How to create secure adult relationships with Dr. Nicole LePera


0:00:00 Alyssa

You're listening to Voices of Your Village, and today I got to hang out with my friend, Dr. Nicole LaPera. We got to chat about her new book, "How to Be the Love You Seek". We're diving into how to create secure adult relationships, and y 'all, buckle up, because it turns out it's about us. We get to chat about how our childhood impacts our current relationships, and what early childhood trauma can do, and the impact it can have on our mind and our body. And then where do we go from there? What does it look like to dive into that work and look at ourselves so that we can have secure adult relationships? I have had the privilege of connecting with Dr. Nicole for years now. She has been on the podcast. She has been on the podcast before and I absolutely love learning from and with her. I'm super jazzed that her book is ready to go for you right now, "How to Be the Love You Seek". Go snag it wherever books are sold and let's dive in.


00:03:00    Alyssa

Hey there. I'm Alyssa Blask Campbell. I'm a mom with a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education and co-creator of the Collaborative Emotion Processing method. I'm here to walk alongside you through the messy, vulnerable parts of being humans, raising other humans with deep thoughts and actionable tips. Let's dive in together. 


00:03:48    Alyssa

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to Voices of Your Village. Today, I get to hang out with a former guest and a friend of mine, Dr. Nicole LePera. She's the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, "How to Do the Work", and recently released, likely, let's get real, bestselling "How to Meet Yourself" and recently released bestselling "How to Meet Yourself" workbook and her upcoming book here, "How to Be the Love You Seek", which let's get real, also going to hit that bestsellers list because we need everything that Dr. Nicole is bringing to the table. She is the creator of the Self Healers Movement and founded the Self Healers Circle, the first virtual self-guided healing membership where members in over a hundred countries are joining together to heal in community. She's the host of the weekly ad-free podcast, "Self Healer Soundboard", with over 5 million downloads, casual. And Dr. Nicole is a human who, gosh, Nicole, I started following you, it feels like so many years ago at this point, And you, your message and your platform has grown and spread so much because we're all hungry for it. And I'm so stoked about this new book, "How to Be the Love You Seek", because it for me is like at the crux of a lot of what's coming up for us in, in parenthood too, that we hear a lot about like how our childhood is impacting now how we are showing up as adults. 


00:05:28    Dr. Nicole

Absolutely. Well, thank you, Alyssa, first and foremost, for having me back, for allowing me the opportunity to connect again with your community. Thank you for your support so early on. It's wild. I was just doing some math in my head. The circle is turning four in November, which I think means the Instagram is probably turning five right about now. It was a year before we launched the circle that the Instagram community, to speak to your point, started to grow quite rapidly. And I think ultimately it is what you are kind of offering is that so many of us are We're coming to these awakening moments, different conclusions about our past, expanding our own awareness and trying to create new opportunities, new choices for ourselves. And I think the natural byproduct for those of us who has families and children is to do so for future generations. So it's been such an honor to be healing and teaching and doing all of this incredible work alongside you and alongside of these incredible communities that we both now have. 


00:06:22    Alyssa

Yeah, it's awesome. and I have really appreciated how consistently through the last five years you have books and things available and you have so many resources that are free and that are accessible for folks. Low cost and free is the name of your game and I think that that's a huge part of us doing this work is making sure that people have access to the communities they need, to the materials and resources that they need to do this. I mean, following you on Instagram alone is life -changing. And then if you dive into anything beyond that, like, yeah, buckle up, you're about to do some healing. 


00:07:06    Dr. Nicole

I appreciate that. Yeah, free and accessibility are such a priority at The Holistic Psychologist and have been from the beginning as the community was growing. it was really apparent to me and clear to me that it was a global community. And I know many of us live outside of the States here where we do maybe have access to these conversations or some of us have the financial means, not all of us, however, to gain the support, the resources, the helping professionals that we need. So really making sure that these conversations, because as I will always break change into two steps, having insight and new awareness and even new tools accessible to us or new conversations or community. I'm leaning really hard into the healing power of community itself is incredible agent of change for so many of us. It can relieve the shame. I think that so many of us feel that we're alone in our suffering. And now when you're hearing people from around the world kind of nodding their head at the same things, I think it really highlights how universal so many of these topics are. And then of course I do prioritize giving the free resources, the tools. It's funny, I'm actually getting ready to record with Furkan here who helps me with all things audio -visual, we're recording a free meditation that we'll be gifting to the community in the next couple of weeks to meet your inner teenager. So thank you for acknowledging all that. And that will always be, while we do have memberships and books and I have other ideas to create into the future, free and accessible will always be top of mind. 


00:08:30    Alyssa

Yeah, I really dig that. And meeting my inner teenager was some of the hardest IFS work I've ever done. And so buckle up if anyone else is about to go on that journey. 


00:08:41    Dr. Nicole

I'm quite sure mine is ever present in the daily on sometimes, in some moments it's at the ready. 


00:08:47    Alyssa

Yeah, same. Same. Sweet, Alyssa. When you were writing "How to Be the Love You Seek", what sparked that for you? 


00:08:59    Dr. Nicole

I think it was a really an intuitive next step in our healing journey after writing "Learning How To Do the Work", really focusing again on all of these habits and patterns that keep us stuck living in our subconscious or that autopilot, I think that we commonly refer to it as. What I saw in my own journey and what I hear from the community is our relationships still for many of us contain those deep rooted habits, those dysfunctional patterns, those areas where many of us just like much like myself aren't feeling fulfilled. So thinking about relationships has been top of mind. I actually spent a lot of time in my past life when I was doing more traditional therapy as a relationship or a couples counselor, family counselor. I had a lot of clients who would come in and feeling very disempowered alongside of them, continuing seeing them stuck in dysfunctional cycles, no matter how much communication we would have in any given session. So for me, it was really exploring why so many of us are struggling in relationships, even those of us who are seeking help in the form of a therapist, why these patterns are so ingrained. And of course, as always, my work will focus on how to begin to create change. So I thought about it, still exploring those dynamics in my own personal life. You'll read a lot about my own personal relational journey in the book, not only with my family of origin, but with all of my partners, even my continued struggles in my current relationships. And of course, focusing on the tools, the awareness so that we can create change. 


00:10:31    Alyssa

I'm curious if we can kind of dive in for a second to this. I think when we come to relationship, we come in with expectations, whether we know them or not, whether we're aware of them or not of like, what's this person going to fill? How are they going to show up in my life? And again, I think for a lot of us, it's subconscious. We're not like asking ourselves that question, but that for many of us, especially romantic relationships, we come in with certain expectations of what they're going to fill and all these roles they're going to play. Can you speak to where that's coming from? Like, why are we entering into this saying like, you're going to be my best friend and you're also going to be my romantic partner and you're going to be my co -parent and you're going to show up in these ways and in these ways and you're going to run this household with me. And like, it's almost like a checklist. And when it feels like some of those aren't being met, it's like, oh, this partnership isn't working or this relationship isn't working. And I think for myself, when I can like take a beat and look at like, what's my expectation here? And where does that come from? 


00:11:38    Dr. Nicole

Yeah. So in childhood, being, you know, a interpersonal or a social creature, quite literally being in that state of dependency where we need a caregiver to be somewhat present to us enough to ensure our physical survival. And again, being in, you know, an open state of learning. We're constantly feeling, assessing the world around us. And because we are dependent upon another to care for us to ensure our survival, we will learn to the extent of, we'll learn what aspects of ourself we'll have to suppress or keep below the surface. Or on the other end of that spectrum, what aspects of ourself are celebrated or ensure those moments of needed connection. So we learn, to simplify all of this, we learn how to relate to other people, how to relate first and foremost, let me back it up, to ourselves within the relationships we have with other people. And then of course that extends outward and more or less becomes our model for when we, you know, go into school and we develop friendships and then they evolve over time into romantic relationships. So to speak to expectation, because again, we've set certain expectations that we were either fulfilled or not fulfilled around our needs in childhood, based on the presence of our caregivers based on the safety and security of our physical connections with them, also our emotional connections with them, we continue to utilize or to subconsciously assign those same expectations to other people. The issue, though, is very few of us, as far as I've met, especially those in my generation who were parented by past generations who were really limited in terms of education and awareness and tools and access and all of the things. I often think about a time where parenting, and I think maybe you and I had a version of this conversation, where I think about it when I think about your work, about how behaviorist parenting models used to be, right? With punishments and reinforcements, much like you would train an animal. That was the gold standard in the psychology field for a very long time. Emotions were nowhere near a part of the conversation. So again, saying that to say, very few of us had the safety and the secure connection that we need it in childhood. So what happens is we've learned how to, I loved how you kind of wove into your question, we look for someone to play a role. More so, we look to play a certain role with another person as well. And usually they're grounded, these roles, these adaptations, the things that we're suppressing about ourself oftentimes result in unmet needs, which is why I saw in myself a string of relationships. Ever since I entered my first one when I was 14 years old in high school, I more or less didn't spend many months outside of a relationship. I was always in a committed partnership of sorts. And I would always come to the end of a relationship feeling resentful, feeling upset, usually attributing the issue to me having picked the wrong partner. And before I knew it, en route I was to finding a more perfect relationship until of course I was more or less in my mid thirties when I started to pull back and to really explore this pattern and this idea of perfect partner and the roles I was playing. And of course I can dive more into all of that than I do in the book. But again, in childhood, we learn how to relate to ourself and other people. Many of us start playing roles. We create expectations. We seek this idea. Even our expectation about what a relationship is, right, comes from that early modeling and those early dynamics. 


00:15:10    Alyssa

I have found for myself in this, like I grew up in one of five kids in a low-income community. And the last thing that I wanted to be as a kid was high maintenance, right? Like having needs was not how you showed love, wasn't how you received love. And so having as few needs as possible was really important to my survival and feeling loved and worthy and valued in my family. And I now, like as an adult, especially as I've been like diving into this work for myself, one of the patterns I've noticed for myself in my relationship is this desire to both feel seen in ways that I didn't as a kid and to be nurtured in ways that I definitely wasn't, right? Like nurturing was, it was not accessible for my family in the bandwidth that was available. And I, but then I also have like triggers around it. Like both, I desire that. And then like, if my partner's sick, it is so, I have to be really mindful during those times because there's a part of me that's like, okay, yeah, fine, you're sick. Like how sick, right? Like I am like, I'm definitely not making you soup. I'm not going to get you whatever. Like that comes up first for me of like, yep. And I'm not your mom and I'm not here to take care of you and whatever. Like that always surfaces first. It's like a running joke at Seed behind the scenes of like, oh, Zach's sick, like poor Zach, literally, because Alyssa's about to really lay the hammer down and be rude on top of him being sick. Because I think like this, it's so wild. Cause I'm like, but when I'm sick, what I really want is to be nurtured. I want what I didn't receive. And then when he's sick, it like, I, it comes right out of like what I received and how I was treated as a kid surfaces. And it's definitely a pattern that I've started to notice recently and like, whew, got to work on this part of me. 


00:17:19    Dr. Nicole

I'm giggling a little bit. It's actually a running joke. In my relationship as well, you know, struggling for me very much and having needs. I'm always trying to present myself, right, as no emotion, so therefore no emotional needs as the higher achiever over time, right, becoming the clinical psychologist of the family. So it was absolutely seen in a certain way, there's very much for me a continued vulnerability in wanting, needing support, especially nurturing, and it's a similar running joke, especially with Lolly and I. Anytime, you know, I am not, I do not have that nurturing aspect. I think wrapped into it too is coming from a family where there was a lot of chronic illness. And my mom in particular, when she was shut down, you know, struggling with pain, it was a lot of chronic pain for her or unable to care for me and the very, you know, physical ways that she was able to care for me because she was pretty emotionally shut down, it kind of brings that up in me when someone, Lolly included, is sick and I very much get like, take care of yourself. Don't rely on me. I'm not the nurse around here. But all jokes aside, I just want to complicate this even further. I don't know if you have a similar experience. As much as I want and need the support, this nurturing that we all want and need to be seen in these moments of need or whatever it is, when and if, and which is often the case, I do have someone available to give me that support or that nurturing. There's still a very vulnerable part inside of me that once I've even made the ask and exposed myself in that way, receiving or allowing myself to be cared for, and I see this when I'm sick, I have a lot of feelings and thoughts of being a burden and not wanting to ask someone to go get that thing for me or come just sit next to me and comfort me because I'm emotionally feeling overwhelmed. So again, I love how you're putting it, that which a lot of us want, we're almost at odds and conflicted within ourself because either A, we're not showing up in a way that indicates what we want and maybe we think you should just read my mind or you should just know the right partner would, usually is what follows that. Meanwhile, I'm putting my daggers up, right? Stay a million miles away from me, not giving any indication of what I want or need or the support or comfort I want or need. And then when I do make myself vulnerable, I do still struggle to allow the support or the nurturing that is available. 


00:19:36    Alyssa

Yeah. It's so hard and nail on the head that like then when I'm receiving it, we, the, when we got COVID in our house, I like swept through our household. Sage was like one, he had just turned one and I was a nursing parent. And I remember like getting up in the middle of the night at like 4am to go nurse him and put him back into his crib and like got him out and I'm nursing him. And I realized in that moment, like, I don't know if I have the strength to put him back in. Like, maybe this is where I live now. Like I just live in this chair and I like mustered up the strength. I get like little Sage's body back into the crib and I get back to bed. And in like, at that moment, I was like, oh my gosh, like, how am I going to parent? I got COVID before Zach got it. Fast forward to Zach getting it. seemed to have no problem tapping out from barefoot and like laying in bed and being like, yeah, I can't do these things right now. Like I need to rest, I need to whatever. And I was like, I wonder what that's like to just be able to freely be like, I'm going to advocate for my needs and allow other people to step in so that they can be met. And like, just how freeing that looked to witness. 


00:20:54    Dr. Nicole

What I notice in those moments, because I have two partners who are very grounded in what they want, what they need. They're able to take the space to meet those needs. And in those moments, I don't even get to the place of wondering how it might be. I actually, first and foremost, I get annoyed. 


00:21:10    Alyssa



00:21:10    Dr. Nicole

I get annoyed and angry to some extent that they're able to identify what they need, take the space they need. If it does then translate to they're unavailable to do something, maybe for the household, it falls on me. My first emotion that I meet on the top of it is anger and annoyance. 


00:21:27    Alyssa



00:21:27    Dr. Nicole

And if I'm not grounded and taking care of my nervous system, sometimes I can react. And again, I think that contributes to why I can get kind of mean and cold. Because there is a part of me that if whether or not you're in the state of sick need or just honoring your needs, it does. It brings me back all of those feelings of resentment, not at anyone's fault around me. actually at myself, at the acts of self -betrayal, at me not having boundaries and limits that I didn't learn in childhood to be able to create the opportunity for me to actualize those moments of saying, no, this is what I want or need, doesn't matter what's happening around me. 


00:22:04    Alyssa



00:22:04    Alyssa

Yeah, I'm like just jealous of it eventually. When I first started going to therapy, which is my like entry into doing kind of any personal development work in my early 20s, it really started with me going because of my parents. Like I was talking so much about my relationship with my parents when I was coming up there and I had a lot of resentment for where I was at that point. I'd experienced some significant trauma in my teens and like didn't have a safe place to turn and had just been like treading water. Like alcohol was a huge survival strategy for me for a long time, like a coping mechanism to stay afloat, to numb, to survive. And then I found myself in my early twenties and was mad, was angry that I didn't have other tools, that I couldn't turn to them, that they didn't even know about the trauma I'd experienced because they weren't safe people to turn to. And there was a lot of resentment. And I'm curious to hear you've shared. So I think, helpfully, I don't know if that's a word, about your journey with your family and your personal development journey. And I've seen a lot of parallels for myself along the way of like what it's looked like to experience resentment and have to like move through that process of being able to look at them. And now just today I was in an interview and someone asked about like the way I was raised. And I was like, I have really rad parents. And that's, I really at this point believe that to be true, that I have really rad parents and how now living the way that I get to live with the level of consciousness I get to live with, there's a part of me that feels sad for them that they don't get to experience life like this. 


00:24:04    Dr. Nicole

I'm feeling actually emotions, even hearing you say that come up because what comes top of mind for me is my mother, who's no longer here. She died a little over two years ago now. And I think one of the and her entire life, including my relationship dynamic with her, including the relationship dynamic that I've observed her to have with my dad, right, her committed partner of over 50 years. They were married with my two siblings, um, is, is sad, is a lot of grief, um, because I know at the core for her, again, with her inability to emotionally connect with us, which was very much the case, um, I wouldn't have had that language for a very long period of time, um, because I had so many of my physical needs met because she was consistently present. She was the caretaker of the household. She did celebrate me when I was achieving like I was sharing earlier. And before I really understood what emotions were, how much they impact us, how much they can create trauma in the body, I did not yet have that language. But looking back, now that I see our lack of emotional connection that she didn't have with myself, with my siblings, and even with her partner, with her siblings, really came again from her own childhood and her own inability and her lack of safety and security so that she and over as she aged, I got to know a little bit about big traumas that had happened in her past that again, much like I think many of us, she did not have that safety and that support. She very much like myself being a painfully shy child, so much so my dad was joking the other day with me, having memories of me literally hiding behind my mom's leg when out in public, hiding under the kitchen table, even when someone I knew was coming over to the home, which was very much helped when I too discovered, you know, alcohol, drinking and drugs at a very, very young age. I think I was around 13 years old. And for me, that allowed me to deal with all of these overwhelming feelings that I didn't have the ability to navigate on my own. I didn't feel safe. One of the things I was always kind of called to and my family was how secretive I am. And looking back on that, I now understand, well, yeah, I was secretive because I didn't feel like I had the support to tell you what was really going on, you know, what I was really doing on the weekends, what I was really navigating on my own. And for me, you know, learning like substances were a big way that I was even able to shift from that shy child who really struggled to connect and have friends into high school being much more outgoing and much more the life of the party and much more able to at least have these surface level relationships. So again, saying that to say, um, so much of my journey of healing began when I really got present to or conscious of the impact of my childhood experience of not having that emotional connection. And for me, it was so important to create space, not only separation from this very codependent or boundary -less way I used to operate with my family, but also creates separation for me to be able to be with all of the grief that I was feeling, right? All of the ways I felt about not having this safe, secure, connected relationship with really anyone in my life, but beginning with my family. Because a habit I saw in myself historically prior to that was I had the ability, I was always fascinated by people. Part of it I think was a protection mechanism to keep myself separated from how I really thought about what you did, I had this ability or I had this practice or pattern of zooming out and understanding all the reasons why, right? Just to use the cliche, hurt people hurt people, right? When I was being treated poorly in a relationship or my boundaries weren't being honored, right? I was almost able to say, well, it doesn't matter how you feel about that, Nicole, because what I knew of the person, oh, they're just, you know, they're coming from their own wounding 


00:30:46    Dr. Nicole

in that moment so so much of my healing in terms of not only my own grief but repairing my relationship with my family was giving myself the space to emotionally be with how I felt, regardless of the ability to take that zoom out. Though that I think comes in later when we talk about resentment and repair and ultimately what to do next. Continuing to have space for how I feel, having had many difficult conversations with the entirety of my family, with different individual family members, and of course creating and keeping that space that I made for myself, where I'm able to show up in honoring what I want and what I need, especially when it differs from what my family might think they want or expect of me or need of me in that moment. And at the same time, continuing to have that piece of compassion or understanding, right? Where I don't necessarily have to okay what happened or wash away how I feel about what happened or what didn't happen, though I'm able to understand it. And I think for a lot of us that can help us navigate the resentment, which naturally comes when our needs go unmet for so long. That's the byproduct of all this buildup of anger comes out as resentment. And again, I think the way we can navigate that, of course, from honoring our truth and having conversations and probably changing dynamics to better be able to continue to meet our needs in order to gain support in these core relationships. I think, you know, having that compassionate piece of understanding of the limitations, it was never about us. It was about, again, what our parents and past generations had learned in their own past. 


00:32:29    Alyssa

What does it look like in the practice of, you know, so these needs hadn't been met for me. One thing that continues to just like be triggering is this like desire to feel seen by them. Right. And like that part of me pops up a lot that is like, oh, are they going to see me if I do this? Well, I feel seen if I do that, if I show up in this way and to like hear my dad talk about like how great of a basketball player I was in high school. I'm like, that was it. That's what did it for you. Like, we're going to go back to then? And he like, he coached basketball. like that's something that he, that's very much how he connected with his dad and how he felt seen. And so the making sense of it all and understanding felt like one part of the journey for me. And then this, the ongoing part of helping to meet my needs in ways that they might never meet, you know, and like the acceptance around that, I think there's a whole other barrier of like, yeah, they're probably not gonna shift in how they show up for me. And so what does it look like for me from now until forever to be able to move through life in a way where I'm not consistently turning to say like, are you gonna show up for me now? Are you gonna show up for me now? Are you gonna show up for me now? 


00:33:58    Dr. Nicole

Yeah, to speak to the point of being seen, while I was very much seen in certain aspects of my achievement, where I wasn't seen and what I wasn't sharing, honestly, because I didn't feel safe and secure enough to share it was all of those moments where I had a thought, a perspective, a feeling, a want, a need, a choice that differed from, again, this very core dynamic where we more or less without boundaries operated as a family unit. So whenever I was thinking differently, feeling differently, wanting or needing differently in any given moment, those were the moments that historically I would squash down what I want or needed. I would just, yes, you know, whoever, whatever was being said, I would agree if, even if I disagreed, I would show up even if I had other commitments or didn't have the energy or didn't want to be at whatever family obligation that it was. So for me, allowing myself to be seen and what I would categorize, cause it's still a, it's something I struggle with greatly today, which is moments of disappointing. To me, that kind of goes back into this idea, right? That my differing perspective might cause you disappointment. It goes against what you think I should believe, or you maybe feel some kind of way about whatever it is. So for me, I still struggle to disappoint, especially my core family, though, remaining committed to creating the space and learning how to voice my perspective in certain areas, even if I know, to speak to the point you're kind of making at the end, which is, even if I know that take it or leave it, probably will be left, not heard, not a perspective that you're going to integrate into whatever choice and learning how to be okay with that. And again, creating the healing opportunity for me is by saying, even if I know it's not going to be, and there's many moments where I'll share my perspectives on things that are against my dad in particular. Like he just doesn't buy it. He doesn't believe it. It's not for him. It's not the choice he's going to make in any given moment. So for me, it's been so healing, however, to say it anyway. And to of of course, allow then my dad, the other people that we cannot control in our world, even though we would like to, even with the best suggestion in the world, to make the choice that they may. But that's a commitment that I continue to keep within my family, within all of my relationships, is making sure that I'm really clear on what my perspective is, what my emotions are, what my needs are in any given moment. And that I do have the ability to, and make the choice to, speak it. even if I'm gonna disappoint them, even if it's gonna go against what I imagine they want of me and any moment in between. So making sure that I'm still honoring myself, again, even if they do nothing with my suggestion or with my need, because that's the reality. We can speak what it is that we want and need and many of us, especially in our core family, might not have someone showing up to see you, right? To value you, to meet you with the support or the request that you're offering for them. and they might actually just outright deny it in those moments. So can I still stay grounded in myself? And of course, having created many supportive relationships outside of my family on whom for very long I was reliant, to be that one unit that met every need has really helped expanding the places where I'm honored, where I gained support, and where I'm able to truly be myself allows me then to navigate these moments where it doesn't necessarily feel as good as in other relationships. 


00:37:27    Alyssa



00:37:27    Alyssa

I think like that speaks to that desire to, I mean, first of all, what a doozy that we don't get to control everybody else to such a bummer. And desire to to at one point I said to one of like my close team members at Seed I was like, what if we could phrase this in a way where like everyone would really understand it and she was like Alyssa there is no world in which we're going to put this out there and everyone on the internet is going to understand the intent or the message or whatever. Like it's just, and, but I think that comes up in these relationships and in our romantic relationships and in our family dynamics and all that to like, if I, if I present this the right way, then you will get it. You'll see my perspective, you'll understand where I'm coming from and it'll go really smoothly. You know? 


00:38:26    Dr. Nicole

Absolutely. And I think too, what we have to understand is in a communication, there's two people and we can say, I've been in many moments, much like you're describing here is, you know, what's the way to just get this to land or to, you know, avoid any opportunity for misinterpretation or misunderstanding. And the reality of it is the person who holds more power isn't the right word, but control almost like say, like what's going to happen next gets to determine that is not the speaker of the message. it's the listener, it's are they in a calm, grounded state to even hear the message that you're saying, in addition to the fact that even if they are in a calm, grounded state, they're going to be filtering the message through all of their own past experiences, assigning their own meaning. So to speak to that point, it's really difficult to understand that we can do the best, right? We can come up with the right kind of script, we can practice it, though if we're gonna communicate that to a family member, or to a child or to a partner who's in a reactive state, they're not actually, I talk a lot about the neurophysiology, just generally in my work and this book, they're not in the brain state to hear you from a grounded place, let alone, again, the fact that naturally there's going to be all of this filtering that happens. So can we tolerate moments where we can be very clear in what it is that we're saying or wanting or desiring and that there can be those moments of even sometimes gross misinterpretation, misunderstanding or reactivity that can happen next. 


00:39:58    Alyssa

Yeah. And I'm sure like within how to be the love you seek, this has got to be so prominent in the idea of like, we got to practice this, right? Like if you hold the power as the listener, then who are you as the listener? And what does it look like in relationship to be the listener rather than like forming your argument and really being able to notice like what is coming up for me in those moments. And, you know, when Zach is sick and advocating for his needs and being able for, for me to enter into the process of noticing what's coming up for me and being able to navigate the, my side of the street, part of this, uh, in, in order to show up in relationship, not from a triggered place, but from a place of intention and connection and consciousness. 


00:40:47    Speaker 2

There's a lot about not only what state are we in, how grounded are we? Because again, so many of us like to deliver these messages when we've lost it, right? We're screaming and yelling this deep -rooted need or desire, a thing we haven't shared, right? And in that moment of reactivity, not only are we probably gonna say it in a way, we might be saying things or doing things again that won't land just as equally. There's a lot of exercise and practice in terms of even for me, I know when I'm listening, right? There can be thoughts going through my mind. I could be disagreeing with what you're saying. I could be refuting what you're saying. I could be planning what I'm going to say, even excitedly in response to something that you said, or if I even drop into my body, I might be able to notice, right, certain things you're saying are causing maybe my heart to race a little bit, maybe my muscles are tensing a bit. So these are two different areas that are important to pay attention to because now, and I talk a lot about connection with the heart, focusing on, really dove into the science that was, for me, mind -blowing about how powerful our heart is, how much not only can it regulate our brain rhythms and our entire nervous system state, but it actually sends out those same regulatory messages to those around us. And again, when we're racing with thoughts, when we're planning our rebuttal, right? When our body is tense with stress, it's getting elevated. We're not going to be in those moments purely connected. We're not gonna be able to be in presence to truly hear and then to process, right, in the way that allows for that attunement or that true empathy, where I can actually feel as you're feeling. Even if I do disagree, which is where it really comes down to, like you're beautifully sharing, practice, right? First noticing, if we just want to focus on the listening end, right? Where is your attention when you're hearing someone else talk? Can you begin to flex that muscle, right? Where we really do get choice. While our mind might be racing, saying we can unhook the focus of attention and learn to ground it back into our body, into our breathing pattern or whatever it is, right? And can we, over time, remain calm and ground it, especially when, when it's gonna be the most hardest to do so, when we're hearing things of disagreement, when we're hearing things that maybe are bringing up our own past overwhelming experiences or trauma or stress, or when we're just upset by what is happening, Can we develop the ability to remain calm and grounded as a listener, as a speaker? And can we create that safe and secure space so that we can continue to have hard conversations and to navigate conflict, which is a natural byproduct of any relationship with a different human being? And just again, bringing this full circle, I think one of the expectations that many of us carry into all of our relationships is that conflict is bad. It's to be avoided. It's a sign that something's wrong. And conflict is only going to happen naturally when two unique individuals with a different life experience are trying to navigate life together who might have different opposing needs in any given moment. We have to negotiate what happens next. 


00:43:51    Alyssa

Yeah, I think there's a giant fear of conflict and I love the connection to the heart. It's for me with kids has been felt like a tangible thing to focus on of like what's happening with your heart is a conversation we've had for a long time and they can feel it, right? You can put your hand on your heart. You can feel when it's beating really fast and helping to like build that interceptive awareness of just tuning in and the heart being a spot that we start with a lot and Sage actually, he was under two at one point when he was crying and he was saying, mama, I can't slow down my heart and I was like, sweetness. Yeah, you don't have to do this alone, but that like focus on like what's happening inside of my body, I think is something that a lot of us, that it's new, right? Like we didn't grow up with the like, hey, just pause and notice what's happening inside. And so we can get into that space. Actually, we had a social media post that really went off the rails a couple months ago. One of those where I posted it and was like, yeah, this is great. Like, no, didn't even think twice. And then all of a sudden I was like, Those are always the ones. What just happened? And I found myself like, we were on our way to a friend's house and Zach's driving and Sage is in the backseat and I like pulled it open to like engage in social for a second. And I was like, oh wow, this was not my expectation. And then my heart was like racing and then I can't stop thinking about these people I wanna respond to and here's what I wanna say and here's what I wanna explain and whatever. And that like, when I feel like I'm in the space where I need to say something, that usually for me is like a hot, like, this is a time where you got to take a set, like, put that phone away, take a break, go for a walk. And same thing in my relationships in real life, it is to the point where I'm like, no, I need you to hear my side right now. Like I need to say something right now. Usually for me, that means like, you're not actually in a place to say something right now. You need a minute, you need a break. And I, Zach, my partner, goes quiet, right? So his reaction in conflict or in hard conversations, or really just hard emotions in general, is to like freeze or get small. And he grew up with two anxious parents. And so for him, like a way to kind of manage the anxiety in the household was to be as quiet as possible and to not, to not, like, kickstart somebody's anxiety and induce it. And so now in conflict, like, he goes quiet and I can feel the silence like it's nobody's business. Like, boy, can I, and so I'll just start like filling and filling and filling and then he just gets quieter, quieter and quieter. And it's been a real practice for me to learn how to really just shut up sometimes, like to just pause and to take space both for myself to regulate so that I can actually respond with intention, but also to allow him to be in a regulated state when we're going to have conflict. And at first that felt really annoying to me, like, oh, we have to do this the way he wants. And I had to be like, the way that his brain functions and the way that his body thrives, if I want to navigate this conflict with him, like, yeah, his brain and body need to be to gather some thoughts. And it really came down to like, do I wanna do this with him? Do I wanna navigate this conflict with him? Then I need to have some flexibility and for me to find the discomfort in the pause and be in that discomfort and allow that discomfort because I really wanna rush through it. 


00:47:39    Dr. Nicole

I'm thinking about my own past experience originating at my childhood where in a shutdown state, my mom would often remove herself, giving us the silent treatment, sometime for extended periods of time, whenever she was upset, disappointed, whenever we did something, right, that was against whatever it was that she wanted. So flash forward, many decades in my relationship, anytime there was a perceived distance, it didn't matter if I'm thinking about the need to say something, I became, would become so hypervigilant to my phone. Even if I was out with a friend, right, and I had something, conflict, active conflict happening in my personal relationship at home with my partner, whomever it was at the time, I could not be present with my friend. I was either talking about, asking for their opinion on what happened, telling them the story about how it was wrong this latest time, and don't you think I'm right, and how dare she do this thing, or I was needing to say that last thing on my phone, needing to either continue or to know that even in this distance, there was connection, even if I was the one still arguing, or if I was not getting the response, I would be so hypervigilant to when I would get that response to assure me that even if we were still in conflict, that that connection was still there. Because again, I was going right back into that childhood where that distance was not safe for me and I didn't have the skills to regulate. So even going back to this idea, right, we can have all of this awareness and yes, it's nice to be calm and grounded and it would have been nice for me to be present with my friends in a different moment, right? So that I could just kind of reboot and restore and go home and deal with the conflict in a more direct way. Though, no matter how much I know to do these things, it really came down to teaching my body how, right? And I love your work so much, Alyssa, as you know, and kind of really teaching from a young age, right? The fact that we do have this body, some of which are so disconnected that even if you ask many adults now, right? What is your heart? How does your heart feel? For many years after living this cycle and becoming so overwhelmed, I shut down. I lived in my spaceship as I call it. I was so disconnected from my body that I wouldn't have been able to tell you really how my heart was doing, how it was beating, how my muscles were doing, how I was breathing. And when I began to drop in, I saw all of those indicators in my body about how overwhelmed my body was. I was always holding my breath. My muscles were always tense so much so I have a bit of a hunched over posture that I'm working daily now to stretch out and to release all of that tension and all of these markers of that disconnection. Again, when our body is stressed, we're not going to feel safe in those moments of stillness. We're not going to feel safe in those moments of silence. We're not going to be able to turn inward and to explore what it is that is on our heart, what it wants or what it needs in any given moment. So for me, that insight was part of the journey and the journey still continues to this day on keeping those daily commitments to make sure that I'm tending to my body foundationally through the food I eat, through the rest I give it, the restorative sleep at night, the daily consistent movement to begin to release all of that tension in my muscles so that I can actually use those beautiful moments of insight and actually in those moments downgrade my stress response that's still programmed in, right? Shift my focus back when I do still want to go away on my spaceship and dissociate or disconnect and really be able to stay present when I need to be responsive or when I want to be connected to those around me. 


00:51:18    Alyssa

And just like so much, yes, I was just like, yeah, yes, the body, you know, we break it down in tiny and speak emotions to that difference between that sensory regulation and emotion processing. And I hope that we continue to move in this way where we are separating those two for a second to say like, what is happening in the body separate from what is your emotion? What are you experiencing inside? And then we can dive into emotions and language and this like higher level stuff of being able to navigate conflict and all that. But starting with the body is so powerful. Nicole, we need your book. We need all your work, really. But I'm so, so jazzed about this because I think about like how to be the love you seek, not just in these romantic relationships, but in general, in relationship, in relationship with our kids, in relationship with our friends, in relationship with our parents, and in community in general. It's so powerful. and we know that relationships at the core of who we are, we're social beings. And I am so, so, so jazzed that this book is going to be available for folks to be able to dive into. Where can folks get it, find you all the things? 


00:52:41    Dr. Nicole

Absolutely. And just, you know, again, to affirm, I appreciate you acknowledging that this isn't just a book for those of us in, you know, a romantic partnership. Again, a lot of the book, right, I think in alignment with my work, while it is a relationship book, the beginning relationship that we're talking predominantly about is the relationship with ourselves. Are we connected, right? Do we even know? I talk a lot about what needs actually are. Are we able to drop in and attune to our physical bodies or are we caring for it in all of these ways that, right, we were taught to? And again, dropping into our nervous system in particular. And then of course, there is a focus is that extends outward to all of our relationships because that is the reality. None of us are, even if we are feeling lonely or we don't have active relationships around us, we are all in relationship with ourself first and foremost, with the natural world around us, and then with other people, even those that we just pass on the street. And the more grounded we are in our self -responsiveness, the more in that coherent state that I talk all about the science in, the more I dive into the power that that has is to extend outward, to create what is called social coherence, or simply to quite literally impact the world around us. And I'm so inspired, as I'm sure you can tell by this topic in general, and it was really a journey in my own healing to think about my relationships, to put them in these pages, and I'm very excited to gift it to the world at the end of November. You can find it wherever books are sold, wherever your favorite retailer is, fingers crossed that they are going to stock. I do have a website up, that has some retailers listed on there. So you could take a visit. I have a website, where you can take a look at the self healer circle, my membership and all other offerings. In addition to all of the social media platforms at this point, I believe we're on everyone that at least I know to exist. So however it is that any listeners prefer to consume their content, be it TikTok, be it Twitter or X or Instagram, of course, where it all began. We'll be reviving or putting out some new content on our YouTube channel. All of them have a handle, "The Holistic Psychologist". So come find us and stay tuned. Like I said, there's a new inner teen meditation coming for free. So I'll be talking about that across all the social media platforms if you want to get your hands on that meditation. 


00:55:03    Alyssa

I love that. Thank you so much. And when you mentioned YouTube, I had a flashback to, I started following you definitely in your first year of having Instagram. And I like had a flashback to like early Dr. Nicole, YouTube videos, 


00:55:17    Dr. Nicole

The brick wall?


00:55:17    Alyssa

The brick wall and the whiteboard. 


00:55:19    Dr. Nicole

Yeah. Well, stay tuned. It might look very similar. Perk on here was just morning, trying to wrangle our new whiteboard. That's going to go up behind me on a very much a brick wall. So I have much more support around me now than I did back then. Trying to just piece them together and not edit them and just slap them up there. So. 


00:55:39    Alyssa

It worked. It got the message out. It got the message out. 


00:55:43    Dr. Nicole

Thank you. Thank you again for being such a support and thank you all for listening, of course. 


00:55:47    Alyssa

Thanks for tuning in to Voices of Your Village. Check out the transcript at Did you know that we have a special community over on Instagram hanging out every day with more free content? Come join us at Take a screenshot of you tuning in, share it on the gram and tag to let me know your key takeaway. If you're digging this podcast, make sure to subscribe so you don't miss an episode. We love collaborating with you to raise emotionally intelligent humans. 



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