S3 E17 TRANSCRIPT: Chronic Pain & Emotions

S3 E 17 Chronic Pain & Emotions 

[00:00:00] Elisabeth: Today we are joined with Dr. Perry Nicholson, the founder of Stop Chasing Pain. And we’re gonna take a deep dive into looking at applied neurology and how to work with the nervous system to create change. But more specifically, we’re really gonna look at emotional expression in the body and the relationship of shame to inflammation and protective responses, protective outputs of our nervous system.

[00:00:27] Elisabeth: Welcome 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. I’m Elisabeth Kristof, founder of Brain-Based Wellness, a virtual platform that teaches you how to work with your nervous system to create the capacity to create resilience. You’ll hear us talk a lot about that today, and if you wanna join us live on the Brain-Based Wellness site for two free weeks of neuro training, you can do that at rewiretrial.com.

[00:00:52] Jennifer: And I’m Jennifer Wallace. I’m a Neuro Somatic Psychedelic Preparation and Integration Guide. I bridge the intelligence of sacred spaces with the intelligence of your nervous system. We hope you enjoyed today’s conversation with Dr. Perry of Stop Chasing Pain.

[00:01:07] Jennifer: Welcome Dr. Perry to Trauma Rewired.

[00:01:12] Perry: Oh, first of all, thank you so much for having me on this show. I’m very grateful and honored and blessed to be here. 

[00:01:16] Elisabeth: We are really, really excited to have you here. And one of the things that I really love about your work, I know that you are very much an expert in biomechanics and in lymph and all of this deep understanding of how  our body functions. And I also see bringing a lot of awareness to the emotional component of all of this and how our limbic system affects our biological and physiological processes.

[00:01:47] And I see, more and more in your work, you’re exploring this link between our emotions and pain and the physical experience of our body. So I would love to hear a little bit about how you’ve been exploring that and where that is in your work right now.

[00:02:07] Perry: Yeah, this is a topic that definitely is near and dear to me. And I actually grew into it, honestly, I think, like most people, out of necessity. Which means that, for myself, which very often happens, but a lot of times it happens because people have a loved one in their life that they care about that is suffering and then they can’t find any answers and they’re looking for them themselves. So here it is. I was coming at my illnesses that I had, I guess you could call it poly autoimmunity. That just means I had multiple autoimmune disorders and nobody had any idea why. 

[00:02:45] And I tried going after them by all of the traditional things that we knew that were supposed to work, but didn’t really work. That’s how I came across a lot of the things that I do now with the lymphatic system, because that was a huge missing component. But even that only got me so far. I realized that I had to tap into the world of the emotional trauma that I’ve gone through in my life that was just really not confronting at the time, I guess you would say. 

[00:03:16] That’s when I came to realize that, holy cow, there’s a living, breathing, dynamic human being that’s attached to all this tissue that I know everything about, but I need to get to know about the individual human being that I’m working with, including myself, because I was so detached from myself.

[00:03:34] I subsequently found out through how my body began to react to everyday things in life through my symptoms. I remember it vividly when it happened because I started, I was experiencing a lot of immune system issues, nervous system issues, and I was trying to get a handle on them.  

[00:03:54] I remember I had a very stressful confrontation with someone on social media because that never happens, right? I read something and I was about ready to do my normal reaction of reacting to it instead of responding. So I started to write my reply and I said, hold on a second, I’m feeling pretty awful right now. And all of the symptoms that I was experiencing really intensely several months before felt like they started to come back in an instant. Just in a split second and I put it down and I said, ‘I gotta take this in for a second’. 

[00:04:33] And I realized that it’s how I was interpreting what was going on and how I was reacting to that situation of a person that I don’t even know in my life, they’re just a name on social media. But it was bringing up all the symptoms that I experienced over those times. I said, okay, that’s very interesting. If they come up that fast, I wonder if I can influence them and decrease them just as fast. That’s what I did. So I didn’t reply. I just sat down there and just explored my thoughts. And I kid you not, within five minutes, maybe even ten I lose track, I started to feel so much better. 

[00:05:19] At that moment in time, it was two gifts came to me, realizing the role that emotions play in things. And then the role that I play in it. And how I choose to respond to something. Then it tied so much into the neuroscience I was studying at the time. Where we have all the sensory input coming into our nervous system at all times from a conscious level and a subconscious level.

[00:05:54] So basically that means things that you’re aware of and things that you’re not aware of. Honestly, everything that you’ve had happened to your entire life since the moment you’re born because your nervous system never forgets anything, even though you do. That’s my running joke, because that’s all those subconscious programs that we run that’s keeping us sick most often. So I realized to the brain, that’s just data. That’s just information, because the information can literally mean anything. Anything. So that’s just trillions of bits of data going into your brain, and most of it you’re not paying attention to, because if you did, your head would explode. You couldn’t do it. But once it comes on in, what happens next? 

[00:06:35] Well, that’s your interpretation of the information. Basically, interpretation just means story. You’re going to tell yourself a story about the information based on what story you told yourself before about the information. Or worse yet, the stories that other people downloaded into your brain that now you think are yours, which happens in medicine all the time. 

[00:06:59] Then you get an output. I realized, too, from studying neuroscience, that pain is an output signal, it’s not an input signal. There’s no input of pain. There’s just signals into the brain. The output can be a choice of pain for your brain. So holy cow, that’s big because everybody’s chasing the pain over here, but I’m stuck in the middle of that split second of how I’ll react to the input so I can change my output. Which is one, how you move and your pain, but that’s also your life. Your habits and your behaviors and what you’re doing, but that’s terrifying for a lot of people when you realize that it’s all on your shoulders.

[00:07:40] Elisabeth: Yeah, absolutely. Everything that you’re saying resonates so deeply with me. We talk a lot on here about input interpretation and output. Can we start to change the input? Or can we change the way that our brain interprets the data coming in to produce a new output rather than just trying to cognitively be like, I’m going to create this new output when we’re not really speaking with our body and with our nervous system in a language that it understands.

[00:08:08] Just this last week, I had an experience that I think really exemplifies what you’re talking about. I had this very small body boundary violation working with a trainer and being asked to do something that I didn’t really want to do intuitively. I felt my body being like, I don’t want to do this.

[00:08:27] I felt kind of pressured and I did it anyway. And it didn’t feel good, but it was no big deal. It was just this little tiny thing of where inside myself I was like ‘I don’t want to do this’ and then I did it anyway. Later that day I started to get a really bad migraine and I also found myself being driven into some self soothing behaviors. Binge eating is something that I’ve struggled with my whole life and I haven’t had the compulsion to binge in a really long time and I found myself mindlessly walking into the kitchen with this heavy pain going on in my head.

[00:09:02] And I stopped for a second. I was like, wait a minute, cause I also have a lot of autoimmune stuff. I was like, this is a familiar feeling. I’m in a flashback. I’m in an emotional flashback. I know what’s going on here. I think just in response to that little situation, there was a lot of anger that came up in me. It triggered a deep well of anger that I have inside from body boundary violations. So I was able to stop, do a little bit of regulation, and also just say like, it’s okay to go ahead and express this. I gave myself a little bit of space and did some of my somatic stuff. And this huge eruption of anger came out, like that deep gurgly screaming and I cried.

[00:09:42] Then after that, my headache was gone and I didn’t want to go binge. I felt different just from having the tools to regulate and make that emotional processing safe and have a moment to interrupt that pattern that’s so deeply worn in the body. That response of repression.

[00:10:00] Perry: Yeah, that’s very powerful. That’s that awareness part. That’s the biggest thing because you can’t control something you’re not aware of. That was something that was fascinating to me about neuroscience is that I came across someone named Dr. Beau Lotto who writes a lot about perception. And that’s what life is. He said ‘the number one stressor to the human nervous system is lack of control, uncertainty, and not knowing.’ Basically you’re adrift at sea with no control. 

[00:10:32] I thought about that for a moment. That’s how most people are feeling these days. They feel like they have uncertainty about the future. They don’t feel that they can control anything, particularly about an illness. They don’t get answers, but you can control how you respond to an illness. How about that? 

[00:10:51] That’s why breathing is so powerful. Cause it’s the one thing of your autonomic nervous system that you can actually control. So it’s empowering because you’re taking back control at the same time and you’re changing physiology through your breath. To me, the most powerful part is the controlling it part. That gets into your subconscious. The not knowing part is huge. Once you become aware of something, that’s the first step towards changing it, right? Then it doesn’t have to be a big change either. It can be just the awareness is the first step.

[00:11:24] It’s the same thing with trauma, as I’m sure that you’ve talked about with others. Because that’s subjective too, the size of your trauma. That’s relative. It’s contextual. Your response to the event. Whatever was already programmed into your nervous system of how it’s chosen to protect you. 

[00:11:46] Because that’s a big thing people need to understand is that pain is never punishment. Pain is always protective with what your body is trying to do. And it’s the same thing with all of these autoimmune issues and these symptoms. They’re not punishments, they’re protective strategies. They’re solutions that your body’s trying to use so you don’t die, because that’s the ultimate where you don’t want to go. 

[00:12:09] It gets locked into repeating these patterns for one reason, because it’s worked up to this point. You’re not dead. So that’s a win. I mean you may not be feeling great. You may not be happy, but unfortunately that’s not the goal of your nervous system is happiness. That’s a distant third (laughing), because it’s hard to be happy when you’re dead.

[00:12:32] So you just have to have that understanding of why your body is doing what it’s doing in relationship to trauma. So all of these things that your body’s had to use at some point to protect you, it may not be the most useful strategy that you need at continuing forward, but it was at some point. Give yourself another strategy.

[00:12:54] Elisabeth: Yeah, absolutely. I think it really is important for people to look at. We get a lot of people coming in that want big change really quickly. That, of course, is inherently threatening to the nervous system. Just like you said, these are protective strategies, especially if you have complex trauma. A lot of developmental trauma that your nervous system and your brain have been using for your entire life to keep you alive to this point. It did work to a certain extent because here you are, it’s just now also creating a lot of outputs that are harmful long term. 

[00:13:30] To backtrack a little, when I was talking about that big burst of anger that I was able to release out of my body and then my other protective outputs: migraine and the binge eating went away. It’s taken me a long time in my practices to make my body and my nervous system feel safe releasing and expressing that emotion.  Because as a child many of us learn that it is not safe to express our anger or express our grief because it’ll separate us from our caregivers or create stress for them or lead us to be isolated. 

[00:14:04] When I first started emotional expression and learning how to feel and be with, then eventually move emotions through my body; I had to do that little minimum effective dose chunks at a time or else my body would react very violently. I would get a rash or my joints would swell up. So it has absolutely been critical to slow down and have some of that compassion with myself. And be like, well I’m really trying to create a whole new paradigm for myself in terms of what’s safe and what’s not safe for my body.

[00:14:40] Perry: Yes. Well, that’s a really big thing that you touched on there.  So many things that we’ve done are stuck in our subconscious. They’re actually hardwired and there as a survival mechanism particularly when you’re younger. You’re hardwired to fit into a community of people, a tribe if you will. Because your nervous system knows that if you’re ostracized and alone, you probably won’t live long- physically or emotionally. You need other people as a support structure to help you one, find food and find resources, also procreate, but be there to watch your back when you can’t. 

[00:15:25] That was a huge thing for me that I learned when I just started to study how we developed as a human species over the years. The brains have not changed very much since the beginning when we didn’t have everything that we do now. It was just a few people in your community that were sitting around a fire, telling stories and supporting each other. And being out in nature, which we don’t really do anymore.

[00:15:54] I went on a safari last year. an observational self healing journey safari in South Africa, that was really wonderful in several ways, because one, I was out in nature and it was just silence. And I realized how deafening true silence can be and terrifying in a way, but it was also healing. We had something at night where we were sleeping out on the plains, no lodging, just a group of 10 of us. We had to do shifts where one person had to be up monitoring the surroundings while everyone else was sleeping. Then you would trade off every hour through the night.

[00:16:40] And I can’t tell you how much of a connection I felt there of how it’s supposed to feel with people. I could sleep at night knowing that I had somebody who was watching out for me. But also the other way around that I had a role to play and how that person was able to make it through the night.  I could feel how healing that was for me to have that connection, but also if you don’t have that. 

[00:17:12] So what I’m getting to is that when you’re younger, you’ll usually say, do or acquiesce or don’t say something so you fit into wherever you need to be. Because yeah, it’s awful, but being alone is more awful at least from a survival perspective, because that’s what’s flipping the switch.

[00:17:36] Elisabeth: Yeah, you touched on something that I think is really important and perfect to segway us into something that I want to make sure we talk about, which is shame. This entire season of Trauma Rewired is about relationship and the nervous system and exploring a lot of how we are tribal animals. We need our herd.

[00:17:56] Also, as young developing children, we need a connection to our primaries for emotional regulation, for nervous system regulation, as well as getting our physical needs met. And so we think a lot about shame. Jennifer and I spend a lot of time thinking about shame as people with complex trauma. (laughing) I see this real protective nature of the emotion of shame as something that’s there to keep us in line in a certain way so that we don’t lose those connections so that we can stay in our herd.

[00:18:30] I can also see when you grow up in an environment where you’re just not going to get those needs met because your primaries are just not capable of it. Everybody’s doing the best that they can, but they’re not capable of giving you the emotional and even physical regulation needs you need. So you keep trying to change yourself to get those needs met. I can see that that shame can become really exaggerated and hypervigilant and then start to play itself out in future relationships when we’re adults. That emotion can get triggered very easily when we feel like our connection with another person is in danger. It can be very big in our body, very heavy. 

[00:19:20] I remember seeing you post a while back on this idea of shame formation and how the emotion of shame can lead to inflammation in the body. And I really want to explore that because I think it’s really fascinating.

[00:19:33] Perry: I agree with you. When I read that research article, I became very emotional because it’s almost like that was describing me to a T, the role that shame played. So in context for me, I’ve always had some sort of shame about how I look since I was younger, cause I was very overweight, obese, had glasses, introvert, awkward, and got picked on a lot. It was tough. So, I just had a lot of shame and self hatred, quite honestly, for how I look. Because I just equated that, well, I mean, everybody’s treating me this way because of how I look. That just got me all right there of having this disconnect from my body. 

[00:20:37] Then I got into trying to change that through bodybuilding, which honestly was saving me in many different ways, but it’s also a quicksand. Where what I loved about bodybuilding is that I could have control over something. That was a big one. So I could have self discipline. I could show up and do this and then things become different. Like I change in the mirror. So it built self confidence, determination, resilience. Plus, it changes your aesthetics. 

[00:21:09] But when you have that self shame inside it’s almost like, no matter how you look on the outside, you still feel ugly on the inside. So what happened is I got into bodybuilding, which actually is based entirely on aesthetics for goodness sake. You’re judged if you win something, if you’re good enough or better than somebody else. And I never was, I couldn’t get big enough. Then that leads to this own type of dysmorphic type issues with the body. I slowly became even more unhappy over that time frame. Then I really believe that that has had such a contributing factor to all of the things that I ended up experiencing later on in life from a bout with cancer to my autoimmune disease that came out of nowhere kind of thing.

[00:22:04] I always ask people, why now? Why today? Why didn’t it hit you last year? And it gets you to think about what that might be. It usually comes down when my chronic pain/autoimmune people, it’s going to be an emotional traumatic event somewhere. Usually one within the last year and a half or so, but it can go much deeper than that. 

[00:22:26] That’s when I realized, now that I knew that, then I started to change how I actually talk to myself. Because I knew that because shame caused so much inflammation that I actually had to take control of it. And it wasn’t easy. I still have to work at it to this day. It’s like you said, it’s the small little wins that you get little and often over the long haul. The next thing you know, it becomes that habit change, that behavior. There’s no cure for that, if you will, it’s only management. I see that happen to so many people because, not necessarily for aesthetics, it can be, but so many people have a shame for why they can’t get better or they don’t understand their illness or they don’t have a support structure at home that they need for illness and they feel shame that way. Or medicine can shame you all the time. Right? Yeah, it’s a disconnect from the body.

[00:23:30] Jennifer: The disconnect is so bad. It’s dangerous.

[00:23:34] Perry: They disconnect from it because so many people have an adversarial relationship with their body because they feel like the body’s punishing them because of the pain. You get angry because of the pain and resentment because of the pain. It’s very difficult to flip that switch when you’re in it because it sucks to be in pain. It’s not easy. 

[00:23:52] Pain is a request for change. That’s my definition of pain. Then people say, well, change what? I’m like, yes, is the answer. I don’t know what it is. I just know it needs to be doing something different than what you’re doing now. I’ll tell them the first step is how about you change how you view pain. Instead of a punishment it can be a protective response. Because, trust me, if you don’t think things can be way worse than they are; they can very easily. (laughing)

[00:24:25] The pain is trying to tell you: I need you to change some type of habit and behavior in your life. Sometimes it’s the people that you’re spending the most time with, that’s a big one. You need to check your surroundings. Unfortunately you spend the most time with yourself. So you usually have to look in the mirror first.

[00:24:43] Elisabeth: Yeah, I think you said something really important, Dr. Perry, about how you recognized the shame that was coming with the diagnosis and with the illness and starting to have to be like, okay, this is causing more damage to my body, more inflammation. So how do I start to create a different response to my body? By talking to myself different to start to develop a different relationship with my body? Because some of the things that I see that are so big and heavy for people are the shame of their outputs of their protective outputs, the shame of their trauma responses, the shame of having their autoimmune.

[00:25:24] I remember Jennifer and I talking about her diagnosis. I asked her, what was the first thing you thought when you got that diagnosis? After a moment of reflection, it was like, ‘I felt so ashamed.’ And it sucks. It’s terrible that we live in a system where so much of not falling in a certain place in the body hierarchy, or needing support, or having different outputs is shamed, but it is. I think one of the best ways to start to combat that and begin the healing is finding ways to have a different relationship with your body and reframing to look at things as a protective output.

[00:26:05] Perry: Yes, awareness is the first step towards change without question and then you just have attention and un-ttention for action. Also taking those baby steps is big because sometimes people feel like it’s such a big step that they don’t take a step. 

[00:26:22] And here’s the thing, this has been a big part of my healing, so much of your behavior and your habits are at a subconscious unconscious level that you don’t know they’re feeding your dragon. Which means that you have a baby dragon in a cave and you don’t pay attention, it’s going to become a big one. There’s a lot of different things that’s adding into your stress and your trauma that you’re not aware of because everybody’s concentrating on the biggest thing in the room, the elephant in the room. But you need to look at all of it. 

[00:26:48] So if I may, I’m going to talk about something called allostatic load. You may know what this term is. Allostatic load is basically the medical term for… envision that you have a bucket that’s only able to hold so much water. It’s got a load to it. So allostatic load is how much stress your body can take before it breaks. You need stress because without stress, you would be taken out way sooner because you need to get strong, resilient and adapt to the things that are trying to take you out so you can recover and regenerate. 

[00:27:20] It’s the recovery and the regeneration that’s the key part. When you’re stuck in Fight or Flight you can’t get there, but everything in your life is adding to the bucket. That’s going in the bucket, your past traumas, plus whatever happens to you during the day that’s coming on in that you’re able to be aware of. Plus the stuff that you don’t know about that’s coming from inside of the body. Even the inflammation that’s in your body is adding to the stress bucket. What type of breathing you’re doing, what type of nutrition you’re doing, are you doing any movement? You get the idea. Everything that you’re doing is adding to the bucket. 

[00:27:57] In order to get better, you need to start to take things out of the bucket. So you need to decrease your load, but you also need to work towards getting a bigger bucket, so you can handle more of a load. But what I’m trying to go after is all of those things that you don’t even know are contributing to your bucket. Because if you get those down, the big rocks you’re trying to remove aren’t as big anymore. It’s relative to the volume of all the other things. 

[00:28:23] What I mean by that is this, somebody is trying to go after the trauma that’s feeding that bucket. And that’s great. Sometimes they feel like I can’t get over it. Well, that’s why you do a lot of these small little things. If you get your breathing under control, I just removed a stressor from your bucket. If I got your lymphatic system under control and I worked your lymph, that’s a big rock right there. That’s a big one, if I get that out, then I’m going to decrease inflammation throughout the entire body. And if I can decrease inflammation throughout the entire body, I massively decrease your threat response into your nervous system. Because your body is going to respond to a threat response, no matter what it is, the same way, through what your symptoms are. 

[00:29:11] Elisabeth: Absolutely.

[00:29:12] Dr. Perry: So whenever you’re locked into that Fight or Flight survival protective mode, you’re going to fall into it no matter what the stressor is. So I’m trying to go after all those areas to decrease those. Then all of a sudden people now have the resiliency and the strength to get over the other things that they’ve been trying to. Does that make sense? That’s a really big thing for people to understand and stuff that you’re going after, you don’t think are a really big deal. They’re the biggest deals of all, because they’re the ones that are actually running your unconscious subconscious nervous system program in the background.

[00:29:51] Elisabeth: Definitely. Absolutely. I mean, that’s why it’s so critical that people not just have times to regulate in a moment of acute stress or an emotional processing, but a real daily habit of working with their nervous system to make their breathing better, their vision better, their balance better, their awareness of where their body is in space so that that constant day in day out stress load is reduced and then you have resilience, you have capacity to adapt positively to the stress that’s coming in.

[00:30:22] You said it beautifully in that you really have to have the capacity in the bucket to be able to process through some of these other big things. If you don’t, you just keep getting pushed back into the same responses. 

[00:30:40] I wanted to talk a little bit about inflammation and shame. I want to take a little deeper dive because I feel like we hear a lot about inflammation. We talk about emotional repression and the impacts on the body, but I think for some people, it’s hard to connect the dots. Like I experienced this emotion and then I get an inflammatory response in my body. Could you talk a little bit about what happens in the body with some of these emotions or what is going on with that inflammatory response? Why would it be linked to shame?

[00:31:12] Perry: Yes. I would love to. That’s a great question. 

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[00:32:17] Perry: One of the things that I love to do in teaching is to try to interconnect all these different systems that we have in the body so you can see how they never work alone. They’re always working together and influencing each other and trying to protect each other that you can’t isolate anything. Right. 

[00:32:33] So the information comes on in and then you tell yourself a story and that’s going to drive your sympathetic nervous system. Most off that’s the first one to kick into gear because you’re hardwired to look at everything in the negative first. Because you need to make sure that the sound in the woods is not a tiger instead of your friend Bill. The tiger is gonna kill you and Bill will say hi, but you better make sure. Let’s make sure it’s not a tiger first because you only get a chance to make that mistake once so you’re primed to look at the negative first. So even that be easy on yourself. 

[00:33:11] So whenever the sympathetic nervous system goes up, that’s Fight or Flight. All your stress hormones get released, but the nervous system and the immune system always go together. It’s called the neuro immune response. When sympathetics come in, because every emotional reaction to something, the context and the meaning. The nervous system says, okay, immune system. I need you to increase everything because I’m anticipating that Perry’s going to get hurt. Perry’s going to need some kind of triage, whatever is coming. Cause it’s what- Fight or Flight. So you can get injured in a fight or you can get injured when you’re fleeing. 

[00:33:46] So it comes up because now the immune system’s job is to make sure the stuff does not kill you. That’s what inflammation is. So as soon as the sympathetics go up, inflammation goes up because it’s supposed to. But it’s not supposed to stay there because you’re supposed to get away from the trauma and then chillax and relax by the fire with your community and have it go down.

[00:34:12] So whenever the sympathetics go up, they also turn off the opposite of your autonomic nervous system called your parasympathetics. So your parasympathetics are the ones that put you in what they call wine, dine, feed, breed. You know, eat, chat, have sex, all the good stuff, right? And that’s the vagus nerve. So your body will actually turn down the vagus nerve on purpose. Because the vagus nerve inhibits the immune system and in Fight or Flight, you don’t want to do that. So what happens is that you get stuck in Fight or Flight and the parasympathetic vagus nerve actually loses its tone. That’s how well it responds to things and it stays low all the time. So you can’t get out even when you want to. 

[00:35:06] Now you’re stuck in that response of Fight or Flight, and then the inflammation feeds in, cortisol gets released, and that starts to break down tissues of the body, and you become catabolic. You want inflammation because inflammation is supposed to kill something that’s supposed to kill you, but then it’s supposed to subside. But with chronic disease and autoimmune disease, it’s not. And people have multiple threats coming out a lot of the time, and I don’t care how many autoimmune diseases you have, the cause is the same with me- inflammation. It just manifests itself in a different way depending on your history, your context, your stories. and your genetics. So inflammation can give person A fibromyalgia inflammation B, Alzheimer’s- same damn thing. I’m going to go after the body the same way. That’s why you have to learn to control the autonomics that you have.

[00:35:58] Elisabeth: If you can’t feel or express your emotions, this could be holding you back from being Present, connected in your relationships and having the capacity to experience the good stuff like joy and pleasure. Join us live at rewiretrial.com to get two free weeks of nervous system training and emotional processing tools with me and Jennifer. We would love to meet you on the site.

[00:36:21] Elisabeth: Yeah, it makes perfect sense. And I think, as you were explaining that the threat could be emotional threat could be a threat of disconnection of our relationships, it could be a social threat, and that the body will respond to the same with that inflammatory response as a protective response, because inside, at the level of our physiology, that threat is being interpreted the same as a physical threat. 

[00:36:51] It really makes me think too about how we’ve been exploring a lot this season about how complex trauma is an attachment wound, and that that can lead us to have a lot of stress response, a lot of hypervigilance in our relationships. So the social support that we need for regulation and safety and having a healthy immune system can also become threatening to the nervous system when we have all of these patterned reactions that relationship, intimacy, connection with other human beings is not safe. 

[00:37:27] So as you talk about that response in the body, it connects a lot of dots for me is why, if we have these attachment wounds and these really protective neuro tags in terms of relationships, why someone with complex PTSD and a high ACE score would have a truncated lifespan. Or be more prone to disease because their body’s going into that reactive, protective response all the way to the level of their inflammation and their immune reaction with social engagement.

[00:37:57] Perry: Yes. I’m going to let that sink in for people cause that’s really, really big. And I want to reiterate that. Threat is threat. Your body’s going to respond the same way. No matter what it is. And it’s not just about the size of the threat. I’m going to say this one twice, cause this is really important. 

[00:38:19] It’s not just the size of the threat. Okay. Because that’s subjective too, honestly, right? It’s the volume of the threat. How much is going in. So that’s what we were just going over. The poor blood flow is a threat. The poor lymphatic flow is a threat. The poor digestion, lack of stomach acid from Fight or Flight is a threat. 

[00:38:49] And you have these things all throughout your body called nociceptors. People that follow you may be familiar with that, nociceptors. It’s a big medical fancy term for a sensory receptor in the body that’s designed to take in data, take in information of potential. That word is very critical. Potential threat. Not pain. There’s no pain signals that go into the brain.  There’s only input signals of these receptors and nociceptors are the ones that send the potential threat receptors up and it’s the bucket again. 

[00:39:30] So you may have 500 different mini threats going into the bucket in the brain and then the output that is going to choose for you is pain. Pain is just one way it could do. Another way is just withdraw. I’m just going to pull you away from everything because if I pull you away from everything, well then maybe you won’t get hurt because you’re not doing anything. oOr you’ll just Freeze because the brain says, I don’t know what to do. 

[00:39:54] So what I’m trying to do through the blood flow and the lymphatics is decrease the volume of load on the nociceptors throughout your body. And here’s the thing, people don’t know how much of that’s firing and wiring all the time. How much nociceptor activation that were going on before they got their symptoms. Before they got their diagnosis. And that answers my question. I had before, why now? Why not yesterday? Why not last year? 

[00:40:28] Well, I got the answer for you. Your bucket couldn’t hold anymore. That’s why. Because the bucket holds water to the top until it doesn’t. And then it only takes one more drop. And everybody blames the last drop. That’s the Doc, I was running yesterday, and today I have pain. That doesn’t mean that’s why you got pain, first of all. Ha ha ha, right? But you have to keep that in context, too. Like, if I punch you in the face, I know why your face hurts. But if your face hurts today, and it didn’t hurt yesterday, and you didn’t do anything to make it hurt, that’s a different scenario altogether. 

[00:40:09] So, all of those things, I’m trying to go after those small nociceptors coming on in, and that’s all different types of shame that we talked about that can go over your life. I’ve been on this planet 56 years, and for most of them, it’s been drop a shame here, a drop a shame there, a drop, drop, drop, drop, drop, drop, drop. Then all of a sudden, no more room for drops. So then the change comes from awareness of the bucket, first of all. That you can change it based on the story that you tell yourself. That’s that split second,  it seems impossible when you first start. Cause you’re reactionary. That’s what Fight or Flight is. Fight or flight is not thinking. There’s no thinking in Fight or Flight. It’s just program, bing, bang, boom, go. You can think later. 

[00:42:01] Elisabeth: Yeah. I think that there’s so much hope and everything that you just said and, and ways to really look at like- we can repattern. And it doesn’t have to be just from a cognitive framework. There are other ways to go in and create that change by working with the body, by working with the nervous system, by working with the inputs that can lead to new outputs.

[00:42:23] And neuroplasticity is also the science of hope because we’re changing all of the time. We also do have to understand that there isn’t a whole environment that our brain functions in, it’s our body, and we have some agency over working with that too. I think that leads to so much potential for a new experience, even if we have been patterned a lot of our life to be in Fight and Flight and hypervigilance, there are other pathways to creating a new internal state.

[00:42:57] Perry: Yes. And I think it’s really important that…  we hear it all the time, but I don’t really know if it truly sinks in until you get to a level of pain and suffering where you have no choice but to begin to explore it. And that’s the mind-body connection. It’s a two way street. And that’s why this interoception and showing some kindness to your body and gratitude for it as opposed to resentment. Cause if you resent it, you’re never getting better. 

[00:43:30] Rubbing areas of the body that we very rarely pay attention to. The abdomen is a big one and the sternum and even around the neck. Now I have people rub those areas because it massively increases blood flow like you would not believe. 

[00:43:45] But those areas as well have a lot of the nociceptors in it. A lot of them sit in the front of the body because your nervous system is hardwired to protect you from the throat down. That’s why you curl into a fetal position, because you need to protect your throat and your organs. Because if I take you out there, you’re dead quick, fast, and in a hurry. So that’s why most of them are located here, and in the face. So if you ever see people curl into a ball, they protect the face, the eyes, the nose, the mouth, the throat. Because if they’re gone, I’m dead quick. And same thing in here. So if you can start to show a little bit of attention here through massages or even putting your hands there and giving a little bit of self love to them, right?

[00:44:30] Tell people to draw physical hearts, small hearts. over the areas in the front of your body, because that’s called bio symbolism. The symbols of the heart will, will come in and you’ll pick those up subconsciously as a form of love for yourself. You wait and you sit back and you put your seatbelt on about how much changes in the body when you start to focus in on this region.

[00:44:52] And last thing I’ll say, cause I know we’ll run out on time, is that this area of the body is very rarely where anybody experiences physical pain. They usually feel it everywhere else. And if you think about that for a moment, you’ll know that I’m right. My arms hurt, my legs hurt, my everything in the freaking back hurts all the time. Very rarely does somebody say my face is killing me, my throat’s on fire, my sternum is crushing me, and my navel is burning. It’s killing me. No. Right? 

[00:45:22] It’s everywhere else, because I’m telling you there’s a lot of inflammation in there, but your body’s protecting that area at all costs, so you feel it somewhere else, because I know one thing, if you hurt anywhere in the front here, you won’t be able to move, so that’s why we go there, you just don’t know it’s there, now you do. 

[00:45:41] I’m giving you one of the biggest tips you’re ever going to get in your life is to pay more attention to your face, your throat, your chest, and your abdomen, all the way down to your navel, every single day, any way you want. And you will start to feel better.

[00:48:57] Elisabeth: I love that. I love the practice of the drawing of the hearts on those areas of the body, as can be a new part of my self love and embodiment practice. Do you have any courses out right now for people who are interested in maybe working more with their lymph system? We do a lot of work on the site for neuro training, but lymph is not an area that we explore as much. And so I’d love for you to tell people where they could find that.

[00:46:22] Perry: Thank you so much for that opportunity. Yeah. We love lymph, big time. We teach about it all the time. You can go to our website, stopchasingpain.com. That’s pretty much the word you would type in to find me anywhere on all the social media platforms as well. We have available all the time, a self care video you can purchase and watch anytime for the rest of your life. It’s about two hours. It’ll give you the basics and fundamentals of things you can do right now to start to feel better. Then we have the two day intensive one that I’ll pretty much melt your brain and change your life in relationship to lymphatics. We offer that about four times a year. That’ll be coming up again soon before the end of the year. You can see all the other different things that we teach, but those are the ones that most people end up starting with. And we have one on the vagus nerve as well coming this month because it goes down to the two things that I told you before and the way that I work with people: Calm the body move the fluids heal in that exact order.

[00:47:18] Jennifer: I just started working with my lymph system and I really love it. I just listened to your shorty on the belly button and love it. I’m really working with it. 

[00:47:28] Perry: Ah, yes. That’s a big spot, a lot of trauma held in that naval. Birth trauma held in that navel.

[00:47:31] Jennifer: Yeah. So I’m working on it. I’m enjoying your little shorties series. I hope you keep that up.

[00:47:44] Perry: Oh, I definitely will, been doing that podcast for about 13 years, long time. I just started to do the little mini ones about 15 minutes long. I’m just telling you some cool things that I think you would find cool, or areas that I want you to check that most people don’t check. Feedback on it, people love them. So I’ll keep going. Thank you so very much. That’s actually one of the reasons that I started to do it to put a little bit more of my stuff out there for that one, so thank you so much. I am very thankful for that.

[00:48:14] Elisabeth: Yeah. And thank you for being willing to jump in here and explore some of these more nuanced topics, shame and stuff in the body.

[00:48:25] Perry: Oh yeah. I had a really wonderful time. I can’t believe it went by so fast. Awesome. Bye.

[00:48:30] Elisabeth Thank you.

S3 E17

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