Natalia Rachel: Trauma as the Hidden Root Cause
Today, in the Scheer Madness Podcast, Rachel is joined by Natalia Rachel, a therapist and clinic director with a focus on trauma & abuse recovery. Natalia gets into common physical symptoms that may come from deep-rooted trauma and its effects on the nervous system. Self love, release, and safe, dynamic relationships are discussed as Natalia and Rachel share personal experiences. Natalia is extremely hopeful and believes relationships are the cornerstone for change.
For more information about working with our team at Rachel Scheer Nutrition, book a free 30-minute call at www.rachelscheer.com/application and learn more about functional wellness coaching at https://rachelscheer.com/functional-wellness-coaching/
- 00:00 Who is Natalia Rachel?
- 01:30 The true root cause + trauma
- 04:00 How Natalia got into this field
- 10:57 Common physical symptoms
- 13:13 Safe dynamic relationship
- 28:01 Release
- 32:09 Gut-brain connection
- 38:55 Self love + trust
- 44:50 Steps for healing
- 46:10 Final thoughts
[00:00:00] Natalie Rachel: Trauma is not the past event. It’s the way it is left unmetabolized inside us, and the way that it alters the way we perceive, express and relate to
[00:00:13] Rachel Scheer: Hey everybody and welcome them back to the show. I have an awesome guest joining us here today, Italia Rachel. She is a therapist, speaker, educator, culture consultant, and she shares her voice to begin to remedy the world state of hustle, trauma and disconnect. She is the founder of her company Illuma health in brings a somatic and Relational Approach to her work. She actually just launched her new book, Why am I like this, and it’s out now with Penguin Random House, her book is incredible. And we’re going to be diving into that here today. And one of the things that I heard Italia, say as I was diving into her work is heal your trauma, change the world. Natalia, thank you so much for coming on my show here today.
[00:01:02] Natalie Rachel: Thank you so much for having me, I’m looking forward to that chat. Yes.
[00:01:05] Rachel Scheer: So as a functional medicine, nutritionist, I’m all about getting to the root cause of chronic health issues, instead of just dealing with them or managing the symptoms. And I feel like our society talks a lot about nutrition, which is good, we need to talk about nutrition, or even the root causes hidden inflammation in the body. But I truly feel like we’re not talking about the true root cause like the root cause and or the root cause under the root cause if we really started to peel back the onion, and a lot of this is really what you talk about it’s trauma, it’s the way that we relate to ourselves, or the relationship that we have with ourselves. And it’s ultimately shaping so much of our behaviors, and ultimately, our life, physical health, mental health. So, diving in here today, I just want to start out like pretty simple, because I know we’ll get very, very in depth here soon. But what is your definition of trauma,
[00:02:13] Natalie Rachel: Trauma is when a past experience of threat that is over is living and breathing in us now. And it can affect us physically, mentally, emotionally, and relationally or socially. So it traverses all these different systems or layers of our experience. And the thing about trauma is that it’s largely unconscious, it’s nonverbal, it’s somatic, it’s felt. So it begins to decontextualize in ways that we really don’t understand. And in the end, it goes on to inform the person that we become the experiences that we have in our life, and also the relationships that we continue to form. So it kind of rolls, and it largely traveled through relationships. But just as trauma travels through relationships and dynamics, so does healing.
[00:03:08] Rachel Scheer: Yeah, and I know for at least myself, like I dealt with that issues for a really long time that I attributed to so many of these other things, right, I attributed to the foods I was eating, which there was some foods that I needed to definitely cut out, I attributed it to over exercising, because they came from the fitness world, I was a bodybuilder, you know, but I kept dealing with the same things like over and over and over again. And it just would like manifest in something brand new. For me, I’m was like the perfectionist, the type a person who was, in a lot of ways running away from things overall. So I’m curious with your line of work of trauma, relational healing, and somatic work, you know, what got you into this field that you currently do.
[00:04:04] Natalie Rachel: So just like you my personal journey is what what brought me to this work. And it’s been such a long road. But interestingly, the first physical presentation of my trauma was also in my gut, and back then it’s a really long time ago now, no one knew how to make those links, you know, or connect those dots because nobody was talking about trauma. And even the biopsychosocial health model was not sort of well accepted in mainstream medicine. So I mean, I have a very long, complex traumatic history. So when I was a little girl, I grew up in really volatile and traumatic environments. And that went on to inform a lot of issues with my mental health as a team and a young adult. It wasn’t later until my early 20s that the trauma started to show up in my body. So trauma is trying to speak all of the time. It’s just that most of us don’t understand the language of trauma, or how to decode it, or then actually what is needed to remedy it or heal or repair it. So for me, the physical manifestation started with my gut shutting down. And all of a sudden, I couldn’t keep down any fluid or any food or anything. And I ended up in hospital, and they ran all the tests, I also got this really strange rash on my stomach at the time, and they couldn’t find like a clear diagnosis. So they threw around many different labels, you know, from Crohn’s disease, to leaky gut, to you know, all of these things. But something that’s really common when it comes to trauma, and when it’s presenting through the physical body is that often the symptoms are complex, or syndrome all and then nondiagnostic. And so that was my story. And so what happens when someone presents with these symptoms? And there’s no clear answer is either we’re kind of given patches to put over it, or tolerable, sorry, this is how it is now. And now you’re going to have to live like this. And so after two weeks in the hospital, I was kind of sent on my way saying, well, we can’t figure it out, you’re just gonna have to figure out how to live like this. And so I had to learn to wean myself on to food again. And at that time, I was eating like two teaspoons of soy custard, and two pieces of cucumber without the skin on because the skin would cause the reaction. And that was all I could take. And I needed to eat, like, every 90 minutes, and then I would throw up, and then I would get on with work. So I was working at the time, because you know, you’ve got to live, you got to survive. And so I adapted, and that was my new way of life. But what happened next was that my nervous system became deeply affected. And all of a sudden, one day was sitting at my office doing my work, and my right foot just dropped and froze, and I couldn’t move it. And I was 24. And I was so scared. And I went to the hospital, they did some whole bunch of tests, and they told me, Oh, you’ve got nerve damage in your leg, and you will never walk again. And as a 24 year old, who had previously been very physically healthy, that was very upsetting. And it’s when you kind of haven’t gone through the health system for you don’t need to question anything. So you just accept the diagnosis and the medication. And I did that. But at the same time, I always had a determined spirit. And I was like, No, that’s not going to be my life, I’m not going to never walk again. So I started working with a physio who was also a cranial sacral therapist. So this is my entry into somatic work. And when I would see Steve, that was the name of the therapist, I started to feel safer and more relaxed. And within a couple of months, there was movement, and I was working getting. And now in hindsight from all these many, many years of of learning and exploring and working in this field, I understand it was actually the safe, dynamic relationship that allowed my body to begin to come back online. So that was the entry point. But that was the beginning of 11 years of my body breaking down and periods where I couldn’t use either legs, or my hands weren’t working, or my lungs weren’t working. Yeah, it was a pretty intense journey. And like you said, like, it’s it kept showing up in different parts of the body, different layers, different manifestations. And there were these band aids that were offered, and the band aids would have a knock on effect, and there would be more side effects or another problem. And it was just this mess. And it wasn’t until I looked through the lens of trauma, came home to my body, and became began to tune into all of the trauma that was literally lodged inside me and find a way to let it out and release it that I began to heal and had what doctors call a miracle recovery. But it wasn’t a miracle. I just learned how to heal my trauma.
[00:08:53] Rachel Scheer: You are literally speaking my language here right now with all of this because this is what I see with, you know, not only myself, but I’ve seen this with so many people in on their healing journey. And as I even have gotten into functional medicine, it’s it hasn’t been so much about, hey, let’s just figure out what is often the body. But really that question of why is it off. And I even see a lot of functional medicine practitioners who are out there who are even doing testing very similar to like what my practice does, looking at the gut microbiome, the hormones, thyroid adrenals, you know, which is a bit more extensive than what you’d get when you go to let’s say your primary care doctor, you go to the ER because something’s wrong. And it may give you more answers, but we really have to still ask the question why, you know, and I think that’s what’s so I don’t even want to use the word crazy because it’s not crazy. It’s actually very normal or common is the right word to use common that we see quite a bit where we develop all of these physical manifestations in the body. You know, you talk about gut issues, and I want to kind of dive into that here a little bit. More in depth because that’s something I speak to quite a bit. But these gut issues, these nerve damage, and they found the what right? It’s like they found the what like, this is what’s happening in your gut. Or maybe they didn’t see that the gut had like shutdown or motility issues, or if there was any dysbiosis. But they said, Hey, this is what’s off with your gut, food is the problem, let’s limit your diet, let’s get as restrictive as possible. And that’s what I see with even a lot of my clients and myself. And it’s like, you pull up food, you pull up food, and we’re like, it’s the food is the problem. Because when I eat food, the food is triggering me. And it’s leading to my gut issues, and it’s bothering me. And then we get the diagnosis of okay, I have nerve damage. Right. So that was the issue, I found that I fixed it. But no one’s really saying, Why is all of this happening? Right? And where is it coming from? And it gets to this place of mystery. And it’s really not a mystery. It’s know, this trauma that’s manifesting in the body. So what would you say are some common physical symptoms that people can get who are dealing with trauma, I know you’ve mentioned a few of the gut, and we’ll dive into that one. But I feel like it varies so much for people. And for the listeners just to hear like what is common,
[00:11:13] Natalie Rachel: It absolutely does vary, I like to bring the conversation back to understanding the nervous system, because the nervous system is the governing system of our experience. And when it is experiencing threat, which will be the case either if we are living through traumatic times, or if we have unresolved trauma, we’re either existing in a prolonged or recurrent triggered state of threat. And so when the nervous systems baseline shifts to being threat is home threat is the origin of experience, it will begin to have a knock on effect to different systems in the body. And we’re also different, and we will have certain systems within our physical cells that are more prone to being affected. So for some people, maybe they’re more prone to it, then having an effect on the enteric nervous system, which which leads into the gut, some people may all of a sudden have a lot of sinus issues, or chest and lung issues. And some people will be more prone to having all kinds of physical aches and pains. So those would be some really common ones. And the other one is hormone health and thyroid and again, it’s so closely linked endocrine system to the nervous system. And so learning to kind of listen to what system is sort of firing or miss calibrating? And how can we tune back into the nervous system. So when I, in my previous company before, before working for Luma, I ran a group of complementary health clinics, and we had people with the syndrome or presentations coming to us all the time, and they were not having success, they were not feeling traction with mainstream intervention, we would always look at the map of all of the systems, but we would bring the origin of care back to working with the nervous system first, because when the nervous system approaches a greater sense of safety, a lot of these threat responses that are sort of triggering through all the systems begin to switch off.
[00:13:12] Rachel Scheer: And you mentioned earlier to safe dynamic relationship. And I wanted to understand what you meant by that a bit more.
[00:13:20] Natalie Rachel: So much of our trauma arises through harmful relationship. So that could be threatening relationship or exclusionary relationship. So to me trauma stems from experiences of threat or exclusion. And so when that’s happened to us, relationally, that is often the root cause, the remedy is in the root. So if we can learn to provide dynamically through relationships, experiences of safety and belonging, you know, places where we, it’s safe for us to show up as ourselves, and it’s safe for us to feel and express whatever is true for us. That is the most powerful form of healing. And I’m sure you would know, as a practitioner, when clients meet with you, it’s actually your dynamic with them, and your ability to understand them, that allows you to learn more information and allows them to start feeling safer and be more vulnerable and to opt in to kinds of care that they’ve never thought of before. So the healing will always come back to the relationship. And I believe that all of the modalities or tools we offer a secondary. And as practitioners are just people who want to show up as a healing force in the world. If we understand our incredible power as humans to provide this remedy just to our prisons and the way we’re relating. I think the world would be a very different place.
[00:14:42] Rachel Scheer: Yeah, but it kind of goes back to like we have to heal ourselves to be able to offer that to other people as well, which almost makes sense with what you’re saying here if I’m understanding it correctly, but like the trauma comes from a relationship But the relationship also was what, at the same time helps heal the trauma?
[00:15:05] Natalie Rachel: Absolutely, we are dynamic. So yes, we need to do a lot of healing work on our own. But we also absolutely need the reflections of others. And that’s just a human, existential, physiological fact, if you think about when we’re born, ideally, we’d come into the world out of our mother’s body and onto, ideally, her chest or her belly. And it’s through that dynamic relationship that we learn all this well, here, I am safe, and I am not alone. And there’s someone’s that’s going to help me figure this out. And just as an early user, a developmental stage healing is a developmental stage to so we need the exact same ingredients.
[00:15:43] Rachel Scheer: So what you’re seeing is with your story is with working with the cranial sacral therapy, which actually just learned about this, probably a few weeks ago from one of my own coaches telling me that this is something that I should do. So it’s cool to hear like the reaffirmation of that, and actually knowing what that is, at this time in my life. But through doing that work and the somatic work, the relationship you had with that therapist at the time created that safe environment for you. And that’s what started to help with the nervous system coming down.
[00:16:18] Natalie Rachel: And I don’t think that I consciously knew that at the time. And I don’t believe that he did, either. It just was. And it’s only through so many years of exploring and study that I began to understand this relational piece. So I started with the physical piece and the mental piece. And so all these things were changing. But like we’ve talked about, there would then be other triggers, or would roll and once I eliminated this piece, or the relationship aspect, there was this very deep integration that occurred for me. And there’s, there’s no more of this leaking or rolling effects anymore.
[00:16:54] Rachel Scheer: Yeah, but that’s so powerful to hear, like how much really at the core like love, and a lot of ways like love at the core, like feeling safe feeling seen feeling heard can really be so healing for the body. And I think, for so many people like even listening to this, like the thought of like, how can that be true, I just need to, you know, find the perfect diet, or I need to work harder, like there’s so many different things that I feel like we try and it’s just like to, for it to be that simple and complex, but simple. At the same time. It’s, it’s powerful, super powerful to hear that.
[00:17:32] Rachel Scheer: 95% of your body’s serotonin is produced by the bacteria that resides in your gut. And this explains why when my gut was a wreck, or when clients come to work with me at Rachel share nutrition, they don’t just suffer from things like bloating, constipation, diarrhea, but they also have symptoms of anxiety, depression, and brain fog, because our gut and our brain are highly interconnected. And as Hippocrates says, all disease begins and ends in the gut. And this is the exact reason why I am so passionate about taking a functional root cause based approach for any chronic health condition, gut issues, mental health, illness, autoimmune conditions, stubborn weight loss, you name it, me and my team do a comprehensive analysis, looking at all these different systems, so we can test instead of just guess, and then develop a customized nutrition plan and protocol to address these root causes and balances in the body and restore function. If you want to book a free 30 minute call with anyone from my team, click the link in the show notes or visit Rachel share.com.
[00:18:52] Natalie Rachel: It’s pretty beautiful. And I think it is simple, yet complex. Because so many of us don’t have foundational experiences of safe, healthy love. And so if we don’t have that, if it’s not, in our system from the beginning, if we’re not showing that it exists, it’s actually super hard to orient to it, and to yielding to it and to receive it. And so, again, that’s where this deep nervous system repatterning work has to go on. So that we can actually learn to lean into it, and watch our tendency to break away from it or run and go into another cycle of I guess running from the root cause which is like you so beautifully shared, a lack of love.
[00:19:38] Rachel Scheer: Yeah, that actually makes me think of at a point in my life when I was in my singleness and looking for a relationship. I was working with my own therapist and coach at the time and she asked me the question of like, what good looks like and I was like trying to explain her, what I thought good look like and what I thought love looked like and she asked me this quote Question of give me an example of a loving and good relationship that you’ve seen in your life. And I sat there for a moment, I like thought and I was like, it wasn’t my parents, my parents were divorced, they were separated, there was like, so much neglect at that time in my life. It’s definitely not who my mom remarried, and not really any of my friends. And I had this like moment where I sat there. And I was like, I don’t know, I really don’t know what a good example of love is that I’ve seen in my life. And she just looked at me, and I’m like, she’s like, so how do you know what it feels like? And then like, was this moment of just like, I just like melted in that moment of being like, wow, I’ve been chasing something but a version of something that I don’t really even fully know what it completely looks like. And that started like a whole new level of healing. For me, I’m like, what is actually love, because what I’ve actually known it to be my entire life, I don’t think that’s what it’s been. So I can relate to what you’re saying so much on that level. And I think a lot of people too, like, they don’t even really know what love looks like, or even feels like in a lot of ways as well.
[00:21:15] Natalie Rachel: In the end, that is the entire point of the journey, to learn what it feels like, and to yield into both giving and receiving. So I think when there is no love and belonging, I’ve kind of cut from the same cloth, when we can belong. And when we can communicate with non judgement, and care and respect. We will all be well, it’s just many of us have no idea how to do that. And so I believe as practitioners, or simply people that want to create social impact, it is our job to learn to embody that and to share it. And that is what will slowly change humanity. That’s my deep spiritual belief.
[00:21:53] Rachel Scheer: Yeah, I love that. That’s beautiful. And that’s really how healing becomes full circle. I always say that, like, we go through this healing, and it had to happen. Like one of my things I say is it had to happen for me, so it can happen for them. You know, and that’s how healing becomes really full circle as we go through this. And just like you, you’ve said is when you heal your trauma, you change the world, because your healing helps other people heal ultimately, overall, for some people are hearing the word trauma, you know, they’re thinking like, really, really bad things, right. And I know, that’s how I used to be when I was younger, like the big T trauma. Like, there was a murder, there was a death there was raised, like really bad things, right? But trauma isn’t always necessarily those types of things. They can be small little things too. So can you speak to that a little bit.
[00:22:44] Natalie Rachel: Trauma is not the past event, it’s the way it is left and metabolized inside us and the way that it alters the way we perceive Express and relate in the world. So someone could have gone through something seemingly small, but it hasn’t been metabolized, and therefore the effects within all the dimensions of their being could be very, very great. And when that happens, because we don’t have this understanding that it’s not the event, it’s the effects, we can for ourselves, minimize or shame our experiences. Or we can do that for others too. And that’s actually incredibly rare, traumatizing, whereas on the other hand, somebody could have gone through something epic and awful what we would have considered trauma, but they’re able to metabolize it, and therefore, the leftover effects or changes within them are very minimal. And our ability to metabolize or not metabolize traumatic events, actually depends on our resources at the time of and beyond the trauma. And so we need to understand what was our physical health baseline? What was our mental health baseline, and what was our relational health baseline. And it’s actually the relationships that are the biggest resources, and the biggest indicator of whether we will metabolize our experiences or not, and they will go on to become unresolved trauma. So if we go through something really, really awful, but we’ve got people around, who can hold us through it, and listen to us and care for us and let us know we’re not alone and help us to have that relational safety. likely it will not become trauma, it will become something bad that happened to us that we move through and healed from if we go through something and we’re completely alone with it, and we have nobody to talk to about it and no one to care for us through it. That is when it is more likely to go on to become that unresolved trauma. So again, we come back to this relational piece.
[00:24:45] Rachel Scheer: Yeah. And when you see metabolize the trauma, what do you mean by that?
[00:24:49] Natalie Rachel: When we go through something difficult, ideally, we will be able to stay present with the experience and process it and make sense of it. And that is much verbalization of an experienced, what happens when we don’t have the internal resources to stay with the experience is that we enter a state of dissociation. So when the body is not a safe place to be, or the present is not a safe place to be, our survival instincts kick in, and we check out. And then what happens is this split or change between the left and the right hemispheres of our brain happens. So the way we process alters, and the right side of the brain hides the traumatic content, so that the left side of the brain can help us keep going on with life and just manage. And most of us do this. So we, we split, we suppress and we go on, but that suppress trauma can’t stay that way forever. And something that’s really common is that we all sort of package up the traumatic experience in this neat little bow somewhere inside us. And maybe there’ll be these little whispers that something needs our attention, but we won’t either hear them or we’ll discount them. And often, it’s much later on. But there’s some really big trigger that happens in our life. And that little parceled up, trauma unravels. And that’s when symptoms escalate, and all of a sudden, we can’t cope. So that’s a common phrase that occurs when trauma is coming up, I can’t cope. I’m not safe anymore. I can’t do this. So we’re immobilizing because the trauma is coming up for resolution.
[00:26:34] Rachel Scheer: Yeah, it’s almost like it’s not safe to be here in this moment with what is happening. So I’m gonna, you know, mentally kind of check out I don’t think it’s probably very logical, very unconscious at the time that we’re doing this. And that’s where we’re not metabolizing the trauma is what you’re saying?
[00:26:54] Natalie Rachel: Yes, absolutely. And then there will be these triggers that come. And so some of the triggers are often around big life events. So it might be motherhood is a really big one, or the beginning of relationships, or marriage, or the end of a relationship, or death, or moving countries, all of these things that take a lot of our attention and energy. So we unconsciously are using a lot of energy to keep that trauma at bay and suppressed. And the moment that energy is required to go somewhere else, it’s like we’re left open, and it starts coming up in what’s
[00:27:30] Rachel Scheer: happening in the nervous system here too, because animals, right, when they experience something traumatic, they have like the shake response, right? If you’ve seen that before, like zebras, when they get attacked in the wild, like they, they go through these traumatic experiences, and they like shake it all off. And they like, release it from our nervous system. And it’s almost kind of like we’re just like, we’re encapsulating that and if that’s the right word, but into our nervous system, and that’s like getting stuck, almost
[00:28:01] Natalie Rachel: certainly. So ideally, when we do go through something traumatic, we need to release it. So that shaking that you’re talking about with animals is then releasing the charge the threat response from the nervous system. The way we’ve developed as humans is we do not allow ourselves that so we actually hold it and we brace and we tap it. And there are a few different things that can happen with the nervous system. But to really simplify it, we need to tune in and let those threat responses discharge. So the animals that are letting it out, they’re allowing fight energy to release, what we do is we go into a freeze and we suppress that energy. So it’s kind of like it’s wrapped up in a sleeping bag inside us. And what we need to learn to do is to thaw out the freeze response. And when we begin to thaw out, it’s really common that that shaking will come through the body twitching, shaking, relaxing of brace responses in our muscles. And what’s really common after the body comes out of that brace and that threat is that the emotions will come and the stories will come. And that is when they actually begin to heal. And for that threat response. So that freeze to switch off, you know, again, what the remedy is being with a safe person. So creating a dynamic experience of safety is often what will most naturally allow us to begin to thaw out and commence that process of healing.
[00:29:27] Rachel Scheer: The human body is so incredible. I feel like there’s always so much that we can continue to learn about it as well. And as we’re speaking to the nervous system too, and like physically what’s happening in the body also at the same time, like our entire sympathetic nervous system is activated. Right and for everybody who’s listening when our sympathetic nervous system is activated, our gut completely shuts down. It stops working we stop releasing bile digestive ends I’m so we can’t break down and absorb any of our foods simultaneously, you know, the motility in our gut literally comes to a halt. And we can’t digest, which is the manifestation of all of these gut issues and other health issues, which makes sense Natalia with you sharing like, one of the first things you experienced were these gut issues, right? And I see that so often with unaddressed trauma is this manifestation of gut issues and thinking it’s the food and or supplements and then trying to figure out the perfect diet? And like, why can’t I heal my gut? Why can’t I heal my gut with these symptoms, and I have anxiety and I have depression. And yeah, I’ve learned about the gut brain connection. But just that connection there, the whole person really must heal for the gut to function optimally. Because if we’re constantly in this, this state of activated nervous system, you know, our guts stop going to be working, it can’t. And that’s what happened to me too, like, looking back, I very much relate to your story. I had terrible constipation, they wanted to remove my entire large intestine that was a fitness model. And, you know, I can speak so openly about it now. But at the time, my life, it was like the worst thing ever, I was a fitness model. And I’m like, I’m the healthiest person there is. But the foods I’m eating nutrition. And I became sensitive to all of these foods. And it wasn’t until I really started to do this deep, deep, deep work on myself and really understand the place that I was coming from, that things started to click, you know, and for me, it was even years of changing my diet, elimination, pulling things out, just like you said, and like getting down to eating like, my goodness, like cucumber, and like chicken and being like, Oh, I still can’t eat this. And I think one of the greatest messages for people who are listening to this, because I have a large audience of people with chronic health issues, especially gut issues is, you know, we need to start looking at actually, the trauma piece, and really diving into that. So let’s talk a little bit about the gut brain connection, because I have to go there, just given that I take a gut centric approach to healing. And I think when people hear that they think it just means, you know, only address the gut. But it’s it’s really bi directional. It’s addressing the relationship we have with ourselves, which is how we relate to ourselves, how we view ourselves in a lot of ways, and it’s simultaneously addressing the gut to. So how have you seen trauma really impact the gut, I know, you’ve just kind of shared your own experience that you work with a lot of people to
[00:32:47] Natalie Rachel: digestive issues are a really common problem among those who have unresolved trauma. So they may present with a really slow gut, that’s just really not moving anything. So again, it’s that inability to metabolize, or conversely, they may present with a really fiery gut, you know, which might cause a lot of indigestion and heartburn, and strange taste in the mouth or pain. And again, this will connect to what’s going on in the nervous system. So if there’s a slow gut, it’s more likely that there’s more of a freeze response going on. And if there is more of this fire, and everything coming up, it’s more likely that there’s more a tendency towards a fight flight activation. So we can learn to listen to the signs of signals of trauma, through understanding what’s going on in the gut, or the body. And as a practitioner, we can begin to learn well, if everything is slow, if there’s this phrase going on, we need to approach a sense of safety by by bringing life and movement to the gut. And if there’s this fire going on, we need to actually bring a sense of safety by downregulating. So we want to approach neutral from whichever end, there’s another really big piece to this, which is we suppress a lot of emotions in the gut, and two that are really common fear and anger. So they are very common experiences for us to suppress. And so when we work somatically, we will often be tuning in to the underlying emotional experiences and the stories that I held in the gut. And many of us that have gone through trauma are suppressing the huge amounts of anger and even rage and beginning to tune into it and own it and find a way to process that is really very important. Similarly, if we have gone through abusive experiences, and in particular physical abuse, they will commonly be stored in the gut and abdomen and also the hips and lower back. And so we can learn to tune into those stories and emotions and find safe ways to release them. Whether that is on our own, or in the care of a practitioner, and I’ve seen through 1000s of clients and also through my own experience that when there is enough safety and capacity to go there to those deep levels, and let out the fire of rage, you know, or the, you know, it’s a stench of fear, the gut seems to write itself. So we really do hold so much there.
[00:35:24] Rachel Scheer: I’ve heard of holding a lot of emotion in the gut, I haven’t heard of the specifics of fear and anger before. So that’s really interesting to hear of those two, specifically being held in the gut. And when people release that, and when you say release, that is that like letting out the anger and the rage.
[00:35:48] Natalie Rachel: In my practice, we do all kinds of things. So sometimes I’m working with people on the tables, I’m using touch, and it might be that there is a screen that comes out, or some people start to cough, and it feels like they’re expelling something really big. Some people need to push energy through the hands or through your legs. And then sometimes I work with different experiential tools. So once people can tune into that emotional energy in their belly in their gut, I might use weighted balls and have them actually throw it out. And when they are able to connect in and express it, they will then often drop into an experience of grief. And then a story will come and then we will understand what was the harm and what was lacking. And when we understand what was lacking, we can then begin to remedy and repair by trying to find a way to help them give it to themselves.
[00:36:42] Rachel Scheer: Yeah. And for everybody who’s listening like your, your vagus nerve, which is the largest nerve in your body connects your gut all the way to your brain, which essentially is the mind body connection. And from what I’ve even read to like that vagus nerve is also where we store a lot of the trauma and a lot of the memories, the connection from the brain, all the way down to the gut. And when we experienced trauma, we actually develop something called Low vagal tone, and our vagus nerve also becomes inactivated in some ways you can actually tell if you have low vagal tone, is gag reflex, believe it or not, if you have very little gag reflex, this is an indicator that you could also have poor vagal tone quite a bit there and working a bit more on the connection, you know, through I think what you’re speaking to the somatic work, nutrition, of course, and all of those things combined is one of the best things you can do for if you’re somebody who has got issues, or if you’re somebody who is dealing with any kind of chronic health issues, but I think kind of coming back to the root cause again, it’s, it’s the healing, it’s not just hey, changing my diet, it’s this whole, holistic healing, and especially that place that are coming from and the pains that we haven’t really dove in into, which can seem scary. I know like is for people who are listening, it’s like, Oh, my goodness, like, this is an area I have not gotten down before. And I remember thinking the exact same thing. When I was at the peak of my own goddess, she is of like, okay, are we gonna go here because I’ve, I’ve looked at every other area in my entire life, in terms of dealing with my gut issues, and I was like, this is the last area I really have to dive into. And there is no way that this could be why I can’t go to the bathroom, like there’s no way and I was in so much denial. And it’s crazy, you know, but it’s the greatest work you can ever do is the work that you get to do on yourself. Ultimately, I want to be respectful of your time, I do have some questions I want to dive into here. And that’s your take on self love and self trust in the context of trauma. And what that means.
[00:39:01] Natalie Rachel: Self Love is a really popularized term, particularly in the self help industry. And we’re told, you know, you have to give yourself Self Love and just do it. And so what I see is a lot of self love becomes really performative. So we’re pretending that we love ourselves, but really, there’s a part of us there’s a voice that is like, surely I hate you, and you’re not very nice and God, what are you doing, and that’s a really common experience is fragmentation in the context of trauma, and like we were talking about before, if we do not have a map for love, it’s going to be really hard to love ourselves. So we can learn to care for ourselves. But often we need to go back and process some of those root relational traumatic experiences. Before self love can begin to emerge in a really authentic way. If we have been shown that love is harmful or love is depriving or Love is shameful. Our map for love is going to bend inform the way we love or do not love ourselves. So beginning to learn what love is, is essential for beginning to start to give it to ourselves. And when we start to give it to ourselves, it’s really common that we will feel repelled or a sense of fear or a sense of shame. And so it’s every time we love ourselves a little bit, something else will come up for us to heal. So it’s a really long process of learning to give ourselves what we did not have, which will then in turn provide these deeper and deeper pieces for healing. In terms of the self trust piece, when we have threat coursing through our veins, it’s really very hard to trust anything at all. And if life has taken us on a road where things are not okay, or we’ve been making choices that put us in difficult or damaging situations, whether it’s in life in general, or in our relationships, or in our health, it’s going to be really hard to trust ourselves. And that’s, I guess, proving it through experience, we need to again, come back to this nervous system piece. So if there is threat coursing through our nervous system, we actually start to experience a miscalibrated sense of danger and safety. So we’re not able to discern what is safe and what is threatening. And therefore, it’s really hard for us to make decisions that are good for us or, you know, respond to the world in ways that are congruent and clear. And so a way this commonly manifests is this sort of rolling reaction of getting into difficult situations again, and again, or self sabotaging when great opportunities or relationships come up, because our nervous system and our intuition have grown from this baseline of threat. And so our wires are crossed. And we might even feel like threatening situations or safe. So of course, we can’t trust ourselves because all our all our wiring is messed up. And so in order to start to trust ourselves, we have to go back and rewire our nervous system and learn what is safe and what is threatening. And again, each time we practice this, and we challenge, what feels like our intuition, it’s going to bring up deep things for healing. So it’s a super big journey. But over time, our nervous system learns to orient towards safety, and away from threat. And again, it’s through time that we learn, oh, I can make good decisions. And I can look after myself. And therefore I am safe in this world. But it is a massive journey.
[00:42:43] Rachel Scheer: So what I hear you saying is like, first, it’s like the self love piece, more than even the self trust, because we have to know what is love even look like and like what is love, because we may have had a false definition of love. And really experiencing that first like maybe in the relational dynamic, like you explained and creating that in ourselves. But from there, we begin to question more. So have different experiences of is this my intuition, where’s this may be coming from. And we get a start kind of almost getting above it, like creating some awareness and start questioning it a little bit, and making the choices that are more so coming from that place of self love. And that’s how we develop trust over time. That sounds great.
[00:43:47] Natalie Rachel: So, yes, so a big part of the healing journey is developing what I call the conscious healing self. So it is that observer and that witness of all our complex experience that is compassionate, but that is also going to set boundaries for ourselves and making sure we don’t move away from who we truly are in our healing and into these, you know, more difficult experiences. And it’s through the development of this compassionate, or conscious healing self that we learn to challenge or the ways that we shame and talk badly to ourselves. And then it’s through experiences that that we can then go into make good choices and build trust over time. Trust only happens over time. So that conscious healing self for that witness helps us learn to discern what is good for us and what is not. And again, most of us just never had an app for that.
[00:44:22] Rachel Scheer: Yeah. So what would you say is like the very first step, if you were like go all the way to the very beginning someone is let’s just say like listening to this podcast, and they’re like, their conversation is making me realize there’s maybe some healing that I need to do. What would you say is like that very first step for somebody.
[00:44:53] Natalie Rachel: I think it can be very helpful to begin with understanding our experience of safety and threat. So we can begin to ask ourselves in any given situation in any moment, am I experiencing safety or threat? And if I’m experiencing threat, is this real in the present? Or is it perceived from the past? So in that moment, we’re learning what’s going on and how we’re experiencing. And we’re also beginning to question and potentially unlink ourselves from trauma. So often we’re experiencing threat where there is none. Conversely, we might be not experiencing threat, and there’s threat all around us. So if we can begin with that question, multiple times a day, we’re going to learn to reorient and it’s a really life changing practice.
[00:45:44] Rachel Scheer: So asking the question is, am I experiencing safety or a threat in this moment? From there, if they’re experiencing threat asking the question is, is this a true threat physically here now? Or is this a threat? That’s like a perceived threat? Interesting. I’ve never heard it said that way before. But that makes a lot of sense of kind of peeling back of like, is this trauma that I want to kind of explore a bit more of? If there was one other thing to share with my audience? What would that be?
[00:00:00] Natalie Rachel: 46:15
In the context of trauma? You make perfect sense. And I hope that this message allows us to let go of a lot of the shame that comes with trauma, that feeling of why am I like this? What’s wrong with me? Why am I not getting better? Why am I not thriving? Why do I not feel like who I truly am? And that’s because there is this sense of threat and exclusion inside you. And once we understand that, we can let go of shame and really move towards healing.
[00:46:45] Rachel Scheer: Yeah, I think, you know, very often, when people start to go down this path, there is that shame piece that definitely comes in and thinking like there’s something wrong with me, right? Like, I’m not supposed to be this way. But it’s like another lens to right. It’s like this is actually what your body was meant to do like to survive. In a lot of ways. It just isn’t serving you anymore with where you’re currently at.
[00:47:14] Natalie Rachel: I think that’s such an important sentiment. All of the survival and protective mechanisms that are at play at one time protected us, but they have become the blocks to what we truly need, which is safety and belonging. This has
[00:47:28] Rachel Scheer: been a beautiful conversation. And I appreciate so much coming on my show today because I know I took a lot from this. I know everybody else listening is going to take so much from this conversation. Where can people follow you social media, check out your website, get your book, Why am I like this? Because I’m definitely going to be picking up a copy after this conversation.
[00:47:50] Natalie Rachel: Thank you. So you can check out my website, Natalia ritual.com, you can order my book there or via Amazon wherever you are in the world. I’m also on Instagram, Natalia underscore Rachel underscore change and also very active on LinkedIn.
[00:48:06] Rachel Scheer: Okay, everybody will have that in the show notes. And if you got a lot of today’s podcast, take a screenshot. Share it on your social media tab. Natalia, let us know what you’re getting out of today’s show. I love hearing from you guys. Leave a review and I appreciate you guys always for tuning in. This has been sheer madness
Rachel Scheer is a Certified Nutritionist who received her degree from Baylor University in Nutrition Science and Dietetics. Rachel has her own private nutrition and counseling practice located in McKinney, Texas. Rachel has helped clients with a wide range of nutritional needs enhance their athletic performance, improve their physical and mental health, and make positive lifelong eating and exercise behavior changes.
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