Begin Your Path to Self-Healing Today with Dr Nicole LePera favorite_border

Conversations from the Heart - April 17th 2020

Author: Rachel Brathen

Topics: Healing, Lifestyle, Meditation, Growth, Exciting Guests

Links: Apple Podcasts / Spotify

About the Episode

Are you struggling with feelings of anxiety or is your nervous system exhausted from being stuck in fight or flight? In this time of quarantine, we may have found ourselves with the opportunity to explore our inner landscape and do some deep self-healing work, and that is exactly what this week’s episode is about!

This week’s show is a perceptive and resourceful conversation between Rachel and holistic psychologist Dr. Nicole LePera.

Together, they unpack trauma and talk about how to identify it, how to manage the effects of traumatic events and how trauma can be more than big traumatic experiences. They also talk about our three core needs, how we embody pain and how it plays out in our daily routines, relationship patterns, decision making and generational behavior.

While psychology focuses mostly on treating the mind, holistic psychology focuses on our being as a whole and balancing the body in order to treat the mind.

There are so many elements to trauma and self-healing, and this week’s episode will help you to recognize your triggers, notice behavioral patterns, and create conscious daily lifestyle choices in order to generate self-healing.

Key Takeaways

  • We are incredibly complex emotional creatures. Allow yourself to feel a myriad of feelings - a myriad of truths - without judgement.
  • We have three core needs: to be seen, to be heard, and to be allowed the space to be authentically ourselves. If these needs are not met in early childhood, they play out as behavioral coping mechanisms. They can be recognized and changed by creating daily conscious habits and routines.
  • To create change you must treat the body as a whole. Incorporating conscious practices in your daily routine is the first step to begin the process of self-healing.
  • Create a conscious practice that brings you out of your subconscious mind, or autopilot mode, and into conscious presence daily to rewire the neuroplasticity of the brain.
  • For many of us, our nervous system is stuck in fight or flight mode and using tools like yoga, breathwork and meditation can help to manually teach the body to become more balanced.

More About Dr. Nicole

Dr. Nicole LePera is a holistic psychologist who specializes in healing trauma through the connection between mind and body.

Throughout her successful career, she founded the Mindful Healing Center and was one of the first people to make essential tools for healing accessible via social media. You can find her on Instagram at @the.holistic.psychologist.


[0:02] Rachel: Welcome to a brand new episode of the Yoga Girl podcast. I feel so honored to introduce this week’s guest on the show. This is someone who inspires me and who teaches me so much via social media every day, and I know many of you who are listening right now feel the same. Holistic psychologist, dynamic psychotherapist, founder of the Mindful Healing Center, and one of the first people to make essential tools for healing accessible via social media. You all know her as The Holistic Psychologist on Instagram, welcome to the show Dr Nicole LaPera!

Nicole: Thank you so, so much for having me Rachel, I’m truly honored.

Rachel: I’m so excited to be here with you. I have had this request from so many people over the past couple of months to have you on the show, and now I feel like in the middle of a…in the middle of the apocalypse is a really good time [laughs] to chat with the Holistic Psychologist and get some advice. So thank you for taking the time from afar to sit with me today.

Nicole: Of course. I’m honored to hear that your community has been throwing my name around, and I think given the circumstances, a lot of hopefully helpful conversations are coming out of this. So I am on board and here to connect like I said, and offer any tools for your community that would be helpful.

Rachel: So this podcast is called From the Heart, so I like to begin with just a moment of vulnerability, you know, speaking totally from the heart how are you feeling right now?

[1:26] Nicole: Quite honestly right now, I’m feeling energetically a little bit depleted. Emotionally, I’m feeling a little bit raw; on a personal side, one of my cats has been missing for almost two weeks now, so my heart is in a million different places, obviously given the context and everything that’s going on in the climate, but with my own personal little man, I don’t know where he is, I’m just…I’m a little low, I guess would be how I’m feeling today.

Rachel: Oh man, same. Has he done that before? Is that, is that…I know I’m a dog person, so I don’t know cats so well, but has he done that before?

Nicole: Not, not to this extent, I mean, so this is a new thing. He’s really savvy and he’s also really friendly, so my hope is that he’s in some other human’s home making them incredibly happy during this really difficult time, and when that human leaves the house and sees his “please help me find my home” sign, he’ll come back. So I’m worried, but I’m also not, not too worried about him. I know that he’s spreading love…

Rachel: He’s probably making someone so happy, yeah.

Nicole: He’s spreading love, I actually truly believe that in my heart, Rachel. So that’s how I, I’m not completely devastated.

Rachel: Oh, I believe that too. I bet it’s some like really lonely person right now who’s all isolated, and then like has a friend for a moment, that’s…

Nicole: I love that.

Rachel: Yeah, yeah, for sure. So where are you right now? I mean how…you’re in isolation, you’re in total lockdown, is that, is that true for you as well as over here?

[2:46] Nicole: Yeah, that’s pretty much true here in L.A. I wanna say it’s been about two weeks now since the order of lockdown, and streets are pretty empty all around so my partner and I, and thankfully we have a team member that also kind of holed up with us here so that we could keep things running and keep our community and keep all of these tools and these resources out there for people. But outside of that yeah, it’s pretty much, pretty much lockdown here. Definitely a surreal experience. I just got to L.A. myself, moved here from Philadelphia February 1st, so I had about a month and a half of, of I guess normalcy here in L.A. and now I’s having definitely a different experience so…

Rachel: You’re like “this is not what I moved here for.” [Laughs] Holy, holy cow. It’s so wild. It’s so wild everywhere, and I’m having kind of a weird experience because I’m Swedish, I’m born and raised in Sweden but I live in Aruba which is this tiny island and we are so, in such close connection to the U.S., all of our tourism comes from the U.S. so we’re in this like weird in between. And Sweden is the one country in the world that went “fuck this shit,” like “we’re not playing along.”

Nicole: [laughs]

Rachel: So everyone I know in Sweden, they have kind of a normal-ish life where schools are open and restaurants and bars, and Aruba is like the most serious lockdown of any country that I really, that I know, like we’re not allowed to be in the street now. So I’m like in, with one foot in each place just like…

Nicole: Right.

Rachel: …“what, which way is going to be the right way?” You know? “Who’s doing it right? Is anyone doing it right? Like are we going to be okay?” So I think collectively this is such a…yeah, what’s that experience been like for you? Are you experiencing…because it’s such a rollercoaster, I go from feeling extremely hopeful in terms of “look at these amazing conversations that we’re all happening…having right now, the so, so many people going back to basics and meditating and doing a lot inner work, like wow, something amazing has to come out from after this.” And then I go to the other end of “this is the end of the world, like we’re all going to die.” [laughs] I don’t have an in-between. How has this been for you, personally?

[4:55] Nicole: Yeah, and I think a lot of people, Rachel, are feeling those, those extremes. What I’ve been cultivating in myself, in general outside of this pandemic experience that we’re all living, just in general in life, I’ve been trying to cultivate flexibility. And what I call with that — you said a really pivotal word when you even described the way you’re feeling, you’re saying “I go from I feel hopeful, and then other moments I feel hopeless,” if you will, for lack of a better word — that “and” is the pivotal word that I’m talking about. Because I think a lot of us are having very opposing feelings, maybe we’re feeling all of those things at once. So as a human, I’ve been really trying, in my own emotional journey of healing, I’ve been trying to cultivate that flexibility, and allowing for myself all of my feelings to be true, in any given moment. Even when they’re — and especially when, I should say — when they’re opposing. So, I say that to say my experience really has been an extension of that: just trying to make space and allow non-judgmentally and compassionately myself to observe whatever it is I’m feeling. Some moments, you know, I’m feeling a little bit of a lot of things, some moments I’m feeling more on the hopeful side, you know. So I think the flexibility has been something I’ve been trying to honor in myself, just generally overall in terms of my emotional world and my landscape, but also something I’ve been urging my community and everyone else to do. Because I think a lot of times we shame ourselves for our feelings, and we have this idea of things we should or shouldn’t feel, and it gets even more confusing I think, naturally, when what we’re feeling is two opposing things. So for instance like you, when I’m feeling hopeful and hopeless in the same moment, that’s really confusing, but we’re really complicated emotional creatures, and we can feel all of those things. So, we do ourselves a disservice, I have to say we do ourselves a disservice, myself included, when I pass judgement on what I’m feeling. When I come to some conclusion, oftentimes based in my past experiences that I shouldn’t feel this way, and that just makes it more difficult. So I say that to say honoring my feelings has been a really big part of my healing. Also, you know, given what is going on, and I definitely urge we all do that, move to that flexibility, allowing it all to be true when it is all true for us.

[7:06] Rachel: “Allowing it all to be true when it is all true for us.” And it’s such a spiritual, spiritual truth too. I am so fascinated with how psychology and, from my personal experience of the practice and teachings of yoga really align in this, in this complex, beautifully non-sensical, but also, like, a space that makes total sense when we’re in that, when we’re in that place of healing. And I find that what’s so, for me, fascinating about following you and what you share online is things that for me feel so complex that I have to have, I have to have moments of total grace, like one of those moments of epiphany, of “oh, my God, everything makes sense,” and it’s so hard to get to those places, but somehow, you uncomplicate things [laughs]. I can read what you share with the world in terms of from that psychological standpoint and go “oh, I feel that,” like “that’s something I couldn’t put into words.”

Nicole: That means the world, hearing that. Thank you, Rachel, for saying that. A big..that’s been a big motivation for me through this whole journey and I think is really a testament to why the community has grown as it has. So these concepts have existed, I just think that, I mean the field, the psychology field has done humanity, if you will, the collective, a disservice by not giving these concepts a more understandable, you know, workable, practical application, so something I’ve been really passionate about is doing just that. So hearing that this is translating, like I said, I see that it is just because the community of followers continues to grow and I think that’s just a testament of that. We can, like you, now look at a concept, watch it, apply it in out daily life, and create some incredible change.

Rachel: Yeah, I mean you have two million followers [laughs] on Instagram for, you know, dedicated to psychology, like that’s really trippy to me.

Nicole: Incredible, incredible [laughs].

[8:54] Rachel: Yeah, it really, really is. So for someone who maybe doesn’t know you yet, or kind of, kind of skims past maybe things that you’re sharing, that isn’t that invested yet, I would love for you to share a little bit about your background. And also for people who are listening, what is holistic psychology and how does that differ from traditional psychology? Because I, I wouldn’t know how to put that into words.

Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. And this is, this is a new thing. I think this speaks to the field and where the field, at least as far as I see it, has been stuck for some time. Because the reality of it is, Rachel, is holistic psychology hasn’t been a thing. No one’s really talked about it, and I think this field itself had gotten off course and we need to return…. So I say this to say, so who I am as a, on a human note, I am an individual who has known anxiety for as long as I can remember, a little girl scared of the world, hiding under tables, afraid people are going to break in, my parents are going to get unwell, so I had a lot of anxieties, a lot of health-based anxieties, I focussed on the worst case scenarios that could happen, pretty much that’s what I knew given the human that I was. As long as I can remember, you know, when they start to ask you what you want to be when you grow up, as someone who was just fascinated by the mind and kind of what makes people do and think as they do, psychologist was something you would have always heard me talking that I wanted to be. So flash forward, I did all of the training, I got a, I received a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology all the while, again, my anxiety was, for me, a conversation based on management of symptoms. That was pretty much what we were taught in my field was if you have that chip or you didn’t have that chip, you know, that gave you that anxiety, that pretty much that was going to be a lifetime. And you could manage your symptoms, but it pretty much wouldn’t go away. So in, on my personal side of things, you know, I did just that. I was on medication, I was in talk therapy, all different kinds of talk therapy, I did all the things, and I still…my anxiety was there, pretty much.

[11:02] Rachel: From what age did you, did you start?

Nicole: I don’t even remember, anxie…I don’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t feeling anxious. I finally sought treatment when I was in my early twenties, I was living in New York City and panic attacks started to become a really big issue for me. So anyone who’s had a panic attack out there, I feel you, I know how scary they are, they quite literally feel like a heart attack: heart racing, sometimes sweating, really, really terrible, scary, scary experience. So in my early twenties, it just so happened also coincided with a health crisis that my mom was having, so remember if, when one has health anxiety, when there is a health scare happening, I mean for me it was an absolute nightmare. So that’s why I believe that is the time period. So for me, early twenties for about a year, panic attacks were always, always present for me, and at that point I decided to go and to seek treatment, to get some medication and to start to talk to someone.

Rachel: And did that help immediately? Or was it…

Nicole: Honestly, yes. I mean, I felt that I got enough control over my anxiety that I wasn’t feeling as debilitated; however, I also thought I needed to walk around with my medication in my back pocket for that, just incase. I knew that that was what was helping me, especially when I was on a benzo, I’m not sure, you know, listeners out there, the Klonopins, the Xanaxes, so I felt dependent on it, in a sense, to calm my anxiety, but yes, it did help that panic. Talking, I mean talking helped, I’m someone who is interested, you know, in people, so going into that therapy room and talking with a therapist was something I was interested in doing, so, you know, I wanted to understand myself. Interestingly enough, you know, at that point in time, I…and this might sound…I wasn’t aware, I wasn’t allowing into my consciousness the truth of my childhood in a full way. So I had this story about what things were like for me as a child, so in that early twenties stage of my life, you would have heard me telling a much different rendition of my childhood. You would have heard me say “everything was great,” and, you know, that all my needs were perfectly met. While it wasn’t not great, I’ve come to realize, I mean it wasn’t a terrible childhood I’ve had, I’ve come to realize — and this is why I’m also passionate talking about this — I’ve come to realize that there are a lot of ways that we are wounded in our childhood that exist outside of what many of us have come to know as the big T of Trauma, right, the instances of abuse or neglect, when you really do know that some bad thing happened to you. I really have come to realize, and this is the camp that I fall in as a lot of us do I believe, is that there is a lot of other avenues that we carry this childhood wounding.

[13:49] Rachel: And this is, this is so interesting, I think, because for a lot of people, and I get this question a lot as someone who had pretty big traumas, or several big things with a big T that I can point to, I get this question a lot: “but I had such a great childhood,” you know, “why do I feel this way?”

Nicole: Right.

Rachel: “How can I…” it’s like, we are allowed to feel like crap because we had those big T Traumas, and then if we don’t, we should just suck it up and be happy because we have…why should we complain?

Nicole: Right. Yeah.

Rachel: So…

Nicole: A lot of us, a lot of us do tell ourselves those stories, we rationalize our feelings, we, you know, see the person who we see has a worse case scenario, we minimize our experience, I mean a lot of us have a difficult time acknowledging and honoring our feelings, our experiences.

Rachel: So what is, for someone listening who doesn’t know or who feels like it’s a little unclear, what constitutes a trauma?

[14:43] Nicole: Absolutely. So I think any instances of…I have defined, put it this way, that we as humans universally share what I term three core needs. And those three core needs are to be seen, to be heard, and to be kind of allowed the space to be authentically ourselves. Those, I believe, are our three core needs. So when we don’t feel, have those needs met consistently enough in childhood — of course there’s always the one-off, you know, where our parents can’t show up for us — but if it’s a consistent scenario, then a lot of us do carry that childhood wounding and conditioned behaviors that are related to that childhood wounding that was our mode of coping. So, for me, just to kind of bring this story full circle so I can really illustrate, so in my mid-twenties I’m having panic attacks and I was that person telling you my childhood was great; I didn’t have those big glaring things, I’m in school now, so I learned enough about what those big glaring things were that know I didn’t have, right? Yet I was still struggling and I thought “okay, of course I’m still struggling, a lot of people are struggling with anxiety.” Flash forward some years, I now have a private practice, The Mindful Healing Center, I have a successful practice, I’m seeing clients week after week you know for, at this point, several years, and I, over time, gradually start to get sick, sick physically. I start to have all of these crazy physical symptoms: I start to faint, I start to forget my words mid-sentence, I start to just not feel well physically. Emotionally, that anxiety started to pick up again, so where it felt manageable for some time, it started to feel quite unmanageable again, and I just had this deep sense of despair and hopelessness. And that felt confusing, because now I’m looking away, I’m quite young, I have quite a successful practice, I have a partner that I, you know, I happen to like; my life all around looks like it should be, like “I’ve arrived,” and yet, I had such a sense of hopelessness, and I really call this period my dark nigh of the soul.

[16:47] So, descending into that, I jumped online as a lot of us do, because the first thing that scared me, quite honestly Rachel, were the physical symptoms. I was really afraid, remember I have health anxiety, so this was a nightmare to me. I was really concerned that something was actually wrong with me. Which the gift of that, of that fear, was I dove into this rabbit hole of research online and I saw all of this new science and all of this new information on the body and our nervous system and this whole world that I just wasn’t taught in school. So after a lot of research, I really put together a plan for myself. It really started off with some self-healing, and I began to make some lifestyle changes. I changed my life, I changed the way I showed up in my life, my anxiety started to go away, I started to for the first time shift the way I felt my entire life. So that’s what really brought me into working holistically is in my own healing journey, I did bring in some lifestyle interventions, I started to realize the importance of, you know, a meditation practice, of breath work, of moving my body, of eating, you know, putting into my body the things that make it feel well, and over doing that I started to realize that that’s a necessity for all of us, that a lot of us are struggling in the ways that we’re struggling because of the choices that we’re making each and every day. And this is where, in terms of my own realizations about my childhood really started to come, to come to the top, you know, as I started to heal, as I started to become more balanced in my body, I started to be more connected to my body. So part of the reason why I thought my childhood was one way when I was growing up, and I started to talk about this, and I think this resonates with a lot of people, is I had very few memories of my childhood growing up. I was what we call dissociated for a large part of it, and that’s a nervous system response, it’s kind of where we check out of our bodies. And so because I was so checked out, the reality of it was my, I thought it was okay because I was so disconnected from how I was feeling. So once I came to that realization and really started to repair that connection and become more into my body, which is beau…I mean, yoga, you being so connected with the yoga community, all the listeners, I mean the practice of yoga can be so healing for those of us that are so disconnected from our physical selves, as a lot of us are.

[19:11] So the short of it is once I started to undergo that and really calm and become more connected to myself, then is where I started to have all of these realizations about those wounds that I carried, I started to obviously talk about all of this online, and then I really started to see the universal resonance of this more holistic method. A lot of people were writing me saying they felt very similarly, right, felt stuck, just felt generally, you know, not able to make change in their life, and at that point I really knew that I was onto something, that we did have to shift and not treat the mind or the brain as separate from the body, as separate from the soul as psychology had been doing for far too long.

Rachel: But I mean how, how many years did you spend studying prior to this moment of realizing that something was missing?

Nicole: So, I mean I’ve been studying psychology and all aspects of it since, since I was young, I mean since I was in high school; while I was in my clinical training, I went outside of my clinical training and sought any you know, kind of other modality, you know, any other type of therapy. So I’ve been learning about the mind, about psychology in my training program, on my own for as long as I can remember. Once I was out of school, obviously then I started to self-teach, and that’s where then I really opened my mind up to all of these other, you know, modalities of healing, about the body, about the nervous system, and I pretty much sat in that learning stage for several years, and I’m still learning. I mean I consider myself…my dad’s joke growing up was always going to be, was always I’m going to be a lifetime student. He meant in school, the truth of the mater is I am going to be a lifetime student. So I’m still learning, I mean I still have, you know, five books on my Kindle all queued up, waiting for me to read some on, you know, new science in the body, so you know, I’m always learning and I always intend to learn, and, because this is…this field, especially science, is still evolving. We’re new in a lot of ways to some of this information, so information’s going to keep changing and I’m always going to be open to learning. So I haven’t stopped, I guess the short answer is I’ve always been learning, and I always plan to learn.

[21:22] Rachel: Yeah, I think for, to me it’s so fascinating that the…I have never known another form of psychology other than holistic psychology, or I used to call it holistic therapy before I found you online. So when I was, so I, I don’t know how much of my story that, that you know, but I had a lot of trauma and death and crazy things happen when I was little, and my first ever interaction with something different, or with a different kind of thinking was when my mom sent me to a meditation retreat when I was 17, so super young. And I didn’t know it then, but of course I’ve learned since that the facilitators of this retreat were all psychologists who were specialized in this more holistic field of connecting with the body, of incorporating yoga into that practice, of trauma release exercise, of primal work and shadow work and things like that. So that was my first ever interaction on that kind of…it was like a therapeutic meditation retreat. And then I did several of those, and that’s all I knew, and then for a little while I saw a holistic psychologist, who had that kind of practice for a little, when I was 18ish, after that. And then I left Sweden, and I then I got into yoga, and this is my life, and now we do trauma-healing retreats that, where we incorporate yoga here in our studio, so I have never had any experience with any other traditional-type of psychology. So when I started doing more research before talking to you now, just how, how little, how tiny of a sliver this idea of psychology is compared to the traditional talk therapy that exists in the rest of the world. How does the, the psychology, I guess the professional community, how does the majority of people look at this new way of approaching, of approaching the mind and of approaching trauma and healing? Is it accepted, is it like “this s where we’re all heading,” or do some people think this is some kind of woo-woo, hippy-dippy thing? [laughs]

[23:26] Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s a little…it’s a little bit of both. So if I speak honestly when I, when I got to the stage in my healing where I started to feel like I wanted to talk about it, you know, the internet, I was watching how people were using social media, so that became, with the sole intention being I want to start to speak more honestly about my message, about my truth, and I want to start to connect with other people who were maybe living that same truth; I was at the stage in my healing where I was starting to feel lonely. So as I went on, knowing that the humans that would be seeing my work, some of whom might be my peers in terms of professionally, I was scared. I was a little bit concerned. I was not sure of what they would think of my message, I was pretty positive that very few of them, if any, like myself, actually learned about this in school. Now this isn’t to say, because a lot of healers in the mental wellness field are very much attracted to what has been long known as the alternative or the holistic method, that’s becoming the more mainstream one. I say that to say intuitively, a lot of us understood the need to work holistically. So some, you know, would’ve like myself, thought out those, but if we’re really looking at what was presented to us in our training programs, whether you’re the Ph.D. or the Psy.D. like myself, the psychology degree, or the social worker, or the, you know, Masters level clinicians, or the marriage and family therapists, I really, I did not imagine that they were learning about the body, or the holistic modality as I hadn’t either. So I was scared. So I went online and I wasn’t sure, and I get a little bit of both. I get more overwhelmingly clinicians reaching out saying “thank you.” Saying “I’ve been feeling stuck,” saying “I’ve known this,” saying, “I’ve been using these tools in my practice even though I didn’t necessarily learn about them.” You know, saying thank you and being a little bit more vocal in speaking, you know, up for their own agreement in this need and in a very small, small, small, small, small, small majority, I do think that there…I do get kickback, I think just like, like anyone does. You know, new ideas that I think are feeling threatening, being told that it’s woo-woo or that I’m spiritually bypassing, I mean I’ve heard a lot of different versions of what this new work is resulting in, but like I said, that’s the large minority. On the large majority I have, I actually offer professional mentorship sessions, I’m going to be opening up a professional membership at some point in the next year, so overwhelmingly, people are, I think, very mush resonating because they feel the same way I did, we feel limited. And it’s a terrible thing to feel like you’re the helper in the room, and you don’t have the right tools.

Rachel: Right.

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[27:48] Rachel: So, I mean, looking at it now, thinking that we can treat only the brain as separate from our whole being, as if the body isn’t really a part of that, of that conversation, what’s been your biggest takeaway in terms of, in terms of how…incorporating both? I guess how, how does trauma…does trauma live in the body, and how does that manifest for us in our day to day lives?

Nicole: Absolutely, I mean trauma I will always say, so using me as an example, because I get a lot of questions, I can’t even remember my childhood, so I don’t even know if I had the big T or the little t or what actually happened. I always will proclaim that we, you don’t need to have the like, it’s called the autobiographical memory, so when you can kind of close your eyes and remember, you know, Christmas when you were five, that kind of visual, you don’t need that because we do remember. We remember in our bodies, we live our trauma out; we enact the, like I was saying earlier, so the ways we learn to cope with our trauma, we live that out in our conditioned patterns, in the way we show up in the world in our, everything from our behavioral patterns, how we take care of ourself, our bodies, our emotions, our spiritual life on any given day. How do we show up in our relationships? We are incredibly patterned creatures, we have conditioned roles that many of us tend to play in our relationships, not all of which serve us. All of those, in my opinion are the remnants of this trauma, are the remnants of the adaptations that we lived or that we incorporated at a very early time to get those three early needs met, remember? To get our, to make ourselves available to feel seen, to feel heard, to feel love, to feel authentic. We adapted in these ways, and then we live our conditioning.

[29:29] So we are living our traumas out on a day-to-day basis, some in the form of body disregulation, so this is why the body is so important. The brain, I like to remind everyone, is an organ, it is housed in the body. So it receives its nutrients in the same way that all of our other organs do, so for it to perform at it’s highest, or even in a balanced way, we need to consider how our body, and whether our body is balanced. So, speaking from my own healing journey, Rachel, I tried the avenues of the traditional therapy, of keeping my mind separate: I tried just talking about things, I tried medicating, and it didn’t work. So for me, it wasn’t until I did that holistic healing, it wasn’t until I resolved some underlying physiological imbalances in my body that were causing a lot of my symptoms, it wasn’t until I began a consistent practice of, for me it’s breath work, to regulate which was a disregulated nervous system; a lot of us are living in traumatized bodies, that have disregulated nervous system that keeps us stuck in fight or flight responses for many of us. For me, that was part of my story — unless I began to do that breath work, my body was stuck in fight or flight. I had to manually teach my body, my nervous system, how to be in a more balanced state. And then there was the whole world of, for me, my spirituality. I didn’t even consider myself a spiritual being, I didn’t even consider myself a soul. A lot the reason why I was feeling so hopeless was because I wasn’t living in alignment in how I was showing up in the world. So for me, those, that holistic, those holistic methods were integral. I don’t think I would have healed unless I began to work on that big, integrated level.

Rachel: So what did that look like to you, I mean logistically? Did you have help, or was this healing that you did on your own? That you started incorporating just through research and feeling into what made sense, or did you see someone who kind of held your hand throughout this, this time of your life?

[31:37] Nicole: Well so I consider the help all of the books and the education, and you know, I really…and I looked at all different pathways of healing. You know, I would look at argument…cause some of these areas, no one was thinking about, lifestyle changes, there’s a lot of conflicting information. So I would read it all, and then I would, so the help I really had — and I’m eternally grateful — was with my partner. My partner who very similarly, though our timeline of healing was a little bit different, but very much was going through her own dark night and healing journey. So, she in terms of the emotional help, but also the logistical help. I mean, she’s my partner, we live together, so making the lifestyle changes, I’m endlessly grateful that I had someone on board making them with me. That doesn’t mean that you can’t make changes if you’re in a partnership and your partner, you know, is not on board, or maybe is, you know, in opposition, I think a lot of…I get a lot of questions on that. So my help was really in the form of supportive partner who thankfully was living the same, the same journey. So then what I did because change is hard, I talk a lot about why change is hard, I began to implement —I had a whole list of things that I wanted to change — I began to implement them one by one. So I began to change gradually my nutrition, and then I began to change my sleep habits, and then I began to build in a daily habit of moving my body, right? I didn’t do it all at once. And I began to just get consistent in my daily life, of creating daily habits that would serve me in making these changes long term.

[33:13] Rachel: I think this is so, it’s uplifting to hear because I think for a lot of people, we have this idea that, that “what I’ve gone through in my life, or the wounds, or the baggage, the patterns that I’m stuck in, it’s so overwhelming,” right? It’s like “if I go there, it’s like I’m opening Pandora’s box and I don’t know what’s going to come out, so it’s actually…even though it’s uncomfortable and I’m unhappy, or I have all these symptoms, it’s actually more convenient for me to keep going in the tracks that I’ve been forming for my whole life.” And we have this idea that “I need Nicole in my life,” right? “I need someone, I need this amazing psychologist or therapist, or I need these continuous retreats where I go across the world and I sit in a room with people and specialists,” it’s like those kinds of healing tools that I think, or that I’ve seen or witnessed have changed my life, are very inaccessible. It’s very hard for people to have that kind of money, to take that time away from family and all those things. So hearing you say this, I think is very uplifting, because it means there are things that we can actually do at home, alone. Do you find that to be true?

[34:19] Nicole: I want to extend it further, and I want to, and I want to go on the record saying I don’t think those things are even enough. Outside of privilege that, that does bar many of us from being able to experience those, I don’t ever see…while they can be incredible tools and I definitely, you’ll never hear me urging people out of therapy, weekly, or any other exten…you know, kind of additional support, or workshops, or retreats. I mean, there’s so much that is available if you are privileged enough to be able to engage in those things, and I don’t think it’s enough. Because what happens when you come home from that retreat weekend? Or what happens the other however many hours are in that week outside of that one therapy hour? You are at risk to live those normal, those what I’m calling normal, the familiar I should say, those old habits. So I always think it is about both. It’s about if you have the privilege of having that support, whether it’s in the form of a weekly appointment with whatever practitioner, or healer or monthly, or whether it’s in the form of a workshop or a retreat, there’s still that daily maintenance. And that’s why I think, again, that old model is limited, because I don’t think healing…this is, it’s the gym, right? When we talk about the cliché thing about the gym: you can’t, you know, pump iron for five minutes one day a week and expect the muscles to come, or even an hour, right? You have to have that more consistent, small practices. So, I want to extend that and say those of us who have privilege, those things can be incredible tools, you can go away and learn some great practices, but then once you come back, you really have to begin to incorporate that change each day. Because that’s where the familiar lives, that’s where the autopilot is, that’s where the conditioning is being lived that’s driving those habits that are keeping us stuck, or those, keeping us in those relationships that aren’t fulfilling us, or whatever it may be.

[36:05 — Commercial Break]

[36:56] Rachel: So what do you think is, because this is all, of course, so individual and depending on each person’s unique scenario, but what do you think is a, is a good place to begin, you know for anyone who is listening now who resonates, who knows “I have this, all this stuff in my bag, in, in my background, in my past, I don’t know how to deal with it”? And there are also people listening who are, who have all those things in check, like “I sleep well, I take care of my body, I eat well, I do yoga every day…I still feel stuck. Where do I begin?”

Nicole: First step I’m always talking about is creating a daily practice of consciousness. Because the reality of it is most of us are living in autopilot 95% of the day. So what is autopilot? Just to keep this really simple. I’m really simplifying this: we have two parts of our mind, if you will. We actually have three, but for all intents and purposes we have what’s called the conscious mind — that is the part of our brain that actually separates us from other animals. That is the part of our brain that makes us human, that allows us to think about thought, allows us to observe ourselves in the world, it allows us to creatively solve problems. It’s the house for all of those higher order, what we call, the really complicated ways that we can use our brain that are different from animals. That’s our conscious mind. Then we have our subconscious mind. And we need our subconscious mind because — this is the example, right — I’m driving my car home, and I’m not paying attention because I’m actually just thinking about the fight I just had with my parter, but yet I’m home safe. Well how did I get home, who drove the car? What drove the car is that set of — I call them programs, using the computer analogy — it’s that set of programs that lives in that subconscious part of your mind, right. And that is what’s running the show 95% of our day. It’s helpful, because if we had to think consciously every day how to be human, we would absolutely exhaust ourselves.

[38:53] The problem is is that what lives in that subconscious are all of those conditioned programs that also aren’t serving us. Are those ways that we learned to show up maybe, say, in relationships to get those needs met that aren’t actually serving us anymore. It’s the people pleasing habit that a lot of us have created to make sure that we, you know, maintain the love of our caregiver, say. That we continue, we show up always now as a people-pleaser in all of our relationships, and we’re left not feeling fulfilled. So the reason we need to practice a new way of being, a conscious way of being, is so that we can get choice. So that we can show up and say “actually, I’m not gonna, you know, pick up this phone call today of this person I don’t feel like talking to, I’m going to put up a boundary.” Or do whatever new thing that I want to do. We don’t get the chance to make a change if we’re living on auto-pilot. So consciousness is the first habit I believe, that we all need to create. So, meditation, those of you who meditate, meditation is a great practice of creating consciousness. It’s a practice of learning how to separate ourself from that subconscious mind, from all the of thoughts that are wrapped up in there, all of the programs we’re running each day, so that we can create choice. So whether it’s meditation, if you have never meditated, it can be, it can be an overwhelming practice to begin with. So starting very small. For some people I suggest just building a conscious moment into their day, so it might not even look like meditation because I know that can be overwhelming for some people. It might look like setting a timer, an alarm on my phone, random time during the day, and when that alarm goes off, it might look like just reconnecting with my body in that moment, with my breath, with my senses. “Oh, where am I? What am I smelling in this room that I’m sitting in?” I might not even know I’m in a room because I might be so lost in thought, so not in my conscious mind, so sometimes it looks like creating those daily seconds where my alarm goes off, and I’m centered, and I’m in my body. Where I’m learning how to be conscious. In my opinion, no change happens without a habit of that consciousness.

[41:00] Rachel: That is so…I’m just sitting here nodding [laughing] like “yes. Yes. Yes.”

Nicole: I heard you, I heard you.

Rachel: I just…you heard me nodding? I sometimes tell my students that to have one routine a day that isn’t this idea that we have of what’s spiritual or what’s meditation or not, or mindfulness, like yoga or sitting in silence or whatever it is, but to have one regular daily, like maybe a boring routine that we do every day or several times a day. If it’s like, now at pandemic time, it could be washing our hands because we do that a lot. Or every time I feed my kid, like I’m sitting down to make sure she that eats, like one of those moments in the day that I decide “this is my super-present time.” That isn’t meditation, because sometimes we put it on such a pedestal that it’s like…it’s entirely possible to make your way through an entire yoga class and pat yourself on the back, but you weren’t actually all the way there.

Nicole: Absolutely, and I’m going to go ahead and say something else too: even a great meditation habit, if you do sit and meditate say for 10 minutes, 15 minutes each morning, while yes, you can, you are changing the brain, we now know via science that meditation does change the brain, our brain is what we call neuroplastic, so it’s changeable. So just sitting can actually change the way our brain fires and our, you know, so we can carry that, of course then, throughout our day. However, I believe that that’s still not enough because even if I meditate and then I do go and I get lost in thought for the rest of my day or I allow my autopilot to run my show, then that 15 minutes in meditation isn’t creating change the other 24 hours and you know, whatever 45 minutes of my day. So I, again, that’s why I always talk about the dailyness of our habits, right? Because it’s in our day that our partner comes home and I have that pivotal moment of either that old reaction that doesn’t get me what I want in my relationship, or the new response, right? That’s when it really matters, so that 15 minute meditation at 8am may not even be enough if I’m so lost in my autopilot by 4pm that I’m screaming at my partner again.

[43:04] Rachel: [Laughs]

Nicole: Right?

Rachel: That’s so true. Or like people that you see on their way to yoga and meditation class…

Nicole: Yeah!

Rachel: …like screaming at people in traffic because they’re so pissed off [laughing].

Nicole: It’s like “well, you cultivated 15 minutes of meditation, you know, mindfulness and now you’re right back in that autopilot.”

Rachel: [Laughing] And it’s so…it’s so true. And I think what’s now, I mean now that we’re all collectively in this very challenging time, what I have found has always been so true for me is that it’s only in moments of pressure, of crisis, of some sort of, you know, something not working in my life, or something really hard, or even grief or trauma, it’s in those moments that I have actually been able to cultivate the most presence, the most consciousness. It’s never, or very rarely when everything is going my way and butterflies and rainbows and I’m on…

Nicole: [laughs]

Rachel: …the beach and life is great and then I have this huge realizations of my patterns and my triggers and my childhood and…no, you know, those things come when we are under pressure. Or I think we have this increased ability to actually look at “okay, what isn’t working?” So taking this time now, I think…do you think that we can collectively do more of this healing work now that we are in a place of struggle, or is it adding a heavy thing on top of other heavy things?”

[44:24] Nicole: I think what is really interesting, just kind of piggybacking on this kind of conversation about the familiar, that autopilot, the, I mean, more overwhelmingly than not, or more of us than not are having that, a large-scale disruption in our pattern, right? So we’re not getting up and doing that same, you know, autopilot of getting myself out the door to go to the office job to do…so I think because so many things are so different for so many of us in our daily life, we’re having that pattern disruption. Which can automatically trigger a lot of us in a lot of ways and activate us emotionally, can make us feel unsafe, can start to bring to the surface some of these deeper things as is, because we’re not lost in that autopilot that we would have been on, what is today, you know, Monday at whatever time it is. You know, we’re not doing the same thing we always do on every other Monday, our Monday looks a little different. So I think it’s jostling a lot of us in that way because it’s snapping a lot of us against many of our wills out of the autopilot to begin with. Which can create, for some, this opportunity, right, to become more conscious to really explore the way that your life is looking different now that your pattern’s ben interrupted, allowing you to possibly see your patterns a bit clearer so that you can maybe make a bit of change.

Rachel: Hmm. This reminds me of, I had Gretchen Rubin on the show a little while ago, I don’t know if you know who she is…

Nicole: Mhmm.

Rachel: …she wrote The Happiness Project.

Nicole: Mhmm.

[45:54] Rachel: And we were talking about hab…patterns and habits, but more from the superficial or material standpoint of “I want to eat better, or run everyday, or quit smoking,” or those kinds of daily habits, and she said that the best time to cultivate a new habit is in a big…in a time of transition. So if you’re moving, or switching jobs, that’s when you should quit smoking, not in your everyday space. So of course this makes sense that this is also true internally as well. But I, I had a really shameful thought yesterday, [laughs] or shameful…I felt shame around this realization that I had. So I, the one really good thing I think, for me, that has come out of this time of isolation is I am finding myself in a totally different pace in my life. I mean, as all of us are, but actually being able to enjoy the slow pace of things right now. I’m finding myself more present in the little moments of my day-to-day that I normally cannot access without really trying, or making this effort, and one of the results of that is I started a vegetable garden here at the house. And it’s been so wonderful to be in the garden every day, to tend to these plants, like I’m so present with these growing things all day, every day, and I had this moment yesterday where I was like “I hope this lockdown lasts a long time.”

[both laugh]

Rachel: And then immediately I caught myself like “what was that horrible thought,” you know, that, and I immediately started shaming myself of like “so many people are suffering, like we have had people on our team who lost their jobs, like this is a horrible time for the world, and you are enjoying this moment right now?” And it hit me today of like “okay, all of these changes that have come my way because of the pandemic, some of them that have been good, what was stopping me from doing that before? What on earth kept me from starting this garden prior to coronavirus? Like why, why did I feel like this kind slower life wasn’t available to me when actually it was? Like I could just reach for it?” So how do we, I guess my question is how can we balance this really, really sensitive space of we can find opportunity here, we can find nuggets of gold, of beauty, of positive change, but at the same time honoring the fact that this is a collective tragedy?

[48:11] Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. I think this is where — it’s beautiful and I thank you, Rachel, for sharing, you know, what was a shameful moment with me and with the collective because I think this is beautiful — this is where we can apply what I was offering earlier that flexibility, that “and.” You know, and I can, I will offer everyone the absolution, if you will, to forgive yourself if you’re feeling like Rachel, if you have a moment of positive. I mean, I hate using the words positive and negative, but of gratitude or of joy or if you are in appreciation for something that you have created or has been allowed for your creation, you know, given what’s happening, and other people are suffering. And I’m scared. And I’m hopeful. This is, I think, where we can apply that “and” and be compassionate with ourselves, you know? And allowing multiple truths, multiple realities, multiple experience of any given moment to be okay, to be allowed. So I think, you know, thank you for sharing that, I think it’s evolving to you know, when you are someone out there who’s having a moment of gratitude or whatever it might be for what you’re creating now as a result of what’s happening, allowing that to be your truth in that moment, even if someone else’s truth in that same moment is not as positive, both can exist at once. So I think that’s the perfect place where we can use that “and” and we don’t necessarily have to fully shame ourselves because someone’s immediate moment looks or feels different than ours, because I know you’re feeling, I know all of us as a collective are also feeling the pain of what’s going on with, within us all.

[49:50] Rachel: Hmm. Yeah, I love that “and” instead of either or, you know? It’s like this or that, it’s like I can be all of these things. I can be compassionate and feel, and feel this pain and also have a moment of gratitude, and all of it happens at the same time. It’s hard to be a human being.

Nicole: It’s hard! That’s what I said, we are incredibly complicated, emotional creatures and we don’t come with a user manual and the reality of it is, and not to dive into another whole conversation…

Rachel: [laughs]

Nicole: …you and I could probably chat about for hours, right? A lot of us were raised by caregivers who were not equipped to teach, you know? And we cannot teach someone what we do not know or do not use ourselves. You know, so when I say emotions, we are incredibly complicated emotional creatures with, for many of us, very limited coping tools because of what we were modeled, because of what we were taught, and it was of no ill-intention, often, of our caregivers, it was like I said, they could only give what they could give themselves, they could only teach a child how to navigate emotions in the way we navigate emotions.

Rachel: Mmm. I would love to touch on this a bit, because this was the — I took some questions on social media yesterday — this was the biggest, or the most asked question around generational or ancestral trauma: is this a, because I feel like it’s a, it’s almost a little trendy, this term. I feel like we hear about it a lot, the idea of trauma being passed down and ancestral trauma, and “is this my pain or my ancestors’ pain?” Could you share a little bit about that? Is ancestral trauma, is it real?

[51:18] Nicole: I think it’s incredibly real, and I think those of us who have been observing our patterns, our habits, as I have myself, we can see the remnants, you know, of it being, of some of our coping tools or some of our conditioned habits and patterns being passed down. So a short little example: my grandmother, my maternal grandmother, was very, very…so my mother grew up in a very emotionally cold household. Her mother is described as very cold, I, I was, I never met this grandmother really, I was very young when she died. But the picture I get is very emotionally cold, not a warm relationship between my mother and her mother. So then my mother has children, and while I would describe my mother’s relationship with us as probably slightly more warm than that which she had with her own mother in terms of emotional, she was really emotionally withdrawn. Why? Because she didn’t know how to emotionally connect because her mother was not available to teach her how to emotionally connect. So before you know it, now how did I describe myself as a child? Disconnected. Dissociated. Not attached to my emotions, not feeling close to my mother, not feeling emotionally connected, right? So now that’s just a little example of the patterns, you know, in my family and in the generations, they are multiple, but this is one of those prime examples. So now, and I carried this in my relationships. Before my current partner, who I’ve begun to heal and show up differently even though I’m still a work in progress in terms of, you know, really being connected to my emotions so therefore I can connect with hers, all of my previous partners, Rachel, I was just as dissociated. Yet I would complain, “you’re not emotionally connected to me, partner. I don’t feel really close to you.” I thought it was them, I’ve come to realize it was me. Or at least it was partially me, it was both of us. I was playing a part, I was picking partners that could keep me safely, you know, distanced from them, and then I was bitching. But then I came to realize that part of it was me, I wasn’t showing up in an emotional manner, I wasn’t emotionally available for my partners, so how could I be connected to them? How could I be emotionally available? I was not connected to my mother, she was not connected to her mother. And that’s just a really quick example of how this inter-genera…and this goes in many different habits, in many different patterns. A lot of us carry just our lifestyle habits, you know, from our, from generations. Beliefs. Beliefs are a huge thing that are inter-generationally transmitted, you know, if you look back in your family history, your ancestral line, you might find, you might come to see all the family kind of having simi…and I don’t mean just like, you know, religious-based beliefs; beliefs about roles in relationships, gender beliefs, I mean we believe things about all things. And I believe too that those are, how many times can I say “beliefs”, that those are transmitted as well through patterns. And you can see when you look back in your own family history.

[54:10] Rachel: Yeah, and this is a, this is probably the thing I am most interested in, and I have had this huge kind of thirst for knowing more about my family, our past, like how did everybody feel when they were little, that was a thing I always wanted to know as I grew up, like what was their childhood like? Did everybody have it this way? And I think it makes…actually when I was, I was 11 or 12 and we had a, it was philosophy class, or maybe literature? I don’t know what kind of class I was in, but we had an assignment that was “where do you think evil comes from?” Like where, I don’t know if it was like they wanted us to go the religious route or what the purpose of the exercise was, and we had to write a little paper on where evil comes from. And I still have this paper…

[both laugh]

Rachel: …from when I was like eleven. And I wrote about ancestral trauma. I wrote, you know, “someone grew up not feeling well, not feeling seen, being bullied or being not treated well, and then they grew up and they did that to their kids, and then they grew up, and they did that to…” and I wrote like this whole paper about people growing up and then passing this on, because that made so much sense to me. And then my teacher was so baffled, like “you missed the mark, this is very strange. Strange!”

Nicole: Oh, my God, I’m sitting here thinking “what an enlightened child!” [laughs]

Rachel: I remember like “what? But what other way is there?” You know, that seems so obviously, like of course. But what I, I’m really struggling with now in my current life situation is how do we balance that in our family dynamics? Knowing that, you know, I can feel compassion for my family knowing that they had a shit time growing up, and that they’re parents had an even shittier time growing up and that we have all of this, all of this trauma in our baggage, but it’s still, today, like I don’t feel comfortable in this family dynamic, or I, I don’t want to participate in what I think is toxic or not healthy. I want to set a boundary, but I still understand why they act the way they act, so why can’t I just love them enough to allow it, you know what I mean?

[56:07] Nicole: Well, I can make a statement, yeah, that’s not, that’s not necessarily love either, that’s another where the “and” can come in. So, those of you who follow my story might know this already, or I’m maybe sharing something new with most of you, is I currently have no contact with my family. It’s been like that for almost two years, a year and half now. It’s not that I don’t love them, it’s that similar thing you know, I love them and I know for me, obviously this is a much more longer like discussion I could and would be willing to have, but ultimately, for me, I can love them and I needed that space from them for my own healing. So it was an “and” thing. And I just say that because love — and I think love has gotten a lot of, the way love has been defined, and a lot of this has been passed on through generations, isn’t really a helpful definition for a lot of us. A lot of us use, and especially this concept of selfless and selfish and, you know, I think societally, a lot of us are being given messages, you know, around love and what love requires and sort of pushing our needs completely to the bottom to show up and that’s what we do for family; I just question all of these messages because I don’t believe that to be true. We can love and still have to step away or create distance — not as, maybe no contact like I am, I don’t think this is the path for everyone, and there’s a lot of kind of unique aspects to my own dynamic in my family that warranted this path for me, but whatever version of space it is anyone might need, even from family, you know, that I think is okay. So it is, and I think part of the gift of healing and acknowledging these inter-generational patterns that we’re talking about now is what I call the ability to depersonalize. And really what that means is to have a new understanding of what might have happened to me. Because when things happen to me, — again, I’m really simplifying — when things happen quote, unquote “to me” when I’m a child, because I’m developmentally, how my brain is forming, is growing, from birth until around age 7ish, we are in what is called an ego-centric developmental state. Which simply just means we cannot view anything outside, anything from an outsider’s perspective. We see everything happening for us, to us, because of us, to really simplify it.

[58:30] So the reason why I say this, this kind of observation and acknowledgement of inter-generational patterns are so important — keep it simple — when bad things happen and I’m in that developmental period of ego-centricism, I do feel I am to blame. So when I have, when I haven’t been seen, heard, acknowledged, or even more so when I’ve been a victim of sort of abuse, my childlike mind, because this is all it can do developmentally, is going to assign blame to myself. Because I’m a bad kid, because I’m not worthy, because I’m not lovable. I mean, the list really, really goes on. It makes it about me because I can’t understand, right, that my caregiver might be coming home in this way for reasons outside of me. I just developmentally can’t, that’s just an impossibility in our brain. We don’t get that ability to take another’s perspective — which is actually called empathy, that’s what empathy is: being able to assume another’s perspective and maybe feel the way the other person would be feeling — until we’re of a developmental age, until we’re in that adolescent period. So, why is this so problematic, and why is it so helpful to see where these patterns came from? A lot of us carry those stories into our adulthood. One of the most commonly held, I called them “narratives,” beliefs about the self, that so much of the collective has internalized and they essentially think is true, is a version of “I’m not worthy.” There’s so many humans that are walking around this planet and making decisions from that space of “I’m not worthy” because of something that happened in their childhood. That as a result, they did feel not worthy, and because they had no other reason to understand why mom couldn’t be available, or why dad hit, or whatever it was, it was because they weren’t worthy. So now, as an adult, we have to, what I said, depersonalize. When we can step back, and so for instance, I can understand that my mom was not able to emotionally connect with me, not because I was unlovable, but because of her inability because she didn’t have the tools to, now I can resol…absolve myself of taking it personally. Now I can begin to understand, and this takes time, or allow in a new belief, right, that I am worthy, that I’m lovable, and that my mom just couldn’t. It had nothing to do with me. And a lot of us are causing ourself, or are living with so much suffering because we continue to believe it is about us.

[60:48] Rachel: Hmm. So how can we, how do we get there from, from…because we can listen to this, and I’m also like nodding along, and understand it, and on that adult level of cognitively like, “yes, this makes sense. Of course it wasn’t my fault, of course, like I was so little.” You know, it makes sense in the, in the head. How, how…what’s the action of pulling that into a knowing in the body?

Nicole: Yeah.

Rachel: That kind of gap between thinking about healing and actually healing?

Nicole: Yeah, so first and foremost, when you being to practice consciousness, so assuming we’re doing that, right? Observe yourself during the day, because you might come to realize that, Rachel, you are…I mean a lot of us now know we have thoughts all day long. Our internal world is talking at us all day long. So, once you become conscious, you can begin to see, observe those thoughts. So you might be surprised to see that all day long you’re walking around this mantra of some version of “I’m not worthy.” Or you’re viewing everything that’s happening to you in your given day as evidence of not being worthy. Right, so you might not even be aware of how much we’re strengthening. Even if you kind of logically, you’re like “okay, I know that whatever happened to me as a child wasn’t the result…you know, I logically get this,” you might not be aware that all day long you’re telling yourself “actually, it’s quite opposite.” You’re telling yourself, you know, or you’re viewing the world or you’re allowing the world to accumulate all of this evidence for this belief. So that’s the first step is really observe, because some of us are really surprised a) how much thinking is happening and how much we are filtering the world or our daily experiences through these lenses, that’s surprising for a lot of us. And b) we can become, be surprised based on the, when we see the lenses that we’re viewing the world through. So first we need to really see kind of how and how much of an impact we are carrying those old stories with us, and then we need to start showing up and allowing ourself to begin to create habits and practices or moments where we can allow ourself to feel worthy. That’s just a continuation of the example. Now that’s not going to happen overnight, right? So now that might mean building in some new practices in my day that will move me toward worthiness. So it kind of becomes a two-fold process, so first we have to become conscious and really aware of all the moments that we’re living in that autopilot or that we’re allowing that to color and to strengthen these beliefs, possibly about the self. And then we also, we need to begin to create new beliefs about the self.

[63:22] Rachel: And that might lead to, I mean as it did for you and also has in some ways for me, to some things changing in those, in our constellations of family. Maybe realizing that actually doesn’t serve me to spend this much time with this person, or to be in this constellation.

Nicole: Yeah.

Rachel: So that it…

Nicole: And then we, yeah, change how we actually show up in the world. And a lot of people will talk to me about or message me as they go through this healing journey too about the changing nature of relationships. Now, like I said earlier, it doesn’t mean that all of our old long-term relationships end, absolutely not. Some might continue as is. A lot of people though do see some reorganization in their relationships that ultimately benefit both parties in the long term.

Rachel: Right. And also, I think what’s fascinating is having moments when we realize that things actually change in our relationships not because we told the other person to change, but because we changed.

Nicole: Yes!

Rachel: And that’s it.

[64:20] Nicole: Yes, and that’s such an empowering thing. I mean that’s such an empowerment there, and I just go back to that personal, individual empowerment with everything. Me too, you know, I have had, I’ve lived such a pattern, you know, of looking outside myself for other people just to do things a bit differently and then I don’t have to be mad or sad, or you know, whatever it is, and I’ve never…. I just really met such empowerment when I learn and live, living, and I believe the wisdom of life is our greatest teacher, of actually living that, you know. Don’t believe what I’m saying, create a little bit of change in your life and then see the change that happens. And it really, I mean, not to be cliché but it does, it does start within. If we want our relationships to change, we start showing up differently, and incredible change can happen.

Rachel: Aho. [laughs] Do you…I wish…you need to start a podcast. Or do you already have a podcast that I am not aware exists?

Nicole: A podcast is coming. I’m actually in the middle…so I was just able to finally announce a week I think or two ago, I’m in the middle of writing my first book. So in, I think the fall when book-writing is a bit over the hump of that, a podcast is on the docket [laughs].

Rachel: Oh, amazing! I can’t wait to read and listen, yeah. I wish this podcast was two hours long, I could listen to you speak all day. Thank you so much for coming on the show, for sharing all of this wisdom, all of these tools, just…I appreciate your work in the world so much. And I hope when this pandemic is over, I can meet you in person and give you a hug.

Nicole: I would love that, I would love that. I was a little…when I, when I heard you reach out I was like “damn, of course [inaudible] I would totally be on a plane to Aruba to give you a hug!”

Rachel: [Laughs]

Nicole: So, a new version. [laughs]

Rachel: Let’s do version, episode two of this, or continuation of this conversation in Aruba, let’s do it!

Nicole: I love it, I love it. But in all seriousness Rachel, thank you, thank you, thank you, so much. Like I said, I’ve, I…you’ve been in my world, in my orbit unbeknownst to you, so this was an honor. Really excited to connect with your community, I hope they find this conversation helpful.

Rachel: Thank you so much, thank you. Wishing you a safe ending to this [laughs] to this coronavirus…

Nicole: You too, you too.

Rachel: …situation, yeah.

Nicole: Safe and as swift as possible, right?

Rachel: As swift as possible, and hope to see you soon. Thanks for coming on the show.

[66:34 — End of Episode]