Nicole Lohse: Understanding Trauma & Harnessing Body’s Wisdom for Healing and Well-being

Nicole Lohse Headshot

TUNE IN TO THE EPISODE:

In this episode, we explore the depths of human behaviour, trauma response, and the power of self-awareness. Guest expert, Nicole Lohse offers a refreshing perspective on how to understand and navigate our survival patterns, emphasising the significance of listening to our body’s language and recognising the interconnectedness of our physical and emotional experiences.

The conversation discusses differentiating trauma responses from daily reactions, understanding the role of an empathic witness, and the impact of physiological changes on our behaviour. This is not just an interview; it’s a journey towards understanding the complexity of human patterns and the importance of embracing them as part of our growth process.

Listeners are invited to dive deep into their own experiences, as Nicole provides thoughtful insights and practical journaling prompts for self-exploration. Perfect for anyone seeking to deepen their understanding of themselves and others, this episode is a treasure trove of wisdom for navigating life’s challenges with more empathy and self-compassion.

About the guest-

Nicole Lohse is fascinated by the human experience and is committed to supporting you in creating change at cellular and energetic levels while guiding you to listen to your own internal wisdom. Her workshops and programs provide educational and experiential tools and practices that will move you out of survival, lead to more regulation within your nervous system, and have you recognize that you are a whole sovereign Being.

She enjoys weaving the spiritual in with the science as she shares the wisdom she has gained from her own personal journey thanks to the support of her incredible mentors and the learning that has happened through her training in Somatic Experiencing, The Feldenkrais Method®, Internal Family Systems, and in Yoga.

Shownotes -

00:00:00 – Coming Up…

00:01:15 – Guest introduction

00:04:15 – Introduction to Nicole’s Work

00:06:25 – Understanding Trauma

00:10:00 – Differentiating Trauma Responses

00:16:40 – Understanding the role of your physiology

00:19:00 – State of Curiosity vs Alertness

00:22:20 – Spotting & Exploring Personal Patterns

00:30:00 – Dorsal Vagal Nerve and Empathic Witness

00:37:55 – Top Down vs Bottom Up Approach

00:44:30 – Communing with the pattern

00:50:00 – Thriving through the patterns

00:58:50 – What causes the conflict & how empathic witness can help

01:08:00 – Healthy avoidance

01:12:00 – Adopting an identity to navigate trauma

01:22:30 – Self-sabotage as a survival pattern

01:32:00 – Journaling Prompts for Self-Exploration

Resources + Guest Info

Krati: Thank you so much for being here, Nicole. I am super excited for this. Let’s start by letting our listeners know what it is that you do

Nicole: yeah, I love this question because it’s always actually a challenge to answer what I do. So many layers happen in multiple realms that it’s, it’s fun to try to put words to it. Um, But how I’ll start is The word somatic means of the body. So there are a lot of modalities out there right, right now that are using the word somatic.

And I think it’s important to recognise that somatic means of the body. Now, what I’m trained in is a number of body based practices, but how I like to work is seeing the human experience as a whole. the body being an aspect of that, and how is it we can get to know ourselves more deeply through understanding the language, not only of our body, but of our whole human experience, and how it is we navigate the world.

So, I love looking at patterns, and really Noticing the nuances of these patterns we may find ourselves in, and when those patterns are based off of survival. Because what can often happen is we get stuck in these survival patterns because of our trauma. So, trauma is us still stuck trying to survive, and then we adapt all these brilliant patterns that help us navigate not feeling often the complexity of what we were experiencing in the moment of the trauma.

So I love looking at the patterns that evolve. because of our trauma, the patterns that evolve because of our conditioning, the patterns that have evolved because of societal pressures, cultural pressures, our family lineage. I just find the human experience fascinating and the more we can, you recognize that we’re full of all kinds of fascinating patterns, the more we can untangle what’s a pattern and what’s Me in my true essence.

What is it when I’m really aligned with what’s true to me versus Showing up in a world based on survival. So that’s some of what I do

Krati: Okay. Before we go any deeper into this, let me first ask you to please clarify what trauma means because these days trauma is pretty much anything that’s unpleasant. So a little bit of clarity around that will really help.

Nicole: Yeah, I love that question because I think the word trauma is being overused so for people to understand more of you know, when we really have trauma, what does that look like? What could that be a result of? So, there are a number of different branches of trauma, but how I like to look at trauma is us stuck, still trying to survive something.

So trauma can happen when, when something happens too quickly, there’s too much of it, we can’t handle the intensity, and then we resort on either shutting down or managing the situation so that we’re okay. Trauma is also the lack of the empathic witness. So when we go through a big experience, if we don’t have that empathic witness to hold space for us and to show us that the scary, threatening thing is over and that we’re okay, we’ll stay stuck, still perceiving that there’s a threat or that we’re having to navigate this ongoing danger. Trauma is us stuck somewhere in the threat response cycle where we’re constantly perceiving there’s it’s something about to happen, or we’re perceiving that there is something always happening, or we’re stuck totally shut down, unable to even connect with ourselves anymore, and stuck still. Like a car accident and ever since I find myself really tense anytime I drive the car and I’m super hyper vigilant and um, I don’t, I avoid certain sections of where I would usually drive or I don’t drive at night. That could be an example of something like shock trauma versus we can also experience trauma because we had to navigate ongoing threats in our environment that led us to experiencing this sense of being stuck because we never actually landed back in a sense of safety or a sense of connection to ourselves and to each other. And then we also have developmental trauma, when something interrupts the developmental process, or intergenerational trauma, there’s so many branches of it.

So what I like to invite people to recognise is it’s less about the definition of trauma, but more about recognising where you find yourself stuck and looping within these patterns. that aren’t necessarily making sense given the experience that’s around you, your environment, yet somehow you keep looping in something.

I, I like to people, invite people more to like, get curious about that. Where do you find yourself stuck? Where do you find yourself looping? Instead of like, what’s the definition of trauma and what do I have or what can I relate to? And more like, Oh wait, I’m just stuck, and I’m reliving these experiences over and over and over here.

There’s something to explore within that.

Krati: How do you differentiate between this is a trauma response versus this is just life and this is just me not responding appropriately or healthily to life?

Is there a difference? Can you tell that difference? Because I feel like any time you label something a trauma, even despite the abuse of the word, you sort of put it in this category that is so serious that it requires like a very, very considered response when maybe the issues that we encounter in our daily life I, I don’t quite qualify for something like that.

They are, they just require a thoughtful response. They just require a pause and for you to understand that, okay, I seem to be repeating this habit and if I stop doing this, life gets better. Is that, I know it’s a simplification, but I wonder if

Nicole: No, it’s a good question, and, this is where it gets complicated, because we, what we might perceive as something big and scary, it doesn’t mean that someone has experienced trauma because of it.

And someone can experience something really small and subtle but be stuck and have experienced trauma because of it.

So, I like to not look at how big was the event or, you know, how intense was the thing, but more how has the physiology, the body, the biology, learned to be in the world. And it’s less about… What happened and more about how we are now learning to be in the world or how we’re now experiencing ourselves in the world.

That’s your reality. So if someone experiences a lot of anxiety and a lot of Panic attacks and a lot of overwhelm, but doesn’t have a big thing that happened to them. That’s not to undermine their trauma It’s like well, they’ve experienced something that sent their nervous system into this state where they’re always anxious always overwhelmed and all Having all these panic attacks and that’s where I think it’s more important for us to be able to recognize when Am I, in the states of survival and when am I in the state where I have access to more of an exploratory way of being in the world, right?

So like you’re saying, like something small can happen and you find yourself looping, you can top down, try to tell yourself like, this is nothing, change the pattern, change the habit. But if the physiology is stuck in this pattern. Because of who knows what, in my opinion, it doesn’t necessarily always matter.

And who am I to undermine my physiology’s response to something? And how do I instead learn to listen to my physiology and listen to my body and listen to my experience to support it in recognizing that something else is possible? But it actually has to feel what it’s like to move out of this loop.

that it’s stuck in, and back into that place where it can feel safe, where we have access to being in that exploratory state again. So this is where, you know, practices where people will experience something, and their system responds, and, and they’re trying to tell themselves to calm down, it’s not that big of a deal, you’re actually safe, doesn’t really work, because this is the mind trying to tell a physiology, That it’s safe when the physiology is like, looping in something it’s stuck in, because it’s reality is like, no, this is a serious threat and I need to be on guard and ready to respond.

Right? So, what I like to practice is, I actually spend very little time on the trauma itself. And I like to get more curious about the patterns. Like, how is it I’m showing up in the world? And when is that pattern based off of or has this quality of survival to it? And when does this pattern have more of an exploratory quality to it?

So, I could be walking into a dinner party, let’s say. I walk into a dinner party and I don’t know anyone there. I’m going to walk in. And be on a little more alert. And kind of get a feel for who’s in the room, and like, who looks like someone I might want to connect with. Right, but I’m moving into an unknown environment, and I’m going to be a little more alert.

It’s a healthy response to have in an environment that I don’t know yet. And then as the night goes on, I shift from that alertness. Into feeling more connection with the people. I’m starting to feel more safe. I’m, I’m able to engage more. I’m able to have conversations without stuttering or, or feeling like I’m leaving my body, right?

So, so that’s me in a healthy, regulated, nervous system showing up into an environment that I know very little bit, very little about, but I’m noticing I’m on a little bit on alert a little bit, and then my state changes and I’m landing in more of an exploratory state. If I don’t have as much regulation on board. I might show up at a dinner party and, and show up alert, I’m not sure who these people are, I’m going to suss out the situation, but I’m, I end up staying stuck on the whole time, right? And I, I feel frozen, I can’t quite find my words, I feel stupid after I said something. These are all patterns that we might find ourselves in and it’s because we’re not…

shifting from that alertness into the exploratory state where we’re stuck on and feeling like there’s a threat in the room. So what I like to do in those kinds of situations is just pause and notice that that’s what’s happening, right? So the ability to notice the difference between being on and being alert and hypervigilant or being exploratory and able to engage and connect and And then on the other end of the spectrum, be totally shut down, disconnected.

Being able to notice that at least gives me insight like, Ooh, okay, there’s something here that’s entangled in needing to survive, even though I don’t. need to survive this situation. So it’s connected to something in the past. I don’t necessarily even need to know what, but more, how do I hold some space for the reality of my experience.

Krati: I would like for you to explain a little bit more about two, two terms that we heard empathic witness and the second one is physiology that in this context, what would that mean?

Nicole: Yeah, the physiology, think of the physiology as the body, how the body changes. So, when I’m in more of an exploratory state, when I feel safe and I feel connection, my physiology’s going to be a lot different than when I move into an alertness. So what I would invite those listening is to notice if you can remember a time when you felt safe and you felt connection with people or the environment, out in nature.

And usually when we’re in that state, there’s a softening of a muscle tone. The eyes are soft and they’re kind of taking in the beauty of the world. There’s the ability to feel connection with each other. Maybe there’s a softness in the heart or a warmth experience. So, the physiology is more in this relaxed state and present, but when we shift into being more on and alert because something has shifted in the environment that’s indicating a potential danger.

We might, our physiology will change, so we might feel our spine get a little tighter. So I’ll invite those listening to think about like, oh, once you notice a threat or a potential threat, how do you change? Maybe the muscle tone gets a little tighter, maybe the breath changes the hearing and the vision usually heighten because they’re wanting to like pick up on the information.

Right? And when we realize we’re safe and that wasn’t anything dangerous then we’ll soften again and be able to connect again and again the physiology changes. So our physiology is always changing. What it takes is us being able to pause and notice and listen to those changes to recognize like, ooh, okay.

So something’s off here. My body’s just shifted. Is it really off? Or is this just a perception? Right? Or is there a real danger? And then do I need to move into that fight or flee response to get myself away from the danger and discharge all this energy to escape from the threat? To then move back into connection and safety, right?

So in all those different states, our, our physiology is changing, our body changes depending on what is needed given the change in the environment. So that’s the physiology. Does that, does that answer that question for you?

Krati: That clarifies it, yes.

Nicole: And can you, I would love to know if you can feel the difference yourself. Like how do you notice yourself in that exploratory state versus on an alert?

Krati: Right now?

Nicole: If you even just think about it, because this is what’s really cool. Our brain has no sense of time other than our higher brain. Right? So we can often, I use reflecting and imagining, like reflecting on situations or imagining situations all the time because it’s a lot easier to learn about ourselves through that because we’ll get flavours of how our body changes when we think about something versus when we’re really in it, it’s a lot harder to pay attention because it’s often more intense and you know, we get lost in our experiences.

It’s. It’s harder to stay in the curiosity, especially if it’s a real threat. So right now, if you think of a time when you felt connection or you felt playful or you felt like you were in more of that exploratory state, are you aware of what it might feel like? And can you even right now feel your body and flavors of it?

Krati: Like for example, when we do a podcast conversation, like when this conversation started and I can like see myself relaxing as the conversation progresses, because when it starts, you are alert, you want to make sure everything’s recording, everything’s in order, and you’re meeting, sometimes the guest is someone you’re meeting for the first time, and you’ve had no previous conversations except perhaps for a few exchanged emails, So you want to make sure like your energy is aligned.

You’re the vibe is good and accordingly you settle into a physical response because sometimes I’ve had guests who are very like, I get the sense that, okay, this person is not gonna enjoy jokes or any of those comments around their work. So it has to be, you know, question, question, question, answer, answer, answer.

And then I am like, I am hyper alert throughout that conversation, making sure that my, cause I, I have a. I might, I, I like making jokes sometimes, keeping things light. Even when you’re discussing something very serious, I still like to keep things light. But sometimes you just don’t do that because you, you know, that the guest is going to probably take it as something disrespectful.

So then you’re, you’re alert throughout the conversation, but like right now, I, as I’m talking to you, I am loving how you’re answering all the questions. I’m enjoying myself now. Curiosity is leading everything. So I feel more relaxed than I did maybe like 20 minutes ago. Yeah.

Nicole: I love it, especially because I was late. So that also sparked something, right? Like, ah, she’s late. Is she coming? Right? So like, I love your awareness of like, how at the beginning of the call, you’re in a different tone and then how that can change. And what can be interesting in that is like, you know that change is happening, but how do you know?

Right? Like, how do you know you’re more relaxed? These are interesting questions. Because we often say, like, Oh, I’m so anxious right now. Well, how do you know you’re anxious right now? Or how do you know you’re more alert right now? So how would you say you know you’re more relaxed right now?

Krati: Yeah, I think it’s the first thing, it’s the physical stiffness, like the body is I’m starting to lean back a little, I’m also letting my chair swing a little, and yeah, I’m not, I am scratching my face, because my face is itchy right now, if I, when I’m like hyper alert and too conscious of how things are looking, I won’t do that, but as the interview progresses I tend to relax and then I allow myself to fiddle with my glasses, touch my face if I have to, so I think those are the kind of things that you notice.

Also I’ve also noticed, maybe this is just specific to me unique to me, I don’t know, but when I’m too alert and if that goes on for longer than maybe 10 15 minutes, I start to get really sleepy. Because it’s such an unnatural state for me. I’m a generally a very relaxed human being even in a panic situation I tend to stay very calm So this is something that happens with me always whenever I’m stressed out My body gets really stiff and I start to get really sleepy after like 15

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. Our bodies are so fascinating. And so that would be a great example of a pattern that unfolds, right? So there’s this pattern of like, Oh, recognizing you need to be more alert, recognizing the stiffness. And then the transition that makes is then into the sleepiness, which from a nervous system perspective makes sense.

Because what can happen when we have patterns like this is we, It unfolds as it knows how to unfold. So for some reason, that pattern has been developed in your brain and body, right? And it’s like, look, after a certain amount of alertness, this is enough, and we need to disconnect, and we need to shut down.

Right? So I love your awareness that you have of this pattern, and how I like to play with these kind of things. It’s like, okay, I become aware of my patterns, but how do I actually pause and notice? I feel in the moment as it’s happening, right, so even as I’m talking, like I could tell at the beginning of the podcast, I was more in my head, I was a little more disconnected from my body, I was talking really fast, I didn’t feel as connected to you, whereas as I’m kind of settling, I’m feeling more connection with you, I’m feeling like we’re here together, I’m speaking a little bit slower,

And as that was happening, I was aware of it, you know, I was pausing and In the background, really, and noticing myself in the speed, and noticing, you know, the residue of being late, and my computer being slow, and blah, blah, blah, all of it, right? And as it’s happening, I’m also noticing myself slowing down, and as we were talking, I could feel more connection with you. And I think that’s such a juicy practice to have, is pausing and noticing. Like, it’s so valuable to just… Be in the awareness of what it is we’re experiencing. And from that, then we can be curious.

We can deepen the awareness of the pattern, like you’re expressing. It’s like, okay, it goes from rigidity to getting sleepy. And it’s kind of like, oh, okay, well, what happens before the rigidity? Are you aware, maybe, of like, if you reflect on that rigid sense that then leads to sleepiness? Are you aware of what happens before the rigidity?

Krati: It’s usually like anxiety about something that could go wrong. So you’re thinking about, oh, what, what is it that I can’t control? Like maybe if we lose power the backup thing is not going to go on for too long. Or maybe the backup thing is not working and then I know I’m going to be hypervigilant throughout the interview if I don’t have backup.

Like right now I have backup. But I’m worried about. Okay, the guest that so right now I’ve done it so many times that my only concern is about the guest The guest and I gonna have like good energy is everything’s gonna go. Okay. Am I gonna ask good questions? Is this going to turn out to be beneficial for my listener or not?

That’s that sort of anxiety is there And it doesn’t go away till you know, you like have your first or second answer and you realize okay This is starting to flow. It’s okay. I can let go now. Yeah

Nicole: Yeah, yeah, totally. So it’s kind of like that anxiety is the starting point and it comes with a lot of what ifs, right? So I’m kind of dissecting your pattern here where it’s like, okay, so it starts, there might even be something before the anxiety I’m not, we’re not sure yet But it’s kind of like it starts with the anxiety and it starts with the what ifs and all these worries of what might happen right?

And Same thing, your body is in a certain state when you’re in those what ifs, when you’re in that anxiety, there is more of that on and alertness, right? And you’ve found ways to prepare yourself and to set yourself up so that you know you’re okay, or if you’re not, then the body stays in that tension, and then it moves into the sleepiness.

Right? So it’s cool because you’ve found these ways to, and this is what I find so brilliant about us humans, is like, we have these patterns, and then we find ways to not move into the patterns as often as possible, right? It’s like, okay. And then what I really appreciate is, in what you’re sharing, is your awareness.

of how the pattern unfolds and then what you’ve discovered you can do to support yourself in that. So what I love is like, yeah,

Krati: Yeah, I call it the response of the stupid. I always, I’ve labeled it as such because I am very like, I, I’m someone in the habit of talking to my body. Like I, I literally talk to my feet, my stomach, my face. I would do things like that. Like if I’m working and I’m having a, having a really good focus and being very productive and my stomach starts rumbling and it gets hungry, I’m like, you never cooperate when I’m working.

You just, you just always have to do your own thing. Can’t you see I’m working? So I do that. My mom’s like, You should really stop. People are going to start thinking you’re not, you know, all there. But with, with this response, my body just decides to, like, decides that, oh, I don’t want to be here, so I’m not going to be here.

That’s, that’s because when people, for most human beings, I would say, for like, an, For almost everyone, when you are in danger, when you are panicking, having anxiety, hypervigilant, your body gets super, super, duper alert and when the trouble goes away, then that’s when you get sleepy. For me, it’s like in the middle of the thing.

It’s like my body just decides I don’t want to be here. This is not fun for me. So I’m gonna check out now, which is so bizarre. I would be having a showdown with someone and my body just in the middle of the argument is like This is so unpleasant. Let’s not do this. There’s no point to it. So I find that very bizarre if you can explain it, that would be great.

But that’s That’s what always, always happens. Like, the moment an argument starts, unless it’s an argument that that’s for something super important and there’s a point need that needs to be established for the health of maybe the relationship or the other person or it’s a client that I’m helping.

Otherwise, my body’s just like, this is not fun. I don’t want to be here. I find that strange. Very strange.

Nicole: Well, I’ll have you know that it’s not at all strange. It’s very normal. So you’re, you’re normal. You’re good.

Krati: Okay, good. Good to know. Mm

Nicole: Yeah, yeah, so what’s happening in that situation for anyone else that can also relate is Our system reaches a certain level of threshold where it’s like feeling a certain level of activation, a certain level of threat.

And then it has a point where it’s like, that’s enough. And then in comes the freeze response. And what’s so brilliant about our body is it knows when something is too much and it decides. Like you’re saying, you have no say in it. It decides when something’s too much. What your system has learned is when something is too much, get sleepy.

Right? From a nervous system perspective, I haven’t spoken much to the nervous system branches but it’s called the dorsal vagal nerve that comes online and it’s the nerve that’s responsible for supporting digestion, supporting resting, supporting recovering. You know, it’s that nerve that’s responsible in allowing us to chill, but it’s also when it’s on full blast, when it’s in its highest tone, It’s what shuts us down.

And that’s what allows us to disconnect from feeling too much. So, what I, I want to come back to your question around what is the empathic witness, and use this This as an example. So let’s say this pattern of yours, right? The intention of that Breaking system that shuts you down is to protect you for some reason.

We don’t know why yet. We can maybe try to find out. So What happens is when that comes on you have a response to this pattern, right? So it comes on Are you aware of how you feel towards this pattern?

Krati: Well, I feel like I have to quickly resolve things when they are… Not, okay, like um, when I used to uh, be, hang out in places that were not very safe for volunteer work, that’s when I, I used to feel like, okay, stay alert, stay alert, do not, like, don’t let your body take the lead here, be very alert, because something could happen, and it’s not just about your safety, but the safety of others as well.

So, in those cases, I used to, like, do two things to keep myself alert. I would, like, have my hand on a pepper spray or a knife or, because, you know, I… Think of myself as this person who can actually build a knife. I can’t do but I would still hold it and think

Nicole: But if it helps your system, right, it helps your system feel like, I’m ready. That’s huge. That’s what’s most important. Yeah.

Krati: so I would I would have to be like keep myself alert through those objects, or, like, the second thing I do is, if it’s a verbal confrontation, or any confrontation, even if there is a physical danger to it, I would tell the other person to calm down, or I’m gonna check out of the conversation, because I’m just, yeah, so that’s another way, yeah.

Nicole: So you found some strategies just like you found strategies with the podcast of like making sure you got backup, making sure, right? So you found these brilliant strategies to help you with this pattern, yet the pattern continues,

Krati: Yeah. Although it’s, it’s rare that that happens in my life. My life is very like so I don’t know here at this point whether anyone could, many people would relate with this or not because my life is very like, functions how I want it to function. There is very little uncertainty in my life anymore.

I control my environment, so yeah. Yeah.

Nicole: so you’re able to be strategic to make sure that this pattern doesn’t kick in.

Krati: Yeah.

Nicole: So, that’s brilliant, right? That’s the brilliancy of having the ability to do that, to be able to control your environment, to control the situations, to make sure that this doesn’t happen again, right? Yet, my guess is… If you were put in a situation that would reach that edge, your physiology would still continue to loop that way.

If you, if it got to that point, would you agree?

Krati: I guess. Yeah. Makes sense.

Nicole: Yeah. So, so, so this is, this is like, there’s the trauma, right? The trauma is you stuck in this loop where the needing to shut down was really valuable at some point. You don’t need to know why, but

that’s kind of like, there’s a trauma, but you found other ways around it to live your life, right? Yet if you wanted to, you could support your physiology and this pattern a bit more. To, to change the thing that you’re stuck in so that more of your physiology is online and present instead of this part of you that’s stuck in this loop needing to shut down, okay? so what I’m hearing, and correct me if I’m wrong, The pattern that you have, you have found ways to manage and control the situation so you don’t have to feel it.

So when I ask you, like, how do you feel towards it, your feeling towards it is it’s okay because I’ve found ways to manage and control it. Yet the pattern still exists. I’m gonna, I’m guessing.

Krati: I only now I only ever notice it with the podcast conversations because the moment I am on like I’m not very social. I am someone who loves the quiet loves the silence. So whenever I have to record, I have to make a video after the podcast interviews, I have to really like psych myself into it.

So that’s when I noticed that that is the only time it actually happens. Otherwise, when I’m even moving through the world, even at the airport, if something doesn’t seem right, if someone’s watching me, if the police, like, pulls me aside to, like, take a closer look at my back, then that just makes me sound super weird now, but on the rare occasion that

Nicole: Happens to all of us.

Krati: rare occasion that it happens, let’s be clear,

Nicole: Totally.

Krati: I don’t, I don’t get worried, I don’t worry till there’s an actual absolute reason to worry.

I stay super calm. I’m very relaxed. I think it just, it’s the confidence of having sorted through a bunch of shit in your life and knowing that, oh, I’ve got this, I’ve got all of it. But yeah, if I were maybe placed in a situation like like what is unfolding in the world right now, if I were ever to be in a situation like that, I have no idea how I’m going to react because that is such like, that is so.

Insane. That’s not exactly something you can imagine in general life. So maybe there was a, like a gunfire or something like that happening. I don’t know how my body would react to that. That worries me. Like, cause these days you kind of have to think about that. The, what if this happens in my country? How am I just going to fall asleep in the middle of it?

What’s going to happen?

Nicole: Right?

Krati: Right. So yeah.

Nicole: I’m just gonna collapse.

I love your, because you’ve done so much personal work, you have way more capacity to not end up in this pattern more often, right? And hopefully other people can relate to this as well, where it’s like, especially those doing the personal work and are on the healing journey, it’s like, you’re doing all this work, yet there’s still these undertones that happen that really impact our physiology, which our mind can’t, you know, control or do anything about.

You found ways to control before the moment happens, right? It’s like, whoop, if I manage this, then I’ll be okay. And I can not have to experience the sleepiness I move into. And I think. That’s what’s so brilliant about our patterns is, you know, we find ways to make it work. We find ways to live life as best we can.

Well, in the background, there’s all these lingering things, and then all of a sudden something that matches a similar experience to what sparks this response. Shows up and then boom I’m back in that pattern again, and this is where top down doesn’t always work And we have to work bottom up So the difference I like to explain is like top down is I’m telling myself something right like I’m gonna I’m gonna calm myself down so that I’ll be okay I’m gonna take some deep breaths, or I’m gonna it somatic practice But it’s top down where we’re directing our body to have an experience Whereas bottom up is we are letting our body direct what we’re experiencing.

Krati: Like we do during exercise, mostly.

Nicole: well, give me an example of that.

Krati: Like, when I do yoga, it’s my body that decides whether I’m going to keep going, whether I’m going to stop, how I’m feeling, whether I want a different position. So I think that, for me, is when my body is completely in the lead.

Nicole: Great, I love it. Because I know lots of people that don’t necessarily do that. That are more about getting to the right posture and holding it for longer and building strength and pushing through, right? So, that’s um, important to be able to differentiate, right? Like, when are we actually listening to what our body wants versus we think we know what our body

Krati: That would be the bottom up approach.

Nicole: When you’re listening to what the body wants, yeah, or what the body is experiencing. First top down is I’m guiding my body into an experience.

Krati: Okay. Okay. That makes, that makes complete sense. Yeah.

Nicole: Do you want to keep playing with the pattern a little?

Krati: Please keep going. Please

Nicole: Okay, cool. So, so what I kind of want to just point out is like, okay, you’re able to pause and notice the patterns you’ve adapted to not venture into what I would call a vortex into this looping of like, whoops, I did a movement with my hand in the sound of my mouth that not everyone can see.

So it’s like you’re moving from um, Okay, cool. More anxious to the rigid stiff to getting sleepy, right? And now you’ve, you’ve got all these patterns that keep you away from this experience. Now, in this moment, as we’re talking about it, can you feel how you keep yourself away from experiencing that, that rigidity into the sleepiness?

Krati: So you’re saying, how do I avoid the, the final sleepiness position?

Nicole: so this is where I’m going to ask you something where I’m inviting you not to think about it, but more in this moment, notice, okay? So more in this moment, can you notice how you’re wanting to kind of, how do I want to word this? I feel a lot, so I’m trying to put words to things I can feel. So can you notice how you know the experience, but you’re almost wanting to keep it away from you or keep it at bay?

Krati: but if you’re asking when the sleepiness starts to settle in, what that feels like, is that what you’re asking?

Nicole: That could be a different question. Let’s go there first.

Krati: Okay, so it’s usually my eyes get heavier, and my resources start to, like, they’re not as focused anymore. I feel like, I, I start thinking about what’s going to happen after all of this is done. And I’m telling my, I start to communicate with my body. I’m like telling my body, okay, once this is over, we’re going to like take a break.

And we’re, we’re not going to work the entire day. If it’s like a really unpleasant experience, I let my body know. Oh, we’re going to do yoga or we’re going to sit in meditation the rest of the day. So something like that, I would say.

Nicole: so your body is doing something, and then the mind is trying to tell it it’ll be okay. So top down. The body is doing something, the mind is trying to tell it to do something else. Or reassure it at least. Right? So right now as you’re talking about it, even though we’ve got a connection here, can you feel flavors of it in the room?

Krati: I would say because I’m trying to think because I want the example to be something that really helps the audience So yeah, I’m trying to think about it. Be sure that I’m Like getting everything across so I would say there’s some vigilance But not not well, I’m pretty relaxed because I feel like you’ve got you’ve got it.

Nicole: Yeah, so this is what’s cool, and this is for all of us to remember, right? We can have experiences happening subtly in the room, like in the background, even though we feel a sense of connection, even though we feel okay. When we start reflecting on an experience or remembering an experience, it’s usually there’s flavors in the room and What’s really juicy about that is we can stay connected to ourselves while noticing the the flavors of this pattern Right?

So right now as you’re talking about it, you’re doing a beautiful job articulating it and kind of inviting people into your experience Maybe they can relate right this this kind of heaviness and then the sleepiness, and then the ability you have, and I want, I see those as two different things, right? So your body’s doing one thing, getting tired, and the mind is trying to keep it engaged, reassured that this will be over, reassured with how you’re going to take care of yourself, right?

So As we’re talking about it, I just want to invite you to see if you feel both of those experiences and you can see them as two separate things. And for those listening, I want to invite you to notice if you can relate to experiences where you get sleepy or shut down or maybe dissociate. Dissociating is more psychological, where we kind of float away, whereas freezing or shutting down.

Shutting down can be a mix of a whole lot of things, but kind of freezing is more the body, the physiology sliding into more of that quieter state, right?

So just anyone who’s kind of relating to shifting into these states, it’s like notice if you feel the qualities right now as we’re talking about them and see if we can even just recognize that there’s this part of us Because I’ve got freeze response for sure that that can definitely happen in my own physiology as well It’s like there’s a part of us that does that there’s a part of us that will move into either shutting down Disconnecting getting sleepy floating away, and there’s a reason for it.

So I want to see if you have an answer for this. And this is, because we’ve never worked together or we don’t know each other there’s a difference in between your mind answering this question. Or this part of you that gets sleepy answering the question. And this for the listeners, I want to invite you to recognize these parts of you that, you know, help you survive, and how we can have conversations with them, just like you have conversations with your body.

We can have conversations with them to learn more about the pattern. Okay,

so I’m going to ask you a question and we’re going to notice if it’s more the mind trying to find an answer for it or this part of you that gets sleepy that has an answer for it. Okay, so if we ask this part that gets sleepy,

if you ask it what it’s afraid will happen if you don’t get sleepy, see if it has an answer.

Krati: I think it’s unpleasantness. It’s just unpleasant. And I think that’s why that part of me just wants to not be there. Yeah. it in many ways and explained it to myself, but yeah

Nicole: So, would you say you just answered that question from the mind, or from the part?

Krati: yeah, from the part that gets sleepy, yeah.

Nicole: And how can you tell that the part answered the question versus your mind answering the question, the intellect?

Krati: Because I just sort of thought about the moments when it happens, like when, like the last time it happened in an interview as I was setting up for the interview and trying to explain things to the, to the person that I had on the other end of it. And that person had a really noisy background. I remember thinking, this is not gonna, like this conversation is not, I don’t think I’ll be able to use it because the there’s so much noise on the other end.

And at the same time, the person was so old that I I didn’t I didn’t want to say anything to them. Because I was like, okay, this is just gonna create a panic situation. My body was just like, ugh, I don’t want to be here. So,

Nicole: Mm hmm. Mm hmm. So, what I’m hearing and what you’re sharing is you’re reflecting on what happened, and that gives you the answer. Yeah. Okay. So that’s another beautiful way to do it. It’s like we can reflect on what happened and that gives us insight into, to why. So let’s ask this part of you that gets sleepy another question.

Ask it how old it thinks you are.

Krati: well, I think it’s thinks I’m super duper old. It’s like Maybe in my 90s or something

Nicole: Yeah. So, so that was your part, the part of you answering.

Krati: Yeah, but at the same time, this is like, this is not the first time this question has come my way. So again, I’m not sure whether this is the part I’m answering or this is just because it has been discussed so many times. We just have this running joke in the house that I’m the oldest person.

I live with my parents. But we have the running joke that I’m the oldest here. So I’m like, on the outside 32, on the inside 90. Cause just, it’s, so

Nicole: has that, has that number come up before?

Krati: Yeah. Yeah. That’s just what my parents would always say. She’s 90, we’re 60, I’m 70. Like stuff like that gets said around the house. I say it all the time.

Nicole: So the reason why I’m just kind of planting a few of these questions, and this is a little more IFS, internal family systems, and you know, we’re not doing a full IFS session or anything like that, but what I like to do when, you know, we’re pausing and we’re noticing, we’re aware of all these patterns we have.

And then we can bring in some curiosity and it helps differentiate me. As myself from this pattern that’s stuck in time, whether it’s stuck in you being 90, whether that’s, you know, past life or who knows, or if it’s, if it’s you know, stuck as a little child, I find those questions can be helpful just to help us see that this piece is just stuck in time somewhere, looping

Krati: Uh, I don’t know if this helps, but anytime, like, this happens, like, that response happens, there is this thing at the back of my head, or just this general feeling that I’m too old for this, or life’s too short for this, this is

I don’t want to do this, but I don’t know, like, maybe this will help the audience, but this has not always been true throughout my life, like, there, this has started happening in the past few years, like, since I did my I recovered from depression, I did recovery work from anxiety, I started, like, meditating, I meditate a lot, I pray a lot, I am someone, like, my environment is very different from how it used to be, Previously, like, before I did all the work to recover from the depression.

Before that, if anything would go wrong in my environment, I would dive right in. I would be the angriest person in the room. I would be the most wired, strung out person in the room. I would be yelling. I’ve even gotten into physical fights. I’ve thrown things. So, all of that craziness. So, I always intellectualize it as…

Because I’ve had like my, I’ve had so much drama that I’m just done with all of it. And I don’t like who I was, as I was indulging in all those scenes, that I don’t ever want to go back to being that person again. So I don’t know if that helps.

Nicole: It definitely does because, well, there’s a few different things. I mean, like, well, I’m so curious, so I want to explore all, all, all night long. So there’s a few different things I want to kind of just invite here, right? So we have these extreme situations that we’ve navigated in life. And then, and then we make a turn and we decide differently.

Right? some people listening might be able to relate to this, some people won’t. But regardless, if you’re listening to this, you’re being curious about who you are and on the healing journey in some level, right? So you are taking a turn to want things to be different. Now, the mind is really powerful and the mind can create a different story really, really beautifully.

And that’s where a lot of practices that you mentioned can be really helpful to change the mindset and to change your reality as well as your environment, right? And then there can be these undertones of the physiology that’s still stuck in those experiences. And this is where we can get hung up.

We can. When we’re so driven by the mind, the mind bypasses what’s happening in the physiology, right? So the mind can then become a way to protect us. going back and having to experience some of these things that, you know, we’ve worked really hard to not want to experience again. So the, this is where we, we can find a way to protect ourselves by managing the situation, by controlling what’s happening, by making sure my environment’s okay, and I’m good, right?

This is a brilliant strategy to avoid feeling the things that I didn’t want to feel. If those things are still underlying in our physiology, in our cells, in the stories deep within our body, and This is where I find somatic practice practices, especially when we’re looking at the physiology from a nervous system and the survival pattern perspective can be so helpful because it’s easy to live out here and protect it and be okay because I’ve managed it all and I’ve got the right mindset and I can redirect myself into that safety, yet there’s things happening in the background that I’m trying not to pay attention to.

Does that resonate?

Krati: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, this is helpful. This does help me understand. Because I think because the conversation started with trauma, and I… Never I rarely use that word for anything. I’m someone

Nicole: Same. Me too. Barely.

Krati: things Yeah, so and I think most people when they hear trauma They automatically like go to either their childhood or like really visceral it really like drastic experiences So I think this helps here what you’ve said that this is your body’s way of protecting you from going to that place.

So it isn’t necessarily like something that happened in childhood. It’s just a way of being that was dysfunctional, that didn’t work. So now your body has come up with a way to protect you from going to that place. Does that make sense? Am I, am I correct

Nicole: yep, totally. Yeah, that’s a great way for, that you’re understanding it, right? It’s allowing you to see that some of your patterns are actually there to protect you, to not have to feel the things that aspects of you are still stuck in.

Krati: yeah, I think that would allow a lot of the listeners to also sort of see things in a different light because if once because of these terms always being there, oh, this is a trauma, this is this response to sad response, unless something fits that definition that you have that you’re carrying around for that term, you kind of don’t see it that way.

And then there is really no explanation for what is happening. So I think here I am starting to understand that I am having this response and I may not identify it as trauma in the sense of how I understand what I understand trauma to be but it is still a trauma response and it may not be anything too drastic but it is just my body’s way of defending me.

Nicole: Exactly, and the thing that it’s stuck in, it’s stuck Thinking it needs to defend you or to protect you or shut you down, right? Yeah. So it’s kind of like it’s multi layered, right? We have our trauma and our burdens that we carry and those are the things that we’re, are stuck in time. We’re stuck In the experience of either being in an incomplete fight or flea response and we’re experiencing as us stuck either freeze or stuck on in hypervigilance, right, that’s us kind of in, in the eye of the trauma.

I don’t like to put a lot of emphasis on that either. I like to first see the layers. So it’s kind of like, yeah, we’ve got the trauma, we’ve got the burden. We don’t even need to know what it is. Eventually that can be helpful, hands down, but it’s more like, let’s instead look at these patterns that we’ve adapted that help us not feel the intensity of the thing I’m stuck in.

So, I mean, the hypervigilance can actually be one of the patterns that helps me not feel Right? So an example, it’s like, oh, you’re hypervigilant making sure that everything’s recording properly. I’ve got the backups lined up. I’ve got everything sorted, right? Like that’s a way you’ve learned to survive, to not feel like you’re losing control, for example, or that everything’s gonna blow up and

things are going to be the worst case scenario, right? So we all have these brilliant patterns. And to me, it’s about recognizing the patterns more than it is worrying so much about the thing that we’re stuck in. We want to eventually go there, but it’s like, let’s first see the patterns that are helping us.

Because those patterns are there to serve and protect, to manage and control things, to distract us from feeling things. And. That’s why I love pausing and noticing. I can notice if I’m in a pattern that’s trying to distract me from feeling, in a pattern that’s trying to manage and control things, or in a pattern that is trying to protect me, right?

And sometimes it can have multiple flavors from there, I notice then how I feel towards my pattern, so to me, let me think of one of my examples here. So, I have a, something I wanted to mail to a friend, okay? And a pattern of mine is I, I’ll put it off, right?

My to do list is pretty big, I’m pretty sure other people can relate to that, right? So if I look at my to do list and have his present right here, it’s like, oh, well, I could take action on that. And the pattern I have would be to put it off until tomorrow.

Right? I’ll just use that as an example. Right? So I’m going to put it off until tomorrow and I notice this part of me that just wants to avoid. I don’t want to feel the overwhelm of my big to do list. This one thing that’s sitting right here feels way bigger than it is because of how big my to do list is. So I’m going to avoid. I’m noticing my pattern of avoiding it and just set it aside. So then I notice how I feel towards me avoiding it. So how, how am I feeling towards avoiding this one thing that I could do in five minutes that feels really like a lot of, a lot of work right now, you know? It’s like, well, how I feel towards me avoiding is I’m annoyed, I do this all the time, like if I didn’t stop avoiding things, right?

I want it to be different I might give myself a hard time about it, right, so this is kind of like the outer layer that I find we get caught in. We have a pattern, my avoiding pattern, and then I have how I feel towards the pattern. And there’s often a conflict there, because the avoiding pattern is there for a reason.

It’s the thing that’s probably stuck in time, that’s been around for a long time, that thinks it’s helping me, and thinks it’s doing a really good job, because what is it avoiding? Experiencing overwhelm, and too muchness, and collapsing, right? So then, if I can see the layers of that, I see the trauma of like, yeah, it’s too much, right?

And then here’s this pattern of Avoid. Avoid feeling too much. And then here’s this experience I’m having towards the pattern that’s trying to help me. Being annoyed, being frustrated, wanting it to be different.

And this is where the conflict lies, and this is where I find most of us get stuck, is because we’re trying so hard to be something different than what we are. I’m trying so hard to not avoid, I’m trying so hard to, for example, right, get to everything on my to do list and get it done. Meanwhile, the part of me that’s trying to avoid is like, avoid, avoid, avoid. So there’s this conflict in between these two experiences. And then it’s, it’s messy, right?

And I’m in this conflict and I’m wondering why I keep… Continuing to avoid while being annoyed by myself, right? So then coming back to this question, what is the empathic witness? What I then like to do is pan out even more and acknowledge the whole scene. So I’m acknowledging the part of me that gets really annoyed by this.

I’m acknowledging the fact that, you know, it makes sense.

So I’m acknowledging the part that’s trying to fix my survival pattern and do something different. Right? And in that acknowledgement, there’s more spaciousness. And there’s more of a sense of just being able to validate and relate to the way I show up in the world because I’m a human, and I have all kinds of fascinating patterns, and it just makes sense that I’m frustrated and annoyed at why I am always avoiding. And then it also makes sense. So I’m avoiding, especially the more I get to know this avoiding part. It’s like, oh, well, I’m avoiding because I don’t want to feel overwhelmed. It’s easier to do nothing, right? It’s easier to collapse and scroll on Instagram or whatever it is that we might do, right? So I’m kind of just seeing the complexity of my human experience, but doing so from a place of spaciousness, where it’s like, oh, I can pan out and see the multi layers, the part of me that wants to fix my patterns and wants things to be different.

It also makes sense that why I want to fix it. And it makes sense on why I’m avoiding and what the trauma is doesn’t matter. I mean, eventually. You know, maybe I’ll go towards that and untangle more of it, which I have done, but you know, it’s an ongoing process of can I hold it all as the empathic witness for my human experience?

Or am I entangled in trying to change and fix all the layers of what’s trying to happen?

This is where one of my principles around recognizing that you’re already whole and that there’s nothing to fix can be so valuable Because we’re so caught up in trying to fix and then that’s where the conflict lies

Nicole: So it’s like you have these patterns of managing and controlling the situation to make sure you’re okay Right? What, what it’s avoiding is something more. This pattern of too much, disconnecting, shutting down, getting sleepy,

right? So you’ve got these brilliant patterns of managing and controlling the situation so that you’re okay. So, then you can notice how you feel towards those patterns of managing the situation and controlling things to make sure everything’s aligned so you’re okay and what shows up, how do you feel towards them?

Krati: hOw do I feel towards the response?

Nicole: How do you feel towards your ability to manage and control the environment to make sure you’re okay?

Krati: I, I feel good about it because I think, yeah, I stay, my confidence is always up. Like I said, like even when shit is falling apart, I am the

in the room. I’m always confident, sure of myself

Nicole: And this is, this is where it gets fun if you’re willing to kind of go there a little bit. Right? So I’m panning out and I’m acknowledging that it makes sense that it feels good that you’ve got this managing and controlling in place, right? Now, what are you afraid will happen if you don’t, if you aren’t able to manage and control the situation?

Krati: Well I think something that needs to be added here is I don’t see it as managing and controlling. It’s just who I am. Like I, drama is not for me, whenever there’s drama, I’m just like, I check out. Unless it’s like something very important, something like somebody’s freedom is being discussed, somebody’s safety is being discussed, then I’m all in and I can discuss it.

And I can even control the entire conversation no matter how many people are participating in it. But most of the time, it’s just, that’s just who I am. It’s just, everything’s silly to me. Like anything that does not lead up to something very important. That impacts positively other people’s life, it just is not worth the angst and the drama to me.

I don’t know if that helps, but yeah, I don’t

Nicole: Yep. So, Awesome. So for those that can recognize that managing and controlling is to help survival. You can ask that question to those parts, right? The managing and controlling to make sure things are okay.

What are they afraid will happen if you don’t manage and control, right? Because for some people, if they don’t manage and control a situation, it might feel like chaos, it might feel like loss of control, it might feel like combustion, it might feel like a lot of things can happen, right?

Annihilation, a lot of things can happen when you don’t have control. So I think it’s important to point out the difference of, you know, having things managed and sorted and figured out, like, what are the solutions, how do I make sure I’m okay from a place of, without that, I won’t feel like I can survive, versus I just do that as a, who I am.

Krati: Maybe you’ve just internalized your solution. Like for me, it’s checking out of it. Like if it’s silly, like I. identify it as silly and then check out but maybe it is like a survival response like this is unnecessary let’s

Nicole: I’ll let you land on that.

Krati: Yeah, because, yeah, because you

the work like I’ve very intentionally done this work.

I have gone through a depression recovery work. I have done like body detoxes and I’ve really brought myself to a healthy place and then built up this self. I always say that I have built myself from scratch and I built myself into someone I absolutely adore. So. Well, then you’ve internalized responses that helps you get from day one, day two, to day hundred, to day, and you just, now it’s just who I am, but essentially, if you break it down, these are actually very carefully chosen responses born out of trauma, responding to life’s many uncertainties and combined into a process that sustains your life and that allows you to actually have progress and growth and Calm and happiness in your life.

Nicole: So, and this is where it gets interesting, right? So there’s almost a strategy in place that allows you to survive in a thriving way

yet it’s possible that you’re still avoiding. Some of the undertone, or avoiding certain experiences might be a better way to say it.

Nicole: So it’s kind of like, and I’m, I might be wrong but it’s, I want to speak to this cause a lot of people might resonate where it’s like, we found a way to have our life be okay. Yet there’s these, there’s these things we’re actually avoiding within ourselves.

And those things will always be there

until we soften and Start to look at them, or look at them in a titrated, subtle way. So, the reason why I think this is important to recognize is because there’s so many brilliant strategies out there and, and modalities out there that can direct us into, you know, finding these incredible ways to thrive in the world.

Yet there’s still, we’re in a way bypassing some aspects of ourselves that are still stuck in trauma. Right? And, and this is where it’s like recognizing, and this is just a general statement of recognizing when how we’re showing up in the world is a full embodied expression of who I am.

Or is it a, an expression of who I am, while I’m also leaving parts of me behind because it’s too much to pay attention to.

Right?

I think. That’s where I love doing the work that I’m doing, because it is about turning towards those aspects of ourselves and welcoming everything back home so that we can be more of this whole thriving being that, that has a full wealth of knowledge and a deep access of self instead of just parts of self showing up.

Krati: Yeah, yeah, that makes sense but is it necessarily a bad thing if you are well, I would say, I don’t know, bypassing sounds. Not so great for your growth and for your development, but at the same time like people Choose like I don’t go to parties because it’s just not for me.

It’s not fun Do you think we make choices like that all the time? Do you think that’s unhealthy or do you think this is we’ve grown up? we’ve realized that this just is not like a pleasant experience or this just brings out a shade of me that is Not good for even others around me is like isn’t that like an okay thing to do a healthy thing to do in fact

Nicole: I think everything is okay to do. The question is, do we have awareness around what we’re doing? Right? So, am I choosing not to go to the party? Because I know that I don’t like big social settings, I don’t like loud noises, I don’t, I don’t enjoy surface conversations, and I know what that, that that party specifically is gonna be that, right?

And, great, okay, I’m, I’m making my choice based off knowing this about me. Am I not going to the party because I don’t want to be seen, I don’t, right, like, why am I not going and how can I honor that? And then when are there edges that I want to explore because there’s actually room for growth here to challenge some of my patterns because they’re just trying to keep me air quote safe when actually there’s a lot that can evolve from that.

So an example for, for me, for example, is I’m, you know, I. I am a strong, independent woman who has it all together. That’s one of my great survival patterns, right? And I can show up in groups and, but I keep myself separate, right? I’m not going to be vulnerable. I’m not going to open up. I’m not going to show any pain.

I’m good. I’ve got it all together. I don’t even acknowledge that I have pain within myself, right? And a big, big part of my journey has been like, Well, I don’t want to be the I. I don’t want to be the individual. I want to know what it feels like to be interdependent. I want to know what it feels like to be seen and be vulnerable.

But I can’t just rip the independent bandage off and, and be interdependent. I have to… Slowly move towards these edges where I can feel the discomfort and I can feel what it’s like to Share something openly and feel the nervousness in my chest and then nope All of a sudden I shut down because that was too much and I feel totally disconnected and like i’m fine again Great.

I’m learning about my pattern and i’m finding my edges and so for me, it’s more like How do we have awareness around what we’re doing, and what is it stemmed in? When is it truly who I am, and I, I know I don’t want that. When is it based off some edges that I can actually learn from, and play with, and evolve who I am? And, and that’s where coming back to listening to our whole human experience and listening to our body or physiology can be really helpful, because we can learn to recognize when what we’re doing is based off of me trying to protect myself or manage things so I’m okay and Or, when is it that I’m actually, just, it’s a no.

It’s a, it’s a knowing. So the more we can learn to listen to our body, the more we know when it’s an intuitive no or if it’s a survival no or yes.

Krati: Yeah.

Yeah, I love this. I would love for my listeners to like sit with this what you’ve shared here because that, it could lead to like all of these… Exploratory avenues and answers that they don’t already have because like the social media is so loud now And all of these movements and all of these ideas They’re so loud and extreme now that everybody is giving you a a completely made up image like this This is awesome.

Be this person. Be a feminist. Be someone. Be a conservative. Be completely liberal. Be this. Be that. Be religious. Be spiritual. All of these things, like, they’re fully fleshed images. Like, you can just pull it on like an outfit. You can just wear it. If it feels good to you like, oh, this makes so much sense being a feminist.

That’s very important. We pull up those outfits, we put on the mask, and then we step out and we slowly over time that who we are completely dissolves, and now we are this person that is finding approval within this community. And that is being applauded and is earning accolades. And then we just stop questioning, like there are so many times when I would be talking to someone and I think they’re awesome because they have this This crazy conviction around their ideas and they’re all for changing the world and I love their energy.

But at the same time, a lot of things get said that are just. And I’m gonna go there and I’m gonna say it. They’re just stupid. Like, if you would just take a step back and be a little less emotional about it, you would see it. I wouldn’t have to point it out to you because you would see it. It happens all the time.

People like like Ben Shapiro. He does it all the time. We have people here in India. It’s Palki Sharma. She’s super awesome. We’ve got Indian reporters who do it all the time and they point out things. And then once they pointed it out, it’s like, dude, how did you not see that?

Why would you put yourself in a room with this person? And now he’s just taken apart your life for everyone’s entertainment. Why would you do that? So I think

if, yeah, yeah, please, please go ahead. Yeah.

Nicole: I was just gonna say, what’s fascinating about that is we’re all just in our patterns, right? And like, the more you see it, the more you see it. The more you can see, like, you know, the reporter’s just spinning in their pattern, and then the other

reporter’s spinning in their pattern, and you know, it’s

Krati: they’re just like that aggressive rottweiler. Like, this is their job, and they’re just, they’re so comfortable being those people. But I love what you’ve pointed out, because maybe if someone has grown up, being repressed, a woman has grown up in an environment where she was never allowed to speak, would find great comfort in becoming a feminist if she can get to that point where she’s completely shed dull skin and now she’s completely squeezed herself into this new skin that there is just no balance, there’s no in between.

Maybe you love being a feminist when you’re at your work. Maybe you love being a strong, fiery woman. But maybe when you’re at home, you want to be softer. You want to let your husband tell you oh, we’re going to do this this weekend and that’s fine. You are okay with him taking the lead. But you see these feminists and it’s like, oh, I have to be this strong woman at work and at home and, and with the kids and with the parents and everyone.

It’s like, dude, don’t you get tired? Because we all like to let people take the lead. Yeah.

Nicole: totally, and this is where, there’s a few things I want to say to this. One is, We get to, when we see people in their patterns, right, like let’s for example say someone who’s jumping on the feminist bandwagon, right, and like really feeling alive for the first time because they hadn’t had a voice, we get to notice how we feel.

Towards them, right? So I love seeing everyone in their patterns. So then I get to notice how I feel towards me in my patterns and I get to also notice how I feel towards them in the patterns that they’re in and looping in or trying on for size or whatever it is, right? So I then get to notice like, oh, I’m noticing like judgment.

Oh, that’s a good one. I’m noticing judgment that I have. Am I the empathic witness at that point? No, I’m in my patterns of judging other people. So then I get to notice, like, oh, fascinating, there I am in my pattern of judging. another person who’s in their pattern and how can I pan out and see that bigger picture of like, wow, I’m such a fascinating human being with all my judgmental experiences, like thoughts over here because oh my gosh, judgment is the killer, right?

Like, it’s such a good one. It’s often in the room. So it’s, it’s like, it’s so, I find it entertaining to really just see how we’re noticing other people while noticing ourselves. And that’s where it’s like, With what you’re saying around, you know, everything being laid out for us, like, Be this, be that, you know, good old, that rant in the Barbie movie, if you haven’t seen it, is amazing, is, you know, like, You should be this, but don’t be that.

You should be this, you should, don’t, don’t be that. It’s, it’s like noticing when we’re in the pattern, because it’s all a pattern, of going outside of ourselves to try to find ourselves. Right? When we’re going outside of ourselves to get information or to learn how I should feel or learn how I should dress or what I should be saying or what I shouldn’t be saying.

Right? Just notice that you’re doing that. There’s a reason why you’re doing that and it’s, it’s got a purpose and it’s probably helping. But. If you are able to pause and notice that you’re doing it, you could also inquire into what else is possible. Okay, I’m noticing I’m going outside myself, which means I’m also noticing what’s happening inside of myself, because I’m noticing that I’m going outside of myself, right?

So it’s like, how do I… Acknowledge the patterns that I have that are helping me survive in the world. Recognize they’re my allies. Recognize they’re there to help out. Recognize how I feel towards them. And continue to practice the journey back home to myself where I can learn to listen to what’s true to me.

Which is very foreign for so many people. Like, we’re not taught that. Right? So start by recognizing the patterns in which you’re showing up in the world and see that as you Learning more about yourself. That’s you already learning to listen, already learning to bring it back home, back to yourself. And the more we do that, the more we connect into what truly is true to us.

And we’ll recognize we don’t need the external resources as much, if at all, to tell us who we are or what we believe in or what we want or what we don’t want. Like it just starts evolving the more we pause and notice and can have some grace for our humanness. You know, like, we’re messy. We’re, we’re gonna do all the things, but how can we have some spaciousness around it all?

Krati: yeah. I love the two things you pointed out, like the judgment part and the curiosity, like question things. Question everything. Maybe you’ve picked up the role of a feminist or the role of a change maker or someone who is super soft and nice and like I did, like it went from being this highly angry person to being this super soft, always willing to be vulnerable, always willing to share my story person.

It was for a reason. I’m not that person anymore either. I’m also not that soft anymore because that was something that was a

Nicole: That was also just other end of the spectrum. You went from one end to the other end, and now you’re working your way

Krati: Yeah, and I had a lot of people who were judging me at that point, like why are you always so free with your story? What’s up with that? And I, I recognized where they were coming from, I recognized why I was doing what I was doing, why I was feeling so comfortable with it, do I want to stay in this place?

And then reaching to something that works, that’s healthier for me, that has more of a balance to it. And then the other thing is like when you are judging other people, then you also notice. Okay, like I would I get very like taken aback when I meet these as I said, I meet these people and love their energy Because I know I could never be like go go go go go.

I’m a very like I have a very calm energy so I love that but at the same time it’s like Calm down now. It’s okay. You’ve made your point. Calm down. Don’t stay there all the time because of who I am I find that Difficult to be around for too long and then that’s where

Nicole: So there’s the conflict, right? It’s like, here’s you and what you think is right, and here’s them doing what they think is right, and then there’s the conflict in between. Two beliefs, or two ways of being in the world, just like we have the conflict inside ourselves, we have the conflict in how we see other people, and how we, yeah, so the more we can step back and acknowledge that experience of like, having judgment, then it’s like, well, it makes sense I have judgment, I’m a human, yeah, there’s more intertwined there, and it makes sense that they’re doing their thing, right, because they, in that moment, are doing what they feel they need to do, as they find their way.

Krati: Yeah. And what’s awesome is this would also just make the world a way better place to be in because so much more compassion. Yeah. I love it.

I have to ask you. Having done the work that, like, doing the work that you do, have you ever met anyone who’s, like, completely adopted an identity? Because this is something I feel a lot of concern around. We adopt these identities and then we cultivate so much conviction around whatever supports that identity.

Do you think it is, it can be done where, having listened to this conversation or having listened to the other interviews you’ve done, all the content you’ve created, somebody can, despite all of those convictions, step away from that identity? and find a place where curiosity leads.

Nicole: Great question. So, to me, if someone identifies as something, whatever it is, it’s usually a survival pattern.

It’s that simple. So, if we see it as them doing that to protect themselves or to manage things to make sure that they’re okay, then great. They’re doing it to help themselves, and can they acknowledge that that’s happening, that’s part of the practice, right?

But, I believe that we are everything, and we are nothing. We are, so to have, to be so wrapped in an identity, It’s just a way to survive.

Krati: Yeah, makes sense.

Nicole: I’m gonna leave it that simple. And then how I would explore that is how we’ve talked about it in this podcast, right? How can I then pause and notice that I’m doing

that? Or invite someone else to pause and notice how they are so connected to that identity and that it serves purpose. There’s a reason for it, right?

And kudos for them for doing it. There’s a reason why they’re

doing it. Do they want to explore why? Maybe not. Great. Carry on. Do your thing. Right? It’s serving a purpose.

Krati: Yeah, if you can create growth out of it, awesome. Like, there are so many people who’ve done things that seem, on paper, now when you read about it, seem so extreme, but they were the reason that we have… Like the change we have today. So yeah, it makes sense. That’s good. That’s good But okay now for people who adopt a totally dysfunctional response Like I remember listening to this guy talking about whenever his marriage is in a healthy place He finds himself wanting to cheat.

It’s like there was a whole conversation there But I found that very intriguing like when you were super happy You would think that that would be the time when you wouldn’t be interested in anyone else’s But your partner, but this guy would always find himself gravitating towards like these scenarios where he has the opportunity to cheat.

Why, like when that happens, when we, and he knows what he’s doing. He knows he’s sabotaging his own life

Nicole: So, again, survival pattern so, when this exploratory state where we have access to expansiveness and to love and to joy and to connection is unfamiliar, it’s unfamiliar.

When it’s available, it’s, it can be perceived as not safe. So we can have these entangled experiences. with everything. It’s called coupling dynamics. It’s a fascinating thing to explore where we entangle things together. So a safe loving connection is not safe. For example, that could be his experience, right? In his, at least from a physiological perspective, there’s something in that that it doesn’t feel safe.

So. How does he avoid feeling the discomfort of this unknown experience of love and safety that isn’t perceived safe? He goes and cheats. Right? So he’s avoiding feeling something that’s unfamiliar. The loving relationship that’s in a good place is so unfamiliar it doesn’t feel safe. So let’s avoid feeling that and go do something I do know how to do that actually makes me feel air quote safe because I’m distracted from feeling the intensity of this other thing.

Krati: Makes sense. That, that’s helpful. And could leaning into a survival response ever be, like, not in that, like, we’ve talked about the survival response could potentially be awesome for you and it could lead you to better things. Could, there could ever be a survival response that on the face of it is, identifies it as dysfunctional, but leaning into it and actually letting it run through your life could be healthy for you?

Nicole: Well, again, this word healthy, healthy response or healthy, is it healthy?

Krati: So I read this study about BDSM. So what is, like, universally people, most people recognize it as a, oh, something must have gone wrong in their childhood that they enjoy sexual violence. But I read about the study, I spoke to people I did like a whole research thing on it, wrote a paper on it, and it, it turns out that people who are into BDSM, who practice it as part of their regular life, are actually more socially confident, have actually deeper bonds, and have better, healthier relationships.

Nicole: So I see everything as a range, right? So let’s say BDSM as a healthy range. Are these people that know their boundaries, that No consent and know how to have clear communication and are able to be fully present and feel so safe and be in that exploratory state in that, in the practice of BDSM, right?

So, so that would be the mid range. Veer it over here and someone is shut down and they feel most alive when they’re practicing those practices. Right? So, another end of the spectrum is I’m shut down, but when I practice this, I feel alive, so I feel like I’m part of a community, I feel connection, even though I, my physiology is saying something different, and that’s based off of, you know, doesn’t even need to be sexual trauma that happened, but it’s like something happened that has led me to feeling shut down, and now I, I participate in these types of explorations because I feel alive.

The other end of the spectrum would be. Right? I’m caught more on and alert and I have this access energy and I always need to be doing something. So I practice these, I practice, or I participate in BDSM because it, it allows an outlet for that energy and it, it allows me to move some of that energy. So I think it’s important to recognize that there can be a full range, full spectrum of how we’re showing up in any type of behavior.

And. You know, it’s not that something’s healthy or unhealthy, but can we have the awareness of where we’re doing it from? And then, and then let that be the avenue or the catalyst that allows the deeper healing to happen, so I am less shut down, or I have less of this. Ongoing activation energy all the time, and I’m finding my way towards the healthy expression of something whether that still involves, in this case, participating in BDSM or not, because actually I don’t need that anymore to have an outlet or to feel alive, then great.

So I think this is where we have to, again, check ourselves and our judgment that we have towards what people are showing up in, like who says what is, again, healthy or not unhealthy, right? And, and then to also recognize, like, if we are putting other people at harm’s risk, that’s unhealthy. That, like, that is not okay

everything else, who says what’s okay and not okay and what can be practiced? As long as there’s consent, as long as there’s boundaries in place, as long as there’s clear communication, like how great the world would be if we just had those things, you know? And then we’re able to be like, oh, it feels like you’re coming at this from more of a shut down place, or it feels like you’re coming at this from a more activated place, that how you’re showing up is stemmed more from your history and your trauma versus just a present expression of who you are.

Like… That to me is like the The be all end all, if we could be in that, it would be incredible to have that much awareness of each other,

right?

Where it gets, to me, where the lines draw off, like, yeah, are people being injured, right? Are people being influenced and manipulated because of their trauma to Take action in ways that are causing harm to other human beings, that’s, you know, that’s where the line draws.

But if your survival patterns are, aren’t causing harm to other people or yourself, then game on, right? Like, learn through them. Learn through them instead of being so hard on ourselves.

Krati: Now for like regular life, especially right now, like with everything that’s going on in the world, we find ourselves getting very, very anxious. So for people who don’t have, like, survival response is great, but that sort of, with the way we have talked about it, that sort of starts to shape your life and your behavior a little bit.

But if you’re in a heightened state, can we just talk ourselves down? And before we actually move to any kind of response, be in a place where we can see the situation clearly and then more deliberately choose a response.

Nicole: It’s the same thing with this range I’m talking about, right? Like I might be really activated and fiery and want to protest what’s going on and, and speak up from more of this activated place, but I’m not centered and fully connected with, with the clarity of what’s true to me. Which, not saying that’s an easy place to find for people, but…

Or I might be totally shut down and oblivious to what’s happening and not say anything or, or not want to look into it because I’d prefer to stay shut down. Right? Like it’s a full range of spectrum of how we can show up in response to what’s going on in the world now and always. Like, we always should be, and I don’t like using the word should, we always could be checking in with ourselves more, and this is where the practice of pausing and noticing to me can be so juicy, because it’s like, oh, okay, I’m really feeling impulse to post right now, and I’m going to pause and notice the energy behind this, and it’s coming from a place of like, I’m feeling a lot of fight energy and a lot of fuck you energy and a lot of like, you know, um, this real activation, but my thoughts, I don’t actually feel that connected to my thoughts, so I’m just going to acknowledge that what, that’s what I’m experiencing, not trying to change it, and this is how I practice, I know lots of other people might practice where it’s like, well then use the mind to change your state, whereas What I find more beneficial is how do I actually acknowledge my state, that there’s a reason why I’m in it, that it’s understandable that I’m in it.

And how do I hold a bit of space for that experience, right? To, to see what happens when I actually just give myself space instead of being in conflict, trying to change it.

OKay, I have a lot of questions but this was amazing. Let me just stop right here and say thank you for doing this. And I’m gonna ask you to please share resources at my audience because I’m, I can bet that all of them are gonna wanna, like, sit with all of the information you’ve shared and maybe learn more from you.

So, we’ll put a lot of resources in the episode description. I’ll ask you to please share those so that they can dive into those. And… Well, maybe they should journal after this, because I’m going to journal after this.

Nicole: Yeah, well, okay, I’ll leave you with some journal props just to, like, play, right? So the first prompt would be, notice what you’re experiencing right now, okay? So you could start just with, right now I’m noticing blah blah blah blah blah blah. Right now I’m noticing blah blah blah blah blah blah, right?

Because we’re so used to journaling and trying to answer questions of what’s… What, what’s our patterns? Or like, what’s our future? What’s our past? All this stuff. Instead, keep it in the moment. Right now, I’m noticing my feet are really cold on the floor. Right now, I’m noticing my pants are a bit tight around my waist.

Right now, I’m noticing my jaw is clenching a little bit. Right now, I’m noticing. So, just to bring you more into your own experience, into your own body. Right now, I’m noticing a lot of confusion. My brain wants to explode. Right now, whatever it is,

right? So that, that would be my invitation anytime, but right now, and then a second prompt could be a pattern I’m aware of. Right? And just kind of describe the pattern how it serves you, if it protects you, if it manages things, if it distracts you from things, right? Like, okay, a pattern I’m aware of is once I’m done this podcast, I’m going to grab my phone, right? A pattern I’m aware of is, okay, when I grab my phone, I can feel myself softening, my breath changes, and now I’m totally distracted from feeling anything, right?

So, so it’s kind of like, notice the pattern and how it helps you, and then notice, and then take note on how you feel towards your pattern. So three prompts. Right now I’m noticing, a pattern I’m aware of, and how I feel towards that pattern is.

Krati: Awesome.

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The Brain Behind The Blog

Hi! I'm Krati Mehra

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I know what it’s like to fall apart and gradually put your pieces back together to build something better than what you had before and I share all my lessons in this space hoping that you will share my learnings without the struggle.

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