Thanks for joining us for episode 126 of The Ancestral RDs podcast. If you want to keep up with our podcasts, subscribe in iTunes and never miss an episode! Remember, please send us your question if you’d like us to answer it on the show.
Niki Gratrix an award winning internationally renowned Registered Nutritionist, mind-body expert, and health writer helping people to optimize their energy. After a seven year career in financial services, she left to work in an environment with more heart and meaning and in ways that she could help more directly serve others.
In 2005 she co-founded one of the largest mind-body clinics in integrative medicine in the UK with patients from 35 different countries where she worked as Director of Nutrition until 2010. The clinic specialized in treating chronic fatigue syndrome, won the award for Outstanding Practice in 2009, and later published a preliminary study in 2012 on its results with patients in the British Medical Journal Open.
Niki has spoken in over 20 online health summits including the Abundant Energy Summit and has been the keynote speaker at live conferences internationally. You can find Niki at NikiGratix.com where she has tons of great content all about how healing emotional trauma can help you recover from chronic fatigue.
If you’re trying to break free from chronic fatigue, or wondering why health interventions aren’t working for you, today’s discussion is sure to be a game changer.
Today’s discussion is source of self discovery and empowerment as Niki Gratrix talks with us about the connection between attachment and developmental trauma in childhood and chronic fatigue. Not only does Niki explain how how emotional trauma affects the HPA axis and how it can be inherited across generations, she also provides resources to help you determine if emotional trauma is affecting your health.
As you begin develop that awareness, you’ll be empowered to implement the techniques Niki shares to bring the body into a healing state. Just some of what you’ll learn is daily reset rituals, types of effective therapies, and the power that comes when we stop comparing ourselves to others and begin listening to our body’s needs.
Here is some of what we discussed with Niki:
- [00:04:32] How Niki got started in the field of emotional trauma and chronic fatigue
- [00:06:40] The spectrum of emotional trauma
- [00:09:22] Data provided by The Adverse Childhood Event Study that backs up why those with fatigue need to address childhood emotional trauma
- [00:12:12] How the majority of trauma comes from types of attachment and developmental trauma, and how it affects the HPA axis
- [00:20:36] How trauma can be inherited across generations
- [00:22:30] Findings of orchid theory research
- [00:26:43] Aspects of diet and physical health to address to reverse the health effects of trauma
- [00:31:54] Daily reset rituals that can help bring the body into a healing state
- [00:40:54] The significant effect the type and quality of relationships have on healing
- [00:45:25] Exploring using the ACE questionnaire and Enneagram System of personality types
- [00:51:31] Tips on how to choose a type of therapy and professional therapist
- [00:59:50] Why it’s crucial to stop comparing yourself to others and start listening to your own body and needs
- [01:05:57] How examining prevalent cultural belief systems and the origin of your values is part of recovery
- DrCowansGarden.com – Use the code “ancestralrds” for 20% off your order!
- Get your ACE score here
- Niki’s free e-book The 7 Steps of Healing Childhood Emotional Trauma and Rebuilding Resilience
- “The Science of Success” – Article in The Atlantic about the orchid theory
- The Enneagram Institute
- Adult Children Of Alcoholics World Service Organization
Laura: Hi everyone! Welcome to Episode 126 of The Ancestral RDs podcast. I’m Laura Schoenfeld and with me as always is my co-host Kelsey Kinney.
Kelsey: Hey everyone!
Laura: We’re Registered Dietitians with a passion for ancestral health, real food nutrition, and sharing evidence based guidance that combines science with common sense. You can find me, Laura, at LauraSchoenfeldRD.com, and Kelsey over at KelseyKinney.com.
Kelsey: If you’re enjoying the show, subscribe on iTunes so that you never miss an episode. And while you’re there, leave us a positive review so that others can discover the show as well!
And remember, we want to answer your question, so head over to TheAncestralRDs.com to submit a health related question that we can answer on an upcoming show.
Laura: We have a great guest on our show today who’s going to be sharing her expertise about the connection between emotional trauma and chronic fatigue. This is a really cool episode and we’re really excited to talk about this important topic. But before we get into our interview for today, here’s a quick word from our sponsor:
You know that we’re all about nutrient diversity here at The Ancestral RDs, which is why we’re really excited about the products at Dr. Cowan’s Garden. Dr. Cowan’s Garden makes nutrient dense, organic vegetable powders that can be added to your food to increase your nutrient diversity in an easy and delicious way. These powders are a perfect way to get valuable added nutrients if you aren’t eating as many plants as you’d like. In fact, Dr. Cowan’s Garden even uses some vegetables that are difficult to obtain like sea vegetables, perennial greens, and wild ramps. The vegetables are cooked to reduce anti-nutrient content and then they’re dehydrated on low heat to preserve their nutrients. Finally, they’re stored in Miron jars which prevent light from penetrating so the powders remain flavorful over time. Want to add more nutrient diversity to your diet? Use code “ancestralrds” at drcowansgarden.com for 20 percent off your order.
Laura: Welcome back, everyone. I’m really excited to have here with us today Niki Gratrix. She’s an award winning internationally renowned Registered Nutritionist, mind-body expert, and health writer helping people to optimize their energy.
After a seven year career in financial services, she left to work in an environment with more heart and meaning and in ways that she could help more directly serve others. In 2005 she co-founded one of the largest mind-body clinics in integrative medicine in the UK with patients from 35 different countries where she worked as Director of Nutrition until 2010.
The clinic specialized in treating chronic fatigue syndrome, won the award for Outstanding Practice in 2009, and later published a preliminary study in 2012 on its results with patients in the British Medical Journal Open.
Niki has spoken in over 20 online health summits including the Abundant Energy Summit and has been the keynote speaker at live conferences internationally. You can find Niki at NikiGratrix.com where she has tons of great content all about how healing emotional trauma can help you recover from chronic fatigue.
Welcome to the show, Niki! We’re really excited to have you here.
Niki: Thank you so much for having me! It’s great to be here.
Laura: Awesome. The reason why we invited Niki onto the show was that one of our students in our Paleo Rehab: Adrenal Fatigue program had suggested her as a guest because we do cover emotional trauma as part of the program. I’m just really excited to have someone here who’s an expert in that since in that program we really only scratched the surface since there’s so much information and a lot to cover in just a week worth of the module.
But I’m really glad to hear you, Niki. Just because I’m sure a lot of our listeners aren’t familiar with you, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into the field of emotional trauma and fatigue?
Niki: Yeah, sure. This journey actually started for me back in 2005 when I co-founded this clinic and we were specializing in overcoming fatigue. We had the whole spectrum of patients and clients ranging from kind of people burnt out to adrenally crashed out to very severe chronic fatigue syndrome
It was actually my business partner and life partner at the time I co-founded the clinic with and he had been very ill with chronic fatigue for seven years. He had been bed bound and he found a way to recover. He had been looking at the psychology side. He did everything on the physical side. He had done diet. He had done crazy detox. He had done just everything. The piece that was missing for him was psychology, the psychology piece and actually dealing with some of the trauma aspects.
When he and I started, I kind of took over the nutrition. I was Director of Nutrition. He was the Director of Psychology. We always had these two divisions and we knew from the beginning with an illness like fatigue and all that spectrum of people that end up with fatigue, you can’t really, truly get to the bottom of it and resolve it without this multifactorial mind-body approach. It’s truly a mind-body system approach that’s needed.
We were tiny, we started in our front room. And then we ended up with thousands of patients, we had 10 practitioners, and got published in British Medical Journal. Now they’re doing an RCT, a randomized controlled trial as well.
I did run the largest ever online summit on overcoming fatigue back in 2015 where I interviewed 29 world leading experts. We covered the entire spectrum like what to do about diet, what to do about toxicity in the environment. But then we also got into the psychology side as well. We spent about 50 percent of the time covering the psychology aspect because it’s so important.
Laura: That’s awesome! We, like I said, scratch the surface with some of this stuff with our online program because we try to take a mind-body approach and not only talk about the exact diet and nutrition recommendations, but also the psychology of things.
Because like you said, there are some people out there that they might be doing everything right from a lifestyle perspective when it comes to the way they’re eating, the way they’re prioritizing sleep, the way they’re exercising, all of that, but then they’re still having this really bad fatigue and they don’t understand why. As you said, your business partner realized that the main missing piece of the puzzle for him was the emotional trauma piece.
How would you define emotional trauma? Because I think a lot of people that go through our program and in general out there listening, they probably think emotional trauma has to be something like PTSD for it to affect their health. Which obviously PTSD makes a huge impact on adrenal health even just from a physiological level, but I think sometimes it leaves people out there who would benefit from dealing with these kinds of traumas, but they don’t realize something has happened to them or they don’t realize it’s relevant.
So I would love to hear your opinion on that issue. What would you say is the spectrum of emotional trauma that people can deal with?
Niki: It’s much wider than people realize. You’re probably inferring that with the question as well. This idea like post-traumatic stress disorder is often defined as a single discrete incident that happens to somebody, or maybe more than once, but usually something that you can remember. For some people it’s repressed obviously, but it’s usually it’s a discrete incident that is a kind of single traumatic event. At the time it is too much to deal with, so parts of at least kind of stayed in the shock stage and we kind of suppressed other emotions related to it. Like it was too much at the time to deal with usually when we were children when it often happens. Most emotional trauma happens before the age of 18 in terms of the research. Obviously that’s not ruling out adult trauma. Adult trauma is important as well. But there is the most data that emotional trauma in childhood has the biggest impact on us.
With these discrete incidents, that might be things like physical abuse, or it could be a sexual abuse, or something you could see and it happened to you and it was physical. The types of symptoms you get from that will be just kind of…you do get stressed, you get into a hyper stress response, you can have flashbacks. But the truth is, that’s not where the majority of most emotional trauma is.
And before we go any more in depth, I always share the details about an extremely important study that’s totally relevant to anybody who’s dealing with adrenal fatigue or chronic fatigue just so that people have the context of what we’re talking about. And then I’m going to talk about what is the biggest chunk of what kind of makes up emotional trauma.
There was a study done called The Adverse Childhood Event Study and it was done by the CDC and Kaiser Permanente in the mid 1990s, which you can’t really get much bigger than those places. They were surveying seventeen and a half thousand adults and they basically were stunned with the results. It impacted everybody who was involved with that study. It kind of changed their lives and changes the lives of the researchers and the people who look at the study because they were essentially looking at adversity in childhood and the correlation of adult onset illnesses or chronic complex illnesses.
Essentially what they found, for example, is that you had if you had a high level of adverse childhood events, emotional trauma in childhood, you have a dramatic increased risk of 7 out of the top 10 causes of death. If you had a moderate level of emotional trauma in childhood, you have six ACEs…adverse childhood events are called ACEs…you have a 20 year reduction in lifespan. And the statistics went on.
You could have just four ACEs would lead to a 400 percent increase risk in things like depression. You would be 12 times more likely to be suicidal. You have a 400 percent increase risk of Alzheimer’s. And if you have eight or more ACEs, you have triple the risk of lung cancer and three and a half times the risk of heart disease, the top two killers in the west.
Now the thing is, ACEs in childhood, chronic fatigue is the poster child for ACEs in childhood as is fibromyalgia because essentially ACEs in childhood lead to a six fold increase risk of chronic fatigue in adulthood. This is the data that backs up why anyone with fatigue needs to be considering emotional trauma. And it starts in childhood. Don’t just look at what’s going on in adulthood.
In this study, what were they defining as an ACE? Well they originally came up with a list of 10 different things and those 10 items were just things where there had been research done. So it’s things like parents separating or divorce. I mean how many of us have had that these days? Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse; physical or emotional neglect; domestic violence; mental illness in the family; substance abuse or incarceration by a family member.
Now at the time, the researchers said that wasn’t an exhaustive list. They missed off things like bullying, being a victim of things like homophobia, a traumatic birth, hospitalization if you are a young child. Very traumatic experience. It can be very traumatic for the child if they get ill and they end up in an isolation ward, things like this.
But what’s even more important is there’s a particular area called the area of emotional abuse and emotional neglect. If you speak to the world experts in trauma people like Dr. Bessel van der Kolk who’s the world’s leading expert in trauma, he’s the Head of Psychiatry at Boston Medical School, he’ll actually tell you that the majority of the trauma is coming from types of attachment and developmental trauma.
This is essentially is not bonding properly with your caregivers. And the problem is it’s not a single discrete incident like you get with PTSD. It’s more what we call ambient type of trauma. It’s a relational trauma. So it’s kind of present all the time and it doesn’t have the same symptoms as what you’ll see with PTSD.
So one of the things that attachment trauma will lead on to…attachment trauma is when we don’t bond with the caregiver anywhere up between sort of conception through to about four years old. Up to four years old, the brain is offline. We exist in a pre-cognitive state. We’re just an emotional being, a baby with emotions. At age four the cognitive brain starts to come online. So a trauma that happens at the emotional level before the age four is called attachment trauma. That leads on to developmental trauma. And this is really more what we see with people who can end up with burnout.
Developmental trauma is to do with, it can be a loss of sense of self and identity; trouble regulating anxiety, and emotions, and depression tendencies; trouble relating to others; trouble identifying needs and articulating them. Some people it leads on to even things like ADD, ADHD, that kind of thing, and self-esteem issues. Some people go down the rage route of route and kind of just basically difficulty in regulating emotions.
It also leads on to addictive behaviors. Now with a major trauma, stuff like physical neglect and things like this, we know that if you have a bad childhood, you have a sevenfold increase risk of becoming an alcoholic. You are eleven times more likely to use injection drugs. But there’s a lot of types of addictions that are much more subtle than that. Sometimes it’s an addiction to people pleasing. Sometimes it’s an addiction to anxious productivity. Sometimes it’s an addiction to feeling like you need to always be there for other people, it’s unsafe to express yourself and it’s unsafe basically to take care of your own needs.
This is what we found in the clinic where certain personality traits if you like that are more prevalent in the fatigue community where you see this, it was a coping mechanism for feeling unsafe, neglected, and abused in childhood.
Just a parent who doesn’t express love, doesn’t express compassion, doesn’t see you as when you are a small child, and support you, and express love caring connection. There’s nothing physical that happened, just that withholding, which is a form of emotional neglect, that leads on to the child not getting a sense of self, not getting a sense of safety, and then it leads on to this kind of problematic behavior.
If you look at monkeys…and they’ve done experiments with all kinds of animals; mice and monkeys, and they’ve recreated the circumstances of attachment trauma. They would take the baby monkeys away from the mother too soon, so they recreated separation and attachment trauma. What they found is that you literally, it resets the neuroendocrine immune system from the day the trauma happened.
In other words, you have a heightened stress response, you have an increased cortisol output to a lower level of stress. So your threshold for what causes you to have a stress response lowers and you have an increased stress response for longer. So your entire HPA axis is reset from the date the trauma happened.
Now the problem is for most people attachment trauma isn’t even in their memory so they can’t ever even remember it happened. But Bessel van der Kolk’s book is called The Body Keeps The Score. Very telling. You may not remember, but your unconscious remembers and your body remembers.
What you then might find is through childhood and into adulthood, you’ve had this heightened stress response. You’ve actually been in a level of what’s called complex PTSD, which is this other array of symptoms; anxiety, depression, difficulty regulating…it could be self-esteem issues. You become an over-giver, you become an overachiever, you become a perfectionist, these kind of behaviors and that leads on to basically a lack of self-care. And ultimately you set up your lifestyle in a way that doesn’t take care of you and you end up burnt-out. My business partner called it sort of energy depleting psychologies. It’s not your fault. It’s something that happened to you.
It’s a gigantic part of the picture when we assess. Essentially it’s when you get to compliance…like you put a protocol together and you want people to be compliant. These kind of traumas when they go unseen and resolved, you’ll find people sabotaging the protocol unless you deal with the trauma.
And you need to switch off the heightened stress response. So either they’re in high cortisol, or they keep being in high cortisol and then crashing, then they come back up again and get well again, and they go back into high cortisol. It’s learning to regulate the stress response which often can require going back into looking into things in childhood.
If we’ve had trauma in childhood, it reduces our resilience to the inevitable stressors that do happen in adulthood. Trauma does obviously happen in adulthood. How we are set up for whether we bounce back or not is often to do with, partly and at least, what kind of childhood we had as well.
Laura: Wow! That’s definitely a huge topic, obviously. It sounds like there could be just books and books written. We actually looked at Bessel van der Kolk’s book for our program and obviously, like I said, we just got a little bit of information in there and recommended the book to our students.
It’s crazy because in the research that we were doing, we saw that even traumatic or stressful events during the mother’s pregnancy can affect a child’s then later stress resilience, that kind of thing. So I always find it interesting. I work with a lot of clients who will try to make adjustments in their life and maybe they want to start exercising more intensely, or are they try to do a diet to lose weight, that kind of thing, and they basically tank their HPA axis. And they don’t understand why they can’t do something that someone else is doing at the gym the same exact way, and they look great, and they feel great.
I think this emotional trauma and emotional stress piece is probably something that affects a lot, a lot of people. Like you said, if there’s things like divorced parents that could cause this issue, that’s like 50 percent of the population in this country.
If you’re one of those people out there that’s questioning why things aren’t working for you the way that they work for other people, or if you go too low carb, or if you do too much CrossFit that you feel like garbage, then this might be something worth looking into. You might have that childhood stress that actually leads your body to not tolerate other stressors later in life. I think this is a really important topic for people to understand.
Niki: Speaking to what you just said there, the study, the big, huge CDC, Kaiser Permanente study found that first of all 67 percent of all adults said they’d had at least one ACE, and that was an underestimate because they missed out issues. But also when you actually ask somebody, were you emotionally neglected as a child, you don’t know if your mother had a trauma when you were in utero. You can’t remember. So it’s very difficult to self-report. Somebody might be listening to this and kind of looking back and thinks, well I can’t really think of anything.
The other thing to be aware of is that trauma is inter-generationally inherited. So third generation survivors of the Holocaust victims, for example, have the same physiological the psychological expression as the grandparents who were in the Holocaust. You find this wherever there’s been war or famine.
This major mainstream study is now showing that the impact of that, the epigenetic impact actually passes down sometimes between 7 and 12 generations of progeny. So if you think about perhaps mum was carrying something that she’s never told anybody, something that traumatized her, that it actually was in her energy field, it was in her DNA if you like, it changed the epigenetic expression. We do inherit some of the environmental changes that impact our DNA. Some of that does get passed on to our children as well. So it’s kind of something else to be aware of.
Another thing I’ll just mention as you guys also spend a lot of time on nutrition, just when it comes to emotional neglect, for all the people that are assessing…like if you ask somebody, how is your childhood? That’s like asking somebody, how’s your diet? They’re probably like to say, okay.
Niki: That’s about as far as it goes. As a skilled practitioner, you’re like can you please keep three days of diary and I’ll have a look. And then you look and it’s like, whoa, a lot is going on and it needs to be improved. And that’s generally what’s found with people with emotional neglect as well.
Part of the problem with trauma is that there’s a huge amount of disassociation that happens. It was too painful to feel at the time. But a little kid, a four year old being abandoned by parents emotionally, they’re going to take that as a feeling, there’s a level of abandonment, depression that comes with that. They need to do the work. It takes work. They need to kind of delve into it.
There’s one other thing that I’ll mention as well. It’s very relevant to this group, your group that you’re working with. There is a group of about 12 to 14 genes, SNPs, single nucleotide polymorphisms, gene mutations that appear in 50 percent of the population or less. There’s definitely a few SNPs around that actually cause an increased stress response.
In other words, it’s the group that they would call themselves often highly sensitive people. They’re just more sensitive. They’re more sensitive to other people emotionally. They’re more sensitive to chemicals. They’re more sensitive to basically everything in their biological environment as well as emotional as well. And they’ve definitely seen there’s a genetic propensity to that. These people that are highly sensitive types, they often might have this particular gene group.
But there’s some very provocative, very interesting, profound research coming through that actually shows…they’ve been talking about dandelion children and orchid children. Dandelion children are kind of you can throw the seeds anywhere in pretty rough land and the dandelions tend to grow and thrive anywhere. And then orchid children need special care. They’re the gifted ones. They are the ones with a specific…they need greenhouse care.
The amazing thing the researchers are showing is that when the orchid basically gets the bad childhood, they are most likely to be very negatively affected by it. If they don’t get good support, they wither. They are not like the dandelions. They will end up with some kind of chronic illness, or they’ll end up addicted to some kind of drug, or they’ll end up in jail. That’s what the research is showing. On the other hand, when the greenhouse care is given, they become some of the most successful, creative people in society and they surpass the dandelions.
I was so happy to see this because so many of my patients and clients have been, they’re kind of oh I’ve got all this sensitivity, and it’s a pain in the neck, and it’s a noose around my neck. They see it as a weakness. The truth is I can help people to reframe that into the fact that it’s actually a gift, believe it or not. It causes all this trouble, but in truth it truly is a gift and you’ll be able to do things that other people can’t do with the right environmental changes. These environmental changes, the sort of things that you’re talking about in your program, the things that I would recommend, the psychology and the physical side as well.
It was such amazing research. It’s called the orchid theory. We’ve been talking about that a lot in the chronic fatigue community as well.
Laura: I’ll have to get you to send some links to these because I hadn’t heard of that orchid and dandelion theory. I feel like it makes a lot of sense with a lot of the clients that I work with, and probably a lot of the people that I know, and myself personally where it’s like things that would probably not bother another person can cause a lot of stress, and a lot of anxiety, and a lot of that like perfectionism, that kind of thing.
Which if you’re just in the normal environment…at least in this country, I don’t know how other countries are…but in the United States where there’s a lot of pressure to perform and to have a lifestyle that’s very go-go-go especially for women, and mothers especially having that very self-sacrificial kind of expectation, I think a lot of people don’t thrive in that kind of environment. But they think it’s because there’s something wrong with them as opposed to looking at it like the way that you’re explaining where there’s nothing wrong with them. In fact there are some things that are really awesome about them. But you just have to set up your environment a little bit, well maybe significantly differently than somebody else might to get good results.
I feel like a lot of people really struggle to look at that in a positive way and to take control over their environment. And they try to kind of stick themselves, like you said, planting an orchid in a dandelion patch. It’s like you’re not going to do well in that kind of lifestyle, so you really need to make it an effort to make your lifestyle support your needs.
Actually, I think that would be a great segue to hear some practical information from you because I don’t want to necessarily freak people out and make them think, oh, 12 generations ago trauma affecting me now. I mean that would make someone feel like they have nothing to say or no control over their current situation. I always like to bring it back to what people can control.
What are some of the big environmental contributors to whether or not someone like an orchid type person is going to thrive?
Niki: Great question. By the way, I also tell people who are orchids, it’s like finding out what make and model your car is. I talk Ferraris like the orchids of the forest. They don’t drive well off-road. The Land Rover can drive off road, you take it anywhere. But it can’t go 200 miles an hour down a straight road. So that’s just another way…feel empowered by their maker model.
In terms of steps, the great news is this is reversible. The impacts of early life trauma is reversible. You can change the epigenetic expression. There’s something called neuroplasticity so we can change the way that our brains are sort of wired and so on, which is the great news.
The fact that something was inherited…and anything that happens to you in childhood is not your fault. And that’s the message from the epigenetic piece as well. It’s not your fault. But in this moment it becomes your responsibility that you’ll have to sort of own it.
But what’s fabulous to consider, by the way, is that when you are resolving a trauma and you inherited it, you’re resolving it for your entire family lineage. You’re also ending it being passed forward to your children. Pat yourself on the back for doing this because it’s actually changing the kind of consciousness in your family, and ultimately even you’re changing the culture.
So much trauma is also culturally passed on. It’s just how we used to bring up kids. Some of the ways that we brought up kids in the 60s were pretty awful. There was a time where we’d leave kids just to cry and there was this idea like don’t intervene and pick up the child, things like that. It was emotional abuse doing that. Anyway, we only know that now of course.
But in terms of what people actually do, steps they can do. It’s very important, I always just emphasize when you have this early life stress or emotional trauma, it changes this neuroendocrine immune system which leads on to….when the HPA axis switches into a chronic sympathetic nervous stress response, basically you’re down regulating the rest, digest, detoxify parasympathetic side.
That will lead on to the [inaudible] that you showed in the data that will change your gut bacteria, that will lead to intestinal permeability. That will change your cortisol output such that it will suppress immunity and can allow opportunistic infections. It would trigger something called the cell danger response which is where the mitochondria start to switch off and they actually sort of bunker into a survival mode and they start to sort of under-produce ATP…a huge new area to look at in fatigue.
The point being that you do need to address and reverse inflammation. You do need to look at your diet. If you’ve got leaky gut, if there is intestinal dysbiosis, if you’ve got digestive symptoms, all of these things to do with rest, digest, detoxify, those should be addressed at the physical level because this is extra help to reverse that. These are things that could have been going on for many years and they need a physical intervention to reverse that. You’re reversing the physical impact. Seeing a functional medicine practitioner or seeing a naturopathic type of practitioner is all really important.
Things like inflammation, like chronic inflammation that may be coming from the gut, that will be a contributing factor to depression. The body is a system. So what may have started with emotional changes, your body starts to manifest that. Your body is like a mirror of what’s happening to you emotionally so it turns on the inflammatory pathways and so on. And now you’ve got that vicious cycle if you’ve got a physical cause of depression, but you might also have an energetic, emotional depression going as well. It can kind of get complicated.
The other thing is when we get this chronic HPA axis dysfunction, it will lead to blood sugar imbalances. It will lead to hyper cortisol or low cortisol. Going in there looking at the adaptogenic herbs, assessing for thyroid, balancing your blood sugar, looking at the diet that’s the right proportion of ratio of carbs to proteins, that’s part of recovery for the impact of trauma as well. Just kind of reiterating that that’s important.
The other thing that’s really so critical, it’s the most important thing, it’s so important for the orchids out there is you need to learn to, on a daily basis we need to bring our body into a what we call a healing state. Most of us don’t realize just how much of the time we’re in a stress state. So healing state, stress state, and everything you do on the [inaudible] won’t work as well if you’re in this chronic stress state.
Now if you have a lot of stuff, like you’re overwhelmed in your life around you, the type of stress that most people associate with stress; too many phone calls, demands from other people, kids, looking after kids. Just the day to day stress that the research actually shows looking at PET scans, that that is the equivalent of one ACE. If you’re living in that kind of thing constantly, it’s the equivalent of one adverse childhood event. That’s also having an impact.
We have to do what we call daily reset rituals. It needs to become a way of life. These sort of things I’m going to talk about are like ways of life ongoing, especially for an orchid. It’s things like you need a daily practice of timeouts 20 minutes a day, 20 minutes twice a day that are resetting the brain into a healing state. The big ones are tai chi, yoga, meditation. Qigong is another one. Another huge one is breathing exercises. There needs to be something you do every day. It’s part of what you do when you exist in the world.
If you don’t do it, the stress is going to accumulate. The HPA axis is going to be in a chronic state of stress. These kind of reset rituals, these are ones where they have a huge amount of data behind them. There’s a brilliant study…alternate nostril breathing, diaphragmatic breathing are all fabulous, simple, straightforward. You could do it five to ten minutes a day. They’re practical brain resets, HPA axis rituals.
There was a brilliant research recently that just came out and was published in Science, which is like the top journal in the world. It showed the neurons in the brain are observing how you breathe. And if you’re breathing very fast, those neurons tell the brain there’s a problem. It’s like the saber tooth tiger is coming after you.
So if you start to do the slow breathing or things like alternate nostril breathing, the neurons get the message everything is safe, so they tell the brain to calm down. That’s with this excessive thinking, overthinking, that kind of thing.
These kind of rituals, I encourage people to like feed your emotional soul. They’re not so much brain reset, but in a way they are. I get people to write a list of at least 10 things that makes them feel joyful that it’s not something where they have to work at it, they’re not proving themselves, anything, they can’t fail at it, they’re not competing with themselves over it. And it’s something not left brain. It’s something right brain and it’s just joyful. Because if you’re doing those kind of activities regularly, daily if you can, you’re sending a message to the amygdala and the limbic part of the brain, which is assessing for this stress and for survival, you’re telling the amygdala everything is okay now.
It could be sunbathing, it could be forest bathing, it could be swimming, it could be walking, it could be dancing, it could be spending time with uplifting people. For some people it’s sex. For some people it’s having a nap. For some people it’s actually making something with their hands, art, music, something like that. It might be having a hot bath with candles. For some others it might be a joyful sport, but it can’t be compassive. These kind of activities are just joyful.
We tend to forget the joy factor. We’re so busy on that program to lose weight or achieve, achieve, achieve. In a way you’re feeding that play time. You still have an inner child and the inner child is still there. Part of feeding the soul, the soul is very connected to the inner child. If you kind of ignore it, it will start playing up and there’ll be parts of you that cry all the time, parts of you that suddenly feel depressed all the time, parts of you feeling anxious all the time that the world’s not a safe space. You need to tend to your inner child. So that’s the kind of practical thing.
Laura: Yeah. I just wanted to mention that that’s something that I see in my clients a lot. It’s one of those things that I don’t think they’re even expecting when I ask them about it. Because I’ll ask them, I’ll start to get the sense that someone doesn’t really have anything in their life that they enjoy just from a fun perspective. And when I ask them about it, a lot of times it’s really hard for them to even come up with something that they think is enjoyable. You just gave a list right there some really awesome things.
Another thing that can be really tough, and I’m sure you see this a lot in the kind of people you work with, is that when someone’s really tired, they don’t feel like they have the energy to do something that’s fun. Can you just speak to that really quickly, like what kind of recommendations you would have for someone who maybe has chronic fatigue or is tired all the time, how can they start bringing some of that joy into their life even without having that physical energy to support it?
Niki: You’d big surprised. What can often happen is part of the difficult issue of pacing. You can’t recover from chronic fatigue if you’re not pacing your activities properly. What people are will end up doing is they’ll schedule in the work they can do and they just schedule in all the unjoyful stuff in the limited period of time they have.
I encourage them to go further that and say no, you’ve got to schedule in time for holiday, schedule in time for some joy stuff, schedule in rest time. And that means time you’re perhaps cutting back even more on some of the should’s, musts, and have to’s. But where possible for people, bringing in help for other people to do things that they can’t do so they can offload things.
The other thing I will just mention for people who are fatigued as well quite in a serious crash condition, that’s traumatizing in itself. It’s one of these that’s very overlooked and it’s actually part of the psychology work that my partner developed that we can get in a state of fearful about our own symptoms. We can get in a state of fearing of crashing. So what we’re actually doing is we’re now perpetuating the illness because of focusing on symptoms and the fear of crashing. The fear of crashing is more stressful on your system than actually physically just overdoing it having a bit of a blip.
We talk about bouncing the boundaries in pacing so that every now and again you do want to try doing a little bit more to see if you can. It doesn’t matter if you find you do too much. You just have a little blip and you’ll overcome that.
But what can happen is somebody is already got hyper stress response then they are in crash mode. I’m just saying there’s other patterns as well to look at. I’ll touch on this a bit more in depth in the last point that I’ll make about getting professional help. It’s my fifth point. I’ll talk about what people can do looking at that.
I’ve got very sick people and actually they’re so focused on the symptoms. Sometimes they can go do some art and then they forget all about their symptoms for 5 to 10 minutes. They go, I forgot that I can do that. It’s like yeah, because you’re so focused on recovery that you’ve made your entire life about recovery. Actually, what you focus on is what you get. Sometimes you need to distract yourself. What you’ll find is even if it’s just watching 10 minutes on TV…think about Norman Cousins who recovered from a very serious autoimmune condition through watching “Candid Camera.”
I have 10 things people should do to uplift themselves emotionally and like watching hilarious comedy YouTube videos even for 5-10 minutes a day, it’s like Norman Cousins kind of helped found psychoneuroimmunology, the study of mind-body medicine. He laughed himself to wellness. That was the healthy fact about him.
Usually I find when we start to dig into people say I’m too tired to do it, we dig in and then we find something, and we usually find a period of time they can do it. And then they do it and find out it’s like they totally forgot about the fatigue for 10 minutes. That’s a really healthy thing to do because we want to remember what it was like when we felt good and want to expand those periods of time. That’s part of recovery as well. It was a good question.
I have like five points that I usually have, like five practical types of steps. The other one that is really important, which is kind of like my point on before, is you really have to look at your relationships with other people. I call it the problem of OP, other people. You’ll be amazed. I mean you probably know this, you treat a lot of people as well. Essentially, think about the type of trauma. A lot of trauma is attachment trauma and it leads to in adulthood, having that type of attachment trauma often having people around us who aren’t always healthy for us. In fact, you might even call them energy vampires.
Type 2 on the Enneagram, and I’ll talk about that as well, they’re the giver types. One of the ways type 2s distract themselves from their own problems is they tend to give to others and they spend a lot of time caring for others. You want to kind of look at people around you and start to notice who makes you feel up and who’s actually bringing you down. Who’s not supportive?
There is there was a landmark study done of over 300,000 adults showing that the quality of your relationships was a bigger marker of survival and health than BMI, how much you exercised, how much you drank, whether you were diabetic or not, whether you smoked 15 cigarettes a day. Just take that in. So it’s one of the most robust findings in mind-body medicine is that conflictual relations actually directly suppresses your immune system.
Unfortunately, a high proportion of people who had emotional trauma in childhood, you’re more likely to attract the narcissists and actually energy vampires. I have people who their recovery stopped because they couldn’t get this person out of their life or they weren’t ready to walk away yet.
So be very careful about who you’re hanging out with. Who you hang out with is who you become as well. Consider that. So if you’re around people who don’t support you, or other sick people who aren’t positive, who aren’t doing anything to recover, who constantly just complain about it, these are the types of things that will bring you down.
Laura: One thing, just to jump in on that really quick, there’s definitely a double edged sword with these online communities of health issues. I’ve seen this in a lot of my clients who they’ll learn a lot and they get the support from other people who are dealing with a similar condition, but I’ve also seen it where it causes them a ton of stress to be constantly interacting with people who are always talking about health stuff or specific conditions, like maybe it’s SIBO, or maybe it’s chronic fatigue, that kind of thing.
I don’t want to discourage people from getting involved in those kinds of communities because I think having some level of understanding of other people is really important. But I think from what you were just saying, Niki, it would sound like if that’s your main support system right now and it’s just people who have the same health condition that you do, that could potentially be keeping you feeling ill or keeping you focused on your disease when maybe you should start working on focusing on other relationships that maybe you don’t talk about the illness or have some other level of positive support that have nothing to do with that person’s experience of illness.
Would you agree with that? I’m just thinking what I’ve seen in my own clients.
Niki: I think it’s hugely important. It’s this whole issue around…I’m for people if it’s appropriate and relevant to them, if they do have chronic fatigue syndrome, to get the diagnosis. I think that’s important because it tells you how to work with that and transcend it.
The thing we don’t want people to do is for it to become their identity. It’s like they become that and then they live there. That is pointing to what you just said there that there are some people where it does become their identity and it almost becomes something they don’t want to let go of because some people have been ill for very, very long…long periods of time. It comes to the point where it’s their identity and it’s almost like they can’t let it go because that fear of the unknown. It comes to that point.
It’s getting the balance right. There’s a balance between doing things and becoming aware of them so that you can transcend this condition, and at the same time spending plenty of time focusing on things that aren’t illness related if you can. Even if it’s just five minutes a day to start out with, it’s very important.
I’ve got two final points. One that I should have said at the beginning, very important. The number one thing, practical thing to do with this whole emotional thing, the emotional trauma side of things, step one is explore. Go and do the ACEs questionnaire. Go on my website, completely free. NikiGratrix.com/acescore. Completely free. You can total up how many ACEs do you have. I’ve got an extended questionnaire on there showing the ones that they missed off. I’ve got another extension on there saying, okay, what about attachment trauma? Is it possible I had attachment trauma?
Explore, ask your parents stuff. You’ll find out stuff that you had no idea about. Ask about their lives. Ask about their pregnancy. Ask about what their grandparents’ lives were like. Start to know who are you and what influenced you.
The other thing I encourage people to do, we use this system of personality typing called the Enneagram system a lot in our clinic. The reason is it’s a typing system. It’s not based on behavior. It tends to be based more on why people do what they do, not just what they do. The Enneagram type, “ennea” stands for nine, it means nine, and there’s nine different types. We found four particular types that are particularly prevalent in the fatigue sort of crash community. Perfectionist is type 1. Type 2 – the giver, type 3 – the achiever, and type 6 -the anxiety type.
There’s a brilliant book at EnneagramInstitute.com. You can do a questionnaire on there. The one they do there is 12 bucks. You’ll find free ones online as well. Enneagram Institute is probably the best one out there.
You’ll start to look at traits like, oh, I’m the giver type, I’m the perfectionist type, I’m the achiever type. But there’s a book called The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Riso and Russ Hudson who are the founders of the Enneagram Institute. Literally they take you on a journey back to this is what happened in childhood to somebody who ended up with perfectionistic tendencies. This is what happened in childhood, this is what the parenting was like for somebody who ended up going to the giver type, and so forth. You’re starting to find out who you are on this subjective level and it’s a journey of exploration.
Some people are like you’re going to end up typing me so I’m categorized. It’s the same thing. The reason we’re doing the definition, we’re giving you the definition, that’s power because that’s how you transcend it. By defining and giving you the definition, you can see clearly your own patterns.
It’s amazing, people who actually can’t pace or won’t pace because what it does is it causes them to go straight into some of the shame and fear based toxicity and the kind of abandonment depression that they had from childhood. Often this is this is unseen and unrecognized. It’s very unconscious in people especially with emotional neglect where it’s not like what someone did, it’s what parents didn’t do. It’s like what they didn’t do, and that’s so much bigger very often.
By the way, the emotional neglect piece, if you even talk to people who…there’s one woman, a lady called Teal Swan, she was tortured and raped, ritualistic abuse between age of 10 and 20. It was a terrible story. Anyway, she now is a spiritual kind of teacher and she talks about trauma. What you’ll hear from a lot of these people with very serious trauma, they say it’s the emotional abuse and neglect which is the worst piece, not the physical stuff that happened. The hardest thing is this emotional lack of connection that happened. John Bradshaw, the great inner child therapist, called it soul murder. So we need to be connecting back to that inner child, the soul self. But it’s layers that we end up going through.
So when somebody is sick and they can’t pace anymore, they can’t do what they did before, it brings up, it’s like they’re being unmasked. When we had this abandonment trauma in childhood, we come up with strategies to cope and earn love. So essentially when we get rejected or abandoned by our caregivers, we become perfectionists. We have to do something to earn love.
Or we have the giver type who they find they can only get love by giving it first. That’s what their childhood experience taught them. Or someone else, they can never get safety, they never feel safe and they must constantly worry about everything. It’s the if they worry, it will be okay, kind of thing. And then there’s the achiever the type; I must achieve and get status.
Now the thing is, when somebody crashes with fatigue, you don’t have that ego protection anymore. The giver can’t give. The achiever can’t achieve. What happens is that gets a mask and it brings up a lot of stuff. A lot of people, they actually find they can’t pace and that’s some of the reasons why they can’t stay compliant on a plan.
The giver will keep discounting their own needs and will keep helping everyone else more than themselves. Someone can’t do the pacing and you can’t recover if you’re not getting proper rest and you don’t put the joy time in. You’re not doing your daily reset rituals and you’re not taking the time to do the dietary changes. Do you see how those things they kind of smash into each other?
Niki: This is how people don’t stay compliant on the plan. And they’re also stressed anyway and nothing’s working as well because they’re in a stressed state. So yeah, exploration.
This is leading to the last point of journaling, by the way, writing about everything that you go through that.
Another site I’ll also…it’s a great site I came across recently: Adult Children Of Alcoholics. It’s AdultChildren.org. There’s an entire 12 step program for people who’ve had emotional neglect and abuse. I encourage people to go look at that website because you can actually join local meeting groups that are really positive. I’ve been looking into it.
Last point: what about getting professional help? Some people if it was a lot of trauma, if it was early, fairly intense, getting some professional help is a good idea. The good news is there’s plenty of good help out there and there’s plenty therapies which work. But you need to be picky and you need to remember you are in charge. When you’re looking into a type of therapy to do, interview the practitioner and make sure that you have a free 15 minute chat. If for any reason you feel uncomfortable or it’s not the right practitioner for you, you don’t have to work with them anymore. You can move on to someone else.
There are certain different types of therapies out there. If you know discrete incidents, you can remember discrete interests, and you think that they are things that happened, and you changed behavior after that, you know it wasn’t the same since, some of the therapies are really good for discrete incidents like that.
EMDR is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. That’s a conventional kind of energetic based therapy that traditionally trained psychologists do. There’s tons of information online about that. EFT: Emotional Freedom Technique can be very good for that, that’s those kind of specific incidents.
Sometimes going to speak to a trusted friend, or counselor, or a psychotherapist can do wonders, just speaking about things you’ve never spoken about before. That can really help too with, the trusted right type of person.
Bessel van der Kolk’s huge thing right now is he’s a huge fan of neurofeedback. That’s a more expensive type of therapy. It’s work for ambient types of trauma that’s more attachment relational type stuff. It’s expensive though. You probably need a couple of sessions a week for 20 sessions for it to reach its maximum and they might cost 100 to 200 bucks for each one. It’s an investment so it’s something you’ll want to look into.
It works really well for if it was a lot of trauma and it was early and you know there’s a degree of like developmental trauma that’s happened, that kind of neurofeedback can make an amazing difference.
I mentioned psychotherapy. The other one that’s really great is looking into somatic experiencing and that’s Peter Levine’s work, which is amazing work. Peter Levine is the world’s leading expert on trauma. He’s written a book well-worth reading called Waking The Tiger and it’s about how people, basically we have this fight, flight, and freeze response. But when we have trauma, there’s parts of us that freeze up and it freezes into the nervous system and the nervous system is stuck in a state of frozen stress. And this is where we get muscle tension. That kind of unresolved trauma that also manifesting into muscle pain and tension, that’s so much energy taken away from you holding that freeze state. That’s going to be fatiguing itself and no diet is going to fix that, by the way. This is why you need this kind of multi-factor approach.
His approach is a type of body work where you learn to sense into and feel what’s happening in the body and feeling emotions as well as how that manifests. How you hold tension? Where does anxiety exist in the body? How does it feel? And you gradually learn to release that. All the kind of mindfulness training…a lot of this work is mindfulness training, so emotional mindfulness starting to notice how you’re feeling, connecting with that daily, also mental mindfulness.
One last therapy I’ll just talk about touching on people if right now you are in a crash state of fatigue and you know that you are actually pretty traumatized by the condition that you’re in right now, so you’re focusing a lot on symptoms, you’re feeling out of control, you are constantly focused on symptoms and feel stressed by them, you’re in a cycle of stress, it’s affecting your sleep, you’re feeling hypersensitive to it, and you’re scared about crashing; that is really where there’s whole lot of what’s called stop techniques were created for people specifically with fatigue. It’s Neuro Linguistic Programming techniques.
One of the best ones out there is Amygdala Retraining by Ashok Gupta. There’s another process in the UK if you’re based around there in Europe, it was called the Lightning Process. They’re all based around the same thing. Annie Hopper has Dynamic Neural Training as well. There’s also a guy doing the same kind of thing, I think it’s Daniel Neuffer in Australia. It’s all the same thing. You’re basically doing an NLP stop technique to stop the feed of chronic thinking.
I have a free e-book that you can get where all of those resources are laid out with all the websites. If people want that, I can give out the link for people to go and find it. ‘
Niki: Its’ a free e-book and it’s everything I just talked about. It’s called The 7 Steps of Healing Childhood Emotional Trauma and Rebuilding Resilience. In the back there’s an appendix with all of the professional types of work including the Amygdala Retraining, Lighting Process, and all that as well.
Laura: That’s awesome! We’ll definitely link to where people can get that free e-book as well as some of the different things you’ve mentioned such as the ACEs questionnaire and some of the studies that you mentioned.
I think there’s just been so much information covered in this podcast and I’m sure there’s a lot of people out there that are hearing things that really maybe are sparking some thought that they haven’t really dealt with some of this stuff.
Kelsey and I both work with people on health and a lot of it has to do with nutrition, and exercise, and sleep, and all that stuff. I know for me personally, a lot of times I’ll be going through work with somebody and I’ll see this stuff. I’s not that I would say that I’m going to replace a professional help in this situation because this isn’t my area of expertise. I would definitely recommend if somebody has these kind of traumas to go find someone who does one of these techniques that Niki talks about in her e-book. But I feel like even just being made aware of this is really helpful for people because like you were saying before, a lot of people, they get into the situation where they blame themselves for not recovering well or not being able to be as productive.
Or like I know personally being a self-employed, entrepreneur type business owner, a lot of times I’ll get a little bit frustrated or stressed because I feel like I should be working harder or I feel like I should be achieving more based on what I see other people achieving in this kind of field. And I think what you had said before about recognizing what your needs are and being willing to prioritize those and not necessarily comparing yourself to what other people can do or like what kind of environment people thrive in is really important.
For me I know I’ll get sick if I work too hard. I know today I’m actually recovering from a sore throat. Last week I had worked a really, really busy week and I just feel like that was what happened is I got sick. And it tends to happen. I think that’s one of those things for me where I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that maybe I won’t have the kind of business that these other people have or I won’t be as successful financially as those people will. But having that understanding of what my needs are and what things actually really make me happy, which for me, yeah, money’s nice, but I would rather spend time with my husband, or my friends, or my church, that kind of thing than be on the computer working 50-60 hours a week.
I feel like when people get to the point where they acknowledge what their needs are and they acknowledge that there’s stuff going on that they need to deal with before they can fully recover, then they won’t waste their time comparing themselves to others. They won’t waste their time trying to micromanage their diet and exercise technique because it’s not going to give them the results that they’re looking for.
Like I said, we’re not looking to solve anyone’s childhood trauma with this podcast. But I think if there’s just some awareness that people develop from listening this, then I think it’s a successful outcome. Would you agree with that?
Niki: Yeah. It’s so interesting what you were saying there, Laura. I’m in the same position as you as well and it’s very interesting. It’s the FOMO, fear of missing out. The irony is what we need to teach others is exactly what you said which is if we want to help others, part of that is getting them to stop comparing themselves to other people.
It’s so unfair actually to you as an individual because your background and the childhood that you had is going to be so different from somebody else’s. When you just reduce yourself down to being compared to someone else that you have no idea about…often when we look at other people, how are we judging them? We’re looking at their Facebook profile, we’re looking at maybe what they look like they might be earning. And yet we really don’t know what’s going on in the inside of that person. They could be miserable.
Niki: It’s The Emperor’s Clothes idea, that let’s call them on it and actually they’re really unhappy. I think when you do get into the flow of happiness and you start listening to your own body, like you just said, you know that you can get a cold every time or you get a bit sick when you’re working too hard. Many people with fatigue, they miss those cues. They’re not connected to those cues anymore because they’re this externally focused thing.
Part of the recovery is learning to listen to your own body signals and then kind of respect it and say well that’s more important and what so-and-so is doing or whether I’ve achieved this, that, and the other. We’re were actually battling part of a cultural issue there. This cultural fatigue is happening and this kind of achiever. I totally relate to that kind of like, oh my gosh, I’m so behind everybody else! It’s like, hold on, hold on a minute.
And actually, I’ll just say this is very interesting. We could do a whole podcast just about this. But when you do start putting boundaries in place, and you start listening to your own body, and doing what makes you happy, more good things flow to you. It’s kind of this law of attraction type of thing so you start sort of manifesting what you want through attraction, which means that you are happier, your energetic vibes, your vibrating at a higher level. So you’re going to attract people, incidents, things to you that are at a higher vibe. You’ll get sort of opportunities come your way, but you’re manifesting without all the effort.
It’s kind of like the last step in kind of recovery is when you go back out into the world….I call it manifestation through the heart. It’s like we need to bring the heart back into healthcare. That’s what we’ve been talking about this whole time. But there’s also bringing the heart back into manifestation and kind of our creative abilities as well.
It does really work. Emotions are magnetic and you’ll attract people, situations, opportunities that you won’t, ironically, when you’re working your butt off kind of feeling miserable and you’ve gone into this contracted state where know you’re fatigued.
That’s the other piece. The final piece of this jigsaw is when people do start going back out into the world, it’s so much like this thing…nothing’s more important than feeling good. It’s a little mantra that I often carry around with me to remind me to go and do the fun stuff every day and then amazing things come in.
I’ve got stories that will blow your mind about that, about achieving things, about getting into docu series, like after I had turned it down because I felt ill. It was this major documentary series and they wanted to interview me. It was a major guy whose like got the biggest health site in the world. I just felt really ill and tired, and I didn’t want to go into the middle of downtown L.A. in the middle of the weekend. So I turned it down and I felt sort of proud of myself. And then I thought, oh my gosh, I’m such a loser. There’ll be people who just think, why did you turn that down, that opportunity? Anyway, two weeks later they sent a film crew to my house.
Laura: Oh, nice!
Niki: They said we want to speak to so much, we’re coming to your house. I was like, thank you, universe. That’s just an example. When it’s meant to be, you attract it.
Laura: Yeah. I just wanted to mention before you said you don’t know what other people are experiencing or if they’re even happy. I feel like even if they are happy, like you could be looking at someone that you’re almost comparing your life to and it may be that they’re extremely happy and they really do enjoy their life. And it’s not that they necessarily have to be miserable or anything like that, but you have to think about would you be happy if you had their life?
I know for me, like I was saying before, I’ve worked with some business coaches and been in some entrepreneur type experiences where I hear stories about what other people are doing. And it’s funny because I know it’s supposed to be like that’s what an entrepreneur does, but when I hear stories about people working like I said up to 80 hours a week on their business, I just think to myself, I’m like that sounds awful. I would hate that.
And it’s so funny because it’s not that that person hates doing it, and maybe they get a ton of joy out of it and it just is like why they get up in the morning, and that’s awesome. But I feel like regardless of what other people are experiencing, if they’re happy, unhappy, working hard, successful, not successful, I feel like really at the end of the day you have to think about what your values are.
I just talked to another client about this like last week, for example, where he just felt guilty that he was taking time off from his business to spend time with his daughter, who I think is like two years old and she’s not in school yet. I was really hammering it into him that like it’s okay for that to be your value. And the fact that you’re just feeling guilty that you’re not earning a lot of money right now, that’s what’s stressing you out. It’s not the time with your daughter, because he really enjoys spending time with his daughter.
I think that that example just shows that if you can get really clear about what your values are, and what makes you happy, and what doesn’t make you happy, and like you said what makes you feel good on a daily basis, it doesn’t matter what that is. If that’s working 80 hours a week on your business, then great. But if that means that you work 30 hours a week and the rest of the time you spend with friends or you have a hobby that you enjoy, I really feel like people have to be much more focused on what their needs are and not be always comparing themselves to others and what everyone else is doing.
I think that’s really where the issue comes in is putting expectations on yourself to do something based on what other people are doing, or what somebody else makes you think you should be doing and not respecting what your boundaries and needs are.
Niki: I think I couldn’t agree more. There’s a lot of mindfulness often needed. Mindfulness in the sense of….That example you used of the client who was guilty about not working, where did he get that value from? And what’s very interesting, you could probably track that back. Maybe it was his dad, or maybe it was a teacher at school, or maybe it was multiple people all giving him that message and he just automatically took it on as a valid directional belief that he has.
So many of us have that and we’re not actually, saying hold on a minute. I’m going to examine this. Where did I get it from? What’s the validity of it? Does it apply to me in this present moment in my life right now? So what we’re doing is a lot of this recovery is actually unpicking cultural belief systems. This is where it’s like the relationships, who you hang out with, the social impact is so important.
Moms and women, we have the whole set of cultural things on us as well about who we should be at different times in our life, what makes us valuable or not. A lot of people that get sick because the cultural values are actually not supportive of the individual.
Being mindful, spend a lot of time kind of doing that. Question everything. So some of these come in, you’re feeling that, don’t take it for granted that that’s something that you have to live by. Where did it come from? It’s all been passed onto you from someone else. By the way, look at those other people’s lives. Were they happy? Were they healthy? Probably not. And they may be not living an example of a type of life that you really want.
That’s where the empowerment piece comes in. It’s giving yourself permission to choose your own values. We were incredibly programmed right now with cultural beliefs. It’s kind of an awakening process to that; awakening to oh my gosh, I’ve believed this my whole life and it was just because my mom did and that was faulty anyway, this kind of thing. Really important point you made there as well.
Laura: Like you said, I feel like we could do another hour talking about this stuff because there’s so much out there and it’s so interesting. And like I said, having really developed a business that’s focused on physical health, like just the amount that I see of the mind, and soul, and spirit piece coming in there and really making if not like more of an impact on a person’s overall health and happiness.
Obviously as a nutritionist I understand if you’re eating bad food you’re not going to feel good, but I feel like a lot of the work I end up doing is helping people realize that their diet is okay and they should move on from that and not worry so much about it anymore.
Like I said, I feel like we could do a whole other podcast, and maybe we will. Maybe we should plan to have you on in the future and we can cover some more of these awesome topics.
Laura: But it’s been awesome having you on, Niki. I just feel like all the stuff you were talking about really resonates with the work that I’ve done with my clients and what I see at the ground level with individuals affecting their health. It’s just really cool to hear about all the different research that’s out there and the techniques that have been developed for dealing with this kind of stuff.
Because as we said earlier, we don’t want people to feel stuck or feel like, oh because my parents or my grandparents were stressed and had a bunch of issues going on, that I’m screwed. We want to make sure people understand that you do have control over what decisions you make at this point with the knowledge of what’s happened to you in the past.
So, really awesome having you! And like I said, I would love to send people to your website to learn more. Where can people find you?
Niki: It’s just NikiGratrix.com.
Laura: Awesome. Well we will put all your links in the show notes. But otherwise, it was so great having you. And like I said, we’d love to have you on again in the future.
Niki: Thanks so much, Laura. It was great to connect with you, too. I really enjoy it and be more than happy to come back if we think it’s a good idea.
Laura: Awesome. Thanks, Niki!