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] Hello, and welcome to move with Deb. This is episode number 30. So today's podcast is like an appetizer of a much larger concept and piece of work that I am thinking about, working on, talking to people about. So it's in a kind of a raw, early stages place. So just go with me. I'm going to ask some questions that maybe you haven't thought of before. That's what I'm often trying to do is help us crack open this world of perception of both our sensory experiences and the meaning that we make out of them to help us change our physiological experience.
[00:01:45] So this one is called like external threats and internal thoughts. I was thinking about this thing about being fat and having physical pain always being blamed on my physical size. And just this kind of growing up as a person who's always had to defend their humanity. So in some ways, there's this kind of internal defensive stance that has been necessitated by white, cis, hetero, patriarchy, dominant culture. That like anybody, who's not that has to defend their humanity, has to defend their normalcy, their right to exist.
[00:02:33] So what if we just stopped that? What if we don't need to prove the innateness of being queer. What if we don't need to prove that there's more than one gender. What if we don't need to prove that fat bodies are worthy bodies.
[00:02:50] Also this research is important, right? There's so much important work being done right now because these biases kill. But what if, on a personal individual level, we can ask ourselves these questions. Because how are we internalizing this need to prove our worth and value?
[00:03:12] How do you let yourself just be. Do you feel entitled to existing? Or do you feel like you have to prove yourself all the time?
[00:03:21] So what if we can start discovering these sneaky thoughts and beliefs that are driving our feelings of overwhelm, unworthiness and more. And let other people keep their manuals about what's normal and what's right and what's okay. I understand I am providing a very simplistic idea. But there is a point at which we get to decide.
[00:03:48] I am worthy. I am born worthy. Doesn't matter what other people think. It doesn't matter if I'm quote unquote productive. It doesn't matter if I succeed.
[00:03:59] And it would be easier to say all of that and we would feel the physiological benefits of not having to hustle to pay rent. Not having to live in poverty, not having to deal with racial injustice. So I, I understand I am proposing a simplistic idea.
[00:04:20] But are you aware of the effects of other people's thoughts about your body, on your thoughts and feelings about your body?
[00:04:28] In Lisa Feldman Barrett's book, How Emotions Are Made she discusses the idea of categorization. It's the process by which the brain uses a concept to make sensory input meaningful. The constructed view of emotions, claims that the brain creates experiences and perceptions from more basic ingredients.
[00:04:48] So in every waking moment, your brain uses past experience, organized as concepts to guide your actions and give your sensations meaning.
[00:04:59] In my course, I talk a lot about the brain is a predictive organ and how we can change our perception of sensory experience. Meaning is not neutral. Meaning is very culturally informed by bio-psycho-social forces. And so of course we live with other people's meanings inside of our bodies.
[00:05:24] So I have a few articles that I'm going to attach to the transcript. There's an article about how people's words and actions can actually shape your brain. There's the glossary from her book, how emotions are made, and then there's an article about predictive coding and interoception, which I just think is interesting.
[00:05:49] I talk about biology because it's important. Because we all have a brain. We all have a body. And we all have a nervous system. And even though our experiences within the world is different. The brain and the body and the nervous system all operate relatively similarly.
[00:06:10] So once we understand why our body's doing something we can also begin to decode it in a more neutral way in a less personalized way. Right. But also in a way that's dynamic. I want us to start thinking about our brains and bodies as dynamic beings. Just like Lisa Feldman Barrett's work about the constructed view of emotion. These are not fixed states. So it's not like somebody with this kind of brain has this kind of experience or this kind of person with this kind of trauma has this kind of experience. It's not identity based.
[00:06:56] It's meaning based. And when we collect as a group, we make meaning together. But I really want this part about the dynamism dine-in ism. Is that a word? The dynamic ness of our mind and body experience to be understood because that's where the role of neuro-plasticity comes in. Everybody's brains are also plastic. And so we can through re-interpreting meaning. We can rewire the brain.
[00:07:30] With that said. Today I had an online conversation with a friend which was so helpful. She was honest with me. And told me that my work sounds like what folks in pain and people in marginalized bodies hear a lot. Thoughts like it's your fault. And it's in your head. And I just need to say emphatically. I don't believe that either of those things are true.
[00:07:55] And neither do any of my teachers or the clinicians I work with. Or any of the neuroplastic pain educators or therapists that I know of, that I follow and that I listened to. They completely believe that you are feeling exactly what you are feeling. Dr. Sarno once said that TMS, which was his name for neuroplastic pain hurt more than any kind of structural pain ever hurt.
[00:08:22] So we believe you. This pain is awful. And it is not in your head. It is in your body, but it is of your head. As in all pain is made in the brain. So I'm going to say that again. It is in your body. It is felt in your body, but it is of your head as all pain is.
[00:08:42] All pain is made in the brain. The brain decides everything we experience. It's our subconscious grand master. And it's not your fault because it conditioned response of a subconscious protective occurrence. What neurons learn is neutral.
[00:09:00] There's no reason for why your brain has perpetuated this predictive coding of the brain. It's often we have a sensation or we heal from something and the loop of evaluation, the prediction loop of the sensory experience gets stuck in on mode, in danger mode, in watch out and organize your life around not feeling this mode.
[00:09:23] And that's why I also talk about emotions. Because repression is repression from the brain's point of view. If we create a conditioned response to not feel something, when that sensation arises, whether it's your butt in a particular chair or a difficult memory. Your brain will do what it needs to do to protect you.
[00:09:46] Even if that is turning the pain on high, even if that's turning up the volume on your sensory experience on your unpleasant sensory experience. The brain is really good at what it does. Keeping you alive. Allostasis. But it is not smart as in being able to decide when to stop paying attention to an unpleasant sensation, you need to teach the brain that. And that's through education awareness, emotional allowance. Body-based tools like somatic tracking. Trauma work.
[00:10:21] This is trauma work. This is nervous system work. This is teaching your brain what you decide is safe because you want to live with less or no pain. Not because you would be a better worker. Not because then you wouldn't be disabled. This is about getting free from the biased messages about your body.
[00:10:43] Or the well intention, but unfortunately, harmful messages about your body. This is not about identity. Pain is a normal human experience. We all feel. And we will all feel pain in our lives. Physical and emotional pain. And persistent pain and many chronic conditions are stress illnesses, which are bio psycho-socially driven.
[00:11:08] But anyone who has a brain and has a nervous system can also learn these tools. Regardless of the stress and factors in their lives. I have clients who've been suffering for years in bed and get well. They define well for themselves, not to reenter the workforce, but because everybody deserves to be free of chronic persistent pain.
[00:11:35] Just like everyone deserves food and shelter and healthcare. And I know that not everything is a mind, body illness. But a lot of chronic pain is a subconscious learned process that can be learned. We also need accessible spaces and wheelchair ramps and accommodations. This work isn't meant to take any of that away.
[00:11:59] The real trauma of having a body that is perceived as broken or not worthy is absolutely real. And the fear we hold because of the impact of racist, homophobic, fat phobic, trans hating neuro-typical, white supremacist ideals is experienced in the body.
[00:12:19] And learning this work is vital because I don't know about you, but if we need the world to right itself before pain can go away, that's a losing proposition. It is not okay for only white middle to upper class people to get access to this work. And is hella white. And I talk about that in my program that's in week one.
[00:12:42] This concept while popularized in the 1980s with Dr. Sarno's books and work. That was before the internet was a thing. Big pharma and big medicine weren't interested in pain interventions that are inexpensive and aren't based around equipment or drug sales or surgeries. No one at NYU was even interested in referring their clients to him, not when they could perform surgery and provide an intervention. Even though there's countless studies to dispute the efficacy of surgery for curing back pain.
[00:13:19] We now only have the first comprehensive pain study about this process coming out soon. The Boulder Back Pain Study. This is decades after Dr. Sarno helped thousands of people heal from pain.
[00:13:34] No one deserves to suffer. Pain when we understand the complexity of it makes total sense. It's our body taking the very best care of us it can using the only tools at its disposal, the beliefs and perceptions about its sensory experience. Once you come to understand this and create that understanding in your body as an embodied practice. You can change your brain's meaning of sensory input and your body will respond.
[00:14:13] That is what this work is. And a lot of what happens, the trauma part, the unlearning part is about unraveling this lifetime of meaning that we have learned little bits and bobs about our bodies. And it's gotten into our subconscious and we've organized our survival as best we can around it.
[00:14:38] So that's my impassioned plea.
[00:14:41] There is nothing that I have any interest in telling you that this pain is not real. Nor is this pain something that you are at fault for. Or that you shouldn't be experiencing.
[00:14:57] But this process is real. I don't know how else to explain it.
[00:15:04] But this unlearning, relearning neuroplastic process is real. Just like you have learned everything you have learned in your life to this point. Just like you've learned any motor pattern. Or habit, which your body then automates and delivers to you without thinking.
[00:15:26] You could learn a new pattern. Could play a new song on the piano. You can rewire your sensory experience. It's all the same process. Except this is with our interoception. Our neuroception. Our perception. All the "ceptions". And with our belief. And with fear.
[00:15:47] I try my best to be a good guide, to honor everything that you have been through. And to show you as Alan Gordon, has named his new book. The Way Out.
[00:15:59] So if you're ever interested in working with me, I encourage you to go to my website.debmalkin.com. Follow me on Instagram at @movewithdeb. I am sharing a lot of experiences around rewiring pain on there. I share reviews and tidbits and experiences from my clients. I share articles and information that I think would benefit people. I am happy to share.
[00:16:26] It's my pleasure and honor to hear your stories and to work with you. And to help you facilitate any change that you want to make in your life.