There are some “spiritual” schools of thought that seem to lead us to believe we should always be happy, upbeat, joyful, grateful, and only things that are positive.
And that if we feel anything less than that, well we aren’t doing our work or that we are doing something “wrong.”
Yet this constant false positivity is dangerous because it doesn’t allow us to acknowledge where we are at in the present moment and that it is part of being human to sometimes feel less than amazing.
I believe it can even contribute to things like illness when we are constantly suppressing how we feel.
We all experience up and down cycles within our emotional and mental states.
It would be unreasonable to think we should always be positive, upbeat and happy and never experience feelings of sadness, frustration, or depression.
In my own life, I have come to observe this pattern where after weeks of feeling good about life, in the flow, and happy, then I hit a low patch.
In the low, everything feels heavier, more challenging, more emotionally overwhelming. Feelings of sadness, grief, or frustration can come to the surface. The low definitely doesn’t feel so good.
In fact, right now, I am in a little bit of a low.
Yet when I start getting into thinking that I should resist the low, force myself out of it, or when I judge or blame myself for experiencing the low, that is when things get worse.
It is natural to experience this ebb and flow cycle in life and the more we push against the low, get frustrated by it, or judge or blame ourselves for feeling it, the harder it becomes to move through it.
Resisting the low or thinking negative thoughts about ourselves because of the low doesn’t honor that it is a part of our natural cycles of life AND it also makes certain feelings and emotions seem WRONG.
If you are sad and down, allow yourself to feel those feelings.
If you are frustrated and feel stuck, again allow yourself to feel those feelings too.
ALL EMOTIONS ARE JUST ENERGY.
When we give ourselves space to simply be present with what we are experiencing and we get curious about if there is a deeper meaning or message to how we are feeling that we need to examine, things can begin to move and shift in a very natural way.
When we fight the feelings or we suppress them, the energy of them often grows stronger and it becomes harder for it to dissipate.
It is only when we become stuck in the negative and spiral downwards over a longer period of time that it becomes problematic.
If, instead, we feel our feelings, whether we see them as positive or negative, and we let them show us what we need to see, that is where true healing and transformation can occur.
INSIDE I CRINGED WHEN EVERY CONVERSATION BEGAN WITH “HOW ARE YOU FEELING??”
After I was told (incorrectly) that I had leukemia back in 2004, I remember feeling like all the parts of me, all of the pieces of my identity that had existed before were gone.
The Lyn that was the daughter, the friend, the grad student, the dancer, the healthy and alive woman… all the parts of me, suddenly disappeared.
One minute all those parts of me existed and in that instant of hearing that I had cancer, it was like “poof” those parts of me were gone.
In the months that followed my diagnosis, I felt like the only part of me that was seen by anyone was “the sick person” or “the cancer patient.”
Every conversation with a friend seemed to begin with “How are you feeling?” or “How is your treatment going?”
While it was nice to know that people did care about me, it was also extremely painful to feel like I was reduced to this one identity of sick person.
I longed for all the other parts of me to still be seen, acknowledged, talked to and talked about…
It felt really lonely to be seen in only this way.
Yet I felt like it wasn’t ok to say, “You know, I’d really rather talk about something else…”
WHEN WE ARE GIVEN A LIFE-CHANGING HEALTH DIAGNOSIS, IT CAN FEEL LIKE THIS ONE THING BECOMES OUR ENTIRE IDENTITY… LIKE WE LOSE ALL THE OTHER PIECES OF OURSELVES.
And it’s painful…
Maybe you can feel how much you long to still be seen as wife, as mother, as friend, as daughter, as business woman, AS YOU.
Because this diagnosis is NOT YOU.
Let me say that again…
THIS DIAGNOSIS IS NOT, I REPEAT, NOT WHO YOU ARE.
You are still all of the parts of you that you were BEFORE you heard that diagnosis pronounced.
You might feel a bit worse for the wear, a bit more in pain or symptomatic. Yet those parts of you that seem to have vanished or be ignored are still there.
And it is totally ok (in fact, I encourage it!) for you to voice your needs and desires to talk about other parts of yourself and other parts of your life in conversations.
It is wonderful to say, “I appreciate your concern for me AND I also would love to talk about our relationship and the fun things we can do together today.”
THE LESS YOU ALLOW YOURSELF TO BECOME AND IDENTITY WITH YOUR ILLNESS AND YOUR DIAGNOSIS, THE HAPPIER AND MORE WHOLE YOU WILL FEEL AND THE EASIER IT WILL BE FOR YOUR MIND, MIND AND SPIRIT TO HEAL.
When we don’t let ourselves become identified as this diagnosis, when we still acknowledge all parts of ourselves, we empower ourselves to feel more whole and alive.
And that is a powerful fuel that can be used to heal and transform your health.
In the past couple blog posts, I have talked about recent studies that have shown that stress isn’t always dangerous to our health and well-being. If you haven’t read the past 2 posts, I suggest reading them before continuing to read this one.
In today’s post, I want to talk more about the “tend-and-befriend response” to stress and how it is beneficial.
This particular response is part of our evolution and how we banded together with our tribe to survive danger. Part of the response is about protecting children from threat, so this response is often seen more in women but it is also something that can be demonstrated by men too.
This particular response helps to decrease fear and increase hope. It activates activity in areas of the brain to make you smart, brave, and social.
Through the activation of oxytocin, we have more empathy, connection, and trust and fear in the amygdala becomes dampened so we can be courageous. Through the activation of dopamine, we become more motivated, optimistic and fear is also dampened. Through the activation of serotonin, our perception is enhanced, our intuition is heightened, we have more self-control, and our awareness is enhanced to help us make smarter decisions.
So how can you activate this particular response when you are feeling stressed?
You can reach out and help others, give someone support or take time to listen to them. Practicing random acts of kindness or donating to those in need are great ways to activate this response!
Another way to tap into this response is to focus on goals that are bigger than yourself when you are feeling stressed. For example, in a job interview, instead of focusing on your individual goals for wanting this job, think of how this job will let you help your community, what kind of change you’d like to create through this position,
Again, to learn more about this other stress response, I highly recommend reading Dr. Kelly McGonigal’s book “The Upside of Stress.”
In my last post, I shared a little bit about new research that has shown there isn’t just 1 stress response like we all have believed for years but instead there are 3 different stress responses, including “challenge response” and “tend-and-befriend response.” If you haven’t read that post first, I suggest you take a quick read of it before continuing.
In this post, I want to dive deeper into the “challenge response” to stress and how you can begin to tap into it.
This particular stress response is ideal for situations that require us to perform under pressure, like an athletic event, public speaking, an exam, or some type of performance.
The challenge response gives us energy, focus, and other resources to succeed, it elicits peak performance, and it helps motivate us into action.
Yet if you’ve been in one of these situations like where you have had to speak in public or you are getting ready for a big athletic event, you might notice that in the past you have felt the typical “fight-or-flight response” kick in…
So how do you make sure you can access this response when you need it?
One way to tap into this mode is to consciously make an assessment of your skills and resources to face the task ahead.
You can ask yourself how hard the task will be, do you have the skills, strength and courage to do what’s required, and if there is someone who can help you face the challenge.
When you do this, if you can realize you have the skills and resources needed and remember similar situations that you have faced with success, you will typically be able to find your entry into “challenge response.”
Another helpful thing to remind yourself of is that your stress response is actually an asset, not something harmful. Tell yourself that your anxiety and racing heart are actually bringing more oxygen to your brain, that it is giving you more energy for your task, and more strength and focus to do what you need.
The research of Dr. Kelly McGonigal actually showed that when participants in a study were told this message that stress was supporting their brains and their abilities, no negative health impacts of stress actually showed in their bodies.
This new understanding of stress is another beautiful example of how our beliefs and our mindset have a powerful impact on our health.
If we believe the old paradigm that stress is dangerous or can kill us, it pushes our bodies to respond with the classic “fight-or-flight response.” If instead, we see stress as something that is supporting us in taking on a challenge, our bodies will respond differently and not be negatively impacted.
To learn more about this other stress response, I highly recommend reading Dr. McGonigal’s book “The Upside of Stress.”
For years, many of us have heard the idea that stress is bad for us. You may have even heard that stress can kill you.
This idea definitely has some basis in reality, as stress can contribute to things like high blood pressure and heart disease, which can cause sickness and even death.
However, in the past decade, new research has come out supporting the notion that stress doesn’t always have to be bad for you and that in many cases, believing it is “dangerous” is part of the problem.
One of the key components of this new research is that there are actually 3 different stress responses, not just the “fight-or-flight response” we all think of.
With this new paradigm there is also the “challenge response,” which helps to prepare our bodies for situations where we need to perform under pressure, and the “tend-and-befriend response,” which drives us to connect with others and use the power of community when under threat.
These 2 other types of responses activate different hormones and neurotransmitters in our bodies than the “fight-or-flight response” does.
The “tend-and-befriend response” helps to produce oxytocin to help us connect, empathize, and trust, to produce more dopamine for motivation, optimism, and decreasing fear, and more serotonin for enhanced perception, intuition, and awareness.
The “challenge response” allows the body physiologically to respond like we are exercising, rather than running for our lives. This puts less stress on the heart as our blood vessels stay relaxed, our heart beat is actually stronger, and each beat pumps more blood. In addition, different hormones like DHEA help the brain learn stress resilience rather than becoming more sensitized to future threats.
In future posts, I will be sharing more about these 2 other types of stress responses and ways that you can start to shift out of “fight-or-flight” and instead use “challenge response” or the “tend-and-befriend” response.
Sitting in a room filled with hundreds of people there to see him was powerful. I was initially struck by just how amazing it is to live in a place that hundreds of people would buy a ticket and spend a day hearing such a thought leader!
The day was focused on the topic of “Becoming Supernatural: How Common People are Doing the Uncommon” (I highly recommend you check out his book with the same name!). Dr. Joe shared stories of people who had healed themselves from conditions like Stage 4 cancer that doctors said was terminal or a condition that caused partial blindness and resulted in a woman losing her driver’s license, her job, and her independence (again deemed “incurable” by Western medicine).
These examples were mind-blowing, even to me. I work in the field of healing and transformation and I witness amazing things like clients going off of medications for chronic illness and having more energy than they’ve had in over 20 years and yet the possibilities that Dr. Joe revealed through his stories were incredible.
Are You Living in the Present Moment?
For much of the day, Dr. Joe talked about how many of us spend much of our time living from subconscious programming. We wake up in the morning, begin thinking the same thoughts, go through our same routine (get up, make coffee, shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, go to work, etc), and we are stuck living in either thinking about our past and all the horrible things that happened to us (traumas, people who wronged us, our struggles, what our parents taught us) or we are always focusing on the future (what we need to do next, how long it is going to take us to get to our goals).
Dr. Joe said “We are becoming addicted to a life we don’t even like—but at least it’s predictable.”
What we are missing is being in the present moment. It is only in the present moment that we are really PRESENT and it is from that space of the present moment that we have the opportunity to step into new possibilities that exist for us. As Dr. Joe said, “If you aren’t being defined by creating a new future, your brain is already in the past.”
Tapping Into Infinite Possibilites
Dr. Joe has travelled the world and teaches week long retreats where he works with participants to develop meditation practices that help them to detach from their bodies, their personalities, their possessions and work with different brain wave patterns to tap into the quantum field and connect with the infinite possibilities that exist to create whatever new reality (health, money, relationships, etc.) it is they are wanting to create.
One of the key parts of this process is to feel the feelings of the new reality before that new reality exists. It is in this way that we can signal our genes ahead of the environment.
He says, “To change is to be greater than your environment, and your body, and time.”
What is amazing is how at these events, Dr. Joe and his team use scientific equipment to measure participants brains during meditations and some of what is being observed is blowing scientists’ minds.
Observing My Own Patterns
Since Saturday, I’ve been spending a lot of time observing myself, observing my habits and patterns, noticing when I am checking out and going into an old habit or thought pattern. For one thing, I’m noticing how much I can get hooked into looking at my phone, checking social media, email, and more. This is one of the things Dr. Joe talked about was how for many of us, all these pieces of technology really reinforce our current identity and personality and keep us stuck in the past or future.
So now I am not looking at my phone until AFTER I do my morning meditation and am ready to shift into “work mode.” I’m noticing how when I feel bored by a situation, I tend to want to mindlessly scroll Facebook to “check out” and I’m working to curb that pattern.
I’m catching myself if I wake up in the morning and immediately jump into thinking about my schedule and all that I need to do today. And then working to bring myself back into the present moment once again. I’m excited to start working more with the meditations Dr. Joe has created and to see the transformation in my own life.
What Is Possible for YOU?
I truly believe in the power of possibility and that we can heal from any condition we currently experience but it takes discipline and changing habits and patterns of going unconscious. As Dr. Joe shared in the story of the man who healed Stage 4 cancer (with over 50 tumors in his body), it does take WORK. And sometimes we will feel resistance and not want to show up and keep doing the work but if we do, we have tremendous potential to change our lives.]]>
Losing weight has never been a particularly easy thing for me to do. Even as a teenager who was very active (doing ballet for 90 minutes three times a week), I had a tendency to gain weight more easily than many of my peers.
I remember one summer that I decided to focus on trying to lose a little extra weight and to tone up. I spent that summer eating healthy (more fruits and veggies and lean meats, very little processed food or junk food) and working out very regularly.
And yet at the end of several months, there was no difference on the scale. Zero… Yes, I had possibly gained a little but of muscle and therefore offset any weight loss but I still felt like a failure on some level.
I remember from this relatively young age wondering WHY it was so easy for some people to lose weight when I was doing all the right things and yet nothing changed.
I knew the story of my mom’s best friend who also struggled with weight her whole life and it was only when she was in an in-patient weight loss clinic eating around 500 calories a day that her body could start losing weight. That was pretty messed up, I remember thinking, but I didn’t really understand WHY that was.
Throughout my adult life, I have continued to struggle with a difficulty in losing weight. Let me just say that I do not believe in crazy fad diets, miracle pills, and things of those sort (so please don’t come talking to me about those kinds of things- because I have ZERO interest). I have always just focused on eating well and moving my body, yet nothing has changed.
In fact, in the almost 5 years since I’ve been together with my husband, I have gained more weight and I have tried several times over the past 2 years to lose the weight but once I have lost about 10 pounds, if I don’t keep up a very focused way of eating, it immediately comes back again…
About a year or so ago, one of my mentors in the BodyTalk system, Dr. Laura Stuve, started talking about how she has had tremendous success in using BodyTalk tools (which she strengthens with her own background as a PhD scientist) to help both herself and her clients successfully lose weight.
I was immediately both excited and intrigued! While I couldn’t take her hormones of weight and metabolism class when she first offered it in 2017, I put it on my wish list for 2018 and I did take that course last October!
In the class, we learned a great deal about things like:
- how traditional diets actually mess up our metabolism MORE, making it even harder to lose weight
- how the calories in, calories burned model that has been dominant for years is flawed because it doesn’t take into account the QUALITY of the calories you are eating
- how the experiences of our ancestors (like food shortages and famines) can actually affect our metabolism today, making our bodies think we also need to be prepared for food shortages
- how imbalances in the gut microbiome (that community of good bacteria in our digestive system) can contribute to weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- and so much more…
I have been diving into using the new tools I learned from Dr. Laura with a small group of clients for several months, and also I started getting BodyTalk sessions on this topic from Dr. Laura herself.
It is my intention to blog a bit and share my own journey with this process and so this is the first entry in that documentation.
Since my first session with Dr. Laura on December 30, 2018, I have already lost about 6 pounds in 2 weeks.
This isn’t through some crazy restrictive diet but instead through making a few key tweaks in what I’m eating (which was customized based on what MY specific body is requesting) and also adding more exercise into my life (with the requirement the exercise must be FUN, not something I don’t enjoy).
So I am working out now 6 days a week, many days doing NIA videos since I love dancing and this way of movement feels fun and also good to my body. I’m changing what I eat for breakfast and cutting way back on eating potatoes to only once every 2 weeks, per my body’s request. I’m eating less sugar and more fiber, again per my body’s request.
It feels good to finally be shifting this long pattern of mine, which for me actually runs back through my mom and that side of the family. I’m doing this in a healthy, balanced way, and a way that honors my unique needs, which will make it sustainable.
Through BodyTalk, Dr. Laura is helping reset underlying imbalances in hormones, the brain centers that know whether we are safe to lose weight or if we are in danger of starvation (including those ancestral patterns I mentioned above), my gut microbiome, and so much more.
I look forward to writing another update in a few weeks!
And if this is an area that you are interested in exploring support and healing for yourself, reach out as I’m launching this as another focused offering of my work. I truly believe that losing weight shouldn’t have to be hard, require starving ourselves (that actually won’t help you lose weight), and it isn’t “your fault” if you’ve tried things and haven’t been successful. I’d love to help you have a different experience.
How many times have you judged your emotions (or even if it is a specific emotion, like anger) as being a “bad thing”?
In our Western world, many of us have been raised to think of various emotions or being “too emotional” as a negative thing and therefore we judge ourselves and get frustrated when we feel emotions, or instead we are driven to suppress our emotions.
I’d like to share a little mindset shifting philosophy with you, in case you hold this all-to-common belief that emotions (at least some of them) can be “bad.”
Emotions are just energy and they are meant to be in motion… They actually are quite powerful forces that our bodies can use as fuel for action, healing, and many other things. It is really only when our emotions get stuck or when we push them down and suppress them that they become a problem.
In the Chinese Medicine philosophy, each emotion is seen as designed to help with a particular movement/action in the bodymind.
The emotion of worry, for example, is designed to help us think and problem solve. It is only when we get stuck in it that we can fall into confusion, which often results in anxiety.
The emotion of anger is actually designed to be fuel to move forward in our lives (when coupled with the planning energy of our Liver, it is powerful at this). However, when anger becomes imbalanced or suppressed, that is when we get to the explosiveness stage that many people are familiar with and often afraid of.
Grief is all about letting go of things. It serves the energy of releasing what we no longer need but if we don’t allow it to move, then we often fall apart.
The next time that you find yourself wanting to label certain emotions as “negative” or “bad” or you feel the desire to push them down, remind yourself instead that they are fuel for your body to use and each one has its own intelligent purpose.
Allow the energy of the emotion to move, as it is intended to do, and see what happens.
When we allow the healthy movement and expression of ALL of our emotions, our bodies don’t have to also find places to hold onto them, to store them in our tissues, which is often what causes pain in areas of the body that seemingly comes “out of nowhere.”
Recently I was guest on the “Learn True Health” podcast with Ashley James! We had a GREAT conversation about listening to the body’s wisdom rather than always reaching for a medication to silence symptoms and so much more!
Other topics include:
- my own story of chronic illness and my misdiagnosis with leukemia at age 25
- my exploration of alternative healing including biofeedback and therapeutic yoga
- my discovery of BodyTalk
- my book, “You Are Not Your Diagnosis”
- a simple technique to help YOU listen to your body
To listen to this episode, click on the image below!