Jun 26, 2021
This week I am chatting about Urgency and Urges and the felt
sense of those emotions and experiences in the body. The work I do
on helping you and me, develop a new relationship with the
sensations in our bodies, is to create safety in being able to
observe the stories we are telling ourselves about a feeling,
thought, circumstance.... And when I say story, I don't mean like a
fairy tale. So maybe story isn't a useful word but it's the one
I've got right now. Please listen to my client drop out quickly
from the 11 years of anxiety that she's been carrying around with
her about a life circumstance that she's in. Enjoy!
Please feel free to reach out to me via instagram @movewithdeb or book a curiosity call at https://calendly.com/paincoachdeb
My website is www.debmalkin.com
Welcome to Move With Deb. I'm Deb your friendly neuroplastician. And this is a podcast that explores the relationship between the body and the mind from a health at every size, judgment, free perspective. I teach you how developing a new internal conversation based on curiosity, self friendship and simple neuro-plasticity techniques can rewire your bodymind out of pain and emotional overwhelm to help you build the rich full life that you want to live. Disclaimer, this is not a replacement for medical care.
[00:00:50] Welcome to move with Deb episode 20. Which to me is just wild because I can't believe that I've made a podcast every week for 20 weeks. So good job, Deb. Yay. Celebrating me. And if you've listened to this podcast at all, I talk a lot about the importance of celebrating all wins. So I am celebrating my 20 weeks of making a podcast.
[00:01:19]So last night I had the wildest aha. I was thinking about some work I did with a client about the urgency she was feeling around a particular life circumstance. She described the sensations in her body as crawling out of her skin, wanting to leap into action. Having to do something with intensity and immediacy.
[00:01:42] She described the sensations of her brain not working. She felt like she couldn't think, and she was confused and she didn't know what to do. She was in a lot of emotional overwhelm. And she'd been feeling the same urgency/alarm response for 11 years, about this situation. So she's created a conditioned response for her nervous system to be alarmed. To feel like there is an emergency. To tell herself that it's all or nothing, black or white. On or off. Which is not to say that this circumstance isn't important, impactful, or meaningful.
[00:02:25]If something's going on for 11 years, not every moment is an emergency. There might be moments that are emergencies. Because emergencies happen. But it's important to recognize that everything modulates. But that's the experience that we create in our bodies. Where, if we're responding to everything like an emergency. It will feel like an emergency. What we're not allowing is for the emergency to be an emergency. And then the rest of it, moments that are not emergencies to be not emergencies.
[00:03:12]And it's okay. because oftentimes when we care about something deeply, when we care about, another human being, or a cause, or a situation, the impact and the intensity of a feeling, creates this feeling of urgency. And at the same time we cannot sustain the physiological experience of an emergency all the time.
[00:03:41]Her body mind was living inside it like it was. And the way she cultivated her attention and experience all served to feed this idea. And the more she felt like it was an emergency, the more that her brain looked for reasons why it was urgent. And the more her body felt those sensations and believed that it was true. And so it was true. Except that, what if it's not urgent? So I asked her in our session. What if it's not urgent. Why is it urgent? Now that sounds like an asshole thing to say. Because she had told me that it was urgent. But just because something feels urgent or like an emergency doesn't mean that it is. And that's why I teach the importance of telling ourselves the truth. I noticed that I have a bias for the relief when it come.
[00:04:41]I noticed that I have a bias for the relief that comes when hard times pass. I'm sure. that's like, duh, who wouldn't. I'm now in the habit of asking. What am I making this mean? Whatever THIS is. This week, I've worked with a few people on this idea of the resistance to what is. And it gave me pause. Because that feels so familiar with what I've been through physically and emotionally, lately.
[00:05:10] When I am in the suck. I don't want to be in it so much that my brain feels like it's suddenly working triple time to get me out and is trying to shove a hundred thousand thoughts into a space that only fits 10, which then makes my cognitive powers go offline, and my body feels the impact of the panic, the non-working brain. And then maybe I tell myself a story that my brain doesn't work or that I'm broken. And that it's going to be this way forever. And then I visit the past and I find all the evidence for how this is true. And of course, how it's going to always be true because. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. List giant piles of reasons. And then the overwhelm and the fear compounds.
[00:06:00] But it is based on a faulty premise, that things should be different. When, what they are is what they are in this present moment. Someone is sick. You have a headache. My arm hurts today is Friday.
[00:06:21]When we allow ourselves to tell ourselves the truth of the present moment. Even while desiring it was different, we can then explore all the thoughts we were thinking and all the feelings we are feeling. But we can't access that when we tell ourselves that what is happening right now shouldn't be happening. Because then we make this moment, like a hot potato we can't touch. Or like a dangerous potion that makes true anything we think about. But it is already true in that it is happening. Not that it's your fault due to magical thinking.
[00:07:08] So having my own back this week has looked like. Holding my hand during pain even when I forgot that it's something I knew how to do. And now it looks like telling myself that I'm equally awesome when I'm in pain and struggle, and not only when I've figured it all out. I'm awesome when things are hard and when things are full of ease. I don't make my worthiness conditional on any circumstances.
[00:07:39]So today I received this message from that client who was having all of the urgency. And I'm sharing this with her permission. But these are her words,
[00:07:52] "Deb, by asking me the question why is it urgent? You completely removed a chunk of anxiety from the pit of my stomach. I had been intermittently haphazardly injecting, impending doom/urgency to every thought about this situation. I can't tell you how the thought. It's not that urgent. Had an immediate and sudden impact on the sensation in my whole body."
[00:08:26]And that's the end of the quote. And this is the mind body connection. Our felt senses are absolutely real. And our nervous system is often creating a physiological reaction and experiences due to optional thoughts. Or thoughts that feel true but aren't true.
[00:08:50]Learning to our observe our thoughts and create room for all of our feelings to be felt sounds like it has nothing to do with the sensations in our body of pain or anxiety. But it has everything to do with it.
[00:09:07] We must become safe with ourselves to feel safe. There's a lot of talk about it in somatic work and in trauma therapy about how to create safety with another person. There's beautiful work on the co-regulation of the nervous system and neuroception, and I'm a huge fan. And I think that there's a piece missing in the Instagram level conversations. I'm sure it's there when it's like in deep practice, but I'm talking about what we read about co-regulation and about polyvagal theory and about the nervous system on social media.
[00:09:49]It is our job to become safe in having any feeling in our own bodies. Because our feelings do not come from other people or circumstances but rather our thoughts about them. And the meaning that we are making about the thoughts that we're having or the sensations that we're feeling in our body. And even the meaning that we're making about the feelings themselves.
[00:10:17]I think the main pathology of this culture, at least that we have in the United States is that we are taught that we should be pain-free and happy all the time. Otherwise, there's something wrong with us. That's a hundred percent untrue. That is a lie, told by so many for so many reasons. And if you point a finger anywhere, you'll find a suitable target. From family to capitalism, to patriarchy, to ableism, to healers and helpers or power structures. I'm going to do more podcasts and explore more of these ideas and themes another time because it's a fucking mind trip. And these are the ideas and questions and conversations I have with my clients of why do we think the things we do? Where did these messages come from? What are the thoughts and feelings that we're trying not to feel? Because we think that it means something about us.
[00:11:14]But here's what I want you to understand. Our brain and nervous system are not truth tellers. They're best guessers, lightning speed interpreters, habit formers, energy conservers and benevolent gas lighters. The brain's job is to keep you alive.
[00:11:34]I was working with a client about her panic attacks while walking. She's a fat person. She's having pain and the physiological symptoms of panic when she's going to the store or to a medical appointment. She's telling herself that she can't do it. That it will be hard. That people will look at her body. That other people's opinion of her body matters. That her heavy breathing is a problem.
[00:12:02] In these fear brain moments she's discounting the movement that her body successfully does all day long. She forgets that she can slow her pace, which will make walking with ease more possible. She doesn't realize she's leaving her body to pop into other people's bodies and imagine that they're looking at her and scrutinizing her, but that's really her looking and scrutinizing herself. And then her nervous system is responding to the fear by creating a normal, and appropriate, physiological response to that fear. Pumping adrenaline, narrowing vision, constricting the breath, causing muscle hypertonicity.
[00:12:52]And then when I said, and when you're in this state, you're still working on getting yourself from point A to point B. Like from the car to the store. Or the car to the medical appointment. She described that like driving with the emergency brake on. Which is really brilliant and I love a good analogy. So she's letting me keep that one.
[00:13:18] When we are in a state of panic, and trying to do the thing we want to do, it feels like driving with the emergency brake on. You're still moving forward, but despite yourself. Not only is there a lot of internal force, but there's the messages from the nervous system to the body to stop, which we override. But that's not needed. We don't want our only choices to be driving with our emergency brake on or stopping. We need to find a way to disengage the emergency brake. And that is the nervous system responding to fear.
[00:13:57] It's a hundred percent, a natural physiological response for an animal to stop and feel alerted to something that might be dangerous or fearful. Dogs. Cats animals in the wild and so on. But they aren't spending all of their time in fear alert mode. And if they feel like there's a threat. They'll run.
[00:14:21] Like my client who told herself that what was happening was urgent. She lived in that state for 11 years. And it gave her some super powers. Her attention was sharp. She could see mistakes that other people missed. She felt connected to love and passion. And over time, what was adaptive became maladaptive.
[00:14:46]But in an instant, with this question, I asked her. What if it's not urgent. She felt a downgrade in her anxiety and the symptoms of the story she was telling herself. She's not telling herself that this circumstance isn't important, impactful or meaningful. She's not telling herself that she shouldn't care. Shoulds and shouldn'ts are the emergency brake engagers. Because honestly we do the things we want to anyway. But that's with the sense of forcing ourselves or having to do it avoiding having certain emotions.
[00:15:28]So this brings me back to the wild aha that I had. Urgency and urges are the same word. Okay, so I'm 51 and a half years old and I just figured that one out. When we feel an urge to engage in a distraction action it is because we are feeling this somatic experience of urgency. Those sensations are often unpleasant, heightened, maybe you will call it anxiety or panic. Maybe it's excitement and passion. Something urgent can be intoxicating too. We don't need to label a feeling as good or bad.
[00:16:13]Labeling stuff is one of the least useful activities we can engage in. But often we do things to answer their urge. We either given to it. Or do something to avoid it. Anything other than allow it. And it's only a sensation in our body. We can ask. Why does this feel so urgent? And then listen. Our mind body will tell us. Or journaling, but not to solve it. But to develop the habit of a loving. Internal Conversation. One in which we are creating safety for ourselves by allowing ourselves to be able to have any thought and any feeling.
[00:17:07] We can be safe having the full human experience. Which includes intermittent physical and emotional pain. And also includes equal moments of physical and emotional pleasure, positivity or neutrality.
[00:17:27]So, if any of this resonates with you. If you have any questions about all this stuff about urgency, urges, felt senses, pain, anxiety, sensations in the body, and how they're related to thoughts and feelings, I encourage you to reach out for a curiosity call. Or sign up on my email list and get a free PDF of all the best mind-body pain, recovery resources out there.
[00:17:55]And I'm open for new clients in my eight week pain recovery program called fear brain and chronic pain. Where I will teach you the tools to be your nervous system regulator. So you can thrive in any situation, not just the ones that have trained people who are skilled at co-regulating. I will teach you the new science of pain. And we do one-on-one coaching to explore what you're making any unwanted physical sensation mean about your potential for healing and how to rewire your brain and nervous system to no pain. And when, I mean no pain, I mean, No chronic, lingering, persistent pain. Thank you for listening. And I look forward to sharing with you next week.