Jack gives a great account of his journey with CFS. Such an inspiring and well told story.
Well done Jack!
My dancing skills are infamously bad!??
At school dances, the teaches would look at me dance and assume I MUST be drunk. I was so bad that I was often called aside to be breathalysed!
Then during my University drinking days I had an interesting experience. As designated driver one evening I jumped up on the dance floor to cut loose. Seeing my lack of co-ordination & bold unconventional moves, a good friend grabbed my car keys – refusing to let me drive.
“There’s no way I’m going to let you drive in THAT condition.”
As annoying as the experience was I could see he was being a good friend. He had my back.
Thanks friend. But I’m good. ?
He wasn’t doing it TO me. He was doing it FOR me.
Years on I think about that in my work with emotions.
Do you believe emotions are happening TO you or FOR you?
Is fear, for example, happening to you or for you?
From a neuroscience perspective it’s happening FOR you and seeing anxiety in this light can be a useful perspective for making change.
The brain triggers a fear response to protect us. To keep us safe. To keep us alive.
Why then would we call fear a ‘negative’ emotion?
It’s happening FOR us.
Through life experiences we learn WHEN to trigger it and like my old friend some times it gets it wrong.
So it may be inappropriate but NEVER negative.
Calling emotions ‘negative’ makes our valuable allies for survival, our enemy.
They are our protective friends.
So the question to ask is simply …
Is it appropriate for this moment or not?
If we are responding inappropriately for this moment with the combination of knowledge & skills, we can access the extraordinary flexibility of the brain to change.
“Thank you brain!”
“It’s all good.”
“I’ll take it from here.”
No battle and this awareness makes change SO much easier.
It brings understanding & self-compassion.
PAIN, FATIGUE & STRESS
What about other experiences?
✅ Do you believe pain is happening to us or for us?
✅ Do you believe fatigue is happening to us or for us?
✅ Do you believe stress is happening to us or for us?
By understanding these responses as neurologically protective, we can shift from labelling these things as positive or negative, good or bad, real or not.
We can simply ask –
“Is it appropriate to this moment?”
If we are responding inappropriately for the moment we can learn to access the extraordinary power of the brain to change.
No battle and this awareness makes change so much easier.
It brings understanding & self-compassion.
Suffering from Chronic Pain, Fatigue or Stress?
Is it time to stop fighting?
Are you ready for understanding, self-compassion & the skills to make changes?
While I can NOT help you become a better dancer I CAN help you in even more important ways.
Interested? Curious? Ready?
Simply click here & we can arrange a time to chat.
Ian (Travolta) Cleary ??
Here is a lovely story from a recent Lightning Process graduate ZOE. She was fortunate that she knew someone who had taken the Lightning Process so decided not to play the waiting game with her Post-Covid Fatigue / Long Covid.
I meet people who wait years after getting a virus for the fatigue to go. Waiting. Resting. Giving it time.
So while some continue to “rest & give it time” Zoe is celebrating and hiking in the Grampians.
Time to stop the ‘Waiting Game’
People who recover get sick of the waiting game. They realise that “more rest and more time” is getting them nowhere. They realise no-one is going to fix them. There is no drug, no medical breakthrough just around the corner, no magic pill or supplement. There is no biomarker or test that will explain it all.
At some point on people’s road to recovery it clicks. Or should I say – their road to recovery starts when it clicks.
As the saying goes “If it’s going to be – it’s up to me”.
It can take a while to get to that point. It’s tempting to wait. Talk of new breakthroughs is alluring. Maybe run a few more tests just in case. Articles about a new virus, DNA mutations, a drug being researched is enticing.
So some wait.
But the reality is that there are already things that work. They just take work.
The thing that recovery stories have in common is they took deliberate action.
It is the patient-driven active approaches to change that are associated with better long-term outcomes.
The Lightning Process takes work but shows that with KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS & SUPPORT, change is possible and can be easier & faster than you might expect.
Sometimes the road to recovery is just waiting on a decision. The decision to stop waiting.
Did you know you can reduce hunger & increase satiation by telling the waitress ‘I’ll have the hearty salad” instead of saying “I’ll just have the salad”.
Useful information, don’t you think, if you want to improve your health?
Parts and functions of brain & the body are connected like the strands of a spider web. Tug at one and another somewhere else is influenced. In this case language & hunger.
It’s very clear that the brain & body are connected in fascinating & well researched ways. Most of the mechanisms behind it are understood. It’s not woo woo or magic. It’s how our brain & body work together.
So how can we USE this connection to help us influence our health?
That’s my work. That’s what the Lightning Process is all about, using how the brain and body influence each other to make change.
You are already using the mind body connection whether you know it or not. It’s how all humans with a brain & a body work.
If you are feeling stuck in your health then understanding the mind/body connection isn’t just interesting, it can change your life.
I hope you find the following list of research findings interesting AND exciting.
Instantly alter your Immune response by thinking of a loved one, reduce pain by swearing, increase confidence by changing posture, alter mood by altering facial expression, increase fatigue by using fatigue related words, calming heart rate by changing tone of voice, altered amygdala functioning by recalling calm event, reduce symptoms of altitude sickness by thinking you have been given extra oxygen, back pain being triggered by being told you have to be careful, increase lack of trust of someone when you smell fish, increase grip strength on right hand by seeing an image of a hammer AND increase sensitivity of left thumb by seeing same image of hammer, reduce medication by listening to Jonny Cash, food triggering a memory then memory triggering pain, painful RSI triggered by cultural beliefs, reduce confidence by lowered inflection at the end of your sentence, a racing heart biasing your ability to guess a mountain height, increase piano skills by visualising playing piano, trigger muscle growth by visualising moving, increase fitness by learning that what you are already doing counts as exercise, feeling more satiated by saying “I’ll have a hearty salad“ instead of “I just have a salad”, feeling refreshed if you were told you actually had 8 hours when you didn’t, placebo is the most tested & effective drug on the planet, improve immune function through watching comedies, pessimism or anger lowering immune function, a memory triggered by touching a body part AND that same body part hurting by touching on a memory, decrease the itch in a wooden leg by scratching it, altered digestive response when food is labelled ‘naughty but delicious’, remembering forgotten words by going to the place you learnt them, reducing trauma by wiggling eyes, a bell triggering a saliva response, an allergic reaction by incorrectly believing the leaf is poison ivy, a histamine response triggered by listening to Mozart, a fan on your face while on a treadmill tricks the brain you’re moving faster so you feel tired faster, seeing red increases a pain response, a single word triggering a stress response or feelings of love, a phrase triggering a fatigue or pain response, you feeling pain when someone whacks a fake rubber arm, a location triggering a fibromyalgia flare, another person bending over triggering your back pain
……… and reading a list might even trigger a phone call 🙂
You might have heard the word but…..
What is it & Why does it matter?
Well in the words of Norman Doidge, considered the Father of Neuroplasticity
It’s NEUROPLASTICITY that got you into this mess
it’s NEUROPLASTICITY that will get you out.
Remember though, the brain is NOT just for thinking. Its primary job is to control the workings of the BODY. So if you are feeling stuck in your health understanding the brain’s role can be useful.
So what is NEUROPLASTICITY?
At its most basic, NEUROPLASTICITY is the brain’s ability to change. That’s big. Because if the brain is so influential in health, having a ‘control centre’ that is changeable is exciting.
Not only does NEUROPLASTICITY tell us that the brain can change, it shows that we can do things deliberately and proactively that can harness that change process in our favour – we can retrain our brain.
Not to just think differently – although we can do that too. I am talking about retraining the brain to control the body differently. So this is relevant for people stuck in chronic pain and fatigue as well.
We have a brain that controls our lives and NEUROPLASTICITY shows us that we can influence it.
And this is why NEUROPLASTICITY is such a huge concept in health.
Suffers of pain, fatigue, trauma, anxiety and PTSD can now understand they are not crazy. All these conditions are intimately tied into networks in the brain that are changeable and trainable.
NEUROPLASTICITY & LEARNING
The key thing to remember is that the brain changes with EXPERIENCE.
Repetitive experiences OR single experiences with heightened emotional intensity change the physical wiring of our brain.
NEUROPLASTICITY is active in all learning. But that’s not why the Nobel Prize for science only 20 years ago went to work on NEUROPLASTICITY.
Scientist Eric Kandel showed that if you touched a sea slug AND gave it an electric shock, the nervous system changed. Even these simply nervous systems learnt and rewired itself. It learnt touch was dangerous. Then it you touched the sea slug without the electric shock it responded AS IF it was being electrocuted. It treated a safe thing as if it was dangerous because of a past experience.
The brain changed with EXPERIENCE.
Think of the process of learning to drive. Repetitive body movements change the wiring of the brain and in time driving becomes automatic. Not just the physical movements though. All of it. The thought processes required. The calculations on speed and distance, parking and braking. The road rules. The meaning of signs. All of this complex physical and mental processing becomes automatic.
We learn then the brain does the rest – AUTOPILOT thanks to the PAST.
Other experiences also wire up the brain to run automatically. A thought, is an experience. If repeated it can become automatically triggered and create a WAY of thinking automatically – anxiety, perfectionism, negativity, worry.
A stressful event can trigger a style of thinking like worry. Lingering Stress (or chronic stress) can change the brain so that style of thinking becomes automatic. Even after the initially stressor passes. We get STUCK.
We now also understand an immune or fatigue response can become habitual. After a virus has past, changes in the brain can get very good at firing the neural networks in the brain responsible for fatigue. So we may be left with Post Viral Fatigue or flare ups. Here’s a link to an Interesting article on this.
NEUROPLASTICTY plays in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is not a crazy person, but someone who has gone through an intense emotional experience that has changed the wiring of the brain and nervous system. The brain goes on an autopilot even though the threat has passed. It starts to treat safe things as dangerous.
The brain is also very active in the experience of ALL pain. We now know that an injury can heal but the wiring in the brain involved in the pain processing continues to fire off pain networks unnecessarily.
This is all NEUROPLASTICITY in action and what Norman Doidge means when he says – It’s Neuroplasticity that got you into this mess and Neuroplasticity that will get you out”.
So if experience changes the brain can we use that to help change the brain back? Can we retrain the brain?
This is at the core of a brain based approaches to health. Some use technologies like computers, or inserted electric devices in the spine or brain. Other techniques use mirrors to fool the brain. More recently there is research into the role hallucinogenic drugs might play.
Some, like the work I do, show people how you can use your OWN brain to change itself.
There’s a plug for Norman Doidge’s famous book – “THE BRAIN THAT CHANGES ITSELF”.
This might sound obvious NOW, but not that long ago, these concepts were not known.
Two things changed.
1. We now know the brain can change.
2. We now know how critical the brain is in sensations like fatigue, fear or pain.
So much so that last year the world’s main PAIN RESEARCH group changed its definition of pain adding “Through our life experiences we LEARN pain”.
Past experience might have wired your brain in a particular way.
But in the words of Norman Doidge -it’s NEUROPLASTICITY that got you into the mess and NEUROPLASTICITY that will get you out.
With a brain based approach to health you can learn to enhance NEUROPLASTICITY in your favour and make the most of your inheritance – a changeable brain.
CHANGE IS IN YOUR DNA
Keep an eye out on my Youtube Channel for my next Neuro Nugget video that will explore this exciting topic in more depth.
If you want to EXPERIENCE this work for yourself, email to arrange a chat.
I often describe the LP as “training the brain to respond appropriately rather than historically”.
In a recent Scientific American article on the brain’s role in peripheral immune function –
“The BRAIN had retained some sort of memory of the infection & was prepared to reinitiate the fight”.
“Many intestinal disorders are triggered by stress or strong emotions. The researchers think this causes neurons in the insular cortex to misfire, REACTIVATING an immunological memory & triggering a misguided immune response”
Interesting! Many people I work with trace the start of their issues to a virus (commonly Epstein Barr for ME/CFS) and now we are seeing long covid play out around the world.
A brain based approach to health allows us to see that these flare ups might not be a re-activation of the virus, but a re-activation of our learnt neurological responses to past viruses. (a ‘misguided immune response’ or mal-adaptive response).
This perspective allows us to move away from management and towards retraining the brain to respond appropriately rather than historically.
This “Neuro Nugget Video” is on Stress Hormones and the Brain and how they are both intimately linked to our relationships and our health.
Flourishing health often requires a re-assessment of relationships (past & present) but there is one relationship that is often forgotten.
What’s your RELATIONSHIP with your symptoms? Your body? Your thoughts? Your mind?
This important concept is associated with those who make the move from stuck in their health to flourishing.
I really hope this Neuro Nugget helps.
Another in my Neuro Nugget Video Series.
If you are interested in a brain based approach to health, it will help to remove the biggest myth about the brain. Enjoy.
Welcome to the first of my Neuro Nugget Series.
I sat down with Adam Stanecki for his Digging Deep Podcast recently and chatting all things pain, fatigue and fear.
- New directions in Pain research
- Understanding Pain & Fatigue & Anxiety
- Some great first steps & obstacles to change