S3 E30

“When we have sensory mismatch in the paradigm of body dysmorphia, we’re talking about mismatch being communicated between the visual system and the interoceptive system. They are not integrating and they’re saying two different things. And the way that the brain works is we don’t see what’s really there in front of us, but we see what our brain projects. Our brain projects into our awareness what we think we should see, not what’s actually there.” 

Jennifer Wallace, Trauma Rewired Co-host, Neuro Somatic Psychedelic Preparation and Integration Guide and Junior Educator with Neuro Somatic Intelligence Coaching Certification

Welcome to Part 2 of Season 3! We’re going even deeper into relationship from a Neuro Somatic perspective. This week we’re taking a deep dive into the relationship we have with our bodies. We explore the layered relationship between trauma, body image, and overall well-being. We talk about the importance of understanding and improving our connection with our bodies, especially in the context of complex trauma and disordered relationships with food.

We also discuss how societal structures, diet culture, and personal experiences contribute to a disconnection from the body. We highlight the impact of adverse relationships with the body on mental health, limiting beliefs, and overall life satisfaction.

From a Neuro Somatic perspective, we discuss the role of sensory inputs, interoception, exteroception and body image in shaping our perceptions. The conversation touches upon the physical, emotional, and belief components of body image and how even high-performing individuals can struggle with dysfunctional relationships with their bodies.

Of course, we share our personal experiences with body image, body dysmorphia, and the impact on their relationships with our bodies. It’s real talk about our complex relationship with our bodies; the dissociation, shame, anger, limiting beliefs, emotional processing, chronic stress, embodiment and Presence. 

Learn about the importance of bridging cognitive and somatic aspects to encourage a more compassionate and kinder approach to one’s body.

We stress the significance of retraining the relationship with the body, promoting a shift from punishment to joy in movement, cultivating a positive relationship with food, and challenging societal myths about aging and body image.

Tune in to hear how to have a more compassionate and tuned-in relationship with your body!

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • How we develop our body image
  • Interoceptive awareness and our ability to connect to the body
  • The connection between trauma and the relationship to the body
  • Understanding body dysmorphia and dissociation
  • Sensory mismatch in relation to body dysmorphia
  • The emotional aspect of the relationship to the body
  • Building a healthier relationship to the body

Get started training your nervous system with our FREE 2-week offer on the Brain Based Membership site: RewireTrial.com

Listen to more episodes of Trauma Rewired HERE


[00:00:00] Elisabeth: As we take a deep dive this season into relationships, complex trauma, complex trauma as an attachment wound, it seems absolutely necessary to visit the topic of relationship to our body, relationship to our self. This is a topic that you and I love to explore. It’s really how we got started on this path of healing was our disordered relationship with food and with our bodies. So I’m happy to jump into this conversation today and hopefully take it to a pretty deep level for folks to look at. 

[00:00:38] If you’re a coach, therapist or practitioner and you want to learn how to work with the body and the nervous system and the brain to create lasting sustainable change for your clients, join us for a free workshop this January to teach a Neuro Somatic Intelligence framework and tools that brings change from the level of the nervous system out into the world. Matt Bush, Melanie Weller, and I will be teaching. It’s free and we’d love to see you there. The link is in the show notes or you can go to neurosomaticintelligence.com to sign up.

[00:01:10] Elisabeth: So welcome everyone to Trauma Rewired, the podcast that teaches you about your nervous system, how trauma lives in the body and what you can do to heal. My name is Elisabeth Kristof. I’m the founder of Brain Based Wellness, an online platform that teaches you to train your nervous system for resilience and behavior change.

[00:01:27] Jennifer: And I’m your co-host, Jennifer Wallace, a Neuro Somatic Psychedelic Preparation and Integration Guide bridging the powerful modalities of Neuro Somatic Intelligence and plant healing medicine spaces. I don’t think there’s any way we could avoid this being a big conversation. I think that this is the most sacred relationship that we can enter into and having a relationship to the body is a cornerstone element to embodiment, to Presence.

[00:02:01] Jennifer: Based on everything that we talk about, having an adverse relationship to the body is actually quite dangerous. It impacts the way we speak to ourselves, limiting beliefs, food patterns, like you said. It was those unhealed food patterns that really brought me into this deeper work because it gave me so much compassion and like a weight was lifted from me when I learned that binge eating was a protective survival output. When I heard those words, it just like this giant puzzle of my life all came together and I could see how I survived through food, but also in that relationship, either to food in the binge eating way either that thread or through the diet culture thread, both were very, very dangerous and both kept me more disconnected from my body and it really kept me in an abusive relationship in the way that I spoke to and believed about my body. So healing it and being in a different place now is a really new experience. It’s awesome.

[00:03:18] Elisabeth: Even if people don’t consider themselves having disordered eating or an abusive relationship to their body, there’s so many ways that we are disconnected from our body or unable to hear its internal signals. And I think sometimes people can hear this and not think it’s a very important component of healing and of personal development and personal growth.

[00:03:42] Elisabeth: But you and I know and we see sooo many clients that come in that are really high performing individuals, really doing big things in the world, but underneath it is this still really dysfunctional relationship to their own body. And it robs them of so much of their ability. Like you were talking about, to be embodied, to be Present, to do the deep work of healing because they can connect to the body and process those things through.

[00:04:10] Elisabeth: Also just takes a lot of the joy out of life, like the success that they’re building, they don’t get to experience because there’s these deep loops of body shame and body dysmorphia and abuse to their body through diet culture and over training. I was just speaking with one of my friends and clients the other day, and they were going to meet some coworkers that they hadn’t seen in a long time that they had good, deep relationships with and really wanted to enjoy that meeting.

[00:04:40] Elisabeth: But the message to me was all I can think about as I’m getting ready is how much weight I’ve gained and what they’re going to be thinking about me in this moment. This is like a super successful person that’s doing great things in the world that everybody loves. And now in these other relationships it’s like you can’t show up and be Present and have the experience of connecting with other people because you’re stuck in the body loop.

[00:05:06] Jennifer: Oh, that’s so relatable. I mean the closet meltdowns that I’ve had over the course of my life trying to fit into where I’m going into. Whether that’s the professional meeting, something with Pilates based or wherever I was practicing movement as a teacher, either here on the podcast, at Barton Springs, it was constantly having to calm that voice. And it got really, I mean, I had so many limiting beliefs based on my value in the clothes size that I wore. Or if this role showed up in this way, I had to sit perfectly to make sure that my posture was in a certain way so I could suck my gut in in a certain way, depending on what I’m wearing. And I would really posture myself in the room in a way that made me feel the most comfortable in my body. And it would be all that I could think about. All that I could think about was all that. I mean, it diminished the value. It buried me in unworthiness because I couldn’t see through that fogged lens. So that client, I think that lady that you just spoke of is very relatable for people.

[00:06:22] Elisabeth: Yeah. I think so many people have this going on. And I want us today to take a deep dive. There’s so many components of this: there’s a physical component about regulation and safety; here’s an emotional component; there’s a belief component and really look from a Neuro Somatic perspective about where all of this comes from and how it lives in our body and nervous system. So I want to start by really thinking about this idea that our perception of our own body, it depends on the integration of our body signals from outside of us, our exteroception, right? We talk about that a lot. Taking in sensory inputs from our eyes, from our skin, from our balance system in our inner ear and the signals that we experience inside our interoception, the felt sense inside of the body. 

[00:07:14] Elisabeth: Both of these systems contribute to our body image. That’s the picture we have in our mind’s eye about the size, the shape, the form of our bodies and our feelings concerning those characteristics. And so body image is really this multidimensional physical and psychological experience of embodiment. It’s all the things that we talk about when we’re talking about embodiment, especially in the physical appearance, our awareness of our body and our emotions and sensations that relate to it.

[00:07:43] Elisabeth: This includes our feelings around our self perceptions, our beliefs about our self, our beliefs and attitudes towards our body. So we talk a lot in here about creating safety internally so that we can experience safe relationships and be a safe space for ourselves to process emotions and also a safe space for other people to co regulate with. And all of this can be really difficult if we have these big deficits in our input systems, these problems with our interoception. And because of that we have a very disorganized, sometimes abusive relationship with our bodies. So from a Neuro Somatic perspective, so many things affect the relationship to the body: visual deficits, complex trauma, dissociation, interoceptive deficits, societal structures, diet, culture, body hierarchy. I mean, there’s so much. So there’s a lot to dive into today. And all this impacts our health and our relationship with others.

[00:08:42] Jennifer: Absolutely, absolutely. You know, when I hear you talk about interoception, I wonder too, could I have detected that I had a tumor in my body? If I had more accurate interoception, if I could feel into my body more, could anybody do that? Create a new, that kind of deep relationship with the body. And so I think interoceptive ability is really important. And as we’re going to get into, it is going to play a role into the sensory mismatch that we’re going to talk about when we talk about body dysmorphia and the limiting beliefs are just so important because back to that sneaky, back to that voice. I mean, is that the sneaky voice of the harsh inner critic or is that a loving pillow talking voice that is really kind and supportive to you throughout the day? This really matters. It really matters because it has an emotional tag to it. And that emotional tag, that belief tag, that whole neuro tag, that chunk, it gets all pulled up together. We can’t avoid the limiting belief without the unwanting behavior and with the emotional component that comes to it. So having a punishing or adverse relationship with your body, it is going to come with a lot of toxic and chronic stress that you don’t really want to turn away from your body.

[00:10:03] Elisabeth: Yeah. I think it’s interesting to know all of that and to understand, you know, I am creating dysregulation and internalizing a lot of stress by not being able to connect to my body and to still have it be really hard. I think it’s hard for a number of reasons for people to be able to really have a level of intimacy with their own body and to feel those feelings. Because in addition to all the parts of our society that disconnect us from our body, like diet culture and the myriad of ways we’re taught to separate our cognitive mind from our body. 

Also, all of our somatic memories live in our body. This is where we experience the physiological part of a trigger when we get re-triggered. And that can be really challenging to stay connected in the body. There are many reasons people would want to leave or harm or punish their body because there’s a lot of big stuff in there that the cognitive mind has been repressing for a long time because it’s overwhelming and it’s big. And the body is often where we face the outcomes of our trauma, right? Our mind can repress it and cognitively we can shove it down and not have to experience it and come to the surface.

[00:11:24] Elisabeth: But in our body, it can express as disease or pain, or discomfort. And so we have to face, sometimes, the consequences of stress and trauma in our body. That can lead us to a real adversarial relationship with our body, because it carries those consequences. 

And too, I think we had a conversation with Luis Mojica and we talked about capacity. I think a lot of times we want a different capacity than we really have. And our body tells the truth about that capacity. So a lot of times our body has been holding so much and experiencing these years of stress and dysregulation that maybe we weren’t cognitively aware of, and we want our capacity to be different, to handle different levels of stress and performance in our life, but it can feel like our body is holding us back because that capacity of the body doesn’t really measure what our expectations are. And so this can lead to really fractured kind of punishing relationship with the body.

[00:12:28] Jennifer: When the cognitive narrative and the body are not in sync and they are not speaking together and they are not communicating together, this is not a good relationship. We need for the capacity to grow, to experience this, whatever we’re experiencing in our bodies and to know that what we’re experiencing is truth.

[00:12:55] Jennifer: One of the things that you just talked about was that the somatic memories living in the body. And because those memories are often so rooted in shame and fear and anger and death what feels like I’m going to die every day in complex trauma. And then it’s like, you wouldn’t have that out in your flower vase every day, you’d hide it, you’d put it in the garage, you’d shove it into a corner if that was a something that you could tangibly pick up. Like we’re not talking about high vibrational, beautiful things, we’re talking about hard emotions in the body and we’re talking about emotions that create a lot of inflammation, a lot of gut dysfunction, a lot of bad feelings in the body, feelings of unwellness in the body.

[00:13:49] Jennifer: When we talk about these emotions being dangerous in the body, we are talking about gut function. We’re talking about autoimmune. We’re talking about cancer. We’re talking about some really big chronic illnesses. And even little ones that maybe even if you view eczema on the spectrum of something a little bit smaller there before it moves into something a little bit bigger. But when we can start to communicate with the body a little bit kinder. Because when we’ve had this massive disconnect, you need to start kind of understanding your truths a little bit more, right? Like so much of regulation allows for the capacity of you knowing of your truths and that them being okay, them starting to get a little bit more neutralized and their emotional pain.

[00:14:44] Jennifer: But when you have something where you’re so disconnected and now you want to form this relationship to the body, you have to start getting a little bit kinder, a little bit more gentle. It’s a really an experience where, like you were talking about, this disconnect between cognitive and somatic when we kind of.. I think these two start to bring and bridge themselves together.

[00:15:12] Jennifer: It’s almost this like very hot/cold where Presence and embodiment feel very infantry in a way. Like just baby, like I’m here and Oh shit this is big. I’m here in the body now. It’s a sort of touch and go. You’re sort of in and out. And then all of a sudden, boom, one day you’re in and things are harmonized much, much better.

[00:15:33] Elisabeth: Yeah. Yeah. And it’s a process, you know. It’s interesting that you brought up eczema because I have this patch of eczema kind of like underneath my right arm in my right armpit and down the side of my body. And it started during a period of incredible stress for me. Like really, really high stress period of my life it came. I have not been able to get it to fully resolve and go away.

[00:15:56] Elisabeth: And I used to carry a lot of shame around it. It was like, you know, just one of those things that you don’t want people to see you want to cover it up. And now, I just use it as a signal from my body. I’m just monitoring it to see like, is my nervous system getting better or worse? Is my inflammation going down? And I’m just kind of inquisitive with it. Like, I’ll be ‘Hey, what do you need? How are you doing?’ And someone actually several people, have been like you could just put steroid cream on that, but I don’t want to. I want to know if my body’s and my nervous system is actually getting better. And I want to let that be a way that my body communicates with me about if my neuro practices are really moving me forward in a positive direction. It’s just an output. And you know, I just have a very different…

[00:16:47] Jennifer: It’s a beautiful way to look at your output and the way that your body speaks to you. Because that’s the thing, our bodies are speaking to us and we are not listening. It is normal to have anxiety, to get a rash if you’re under too much stress. There’s so much that is not normalized about the way that our body speaks to us that we’re supposed to put bandaids on.

[00:17:11] Elisabeth: And then just keep blocking out those signals.

[00:17:13] Jennifer: I think the thing that I see clients struggle with the most is their weight. The way their body is shaped by their extra weight that they carry. And it’s hard to touch that part of the body. You know, we’ll do sometimes we’ll do some stuff with vagus nerve and we have to vibrate on on the tummy or we do some things. And it actually changed the way I use cues because there’s certain words that I think are really triggering for people like to use the word tummy, to use the word belly. Like I think it’s sometimes. It’s a.. 

[00:17:57] Elisabeth: It’s loaded.

[00:17:59] Jennifer: It’s loaded. It’s a really loaded story. And so I think that’s one of the hardest things about the relationship to the body and about cultivating the Presence and embodiment.

[00:18:12] Jennifer: As practitioners, we know that these narratives are very layered and we want to support people coming into their body safely, feeling their emotions safely. And supporting emotional processing that could be holding them back from being Present, connected in relationships and having the capacity to experience the good stuff in life. Like joy and pleasure. The next round of NSI is enrolling now  neurosomaticintelligence.com.

[00:18:37] Elisabeth: It’s amazing how you can be in this really evolved place. And the people that we work with are really smart and emotionally intelligent and very progressive. And we, including me, including everyone, we can all get stuck in these deep loops about body size and that pattern runs crazy deep.

[00:19:03] Jennifer: Back to the binging and the protective output. There were parts of my body that I would, and I know I’ve, I’ve listened to clients say this too, like there were parts of my body that I would hold on to and curse. I would be so abusive to that part of my body. That language inside of me is not f=going to get me where I want to be in my body.

[00:19:30] Elisabeth: No, no. Underneath a lot of everything else that people are looking at and trying to grow and develop with there’s this relationship and the difficulty of this relationship. Recently in our Facebook group, someone asked a question relating to body image and body dysmorphia that I thought was really, really good question.

[00:19:53] Elisabeth: They were asking if you could be dissociated and also hypercritical of your body at the same time. They just couldn’t see how those two could link up because they were like, if I’m detached from my body, I can’t feel my body. How come I’m also hypercritical of it and have all this  hypervigilance and perfectionism around it.

[00:20:12] Elisabeth: And the answer, from my perspective, is a resounding, yes. You can absolutely have both at the same time. You can have dissociation and the interoceptive deficits that come of that. And that can lead to actually more objectification of your body, right? Because when we are living under high stress, and dissociation is a well worn protective output, it’s something that our body and our nervous system go to frequently. And we know that like what we do, we get better at. So that becomes a protective strategy when body sensations are overwhelming. The more we dissociate, the less those pathways of being able to relay signals from our body to our brain, get fuel, get activation.

[00:21:00] Elisabeth: And so they atrophy, you know, if we don’t use it, we lose it. So, interoception and exteroception as well for body signals, both have a huge impact on our ability to connect to our body. And then when we don’t have that ability, we’re more likely to objectify our own body to be removed from it. So studies have shown, there was a recent study in 2013, that showed that the degree to which individuals are aware of their inner body signals was inversely correlated with self objectification. Meaning like the more you could connect to your own body, the less you objectified yourself. And the less you had a tendency to experience your body as an object.

[00:21:50] Elisabeth: And the more we see our body as an object, the more likely we are to have that abusive relationship with the body trying to make it fit into a certain form or creating these, let me find my place…

[00:22:23] Elisabeth: So with these studies, when they had two samples of healthy participants, results showed that lower interoceptive accuracy. Like using people, measuring their heartbeats perception was associated with higher body dissatisfaction and harsher critique of the body and more objectification. So definitely the more dissociation we have, the more likely we can be in that objectified relationship with our body.

[00:23:00] Jennifer: Yeah, I think definitely. And I definitely think that both can be existing at the same time. That was me, existing at the same time for so long. Dissociated and very hypercritical of my body. 

[00:23:28] Jennifer: People who struggle with body dysmorphia also struggle with visual deficits. A number of visual processing abnormalities are present in body dysmorphia. That could include facial recognition, emotional identification, aesthetics, and object recognition. So a few minutes ago we were talking about sensory mismatch and the interoceptive system. So sensory mismatch is when two areas of the brain are receiving information. It’s when the brain is receiving different information from two systems of the brain that it needs to trust for survival. 

[00:24:11] Jennifer: When we have sensory mismatch in the paradigm of body dysmorphia, we’re talking about mismatch being communicated between the visual system and the interoceptive system. They are not integrating and they’re saying two different things.

[00:24:34] Jennifer: And the way that the brain works is we don’t see what’s really there in front of us, but we see what our brain projects. Our brain projects into our awareness what we think we should see, not what’s actually there. So when, when I think about this visual deficit and body dysmorphia, my own story, I have known for some time that I had a lazy left eye.

[00:24:56] Jennifer: It’s called atropia. I would situate myself in pictures all the time so that it wouldn’t be as noticeable. And I would actively say inside, ‘okay, open your left eye, smile big with your left eye’. And it wasn’t as noticeable to people, but then of course, NSI comes along. And then I began to understand that this was a deficit. I could train it because it was also resulting in so much of my dysregulation by going into my thread bucket every day. And so like all paths, it just got more well worn. And in times of heavy stress, you will see that eye sort of kick off and want to do its own thing. All that to say, and we can talk about the visual training that we do that goes along with healing our left eye deficits, I know you have the same thing, but this all affects the way I perceive myself to look. It’s my perception. So healing this deficit or working to heal this deficit is a really big deal for me. It’s a big deal. It’s a big goal. And I feel like I feel its impacts in me and the way that I respond to things.

[00:26:08] Jennifer: We recently posted a reel of us paddling down on one of the rivers.I didn’t even think twice about being in a bathing suit in social media. Like that is a whole new version of me that never existed until last week. And so I know that the training that I’m doing is really making a difference in the way that I’m living my life.

[00:26:32] Jennifer: I heard you say one time that you used to always look around for your body when you would be in public. And I’m going to really related to that too. Cause I used to always look for it. Like, do I look like that? Do I look like that? Do I look like that girl? It was, was very recently, probably within the past couple of years or so. I’ve spoken on here many times about how I came to terms with my body at Barton Springs and how being in swimming places in a bathing suit was also a new experience for me, a couple of years ago that I hadn’t done that for decades. It was that voice about my own body. It started to quiet down. And so did the voices about other people’s bodies. Then my own body as a result got to be more free in the world. So training with intention, it really shifts your projections.

[00:27:27] Elisabeth: Yeah, there’s a couple really important things that I just want to highlight that you talked about. First, definitely I did that all the time. I would walk around and think, ‘does that person’s body look like mine? Does my butt, do my legs look like that? Does this look like that?’ Cause I just couldn’t get a clear picture of my body. That comes from so much dissociation and disconnection from the body. I can’t feel it, but also my proprioceptive map. My body mapping abilities of knowing where my body is in space, there’s another deficit there that needs to be rehabilitated. And you mentioned that our visual system isn’t actually what’s there, it’s a projection. 

And I think that’s super, super important for people to take just a pause and think about for a second. Because what we’re seeing is a brain’s projection, not the real data of what’s out there. For example, our eyes are always making little micro movements. They’re always shifting around all the time. So if we were really seeing what was coming in directly through the eyes, the world would appear shaky, but we don’t because our brain takes that information in and it kind of puts it all together in this 15 previous second picture of what’s going on around us that’s stable. And that information, just like every other sensory information that’s taken in through the world, is filtered.

[00:28:52] Elisabeth: It’s filtered through our beliefs, our perceptions, what data our brain thinks is important to make it up to our cognitive awareness. So when we look at our body in the mirror, we’re really seeing a projection of what our brain thinks we should see not what is really there. And so in that way, like our beliefs and our deficits and our sensory mismatch, it really creates an entirely new experience of reality. When we look in the mirror and that’s so, so important. And then sensory mismatch and, and just understanding how threatening that is to our nervous system. 

And just like you were saying, it’s when different input systems that our brain relies on to give us information about the world around us and ourselves doesn’t match. So my eyes are telling my brain that reality is one way, my ears, the balance system in my inner ears are saying reality is a different way. My body map is saying your body’s this way in space, and it doesn’t match up to create a clear, cohesive, accurate picture. 

Remember that our brains function on pattern recognition and prediction and then they generate an output that’s trying to keep us alive. When that information coming in doesn’t match up, our brain has to decide which one of these systems do I want to listen to, to make that prediction. And making that decision every single second is actually incredibly energy costly to our brain. So it really drives up the level of threat that our nervous system is under because our brain’s always having to be like, which one is right? Which one is right? And the stakes are high. Survival is the reason that we’re trying to generate that prediction.

[00:30:40] Elisabeth: And so when our visual deficits don’t match up with our interceptive system, it’s really creating a high threat load. And if our brain decides to go with the visual information, it’s another reason why we might dampen those signals coming from in our body, because our brain doesn’t want all that conflicting information coming in.

[00:31:07] Jennifer: So then it decides that another system just kind of falls down the hierarchy. And then in that it gets better at what it does. So it just gets better at not paying attention or relying on that system.

[00:31:20] Elisabeth: Yep. We have many episodes where we talk about relationship to the body and food and disordered eating, and we always talk about the nervous system, the brain, the body is using food and our behaviors for regulation to create safety and to regulate the nervous system for emotional regulation. Or perhaps repressing or suppressing big emotions that we don’t feel we have the capacity to deal with. And our beliefs are the neuro tags of beliefs that are in there driving our behavior. All three of these things have a component in our interoceptive system, right? Because we have a part of our interoceptive system, we’ve talked a lot this season about the insular cortex.

[00:32:10] Elisabeth: So there’s a part in the back part of the interoceptive system where we integrate all of our sensory information that’s coming in. And we answer that question, am I safe or unsafe? So our interoceptive system integrates our sensory information, and then produces a response. And that’s going to directly impact if we are dysregulated or if we’re regulated.

[00:32:33] Elisabeth: Then also in our insular cortex, in the middle part of our insula, that has a lot to do with our emotional experience. And it connects to our anterior cingulate cortex, which we also talked about in here. Which contains our beliefs about our self, and it connects also to our limbic system. That’s what allows us to experience our emotions in our body, right? Like our insular cortex and our hypothalamus work together to make feelings felt. They turn emotions into physical sensations. 

So that’s a lot of the reasons why this can drive our emotional relationship to sensations. Then that creates behaviors, behaviors like overtraining or maladaptive food behaviors or dissociation from the body. 

And then there’s another part of the interceptive system that connects to our prefrontal cortex where our beliefs about our elf live and where all of our choices are made. So there’s a huge component of our beliefs about our self and our decision making that’s driven by our interceptive inputs as well. So if you’re having interceptive issues, it’s hard to find safety in any of these areas: regulation, emotions, or beliefs.

[00:33:50] Jennifer: And as it goes for food, your interoceptive system is what tells you that you’re full or that you’re hungry. There’s so much about our society or maybe about our family growing up. It’s interesting when I think about binging, I believe it’s part survival, definitely. But it’s also part learned because my mom was a binge eater as well, particularly in my very small years growing up. She really taught me how to binge. Then I would see her go training super hard. She would binge and then the next day she’d be Jane Fonda. She’d be out there doing her thing. And I got that same pattern. I would binge and then I would train so hard. It was like moving my body was punishment, not a celebration of how strong I am or how easily I move or how are the ways in which I can move my body?

[00:34:53] Jennifer: It became movement was punishment for how I punished my body with food. And I think too there’s that which disrupts the connection to the body. And then like the whole diet culture thing, we’re really talking about billions of dollars industrial complex. An oppressive system dedicated, billions of dollars, dedicated to keep you away from your body. It tells you where to eat, when to eat, what to eat, how much to eat, count this, count that.

I’m not saying that some of those tools are not effective, but there needs to be a balance in how much you also know and trust your body to speak to you. To know, you know what, when I eat this, that’s not good for me. I feel the inflammation happen in my body when I eat this. So there’s also this balance of first, you want to come into the body and start learning about it and learning to, to hear those signals. First of all, to trust those signals. Like we’re saying, train them, train the communication of the body, train the brain and nervous system so that you are getting more accurate information.

[00:36:13] Jennifer: Then start carving out some of those beliefs, start excavating some of that. Why am I speaking to myself like this? What is this behavior all about? Why am I finding myself in the fridge or in the pantry. Or in huge times of deficits, caloric deficits and starvation? Like what is happening here? Am I intentionally… Like the keto thing and the, what do you call that when you don’t eat for a while?

[00:36:41] Elisabeth: Intermittent fasting.

[00:36:43] Jennifer: Oh myGod, intermittent fasting, right? There’s nothing wrong with these things if you are doing it safely in a body that you are syncing with, you know, vibing with. It’s really important. And then the emotional component that you talk about, the emotional component is huge because emotions, just like the well worn pathway of Fight or whatever. If the well worn pathway is Fight, I speak for myself, then there’s a well worn pathway for repressed anger. The emotions will keep you in the cycles of emotional abuse with your body, right? Not just physical abuse when you’re binging or starving and then you have the emotional abuse layer of how you are in and to your body.

[00:37:38] Elisabeth: Yeah, totally. One of the important things, I think, that you were talking about was how movement becomes linked with punishment. When I think about that from a nervous system and a brain health perspective, our brains’ first job is our survival and its second job is for movement. And we are made to move. And the quality of our movement and the ability to move in so many ways, right? Like move for emotional expression, move with quality movement as we walk through the world. Our patterns, are we bracing? Are we moving fluidly? All of this is so important to our health. 

And if movement gets so inextricably linked with punishment and harm to our nervous system and our body that can be really damaging for living a life that is aligned with nervous system health to have movement be an expression of emotion and also something that we are built to do and to enjoy.

[00:38:47] Elisabeth: So I think that that can have a huge impact on people. And then also to the emotional abuse that you were talking about with emotional repression. This is so very layered because one there’s damage being done to our body and our nervous system just when we’re not allowing that emotional to energy to move through, right? Like full stop. When I’m holding in all of these big emotions, that is damaging to my tissue, to my immune system, to my nervous system. Then also too with emotional repression or suppression, that always comes to with the maladaptive behaviors that we have to use in order to keep those emotions suppressed.

[00:39:34] Elisabeth: So it leads us to, for you and me, it often looked like binging. For a lot of people it looks like substance or social media scrolling or maybe overtraining as a distraction from feeling those emotions, being able to sit with them and move them through. When we lose our ability to connect to our body and then to be able to safely express and move emotional energy through, that leads to more harm to the body and then to behaviors that also harm the body and further disconnect us from ourselves.

[00:40:08] Jennifer: And then we have the driving perfectionism around our bodies and the hypervigilance that happens with people, around people. That happens mostly around people. I was saying in the beginning about the way that my clothes would fit and how I would position myself in rooms and at tables and around people. God, it would be constant. And if I was wearing one of those body shapers. I’d be so worried about like constantly, is that little bit of fat poking up outside of my back or is the leg shaper or doing something funny? That drove me away from the Presence of the people I was with. Sometimes those were really important, not important, but they were engagements with family that I’ll never be able to return back to necessarily. Because I was dissociated and in high driving perfectionism and hyper visions around my body. Which you can never meet. I could never meet the expectation of what I walked into my closet for and how I was going to walk out of that closet. Like these two pictures, feelings never matched each other.

[00:41:22] Elisabeth: I mean.

[00:41:23] Jennifer: That was hard.

[00:41:24] Elisabeth: I feel like decades of my life were spent in obsessive perfectionism about my body that led to a very abusive relationship with overtraining. Like you said, using it as punishment for binge eating episodes. And then really, you know this season is all about relationships and talking about how we need those social connections. We have explored how Presence is an important part of actually being able to get the healing benefits of social connection or any healing benefits. Like we have to be Present to experience the impacts of what that does for our nervous system and for our health. So in this way, when we’re stuck in these loops of hypervigilance and perfectionism, we’re never really Present to experience the social connection, the co regulation, the community that we need for our nervous system to be healthy and process stress and to have that social support that is so important. I am really just so many years of my life where every event that I went to, everything that I did I was really detached from being in the Present reality and connecting with people because my mind was entirely focused on my body.

[00:42:51] Jennifer: It’s a really new experience to feel good in my body. Even, I mean this is interesting, I don’t know always each day how I’m going to perceive my body. When I wake up, what I experience in my body is inflammation. I noticed that now just from some gut health and some metabolic stuff that has been impeded by stress and trauma, right? Like not cycling through the F’s properly. When we’re in an F response, you don’t need your digestive system. I was in a chronic state of F, survival, and now I’m trying to kind of get things moving back to the interoceptive system and the gut and a healthy vagus nerve. Although I don’t necessarily understand my perception of my body each day, I show up for it and I meet it and greet it with loving kindness and know that I’m here to meet you where you are each day. And it changes. It really changes each day. As I come into my body as I am an embodied human and spirit now, I understand what I like to eat. I understand what I do not like to eat. I understand the way that my body likes to move. And I don’t do it for punishment. I do it for joy. I do it because I want to. And, um, it’s so liberating. It’s so liberating to know that that Reel is out there and I don’t give a fuck about it.

[00:44:44] Elisabeth: Amen. Yeah, it really is. And like how we are anywhere, it’s how we are everywhere. So if I can start to liberate myself in my relationship to myself and my body, that really does translate and carry through into so many other areas of my life. My ability to set boundaries with other people, my ability to show up as my full self in other relationships. There’s just so much work with shame when we start to really deconstruct all of this. You and I both, we have some consequences of trauma. You’re a cancer survivor. I have autoimmune and we know. We know how important this relationship with the body is, and it’s still been a journey to get there. It really has. It’s still been really a journey for me to get there. But I will say it’s completely possible. It really, it took beginning with healing my deficits so that my nervous system had the capacity to begin to deconstruct all these old patterns, behaviors, beliefs. 

And then continuing to gradually allow myself, in minimum effective dose, to take new actions, to speak to myself differently, to practice sensory stimulus with my body and body mapping and spending time with my body. And it looks really different today. It looks really different today, my relationship to myself. And it shows up everywhere.

[00:46:20] Jennifer: And I don’t believe the relationship to the body has an end point. This is the body. You are going to be in relationship with it. And it is going to change. Your body is going to change. The way you move with it is going to change. So also allowing for that to happen, right? Like the body is much different in your twenties than it is in your forties.

[00:46:42] Jennifer: And there’s so many limiting societal myths out there about the way we age and that, ‘Oh, you just lose your vision’ or, ‘Oh, it’s just natural that that would happen.’ No, that’s your nervous system and you get to decide what happens in your visual system. You get to decide how your body lives. And for me, what I’ve experienced is like, in so much of the beginning part of my journey was really about learning the tools to regulate my nervous system, understanding the emotional experience, getting myself super balanced. That was a heavy load to take on there for a couple of years to put my focus into. And now I have a heavy focus into the physical part of my body. And a goal every day that I push for is for my internal state to match the physical state of my body. I want my body to match how I feel inside.

[00:47:44] Jennifer: So, getting back to belief systems. The now beliefs that I have: I’m worthy. I’m this big creator. My voice is worthy and I’m valuable beyond measure. All these. I believe that, but I haven’t believed it for long enough that my body has changed. Cause you are your brain, you are your subconscious mind. So your beliefs are all creating that, back to the perception. So it’ll be interesting. I think, when I know, ‘okay, I’ve lived this belief system for so long that there is a reflection in my perception’. Even though I also understand that in what I’m saying is I can also train my body to do certain things, right?

[00:48:30] Jennifer: I like to go to the gym and I do those things, yes but I don’t overdo it like I used to. So to get the body I want, I’m not at the Pilates studio eight times this week and weight training three times and moving, moving, moving, punishing, punishing, punishing. I’m doing it super lightly and in a way that feels like I’m at a good pace with myself. And I feel healthy about it.

[00:48:57] Elisabeth: Honoring capacity and finding joy in some of that movement. Yeah, it’s just all super, super different about where the intention is coming from and also having the ability to listen to the signals. 

I think for us a lot of this journey began really with our Food Freedom program. And, you know, binge eating was the output that led us to start to explore this at a very deep level. And pull up some of these patterns emotionally belief wise and regulation. So if people are hearing themselves in this conversation, you can join us on the site, on the Brain Based Wellness site, for two free weeks of nervous system training and start to learn these tools at RewireTrial.com. Jennifer and I are on there live and we love to work with people. 

You could also check out the Food Freedom program. If you’re someone who likes to self study and wants to take a deep dive into this specific issue, there’s a lot of really good content there that is specifically targeted toward restoring the relationship with the body, food and movement.

[00:50:04] Jennifer: It’s a really incredible program. And I feel like over the decades I’d done just about everything to heal my food narratives. And right now there’s some very popular diet pills out there. I think they’re really for diabetes or something. There’s some alternatives out there. And I will tell you that the way that we are encouraging you to go will not be the fast route. It will not be easy, which is why we are there on site with you. That is why we are in the containers with you and why we have such great practitioners to facilitate with Brain Based Wellness. Food Freedom is a huge program and it really did change and shape the way that I view food. And I know that now because of where I’m at in my food journey with my body.

[00:50:56] Elisabeth: Me too. So I would love to see all of you there in any capacity on the site, rewiretrial.com, or check out Food Freedom.

[00:51:07] Jennifer: Yeah. Thanks so much y’all.

[00:51:09] Elisabeth: Thank you guys. 

[00:51:12] Elisabeth: If you’re a coach, a therapist, or a practitioner, you may know that you don’t want to go back and revisit trauma over and over and over again in the name of healing. You see that going there doesn’t always actually help your clients move past it. And maybe you feel what it does to your own nervous system. You experience the burnout, that it creates too much stress for too long, and you know that it’s just not as simple as saying it’s in the past, let it go because the body is holding it. So the past continues to shape the Present in reactions in outputs that we experience and in responses.

[00:51:44] Elisabeth: Trauma resolution is more than talking about the past and deeper than cognitively deciding to move forward. Trauma lives in the now, in the body and the nervous system, and affects the present moment until we find a way to rehabilitate the system. If you wanna learn more about how to do that, get some practical, actionable tools and a framework, we are now enrolling in the next cohort of Neuro Somatic Intelligence Certification. You can go to neurosomaticintelligence.com to learn more. The link is in the show notes.