Apr 10, 2021
(first off, I totally apologize for all the extra noise in the
beginning of the podcast, apparently I was shuffling things around
and wasn't away how freaking loud that was going to be. I know now,
and will adjust for next time)
Maybe even reading that word your body gave you a reaction....
In this podcast I discuss the embodiment of fear & avoidance
and how to the messy path forward changes your embodied experience
which changes your brain and your pain!
I discuss the idea of The Window of Tolerance - here's a great post that explains the concept. https://www.attachment-and-trauma-treatment-centre-for-healing.com/blogs/understanding-and-working-with-the-window-of-tolerance
If you want I'm sure there's mountains of writing you can read and fall into the research hole and leave your body behind.
But alas. It'll be there when you pick your head up again. :) Ask me how I know.
So I hope you enjoy listening to me discussing my process around moving through fear to flow and how I change my experience of showing up for the work I want to create for myself and my clients through teaching and learning of the new science around pain.
And as always you're invited to chat with me and learn more about how you can learn about pain and how to change your embodied experience of physical and emotional pain and overwhelm by training your mind.
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] Hi everyone. It's Deb and the Move With Deb podcast. This is episode number nine, and I want to talk about avoidance and fear brain. So last week my podcast was late. I also was avoiding editing it. So it was avoiding making the podcast and then I made it and then I was avoiding editing it. And it was interesting experience cause usually I'm like, whoa, what's wrong.
[00:01:25] And I'm judging myself and I'm like you said, you wanted to make a podcast and now you aren't doing it. But there was a new part of my brain that was like, let's watch what's happening. This is so fascinating. I was watching myself in avoidance. And I was like starting to slip into some, old habits and like ruminating compulsion habits that I have, oftentimes it's around researching things, gaining knowledge.
[00:02:00] And so I am thinking about buying a car. I also like to look at Zillow and that, I don't know if you've seen that. Saturday night live sketch about Zillow, but boy is that on the money. So I was watching myself slip into some compulsion around researching cars and watching endless YouTube videos, hopping around reading about cars, asking people about cars, and while there's nothing wrong with that, I was doing those activities during times when I would have ordinarily been working on my podcast and it felt like a compulsion. I say it that way because I felt compelled to want to research and solve this problem. And that was me trying to find certainty. You know, which makes sense.
[00:02:56] One, I don't have a car. And now I'm thinking about life after the pandemic right after my vaccinations. And so getting a car is something that I'm going to be doing. And because I have a lot of perfectionism habits and tendencies, but also there's part of me that's just like, I want to know what kind of car I want. So there's a lot of different things happening in that process. You know, like I, I put parameters on myself, like I'm not allowed to make a mistake. Then I'm engaging in research compulsions to protect myself from having a feeling. But what it was actually really doing was strengthening that habit, strengthening the habit of obsessively researching things, trying to find the right answer as a way of protecting myself from the belief that, if I didn't have the right answer, it would be the wrong answer. I also enjoy researching things. So there was delight and curiosity in that process and certainly that felt good.
[00:04:06] Whereas editing my podcast did not feel good. Because I was afraid of some of the content that I was sharing and I didn't want to deal with that fear. So I was like, let me go do something that feels more fun. Right? My brain is like really trying to help me out. This week I had to make space though for hearing the fears and meeting my afraid self with compassion and not judgment. And recognizing I was making a choice to do an activity because I had this belief, that feeling good was also going to protect me. Part of my curiosity and meeting myself with compassion was also about not buying into the fact that this compulsion will keep me safe. That that idea is kind of a charade.
[00:04:55] Watching all of this happen, as I was not editing my podcast and not sharing it and not getting it done on time, I was able to look under the hood of fear. And that is part of the fear desolving practice. The unfear process is to see the words and the symbols in my brain that is strung together to keep me safe. Seeing that for just what it is, that it's a brain habit that I've developed over the years, that really has given me a lot of results that I have benefited from.
[00:05:33] But there's the dark side of it, which is it's also a place that my brain likes to go when it doesn't want to deal with something. So it's a protection strategy. I was able to see kind of it all play out together from this bird's-eye view, watching my brain go through its safety pattern making habits, all because I didn't want to edit my podcast.
[00:06:03] Part of this pain recovery process is seeing what our body mind has as its protection system. Right? So my brain was doing this activity, protecting me from having a negative thought or a feeling, and that amplified the vibration of the experience. It just, isn't a surprise that that's what was happening when I think about what I was doing. When I think about my podcast as a whole, I kind of have to laugh because today I've decided that my new place of recording it is in the closet. That's also kind of how I feel about having this podcast is that I'm recording it, but I'm not really sharing it and kind of hiding it. I'm sharing it but with caveats, like, oh, I made this podcast, but I kind of don't think it's any good, but like also here you go, um, listen to it, but like don't tell me what you think about it. You know, I am not taking the next steps to like, make it more professional, like by adding show notes or even planning episodes ahead of time or getting music or putting it up on apple podcasts (update, I got the music and the transcript updated LOL). And there's a lot that can be said about why things are "professional", I'm using air quotes. Why professionalism can also be gatekeeping. There's a lot to be said about all of that as well.
[00:07:31] Often in this podcast what I am talking about is how concepts, thoughts, and feelings, inputs into my nervous system create my experience. So certainly other people's ideas of what a podcast is, other people's ideas of professionalism, those are all interrelated into my thoughts and feelings about my podcast. Maybe how I compare it to other people's podcasts, but I will say I'm old enough and kind of free enough to not really give a shit.
[00:08:07] And there's still a lot of unpacking to do. So this is part of that unpacking process. I have a lot of perfectionist tendencies. This is the messy part of moving through them. So this podcast terrifies me. Making this podcast is scary. It's also a hundred percent optional. Nobody is forcing me to make it and it scares me. I am in fear and I am also moving at my own pace. And I am noticing my brain shenanigans with extreme love and self compassion. And it's like when I talk to my clients and maybe their goal is to walk to the end of the driveway or up the block or up a hill. And that goal that they have has meaning to them.
[00:09:01] And they also put a lot of unexamined internal pressure on themselves with that goal. Sometimes when we have a goal and we feel pressure and maybe we also judge the goal or judge ourselves having this goal, then not doing the goal is a relief. But then we don't move through the fear and we certainly don't achieve the goal.
[00:09:25]So my client yesterday described it, like putting blinders on a horse, like the horse is going to do its horse thing, right? So it's like your brain, your brain is going to do its brain thing. The brain makes patterns and builds neural pathways and delivers you the experience that you are expecting.
[00:09:44] So the blinders are telling us what to focus on and prioritize. And we do that with goals and I love goals. There's probably a lot of pluses and minuses about loving goals. We could go into that. Maybe I'll go into that on another podcast. Why do we want things? I think human beings in general want things. That's another podcast.
[00:10:04] I wanted to create this podcast. I wanted to help translate the work that I'm doing with my clients and myself to you. Not everybody is going to be my client. Not everybody wants to work with me. Not everybody wants to have a coach. Maybe they're in the beginning of even cracking open the idea that pain is a message from the brain. I wanted to be able to take what I'm doing in my work and share it. Podcasts are a great way to share. I am watching people change their pain experience daily with their mind and it's not fake. Like they are telling me "I had pain, now I have no pain" or "I had pain now I have less pain".
[00:10:48] I'm very overwhelmed actually by saying these words, because I recognize that they sound too good to be true, even though they are a hundred percent true. And so there's this part of me I feel protective of myself. I feel protective of other people. I don't want other people to get hurt. Nothing that I'm saying is all or nothing. I'm certainly not saying don't go to the doctor, you know, be reckless. So my fear can be so overwhelming to me that I shut down.
[00:11:21] If you know anything about polyvagal theory, it's like total dorsal freeze time for me. My brain looks for any distraction. Time slows down. My vision narrows, maybe my head feels tight. My neck starts to hurt and words feel very far away. And this is my brain protecting me. So thank you brain. I can spend all my time focused on this body response to fear. And that's kind of the horse with the blinders. What I am looking at becomes the predictive coding of the brain and also just where my attention is.
[00:11:58]I can also watch it shift back to being ventral vagal, to being resourced. I can watch my body change my experience back almost as quickly as it goes into shutdown. Sometimes maybe with like a little hangover. If I have a headache, maybe I'll have a little residuallyness of a headache. But this shift through these different states is something that I have now repeatedly observed in my own human experience. Shifting away from that freeze, back into more of a resource place comes, from the words and the thoughts and the symbols that I bring into my field of vision. What I put into that field between one blinder and the other blinder.
[00:12:47]And so I'll ask myself questions. Like what results have I already created that I'm proud of? I've created a program that's helping people get out of pain regardless of the type of pain they're in, whether it's migraines, emotional overwhelm, back pain, knee pain, pain when moving or pain when sitting. I did this not being a neuroscientist. I did this, not knowing all the neuroanatomy and not really caring beyond the basics. I did this as a middle-aged fat person. I did this as a human being, who's just canceled their certification from yet another program, I think this makes four. I did this as someone who once ran her dream business and had to close it because I failed at making it sustainable, and then I lived in shame about that for about a decade. And I did this as a human being who's moved through intensely debilitating anxiety this year, along with all of the pandemic bullshit and loss.
[00:13:43]So what I do know is how letting it be messy is my path forward through fear. I have succeeded in making nine weeks of this podcast in a row. Not nailing my deadline all the time, still kind of in secret in the closet. Hiding it, but also not hiding it. Every day I feel avoidant and I am changing my relationship with myself when I meet my avoidant self with exquisite self-love and using my lazy detective. The avoidance is my guide when I feel it arise. And I know that I am on the right path.
[00:14:22] The path through barf club, the path through changing my neural pathways about fear, about learning and perfectionism. When I have finished arriving at podcast is exciting and easy. I will have developed confidence and changed my embodied experience of doing this new thing. My body will no longer feel podcast equals scary, and then serve me the embodied experience of fear or terror.
[00:14:50]I can develop thoughts. I want to think on purpose about this podcast or my work. I have client testimonies and emails and thank yous that tell me that my teaching them how to meet avoidance and fear with love has forever changed their mind and their body. That gives me the belief that one thought one sentence, one idea can change someone's life.
[00:15:13] And Dr. Sarno did that for me and for thousands of people. There is a phrase called "a book cure" on purpose. Which doesn't mean if you don't get a book cure, you failed. It's just the fact that reading a book can change your life is proof of this concept. So I learned after decades of living in my body, absorbing all the messages of what having a fat aging body should feel like, even after becoming a body worker, even after learning biomechanics. And having my own strong sense of resistance to anti-fat messaging. I still believed that the body was truly delivering me messages that what I was feeling in my body was coming from my body and that it was only changeable within my body. And then Dr. Sarno and The Curable App changed my pain overnight.
[00:16:08]My knee pain disappeared with the application of new information. Without changing my body. And I will never unknow that. So while it's my job to come up with a million ways to explain what I know and to personalize it. Anybody who chooses to work with me, I will help you feel this and experience this in your body so that you will know what that feels like for you.
[00:16:34] I named my program, fear brain and chronic pain for a reason. Because the more I teach, the more I see that fear in the body and the mind is not a problem. It is not the truth, but it is a roadmap. Fear is a normal human experience. It often creates uncomfortable physical and emotional sensations. And we want to avoid them. But avoidance doesn't make fear go away. It pushes it down and like a string instrument that increases the amplification and that vibration fills more and more and more of us.
[00:17:12] This work isn't really, even about dealing with the content of what we are afraid of, but it is about how to be willing, curious, and full of love when meeting our fear brain. I'm excited to record today's podcast. And you might hear that in my voice. I also wrote all this shit down, which is a place that I had been wanting to get to. Today it kind of just happened easily. So I'm excited to record this podcast because today I'm taking another step towards moving out of this fear.
[00:17:49] I can feel myself wanting to be more brave and transparent about sharing my podcast. My brain is starting to think about how to record things ahead of time and solutions are coming more easily. I removed the physical and emotional block of fear and creativity naturally flows. And like a dam, I don't have to blow up the fear to get flow, to start flowing. Even one tiny shift that lets the smallest stream of flow in is enough. That is a good place to start.
[00:18:26] In my program I talk about this idea called the window of tolerance. We want to start within our window of tolerance and continue to expand it. That's our body and minds ability and capacity to manage our allostatic load. Maybe I will post a link to an article that I use in my program about the window of tolerance. You don't have to know a lot about it just know that it exists.
[00:18:55] So self friendship has a feeling in my body and it's one that I want to bring with me to work. Perfectionism has another feeling in my body. And it's one that often has me feeling like I am dangling off a cliff. Not much work or imagination goes on there. When you're dangling off a cliff in that fear place, of course your body and your mind, and your creativity are all smaller, more narrow, focused on surviving. What is important to understand is I don't need to change my circumstances to move from one vagal state to another. I just have to begin to understand that my thoughts and my feelings are inputs into this body mind system.
[00:19:48] That self friendship has one feeling in my body. Perfectionism has another feeling in my body. And I can practice the invitation for the one that is opening me up to creativity. That's a lot of this work. So if you want to know how to work with me, please visit my website, which is just Debmalkin.com.
[00:20:11] I am currently offering an eight week pain recovery program. I teach you the pain science education. And I can point you to all of the research you could ever want, but I encourage all you A students to not read it right now. And we explore your own embodied map. How to apply these tools of awareness, somatic tracking, building new neural pathways, exploring graded exposure and goal setting around movement and life.
[00:20:38]This is about the life that you want to live of your choosing, moving through fear and avoidance with self compassion and self friendship is in fact, the fastest way to change your pain. I hope you have an amazing day. Thank you for listening to the Move With Deb podcast. Soon to be in all the places where you can find podcasts.