[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 and welcome to Move with Deb, the podcast. And this is where I discuss all things pain reprocessing, how the mind and the body are interrelated and creating the physiological experiences that we are having. And all in service of helping you feel better whether you're dealing with neuroplastic pain or emotional overwhelm. I got you. I am here to help.
[00:01:27] One of the things this podcast is gonna be about is the power of one thought, and if you've listened to me talk about how the mind and body are related together. Talk a lot about thoughts and emotions, how they're interconnected.
[00:01:46] And how what we believe about something can be a factor in how we experience it. So I finished my P R T training, pain reprocessing training which was fantastic. So if anybody is interested in mind body work, if you work with human beings, of any kind who deal with pain, I highly, highly recommend taking this training, with the very skilled people from the pain reprocessing therapy center.
[00:02:20] We had Dr. Yoni Ashar, who is the lead researcher in the Boulder Back Pain Study, and, uh, my former colleague at Lin Health, he was there and it is always a delight to learn from him. Do you know what that is like? Maybe you've had teachers in your life where you're like, I don't really care what they're teaching. I really enjoy learning from them, and that's what it feels like to study with Dr. Ashhar is he's just so present and available and interesting and kind and curious, and he's really able to explain the science behind these studies and the science behind pain. And part of the foundation of pain re processing is understanding neuroscience of pain.
[00:03:16] That pain is an output of the brain no matter what, this is, everybody's brain. Pain is always a decision or an opinion by your brain about what is happening, what it's experiencing. And we like that. It really helps us. It creates our longevity, it creates our ability to get help, to take action, to run from a predator, to do all kinds of things that could helped us survive.
[00:03:44] We were talking about one of the things that they did in the Boulder back pain study was to study this idea of placebo that people knew, that things were, quote unquote placebo. Um, and placebo can elicit the body's natural healing response. What's interesting about placebo is you don't actually have to believe it, for it to be beneficial. So if you tell the right story about placebo, why something works, you can affect change in the body. Isn't that interesting? So much of what I do with my clients, is we actually get into what I call embodied storytelling.
[00:04:25] We start to pay attention to when I feel this, these are the thoughts that are coming up in my mind. This is what I believe about what's happening in my body. This is what I've been told by this provider or this provider, or this is what I think about my body. And often time we uncover old stories. We uncover shame, we uncover all kinds of things that we didn't really even know were in there. We're in our subconscious always bumping up against the sensory experiences that we're having. So one of the things we learned in the study is that psychological treatment can reduce or eliminate chronic pain, and that is the basic premise of the Boulder back pain study.
[00:05:10] And there's the features of pain reprocessing therapy and how people got out of pain. I will link to a cool lecture that Dr. Ashar with Lin Health, and I guarantee that I've already talked about this, but you know, repetition is really important for learning, right? So when we practice new pathways and beliefs, they become encoded. They become well practiced, and part of pain, neuroscience education is the foundation of being able to believe something different. So reduced fear or pain, that's one thing that helped people get out of pain, and by the way, that they helped reduce fear or pain was reduction of pain beliefs. And the more pain came down, the more people were able to say, like, bring it on. I'm not in any danger. It doesn't intimidate me. It meaning these uncomfortable sensations.
[00:06:14] Another foundation of helping people get out of pain is re attributing the causes of pain. They did this baseline word cloud from before the study and after. So before the study, people were saying things like the pain was, you know, in their back and was disc degeneration or herniations or the accident they had years ago. And it was very, very body-based. And then the word cloud afterwards were things like neuro pathways, stress, emotions, beliefs, my brain and less about the previously before believed physiological causes and the bigger the shift to a brain mind cause from a biomedical cause the larger the pain relief that was experienced by people. So the attribution of the cause of pain is really important. One of the things that I help people do is like we start to kind of crack open that belief and the attribution. As we start to achieve some success, the ability to do that reattribution gets easier and easier.
[00:07:26] Another thing they did was track people's brain changes, which is really cool. So they did this F M R I thing where they evoked back pain, and they force the back to move into an uncomfortable position with this like balloon thing. They looked at the people who went through pain reprocessing therapy versus the control group. They reduced pain in regions in the brain through objective brain scan verification via F M R I and prefrontal cortex. So the prefrontal cortex is like meaning making, appraisal. This is not in the somato sensory cortex. What they noticed was in the P R T group, there was less threat interpretation from the body, so it really was this lack of danger. They could see that in the F M R I scan, which I think is really cool, right?
[00:08:24] This is how the mind and the body work together. We appraise sensory information all the time, whether we're doing it consciously, which is what we do when we work on pain appraisal, when we work on sensory reappraisal on purpose, which is thinking and feeling on purpose. Versus kind of what's happening subconsciously all the time, right? We are all the time perceiving things and assessing for threat or safety.
[00:08:56] And then they did work with emotions and relationships. So they research, analyze post-treatment interviews they helped people with emotional allowance and permission to feel, and you know, one of the things they noticed was the clinician's belief in their recovery, the provider's conviction that there was nothing wrong with their body, that they could feel better, created an important role.
[00:09:23] Pain aside. This is one reason I love coaching, because in coaching I have somebody that I am talking to, that I'm working things out with, that I'm exploring and playing, and just being with, one of the things that I notice is I am a verbal processor.
[00:09:43] Even though I'm a big feeler. I'm a somaticizer I am also a verbal processor, and for me, I notice this arc of a journey that my mind and my body go through. Uh, so maybe I'm confused and I get to clarity. Maybe I'm in pain and I get to relief and I learn a lot about myself and I create the foundations for peace and comfort and care throughout my process, I guess that's why it's called processing, throughout my process with this loving witness, whether it's myself or a coach. And so in pain reprocessing, we do this same process, but specifically in dealing with what we feel our sensory input becomes an important part of this, and that we hold the belief and create safety along the way.
[00:10:43] One of the ways that we practice creating safety is by using words. Cuz words are not just innocuous ideas. What we think is directly related to what we feel. I'm gonna share with you a success story for myself, has nothing to do with musculoskeletal pain.
[00:11:07] But it, I think it has to do with like emotional pain or it has to do with feelings certainly. So the other week I was going to a party. I was very, very nervous about it and I wasn't gonna let myself not go, but I also was like very nervous, kind of moody, feeling afraid that I'm not gonna have anybody to talk to cuz I was going solo, I knew that there would be like at least one or two people that I knew there, but you know, maybe they were gonna be busy. And I was going by myself and I was like, okay, I'm going. And then on the drive there, I realized, let me practice a thought on purpose. And I picked this audacious thought to think and to practice and that was, everyone is interested in me and like, it kind of shocked me when I thought of it. I was like, no, I can't possibly think that thought. I mean really!
[00:12:11] Now I know it's not a true thought, right? Like everybody can't be interested in me. Everybody's not interested in me, but I. Thought, how would I act if I assumed that everyone was interested in me? And so I just practiced that thought everyone is interested in me. There was this resonance in my body. There was this sense of relief. There was this exhale that I noticed when I thought that thought. And I walked into the party and I just assumed everyone was interested in me and I felt much more relaxed and I picked up conversation easily, and I ended up having a really delightful time. I think what it did, I'm gonna bring in my other senses.
[00:13:01] What it did for me was I didn't spend the party in insecurity waiting for somebody else to cue to me that they were interested. Whereas like that would be like me kind of scanning the room constantly trying to get somebody's attention, you know, not being sure if they wanted to connect. And I really just got rid of all of that, all of that unsurety, all of that insecurity and just was like, everyone's interested in me. So one, who am I interested in talking to? And then just approaching somebody and starting a conversation. Feeling relaxed when there was a moment I was talking to someone and these two other people kind of came into the conversation and usually I would've like taken that as a cue to leave the conversation that I was in, but I just kind of included them in my, everyone is interested in me, and so I stayed and I became interested in them. That was this interesting moment of where instead of waiting for somebody's approval where I was like allowed to be interested in them or I got the cue from them that like I could be in this conversation.
[00:14:27] I just decided, oh yeah, well one, I'm in this conversation and hey, what is interesting about them? Like let's expand this circle and invite them in. The whole evening went really differently just from this one thought. And that's what I do with clients in pain reprocessing. We work on reducing those pain beliefs.
[00:14:53] One of the stories that Yoni talked about in the study and there's like a clip of this woman saying it, where she was like, oh yeah, now I just like get excited when I feel something and I'm like, bring it on. Like her whole mind and body did a 180 and flipped to be like, yeah not only am I not afraid of what I'm feeling, but in fact I get kind of excited when I feel it cuz you're like, I am not intimidated. Bring it on. I believe I am not in any danger. And now I'm not saying you have to go there, but what if you did? I mean, What would be different in your life if instead of feeling afraid when you first felt some discomfort or pain, that you actually not only just got curious?
[00:15:49] Cuz a lot of times what I invite people into is a practice of I notice, so that we can create some safety in awareness. But even getting rebellious, Even getting feisty or mad even. I mean, I remember way back when I had my pain recovery story, the genesis of it was like my knee was like, Hey, you're a jerk to me. I don't really like how you talk to me. And I was like, oh damn. Okay, knee, I've heard you like message delivered. Now we had a whole conversation. So sometimes the pain is just like, um, hello, hello. Trying to get your attention here. Would really like you to listen. And, you could just be like, all right, you got my attention. What do you want me to know? And then we just listen.
[00:16:43] Part of this is really about creating this new way of paying attention to the body. A whole new framework for understanding our physiological experience and our relationship to stress, and our relationship to stressors and our relationship to the sensations that we feel in our body. Things like our attention system. And what we think of as triggers and how we are habituated to avoid them. And part of the work that I do with my clients is, let's try something different right? So sometimes it is, uh, about noticing a trigger and then using a pattern interrupt, like a kinesthetic one so we're doing bilateral stimulation or we're doing tapping, or we're doing, an emotional drop through, or we're shifting out into peripheral vision, like we're just starting in the body and we're doing something with the body that's different, but we can also do something with the mind that is different.
[00:17:48] So pattern interruption can be thinking and feeling on purpose. So just noticing the thoughts that arise when we feel something aversive and pausing. So that pause. One of my clients calls it just the pause. And I love that. She's like, yeah, I just take the pause. And I was like, yeah, take it. Take the pause.
[00:18:13] It is that place in which she interrupts that automated response pattern that has been conditioned in and everything has changed for her. She has not had to take migraine medication. Her relationship to her workday is different. She takes breaks. She is tending to herself, as a manager in her day job. She's not exhausted all the time when she gets home from work, like so many things have changed. One of the reasons she hired me was she went on a trip to Italy and she wanted it to be successful. She was afraid that chronic pain was going to ruin her trip, and we really did a lot of work on building confidence in breaking these habituated pain behaviors and patterns and bringing awareness so that, yeah, if you have awareness, you have so much cuz you can't change what you don't see.
[00:19:15] And if you have awareness, your ability to make different decisions, to evaluate what's happening in your mind and body, to give yourself messages of safety, there's so many things going down a checklist that we can do. And so cognitively with our thoughts, we can also create change.
[00:19:39] And so we want to pause and then offer a thought that changes things. One of my favorites, especially with dealing with memories, hard memories that come up or fear about the past repeating itself. This is a simple one. This is not that. I've been doing that lately, dealing with some memories about, old breakup and a hard time, you know, o over a decade ago, but some of those memories are popping up here cuz there's some similarities of factors going on in my life. And I'm noticing that some of those memories of those hard times are breaking through in ways that are unpleasant. And I don't want to not remember things, but I also want my body to remember that like, This is not that, this is now, this is now.
[00:20:34] So this is not, that is like this great message to my body that whatever happened in the past is in the past it is over. And this is not that. I am right here and I have learned a lot of things and I, you know, have my own back in ways that it wasn't even possible for me back then. And also I wanna love that me, that me, that did the best that they could way back then. And this is not that. And I have a chance to take care of myself in a different way.
[00:21:07] Pulling from that woman's, thoughts from her pain reprocessing series. There is nothing wrong with my body. When she was saying that on the video, she was so triumphant and now that's a hard one for people to believe right off the bat.
[00:21:24] But I've noticed that people, when we work with neuroplastic pain, when we work with TMS or mind body syndrome, however you want to describe it. When we work with perceived danger pain, when we l work with this idea that pain is a learned experience by the brain when we start to come out of it, there really I find, gets to be this turning point in which people can say with confidence, there is nothing wrong with my body.
[00:21:54] And that's such a fun, cool place to get to. One of my other favorites is, I'm safe having feelings, right? I'm allowed to have feelings. I'm safe having feelings, having any feeling is my superpower. My thought from the party, which was everyone here is interested in me. Another one is, I believe I'm okay no matter what. This is the Glennon Doyle one, right? I can do hard things. That's a popular one. I can do hard things. There's another one, like feeling fear doesn't mean there's a danger to me, right? So part of when we're doing sensory reappraisal is we are going through this process of like, well, I'm noticing that I feel fear, but I can, you know, use my prefrontal cortex and say, okay, but I'm not in danger. It's okay if I feel afraid, but I am not in danger right now.
[00:22:52] So there are so many ways to explore thinking and feeling on purpose to help you create that inner connection that changes things. So that's my suggestion for you right now, is to use your words on purpose for your highest benefit. Some people like think about thought swapping and there's no bad thoughts, there's just unhelpful ones, right? For anybody who understands the model or who uses a process of thought work, I always wanna say, you know, we do the thought work for our highest benefit. And it is a process. It's an awareness tool. Oftentimes what we can do is just start to notice all of these thoughts that are just burbling to the surface. And they don't all need to be changed. They're not like hot potatoes. They're not like, you know, grenades. There are one already in there when we create awareness about these subconscious thoughts, like we have been thinking them anyway.
[00:23:56] We just haven't been aware of it. So yeah, sometimes when we become aware of our like unhelpful thoughts, we're like, ah, man, we kind of get even more like depressed or we get like more overwhelmed like, oh my God, I've thinking all these things. But like if you just pause and take a moment. I mean, you were already thinking it, you just weren't really aware of it. And so this is the best thing to become aware of it.
[00:24:24] You don't have to be in a rush. You don't have to change every thought. Having an unhelpful thought is not a danger. It's just something we wanna notice. My coach and teacher Kara says it's usually like five thoughts that are like wearing different outfits.
[00:24:41] And so you can even start to sense themes that are happening, whether they're about other people's attention or, sometimes they're about like attachment, right? Attachment, love, connection. Sometimes they are about safety, like needing resources, support and that gets fuzzy cuz sometimes like needing resources, are we talking about physical resources or were you talking about emotional resources? Oftentimes they overlap. Whether it's about repeated patterns that we don't want to happen again. And so there's a way that the brain can be like that thing, that thing that I absolutely hated. That was the worst thing that ever happened to me. That thing I don't wanna have happen again. So I am just gonna keep reminding you of it all the time just so you can. Like, Hey, help me out here. We don't ever want that. We don't want anything that looks like it, smells like it, sounds like it. Like anything that even comes close to it. I'm gonna ring those alarm bells really, really loudly, just so you know to run away.
[00:25:48] And so part of this process of creating awareness, slowing things down, thinking and feeling on purpose. Interrupting those habitual patterns is being able to have empowered ways to change what you're experiencing today and in the future. Because we cannot go back in the past and change what has already happened. But we sure as hell can affect how what has happened in the past affects us now and what affects us continuously.
[00:26:24] What I love and what is still so shocking and surprising about the Boulder back pain study, about my own work in my mind and body. What I help my clients with is that psychological thinking can affect change in the body. So when I help people get over decades of migraines, I'm not doing anything to their body. I'm helping them experience the sensations that they're having in their body differently.
[00:26:56] It's kind of all we're doing is updating this predictive code of the brain. Maybe it is a little like Jedi mind trick, right? And so what we're trying to do is create this awareness piece and use that, those same kind of powers of thinking and feeling of influencing, our mind and body and retraining the brain so that we actually get the Jedi experience that we want to be having.
[00:27:30] If you have a thought that you've used in the past, like have you used, sometimes people use this in one area of their life and then don't think about using this in another area of your life. So have you ever like practiced a thought or belief on purpose, maybe about work and then you're like, didn't think about doing it with your body, or maybe you thought about it in regards to relationships and then didn't think you could use it around work or around physiological experiences. So I just want to challenge you to try to practice, to get curious, could even use curiosity to help you find words that help you feel better, right? So when you start to notice a sense of relief, oftentimes my clients we'll go through a process and we'll get to this place, and I can see their shoulders drop, their chest soften, and I asked them What's going on? And they're like, yeah, I could take a full breath now.
[00:28:34] So I want you to notice when you go from feeling constricted to released or relaxed, how did that happen? Do a little bit of analysis. What is the thought that came along with that experience? Why did that change happen for you? Because then you'll be able to think like a scientist.
[00:28:56] And put that into an experiment and practice. And just notice in your body what you're able to change by the power of one thought. If you wanna guide, I am here. You can book a curiosity call with me. I am so happy to talk to you about the work that I do and how you can work with me and I'm hoping that you are putting on your curiosity hat. And maybe even listen to this podcast again. I'll like listen to something all the way through and I'll get, like, something will be like, oh my God, yes, whatever that is. And then I'll like listen to it again and go deeper. I hope some of these words have created some excitement and interest and belief in change being possible for you. Thank you for listening bye.