Ian Cleary

The Most Important First Step to Recovery Is..

June 2, 2020IanUncategorizedComments Off on The Most Important First Step to Recovery Is..



This is my second in a series of emails aimed to help people have an up-to-date neuroscience understanding of the conditions I work with using the LP training programme. (If you missed the first one it’s HERE). If you don’t want to miss out on future emails in this series or more, simply subscribe with my newsletter form. 

In a world of short tweets & image driven social media, long emails are an anomaly. However the health concepts I’m covering don’t lend themselves to inspirational quotes. So these are deep dives into concepts. Isn’t your health worth the time? So set aside time for a change.

For over 12 year now I have been helping people with a wide range of conditions that at first glance seem to be unrelated.

Chronic Pain (migraines, backs, CRPS, Fibromyalgia), Chronic Fatigue Conditions (ME/CFS, PVFS, Adrenal Fatigue), Anxiety, Intolerances, Digestive Issues, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression … amongst others.

Putting these conditions together in the same sentence will have the alarm bells ringing for some people and risk a string of unpleasant emails accusing me of treating your thing as psychological or ‘all in the head’.

That response stems from an outdated understanding of basic human biology and an historically-driven false division between the body and the brain.

The outdated view says things are either physical (and real) or psychological (and therefore not physical).

Holding that ‘physical or psychological’ outdated model of human biology is partly responsible for the stuck state people find themselves in. What you think the problem is (psychological or physical) will determine the solutions you look for (psychological or physical).

What if your mental MODEL of the problem was wrong? It would impact how you attempt to solve the problem.

Holding that old view of human health is like trying to explore New York City today with a map from 1810. You might be able to get around a little – but you’ll keep hitting brick walls, be pretty limited and wondering why others are doing it so easily. Unless you realize that that MAP is outdated, you will go around in circles and keep hitting those walls.

Don’t curse the wall, simply update the map. Then you can enjoy your trip of a life time.

Many people I work with are running on outdated maps.  The people who think ‘their thing’ is just physical AS WELL as the people who think ‘their thing’ is just psychological.

NOTHING is all in the body, nor is anything all in the head. But notice how people act as if they are.

By gaining a more up-to-date understanding of the critical role the brain plays in our health AND the role our body plays on the brain, people are more likely to make the kind of changes that will sustain long term wellness.

How do you know if you need to update YOUR map?

Here’s a quick check:
If you think pain is caused by damage, if you think fatigue is about lacking energy, if you think anxiety is a thinking problem, if you think depression is caused by genetics or chemical imbalances, if you think PTSD is ‘all in the head’ AND if you think that the best you can hope for is to manage these conditions – then I would recommend it’s time for an updated map.

For many conditions, it means a shift from the ‘there is no cure’ mindset where the focus is better management to actually being better.

Yes – I’m talking full recovery. We know enough about these conditions to now put recovery front and centre as our aim.

Over the next few weeks I will be discussing the benefits of beginning to see these conditions from a neuroscience and mind/body perspective. While all these conditions seem radically different at first glance there are some important commonalties that REALLY matter.

If you are someone who is firmly in the camp of ‘There is no cure’, then the emails I will be sending out will probably infuriate you.  Which is kind of the point of this email.

I’ve titled this email:
The most important thing you can do for recovery …….

So what is it?



Ouch! I can hear the sound of unsubscribe buttons going wild, but maybe hold off for a while. When I say change your thinking, I’m not advocating positive thinking as the most important thing you can do.

Most people want to know HOW they can get well and have been on a long and frustrating road of failures, advice from friends and professionals, medications, manipulations, partial successes and frustrating crashes, flare-ups or downward spirals. (Hitting those brick walls hey!)

Often the approaches to date are a piecemeal attempt at trying anything that seems to have helped some so why not give it a go. Accupuncture, physio, magical devices, psychotherapy, operations, dietary changes, herbs, drugs, massage, pacing/take it easy, push through, exercise, don’t exercise, meditate, drink this, don’t drink this, eat more turmeric, cut out root vegetables except on Tuesdays, sunshine and Vitamin C/D/E or N, restorative yoga….but only on a full moon.

Some things help a little, work for a while or work for someone else but not for you.  Basically you roll the recovery dice and cross your fingers.

But there is no unifying framework why any of these could work – and they all could and have. So before you can solve the problem, you need to really understand the problem.

Sounds simple but many people don’t understand the problem. They are working from an outdated map.

And that is where I think people would benefit most. Being willing to think differently about what they think the problem actually is.

But thinking differently is not the same as learning more on a subject.

If you just learn more, you will try and add that new information to the old map!

People need to be willing to unlearn things first. To throw out the map, challenge first principles, mental models or world views. THAT is where big change takes place.

It’s about unlearning what you have learnt FIRST in order to be able to fully understand the problem. THEN you can look at actually solving the problem for good.

UNLEARNING is more challenging than learning. It requires a willingness to see through our own biases, inaccuracies, faulty logic and beliefs. It takes effort and reflection.  It’s often uncomfortable and takes going over information bit by bit until it starts to fall into place.

So I hope these emails challenge you. I want to stretch your thinking to put you in line with science. With that agility of thinking, and a new map, you will see you have more options.

Stuck yes. But not broken.

So here’s a word of advice as you read these emails  – ban the term ‘YEAH BUT….’.

When we hear something that doesn’t fit in with our beliefs, the easiest thing to do is discard it and find the simplest explanation that keeps our beliefs intact. Yeah but that success story never had what I had, yeah but my pain is different, yeah but my scan / test shows …, yeah but my doctor said, yeah but I tried X and it didn’t work, yeah but I’m a positive person so it’s not in my brain …….

Rather than defending you own beliefs (map), read with curiosity and openness to challenge your thinking.

This was a habit of Charles Darwin.

If he found information that didn’t fit in with his world view he gave it EXTRA special attention and made a note of it. He was willing to be wrong and curious where he might be.

So I would recommend to stay curious and be willing to change the way you think about your problem.

Read with curiosity, read with openness. If there is something that I cover that doesn’t match your beliefs – avoid the dead end statement of “yeah but” – and approach it with a willingness to explore.

For it is those who generate flexibility in thinking that get unstuck and flourish.

It may take some time and effort so it helps to stay focused on the reason why you would want to change –  flourishing health. Would you be willing to think differently for that?

So to begin to train that curious mind of yours read the following statements.

Notice if you respond with defence, curiosity or excitment. Progress goes to those most willing to change – starting with their thinking.

1. When you step on a nail, the pain ALWAYS starts in the brain BEFORE it is felt in the foot. 

Read it again. Does that challenge you just a little?Yes I am talking about all YOUR pain.  It’s always generated in the brain first.

That Neuroscience Nugget should challenge you but in time as you come to understand the concept, it will change everything when it comes to chronic pain.

Curious? Defensive? Holding onto that old map? It’s challenging isn’t it.

– – –

2. Why do we feel fatigued with a flu? 

How does the little virus steal our energy? It doesn’t. The fatigue is you. It’s our response to the viral threat and part of our immune protection response to stop us from running around. The biological energy is always there but the fatigue ensures we put our resources into our immune system.

So you can have biological energy AND experience fatigue at the same time.

Once you understand this, then Post Viral Fatigue Sydndrome makes sense. Our nervous system is still protecting us from a threat that has passed.

If you believe fatigue means you don’t have biological energy it’s time for a new map. It might be worth reading that concept again. If your assumption is that fatigue means an absence of biological energy, it is definitely time to think differently.

Fatigue is not a depletion of energy. That Neuroscience Nugget is gold if you know what to do about it.

I’m not suggesting ignoring fatigue and pushing through. There’s a brick wall waiting there. I’m suggesting understanding it first.

Curious? Excited? Challenged?

– – –

3. Depression – All in the genes?

If the historic disease model of depression is accurate (genetics or a chemical imbalance) then why has there been a radical increase in youth depression over the last decade and why is depression and ‘mental health issues’ rising with the Covid-19 crisis? Genetic / chemical causes don’t increase under those circumstances.

There are things you can do if you stop seeing depression as a ‘thinking issue’ or out of your control.


4. CHEMO FATIGUE – a new map!

Following chemotherapy, fatigue and brain fog are common complaints. The advice used to be ‘take it easy and rest’. Now we have a better understanding that fatigue is about threat not an absence of energy. The current advice is to exercise because the previous advice to rest contributed to ongoing post-chemo fatigue. We had to put the old map down to see it though. CHEMO FATIGUE

– – –
5. If anxiety is a ‘thinking issue’ why do people talk about using yoga, running or diet to ‘cure it’.

Curious? What if Anxiety is not a thinking problem at all. What if anxious thoughts are a consequence of another issues.

Curious? That is my goal.

Ready to think differently in the pursuit of progress? Stay curious. These ideas based on current neuroscience are fascinating and open up a new world of options for treating very common and serious conditions.

Stay open to the idea that the way you have been thinking about your situation is part of the problem.

Are you ready to think differently?

Stay tuned for more unlearning opportunities in future emails.

Or if you’re wanting to know more NOW download the Lightning Process Audiobook. 

Lightning Process Trainings are now available every 2 weeks anywhere in Australia & NZ through live personal video conferences.

If you feel ready to approach your situation from a radically different perspective simply email me to arrange a chat.

Otherwise – stay curious!

Don’t curse the wall you hit.
Update your map!



+61 (0)450736082

PO Box 481
Eumundi, Qld, 4562.