Over the past few months, I have come to believe that the nervous system can be reprogrammed: anxiety, addiction to dopamine, fear-based attachment patterns, etc. etc.
I feel like I now inhabit a different emotional body and a calmer version of myself. Now that I've seen it's possible, I want to keep going.
Our cognition is the tippy top of our human experience. Stories built on top of patterns, built on an emotional body, built on top of our nervous system. Scripts built on software built on firmware built on hardware. Why focus only on the tippy top level when we can shift the foundation? From the foundation all else flows.
What I did (roughly):
(1) Find a Safe Space
People who listen, therapists, healers, friends. Create a part of life where it's safe to feel.
I have cried so many times. I've written angry "fuck you" letters (that I haven't sent). When I feel malaise, numbness, or avoidance, I try to connect with the pain or terror or fear below it and just FEEL as much as possible as often as possible.
My new year's resolution was to not run away from my feelings and that turned out to be about so much more than I thought it was. It was glowing screens, small talk, emails. It was everywhere and everything. Just not running away turned out to be enough — the feelings arrived.
Rick Smith, who taught the most incredible workshop I've been to, Awakened Leadership (more on this later), calls this space the "tender edge" — where we have one foot in safety and the other stepping into the unknown. The power of practicing care while reaching is extraordinary.
(3) Accept / Welcome
When we accept all the feelings that come, even the ones that seem awful or monstrous, we are taking a step to accepting the present moment.
As I accept one edgy feeling, I notice that the next one that comes is edgier, more fucked up and crazy. The feelings only show themselves once we're ready for them. There is FUCKED UP stuff down there and it's great! Accept it all. It's there whether you like it or not and it's just gonna hide if you judge it.
(4) Get Into the Body
Our emotions are stored in our bodies.
I saw two trainers in the span of one week and they both told me I needed to feel my root more. I started doing kegels and focusing on that part of my body. And as I did so, I started to feel more emotions that were connected to that spot.
When you have a feeling, explore which part of your body it's connected on. Sit with the physicality of the emotion.
(5) Spend Time in Nature Doing Nothing
What I want to do, if I can carve out space for it, is to quit coffee and spend at least a week without screens. Just the thought of it is scary. And I've seen more clearly how addicted I have been to dopamine and especially technology, so it seems like a great thing to do.
I've heard great things about EMDR as well.
Breathwork is AMAZING for this. Seriously life changing.
Intense workshops and retreats...
There's no one fix, it's a process.
Another note: a lot of "healers" believe that bringing up trauma means it's working. It's easy to bring up trauma, and another thing altogether to create safety, hold space for it, and help you work through it.
What work have you done that has made a difference to your nervous system?