Our brain-body system, via the enteric nervous system (the vagus nerve) act as an “anticipation machine” that continually prepares itself for what is going to happen, exclusively based on what has happened in the past. Our stored memories shape our current perceptions by filtering our current circumstances through the lens of the past. In other words, our present situation is completely biased by our memories, whether we’re aware of them or not.
This can be very dangerous if we’re not aware of it.
In July, I had to confront the reality of my financial situation and realized I needed to do something to bring in more consistent income as I continue to build Anchor Point. I found contract work in commercial real estate, working directly with investors for a development firm, an area of work I typically thrive in. It’s been exciting, a relief to have extra financial support, and one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through.
While I was prepared for the obvious challenge of juggling a new fulltime position with building a business, I was very unprepared for the wallop of PTSD that hit me as I got in a groove with this new gig. My past traumas spectacularly rose from the dead, haunting every part of my psyche, including my self-confidence, my belief systems, and my overall mental stamina.
Our bodies encode experiences in two different ways: via implicit and explicit memory. Dr. Daniel J. Siegel uses an analogy of knowing how to ride a bike to describe the difference between the two. Explicit memory is our ability to recall the day we learned how to ride a bike (something you can think about and retrieve from the past). Implicit memory is our ongoing memory that enables us to actually ride a bike (a memory, or know how, where you don’t have the sensation that something is being recalled from the past, it just resides in your brain-body system).
As Dr. Siegel says “implicit memory can influence our present without our awareness that something from the past is affecting us”. It primes us to anticipate what an experience is going to be like and then readies us to respond in a certain way, based on past happenings.
I left commercial real estate after a string of really hard and traumatic events. While I can recall specific moments that were especially hard, my body has implicitly stored a general “knowing” that commercial real estate isn’t safe or trustworthy. This is where my PTSD came in and this is where my process kicks-in.
I’m using practices that are the backbone of my teaching to bring myself back to the present, ground in my body, and actually feel what I’m experiencing. I’m breathing through moments of blind panic, bringing all my thoughts and stories to the forefront of my mind, and questioning everything about what I think know and what I think I’m experiencing. I’m coming back to my body over and over and over again, listening to what it needs, and putting down work that isn’t absolutely necessary until I have the capacity (which is why my newsletter took a bit of a hiatus).
I work with my body to drive change in my mindset and I remind myself that my vicious inner dialogue is the result of my stress and past trauma, not the reality of who I am or my current experience.
My process works and I’m continued living proof of it. While I’d prefer to not always be my own case study, I’m honored to utilize my very real, lived experience teach others how to face their own versions of hard and impossible. It’s my greatest blessing in life.
The body leads the mind. Click here to learn more about how you can work with me.
Cheers to better living -