[00:00:00] 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, The Podcast, this is episode 48. I'm excited to share a mind-body skill I was just reminded of. It's called yes, I'm willing to feel this, or maybe I should call it, I am not dying, but I feel like I am and that's okay. So I've been doing more things to get my heart pounding and my anxiety revved up.
[00:01:18] My quick to fear brain has been going. And one of the things I've been practicing a lot lately is my skill of noticing. So working on my, I notice I'm thinking X, when I think X, I feel these sensations in my body. Then sometimes I do some somatic tracking and do some vagus nerve exercises, the Physiological Sigh from Dr. Huberman. And then today involved some wacky dancing, singing show tunes. I mean like singing show tunes really, really loudly in my car to help me process the activation in my body from the anxiety. And the universe was like, yup, here you go. It's a sign that you are okay. Because the song Married from Cabaret that I sang back when I was a kid at French Woods Festival Of The Performing Arts in probably 1986, uh, came on Sirius XM, Broadway station. Whoever plays that song, nobody plays that song. Like that song is not a Broadway tune song rotation. So Sirius XM was like sinking up with my brain and giving me a little love. It was a little bit of like, yeah, you got this. Just be you.
[00:02:41] And then the next song was When The Parade Passes By from Hello Dolly and if that is not a rousing get on with life kind of song, um, I like, I don't know it is, that's a classic, right? And so I thought maybe the radio was sending me messages. I'll say that show came out on the year of my birth. So I'm taking that as a good sign and so those were the things that I was doing with helping me process heightened anxiety in my body. I've got an article from psychology today that talks about some tips on using that for combating fight or flight urges. So I'll link to that in the show notes.
[00:03:27] So all of that was stuff I wrote like three weeks ago. Today is April 9th. So I wrote these notes more than three weeks ago and then nothing. And what I'm noticing is like, yes, I dealt with the sensations in my body, but I still wasn't dealing with the fact that like I was in this like really intense state for a few weeks of feeling a lot of a lot of very heightened anxiety and I kind of went into this avoidance mode. I just didn't want to feel it. And I had a hard time talking about it and, um, I just didn't want to make the podcast, like, I didn't want to make the podcast about that I was like moving into this state of noticing and friendship with my anxiety and my body and brain were like, yeah, but also not. Also we are not okay in that moment.
[00:04:32] And so, I'm coming back now after a few weeks of doing some work. So one I've, uh, like really been working on this strong nervous system shut down response. So not making the podcast was definitely a result of my nervous system being like, we are not available to just kind of like go on with life as usual.
[00:04:59] I still went to work. I focused my energy in other places, so I like finished putting some furniture together, but I just noticed that I was really in this avoidance mode. So I've been working through some really strong nervous system stuff, not fight, but fucking flight and freeze.
[00:05:20] And it showed up for me, really hardcore as avoiding my work. So not just this work, but also the work to revamp my one-on-one coaching program. My research and progress on this pain innovator program that I'm in and with the podcast. And I have been telling myself. You know that I'm overworking, but it wasn't really true. I was not overworking. I was overwhelmed.
[00:05:47] I got really triggered by events that were happening in the health at every size community, regarding the actions of Lindo Bacon and the community response online. And I'm only going to discuss this in regards to witnessing my own mind and body. I'm taking this as an opportunity to do a deeper layer of work about my beliefs on my emotional safety, what wellbeing is for me, where I find it. I am working on unlearning old unhelpful patterns and creating new ones.
[00:06:20] And so this triggering of pulling back from my work, it just sent me into this fear cycle, which logically I can understand that it's not rational. I am not threatened in any way. And yet my mind and body were having a reaction, having a fear reaction. At the very least I could recognize what was going. Like through my self coaching practice, I have a very well-developed watcher who's like a loving witness for whatever is happening in the moment.
[00:06:52] And then I got to work on allowing the emotions, getting coaching, sensing into safety, to bring my nervous system back to a place of feeling resourced and resilient. And it still didn't lead me to taking any actions towards getting these things done. I could tell that I was avoiding the work that I wanted to do. But now instead of shaming myself, or instead of only shaming myself, I got curious. I began to ask myself why. With all the love that I could foster, right. And that's different. You can ask yourself why from a place of judgment, you can ask yourself why with love.
[00:07:33] And I did what we called in my coaching practice, a thought download. And it can be so helpful to see all the thoughts that are running around in my brain and my subconscious to get them out of the dark and into the light. So I can begin to see what's been poking me with sharp sticks.
[00:07:49] When I was thinking about my pain innovator project, which is about the effects of weight stigma on pain. This feeling I had was pressure. The thought that created the feeling of pressure is I have to do this work only I can do this. That thought created this intense sense of pressure.
[00:08:09] And also it created this sense of isolation. It's really interesting because what I'm often trying to create for myself is belonging. But belonging is a feeling and it's not a fact, right? So I was thinking about what was happening with ASDAH and feeling separate. But also the facts are that I'm not a member of ASDAH. I don't participate in formal health at every size work. And maybe that doesn't make me a part of this community. And what am I afraid of if somebody says I don't belong here?
[00:08:45] So that was kind of the roundabout way, right? So I was feeling a lot of pressure to do this work, then feeling pressure to do it perfectly. And then feeling like my belonging was at risk and then recognizing one that I actually don't really participate in this formal health at every size work and also really questioning what am I afraid of if someone says that I don't belong here.
[00:09:17] So those were a lot of emotions that were coming up. Lots of intense emotions about belonging, community, friendship, collaboration. How we operate, you know, in terms of changing ideas both about weight stigma, and also for me changing ideas about what pain is.
[00:09:38] And I definitely have a lot of fear that people hear what I'm saying as blaming people for their pain, which I am never doing, but I also understand we live in a world in which we are often just blamed for the things that are happening in our bodies, especially if we're fat.
[00:09:58] And then other things that were happening also was like, I'm so angry with doctors and medical professionals who foster and perpetuate weight stigma. So right now I'm not feeling able to work with or harness that anger in ways that leads me closer to sharing my work, to doing research, to even hopping up on this podcast again, and talking about other stuff besides weight stigma.
[00:10:26] My primary thoughts about this was I was too emotional to be taken seriously. I have my own unprocessed trauma of old doctor's appointments that are like ready to pop out at me, like a bad horror movie. And those are real, those feelings and fears are real. But my work ability with anger is what is perpetuating this belief that I am too emotional. And so by resisting learning how to feel angry and also show up for my work I'm in essence proving the thought "I'm too emotional" true.
[00:11:06] Through understanding neuro-plasticity and how emotions are made and arise in my body, I can begin to see the way for me to learn how to process and allow an emotion and also show up in action for the things I want to create in the world in a way that is supportive and loving to me. With my brain, just as I am.
[00:11:29] And that's really my greatest wish because I deserve that kind of care from me, regardless of what society says about my body or even about my emotions. So I can also decide that anger, fear, frustration and sadness are a hundred percent appropriate when we're talking about the very real impacts of stigma on human beings. So it can be something I find workability with. I don't only want to feel overwhelmed and shut down. I don't only want to dissociate or fall into a haze of avoidance.
[00:12:11] And also it's, it's not only me. It's a mythology that I'm willing to let go of that creates a heightened sense of pressure and importance, right? That this, like, it's only me. I'm the only one who can fix this. I have to do all of this and create all the change. That also is some of what's in there creating the intensity, creating the urgency. When I opened my eyes out of this internal pain, I see that there are many collaborators for me to explore these intersections with, and that desire is driving me towards action. And isn't that what is being discussed in HAES right now that there's not only one creator, that white supremacy works to individualize collective creation, and also that white people are commodifying the work of black and brown people, and it's not leading to effective systemic change.
[00:13:12] In my coaching model, we discussed that actions flow from our feelings. So today I was thinking about this whole experience of my nervous system freeze response, and maybe I will call it a trauma response. I was noticing that one of the thoughts that was related to this thought I have to do this as in, I have to do this project I signed up for, is that I don't actually have to. That I can finish taking this course and not complete the project. I can let it fade into the distance with so many other things I've started and not completed in my life. I realized I was thinking about these stories that I've been carrying around for over 40 years, about how I start things and I don't complete them.
[00:13:59] And, you know, I think that's going to be a story for another day as well. Right. How to stop bringing up this kind of evidence of stories and revisiting them. Because one thing I know and believe about neuroplasticity is the more we hold a story and tell it and retell it. The more automated it becomes. The more my thoughts seamlessly recall that memory and all the other "evidence" I have for why this thought is true, leading me to ignore all of the other proof of things I have done. And I have created since then, the projects I have completed. Negativity bias has us keeping an eye on what's going to bite us just to keep us safe. So I've weaponized my own childhood against me.
[00:14:50] The other day it came to a head. I can at least, refuse to be my own bully. I know I won't get it all right. But if I'm not willing to do anything, nothing changes, nothing changes in my brain and nothing changes in the world. The wiring stays the same.
[00:15:10] So I was thinking about how I created my own demand avoidance with this experience, I'm going to call it the desire demand avoidance cycle. And this is the endless dance of the perfectionist or the highly sensitive person, or neurodivergent human. So you take your pick, but if you've ever heard of PDA, which is pathological demand avoidance, this feels similar. But I want to explore this concept without the pathology construct, because I believe that diagnoses can sometimes get in the way of curiosity. And I am not dismissing anyone's diagnosis. I actually don't have the power to do that.
[00:15:53] There's a bunch of articles on the internet about demand avoidance and I'm going to link to one that I really liked in the show notes. The more I read about demand avoidance, the more I feel like at least for me, because I'm talking about it as an adult, is that it's a side effect of perfectionism in that perfectionism leads you to believe that if you do everything perfectly, you would feel good.
[00:16:19] This is a misuse of emotions and a lack of understanding about how the mind and body work together. It is related to distress intolerance and a lack of emotional and physical safety around uncertainty and it is learned even if some of it is due to wiring for heightened sensitivity.
[00:16:42] I think there's a deeply profound power in demand avoidance. When the demands are unjust or unspoken to conform, get small, limit your self expression, code switch or mask to stay safe.
[00:16:56] And again, I know there's a lot of scholarship around PDA with children and autism and it all overlaps. But in this instance, I'm going to be looking at cognitive and somatic experiences in my body when I think of something I want to do, which is a desire as a demand.
[00:17:13] There's this article in ADDITUDE magazine about a parent, who's raising her son and she calls him a cat in a dog world. And I feel like that's the perfect metaphor for my brain. She speaks of collaboration being possible, but compliance is not possible. I think this is something I experienced in my own nervous system.
[00:17:36] When I try to force myself to do something or believe something, even if it's something lovely about myself, I can experience that as stressful and anxiety making. The demand of a belief doesn't feel welcomed. I feel resistance, that resistance is felt in my body loudly and strongly unpleasant. But she describes cooperation however, is very possible and far more likely when you relinquish the idea of compliance.
[00:18:09] And so I have to do this with myself. First I recognize I don't have to technically do anything. I don't have to shower. I don't have to eat. I don't have to live in a house. I don't have to wear shoes. I don't have to go to work. I don't have to come to Florida and help my dad. I don't have to do anything.
[00:18:31] I just might not like the consequences of not taking certain actions. But I start there. And I'm talking about me and I think we can all look at the places in which we have this same belief that there are things we have to do. There are people who don't have access to a shower, don't have access to a house. I'm not talking about that. Right. I'm talking about when you have a place to live. If you have a shower, right? If you have access to any kind of food, it's this sense of pressure that we feel with this belief of I have to, this demand. So I start there, because when I realized that I'm choosing all the things that I'm doing, I can begin to examine if I like my choices and my reasons for choosing them.
[00:19:23] Sometimes I might not make a different choice when I explore my reasons for choosing, I can discover that maybe, I don't like my reasons. And then that's totally workable. Let me give an example. Coming to Florida and take care of my dad. So there's this sense of like, oh, I'm his daughter and I like have to come and take care of him. And so then the action is like I come down and I take care of him. Right. So the thought is I have to. And, but that feeling is, um, pressure. And then the action that I'm taking, you know, get on the plane, come to Florida, come to his house, help him. Now the result then of what we call a model would be that I pressure myself into coming to Florida and taking care of my dad.
[00:20:16] Whereas when I think about this as well, I don't have to, I'm choosing to, I can also. Begin to own my own agency in my choice, because I am an autonomous person and I don't have to. I'm choosing to do it, but it's kind of not really fair to myself. If I am the one choosing and also telling myself that somebody else is making me do this right. And this, somebody else is my subconscious.
[00:20:47] So instead when I think about it as I'm choosing to come and take care of my dad, that feeling might be resolved. That feeling might be compassion for both of us. That feeling might be tender. And then I would take the same action, but then my result is I show up with tenderness for both of us and that feels different. So the action is the same, but the experience is now different. Um, and he just gets to be himself. So there's a lot of nuance and workability in this exploring this demand avoidance.
[00:21:31] Cause if I'm avoiding things, there's often a reason why I'm avoiding things. And the answer is not just to shame myself and force myself into doing things right. It's really about cultivating this curiosity. So it brings me back to the podcast that I was writing weeks ago. My "I'm not dying, but I feel like I am and that's okay." Uh, the willingness to take action, like write this podcast, work on my program, calendar so I have time for me to enjoy my life, work on my pain innovator project and on reopening my coaching program. And building on my continued growth and joy in learning and continuing to help my clients discover their subconscious demand avoidances, and unspoken resistance, and how to find a path forward towards compassionate, willingness, and nervous system friendship and creative action strategies.
[00:22:34] That has been an incredibly profound experience for me because it really shows me that so much of the change that I am looking for is completely possible and it lives with inside me. So I'm showing up for me now, and for me in the future with all the love and understanding of the me in the past that carried around a painful story for 40 years. The me who quits jobs over perceived demand avoidance. The me who feels real emotional and physical pain because of this internalization of an over-protective hypervigilant nervous system that absorbed societal messages that I am a less worthy human being due to my size or my sexuality and the way that my brain works.
[00:23:27] What both life coaching helped me discover and pain coaching helped me understand through neuroscience is we need to be willing to do things before we feel like we can. Because of the way that our brain works, learning is an act of imagination and faith. This meatball in a box that we call our brain only knows what we tell show, perceive, interpret from the world around us. We are taking in data all the time and deciding what it means. When we create and build a life upon an interpretation of one moment and continue to find evidence for this belief and practice it. We are inadvertently building that super highway in our brain and calling it the truth. We call it the truth only because it's so automatic that it feels true in our body. That feeling of truth in our body is confirmatory. But that interoception, that body felt sense awareness, isn't necessarily the truth. It is only the truth of a strong feeling. A strong feeling is not veracity. But then we don't want to just be like, well, if I feel it, then it's not true. There's no true or not true, right? There's no right or wrong, in this regard, it is the ability to have an internal conversation in which we build trust in our own perception.
[00:25:04] So coaching is a practice by which we slow things down so much that we make what's previously been automatic and unseen, seen. So we can be active and applying our agency, updating our brains prediction and reinforcing the neural pathways that we want to be strengthening. That conscious practice and learning is a foundation of change. Not just for our minds, but for our bodies.
[00:25:33] As I'm going to continue to create, I'm going to feel discomfort. I'm going to feel scared and anxious and freaked out sometimes. I'm going to have big emotions. Um, mostly because I'm me, right? Like, have you met me? I have big emotions and I'm going to believe that I know how to build the tools to support me while I explore the work I'm excited to create.
[00:26:00] We all have desires. But are you treating them like demands? And if you are, can you get curious about that? That's what I am doing. That's where this work is leading me right now is to get curious about that felt sense of a demand emerging from something I have a desire for.
[00:26:25] We always think going after our goals and trying to get what we want and if we get what we want, it's going to feel great. And that is such a source of pain for so many people, is this kind of achievement, arrival fallacy. Because it's not often true. It's like how we engage in activities, how we experience our life while we're doing something is where we can create the change, where we can invite this awareness and invite the sense of self friendship, compassion, curiosity, delight, and this willingness to feel the discomfort, not as a red light, but as the invitation for some deeper conversation and healing, it's a place of healing.
[00:27:25] So that's kind of where I'm at. I'm going to keep moving this podcast forward. I have many things that I want to say. I think sometimes my ADHD brain is like, I have to say them all right now. And it has to be perfect and I should have done it yesterday. And Ilovemybrain is my word of the year.
[00:27:44] And I'm going to just be really patient with it because those thoughts are not going to lead me towards the actions of actually creating the podcast, having the conversations that I want to. But I also trust that I am able to learn. I also trust that I am a hundred percent willing to show up for myself in love and friendship.
[00:28:11] And as I said earlier in this podcast, I'm going to refuse to be my own bully. I am not doing that anymore. So I'm hoping that. You'll keep hearing from me and not hoping you will keep hearing from me. I'm going to keep moving this conversation forward. Keep sharing with you. I love hearing that this podcast is helpful for you and I am looking forward to sharing more of my work around, mind, body stuff around pain and weight stigma and how the nocebo effect works on our brain, there really is so much to say.
[00:28:55] Please hop on my Instagram at move with Deb. Let's start having conversations about how we can create experiences in the world that we want to be having by working with our mind and our bodies. I am wishing you well, and I will keep you updated and all of the progress of all of the things that I am doing. Thank you.