Season 3 Episode 1 of Quiet the Diet Podcast with Michelle Shapiro, RD and Dr. Nicole LePera, @the.holistic.psychologist
How to Reduce Anxiety and Regulate Your Nervous System Holistically with Dr. Nicole LePera
In this episode, Michelle sits down with Dr. Nicole LePera, also known as The Holistic Psychologist (@the.holistic.psychologist) on Instagram. Listen in as they dive deep into the importance of understanding and regulating our nervous system in order to create meaningful change in our lives.
Dr. LePera shares her personal journey of reconnecting with her heart and the transformative power it has had on her own well-being. You’ll learn how our emotions and behaviors are intricately tied to our nervous system and how being aware of this connection is the key to lasting change.
This episode is sponsored by Veri Continuous Glucose Monitor
$30 off your order with code VSM-MICHELLESHAPIRO by clicking HERE
In this episode, Michelle and Dr. Nicole discuss:
- Anxiety, beliefs, and the interconnectedness of mind and body [10:03]
- Holistic approach to mental health and nervous system regulation [20:03]
- The importance of emotional connection and safety in relationships [33:29]
- Unlearning beliefs and reconnecting with the body [44:32]
- Building emotional resilience and new habits [47:46]
- Heart-brain coherence and its impact on well-being [50:55]
- Managing chronic illness through mindfulness and self-awareness. [1:05:53]
- Emotional intelligence and self-awareness [1:1:38]
Connect with Dr. Nicole LePera:
Work with Michelle:
Connect with Michelle:
How To Reduce Anxiety and Regulate Your Nervous System Holistically With Dr. Nicole LePera (@the.holistic.psychologist)
Michelle Shapiro [00:00:00]:
I am being joined by I can say it the one and only dr. Nicole LaPara on today’s episode. I’m so excited to have you here today, Dr. Nicole.
Dr. Nicole LePera [00:00:09]:
Thank you so much for having me, Michelle.
We are going to talk about really fun and light topics like anxiety and trauma and know just like easy brunch.
Dr. Nicole LePera [00:00:18]:
Topics today top of the morning topics.
Michelle Shapiro [00:00:21]:
Honestly, for us, kind of that is what we might be talking about at brunch. That’s true, pretty much. So you are someone who I’ve followed for a very long time. I’m sure many of us have. You have such a huge following of people who resonate so deeply, I think, not only with your message, but the way that you’ve packaged. I don’t know your mission. I think for people it’s so apparent that it comes from such a positive place and it’s so relatable and easy to understand. And the only way I can explain seeing your post is I always feel like it’s just like yeah, yes, obviously it’s that clicking kind of moment. Can you tell us a little bit about how you’ve kind of come to this place and moment where your mission and your message is and kind of what your pathway career wise to get here was?
Dr. Nicole LePera [00:01:09]:
I really appreciate you even describing the understandable nature or the simplicity of the message because for me, you’ll always hear when I talk about changing, I think that’s what many of us are seeking to do. We’ve hit whether it’s the rock bottom or just come to the realization that we want something or anything in our life to shift and change. I’ll always simplify the process of change into two steps. And the first step is really understanding having a new piece for many of the things that I talk about in terms of holistic psychology, having new information. And what I’ve seen in the field and actually was guilty of in my past is reading books that were described or that describe topics in a certain way that wasn’t really understandable for the practical daily life. And so for many of us, we can’t then build that bridge to take that next step which is actually actualizing those new choices to create that change. So, as I said, I very much was guilty myself of not only reading books and not understanding how that met or what I could do to apply those topics to create change, but also speaking in a way that I don’t think was very understandable. So yes, thank you for acknowledging that. That in my opinion, is so much a priority for me because that’s what I believe increases access to what for me was life changing information. Many of the things that I’ve learned that I imagine we’re going to talk about in terms of the body in particular, quite literally gave me the opportunity to make choices, to change my relationship with my own body, with some of the symptoms, anxiety being the predominant one that I had thought at one point in time would hold me captive for the rest of my life.
Michelle Shapiro [00:02:49]:
It’s not only that it sounds like you thought that, but it’s what you learned in school that perpetuated that belief that anxiety is our identity, that anxiety is who we are and a piece of who we are and that it is more important from a genetic standpoint than an environmental standpoint or the work that we do. And this is so, I think, true for most disorders of a psychological kind. I don’t know what lingo we’d even want to use because I don’t know if you and I would view mental illness the same as a DSM Five might view mental illness. So I don’t know that I would want to use that phrasing. But is that how you felt even in seeing practitioners in your own anxiety journey? Did you feel like people kind of said, this is your thing now. You have anxiety, you’ll have anxiety and we can just manage it? Is that how you experienced it as well?
Dr. Nicole LePera [00:03:38]:
Yes. So it’s definitely a message that I read about. I mean, I was really fascinated with the human mind, what made me different from the people around me. So always seeking that information and to speak to your very beautiful point, that is the main message that certain things are out of our control or part of our inherent constitution or our DNA, and there isn’t any choice. However, for me, and I think for most of us, that truth, that reality, that version, I should say, of reality was validated not just by the books. I didn’t just take their word for it was validated by my lived experience because many of the habits and patterns that are creating these imbalances that for me it was anxiety. For others, it might be depression or whatever label you want to give it. The things with which we’re struggling right are so ingrained in us, so part of our everyday habitual behaviors, that for the large majority of us are operating outside of our conscious awareness that I always paint this visual much like a horse with blinders on it. Our day to day experiences for me around anxiety were validating that so why would I be of any different belief? Not only was I hearing that this is the objective scientific reality, I’m living that experience. And if I’m being honest, as I continued, I’ve always been very fascinated by people who’ve used the power of the mind. I had the idea that mind was very powerful and I would read incredible stories of people overcoming their genetics even, or their kind of physiological difficulties to create whatever magnificent life they did. And again, this is just an example of how embedded these beliefs are. I would read those books and I wouldn’t even necessarily criticize or tear down those people, as some of us might. I would accept that reality for them. Good for you. And I would unconsciously self limit. Well, I can’t because and I would again have a lifetime of validated experiences that would explain away my possibility for change. So when we’re really talking about uncovering the deep rooted beliefs which are absolutely impacted by societal messaging, by scientific messaging, by familial messaging, we are really talking about not just having the idea that things could be different. We’re actually talking about shifting our whole physiological experience because that’s what a belief is. We’ve lived a life that’s invalidation for many of us of this as being our identity. So now you’re telling me it possibly isn’t. Not only do I feel fearful of the unknown, of what that could mean, of how it would be to shed, many of us, like myself, don’t actually believe that it’s possible for me.
Michelle Shapiro [00:06:18]:
Exactly. This was so closely mirrors, I think, my client’s experience of anxiety and certainly my own experience with panic attacks. I remember my anxiety came on suddenly after a rapid weight loss. And it took time for me to understand that lack of homeostasis and that starvation response really is what prompted my body to scream out for help, essentially. And I was in a doctor’s office and he said, you have panic disorder and you’ll have it for the rest of your life. And I just thought, how does that make sense? I didn’t have it a month ago. Now it’s just forever. It can happen spontaneously and then stays forever. And it was something that I couldn’t grapple with or understand. And it really was the deepest unlearning I know for myself. And it really sounds like for you too, because it comes down to an actual belief system in modern medicine. The beliefs underneath it is that the body can break and cannot be healed after it is broken. And that’s really hard to go up against when you’re already having anxiety. Right? So for a lot of people who have anxiety and the experience of it, they feel like the best I can do is kind of manage it. That’s the best I can possibly do. And what you’re saying is you have to really unlearn that initial step and then start to integrate. You keep talking so beautifully about physiology and it’s so not a thing that psychologists normally talk about, right? They’re like, we know sleep and blood sugar stuff is important. We got that much. Can you tell us how you, in your head kind of put the mind and the body either they are the same thing or in the same box. And how you feel just the body experience relates to anxiety?
Dr. Nicole LePera [00:07:54]:
I love this question. Actually, piggies back. I was going to make a comment because what you’re describing in the psychology field, I imagine it might map onto medicine or kind of health fields as well. What you’re describing is what we again were taught very much in school, something called the diathesis stress model simply right we have these genetics and it comes to a point in time just going to use your story, right rapid weight loss. So this model would right implicitly Michelle you were genetically predetermined to have anxiety and then it was the stressful experience of this environmental, right this choice to lose weight and all of that that came around with that that caused the manifestation of symptoms, right? That’s half the story because the reality I should say in that is science psychology has allowed the environment to play a role, right, something outside. And this, for a while, has explained away why siblings, one genetically could manifest something while one doesn’t, with this assumption that the one who manifested has lived the experience environmentally by something that has happened to them in their relationships, by something that has happened outside the home or within the home that was unique to them, right? That manifested, that shifted or flipped the switch, if you will. So hooray we’ve inserted in the environment. But even just to segue into the question, I’m of the belief that actually it is the environments beginning with our first environment, which was in the uterus of another human’s physiology and all of the contextual factors that were contributing to their way of being at the time, that is actually creating the manifestation of symptoms and not vice versa. It’s not the genetics and to me that’s such a much more empowering model because now it gives us some semblance of control. Now of course maybe listeners are saying well I didn’t have control of what my mom was doing or not doing when I was being carried in utero. However, we do now have control to create choices to shift the way we’re living, the things that we’re doing, to actually for many of us resolve the underlying symptomology. So now to very simply answer your question, there is no difference. The body has become a reflection of our mind’s ability to navigate our environments. Again, beginning with that first one. And I saw this not only in terms of my psychological emotional symptoms of anxiety and all of the ways they manifest that in my relationships. I will speak often of how my body and its kind of the musculature and the tension and the way that over time, even now, I have a bit of a curvature to my upper spine with this idea of protecting. And I’m just going to map this onto my own journey, protecting my vulnerable heart space in absence of having the emotional safety and support that I needed in my own childhood and quite literally becoming a manifestation of what was a very real mantra in my family growing up, which is that there’s always something. And we’re each all carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders. I quite literally looked like that and I see this reflected in the actual structure of the human body. I think it really does speak to what you and I are talking about, which is there is no separation. We become our physiology becomes an outward manifestation oftentimes of our emotional world, of our spiritual world, and of our inability to actually express very real parts of ourself, energetic parts of ourself. And this is where I can go down a whole diatribe on the science of energy and how that is very real in terms of our human existence.
Michelle Shapiro [00:11:32]:
Thank you for that too. And this idea again, that the mind body connection, it’s like, I feel like in the kind of functional medicine and functional nutrition world, we come close, but then I’m like one more step further. It’s not the mind body connection. They’re the same, right? Our minds and our body are the same. It’s one existence. We have one being, essentially. It’s just different entryways into what’s going to affect us. And we know, like you said, very scientifically, our neuroendocrine immune system connections and how that influences our muscular movements. We know this. And it really comes down to something that you talk about so often and of course we’re going to talk about, which is our nervous system. Absolutely. And something I want to reiterate that you said before is that our bodies are only as smart as really our evolutionary past in some ways, which I think we’ve always had. Like, the human body has been the most complex, incredible machine to ever exist, but we really only learn things through example, right? That’s how our nervous system will know this is true, this is validated. So when people are navigating into this territory of, okay, I’m going to believe that I am not an anxious person. I’m going to believe that anxiety is healable and movable through. They have to go up against societal expectations. They have to go against their own beliefs. They have to go against what their nervous system is telling them. And what I again want to just say thank you for is you’re telling people here’s, literally how you do that. And it could be something like one of your incredible books, or it could be something like a one little instagram post. And what I always love so much about that is not only the relatability, but the inherent truth behind everything that you say and really pulling these concepts together. I also have to tell you, you’re low key, a functional psychologist, too. I don’t know if you know that. I’m sure you know that, but holistic and functional, we can kind of differentiate those terms. But when I think of functional nutrition, the first thing I’m doing with any client is I go through a timeline of their health. I want to know, like, literally, we have to go back to are you breastfed? That’s how I’m going to actually understand the climate of their current anxiety or symptoms or signs. And you do that incredibly well. And so I’m just donning you I don’t know if you I can’t pass the title on. But you’re a functional psychologist too. How do you kind of see the word holistic? How do you view that definition for yourself? And I know you’ve spoke already so much about these holistic concepts. What does holistic psychology mean to you?
Dr. Nicole LePera [00:13:57]:
I was smiling earlier when you were talking about the nervous system because you can’t see. But I actually have a shirt on today that says feelings are not facts. And in very many ways this is my reminder to myself because this is again kind of embedded in what we’re talking about here in terms of the nervous system. And we are constructing the world around us based on what we learned from that was modeled to us by how we experienced mainly our relationships and childhood, those of which we needed our nervous system needed that point of regulation, right? Very few of us receive that point of regulation. So we are operating again with not only a Dysregulated regulated nervous system but one in which we do assume the validity of every feeling that we have. And the reality of it is again, feelings are constructed and are mainly a construction of our nervous system and of our past experiences. So when I’m talking about Holistic, I mean, there was a huge gap and a lot of frustration. And not only disempowerment for myself, who thought I had a lifelong of anxiety and panic as well to be dealing with, though, for my clients. Because when we weren’t talking about the body and when we were just trying to logic things away, have the right tools and in a very calm moment, I’ve always considered myself a very practical minded therapist. I always knew that the clients, the patients or whoever I was working with wanted something tangible to create change, right? Something brought them in that was causing suffering and they wanted to do things differently. Yet what I was continuously met with was disempowerment was reports of not actually that new change of continued repeated habits. And the reason being, again, because we weren’t talking about our nervous system and how embedded some of these states of Dysregulation were and how real and overwhelming and ill equipped so many of us have become to deal with our feelings at all. So holistic really means honoring the fact that there is, as you put it, a two way conversation always happening between our mind and our body. And for a lot of us we’re living with imbalances and with Dysregulations that have convinced us of the objective nature of some things that again are really remnants from our past half the time aren’t even an accurate reflection of what’s happening at all. Yet again because they’re embedded in this subconscious mind whose sole priority is our physical survival. It will always favor the familiarity of those habits. So I speak of these things with kind of the underlying reasons and the holistic nature of our body and how yes, we are going to be wired to repeat things even if they’re not serving us, because so many of us begin to entertain an idea that we’re inherently broken because we can’t seem to create change. So one of my hopeful main messages is a takeaway that I hope everyone takes as a takeaway from any time I speak. Is that relief? If you are someone who believes that there is something inherently wrong with you, is even bringing to mind the possibility that you are a perfectly adapted creature to your circumstances? Circumstances at one time, though, of course your habits might not serve you, but this isn’t to minimize the reality that insight won’t change action. Right? Again, back to that idea of step one, step two. For many of us, that’s going to be like, Great, nicole I feel relieved, I feel less shameful, yet I’m still repeating dysfunctional habits that don’t serve me. I’m still so overwhelmed by my emotions and dysregulated and living in a survival mode that isn’t serving me that I can’t again this is again where I want to emphasize until we incorporate the body, until we shift, until first and foremost we become aware of the messages that our body is sending our mind so that then we can shift them. We’re never going to be able to create that change. So, again, holistic is not only an understanding point for me, it’s a practical kind of pathway forward toward new choices, toward actual habit change, and actually toward a future then, that could possibly look different, so powerful.
Michelle Shapiro [00:18:08]:
And again, when we normally think of holistic, we think of, I don’t know, like witchcraft, which I’m into, by the way. I’m nothing against witchcraft. I’m here for it. But I think what you’re really talking about is integration of the mind and body and integration of actual, real things that can make a difference in people’s lives. Instead of speaking in theory, you’re speaking in those tangibles, and that is what’s actually holistic, because that’s what’s going to create whole body holistic change. I love that you’re also functional. I’m telling you. You just are. It just is what it is, I’m sorry to tell you. It’s a good thing. I think that when it comes to this is a hard question, but this is part of the Quiet the Diet podcast. We talk a lot about anxiety, and we talk about a lot about kind of how society views our health and how that influences how we feel about our health. What you’re talking about that’s really interesting is there’s definitely a level of acceptance that comes in with anxiety. As in we accept that the thoughts are happening, but that they may or may not be real or that they may or may not be important. And I say our thoughts are just neurological firings that are protecting something, right? They’re just telling us something. But we don’t need to give too much credence to that kind of where I see health happening now is a lot more acceptance of anxiety disorders. And now it’s very popular to speak on neurodivergence. And there’s this beautiful empowerment of people in kind of owning those titles in the same way I see it in the body positivity movement and things like that. Do you see, there’s kind of a line between accepting things and still wanting to change them and a little bit of a difference between CODLING or compassion when it comes to these kind of things, because it’s easy to say, I guess, hey, we can just know that they’re not real and accept them and then have them keep happening. Where do you see people propelling themselves into change? And do you see that distinction in your work? And is it something that you’ve kind of seen on a societal scale too?
Dr. Nicole LePera [00:20:09]:
I want to comment on something you said before and wrap this in actually to my answer to this question right now. I was reading a bit about your kind of approach through schooling and very much relating to what I’m gathering again, is kind of your more integrated model that it appeared to me from reading your bio kind of came out right through school. And for me, what I’ll describe in a little in more concrete terms is I was always the training clinician, if you will, that didn’t want to just learn the CBT model, right? That was very much the gold standard. I wanted to learn every way to conceptualize and every way that the human mind and psychopathology has been symptomology, has been thought about over the ages. And I wanted to have that information so that I could then synthesize it and come up with to use your language because I totally resonate with it a more integrated approach and the reason why I’m leading and jumping off of that statement not only to reflect alignment between you and I and our journeys thus far. And that’s obviously very much of how I’m defining Holistic. Now, you’re not hearing me say, here’s the Holistic model, steps one, two and three. And that universally applies to everyone, go be it. I’m actually leaving. While I might have somewhat of foundational steps, yes, we have to care for our body, make sure it’s physical needs, right? For water, for air, for rest, for movement. In my opinion, those are our core physiological needs. Make sure they’re met. That’s universal, though I’m very open and flexible with how each person needs to have those particular needs addressed and met in their life and the possibility then of what they do to fulfill those needs. So again, saying that to say that’s what Holistic means to me, it’s not fully universal. It’s really highlighting the nuance, the complexity, the individuality of our human experiences. Because again, I believe when we don’t do that, we’re actually cutting ourself off from, again, a very unscientific word, the soul. And I believe until of course, I again learned energy and am able to, as I do in my new book, really map on what the soul means in terms of this unique constellation of energy that’s going to be experienced and manifest differently when we try to fit everyone into a one size all fits model. I think what we’re doing often inadvertently and well meaning thinking, we’re helping people, we’re cutting ourselves off from that inherent individuality. So I’m saying that to say I believe that that is the goal is not to minimize. So to the question in terms of I make space and welcome if for some people, coming and up with a label helps us categorize our experience, helps us relieve the shame of thinking as many of us do. If not all of us that we’re alone in our suffering and that no one else gets it. And then even more so if it allows me to feel connected to a unified, shared experience and maybe even get some tools to help me manage what I’m struggling with, then so be it. I don’t think again there’s because for some people that is the value of having a and it’s important diagnostic label or whatever you call it. And it’s incredibly important. There’s the healing in and of itself, right? Though for others it isn’t. So again, my mindset is more one of welcoming and allowing and creating space for all of the different unique journeys where it doesn’t have to become a combative. Oftentimes based in threat based nervous system dysregulation, where your reality actually feels a threat to my identity and my reality. I am hopeful to evolve into a species where I could accept that for you, calling yourself the label and joining together is what creates the possibility for lessened suffering, however that looks for you and I can feel safe and secure enough that for me, that didn’t necessarily feel helpful. And again, for many reasons that I think have become societally intergenerationally epigenetically passed down, there’s very few of us adults that feel safe and secure enough to actually do that. And I see this again played out on social media. Whenever we’re contentious and we need to squash, in my opinion, someone else’s perspective, usually that’s coming from a very threatened, fear based place.
Michelle Shapiro [00:24:22]:
And you would say, I’m assuming that when we’re coming from a threatened, fear based place, we’re not going to get the best solutions and we’re not going to feel the most resolve.
Dr. Nicole LePera [00:24:30]:
I can go on many different reasons why not only does that part of our brain shut down that can even envision a future that can hold logical thought in our mind, we’re completely shut down to that. Again, our nervous system is activated. And I use this example so often when we’re feeling threatened, it doesn’t matter who it is that you’re interacting with that you are feeling threatened by their action or inaction or whatever it might be your partner, your mom, your child, that person becomes solely a threat to your existence. Which is why not only do we lose logic, we lose our grounded sense of nature, we also can become quite mean in our self preservation. So yes, in my opinion, true collaboration happens, true interdependence happens when we have that space for unique individuality where all of us can be so safe and secure in our own self expression that we actually are able to remain connected to our hearts. And again, this is the whole premise throughout my new book how to Be Love. You seek is our heart is wired to compassionately connect with other people, to create space for unique self expression, to be collaborative and harmonious. This is why humans as a species have evolved as we have. Though the large majority of us aren’t operating from our heart. Day in and day out, we are stuck in nervous system dysregulation, which again has us wired for safety, for threat. We are viewing the world through filters where it’s only a matter of time before the tension in our muscles, the quickened elevated heart rate is going to map on to the perceived threat. In my environment we become locked and loaded. And again, whoever is in front of me doesn’t matter. I can’t be a compassionate human being.
Michelle Shapiro [00:26:13]:
And it’s the same thing with it doesn’t matter what food is in front of you, it doesn’t matter what movement is in front of you. When everything becomes a threat and we feel like our backs are against the wall, we are not operating in a really well state. I guess it’s the only way I could phrase it. It’s funny, in my nutrition schooling, the one thing that I definitely covered a lot and was always like you, I wanted to take from all these different disciplines. One thing I was always obsessed with was Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. And I feel like that, of course, was in every psychology class. And there is so much truth in it, in what we’re talking about, that if you can’t resolve that base level of food, shelter, safety, nervous system regulation and for me that would include like blood sugar regulation and things like that, it’s really hard to be focused on self actualization and feeling connected. But actually community is an essential part of our experience too. So I so love that you also laid out that sometimes it is necessary for people to put labels on themselves, even if the label is not inherently helpful from a scientific perspective, but it is helpful in that they feel connected and less alone. Can we also just talk a little bit about how loneliness plays a role in our health too?
Dr. Nicole LePera [00:27:23]:
Absolutely. And I actually have a modified version of what I my version of the Maslow pyramid is called the Authentic Needs Pyramid. It’s printed in my workbook how to Meet Yourself. And in that center layer of emotional needs, what I’ll call emotional needs is. What you’re speaking about right now, connection and support. We all need other humans and the reality of it is even I’m a prime example. I actually open up the new book with a descriptor of being alone in a crowded room. I was living in New York City. I was a serial monogamous in a romantic relationship since quite literally, I think the longest was a couple of months that I was in and out of a relationship since I was 16 years old. I had an active social life. I actually obsessively planned my free time with other people. Yet the number one thing you would have heard out of my mouth and definitely heard if you were my romantic partner because usually it was a complaint that led to resentment, that led to me leaving the relationship to find the perfect partner who would not contribute to me feeling not emotionally connected or alone. So I was the prime example that it didn’t matter kind of objectively what was around me. I could be in actual romantic partnership with you or we were living together and yet emotionally I felt so deeply alone. Why? Again, because to be emotionally connected not only is a need, it’s a learning, right? We are wired to emotionally connect though our safety and security and emotional connection is really imprinted by our earliest environments and the large majority of us didn’t have an emotionally attuned caregiver, connected and safe and secure enough in their own perspectives, thoughts, emotions, self expression to create this space, to be curious about our unique individuality. I mean, for some parents even this is not the belief. The belief is that children are minimes that are going to be a replica of myself and preferences and tastes and self expression. I mean that is not the case. And when we don’t have an emotionally connected parent and this was very confusing because I did have a mother who was home raising me, she was the parent. My dad went to work nine to five every day and it was my mom who was home in care of my needs. So for a very long time I would never have spoken of unmet needs. I had a roof over my head. I had a physically present parent, if not two parents. I had a sister that was again, always very much around me. I didn’t even have the language to understand what I was missing because deep down and even again, this translates to my very earliest memories and I do have very limited memories of my childhood all connecting back to nervous system dysregulation and brain development. Of course as I talk often about of a very visceral feeling that would usually happen at night. I’m touching my chest right now because I have memories of laying med at night as a young child and either nearing sleep or waking up from sleep and feeling a pressure and it was usually around when I would have what we call a nightmare. And I would have this visceral pressure in my heart and for me now, without the language at the time, to have any idea of what it was, looking back, that was heartache. That was pain of loneliness. That was pain of yes, I had people present, but I didn’t really have people that were equipped enough to be present to one whole aspect of my person, which was my emotions and my self expression. And if I wasn’t behaving in a way that was in alignment with, again, very well meaning intentions by my mom, who just wanted me to succeed and pushed me to excel in certain areas, I didn’t actually have space for the expression of the rest of me. So really, when we’re talking about loneliness and connection, it is an inherent need. Yet very few of us as adults are equipped to feel safe enough to connect, to learn how to connect even more. So many of our earliest traumas are within those earliest relationships. So if I really want to simplify the message, the belief and our behavioral habits, they’re a reflection of relationships aren’t safe. So now we have a combating need, right? You hear me saying that’s a need, right? That’s an inherent need of humanity. We all need others, yet very few of us feel safe enough receiving the connection or the support of others.
Michelle Shapiro [00:31:47]:
And I’m sure that’s going to translate into how you treat yourself and what you feel your worth is and what you feel you deserve when you have. I love that phrase you just used, combating needs, because I do feel we have this need for acceptance and the need to be known. And I know there are so many studies that show that actually being around people who don’t get you is actually more lonely than just being literally alone. Like it actually is more hurtful to be around people who don’t understand your authentic self than it is to just be alone, which is that feeling and that experience you had who’s someone who’s so communicative, has such a big, beautiful personality, you would think it would be so easy to feel connected, right? But there’s no person who’s left out from this equation. But it’s really the need to be known to feel connected. And when I think of evolutionary biology, which I feel like I’m always thinking of evolutionary biology, I think about that if we were in a tribe of people and the tribe left us, it would leave us open to very physical danger. And so our bodies are still remembering not only what happens in our household from when we’re children, but our evolutionary past and transgenerationally what our bodies have experienced, which is so, again, the word that I always think of when I think of our nervous system is protection. And that’s a lot of what you speak about, too.
Dr. Nicole LePera [00:33:05]:
Yeah, and I just to complicate it further, or to add, I should say to this entire story is there is research now that kind of validates that when we are emotionally abandoned. So this idea, right, I am in a relationship, you’re not seeing or hearing my perspective and supporting my emotional expression. It actually activates the same pathways in the brain as physical pain. And again, just tying this into now many of the habits so many of us are even going down this path calling addictions. Again, this is another area where I think we implicitly assume it’s right. They’re actually our own attempt at self regulating this very real physiological pain that began from emotional pain. So we really have to give space to our emotional worlds are real. And there is evidence not only like you said I agree, embedded in our kind of epidegenetic history, just that we share together as humanity, though, that are actually mapping on to then our unique individual experiences of actual physical pain in these moments, the physiology of pain. And now in absence of having learned a more adaptive way to cope with it, when you don’t have that caregiver to explore it, to teach your body even how to move through that physical pain and to return to that interpersonal or relational connection, most of us, as I was, are left on our own to adapt. And I couldn’t agree more. We have become a walking adaptation not only of our unique individual histories, but for many of us of our shared histories in humanity.
Michelle Shapiro [00:34:39]:
The idea of tribalism also everything is like a little bit of a catch 22 right now. Because I think that again, in the social climate there is this desire to feel very connected. But like you said, a lot of the tribes that we connect to are very antagonistic. So that’s the issue too is that my tribe is better than your tribe or this is the right way. I certainly see this in the nutrition and medical world and I know it happens in the psychological medical world as well, where it’s like this model is the right model, where you’re this type of psychologist and you’re this type of practitioner. And I think it leaves people looking for answers left out high and dry very much. And it’s so interesting when you speak of pain too, because I think what people hear from that, that I don’t want them to hear when I’m talking about things like this or when I say things like this is you have pain, you need to meditate or something like that. If it’s coming from your mind, the only way to correct it is by meditating or breathing or something like that. Can we talk about when people are trying to kind of shift their nervous system into a new state, why it might not feel safe to feel safe and why they might encounter that resistance when they’re trying to move into different flow states?
Dr. Nicole LePera [00:36:00]:
Yeah, absolutely. And just quickly, what’s coming to mind is my mom, who I just lost a little over two years ago now, who for the entirety of her life suffered with chronic pain, very real pain, right? Very real, like you’re saying not meditate away, not manifest away. I mean, I saw my mom struggling with very real physical symptoms that again, in my opinion, originated from an emotional, her own traumatic childhood nature. So when we’re really talking about honoring, again, bringing this even full circle in terms of honoring the body, we are not talking about just explaining away, we are talking about making the space for the reality in terms of that things are happening in the body and counterintuitive things, right? Because safety for many of us doesn’t feel safe because we’ve never had that experience of grounded safety, compassionate connection in our own childhood. And when that’s the case, so very early on, if I just want to globalize, oftentimes in childhood, our body itself ends up not feeling safe. We didn’t have that soothing nervous system to connect to, we didn’t have someone help us explore our emotions, which again, while I talk about feelings not being facts, emotions are physiology in the body. And when we don’t have someone who’s equipped to navigate their own emotional world, again, they’re not going to help us navigate our emotional world, emphasizing the fact that emotions are physiology in the body. So, very much like was the case with me, in absence of having that safe and secure emotional connection, I started to suppress all of the emotions that were uncomfortable and to disconnect or to dissociate my attention away. Now, that doesn’t mean that I just got very savvy at regulating the overwhelm. It doesn’t mean though, that the overwhelm and the uncomfortable emotions went anywhere. So when we’re talking about safety doesn’t feel safe, for many of us, the body doesn’t feel safe at all. So now you could hear me speak, even talk about these very practical ways to regulate the body. Though for many of us, even turning the attention from the racing thoughts in our mind from the focus or hyper vigilance to all other people, to even focus on what my body might feel like even for that tiny shift, not only is it challenging our subconscious that whoa, this is unfamiliar. I haven’t touched these or navigated these sensations in quite some time. The last time I did, I was ill equipped and I was overwhelmed by them. So why would I ever dip my toe back in there again? I wouldn’t. So now, not only am I challenging that kind of desire for the familiarity of what I typically do, which is check out. Now I’m in the challenging space of doing something new. And doing something new that’s very uncomfortable and overwhelming, when my only memory imprint in my mind and body was the time and space where I couldn’t handle it, where I was ill equipped, where I was overwhelmed. So again, when we’re talking about unlearning. We are actually battling those beliefs, the reality of those. You were a child, you weren’t equipped to navigate your emotions. So now the task not only is to reconnect with the body, it’s actually to make those intentional choices to learn how to tolerate that discomfort so that you can relearn that we are actually capable, we can make choices to regulate ourself even in otherwise uncomfortable moments.
Michelle Shapiro [00:39:36]:
And our bodies are not only so intelligent, but they’re also very fearful of discomfort. So like you’re saying, if the only memory you have of you doing something to regulate your nervous system was very unpleasant, your body’s not going to be like, I have an amazing idea. Let’s do that terrible thing again. There’s no reason your body would feel that way. I remember when I first went to get acupuncture with my naturopathic physician and I kept asking him, I was like, is this going to make me feel high? Is this going to make me feel good? What is this going to make me feel like? And he literally said to me, would it be the worst thing in the entire world if you felt good? And I was like, yes, of course. That’s the worst possible thing that could happen. So I think when it comes to anxiety, we want to not feel anxiety, definitely, but where we’re going and what we want to experience feels so unknown that it can feel really overwhelming for people. So I think that tip even of just tapping into the body and just also just literally picturing it like a neurological firing can help people too. You’re chirping. It’s just your body sending these signals off and that in and of itself, correct me if I’m wrong, but that can actually dissipate that huge sympathetic response right there just by hearing and bringing it back to that body connection.
Dr. Nicole LePera [00:40:55]:
And I mean, for me, even realizing that I was of the belief for a very long time that discomfort was a ping for my intuition and was to be avoided at all cost. Of course, this was something I learned from my chronically pain ridden mom whose body was so super sensitive to pain that over time her movement throughout life, I mean, she was bedridden when she died, more or less, was limited because pain was so intolerable, discomfort was so intolerable. So I continued then to march through life thinking I’m tuning in and anytime something doesn’t feel good, I learned that habit of deciding or determining, no, it doesn’t feel good for a reason because it’s my intuition telling me that it’s not the right path for me and it’s to be avoided at all costs. So for me, learning the distinction not only that discomfort is not only natural part of our human experience, it’s going to come when we’re making those new choices outside of those predicted patterns that’s just inherently what is going to be the case for all of us now. It gave me the possibility to explore because I don’t want people to hear that I’m suggesting we dive into uncomfortable things and that discomfort isn’t ever a marker of don’t go there because sometimes it is. But so many of us, again, are using inaccurate kind of experiences in our past like I once was, where I made all discomfort and I have to now distinguish the discomfort that’s actually coming from my body telling me that I am overstepping its natural limits, or I don’t have the resources, or this isn’t an aligned decision for me. And not just paint away all discomfort as that which is to be avoided. And again, all of that begins not only in our mind, right, our nervous system actually expanding that window of tolerance. Because I could say this and listeners could be like, okay, yeah, great. And when we then turn our attention to discomfort in our bodies, our nervous system is like you’re saying going to jump ship and isn’t going to create the space for even the ability to navigate that discomfort in a new way, which is again, why. And another suggestion that I want to give here, as many of us want to do, myself included, we cannot wait until we’re in the heat of the moment or we need it to actualize these new choices, right? We’re really talking about creating new habits outside of these moments. Because even like we were talking about earlier, not only are going to you lose access to the intention to do something different, you’re not going to have enough emotional resilience to be able to be successful in making the choice. Even if you do remember to make it. So when I’m giving all of these tools from reconnecting with the body, it’s not when you feel yourself getting stressed. It’s building a moment or two each and every day to reconnect with your body so that you can begin to determine when it’s getting stressed and stay online enough to make the new choices that you want to make in those stressful or uncomfortable moments. Then and again, I say this because I think it’s very natural. We want to throw these tools in our back pocket and just rely on them when we need to. And then again, we either feel frustrated that this doesn’t work or self shaming, there must be something wrong with me. When again, this is all a normal reaction, we’re going to lose access to the intention and many of us aren’t going to have the emotional resilience or the stress resilience to be able to withstand that discomfort. To make the new responsive choice, we’re going to implicitly rely on the old ways that we once did because that’s what our subconscious is going to do in that moment.
Michelle Shapiro [00:44:36]:
You’re building a toolbox for those moments, but more importantly, you’re building an innate response system to those moments. That’s what you actually want in your back pocket. You don’t want the tool to meditate. You want the body to know how to respond. And that’s what the training is and a way that you really work with people to do that and that you speak about in your new book is Brain and Heart Coherence. Heart, brain, coherence. Brain, heart, coherence. Tell us about that and tell us how this is something that you kind of can build up your store of this so that your body knows what to do in those moments. I think that’s so important and please speak on that.
Dr. Nicole LePera [00:45:12]:
My mind was blown when I read. I remember the moment I was away on a vacation and I happened to pick up a book from Greg Braden and he wrote know topics that somehow then led me down a rabbit hole of the heart before I even get the heartbreak coherence. Right. Because in my field, the brain was paramount. The brain, like I said, is very powerful. We’re not minimizing the brain. Never once was anything that I read or was taught spoke about the heart. So for me oh, the heart interesting. I dove down a rabbit hole of science of the heart. I met this concept of heartbreak coherence and foundationally before I even get to heartbreak coherence. The heart is actually more powerful than our human brain. It sends out electromagnetic field at a greater distance than our brain does. And back to again, this idea that we’re all energy, our nervous systems are always perceiving these unseen signals in our environment. What that means is our heart is actually reaching and sending more signals, more powerful signals than even our brain. That was huge piece of information for me, right? So now, oh, wow, there’s another part of the body that we could be paying attention to. Why? Then I met Heartbreak Coherence. And the simplest way that I can define what that is is a state of energetic alignment where my heart or my intention, my desires, my needs are in alignment with my words, my tone, my actions in the world. And so many of us are either disconnected from our heart. We have no idea of what those deeper desires or instincts or needs might be or we are connected and we’re overriding them. We’re allowing our brain and all of our learned conditioned behaviors and nervous system dysregulation. We’re allowing that to override. And that’s, again what we’re talking about. Our competing needs have us out of alignment. We’re saying and doing things in ways that aren’t what we really want in our heart. So for me, that was life changing information which really indicated a couple of things that the heart is worthy of paying attention to. I came to very quickly realize that as selfless as I had always thought I was and kind and compassionate, I came to the very stark reality that no, I wasn’t because I was so disconnected from my heart like I described in Protection of Closed down from childhood where I didn’t have that safety and security. That the reality of it was when I thought I was being kind and selfish and giving to other people, I was actually motivated on perception management. What I was reacting to was not my heart and what I wanted. I was driving my choices based on all of these imagined mind things. So in reality I came to that I have to reconnect with my heart. I have to begin to create space to listen from that deeper place of self and then obviously to live in action of that. And now there’s science. And of course this is all my new book as well of the very real kind of measurement that we now can see visually in terms of when we’re connected to our heart, when we’re in a feeling of compassion, of love, of connection, those are very heart based feelings. How physiologically that maps onto different energy to very much kind of picturing a very smooth ocean of waves versus when we’re stressed, when we’re angry, when we’re not in those heart emotional states, the incoherent then state that reflects in our body’s energy system is not calm kind of S like curves, it’s actually very jagged. And when we again go back to the reality that we are energy, our energetic field of our heart is so I keep pointing to FurCon who’s about 6ft away from me now. He’s feeling how my heart feels without me saying a word. So if we really want to simplify it, when we’re not connected to our heart, when we’re not living in accordance to what it is saying or wishing or wanting and we’re not in that coherent state of connection, then the jagged right, the stressed emotions, energy is what the world around us is feeling.
Michelle Shapiro [00:49:21]:
And from a just functional nutrition and medicine perspective, you can literally tangibly see this. I use the M wave, the inner heart balance. Like you attach it to your ear and as you breathe into your heart and feel experiences of gratitude and connection, you literally watch how your heart rate variability changes which is absolutely unbelievable. And for me was one of the first like you had these AHA moments in your personal life too where I was like oh, it is the same thing. They’re doing the same thing together and you can bring them online together and connect them. So there’s ways to train using devices that you attach to your ear or onto you. How do you have people get into a state of heart and brain coherence? Do you use devices or is it more just the work that you’re laying out in the book that people can do?
Dr. Nicole LePera [00:50:12]:
I think for some having the visual, the device kind of that objective measurement can be incredibly helpful. I think for many of us it’s even the curiosity, it begins with a curiosity of is there ever a moment where even before I drop in with my heart, I spend in myself in my body. And I’m emphasizing this because so many of us are endlessly distracted with the external world, endlessly distracted with our racing mind that we’re not in our bodies like we were talking about in the beginning at all. So how are we ever going to then create that connection to our heart? How are we ever going to then generate those heart based feelings? We’re not. So really practically and this, I think, also ties all these concepts together beautifully. One of the reasons why I was like I described earlier, always endlessly busy socially, right, always in a relationship, always kind of filtering the world around me and what everyone wants or needs of me. Because the reality of it was I didn’t feel safe in stillness, I didn’t feel safe. Like I said earlier, in my body there were no moments for me to turn inward. It was actually something I actively avoided. Why? Again, because my nervous system was so dysregulated, my body had so much accumulated energy and emotion from a lifetime. That stillness. I mean, if we’re just really simplifying connection to my heart, hypothetically, I have to be still enough to turn my attention from the world around me, which means I have to feel safe enough to do that, which means that my body can’t be indicating that there’s a threat because my nervous system won’t allow me. What do you mean you’re going to talk to my heart right now? There’s something going on, Nicole, in your environment that’s not the place for your attention. So again, I want to emphasize, again, pulling our conversation together when we’re really talking about even heart coherence, so many of us have to practically begin with our nervous system. We have to create the safety in our body, to create the possibility for a moment of inward focus. Which means that we have to learn how to regulate and navigate a lot of overwhelming emotions by making a lot of new choices that are very uncomfortable at first, so that then I can begin to even create space, to be compassionate, be loving. Right? Those aren’t things, again, that I have time for when I’m in survival mode. So whether again, when we get to that practice, whether it’s using technology that can be a gift for many of us or using more practical approaches if I want to just simplify of carving out time and space to turn inward, to attune to my body, to explore and discover what is happening on that deeper level and then to, when possible, generate actually feelings of care and compassion. Again calling to mind moments where you felt that naturally. Calling to mind things or pets even, that naturally allow you to feel that loving state. Then all of that is the beautiful work that we can build in regularly, as I still do to my daily habits, though this. Came after. And as I continue to spend a lot of time making sure that I feel safe enough to do all of.
Michelle Shapiro [00:53:33]:
That first, It’s something that appealed so much to your account. Like, I don’t know, seven years, like a long time I’ve been following you and this really pulls together. What we’re saying, too, is used to post about you’re a nine to five sleeper. Like I am I’m an eight to four these days. I sleep really early. It’s like we need certain things to feel safe that can also be physical. We don’t have to manifest heart coherence through just meditation. You don’t have to do it through just meditation. Anything that makes you feel, I’m just going to say, like a person and makes you feel inside of your body is going to bring you closer and closer towards that state of coherence and that state of nervous system regulation. So oftentimes when I’m making my plans for clients, I’m putting in like, here’s how we’re treating your nervous system. It’s going to relate to food. It’s going to relate to inflammation. You can send the signal of safety to your body in so many ways. And you’re a very cerebral person. Like I am. I feel like our survival instincts are very cerebral. Like how do we think our way out of a problem? But you can also give yourself things that will create that safety inside of your body, too. But I think the hard part is people learning how to kind of go from the cerebral state to not. And one thing I wanted to ask you about, too, and that you do talk about is, I think one transitional way to get from the thinking your way out of a problem to the feeling your way out of a problem is using something like an internal family systems model. Can we speak into that and how we can use our thoughts to actually get in touch with our body?
Dr. Nicole LePera [00:55:06]:
Yeah, absolutely. And I couldn’t agree more in terms of that cerebral mentality. And I want to go to say not only is in my opinion that been for many of us validated and celebrated this idea of whether it’s kind of being in our mind and overthinking or being achievement or externally driven, that has been what so many of us were taught in our families and societally is an adaptive, positive thing. I think that’s very much part of many of our lived experiences is those things are actually something we’re taught that celebrate it. And then even going into this, the daily choices we can begin to make differently for many of us, they are outside of what our friends are doing, what society is doing. I mean, I remember when I started to increase the time, the hour of my bedtime so that I could wake up with the sun and really sync my circadian rhythm. I had to say no to a lot of plans. I had to shift out of. A lot of habits. I am very much now that person. If you want to hang out with me, I am telling you that breakfast and lunch are great. You’re probably not going to see me after 03:00 p.m.. I even schedule my events accordingly earlier in the day. And so when we’re talking again, for many of us we’re talking about going against not only what we learned, what society is validating with what people around us are doing and sometimes many of us get negative kickback when we are living in alignment with that, so to speak, to internal family systems. It’s very much a part of kind of my thinking because really, again simplifying that it’s this idea that our mind in many ways it operates as a unified and in many ways there’s different aspects of our mental and emotional reality or what that field would call parts. We have very many different parts of ourself, right? Again, we’re a cohesive whole and there’s parts of us that have different memories and experiences stored from childhood and those parts and I actually make a case, I build on the Ifs model in my new book to expand it beyond just these idea of different parts or memories. In my mind I actually believe that there’s a neurophysiological, what I would call a conditioned self to really emphasize this embodied way of being that houses those early memories. And again, if we want to talk about it in terms of the nervous system and adaptation, our parts have all played a role at a certain time that allowed us to adapt to our environment. And they very much are still present, not only in our mind or the way we make sense of the world and the way we’re narrating or assigning meaning to the world around us. In my argument, they’re mapped onto our neurophysiology to how I’m showing up in the world. And one of the predominant ways and why I talk about in this new book is within our relationships. Again bringing this beautifully full circle. The mind is powerful, right? Knowing that you have these different experiences or memories imprinted in your neural networks of your subconscious mind is part of the story, right? The other half of it is in the neural networks, in your biophysiology, in your body because that mind is communicating with the body and vice versa. The body is communicating with the mind. And so many of us, in my opinion, have these memories, these mind body manifestations of our earliest environments that I call conditioned selves that are driving our habitual patterns in our relationships. And I think the main takeaway is that our parts are very real. All of the biophysiology that goes along with them, feeling compelled to feel as facts and to act as such, not minimizing, that’s very much a very real part of that experience though. So are other options and opportunities. Again, as we begin to not only get conscious to this embodiment of these early experiences. But back to those two steps. We begin to make the new choices again, emphasizing that it’s not in real time when I need it. It’s really uncovering these embodied aspects of our experience all of the time and beginning to create that foundational connection to the more fullness of our experience. So that in real time, especially in our relationships, we can begin to make choices that no longer just reflect our past, that include a safety and security and a heart based connection to our bodies in this current moment in real time.
Michelle Shapiro [00:59:48]:
So beautifully stated and I think that people will take so much from that. And what I want to reiterate that you keep giving people is that it’s really the habits that we create that we need to have in place for the emergency moments. And I think that just creating a habit of communicating with yourself is I can’t overstate this. When you are creating a habit with communicating yourself, you are shifting the way that your nervous system reacts to things, not permanently, but habitually and probably next time. So everything you do now is so important. And that’s what I love so much about your message to Dr. Nicole, is how important these little tiny things are with how our pain can be, with how all of these things can be. And also that we can’t wish it away, we can’t think it away, but we can kind of feel it away a little bit. And that’s not the goal when you’re experiencing pain, to feel it, to make it go away, but it’s to build your tolerance to it so that the response to the pain is not as strong. I don’t think any of my clients who have chronic illness, which is most of my clients, those are my people, I don’t think any of them feel they’re people who experience pain and anxiety on a near constant basis. But when they first come to me, a lot of that I’m like, oh, I’m not going to treat your symptoms immediately. All of them, we kind of have to see what’s going on too, and explore it and get curious about it. So the way through, like you’re saying a lot of these things is embodying, which is not the most, as we said, comfortable or fun experience, but it is totally doable for anyone at any time, which is you are the holistic psychologist, but you are the accessible psychologist in my head too.
Dr. Nicole LePera [01:01:35]:
And you really make that you place.
Michelle Shapiro [01:01:37]:
It on a plate for a platter for people where you say literally just thinking about this differently changes your neurophysiology. That is so wild and with internal family systems too. I think an easy way to embody for people is also like if you have that voice that you’re like, I know that voice, just think of maybe even a color or where in your body that voice is coming from I found for chronic illness, specifically in the functional nutrition realm or scope of utilizing this. I think just like using colors and pinpointing where the thoughts coming from. I know you have so many different Nicole’s that you’re now familiar with. So you’re like, oh, there’s that Nicole. There’s childhood Nicole. She wants to tell me know there’s seven year old Nicole. And I know for myself, I have like, cigarette smoking, leather jacket Michelle who comes out when things are very urgent. And she’s like, you better cut the that’s. That’s like last stop, though. That’s like when I’ve done something very bad, she’s like, let me tell you, you’re done. And I’m like, okay. I’m scared of her. And I know she comes it’s funny enough, but she actually comes from my heart. She’s a very strong force, and she’s like a blue color. Even though she’s an aggressive presence, I think that helps people to, I think, embody. And I’m sure more importantly, you talk about much better strategies than that in your book. Can you tell us more about your book, too?
Dr. Nicole LePera [01:02:56]:
Yeah, absolutely. I just want to share quickly because I’m having a giggle and I want to normalize all of us who all of your clients, everyone listening who doesn’t like what you just said and what I agree with.
Michelle Shapiro [01:03:07]:
Dr. Nicole LePera [01:03:07]:
I just want my symptoms to be relieved. I want to acknowledge very compassionately of course you do. You’re suffering, right? Why wouldn’t you want to? And just what I’m giggling about, what comes to mind is I have been watching a lot of I don’t know if you’ve know this show, but 90 day fiance type shows, relational shows, reality shows. Anyway, long story short, there’s a new season on where it’s based on a couple’s therapy model. These are relationships that are in trouble and these couples are getting together. It happens to be over a two week period with some trained professionals to dive into couples therapy and help their relationship. Anyway, just was watching that last night. Why it’s top of mind. And I was so struck by almost every single couple. One of them was saying, if not both were in agreement that we better get our shit together. We have two weeks to fix all of our problems. And right having that moment of and again, I’m not trying to if anyone out there is of that belief that even athinks in a relationship dynamic can be fixed fully in two weeks, I think that really illustrates that desire, right? We are so desperate. These are people who desperately want these relationships, many of them, to continue, right? We are of the belief, many of us at least, that it is possible just to dive into some immersive experience and to have something like our relationship patterns, which are imprinted from neurology shapes, completely overturned and reformatted in two weeks time. And again, very sensitive to where that’s coming from. But just wanted to speak on that because and again, tying this all together and I’ll let you know where to find my book. It is actually what you were stating earlier, very wisely, right? The habit creation in small steps. That is the only way to go. Because the further we go from our familiar pattern, the more we try to do sometimes in a very well intentioned moment with this idea of, god, things are so terrible, let me dive into an immersive two week experience of couples therapy and fix my relationship, right? Or let me overhaul my life from top to bottom and maybe read my book and do every single thing I say. Starting tomorrow, we are going to be so far out of our comfort zone and if we’re not equipped to deal with all that discomfort that’s going to come with that, before long we can white knuckle it for a bit. Maybe some of us, we’re going to be right back in those old habits. So saying that to say it is of my belief in terms of grounded in the neuroscience of it all, the only way to go is in those small steps. It’s frustrating because it does feel like then relief is so far away. Though what happens along the way is such empowerment for many of us a reconnection to our bodies, an awareness, an uncovering of everything that’s there relieving of shame and a developing of self confidence, of alignment now between what my intentions are because I’ve set them small enough to be manageable, and my then daily choices. So what I’m actually building, not only is new habits that are possibly maintainable over time, I’m actually rebuilding for many of us, my self confidence and something you beautifully said earlier, my self esteem, my self perception, how I think and feel about myself, which actually is going to impact my ability to care for my physical body and my emotional self into the future. So while the journey is slow going, that is not only the only way that we can create actual habits that stick, but for many of us, that is the only way we can rebuild some of our sense of self that we lost in childhood.
Michelle Shapiro [01:06:38]:
And I have to add on to what you’re saying because it’s so important and I really want people to soak this up. Two people can be having the same exact digestive issue and one person can be in dire pain and the other person cannot. So you might not get complete symptom reduction in that. If someone comes to me and they have, I don’t know, a parasite and that’s causing diarrhea, I’m not going to be able to yeah, we just use diarrhea like the word doesn’t throw the word diarrhea, that’s fine, but I’m not going to be able to eradicate the parasite in 20 seconds. But the second you pick up, really honestly, any of Dr. Nicole’s books, when the belief changes, the experience of the events change. So you actually can get relief from a shift in the way that you’re perceiving it. So it can take time for that to take hold and to be habit forming. And certainly in functional nutrition, we’re all about the root cause, but there are ways to make the experience more tolerable. But it’s not going to be by eliminating the experience, which I think most people think the experience of anxiety, the.
Dr. Nicole LePera [01:07:45]:
Way we get rid of anxiety is.
Michelle Shapiro [01:07:46]:
We get rid of anxiety. And I’m like the way we get rid of anxiety was we experience it. So quite literally, things that you have said on Instagram have helped me shift my own life. And I mean that just accessing the right information can literally change your experience of pain. And I’m not saying it from a deeply spiritual and I am deeply spiritual, but I’m not saying it from a deeply spiritual perspective. I’m saying it from quite a scientific perspective. So just so you know, what we’re both saying is, of course you don’t have to suffer and there’s no relief for you available. That’s not it at all. It’s that even your perception of the experience can vastly change the symptoms you experience, which is so cool. It’s the coolest thing in the entire world. I love the limit training. It’s so sick.
Dr. Nicole LePera [01:08:32]:
Yeah. And I mean, what you’re talking about, Michelle, is real because our emotions aren’t to be thrown away. They actually have very much evolutionary value. And if you do decide to listen to my work or pick up the book, you’ll know, I really map out what I believe are the six core emotions that do send us those internal signals, right? Anger and fear manifestation being anxiety, like you’re saying. So saying that, say, no, we shouldn’t avoid that internal alarm system. We should get really connected and be able to, again, differentiate what’s the old anxiety, what’s coming from nervous system dysregulation, actually, what’s an actual, real threat in this moment, right? We don’t want to turn our mind or our eyes or our emotional experience away from our emotions, even really difficult ones that I know very many of us, myself included, are very ill equipped to deal with. Like anger that has an evolutionary value. That’s signaling that my boundary is being violated, that my needs are going unmet, that I can and ought to maybe begin to make those new choices. So, again, saying that to say all of our experience is valid, it’s real. We have to, most of us, at least as adults, learn a new way to interact with ourselves, to navigate especially these emotional worlds, because very few of us, again, are equipped, and many of it is generationally like. You’re saying access to information is such a priority to me because the reality of it is most of us who are now in adulthood were raised by generations that didn’t have this information, that actually were given alternate, different or opposing information in a lot of ways and or they didn’t have access to these resources. And I’m very aware when I went online and I began to share my story with no idea of who was going to be interested. Honestly, with it being an exercise in my own self exploration, seeing all of the ways. I watered down myself and my truth and my self expression for decades of time. What I saw predominantly every other jump was not only were people relating, they were people that were relating from around the world. And what that then made clear to me as I am a very well traveled person, I’ve been very many places and I’ve hear conversations within the community. Not all people are living in places in the world that freely have access to this information. Which is why when I see things like social media and really the advent of technology, I’m not ever going to be one that just villainizes it. I actually think that for many of us this can be the access point. I know for me within our whole team here, it is a priority to continue to have these conversations, to put this information out there regardless of who thinks what’s appropriate or not. Because I’m aware that not everyone is living in a world of access and that without it like you’re saying, without this information, there is no possibility for change. And I know that so many of us, again, even as evidenced by the amount of people that follow the account, we all want change and we can see a different way out. So saying that to say whether or not you choose to buy my book, which is now on presale, it’s coming out. Thank you. Well, presales, I will say do benefit. It is coming out in print at the end of November. Presales and any early sales really do just from a logistical perspective benefit the transmission of this. Because the more interest that retailers think that people have around a certain book, the more they’re likely to stock it and the more then likely other people can gain access. So absolutely I sincerely appreciate and thank everyone that does choose and will choose to show up in financial support. Though I also want to say because I’m transparent in all things, you don’t have to I will continue to talk about all this information across and hearing you have already gained benefit from social media posts, again, that is a priority that’s never going anywhere. I’m not a gatekeeper. You’re never going to read something secretly even a book. And my publishers can love or hate this. For me it will be something eventually at some point that I’m talking about globally. So I understand again, I’m very sensitive to especially our current financial circumstances. You’re never going to hear me say that certain things are behind paywalls and only have access to that. Having these conversations, putting this information out there, having conversations with people like yourself who in my opinion are part of a revolution, a much needed one in your own field and the community out there, everyone who is listening. This is how because again, even just the theme in this new information is difficult for many of us. I imagine I said one or two things, maybe even the context of this conversation that didn’t feel good to hear, that maybe you’re outright, even in refusal or denial or argument about anytime we do open our mind or even hear.
Michelle Shapiro [01:13:14]:
Even if you choose that it’s not.
Dr. Nicole LePera [01:13:15]:
Your perspective, it’s not the path for you. It doesn’t align. Right. Like I said, I am very much I want to create space for us to all find our way through in a way that resonates. So I want to celebrate. And all of us who are showing up to engage in new conversations, to show up differently again, because a lot of it is against society. It’s not what everyone’s doing, it’s not totally normal yet. And even some of us are being torn down from even those closest to us as we’re making choices that, again, feel threatening or challenging to them. And when we have this information, a lot I talk about in the book too is again the Nervous system. How to identify not only in ourselves when we’re activated, knowing that we’re not going to be caring, compassionate, connected. In that moment, we’re going to rely on our older habits, but also to notice when others are too right, so that we can understand for a lot of us and begin to depersonalize what might be a very hurtful behavior. And again, not to say that boundaries aren’t appropriate and that maybe modifications of relationships aren’t appropriate, of course they are. But again, I think we can begin to be a bit more compassionate when we maybe see our loved ones through the same lens as we see ourselves oh, this is a hurtful reaction from a fear based place. This is the only way this person knows how even if it’s outright refusing my reality in this moment. That’s the only way that they’ve learned how to create safety for themselves. And again, this is how, in my opinion, not only do we become more heart centered creatures, we evolve our relationships and then again, we evolve our society to not being so combative and being more collaborative and allowing the natural differences that are always going to be part of our relationships with other people. Allowing that to be because that’s true. Interdependence. It’s not a one size fits all model. It’s actually creating space where differences might not be in agreement, might not be in future alignment for relationships, but don’t have to be squashed just because they feel threatening to you in this moment. So again, celebrating all of you so grateful for the work that you continue to put out and for the opportunity to have this conversation with you michelle.
Michelle Shapiro [01:15:18]:
Now, let me thank you. Okay. It’s enough of you thanking everyone else. Okay. What I really want to thank you for, if I can speak from my heart directly into your heart, what you’re connecting with each other. Thank you for not owning Healing. Thank you for giving the power back to people. I know many years ago, right after your first book, you had the Self Healer Circle, which was and you might still have it, by the way, I joined immediately. I was like, one of the first people in and you are like, the definition of giving people the tools for self help. When I think of, like, a self help book, that is what your books are. It is truly you putting people back in the driver’s seat of their help. They don’t need anything fancy because these are innate truths that you are just having people relearn for themselves that they knew at birth and now have to relearn. So thank you for not taking ownership of other people’s healing. And thank you for not leading with your ego, because it’s very apparent that you don’t and that you’ve done all the ego work and you help other people to do the ego work. So it’s very something I don’t see. And of course, my friends who are my colleagues, I believe, do not lead with ego because I otherwise would not want them to be my friends and colleagues. But you are exceptional in that, and I thank you. I think that your mission is you did it, you’re doing it, and the world is legitimately different because you’re in it. So I really do thank you for your work. Seriously.
Dr. Nicole LePera [01:16:45]:
Well, thank you, Michelle, for seeing me. Just to clarify and be clear, while I might not lead with ego in my professional world, if you do follow my work, pick up my book, you’ll see all of the ways that ego does continue. I want to normalize. I am not beyond, because, again, I think some people hear that, oh, she must not struggle. I still struggle with my ego and with my age old stories of not being emotionally cared and considered. I actually just had a conversation with one of my partners this morning about just that from my childhood. So, again, just want to continue to normalize. If you do decide to follow me again across any of the social media, you’ll hear again all of the different ways that the struggle is real and it’s acknowledging the struggle. And again, thank you for seeing me, for seeing the mission. And I really am so grateful when I thank communities like your own and hosts like yourself for having me on. I am grateful because this is, again, how we continue to spread. This, again, life changing, in my opinion, information.
Michelle Shapiro [01:17:42]:
You never have to tell two East Coast girls to stop talking. I was noticing, too, your accent and.
Dr. Nicole LePera [01:17:48]:
Having a little bit of, oh, of course. I mean, I’m so Philly, and it’s very rare that I’m even able to identify a fellow East Coaster by an aggressive Queen’s accent.
Michelle Shapiro [01:18:00]:
I mean, I love it.
Dr. Nicole LePera [01:18:01]:
I’m home. I’m home. And yes, you can, by the way, ready to be like he’s like, all.
Michelle Shapiro [01:18:06]:
Right, we’re done now. I need you to say something. So now I’m from New York City. I grew up in Queens, but then I went to school at the University of Delaware, which is Philly. To me, it’s the same thing. You have to say bagel. How do you say bagel?
Dr. Nicole LePera [01:18:18]:
Michelle Shapiro [01:18:19]:
Oh, you’re straight. Philly.
Dr. Nicole LePera [01:18:21]:
Like, 0% of you, I had a break. Water. I say water, but water. It was water for a very long time until I was endlessly teased. I’ve been teased honestly from my accent probably since high school when I was shipped out from my very city neighborhood, and I was always kind of self identified with my accent. It’s here to stay.
Michelle Shapiro [01:18:39]:
I think it’s the best. And it’s part of your authentic self. I’m counting this and it’s staying in the interview. Okay. It’s staying in the interview. This is almost a ridiculous question, but I’m going to put this in the show notes. Where can people find you if they want to find you?
Dr. Nicole LePera [01:18:53]:
At this point, I’m pretty much across all of the social media. We actually just been expanding the social media team so we can continue to expand our reach of all this information. So whatever platform it is, instagram, of course, where it all began, TikTok or X, Twitter, whatever the heck we’re calling it now, I’m going to go by its own name, the Little Bird app, YouTube, all of the things. My handle is the Holistic Psychologist, or some version of it. I have a website. I do still have the self healer circle. We’re actually getting ready for enrollment. I’m not sure exactly when this will release. We open enrollment three times a year. We’ll be opening it again on September 1 and then again on January 1. So whatever time this is released, it is our global membership. You can find information on my website, theholisticspspsychologist.com or selfhealercircle.com. So pretty much just Google or put in the search bar. Probably in the next couple months, we’ll even have more social media reach because that is our goal to continue to spread again, the free access to these conversations.
Michelle Shapiro [01:19:52]:
Thank you. And thank you so much for sitting down with me today. It is literally the honor of my week, month, year, and it just thank you. Seriously.
Dr. Nicole LePera [01:20:01]:
Thank you, Michelle.