gradual process. Like I said, it doesn’t involve ripping the bandaid off and just going head first. And the thing that makes us the most uncomfortable that’s actually quite unsafe to do we want to gradually teach ourselves that in our bodies and again, in our relationships and in our world, we can cultivate safety.
LINDSEY: That’s beautiful. Yeah. Like slowly expanding that window of tolerance and not just trying to jump out the window all at once.
DR. NICOLE: And I can understand that and how it’s appealing for some of us to want to jump out that window, especially if we’re incredibly uncomfortable. And if the consequences have, for many of us been building up over a lifetime, we do get to that point where I’m like, I’m done. So my, my life tomorrow is going to be completely different. I’m just going to dive in and deal with all of this and be better the next day. Very well-intentioned. Cause what I hear is I’m hurting and I want to feel better quickly. Understandable. However, I love what you said gradually widening the window cause it’s about the internal process of empowering ourself with the knowledge, the wisdom through living the experience of doing it, that we actually can create safety because for most of us, this this regulation occurred when we couldn’t, when we were helpless, when we actually were a child and were not able to do what we are able to do now.
LINDSEY: Yeah that seems like a perfect place to then to talk about attachment styles, because as you said, like we learn these unconscious coping mechanisms, this hidden programming when we are reliant upon caregivers. And sometimes those caregivers themselves have trauma or they don’t know how to meet their own needs. And so they definitely don’t know how to meet our needs. So let’s talk about attachment for a bit.
DR. NICOLE: Absolutely. We are born completely dependent. So we are wired as they say, I’m sure we’ve all heard this language used before. We’re wired to connect. And we better because as a human infant, we cannot sustain it in life on our own. We can’t feed ourselves. We can’t meet our physical needs at minimum. And we definitely have no idea about this emotional complicated world of human, et cetera. So we are in a state of need. And depending, of course, we all grow in different caregiving environments, in different communities and different countries where we’re affected by all of those, outward layers of the onion we’re affected predominantly first and foremost as well by those earliest relationships, because we’re bonding with people as an attempt, an Avenue to get needs met.
Now I believe we have needs based on all three aspects of ourself. I believe we have physical needs. How do I navigate this body? How do I know when it’s hungry? How do I know when it’s full? I don’t know how much sleep it needs. These vary based on the individual that we are and the individual that you are, same thing goes for emotionally. We’re doing a whole lot of emotional learning. How do I navigate these hormonal changes? These energetic changes that map onto this experience of emotions as being human. And then how do I learn how to express myself spiritually? Which to me simply means how do I learn, how to just be in the world as I am naturally. Now here’s where it gets complicated because we need to connect. We need to have our needs met. You’re so attuned as a child and so adaptive. That our need to belong to make sure that we’re physically surviving trumps the rest of our needs. So what we do is we begin to modify things such as how we show up in the world and what this begins to look like.
We might start as the little helper who helps with my siblings or helps mom and dad, little caretaker, maybe got a little life of the party. I, I’m the one who entertains all my friends, all of these little roles. That’s the one who goes in the corner and is quiet to stay out of it in the corner. And it’s quiet. It’s very interesting. I’m having an idea. I totally did not share that one. I was the little girl who held a hit under the table who caused no problems who then turned into being the helper, because I discovered that good grades and performing athletically kept the peace. Everyone was happy and I even got praised and it took my family’s attention from the other things that were stressful. So before long, I learned how to continue to play those roles. So I believe most of us do that. Not there’s very few of us. It’s a practice I should say, to learn how to safely again, shed those roles. And how to learn how to over time, show up more safely in our authenticity.
So what begins in childhood those habits? I see evidence in most of us into our lived experience into adulthood, seeing ourselves continue to assume those same roles. Or going back to our bodies, continuing those same habits and patterns that we now know don’t serve us because we don’t feel well. Emotionally by the time we’re adulthood, I’ll speak for myself. I accumulated a lot of emotional fallout from that dissociation. A lot of people who I thought we were close. Not feeling very close at all to me. Cause I was keeping them at a distance and what I was feeling was unfulfilled in my relationships. Understandably. So again, we carry habits and patterns we learn in childhood and what we learned in childhood for a lot of us sticks with us into adulthood.
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LINDSEY: Yeah, absolutely. I’m really glad that you brought up how we learn as children to modify ourselves to fit in, to avoid conflict. To make things easier for our parents or whatever. I also come from a background where I wasn’t the kid who had under the table, but I was the kid who I had a lot of dysfunction in my family. I had a narcissistic abusive stepfather and a disempowered codependent mother, and I desperately wanted love from both of them. And neither of them had the capacity. To love me unconditionally, but I figured out if I make good grades, I get praise. If I keep my room clean and I cleaned the rest of the house, I get praise, if I help out in the kitchen, I get praise. And so I learned pretty quickly that my worth was measured by what I did and how I made other people happy. And then going into being a people pleaser. And , we have not talked about this a lot on the podcast yet, so I’d love if we could maybe dive in a little bit deeper on the fawn response and people pleasing. Cause a lot of people are familiar with the fight flight. They get that one, the freeze response with disassociating and all of that has become a little more familiar. I think the one that gets touched on the least is the fawning and I think that’s the one we needed. Start talking about a lot more. So can we talk about that?
DR. NICOLE: Yes. And I’m really happy that you are offering this, and I agree with you. I think fawning and that people please, our personality. Is quite at epidemic levels. I read a book I Aziz Ghazi Pura, I believe his name is it’s called not nice. And it really talks about this idea of it’s a book about boundaries, though. It really unpacks this concept of nice. And how pretty categorically universally this idea of nice is. A lot of different ideas have gotten wrapped up into what is nice and what isn’t nice, what the general gist of the message being. A lot of us are overly nice and we’re operating like sharing now is people pleasing or fawning, or we’re showing up with our number one priority and I’m going to speak because I lived this myself of being conflict-avoidant or keeping the peace.
And that’s what fawning can look like. So being that at young child who myself was very fearful of the world, similar to you. I learned the ways to keep the peace in my family to get praised, to feel good, to feel as connected to my mom in particular. And I kept doing that. What I also saw my family was very limited conflict. We had a lot of avoidance. Difficult things weren’t talked about. Things were swept under rugs until of course every now and again, when they would inevitably erupt. Because one can only keep things down so far, but I bring that up because I didn’t have much experience with being modeled conflict and how to healthfully address conflict in relationships, where two humans show up and say, Hey, this is my experience. And the other Hammond says, this is my experience. And it’s negotiated some way. I never had any moments that I can even remember that happening in my family. So I became largely conflict avoidant. And I got really good at it, almost out of my awareness. I so naturally would filter any thought I had any impulse.
I had any feeling I had any choice that I may want to make first, not through myself. Does this work for me in the moment, but through a question of how would this affect whoever was in front of me or whoever I could imagine kind of domino downline would get an effect by this. Typically I would decide based on what that answer was to limit the negative effect it would have on others. And this was something I realized Lindsay that I would do not even realizing I was doing it. And when this kind of came to my realization, I was. In my twenties, my later twenties, and it was going on and on to a friend about all these obligations that I thought everyone had of me and what this person wanted of me and what that person wanted of me and my friend, very calmly looked at me and said Nicole, what do you want? And I was dumped. I, no idea. Alf dropped open. I couldn’t even. Answer her question. What do I want? I didn’t know what I wanted to eat for dinner. I didn’t know he was hungry for let alone, whatever it was that I was trying to figure out what I want. I had no idea what I wanted. And it was at that point, I came to realize, at least the fact that I was filtering.
So breaking that habit was incredibly difficult because for a lot of us, it does become a function of our nervous system. A protective function and what it is physiologically, right? The idea of conflict avoidant is protection in some way by don’t cause issue. I don’t risk, whatever the imagined outcome could be. For most of us, it’s usually some version of loss of love, loss of relationship, abandonment, loss of sense of self. I’m not who I am anymore. If I’m not showing up for you, who am I? So of course, all of this then becomes the work we have to do into the future. But breaking that habit first and foremost is difficult because like I said, it connects to safety. It becomes our own self protection. If I don’t ever express myself, I don’t ever have to worry about the negative impact that could have on another, on the world or someone just not liking what I have to share. And for a lot of us that gets wrapped up around that safety. And if we’re honest, it doesn’t feel safe to do so we go into like I, you, and a lot of us do without even thinking about it. We’re just placating people, pleasing, fawning as an attempt to keep ourselves safe.
LINDSEY: Yeah, I love what you said about how you would go into a situation and immediately it was about how are they going to perceive this? How is this going to affect them? How do I need to modify myself to make them more comfortable or whatever else? And I want people listening to realize, like you’re not consciously having those thoughts. Like you’re not having an internal conversation with yourself. You’re in milliseconds. Your nervous system is like picking up on this energy. And you’re not really having this internal dialogue. It’s more of just how fast you adapt to it because your nervous system perceives it as like a literal threat to your survival. And you don’t have time to think about what to do. You just have to adapt to, to quickly like fit in and modify and make everybody else comfortable.
And what this ended up doing for me is I grew up to be, I’m now almost 38, and I grew up to be chronically people pleasing, but then chronically feeling resentful over people who I felt weren’t reciprocating, what I was giving them. But then also someone who didn’t know how to set boundaries and had a really hard time when other people set boundaries for me, I had a hard time respecting them and I had a really hard time setting them. So that’s pretty common with people pleasers.
DR. NICOLE: Absolutely. Okay. Tell me what that word even was. Lindsey. I had none, that I needed the, or what the hell it was?
LINDSEY: I think for me as a people pleaser, I put a lot of like weird boundaries on myself and especially, I could speak to, I grew up in the Bible belt in Texas in the Southern Baptist church and , there’s a scripture in the Bible that says that a woman who’s gentle and quiet is pleasing to the Lord. And then there’s the Proverbs 31 is the passage in the Bible that talks all about what a woman of godly character is and all of these things. And I fond for Jesus a lot. Like my first people pleasing relationship was with Jesus because naturally I am a very outspoken, opinionated driven, assertive person. And in Texas in the Bible belt, in the Southern Baptist church, that is not okay. Because that is the opposite of how you were supposed to behave according to their interpretation of the Bible. So I started trying to fit myself into this very small box that what a woman was supposed to be and stifled myself and shut myself up and made myself sit down when I wanted to stand up and made myself be quiet when I wanted to speak and just modify myself, modified myself. And I thought I was putting these things on myself. It’s so hard for us as people pleasers to realize that some of it is what we choose for ourselves because we’re not in awareness. But so much of it is also like society’s expectations, our culture’s expectations, our family’s expectations, our religions expectations, our political affiliations expectations. And we’re just like, everybody has so many goddamn boxes that they’re just trying to get us to fit into. And foreigners people pleasers are like literally trying to fit in every single box. And please everybody without realizing this is actually impossible.
DR. NICOLE: Exhausting and impossible. Absolutely.
LINDSEY: Yeah. Oh, exhausting. So impossible. So what would be like if somebody is listening to this and they’re like, Holy shit, I’m a fallen type. I’m a people pleaser. I don’t have any boundaries. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t even know who I am or what I want for dinner. What would be the first thing? If they’re just listening to this right now, like in their car, what would be the first thing that you would tell them to do? If they’re having this epiphany.
DR. NICOLE: I think honoring themselves for the honesty and the awareness of having that epiphany is the first step. I always talk about a two-step process of change. And the first step is awareness is being conscious, is being transparent is saying, yes, I see this pattern even greater step is seeing the pattern in real time because here’s where we invite step two to begin to take hold is creating change. Then in that pattern, whatever that means. Being anything new thoughts, beginning to show up differently, having a new boundary, whatever it is, that’s the action step. That follows from awareness. When we’re unconscious more in that autopilot, we don’t even have the opportunity to do step number two, to do something different. We need to be in conscious mind in real time to create that opportunity, to see those two paths in a sense, right?
Here’s my old way of being, and here’s my opportunity while it will be uncomfortable because it will be unfamiliar though. I have the choice now that creates the opportunity to action. So creating that awareness is the first step. And then we want to expand that awareness or that conscious practice, because this is what I would see time and time again, in my old work and in my old self. We can have incredible insight from that conscious place. We can see all of the, negative outcomes or RPS behaviors create a new pathway of action to have a future that’s different yet. I can’t build that bridge when it happens that next time in my real time. So we want to expand that consciousness so that as I’m going about my day, and as I begin to see those roads and ahead of me old, Way of being new way of being in real time, I can begin to make those new choices because that’s where change happens.
And a lot of us, like I said, come by that awareness in spades, we have all of it. And for some of us that can be the most frustrating place to be before we begin to build that bridge, because then we get really shameful and could become really critical of ourself and wonder why I can’t do the new thing. And because for some of us. A matter of learning how to be conscious as it gets harder and harder as that pole, as my emotional center, my amygdala lights up and all of those old habits are like, pick me. It’s hard, then it becomes harder to stay online, to stay conscious. That is the work. I love something you said earlier though, too. And I just want to acknowledge it. The resentment piece, because when I talk about boundaries, when we have this conversation of breaking habits of actioning, the creating boundaries, maybe to help me break the habit of fawning, of creating new safety of showing up differently In my relationships. I think a lot of us do.
Like I brought up that book, we do feel selfish. We do feel bad for the downfall, the effects that it will have on someone else. But what I do know is that honoring our authenticity, learning how to show up, even if it’s uncomfortable now. And even if it does create change for the other, in our relationship, my opinion that creates the greater possibility for the relationship to continue into a future because resentment is so incredibly real and it’s insidious. It can be a killer of a relationship because I’ll speak from my own lived experience. I went down relationship after relationship of romantic partners or friends who didn’t show up in all the ways I wanted them to. And who I wasn’t upset with myself. It was their problem. So I just left the relationship and found a new one, looking for the person who wanted offer me that issue. And I got resentful and angry and it would lead to, like I said, the ending of relationships sometimes. So for a lot of us, the fawners out there, those of us who want to begin to show up differently in our relationship who might experience the effects of the change in our relationships, people reacting in different ways.
I know, I entertained the concept of selfish for a long time. I felt selfish. I felt like I was doing wrong for not showing up for my friend. Definitely felt like I was selfish when I stopped showing up as frequently for my family, because I was taught family is everything. That’s what you do when you come from a big Italian family, you show up. So when I stopped showing up Lindsey, I felt selfish. Cause that’s what I was taught. I was. But what I’ve come to realize now is that resentment and learning how to show up for myself and create a bit more space so that I can show up authentically actually is what allows a relationship to continue. And it’s the loving thing to do. It’s a gift to the other person, because now you re you just decrease the possibility that you get mad at them. And resentment can be really ugly in relationships. And we can be really mean when we’re reacting from a place where we don’t feel like we’re getting our needs met.
LINDSEY: Yeah. That’s so true. I was reminded of I, as a conflict avoider people pleaser, chronically I was in my mid thirties before I ever had a deep friendship that the friendship survived a conflict. And it was because we was two people who were both aware of our tendencies to fight flight, freeze, fond, aware of that. Our relationship was the most important thing. And so we were going to figure out a way to have this difficult conversation or approach this conflict in a way that was honoring both of us. But I never experienced that until I was in my mid thirties. And. Have lost a lot of friends through my life because one or both of us like wasn’t able or willing to be able to relate to each other in that way. And what I will say is as, and I’m saying this as a people pleaser, I know that people pleasers are number one. Fear is disappointing people and causing conflict. That is our number one fear, but I can also say that. When we can rise above that and become aware of it, use neuroplasticity to our advantage reform the pathway, go from the old pathway to the new pathway.
When we do that, for me, it has led to, I have three. Best friends besides my husband, I have three best friends. They’re the only people on this planet who I have been able to have not only a meaningful relationship with before we had a conflict, but then an even deeper relationship with once we went through a conflict together and got out on the other side and it’s made us closer, it’s made us trust each other more. It’s made us feel safer with each other. It’s brought down so many walls and. I don’t want to say that I have regret. I don’t like to live from a place of regret, but like how different, some of my old relationships that I have lost would have been if I had known how to navigate conflict and not avoid it, but going into it with awareness and respecting and honoring the other person and them doing the same.
And that’s my encouragement to the people. Pleasers is if you can get to that place where you can rewire that pathway, have a conflict with someone, speak your truth, honor them at the same time and navigate your way through it. Your relationship will come out on the other side and it will be a friendship or a marriage or a partnership like you have never known before, because it creates like a depth where. All of my other relationships. I’ve I know tons of people, right? I know tons of people online. I know tons of people in my community, but it’s only with my husband and those three friends that I have that level of depth with that. I know that there’s nothing that I can say or do that’s going to change how they feel about me.
If I fuck up, they’re going to be the first person to be like, Hey, you fucked up, but I love you. And I don’t have to fond for them. I don’t have to people please for them. And in fact, with one of my friends, we actually only have become really close friends in the last year, but she had this awareness and I had this awareness and we actually had a conversation at the beginning of our friendship where we both recognized, Hey, we’re fun types. Let’s promise not to fond for each other. And we did and we never have. It’s been great. So I just, I’m just offering that. It’s not really a question for you. It’s just, I’m offering that as encouragement to people that like this is possible and it is possible to have deeper, better relationships than you ever thought possible. Whenever you’re not betraying yourself and being dishonest to others by how you’re behaving with people pleasing.
DR. NICOLE: I couldn’t agree more. And there’s so many moments, Lindsey catch myself and the things that come out of my, the honest truth, where I’m sharing my experience of, again, a few small handful that I’ve been able to cultivate now, very gratefully in my life. Same thing. I’m like, damn, Nicole, you just said that he just told her how that made you feel. Okay. Girl. And like never in a million years would old me have ever said that. And sometimes painful things come up as a result of it. And what’s beautiful now is both people when you’re in those relationships, having that awareness and also doing the work and taking the steps too, and something I want to offer on the piggyback of all of this is. This doesn’t happen overnight. No awkward truths. Don’t come out. Nice boundaries are intense. And sometimes we go overcome eight before we find that flexible middle. So practice. I began my practice in the one or two relationships that naturally felt a bit safer. And, or in the relationships that the risk of loss wasn’t as great. The people that felt a little on my periphery, when we want to go back to boundaries, I began to flex boundaries in my professional relationships where the stakes didn’t feel as high, where if I upset the person, it wasn’t my mom or my partner that I would, I’ve been devastated. Cause I like you do not like to disappoint people might have hurt me a bit. Even, I don’t like to devastate even a stranger on the internet so I could weather that. So we could start, like I said, if you just have that one person that you do feel a little safer with can be the practice point or practice on the periphery practice, where the stakes don’t feel as high. But practice is my main takeaway. People could hear this conversation logically come up with these tools, acknowledging that I’m a foreigner and it’s the practice of it. That’s hard, it’s awkward. And we’re not going to be shiny. It’s messy though. Like I said, the safe relationships, the people that love us or can create the space for us will be there.
LINDSEY: Yeah, absolutely. I would also tell people, pleasers and fawners your reaction, whenever you begin to set boundaries, because it does feel unfamiliar and what feels unfamiliar as feels unsafe to your nervous system. So for my experience, I started getting really good at setting boundaries, but then I also found myself like overexplaining myself. So it was like, I would set a boundary. No, I can’t have you over to my house this night. And then I would go into because blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And what that actually recreated was like more resistance because it was like, if I would’ve just said, no, it would’ve probably been like, okay, fine. But then, because I offered all of these different explanations for myself, then it was easier for the person to invalidate. My boundary, rather than just giving them like a hard, gentle. No. So I would caution people like it’s, you’re going to feel like you need to overexplain yourself. You’re gonna feel like you have to justify your boundaries, but you actually don’t. Have you experienced that with being a foreigner and a people pleaser?
DR. NICOLE: Absolutely. I call it my court case. I present the court case. Yeah. Why? This is the appropriate thing to have happened now. In hopes that they agree. And I, yeah, it’s hard because even just to, sometimes it happens outwardly where I present another with my court case, if you will, sometimes I don’t even have to say it, but I’m doing it in my mind. Yeah. Rationalizing I’m almost convincing myself. Cause that’s what that is. The court case presented to another is the attempt to convince them really convince oneself. But sometimes, like I said, that just remains in my mind. And I still feel myself rationalizing, okaying it before I present the no to another person. Whether or not it’s over explained or not for some of us that lives, that process lives in our mind. So becoming okay with it again is part of that journey.
And for most of us, we can’t just imagine our way to it. It’s the lived experience of beginning to implement boundaries. Of seeing the fallout that might be there. Maybe the reaction is as terrible as we imagine it to be the beauty possibly in there. Is the opportunity to discover what we can tolerate. Can you tolerate this person, having that reaction? And then what happens next? Some of us might be surprised that reaction is short-lived and it continues on, or we reboot and go back. Oftentimes though we’re not even met with that imagined reaction. And again, like I said, I think it’s the lived experience. I think wisdom is always our greatest teacher doing it for ourselves. So like I said, I just always go back to the importance of practicing the boundaries because I can sit here as a recovering codependent fawner, so bitter end and claim and. Tell you all of this beauty, empowerment and authenticity and deep relationships on the other side as can you Lindsey though it is until the listener goes out there and lives the experience of implementing a boundary and creating that new space and freedom and or safety in their life that I believe that change really begins to set in. So doing it is the most difficult part of the journey though, the most important, yeah, you’re not, you’re going to learn a lot about setting boundaries from listening to a podcast or from reading books or whatever, but you’re not actually learning it until you’re doing it and messing it up and trying again and trying again.
LINDSEY: All right. I’m gonna switch gears on you again, you have something in your feed that I’ve seen you talk about, and maybe I’m not following the right people. Cause I’m not seeing anybody else talk about this, but I love it. So I’m wondering , if we can talk about trauma bonds, I’m not seeing a lot of people talking about trauma bonds and I’m not a licensed therapist or a psychologist. Is trauma bonds like a technical therapy term, or is that something that you have come up with through your years of experience?
DR. NICOLE: The trauma bonds I believe it was first being talked about in the therapeutic context. I’m blanking on the name of the gentlemen, though. It was initially discussed in the context of a relationship typically with an abuser. Are there some version of abuse in the relationship? And it’s commonly, it’s akin to the concept of. I don’t know if any of you heard obviously the most, the more extreme version of Stockholm, but this idea of love and negativity, hate discomfort, abuse, whatever we want to call it wrapped in to the same package. This idea that I can still be drawn. into relationship with someone actively engaging in abuse. So this idea is a lot of us have either lived or maybe witnessed loved ones live, the drawl it’s still staying in an overtly abusive relationship, just still love our abuser or can’t seem to leave them. And it was really define in the context solely of having that abuse. Crescent that big T if you will. So that’s how initially it was studied and it was framed in the field. And again, so I have expanded that cause what I believe trauma bonds are, I think it surpasses even just those moments of abuse where love and hate in a sense or evil or violence get fused into this idea of.
I believe it’s our whole relationship patterning again, originates from those earliest experiences. Those ways that we modified our being to show up oftentimes in this service to our own needs, whether it’s our own body’s needs in that given moment. Where I show up at all hours of the night, because. I’m the people pleaser and my friend keeps calling. And so now my sleep is actually struggling or emotionally or again, I’m wearing those masks the longer I wear a mask and I’m only showing up as the people pleaser. What happens to the rest of me. There’s still all of this other self that is there. So I believe again, that’s what a trauma bond is. It’s the patterning, the relationship patterning in particular that most of us begin to implement in childhood as a result of our surroundings, our experiences that then we. Repeat over time. We tend to always play that role and we tend to find ourselves with very similar partners, friends, or anyone that we’re in relationship with.
So trauma bonding is the patterning again, becoming aware of what is the patterning. Do you typically play the same role across your relationships? Chances are the answer is yes. And then, like I said, understanding the connections chances are, is connected to the earliest ways we received love or remained connected in childhood. With the goal of being what I believe is authentic partnership or us evolving into authentic interdependence, meaning. Authentically showing up as me, whatever that means in any given moment, still feeling bonded and connected to those around me.
LINDSEY: That’s great. Thank you for explaining that. That helps a lot. I’m going to go back to your Instagram and I’m going to refer to those posts and try to absorb that and integrate that a little bit more. That’s really great. Thank you. So I just want to ask you some just broad questions now, if that’s okay. You’ve mentioned a lot since the beginning of the interview about taking care of our physical bodies and how that’s something that we learn how to do or don’t learn how to do in childhood. And then we often repeat those patterns and I’m going to share a really hot take that I’ve never shared publicly before. And this is coming out of, I have a really deep background in health and wellness, nutrition. And my hot take is that. I don’t believe you can truly love yourself and feed your body shit. So everybody’s like pushing, pause and stop on their, on their phone right now. Like now I’m done canceled. Anyway and maybe that’s like a harsh way of saying what you’re saying, which is we don’t learn how to take care of our bodies. Can you talk about taking care of your body and self-love and all of that?
DR. NICOLE: Absolutely. I think our body, or I know our body and my opinion is the foundation it’s in communication. Our body is connected to our mind. I think that most of us are interested in navigating differently. So our body’s integral in healing, everything. We talked about, the States of nervous system dysregulation, all of the physiology, the emotional addiction that lives in our bones, literally in our bodies and our physiology oftentimes keeps us stuck. Affects our mental wellness or lack thereof for me, it was integral in changing my relationship with anxiety. Learning how to balance my nervous system, learning how to be in my body first and foremost, after living life on a spaceship associated, like we talked about met learning how to navigate my body. Learning how to be open and receptive to its cues of hunger, of sleep, of tiredness, of how it feels at the energy levels. All of this was foreign to me because I was so disconnected from it. I believe our bodies are infinitely much more smarter than we are. It knows what it wants. It knows it has a tendency to always fall back into balance if we remove the barriers from it from doing so. So if we allow ourselves to hear our body signals and our body’s wisdom, I believe our bodies will always direct itself into optimal health and balance. Most of us though, aren’t allowing our bodies to determine what happens next, whether it’s being fed or what, whether eating is discontinued, whether we’re done if we’re sleeping, if we need a little more sleep or a little less sleep, or, we have a lot of energy and we need to expend it.
Our bodies will tell us, most of us are doing a different method or we’re doing a top down method where we’re doing an idea or we’re using what we were modeled or what we were taught to do. Or maybe with someone else what worked for someone else maybe their diet entirely, right? I’m more what someone on Instagram is telling us to do. I mean that, you know that if it worked for them, it must work in the same way for me. We’re not we’re so unique. All of our bodies are different. All our physiology is different. So again, if we’re looking for something separate from us to dictate how to care for us, chances are we were, we’re not going to be attuned. And what we might end up with then is a lack of health in whatever direction that is. So I believe that again, it’s. A process of reconnecting with our body of everything we talked about of creating the safety. That’s important of remaining in our bodies. Once we’ve landed from our spaceship and then opening our awareness, learning how my body signals, when I’m hungry, learning the difference.
Am I hungry or am I just bored? Am I thirsty? Am I adjunct? Is something else going on? I know for me, I love to distract myself with food. I love to think about my next meal. I love to procure my next meal. I love to eat my next meal. I’ve learned for me, a lot of that comes from a desire to distract myself from what’s happening now. So again, I can learn my own clues and cues of when I’m not connected to my body. And then that allows me to become receptive to my body and what it’s saying. And when we’re listening, like I said, I do believe our bodies are driven toward health. If you’re listening, it will only signal you to eat when it’s hungry. And if you’re listening, it’ll tell you to stop when you’re full. It’ll also give you feedback on how the food makes you feel. I do what is called conscious eating now, which means I don’t have an eat list or a don’t eat list. I’m open to how food makes me feel. And as much as I hate to admit this, because as much as I love the gluten that is present in pizza in particular, when I have too much of it, my skin breaks out and I get moody.
Do I still eat pizza and gluten? Sometimes. Absolutely though I consciously know how it affects me and my body told me. And if I do it for too long, I’m moody and cranky on the other end of it. My body spoke. I didn’t know all of this though. I had no idea any of this until I got into my body. I was eating like many of us for all of these different reasons and my body reflected it. It didn’t feel healthy. And in a lot of ways I didn’t appear healthy.
LINDSEY: I’m curious. I know we’re all individuals. So I’m just asking specifically what worked for you. You said that tuning into your body really helped you with anxiety. I’m curious if you can elaborate on that some more.
So aside from dropping into my body, really understanding my breath. I did a lot of breath work. I still do a lot of breath work. I realized that I hold my breath when I’m stressed. I understood the importance of learning, how to breathe from my belly. I learned that activates that parasympathetics when I was in that stress state, it helped my body. It helped urge it toward that balance that it naturally want it to go into. So breath work for me was a big part of reestablishing balance in my body as was paying attention to my food. Because certain foods I love sugar. I love sugar. I love my ice cream with, my pizza with my ice cream afterwards, if that would be my ideal meal, that’s what I would eat sugar I learned or having too much sugar subtly throughout my day would cause anxiety. So I started to find my way through eating and paying attention and then removing some foods consciously and intentionally to see their effect. I started to learn the effects of different food types had on me. So for me, it was breathwork. Nutrition. And then back to that sleep, making sure that I was in bed and that I was getting sleep when I was in bed.
LINDSEY: Yeah, for sure. Mine was caffeine. I had to remove caffeine because as much as I loved drinking coffee or. Caffeinated tea. It just made my heart race, made me feel like jittery. Like I was about to take off and go into outer space or something and it just wasn’t worth it.
DR. NICOLE: That’s a really common one. And whether or not you have to limit it completely. Or I talk in my book to limiting it after noon or 2:00 PM. Cause the later in the evening, I won’t tell you that I had the gift of being caffeine tolerance. My husband does too. One thing I didn’t have to remove. I did learn though, and I’ve removed alcohol pretty, almost incompletely every now and again though, I do have an alcoholic drink of some kind. However, I learned timing too late at night. If I were to have that glass of wine, say with dinner I learned, and this is I think a hard realization for a lot of us sleep. My sleep gets really effected really quickly. So if I am going to opt in for that glass of wine, it might be at lunchtime or mid-afternoon so that I could make sure that I’ve metabolized it. But caffeine, thankfully, cause I do love me some coffee for me in my diet that.
LINDSEY: My husband does the same thing. He’ll come to bed at nine o’clock with a cup of coffee and I’m like, are you serious? He’s yeah, it’s fine. It doesn’t affect me at all. I’m just want throw him the bird or something. Oh my gosh, this has been so great. I feel like I could just sit here and chat with you all afternoon, but I know you have things to get back to. It is interesting. I just started my own membership and I’ve only been following you on Instagram. I haven’t checked out your website until recently, but you have the self healers circle and I just recently started the trauma healers circle.
DR. NICOLE: Isn’t that funny.
LINDSEY: I love it. Yeah. And so I’m curious. Yeah. Did you, okay, so I’ll tell you why I chose to use the word circle instead of like membership or course, or class or something like that. I chose to use the word circle because if you’re sitting around a circular table, everyone is equal. Nobody’s in charge. There’s no hierarchy. Everybody is the same. Everybody’s voice matters the same. There’s a mutual level of inclusion and respect. And also I feel like a circle is the best way that I can throw the middle finger to capitalism, patriarchy, and colonialism, because all of those systems are hierarchical. They assume that. European settlers were better than, or higher up than black indigenous people of color. They assume that men are higher up than more powerful than better than women. They assume that the rich and the corporations are better than regular people. And so there’s that hierarchy. So I wanted something that was inclusive, where whatever you are, whatever the letters are behind your name or not, you can come and you can be a part of a conversation. And everybody can share what they know and everybody can glean from each other. Can you tell me why you chose circle for yours?
DR. NICOLE: I love that. And Lindsey and very similarly circle means interconnected in my opinion. It’s very much connected to the idea of holistic mind, body, soul, individual, connected to collective, no beginning, no end piece in, in whole. So for me, that’s. Really at the base of my work. I see my work at misunderstood a lot with this idea that I am professing this idea of man as Island, hyper individualism, I think in the context of our conversation today, what I’m actually professing is authentic interdependence, learning how to inhabit our space authentically which often does involve that inner work outward, right? Where we change our relationship with our bodies, with ourself, with our own emotions, with our own spirit and soul learning, how to then express it outward in our relationships. However, In my definition, in my opinion, in my work, in my life, it’s all interconnected. So for me, that’s what circle is. It’s understanding that, and this is what the book is for me too, is that our collective is healing. It needs healing in innumerable ways again from systems that have been here from the Dawn of time macro and micro effecting us. And I believe that the pathway out is to heal the collective, the community, the macro through the individual work and circle for me is the interconnectedness of us all.
LINDSEY: That’s beautiful. I love that so much. Thank you. Thank you. So people can find you firstname.lastname@example.org. They can also find and become part of your self healer circle on your website as well. You have a Facebook group, a YouTube channel, and your Instagram, all of that, I will link to in the show notes for this episode. And of course your book I’ll link to the book as well. I’m so excited for you. Thank you so much. Thank you for coming on today. I really am excited to share this.
DR. NICOLE: Thank you. Thank you. All the listeners out there for showing up today. Curious and thank you for the work that you’re doing. I love what you put out each and every day on Instagram. I think it’s so necessary. And I was jazzed when you decided to have this conversation with me.
Ah, I’m honored. I’m fan girling hard now. Great work. Yeah, this is real. And it’s. People like yourself that are putting these tools out there, not only to normalize it and find that community of safety that I know so many of us need. But just continuing to equalize that access. So thank you.
Yeah, absolutely. Thank you, Nicole. You’re doing great work too.
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