[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, feelers and healers. Welcome to move with Deb the podcast. This is episode 50. I had this very interesting experience the other week that I'm excited to share with you. I've been struggling with getting things done, including recording this podcast. And I've been stuck on my to-do list.
[00:01:16] I calendar things. And then I usually ignore it when it comes time to do the things. And being clever and someone who derives positive feelings from achieving tasks, I will then pick what I call a distraction action to do instead. So often it's a less process oriented activity. So it's one that has a clear, simple. Beginning middle and end. And while that helps in my tackling things that need doing my larger desire goal of completing that original task remains undone. And there's a, probably a few reasons why this is happening. The pursuit of dopamine has trained my brain, that I need to have certain positive feelings when putting in effort on a task.
[00:02:04] If I believe that the activity can be successfully completed. I find that focus is much easier to maintain. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, right? There's a reason why that's a saying, and there are measurable markers along the way to tell me kind of where I am in space and time. If I think about this in regards to my body senses, I'm feeling safe and secure in my neuroception.
[00:02:33] I know where I am and what I'm doing. I have a calm belief that my goal will be achieved. But alas, that is pretty much the opposite environment needed for learning and pursuing new unknown activities and building a business and even taking on new technology or new tasks, is not connecting me to my resource, to ventral vagal state, where my physiology is in a relaxed state, the calm heartbeat, and a sense of trust and a belief in my own wellbeing.
[00:03:07] And this is not just a mental process, but also a physiological one. In polyvagal theory, which explores the role of the vagus nerve in the body, there is a mechanism called the vagal break. Just like brakes on a bicycle it's meant to help regulate heart rate, move in and out of sympathetic activation or stress without running off the rails.
[00:03:32] When we have a healthy vagal break, our bodies don't need to resort to adrenaline and stress for the slowing down and breaking So just like a car slamming on the brakes and slamming on the gas to stop and to go and to go and to stop creates a lot of wear and tear, which we call allostatic load.
[00:03:51] So to loop this back into my story, I'm noticing that I'm both not doing my tasks on my to-do list, but I'm also not enjoying the distraction action task, which is often, sometimes have positive emotions around completing. So I was at my friend's house? And I noticed that their refrigerator could use a good cleaning and she's somebody I love and care about and I know that she's been dealing with some extra family stress and it felt like a gesture of love to give to her.
[00:04:24] And I could tell that I was about to do this fridge cleaning, but also have in my head, a running narration that how I should be doing something else. And this awareness gave me pause. It kind of was a shocker because I was about to poop on my own parade and ruin the lovely time I was going to have cleaning out her fridge with my own thoughts. And in this moment I got curious, what would this experience be like if I gave myself full permission to enjoy it as I wanted. That this was exactly what I was supposed to be doing in this moment.
[00:05:04] And it didn't matter if my calendar said some other item. After all, I am my own boss and I make the calendar. So I told myself to really feel every ounce of enjoyment there was to be had in this experience. I put on my headphones, I listened to a podcast and a coaching call. I took out the items from each shelf. And I took the shelves out and I washed them and I systematically went through each section one by one, feeling the satisfaction of placing items back onto the clean shelf. Isn't that completely satisfying. It was so much fun. It was energizing. The experience of taking an action without the drag of the negative self-talk and criticism was liberatory.
[00:05:56] I had forgotten just how good I can feel in my own body doing something simple and mundane. Oh my God. I'm crying even just thinking about that. So I'm just going to say that again. I had forgotten just how good I can feel in my own body doing something so simple and mundane.
[00:06:23] It didn't feel mundane at all. It felt sacred. I felt connected to love, joy, beauty, and my body's capacity for pleasure. If you had told me one day that I'd be talking about this in regards to cleaning a fridge, I would have bet you were lying for I am not a natural cleaner. These skills have been learned by me.
[00:06:49] I have spent probably more years with dirty fridges than without. And I am familiar with the shame that comes with feeling stuck on the how, how to create something different than what already exists, but to do that from a deeply loving place. But having had this experience and chosen it with intention, I created what I think of as a corrective experience.
[00:07:16] I was able to enjoy the pleasure of focused attention without shame. So now that I know that that's possible for me, I thought about how do I apply this awareness to other parts of my life, especially that one task I've been avoiding forever.
[00:07:35] I had another experience way back and I can't remember if I shared it before. So I'm going to share it again. If it's an again, this was with a vacuum and apparently there's a theme with household appliance But I had about 10 minutes to vacuum and my brain was arguing that there wasn't enough time. And after all the work I'd done on understanding my own mind, body process, and yes, cleaning is a mind body process. I knew that this was my perfectionist brain trying a strategy to keep me from taking an action that might be interrupted or not perfect, but I didn't need perfect vacuuming. So what I decided was to let my brain just say whatever it wanted, and I walked over to the closet and I pulled out the vacuum and I plugged in.
[00:08:26] All the while my brain is still telling me there's not enough time to vacuum or my mind said it. Still sometimes having a difficult time telling the difference between my brain and my mind. So some body in my head was creating words that was saying, there's not enough time to vacuum. And I started vacuuming and I did the section I wanted to do.
[00:08:51] I unplug the vacuum and I put it away. My mind was still telling me there wasn't enough time. And in that moment I knew I had cracked open something powerful. I could take action and be successful, even if my mind was telling me the opposite was true. So this week, I decided, with the power of fridge feelings and vacuum vibes that I would tackle my project.
[00:09:19] If the suspense is killing you, I finished it. This is something I have been trying to do for months now, of course, my brain wants to slide over and move to the next thing, but I'm going to take a minute to really celebrate this victory.
[00:09:34] Here's what I did. I decided this was going to be my. I knew my brain was going to tell me that there wasn't enough time to get anything done, but I just allowed my brain to give me all the pushback and I let it talk without resisting and without arguing. No going to debate club on this, no matter how much time I spend on this activity, it's enough. And that over time, each little bit of chipping away at it would get it. And I would lean into the pleasure of the memory of the fridge feelings. I reminded myself, I do know how to focus and that I can experience giant joy in doing so. And I just nipped away at it. And in less than a week, I got it done.
[00:10:27] So why am I telling you about this when it isn't about chronic pain? Because this is related. This is our mind body system at work. My perception of time and my neuroception of safety and my internal critic have affects on my felt senses, my emotions, my energy levels, my cognitive function, my ability to think and communicate with ease.
[00:10:54] I was able to use the fridge feelings as an anchor to feeling resourced, calm and in a state of ventral vagal activation of social engagement. I was looking at my materials and remembering the clients I worked with and how good that felt. Whenever I got distracted, I didn't make that mean anything about my capacity to get the task done.
[00:11:21] I would just gently re-engage bring myself back to present moment awareness. Sometimes I got on a roll so much that I was able to sustain focus for a long time. And I let the pleasure of that inform me. I gave myself a break by not worrying about the outcome while doing the process.
[00:11:43] Our thoughts and beliefs have impacts on our physiology and vice versa. Having developed a deep curious awareness and familiarity of my own internal conversation has helped me shift out of fear responses that increase stress, hormones, signaling fight, or flight response, and I'm able to stay within my window of tolerance or shift activities. When I noticed that I was at the edge.
[00:12:14] nervous system is not about needing to stay in balance all the time or calm all the time, but it's the ability to be flexible and adaptive in a way that's not overtaxing. When I coach on pain, I talk about teaching the brain to pay attention to the sensation of not pain, to lower the high alert, conditioned response to unpleasant sensory experiences when we have ruled in neuroplastic pain. It's a paradox. We cannot teach the brain to pay attention to nothing. Even meditation masters would say that this is a challenging goal and there are physiological benefits to it, for sure. But we can teach the brain to pay attention to pleasant or neutral sensations in the body.
[00:13:11] Which is why when I really allowed myself to feel the full force of joy of cleaning the fridge, I had so much energy. I wasn't creating any drag from my " should be doing something else thoughts." That joy was as real as anything external, the best birthday party, a lovely orgasm, a beautiful sunset.
[00:13:39] My body was deep in pleasurable feeling. And it didn't come from the fridge. If I believe that I would have to spend the rest of my life cleaning fridges. And then when the fridge inevitably stopped giving me the feelings of joy, I would think that I was broken or the fridge cleaning spell was broken. The fridge never gave me the feelings in the first place I did, they're mine.
[00:14:08] I discovered them and magnified them and then got to enjoy them. The magic to feel joy lives in me. So do you get overwhelmed, distracted, or activated by things that you want to do, but they feel impossible. Does that feeling resonate in your body as fatigue or chronic pain? Do you have a sense that those physiological experiences might have a mind body component?
[00:14:38] The other day I was noticing that I wanted to go ride a bike. And where I live there, those city bikes that you can rent. And so I didn't have to have a bike. I didn't have to buy a bike. So the threshold to getting on a bike was very low. And I noticed that my brain was offering me lots of thoughts about how it was not going to be possible for me or going to be hard, or that, like, there were a whole bunch of steps I needed to take before getting on the bike.
[00:15:10] And I could just recognize again, it was that like delaying strategy that I'm so familiar with that is, you know, that's the one that's like, you should be doing something else. But I really wanted to take this idea of the fridge feeling, which was just to jump into the task with your whole body and really just see what happens and enjoy what there is to enjoy.
[00:15:41] And so I just took myself out got on a bike for the first time in over 10 years. And it was like, well, I believe in the beginning. And I was certainly like, oh, A little afraid of getting hit by a car for sure. And, you know, but I knew where the protected bike lanes were. I knew that there was this protected bike lane path along the.
[00:16:09] Uh, along this park. And so I was like, well, what if we just ride here and really enjoy whatever there is to enjoy about this experience? And, yeah, it was fun. It was invigorating. It was exciting. It was a little terrifying. It was energizing. Um, the coolness of the breeze from riding. The fact that like my legs knew what I was doing. And once I got into rhythm, it felt really good. It was a very pleasurable experience and I kind of ran out of gas, about two blocks from my home. So that's not bad. And then I had kind of this very exhausted walk back from re parking the bike, but it was only a few blocks and even then could just decide that I was not in distress.
[00:16:59] Even though I was hot. I had a red tomato face. I was sweating. I didn't have enough water. My body hurt. My legs felt heavy. And in that moment I just said, this is my today body. This is how I feel right now. I could feel all of the memories of shame of being fat and young in the city when it's hot and like, you know, walking and feeling like I couldn't move the way that I wanted to.
[00:17:35] I could remember lots of feelings of shame. Those were memories of shame. And I decided. I didn't have to feel ashamed right now. And then I could enjoy the pleasure of having moved. Enjoy the pleasure of even just the walk home, noticing the people around me, noticing the sweat on my skin, cooling my body down and thinking how miraculous our bodies are to have all of these systems in them that help us. Sweat is, is not shameful.
[00:18:12] Sweat is our bodies working as designed. It's really beautiful. Sweat was cooling my body down and regulating my body temperature. And I just relaxed the pressure to rush through this. And then my legs also felt lighter. I felt more relaxed. I wasn't clenching and pushing through. I was just being with. That power of changing my physiology just by changing my thoughts and my feelings, my mental experience of that moment.
[00:18:53] I went from feeling like I was wearing led pants to feeling like, oh, I'm tired. And I'm looking forward to drinking some water and, taking a shower. That was a big shift. That is a physiological shift. It really felt different. It was not just, oh, I feel better in my feelings or my emotions.
[00:19:17] It was, I feel better in my body when I'm not just trying to push through pain then where I'm trying to be friends with my today body with my, in this moment body. And so in that moment I was tired. I was sweaty. My face was red. I had just gone for a bike ride for an hour or so. It was very, very hot. And I was a person in the world moving the way that I wanted to and remembering lots of feelings of shame.
[00:19:50] And like I didn't program that shame into me. I am just a fat person in a fat body. Living with the social conditioning and working on letting that go. Working on letting go other people's thoughts about me, nobody on this street is looking at me or caring about me or thinking thoughts about me. And even if they were, they weren't saying them to me.
[00:20:19] I am in so much more control and charge of my embodied experience, including my thoughts and feelings about what I am doing. I know that it can be very hard to be a person in a bigger body feeling free to move, especially when we have triggers that are matching the kind of anti-fat messaging and shame that is out there in the culture.
[00:20:51] Right? So like moving slower. Uh, when I walk slower, I am very aware that I am slower than other people, sweating in public, being out of breath. Those are all normal parts of exertion and being a fat person, exerting myself feels very much like, oh, everybody must be thinking about me, judging me. Having thoughts about me, whether they're pity thoughts, whether they're like good for you, kind of thoughts. And, uh, in this process, it's really about me being in my today body experience, moving the way that it's like finding that combo pack of moving the way I want to be moving. And also moving the way that's possible for my body right now and letting go of shame.
[00:21:51] And that every time I do that, I take one step closer to these fridge feelings. Really. I take one step closer to connecting joy and connecting with what feels possible, what feels exciting to do. I loved the feeling of just getting on the bike and I'm like now starting to think about like, oh, that's just a thing that can do.
[00:22:21] I could see a bike and I could just get on it and I can just ride for awhile. I don't have to have a plan. You don't have to become a person who bikes every day, or a person who bikes, you know, multiple times a week. And I don't have to work on my bike conditioning. Like I literally can just get on a bike ride around for a while. See what happens, knowing that I have a lot more control over my experience in my body by managing the experience in my mind.
[00:22:52] So if some of your pain or physiological stuff lies at that intersection, if you are looking for help, and guidance through understanding this internal conversation between your mind and your body, between our nervous system and how to navigate this social body, the one that needs to go to work. The one that deals with navigating stigmatizing systems of care or wanting to find ways to move more and feel better while doing it. I would love to talk to you.
[00:23:24] I've got my calendar open for my 12 week mind, body wellness, chronic pain recovery program. Healing is possible when we understand what's happening in our mind and our body. You are the expert of your lived experience. I am a guide to help you put pieces together and create powerful internal and external change.
[00:23:46] Book a free curiosity call and let's chat about how I can help. So you can find my consults on my website, movewithdeb.com and I'm always sharing things on Instagram, at Instagram movewithdeb. I hope that you are cultivating some fridge feelings for your life. Thank you.