Myofascial Release & Authentic Healing With Lori Zeltwanger
There’s an energetic alignment with our physicality. When there’s trauma, that energetic alignment with the physicality gets disconnected, twisted, or buried when we can’t handle what’s happening. We put up all of these defences, and the fascia system holds a lot of this lack of energy. Today’s episode features pain release expert Lori Zeltwanger, a licensed physical therapist, best-selling author, and the Founder of Advanced Release Therapy. Lori walks us through the myofascial release therapy and explains how she goes about helping her patients in achieving authentic healing. She also outlines some of the red flags to look out for that might hinder the entire healing process.
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Myofascial Release & Authentic Healing With Lori Zeltwanger
I’m with Lori Zeltwanger here in Sedona, Arizona. Lori is a licensed physical therapist, best-selling author, featured representative on TV as women’s health advocate and pain release expert and a 30-year leader in myofascial release from a whole body, mind & spirit perspective. She founded the international Myofascial Mastery Academy, evolving the application of MFR to a whole new level, leading, inspiring seminars, both live and online with a fresh perspective on how healing from pain and trauma occurs from her trademarked Z-way technique.
She also founded Advanced Release Therapy in Sedona, Arizona, where people come from all over the world to participate in her signature Pain Release & Pelvis Wellness Retreats. She treats those struggling with all types of pain and is especially successful with those who have chronic complex problems that have not found results anywhere else. Through her gentle, intuitive approach, Lori has mastered the ability to facilitate letting go of the physical, emotional and energetic restrictions that are no longer needed and nurture the emergence of your potential. Lori has masterfully designed one of the highest quality and caring expert teams that have the ability to evaluate and listen to what your body needs during each treatment and guide the connection of your soul back home into your physical tissue for total healing. Lori, welcome to the show.
As you know, in the last few years, I’ve become a trauma specialist. I’m going to jump right in with authentic healing and bodywork because I’ve come to realize that when I was practicing bodywork, I was helping my clients spiritually bypass and avoid. I would have clients come in and they would get off the table. I’d ask these questions at the end and I say, “How are you feeling? How was your treatment? Has anything changed?” They would give me things like, “I still have a little bit of a headache or my shoulder is still bothering me.” I became that living palliative care person where I would go in and try to fix the problem. I wanted to give them a good experience, “If you still have an issue in your shoulder, let me work on that for five more minutes, if you have an extra five minutes.” I didn’t realize that I was helping them bypass their experience of healing.
Do you want to explain a little bit more about the concept of spiritual bypass?
It’s not even spiritual bypassing, but bypassing the healing experience. I talk about this a lot on my show that whenever we try to avoid things. A lot of my audience know me to talk about the positivity movement and how if we’re always happy and we don’t acknowledge that sometimes we have emotions or feelings that are uncomfortable. If we’re bypassing them or avoiding them with whatever reason it is, whether it’s exercise, that hot bath, that glass of wine, however you’re avoiding what you’re experiencing or sitting in meditation.
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with any of those. They’re all great and valuable, but what is the purpose? What are we using them for? Is there an avoidance of what’s going on? There’s a time in place that you’ve got to do something to get it done. I do advocate as you are to tune in and see what we’re feeling. We have to sometimes break that down. Oftentimes in order to do that, we need support to get there because that’s why we’re avoiding, distracting or bypassing whatever word or label we want to put on it. It’s because we don’t feel safe enough to drop in and have those emotions, memories or those experiences show up. To help people move from trying to fix it and make the pain go away, welcome and recognize pain as a healer in itself. Pain is the guide to our healing.
I can’t count how many practitioners I’ve worked with over the years and when I’ve been the client on the table, they’re telling me things like, “Let it go. Breathe into it and see if you can get it to dissipate, dissolve. Breathe in the good stuff and breathe out the pain.” There is a level of hijacking in that. How do you approach that?
I believe in coming from a place of giving ourselves time to experience what is. What is right now? Come out of that whole fear of being a little bit uncomfortable. It is okay for us to be a little discomfort, to be uncomfortable or even to give ourselves permission to experience the pain. What is that? I encourage people to see if you can feel what is. My hands or bodywork will help to guide them into having an experience of their sensations. If it’s too much for them, then what are you seeing? To see if they can start to surrender to the experience that they’re actually having. I believe strongly that a consciousness that is there wielding the defenses that maybe are causing some structural collapse, structural tightness, restriction or tension will start to reveal itself. It’s not that I have to tell them, it’s not my job to make it happen. It’s my job as much as possible to create a safe, which to me is nonjudgmental or you would probably say compassionate. I would say that also.
Compassion and non-judgment are synonymous.
I believe the ultimate compassionate love is the true healer. “How do we get there?” is the question. It’s not always easy, especially when we’re dealing with things that we have a lot of judgment about and a lot of what we might label as a negative emotion.
Most of my readers know me as a trauma specialist, not as a myofascial therapist for a decade. You were talking about how some of the stuff that we hold in our body can pull us out of alignment. Can you talk a little bit more about how the fascia can hold our pelvis out of alignment or twist and contort the body that actually leads to pain?
There’s an energetic alignment with our physicality and when there’s trauma, that energetic alignment with the physicality gets skewered. It gets disconnected, twisted or buried because we can’t handle what’s happening. We put up all of these defenses. It’s my awareness that the fascia system holds a lot of lack of energy. It has to hold our structure in some way because the energy like our motor, it isn’t in there to give us the tissue or structural integrity to hold us up or to give us enough space. We start to lose space physically in the body. We call that a restriction. There’s tightness. There’s a blockage. There’s a tension that starts to happen and it pulls body parts closer together or tissue together so we start to lose space. The joints have more compression. The blood vessels, the nerves, or the fascial system is a three-dimensional web of tissue runs throughout our body. All of the other structures and cells of our body are embedded within this. I think of it as the thread that weaves all of ourselves together. That thread sometimes gets twisted or turned into knots. It creates compressive forces.
I’ve heard it suggested, it was actually by one of my anatomy teachers. I started reading his teacher’s books because he refers to him all the time. He almost talks about all of the different organs that we have in our body and how not only is there a physical purpose for the organs, but there’s a spiritual purpose. For example, we know that the liver is related to anger. He suggested an organ of consciousness. I immediately went to, “I think that’s the myofascial system in the body.” Whenever you combine what you’re talking about with a deeper understanding of trauma, whenever there’s trauma stuck in the system and were activated or triggered into a fight or flight response, then that organ of consciousness gets activated into the fight or flight response. It tenses up. There’s a reaction. I feel like it’s a different language saying the same thing.
The organ of consciousness is a beautiful description. In my mind, I understand how it works in my treatment room when I’m working with somebody one-on-one. There’s a feeling sense of our soul. What is our soul made up of? I don’t know, who does know? The soul is part of our energetic matrix. For whatever reason, it doesn’t quite feel safe embodying the home or the automobile that we call our bodies while we are here on earth. It does. It either gets buried because it’s looking for protection or it gets a little bit separated or it gets twisted and skewered in a way that’s bearing it also, but it is maybe hiding it. We lose access to that wisdom, that consciousness. With the work that we do, whether it’s questioning somebody to tune in to that inner wisdom, to tune into their body sensations, to tune in what might be missing, whether it’s with guided hands. There are many different ways of reaching in and providing that support. There are many different ways to help bring reconnection.
I love that you keep saying tune in because it implies that you go within to connect with these parts of yourself. When you tune out and you’re looking at the world around you, there is some level of avoidance. When we back to the avoidance and the bypassing, you are not really doing your work if you’re looking out there. I think that circles back to where I started where I became that therapist for years where I’m like, “I must be doing something wrong because my client still has that pain in her shoulder that niggling ache in her back.”
I’ve often asked when we help them remove their pain. When we help them move the tissue or move their body, are we really helping them? How are we helping them? There’s a level, but sometimes they circle back around. They rediscover their pain or problem or struggle. At least, when they have some of that relief, there is a mindset that they can take on that says, “It is possible.” There are paths that can get me there because oftentimes, the problem is hopelessness, helplessness or can I ever get out of this struggle?
Sometimes it goes back to some of those early beliefs that we developed in childhood, which are very basic and very simple like, “I’m not good enough. I can’t do this. I’m not lovable. I’m not worthy.” There are many of us who have those basic beliefs that underlie that are uncomfortable emotions that we project out at the world.
I would say we all have that different varying levels. We’ve all experienced trauma. It’s how you want to define it or label it. It’s at what level or what accumulation has occurred within. I wanted to say something when you were talking about the therapist who is there to support but also feeling the pressure that maybe they have to fix it or get the results for them. Just a reminder, if you’re a therapist, you are there to facilitate. You’re there to help, be a guide but not to actually do it for them.
I fully admit that I was in the wrong path for a while.
We all start somewhere and then our journey takes us to the next place.
It’s so sneaky because I didn’t realize it. I truly thought I was helping people and I didn’t realize how much ego was still underlying all of my behavior through that time period. I had no awareness of it until I started tuning in instead of seeking advice from everybody else. Once I started tuning in and tapping into my own wisdom, that’s when things started to change because then I started to have my own experiences of what I call authentic healing.
That’s true empowerment. We bring it back to compassion. We do all start somewhere and I think it’s valuable to seek advice because otherwise, our own ego can get in the way. However, if you’re only relying on that advice or you’re tuning to them for the answer. Advice should be a guide.
In an ideal world, we’re using advice as a guide.
Oftentimes people are looking for the thing, “What’s the one thing I should do to make my pain go away or to fix this problem?” There isn’t to tune in. That’s also challenging sometimes. How do I tune in? How do I do that? It’s a skill that we need to learn. That’s why I say, “We all start somewhere. We have a journey. We keep progressing and we need guides to help us tune in.” I’ve been doing this work for many years, receiving, clearing of my own self, but it still comes up every day.
It will never go away. We’re always going to get triggered. I talk about responsibility sometimes and it’s not accepting blame for anything. It’s about do you have the ability to respond to the healthy way in any given situation? Life is always going to throw crap at you. It never ends. If it does, it probably means you’re dead. When the next challenge comes your way, do you have the ability to respond without projecting that out at other people? That’s a big part of healing.
Taking that responsibility is a big step and it comes from, “Can we have some of those conversations that are scary that we’re avoiding?” When it comes to ourselves, “How do I feel in this situation?” What you said is, “We want to make it about the other. We want to make it about their behavior is inappropriate or they’re not treating me correctly.” If you can bring it back to, “How do I feel in those moments that you believe they’re not treating you correctly or kindly?” You start by feeling, by asking yourself how you feel and then have the conversation, but be very careful how much we turn it to you. You do this to me. How am I with that?
I find this unique not only in the myofascial world but in the world of bodywork in general, you have a dialoguing class. Can you talk a little bit about that? I found that incredibly helpful when I took that a few years ago and that started a shift within me.
Can you say any more about that?
One of the things that happened to me during that dialoguing class, I knew you asked us to tap into our heart and our chest area and to report what we saw. Mine was this big empty black musty smelling cave. There was nothing there. I had no heart. It’s like I don’t even have a heart. I know that the therapist that I was working with in the moment for that particular technique was trying to talk me out of my experience and trying to get me to see something that made her more comfortable. Whenever you said, “No, you have to allow it. Be with it. That’s what comes up.” You were telling her not to talk me out of it. We both had this a-ha moment.
Don’t throw all the flowers around it and make it fluffy.
I thought something was wrong with me because I came out of that. I’m in tears going, “I have no heart. I got this cold-hearted.”
That’s a tragic awareness, but a super deep and valuable awareness which is another reason. It can take us to a tragic experience and you want to have resources to be able to deal with some of the black heartness or what’s happening inside of us. That’s the truth. That’s the authenticity of what’s going on. Only when you get there, you can you start to change and transform it. There’s a process of feeling safe enough to get there so that you don’t run away back into all these cover-up situations. How to handle that? It would be to give her permission that having that black dark, musty cave heart space. It is like, “It’s okay. There’s learning there. There’s a value in exploring it. Let’s see what your response to that black musty space.” Start to see it as not good or bad, but exploring it with curiosity. What is that? It will start to show up and something will evolve. Black adds depth. It’s not a whole negative experience to have black. People love to wear black as a sign of power.
Going back to dialoguing. It’s one of my favorite seminars. I love that seminar. Ultimately, I feel like it is guiding people to simply experience what is in this moment, not what are we trying to be. Truly believing that when we do that, it takes on a life of its own. It takes on a journey of its own. It truly opens us to curiosity. Curiosity is one of the first steps to true authentic healing and helping people. I feel it’s a class that helps people get back into their bodies. What does that even mean to do? Do people know that phrase right into their body? It reconnects.
I talk about that a lot on the show, how children will dissociate whenever a situation is too overwhelming, whether they’re being embarrassed or humiliated and yelled at or in trouble. That can be overwhelming for a child so we just popped out of our minds.
That’s overwhelming for adults.
The roots of ADD certain early childhood, with overwhelming situations where we pop out of our mind. There’s a little bit of dissociation. I’ve been trained in several different types of energy work, myofascial work, massage and neuromuscular massage therapy. Across the board, we’re taught to tell people to come back into your body. One day, I had this realization, who am I to tell somebody, “It’s okay to come back into their body?” That’s not my choice to tell them. I don’t know if they feel safe coming into their bodies.
We’re all in and out, I believe. I don’t believe anybody is 100% in their body. I don’t think that’s possible. We’re dancing in and out. That’s what life is. That’s why sometimes you wake up and you feel anxiety. Sometimes you experienced joy and laughter. Sometimes you feel sad and depressed. We’re dancing with it. The more we can learn to dance with this energetic light, the more ideally people want to feel happier, joyful and peaceful. That’s ideally what we want. Most people aren’t seeking to feel more depressed and angrier, but it’s about giving ourselves permission to go through those moments and go through those experiences and then bring it back to a state of joy, peace and happiness. To find that, it’s about exploring all that life brings us. Ideally, with the mantra or affirmation of, “Do no harm to yourself, do no harm to another.” We’re going through these processes. The biggest one that people are afraid of is doing harm to another, but it’s about looking at when we’re avoiding doing harm to another, how much harm are we doing to our own self in that process? We deny ourselves.
We as therapists aren’t able to be with our clients when they’re having an uncomfortable experience just like me, “Go ahead. If you have five extra minutes, I’ll spend a few extra minutes and work on that spot that’s still bugging you.” I had discomfort within myself. That was somehow me telling myself as a therapist, “You are not good enough because they still have pain.” If I can’t hold space for myself, how can I possibly hold space for my clients? There’s a lot to be learned. If you are that Mr. Fix It or Mrs. Fix It, you have to go in and I call it the Helpy Helperton, the sunny side of the control. I had such a bad dose of that in my whole life. I would just go in and try to fix people because that’s how I felt better about myself. I said for years, “I wish I could feel as good in my day-to-day life as I do in the treatment room.” That right there is a red flag in and of itself. If you can’t have that exuberance, energy and vibrancy in your life, then you’re getting it from the Helpy Helperton. You’re getting it by making somebody else in your mind feel better instead of holding space for their healing, which comes through the discomfort.
Here’s an example of what I had. I had a client that came to me two days in a row. She was having some knee sensitivity, little knee pain and a little bit of feeling unstable. She was hiking out here in Sedona. It came because she was hit by a wave. When we started to explore it, more came out of it. She was starting to tune in and connect with that wisdom or consciousness that was going on inside. The session was coming to an end time-wise. I could feel that the energy around the knee was still moving, unraveling and not dropping into the knee, but the time was up. I didn’t have the time and space to say, “Let’s give this five minutes to find its completion.” I said, “There’s still some work to be done here. The spiritual energy is still on a little journey.
Take that time to go out and have a gentle experience out of the rock.” She wanted to go for a big hike. I said, “Have a gentle experience on the rocks. Your knees are not quite ready for that big hike. I recommend not to push it and to keep listening to how the energy is unraveling around your knee. Use those knee sensations that you might call pain, strain or sensitivity. Use that as your guide to not push and see if you can allow that time in space with yourself.” She had the resources. She could do that. She understood what I was saying. It is a reminder to be gentle with our bodies and be gentle with our processes.
Learning how to dialogue is important because none of my classes taught me.
They might say, “What are you feeling?”
“What are you feeling? What’s happening to you?” Beyond that, what do you do with it whenever they say what they’re feeling? One of the classes I’m taking, I’m doing a class with Gabor Mate. He is masterful at helping us get beneath the story. You tell yourself to get to what’s actually happening. How many times does somebody respond to that? It’s like, “What’s happening? How were you feeling?” “I’m feeling abandoned. I’m feeling rejected. I’m feeling isolated.” Those are perceptions. Those aren’t real feelings. That’s not a sensation. It’s not an emotion. How do you get beneath the perception? That is through identifying a sensation in the body, pins and needles, heat and cold, pain, discomfort, numbness and tingling. All these different sensations, punch in the gut, butterflies in the stomach and lump in the throat. That will lead you to the emotion which can take you to the root. My readers know and you’ve heard me say this before, “To hell with peeling back the layers of the onion. Let’s get to the root of the onion.” If you can get to the sensation and emotion, it can easily guide you to the route quickly without having to go through years of peeling back the layers.
That is the journey. We can talk about it and I feel like that’s living from our head. We are all trained and conditioned to live from our heads in a way. That’s the trauma of schooling. Not that there’s anything wrong with having knowledge. That’s actually beautiful, but not at the expense of the rest of us. There’s more to us than that. It’s a lot about the journey of moving from labeling our experience. Sometimes it’s about not even coming up with the description of what am I feeling. I’ve had sessions myself were, they’re asking me a question and I’m tuning in. I’m experiencing it and there’s no way in that moment I can actually give a verbal description. I can’t do it. There is a time when you can be there and then have the mental capacity to give a verbal description.
Oftentimes, it takes time to sit with it, to explore it, to allow the curiosity of what is, what am I experiencing in this moment? It is the same thing in life. We have a fight with our significant other, your child, your parent or somebody in your life and you know you reacted. You know you were responding. We’re reacting and we don’t know why. We don’t understand why. We want to say, “It’s because you are doing this,” which is totally not right. It takes time. A lot of times I’m like, “I know I reacted but I don’t know where that came from.” To take the time to sit and go into that space and feel it. Sometimes sitting is good. Sometimes we can’t get there sitting still. We need the movement. We need to dance. We need pressure or guidance from another.
Another thing I’ve learned in all of the trauma work in the courses that I’ve been taking and how to work with trauma is grounding. We try to help people ground, but not everybody feels safe grounding. It can send somebody into fight or flight by having them sit down, close their eyes and try to ground. They put their energetic roots into the earth or wrap their energetic tail around the core of the earth and that can be highly activating for people. Sometimes, grounding is the best thing you can do to have somebody stand up with their back against the wall.
That can be forceful.
Maybe stop moving for a moment. Sometimes sitting down too much grounding for somebody. There are other ways to help ground.
Sometimes giving permission to be out. If you felt what is, feel the anxiety in your gut or feel the scatteredness that’s happening to you. Instead of trying to fix feeling scattered by grounding, feel that chaos swirling, feel that scatteredness, just feel that I’m not in touch with myself right now.
I’m curious from a client perspective. I know I had a lot of therapists along the way who were doing the exact opposite. They are trying to talk me out of my experience. It’s something more comfortable for them and me, both. What are some red flags to look for in a therapist that might help you bypass or avoid your authentic healing? What are some signals that you can look for?
It’s about how you feel yourself in a relationship with them. They might even be good for somebody else, but it might not be the match for you. It’s about being able to read your own experiences, which is why it’s valuable to learn how to read your own experiences. Sometimes this is our own stuff coming up and we want to project it on the therapist. Sometimes the therapist is pushing us. Can you even approach that therapist and bring up maybe some of what you might find you’re struggling? That’s where I think it gets confusing, especially when the therapist puts the trip back on that client says, “It’s tricky. It is a fine line.” If you don’t feel quite right or safe to bring up your concerns, the therapist should be able to handle that you have a concern with them. That is difficult for many therapists to put it right back on you and say, “You’re the problem.”
When I was a therapist, none of my clients called me out on it. Looking back, one of the red flags was, “Get back on the table and I’ll work on that. We’ll see if we can get that to go away.” That is a red flag in and of itself because your therapist is living palliative care. It is like, “Let’s get the pain to go away.” It’s like you’re the living pharmaceutical. If you have replaced pills with your myofascial therapist or your acupuncturist or your Reiki therapist, if they have become that temporary pill that you don’t have to take when you go to them, that’s a big red flag. There’s an element in the world out there of therapists who will create problems so they can solve them. Does this sound right to you?
I told you about an experience. This was more on the spiritual side of things. It was bodywork. This particular therapist was saying things that didn’t resonate with me and I was like, “This doesn’t even come close to my experience. This doesn’t make sense to me.” That particular therapist insisted that was the right thing. I was like, “No.” I felt like I would be stepping out of alignment with myself. I called off the session.
That is a good description of a red flag. It’s when somebody else’s telling you what your experience is. We can call that psychic reading. I’m not downing psychic readings. They can be so valuable, but it’s when you give your power away and say, “That is a fact.” That’s reading. It’s there to guide you. It is the same thing with pendulums or muscle testing. When you practice muscle testing or kinesiology, pendulums, you could tell when your own head kicks in, your ego kicks in and says, “No, this is what I want. This is the answer I want.” That’s a red flag. It is the same with what you’re saying. It’s about being able to sit back in neutrality and can you tell what’s happening. When somebody else tells you something and you have a reaction to it, go with that’s what needs to come up and not the fact of what they’re saying, but how you reacted to that. I had a reading once and I can’t remember what she told me, but I knew that’s not what I want. Prior to the reading, I was asking for guidance. I didn’t know what I wanted. I didn’t think I knew what I want until she’s told me, “Here’s how I see it.” I’m like, “That’s not what I want.” That helped me get clear. Instead of taking what she told me as fact and then feeling like, “That’s what’s going to happen? That’s not what I want.” I used that to help me get clear about what I do more.
Notice your little furrowing of the brow when somebody says something to you and you get that WTF look on your face. That right there is a red flag.
Another thing I do say to my patients and clients is, it’s not so much the fact. A lot of times we want to get caught up in the facts of the story. It’s not so much about the facts of the story. We may or may not ever know the actual facts. It’s our response to that. It’s our feeling state to that and getting clarity, “How do we want to live our lives? There is so much we don’t know. That’s some of the confusion and frustration. We don’t know what it would be if I no longer had this pain, how would I start saying no in my life?”
One of the teachings that I’ve learned in my trauma training is we have to know how to say no. There’s a reason kids go through the terrible twos that spill over into the threes. Kids learn to say no before they learn to say yes. That’s part of our development as humans. It has to happen that way because if we don’t learn to say no, our yeses doesn’t mean anything.
I’m in the process of putting together another myofascial immersion. You were at the one I did. We’re going to do a shorter version. We are wanting to bring in a lab or an experience of that sacred no and how valuable and empowering it is. It’s not about saying no to others. It’s about saying yes to yourself.
That’s how you learn how to set boundaries. There’s this big misconception out in the world that, “I got triggered. You crossed the boundary and that’s your problem.” How does that person know what my boundaries are? Your boundaries are for you. You establish boundaries. It’s up to you to stay within your boundaries that you have set for yourself, not to go out and monitor everybody else in the world.
I can bring a personal example of that. I’ve dealt in my life with betrayal issues such as personal, love betrayal and money betrayal. We can break it down into smaller ones where I finally started realizing, it is self-betrayal when I leave myself to attempt to please another. I had another experience where I felt like, “That was another betrayal. That felt like a betrayal.” Instead of going after the other person as like, “You betrayed me, what is up with you?” It’s like, “I still have that space. I still have some percentage of those cells that are experiencing betrayal in my life.” Otherwise, that button wouldn’t have been pushed. It’s my opportunity now to sit with those dealings. It’s way less than it used to be, but it’s still there at a certain level and it got pushed. Instead of flaring up and getting into a big fight or argument, you or I may need to have a conversation with that person as part of standing up for myself and healing from betrayal. I would recommend it come only after I sit with my own feelings of betrayal and work those through. I’m feeling them rather than avoiding them and going to try to make the other person treat me differently.
That’s important. I had a very similar experience with gaslighting. I realized that it wasn’t the other person who was gaslighting me. It was me trying to convince myself and gaslighting myself.
This is a struggle between our head and heart.
I was actually doing that myself. I had this circular argument going on inside my own head. My audience know me talk about the experiences, the emotional sensation of our life that’s nonverbal. The visionary, the Divine Eye, the dreams and images that we see inside of our head, which also is nonverbal in the narrator. My narrator was trying to tell me what my experience or my experience is with having red flags all over the place. My narrator was saying, “That’s not the case. This is something you need to heal.” The only thing I needed to heal was setting a boundary with myself and not listening to the narrator. This was an internal dialogue that I had with myself. Speaking to that narrator portion of me that was saying, “No, you need to listen to them. You’re wrong about what you’re feeling or what your sensation is that’s telling me no.”
I had to have a conversation and basically get to the point of what is this trying to do for me? It turns out it was trying to protect me. It was going back to this memory from childhood where I was horribly humiliated and shamed in front of people. It was trying to protect me from that same level of shame and humiliation, not realizing the situation was completely different, not realizing that I’m not six years old anymore. This internal part of me. I had to have that adult because that little kid was coming in and going, “I’m scared to death.” This adult that lives inside of me had to come in and say, “No, this isn’t the situation. This is something totally different. It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to walk away.” I was actually gaslighting myself.
You have such a beautiful description.
Yours was too. I think it’s two good examples of how whenever we’re triggered and we’re projecting these words out of people and saying, “You’re gaslighting me or you’re betraying me or you’ve abandoned me.” Where in your life in the past have you felt abandoned? Is this a pattern? That feeling alone, isolated, abandoned and like I don’t fit in. That’s been a lifelong journey for me. I’ve spent the last a year and a half picking apart the childhood roots of that because that goes back to early pre-verbal stuff. I’ve started to find ways to get into that pre-verbal stuff to explore where the roots were. I don’t have to mess with peeling away the layers of the onion. I’m learning to get to the roots. I have a whole patch of onions.
They say we have 50 trillion cells. I believe that each cell has its own consciousness, how they hook up in groups. Ideally, the body is communicating in such a way where there’s harmony. In both of our descriptions, there are multiple. We labeled the different parts of ourselves and helping us to get a sense of what’s going on. These different parts are all having a little battle within ourselves. The war is within tempting to find our way back to harmony, our way home. What does that mean? What does that feel like to come home? We can come home to different parts of our body. To come home to the fullness of ourselves, that is an ongoing journey.
That is the journey of life.
If I can encourage anything, it’s to give yourself permission to have fun. It’s not like we complete the journey and we say, “We’re all done and now I’m going to live my life.” Don’t put your life on hold in order to heal. Life is healing. Allow yourself to explore these different ways of healing and keep living life. Yes And, I love that title.
It fits in many areas. It’s my hope because whenever we yes but people in conversation, it creates that low level of defensiveness where you have to suddenly win the conversation. If we yes and, we don’t discredit what somebody said, we add value to it.
It’s beautiful. It’s about yes, find those places of pain, trauma, disturbance, insecurity and lack of safety. Find those and enjoy that process. Enjoy the healing journey and live life and have some fun.
If anybody is interested in learning more, there’s a whole area of therapy called Internal Family Systems. It was founded by Richard C. Schwartz. There’s another woman who worked alongside Bessel van der Kolk who wrote The Body Keeps the Score. She wrote a book. It’s something along the lines of the fragmented selves of trauma survivors. Richard C. Schwartz calls it Internal Family Systems because he believes that we have a family that lives inside of us. They argue and bicker like our family.
That where we learned it.
Think about how challenging the holidays are going to be when you have to go home and sit down at a meal with your family for Thanksgiving or for Christmas and deal with all that BS. That’s what’s going on inside of you every day.
Use those opportunities, family gatherings to start becoming more aware of when you feel small, when you feel triggered, when you have to clamp down. They may not be a safe space to explore them externally but start to become aware and then take that back to your therapist or whoever it is that you’re working with on doing that or in your own space. You mentioned that book, but you also wrote a very interesting chapter. I love your title.
The book is called Dare To Dream and it’s going to be released on Kindle. I wrote a book called The Subtleties of Self-Sabotage. It’s these sneaky little ways that we sabotage ourselves and we don’t even realize it. I’ve shared similar stories on the show where my consideration for other people. It’s not that I’m not considerate, don’t get me wrong. It’s knowing myself inside. For years, I didn’t know myself inside, I wasn’t tuning in. I didn’t know that sometimes my consideration was coming from childhood trauma and coming from avoidance of situations. It was my little kid taking over in those moments in a maladaptive way instead of my adult taking over in an adaptive way. Maladaptive is a life-harming or self-harming and adaptive is life-giving or healthier life-enhancing.
I have a chapter in this same book, Dare To Dream called Pain Pain Go Away because our seduction is to try and make that pain go away. Almost everyone comes to see me because they want their pain to go away. My job is to help them do that, which is what we just talked about. How do I go about helping them discover that how we help the pain go away is to recognize that it has a purpose? It’s there to help guide us on our life journey. Learning how to work with pain is part of the essence of my work. When I say that word essence, it brings me to helping people find their own essence. We all have this essence inside and it is clouded over, covered up by all of our defensive mechanisms to protect us from all of our previous traumas. If we can get to that essence, it feels better. We experience life in a nicer way. We can experience other people with their defensiveness in an easier manner rather than requiring them to not have their defensive, protective ego in place. We can see it and therefore, we can have compassion instead of blame or that whole experience. We go on a rant about how toxic everybody is. We all are on some level and then who do you want to resonate with? Heal things so that there’s more harmony, less toxicity.
We are being triggered because everybody else is toxic is a sign that you have toxicity inside yourself.
Spending some time looking at how do I experience that toxicity? How do I listen to it? How do I clear it? We don’t want to live with toxicity inside of us.
How can you be responsible or respond to it instead of reacting to it? Do you have the ability to respond to it?
If you own it inside of you, then it’s easier to not project it out or blame it out.
It does make family gatherings a little more palatable because whenever you can be with yourself in a more comfortable, loving way. When you can accept yourself, it’s easier to accept other people as they are.
Accepting ourselves is the step to accepting others. When we can see that we have issues, we can understand that other people do also. Let’s spread a little peace.
When we can see our own issues, we can be compassionate from where those issues started going, “I was a three-year-old little girl completely overwhelmed. I can’t expect her to think like an adult and to conclude like an adult.” She did what any three-year-old kid would do. She acted out and compensated her behavior. She’s not realizing that was a nonverbal part. It got imprinted in my nonverbal parts, in the implicit mind. The experience in the subconscious mind and the visionary.
Asking that little three-year-old, how would she like to be handled? Sometimes, as an adult, we’re going through therapy. We think, “I need to take care of that child.” We take care of that child the way we think we should take care of that child instead of asking the child and engaging the child, which is what they really want.
Whenever you go tune in and go within, it is so important to ask yourself, “What do you need? What does that little girl need?” Sometimes the answer that comes out will surprise you. A lot of times, when we think we know what that kid needs, we are doing exactly to ourselves what our parents did to us. We’re neglecting. We’re verbally abusing ourselves inside of our heads. We’re pushing ourselves off with, “I don’t want to deal with you right now. Let’s go watch Netflix.” That’s the same thing as putting a screen in front of your kid, “You go do this. I’m going to go have a glass of wine.”
We’re doing what we read in a book about following steps, which is still outside of yourself. Going inside in the moment. It can only be discovered in that moment. You like to throw protocols off the window. Protocols give us some structure. They give us guidance, but you still need to be able to see what’s in the moment. The little child may want you to make a decision. I know the trauma may have been that they were not taken care of, but it’s still about asking. A lot of times they have an opinion. It’s about finding that. They may turn to you and say, “Choose for me or hold me right now.” We don’t know. Do they want to be held or not? Maybe they want you to stay back a little bit. Maybe they need to get up and pound a little bit.
When I tap in that, there are different ages within me where that wounded little girl. She’s like, “No, keep your distance. Take your sit in the room, shut up and don’t say anything.” In that meditation, it’s the visualization. There’s no narrator, nothing. It’s just visualizing the adult me and little her sitting in the room together and being okay with the silence and the presence. Lori, what are your preferred ways for people to find you online?
Lori, this has been wonderful. Thank you so much for being here. Do you have any final tips or bits of wisdom to leave with our readers?
The only thing would be to encourage you to give yourself that freedom to explore the beauty of your inner world. Even if you find blackness, there’s beauty to black. Keep exploring it.
For all of you who are reading this, if you want more information about me, you can find me online at JenniferWhitacre.com and subscribe, so you don’t miss any episodes because there’s great information we’re putting out. I do follow the latest research in trauma. Please stay tuned because there’s a lot to learn. I will see you all next time.
- Myofascial Mastery Academy
- Advanced Release Therapy
- The Body Keeps the Score
- Dare To Dream
About Lori Zeltwanger
Lori is a licensed physical therapist, best-selling author, featured representative on TV as women’s health advocate & pain release expert and a 30 year leader in Myofascial Release from a whole body, mind & spirit perspective.
She founded the international Myofascial Mastery Academy, evolving the application of MFR to a whole new level, leading inspiring seminars, both live and online, with a fresh perspective on how healing from pain and trauma occurs from her trademarked Z-way technique.
She also founded Advanced Release Therapy in Sedona, AZ where
people come from all over the world to participate in her signature Pain Release & Pelvis Wellness Retreats. She treats those struggling with all types of pain and is especially successful with those who have chronic complex problems that have not found results anywhere else. Through her gentle, intuitive approach, Lori has mastered the ability to facilitate letting go of the physical, emotional and energetic restrictions that are no longer needed and nurture the emergence of your potential.
Lori has masterfully designed 1 of the highest quality and caring expert teams that has the ability to evaluate and listen to what your body needs during each treatment & guide the connection of your soul back home into your physical tissue for total healing.