446. The Holistic Psychologist on Outgrowing Toxic Relationships & People Pleasing w/ Dr. Nicole LePera

Dr. Nicole LePera

DISCLAIMER: This podcast is presented for educational and exploratory purposes only. Published content is not intended to be used for diagnosing or treating any illness. Those responsible for this show disclaim responsibility for any possible adverse effects from the use of information presented by Luke or his guests. Please consult with your healthcare provider before using any products referenced. This podcast may contain paid endorsements for products or services.

Dr. Nicole LePera, known as The Holistic Psychologist, is the author of the New York Times bestseller, How to Do the Work, and a thoughtful new workbook to help people apply her tools in their lives. It’s called How to Meet Yourself: A Workbook for Self-Discovery, and it drops today!

As a clinical psychologist in private practice, Dr. Nicole LePera often found herself frustrated by the limitations of traditional psychotherapy. Wanting more for her patients—and for herself—she began a journey to develop a united philosophy of mental, physical, and spiritual health that equips people with the tools necessary to heal themselves. Nothing short of a paradigm shift, Dr. Nicole LePera’s teachings empower the individual to break free from trauma cycles and create who they want to become.

DISCLAIMER: This podcast is presented for educational and exploratory purposes only. Published content is not intended to be used for diagnosing or treating any illness. Those responsible for this show disclaim responsibility for any possible adverse effects from the use of information presented by Luke or his guests. Please consult with your healthcare provider before using any products referenced. This podcast may contain paid endorsements for products or services.

It is my great pleasure to present Dr. Nicole LePera, this week’s incomparable guest on The Life Stylist Podcast. Nicole, known as The Holistic Psychologist, leads the SelfHealers Movement, an international community of people joining together to take healing into their own hands – which, after all, is what this show is all about, right?

She’s inspired millions through her social media presence, bringing ancient knowledge to a digital world. She's also the author of the New York Times bestseller, How to Do the Work, and a thoughtful new workbook to help people apply her tools in their lives. 

It’s called How to Meet Yourself: A Workbook for Self-Discovery, and it drops today!

Now, this is one hell of an interview – I'm going to warn you – in the best way possible. We cover so much ground in the realm of psychology, mental and emotional wellbeing, that you’ll be scribbling notes in no time.

DISCLAIMER: This podcast is presented for educational and exploratory purposes only. Published content is not intended to be used for diagnosing or treating any illness. Those responsible for this show disclaim responsibility for any possible adverse effects from the use of information presented by Luke or his guests. Please consult with your healthcare provider before using any products referenced. This podcast may contain paid endorsements for products or services.

00:04:19 — Who Is The The Holistic Psychologist?
  • Reckoning with the numbers (5.5M followers)
  • Luke tells a story of difficult change
  • Disassembling the tools of distraction 
  • Shame in the human condition 
  • A hint at her next book release
  • How to Meet Yourself: A Workbook for Self-Discovery
  • Prioritizing our breathing and body 
00:41:55 — Dysfunctional Family Dynamics
01:15:30 — Connection, Conflict & Awareness
  • The energetic dance between minds and emotions
  • Finding security in space 
  • Dr. LePera on living and loving in a thruple 
  • Podcast: SelfHealers Soundboard
01:39:34 — Learning From Relationships Past & Present
  • Does anyone come through childhood unscathed?
  • Signs of dysfunctional relationships
  • Safety is home, home is safety 
  • Neurochemistry of trauma addiction 
  • Dr. LePera on codependency 
  • Mirroring energies around us 
  • The 5 New Love Languages 
02:15:46 — The Role of Plant Medicines in Modern Healing

More about this episode.

Watch on YouTube.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [00:00:06] I was so attached to my phone. I couldn't go to bed without it next to me. Whether or not I was worrying that I was going to get a call, that my family was sick and dying or talk about being left in that way, not being able to tolerate these moments of conflict of distance, not being connected at all in my relationships. So reminding myself of how far I've come really helps me stay motivated because there's still places to go on my journey. I'm Dr. Nicole LePera, and you're listening to the Life Stylist Podcast.

Luke Storey: [00:00:38] All right, family, here we are doing the damn thing again on Episode 446. I'm your host, Luke Storey, and today's guest is one I am deeply thrilled to share with you. It's Dr. Nicole LePera, otherwise known as the holistic psychologist. Dr. LePera trained at Cornell University and New School for Social Research. She leads the Self Healers movement and international community of people joining together to take healing into their own hands, which, after all, is what this show is all about, right? 

She's also the author of the number one New York Times bestseller, How to Do the Work, and her new workbook, How to Meet Yourself, a workbook for Self Discovery drops today, and I have a copy here, and I got to say, it is freaking awesome. You'll find links to her books and our show notes at lukestorey.com/holistic.

Now, this is one hell of an interview. I'm going to warn you in the best way possible. We cover so much ground in the realm of psychology and mental and emotional well-being. So I'll just throw out a few topics covered and strongly encourage you to give it a full listen and, of course, to share it far and wide. 

Here's what we talk about. How she gained her massive online following as the holistic psychologist; how holistic psychology differs from traditional psychology; the power of breathing techniques to manage emotions; how deep presence transforms nervous system regulation; dysfunctional family dynamics and the adult patterns they create; healing the wounded inner child; trauma, PTSD, and how they affect relationships; identifying codependency; what leads to love addiction and love avoidance; healthy boundaries versus building walls; why we people please and how to just Stop it; signs of emotional manipulation; healthy conflict resolution; how to ask your partner to meet your needs; eye gazing as a tool of healing; having unrealistic expectations in relationships; how to know if a toxic relationship is doomed or redeemable and summoning the courage to leave if it's not; how she manages having two romantic partners at the same time, and finally, the role of plant medicines and psychedelic therapy in healing.

Now, before we jump into this bad boy, I want to invite you to check out my holiday must-haves at lukestorey.com/holidaygiftguide where you'll find some huge savings on all my favorite wellness products from 2022. That's  lukestorey.com/holidaygiftguide. Okay, let's get our groove on with the incomparable Dr. Nicole LePera, the holistic psychologist on the Life Stylist Podcast. 

Well, I am so stoked to talk to you today. I've been following your work for, I don't know, the past couple of years and wrestling to get you on the show and you're always working on a book or something. And we're finally here. You've got a new book coming out which I've been scoping the advanced copy of, which we're going to get into, and it's very, very cool. So how's Austin treating you?

Dr. Nicole LePera: [00:03:26] I'm honored to be here. Thank you, Luke, for being patient in terms of waiting. And I like Austin a lot. I'm staying in downtown, so I was sharing with Alyson before when I first arrived, it's reminding me of city life now that I'm very much living not in a city area. I'm in Scottsdale. 

Luke Storey: [00:03:44] Yeah. In Scottsdale, are you just in a suburban neighborhood?

Dr. Nicole LePera: [00:03:48] In the neighborhood is the picture that I would paint of it now. And very much different than growing up in Philadelphia and New York City. And then the time I spent in LA. Welcome change.

Luke Storey: [00:03:58] Yeah. Yeah. Well, welcome to Texas. If you're going to go anywhere in Texas, based on my experience, Austin is a good place to go. No offense to the other lovely places in Texas, but when I came here, it felt like home largely because of just the community of people here. There's just so many interesting people doing great work here. 

So I follow you on Instagram and I never really look at people's numbers, but today I was going on there and you have like five and a half million followers or something just on Instagram. I'm like, she's like the Kim Kardashian of personal development, mental health, etc. What was your career like before you started becoming this content machine and building these platforms that you've created?

Dr. Nicole LePera: [00:04:41] The numbers honestly still are, I'd say overwhelming. I've gotten used to the number, but I think it's very difficult for me sometimes to fully connect with, what, 5.5 million plus or however many. That is what that actually means. What it means ultimately to me, though, is just how universally resonant these topics are and know with no expectation. 

When I first created the account for me, it was really an exercise in sharing my own truth, my own journey so far in terms of my own life experience. And I had no awareness of how many people would be resonating with that on the other side. 

And so before I created the Instagram account, I was living in Philadelphia. I had a private practice. I was trained as a clinical psychologist. As long as I can remember, I was very fascinated with the mind, with people, with humans, and very intuitively followed that ping into the profession, created a private practice, and was going about my life feeling honestly increasingly more unfulfilled as time went on.

So for me, my journey really began with a moment of curious exploration, I think would be the way to put it, and really seeking to understand why I was feeling the way I was feeling, why so many of my loved ones were feeling unfulfilled, disconnected with an accumulation of symptoms and diagnoses and really the number one word feeling stuck. So really seeking to understand life more wholly and then to begin to work more holistically began my own journey.

Luke Storey: [00:06:08] That must have been a humbling process of being highly educated, having a successful practice wherein you were in the position of being the one that has the answers and then still finding yourself, as you put it, stuck, right?

Dr. Nicole LePera: [00:06:21] Yes.

Luke Storey: [00:06:22] That's got to be challenging. It's like if you're a personal trainer and you can't get in shape. You know what I mean? It's like, "Why won't my stuff work on me?"

Dr. Nicole LePera: [00:06:31] This empowered, I think, is the number one word that kept coming up for me. Not only did I struggle to maintain, create change in my life in different areas where I didn't think feel like things were necessarily working for me. It was always feeling anxious, never really being able to find grounded moments of safety, really feeling disconnected, feeling really disempowered myself. 

I got so used to, I think just squashing that down, continuing to receive validation by being educated, by checking all of those more external boxes. And really it was in those rooms when I was seeing an experience in that same disempowerment and the clients that were paying me, tasking me to help them change, mitigate their symptoms, just feel better and no amount of awareness of even coming up with a plan of new action would actually be able to help people change. 

And I understood there's a very real reason we as humans struggle to want to change. There's a safety in the familiar, and a lot of times I don't think we're bringing the tools to create the conscious awareness that we need to create the change in our day-to-day life, if we're not doing things outside of that treatment room.

Luke Storey: [00:07:47] Oh my God, changing is so hard. As someone who's-- I've come a long way and unfortunately, I give myself too little credit. I'm working on that because I'm always looking at the next thing that I need to evolve through. Meanwhile, there's miles and miles and miles and thousands of feet in elevation in comparison to where I came from.

But, man. God, any little thing that we come up against is just really hard, at least on our own accord, as you said, to first identify what it is, but then to have the wherewithal to do what's necessary to change it. It brings to mind-- and I meant to share this with you before we started recording, but in the interest of our pre-conversation, I'm just going to be very real and vulnerable here. 

So for the past-- as an example of change and why is it so fucking hard, for the past 36 years, I've been using nicotine addictively in one form or another, so since 1985, when I was like 15. There's been spurts of like, oh, I'm quitting. And then I quit that type. And then some time goes by and I get on another form of it or something because I'm in this delusional denial that I can control my use of that molecule if it comes in a different-- if it's gum, I'm going to chew nicotine gum all day.

Oh, yeah, yeah, I mean the whole thing. So a couple of weeks ago I had a really profound experience in a ceremony. And part of my intention in that was to just finally let that go and to experience life truly without any exogenous addictions. We're all addicted to thoughts and feelings and things like that, like you share in your work. But as far as something outside of myself that I need to take constantly to change the way I feel. 

And so I had this profound experience, and I felt extremely empowered. And when it was over, I threw away my happy, which was what I was using, which is insane all day long. Anyone that's done that would know it's not meant to be used that way. I felt great and then had a week of feeling like, wow, I can do this. And now I'm a little over two weeks in and I'm finding life is extremely confronting, being as present as I am to what it's like to live inside of my body.

And so I'm seeing as you describe that change, like, holy shit, I mean, it seems like something relatively insignificant, oh, I'm going to take this thing out of my life and just do me. And I'm finding like, wow, doing me is really fucking hard even with all of the evolution. 

Dr. Nicole LePera: [00:10:28] Yeah, a lot of these choices, habits become so integrated as our way to feel better, to regulate ourselves that when we make the choice to remove it, even if it's so logically, I'm sure you could list all the benefits that you'll get not having this nicotine coursing through your body, when we're in those moments, we are confronted. 

For a lot of us we're met with in those deeper feelings that that action allowed us to distract from or to numb or to give us a shift completely in our physiology. And when we're not left to make those choices, even if it's logically walking us in the direction of the outcomes that we want for our life, it'll feel uncomfortable. At minimum, we'll have the experience of resistance, of just not feeling like ourselves, not being fully comfortable in our skin in the way that we're familiar with all of the reason to go right back.

When we're talking about a behavior that's helping us regulate or possibly distracting us from pain, now I'm becoming conscious to all of the pain that might have been accumulating for all of the years. We've used that as our adaptive way to regulate ourselves. 

So it's a mountain in a sense of it's not just logical. And this is what I kept seeing come up with clients. We can have all the logic in the world and living in that interim myself, it can be incredibly frustrating to have all of this knowing betters and then to be faced with those moments of, wow, I'm really deeply uncomfortable right now. And I don't actually know what to do next to help myself feel better, except for reaching for this only thing that I've once known.

Luke Storey: [00:11:59] Totally. Yeah. And I guess we all developed those things that we reach for. It could be the feeling of having to be in a romantic relationship continually, like the serial monogamist kind of thing or love addict or someone that plays video games more than they would like to. There's so many tools that we can use to distract ourselves. 

I think with this one, I'm just shocked that I'm having such a dark night of the soul over this. Every day I talk to Alyson I'm like, "What the fuck is wrong with this? Is this going to go away?" And she's like, "Oh, remember when I'm going through stuff" because I'm really good at consoling other people, right? Because obviously, I'm not having their nervous system experience. 

But she's going through something I'm like, beb, it's a number of hours, maybe a couple of days, but probably hours. You're going to totally forget how this even felt and you're going to feel better than ever. And it's so easy for me to see that. But when I wake up and I'm just clawing at the walls. It's very difficult to see that there's going to be another side of it. It's just when you're in that state, doesn't it sometimes seem like this is just the way it is now?

Dr. Nicole LePera: [00:13:11] Yeah. And I think what complicates it further is our mind and our body have the living memory of what once was. And at a time, whatever behavior we're talking about, reaching for the gum, even I think the socially accepted and validated ones like working or keeping ourselves endlessly busy with these achievements, at a time in space, we relied on that or developed that as a coping mechanism in a state of I'm going to really simplify all of this, but in a state of overwhelm. And without usually that point of safe connection, being an attuned caregiver to help us understand and regulate our emotions, what happened next was cataclysmic. 

It was completely overwhelming. And we only could do this one thing to help create some semblance of safety. So now flash forward in time, even if it's decades from that moment, the similarity, whatever it is in this particular instance that's activating that, I'm brought right back to that six, five, three infant. And the memory that's activated is not of one safely tolerating this discomfort where my body just doesn't feel good and I want to reach for the gum,just to use your example, my body only has the memory of completely being overwhelmed and of the only option being reaching for this external thing. 

So what we're actually up against is literally needing to lay down some neurophysiological new pathways that in that moment can actually activate that feeling of safety. So we're relying on a memory that is accurate. And the memory in that moment is I need this thing. There is nothing else that will make me feel better. We just have to come into our conscious awareness that we're not that child, that we do have more tools available to us. Maybe we even have a supportive, attuned relationship where we can go to in those moments, like you're going to Alyson to be met in that moment of discomfort. 

But again, what's activated is not that. It's the scenario where there was only one pathway out, and that's why it feels so compulsive, so desperate even.

Luke Storey: [00:15:09] And so normalized too. In a prior life, many years ago, 25 years ago, I was a really incorrigible alcoholic and drug addict. And so, of course, like many years of a process of learning how to live without that, but with something like, I don't know, just overeating or sugar or even nicotine, these things that are socially acceptable and don't really cause one to have an outwardly unmanageable life like some of the other pathological, addictive behavior like everyone knows your life is falling apart. You're a gambling addict, you just spent your family's life savings. There's like, all of these big signs that you're off track. 

But with those little things, I think it's much more insidious because it just become so normalized and so habituated that when we stop, it's hard to even identify what's wrong. There's a different kind of withdrawal. It's also profound, even though the behavior was more subtle and acceptable.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [00:16:11] And I think that really describes what had percolated around me and came to a head or one of many heads in my late 20s was how acceptable my coping mechanism of distracting, of achieving, of keeping myself endlessly busy with really surface-level relationships around me, of finding myself at the happy hour more often than I was in, and just kind of pulling my strength and energy to make it to the weekend or to my next vacation and seeing all of that in everyone else, it did become for me so normalized as my way of being. 

So some of it I think the more subtle things outside of even those big actions that cause us financial destitution or actually self or other harm in our relationships or our personality, our way of being, and for me, in addition to achieving or performing, if you will, in my professional life, I should say for external, I did that in my relationships. 

I became the people pleaser who was never able to acknowledge or even knew where my needs began or end it to be able to even communicate them. So for some of us, our adaptation has become our helper personality, our caretaker personality or people pleaser, where we don't actually have a self needs. And how I met that was actually having crossed my limit so often, having put everyone else before me for so long, I actually had nothing left.

But again, to speak to your point from the outside and even from the inside, when I would shame myself, when I would gaslight myself, "Nicole, you shouldn't have anything wrong. You're successful. What the heck is wrong with you?" For a lot of us, it's so underneath our conscious awareness. It's who we are and how we are in our life that is actually causing us to continue dysregulation or trauma.

Luke Storey: [00:17:56] Wow. So true. I relate to that so deeply. I think that's why I love your work. Anytime I go on your Instagram or listen to your podcast, I'm like, check, check, check. It's like literally there's nothing on there that I don't qualify for or have qualified for at some point. And I guess, like you said, that speaks to the virality of the content that you create is this I think this stuff we're discovering is more universal than we once believed. 

And to me, that's so hopeful and healthy as a culture, as a society that we're all going to, oh, all walks of life, we've developed these patterns from our childhood and these family systems, and these are how these patterns play out. And thankfully for people like you, there's ways that you can undo them.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [00:18:40] Yeah. And so many of us in secretively, I think, sit in our own shame of thinking we're the only one. And the conversation we were having before we even hit record was how now these conversations of other people sharing their journeys, whether it's on an Instagram account like we run or podcasts like this or what have you, we can tune in and it shakes me to my core when I will share or see in the comments someone having that revelation of, oh my gosh, I'm not alone. For so many years I thought I was the only one. 

And then you scroll down further and you maybe see comments of thousands of other individuals who are having that same experience. So, I think to speak to that point, we harbor shame. We don't talk about these things thinking, worrying what others will imagine, it means about us to share these things. And in reality, we're all so much, in my opinion, more similar than we are dissimilar. 

And I'm really hopefully inspired by the prolific nature of these conversations now. Hopefully, other humans and people like yourself having these conversations will expose other humans to how not alone they are.

Luke Storey: [00:19:42] I love that. It reminds me of the power of community in recovery groups, 12 step groups and stuff. It's like an addict or alcoholic can walk in a room like that just feeling like a pariah because they've situated themselves as such due to their decisions and their issues. And you can walk in a room and hear 20 people talk and you're like, "Oh my God, we're all basically exactly the same." A few of the details are different, but it's so empowering, I think, to hear other people have the courage to really share their vulnerable truth and the things they're struggling with. It might just be the thing that saves us as a society, really people like you and putting work out and doing podcasts like this where you give people permission to enter the room and like, you're okay, man. We're all in this together.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [00:20:31] Yeah. Early on in my training, I did a lot of work in inpatient, outpatient, all different types of recovery type structures. And it really, first of all, educated me big time in terms of the deep rootedness, because I believe what unifies most of us, whether it's the substances that we're abusing or the self-harming habits or this way of being that might even be validated by the world, that has all become an adaptation, I believe that what unifies most of us humans is a core belief in unworthiness, of not feeling good enough somewhere at our core. 

So then we interestingly enough, it comes full circle. We do all these things, abuse all these substances to try and mitigate this pain, hiding away in our shame, like you said, becoming the pariah that we suspected ourselves to be because that's who we feel at our core. Now we're living the manifestation of it only to find healing and peeling back the onion and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and connect in community, to not feel as alone, to rebuild the connections. I think that that caused all of that. 

So that is one of the major reasons why I'm so passionate now about community-based healing. And even when I first created that Instagram account, I made sure I started to utilize the Self Healers hashtag at the end as a way for other humans who were resonating with this information or wanting to connect with other individuals, they can begin to locate each other through even just the use of this hashtag. And then of course, that's translated into me offering the Self Healer circle, the membership.

But community is always a focus because again, at our core we need other humans. So few of us feel worthy of vulnerably allowing self to be accepted, exposed, and connected to by other humans and their lie, I think the beginning of our journey is finding that safe space.

Luke Storey: [00:22:14] Totally. The lack of self-worth and shame is so tragic, isn't it? Because it's so antithetical to what is actually true. Each and every living being, really let's just take humans, are divine and absolutely perfect and lovable. Some of our behaviors and patterns and stuff obviously can get to the point where they're injurious or deleterious to those about us.

But just taking a raw human being, none of us actually deserve that self-diagnosis. I find myself, even all these years later, I've come a long way and just learning how to go, okay, I'm decent, I have like a realistic appraisal of myself and kind of who I am and what I'm about. But still I find myself having those shamy feeling sometimes or not feeling worthy of love and it's just like, "Oh my God, how deeply ingrained this shit is. It's insane." And undeservedly so.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [00:23:17] I believe at our core, whatever, however it is that you choose to define that-- your soul, your essence, your spirit, the energy. I couldn't agree more that I think, at our core, we're caring, we're compassionate. We have the ability to join together collaboratively. And that's how we succeeded as a species. That's how we've evolved. 

And yet again, at our core, we don't feel that way based on different experiences, very real that we've lived throughout our lives I believe beginning in utero, from our first environment, which was housed inside of another imperfect human living, doing the best that they can based on what the generations before them have taught them. 

And there then begins that dominoes of disconnecting us from that inner pure essence. And again, I believe the journey is of peeling back all the layers of our conditioning that very much are causing dysfunction and harm to our lives and our relationships and learning how to be a conscious participant. Because to speak to your point, none of us ever deserve any harm that has come our way. Yet as an adult, we can be responsible for the impact that that harm is causing us living in our mind and bodies and the world around us. 

And we can then begin to make new choices using tools, like we were just talking about, we did not once have and beginning to show up differently in the world. And I believe that's how we then start those dominoes in the other direction back to healing, joint connectivity and collaboration.

Luke Storey: [00:24:42] Totally. And as we bring more humans into the world, as more deeply integrated individuals ourselves, it's like the inverse of familial trauma can take place. I'm witnessing that now. My younger brother Cody just had a baby. I think his name is Bjorn. He's like, I think four months and I know my brother's been doing the work. And he's not going to be perfect, of course, and no parent ever will be. But I'm looking at that baby I'm like, "Holy shit, this is the first story that's not going to be traumatized, at least as a result of just these familial patterns." 

Yeah, it might like be in a car accident or something like that. We can't avoid necessarily getting hurt. But as far as that cycle of dysfunction and codependency and addiction, that shit, the bulk of that shit has stopped because he's been willing to really go into the depth of his shadows and do the work. 

Dr. Nicole LePera: [00:25:37] It's so inspiring whether or not I'm not choosing personally to have children. For everyone listening who isn't necessarily going to make that choice, I believe this is how we change our societies, our communities, so that even if we aren't birthing and raising the children under our own roof, then these other humans, future generations, can have safer spaces to walk outside of their home and safer relationships to find themselves in ultimately. 

And I do believe this is how we change and break these generational habits. And I actually think even becoming aware of the generational habits that live within us that we're actively working to change can be incredibly relieving of the shame, of this idea that it's something inherently wrong with us or that we're broken in some way. When we see these patterns and understand that we're all trying the best that we can with the information that may be limited at different times that we have, then I think we can expand more compassionately for ourselves and for others who are still struggling.

Luke Storey: [00:26:36] Yeah, true. I look at it like this principle-- I don't remember where I got this exactly, but a rising tide lifts all boats, right? So it's like as we each do the work to elevate our consciousness and to heal, there's just a reverberation effect in the field, in the general field of consciousness. Not even that we have to, like you said, have kids or go about doing good deeds in the world, it's just who we are becomes medicine to those about us because of that field.

It seems to be the case for me. When you look at recovery, this has always been something that's phenomenal to me as you can take a severely mentally ill, drug addicted, alcoholic, homeless person, walk them in to a consciousness field of, say, like an AA meeting or a church or whatever that field is held in a meditation group, etc, and that person is transformed merely by the fact that they're in a higher field. And that's crazy. I mean, of course, then there's work to do but at least the initial boost out of that deep sense of apathy and shame and those very low states of emotion, the ship truly can be lifted, right?

Dr. Nicole LePera: [00:27:51] Yes. I'm actually doing some research for another book project I have.

Luke Storey: [00:27:54] Oh, you have another one?

Dr. Nicole LePera: [00:27:55] Work on relationships called How to Be the Love You Seek. It'll be out next year, and I'm doing research around in particular meditation studies where humans not even physically connected or all task to meditate on usually feelings of compassion, of love at a particular time of day. And they've mapped it onto or correlated it with a decrease in in crime in cities at that same time period and all different types of research where they're beginning to experiment with consciousness, like what you're talking about, shifting into safety or elevated modes of consciousness, again, not even needing to be connected physically or in the same meditation room happening. It could be humans from around the world and then the decreases in stress and violence and conflict again, not even in the same room or happening in the community.

Luke Storey: [00:28:44] I love that.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [00:28:45] Neighboring and this is-- I'm getting chills even as I'm speaking it. This is so inspiring. And again, it really goes back to what we're talking about in the beginning is how connected, how similar, how joint we are as a collective. I think a lot of us, we are living our solo experience. We're feeling disconnected, though we can't ever fully disconnect ourselves from other humanity. We're wired to connect with others, quite literally down to our physiology.

Luke Storey: [00:29:11] And I love the title of your book is Be the Love that you--

Dr. Nicole LePera: [00:29:15] How to Be the Love You Seek.

Luke Storey: [00:29:16] How to Be the Love You Seek. That's the answer to the whole thing in and outside of relationships. But it's the principle of to be the change you want to see in the world, that whole kind of thing, which is just so fundamentally true. It's just so true. And it's just like that phenomenon of someone being raised up just by being in the presence or in the case that you're demonstrating there in your upcoming book, it's not even in the physical presence, but just the field being created or someone actually just paying attention to it and giving some attention and intention to that being transformative it's just fascinating. It's so cool.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [00:29:52] Yeah, absolutely. And obviously in lived experience, much more complicated than oh yeah, just go out and be love. Everyone who's like, yeah, I absolutely. What if I could? Dr. Nicole, thank you for that. And there's a very real reason why so many of us are feeling disconnected from our loving space, disconnected from our heart, disconnected from ourselves, our relationships entirely. 

Again, it's not because we're not that loving being that I'm here trying to maybe convince you that you are again. Usually it's trauma, it's protection. It's all of these habits and patterns that we've created as a way to keep ourselves safe at one time.

Luke Storey: [00:30:27] Isn't that just the sad irony of that, that these mechanisms of self-protection that we put in place, these patterns as a result of our trauma actually become the things that prevent us from being fully whole and actually being truly safe? The human condition is just so-- I don't know, I don't want to say sad, but it's like, "God, man, it's not easy being here doing this thing."

Dr. Nicole LePera: [00:30:54] And I'll just use myself as a lived example. Growing up in a family that had very little emotional connection, am having a very emotionally shut down mother in particular, logically, here I am, even writing a book, How to Be the Love You Seek, connect, relationships are so important. Yet for me, there's still moments in my current relationship where at my core, I don't feel worthy of just being connected to or love for just being who I am.
Without that performance and that role and showing up to be the good partner who doesn't have any needs, I do, at my core, struggle to feel worthy of that connection that I'm even here on air. Attesting is part of the human wiring. So it's so counterintuitive that even something like love and support for those of us that never had that to whom it's still unfamiliar and possibly even the definition of love that we were raised in or around was unsafe itself, that's a very big place to unpack here, which is that this thing that I'm hearing, that I need to connect with another human actually in my body doesn't feel safe, which is again, why I really emphasize the need and for myself evolved my practice from just thinking about these in our mind or trying to willpower or logic our way out of these habits until we really include our body and the safety that we need to integrate and instill something like just letting love in is really a far cry from what we can possibly do.

Luke Storey: [00:32:18] Well, I loved that you brought that up, because it's segues perfectly. I feel like we just been having a chat, but I do have tons of very specific questions. I'm going, Luke, shut up and ask your questions. But I love that you talk about-- your first book was How to Do the Work and the new one, How to Meet Yourself, which is this incredible workbook.

And whenever I have the PDF advanced versions of it, it's hard for me to actually read the book like I would if I had it in my hand. But I was going through it today and I'm like, this is the manual on how to heal yourself. It's all in there. And what I really appreciated was so much attention to the somatic experience, because I think that especially for those of us that really like to think, we can get caught in the intellect and understand these constructs and can understand a model like you've created, but then it's not in the body like the trauma and all the shit is still stuck in there. 

And the inertia of that, no matter what I think or believe or have learned intellectually, is going to drag me back into the same way of doing things. So one of the things that I thought was really great in your book was how you right off the bat talk about breathing techniques. And so I would like to know what you've learned about how the breath can actually lead us into a deeper experience of being within ourselves.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [00:33:37] Yeah, so I very intentionally structured the book in three parts, beginning with the body and then evolving to the mental emotional world, and then finally the final layer of the onion is peeling back and reconnecting with our authentic self before we even get. And I kind of focus our conscious awareness on or suggest that readers look at our body and how we're caring for our body. 

The first pre section, if you will, of the workbook is about creating safety in our bodies, because to speak to your point, so many of us are living in our minds. We don't feel safety in our body based on things that happen, overwhelming feelings that again, we didn't have support to cope with at one time. So our body itself doesn't feel like a safe place to be. 

So going into an exploration that in terms of, well, what are my body habits, how is my nervous system feeling in this moment? Am I being activated? Am I feeling threatened? We have to instill safety in our body to even be able to turn our attention to it.

And what I discovered into my late 20s when I was feeling so disconnected, so unfulfilled, was actually that feeling of disconnection was coming from a very shutdown nervous system. My body felt very unsafe and living in my mind, always hyper analyzing or just somewhere else entirely, where my mind felt kind of blank and I wasn't as I say, I was thinking about anything, but I definitely wasn't fully present.

And again, all of that was a function of me not feeling safe in my body. So to create safety, one of the major tools that I'm always talking about is first tuning into our breath because the way our body is breathing, which is happening all of the time outside of our awareness, we're not necessarily even needing to control it, can give us an indicator of whether or not our body is even stressed. 

If I were to ask listeners now to put a hand on their chest or hand on their belly and even just notice where their breath is coming from, a lot of people would say either a, I don't really feel breath, it's imperceptible or oh my gosh, I even notice I was holding my breath. 

Some of us might notice it's coming from really quickened in our chest area. When we're noticing that we're holding our breath, that our breath is quick and that's not calm, deep, even from our belly. That was one of the first things I noticed. It was even hard for me to activate a deep belly breath. My breath was always being constricted. I could barely feel it happening. Deep belly breathing is a sign that our body is safe enough. It's able to be relaxed. Our muscles need to be relaxed, our heart needs to be calm, and we're breathing in that way. 

So when we're not as many of you probably listening are like, oh my gosh, my breath, I'm heaving, I'm so nervous feeling or I can't really feel my breath tapping into and beginning to practice different types of breathing, teaching our body how to first minimally do that calm, deep belly breathing can help us to feel grounded and safer in our bodies.

Luke Storey: [00:36:28] I love that. Yeah. It's such a great barometer of where you are at any given moment. I catch myself still after all these years of doing all these things, breathing super shallow. I just find myself driving around and it's like I'm not stressed about anything in particular or identifiable, but it's just like this habitual tension.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [00:36:49] Yes, I noticed over time, so much of the way my breathing was consistently, the way my posture became hunched, I truly believe in protection of my heart that my whole standard way of being was just a stress response. Even in absence of a stressful event happening or stressful thoughts in my mind, the messages that are being sent up from my body to my mind, because there's actually more messages that are coming from the body to the mind and from the mind to the body, so in those moments where I was seemingly calm and peaceful, the reason why my mind would start to race or I'd start to have that anxiety was because my body wasn't actually calm and peaceful. 

My posture was maybe all hunched over. I, like you, was either barely breathing or breathing really quickly. Maybe my muscles were even tense. My jaw, I probably live for two plus decades with my jaw always clenched.

So my mind is saying, oh, geez, Nicole, something really stressful must be happening around here. What is it? And then lo and behold, oh, right, it was that stressful conversation that I had this morning. Or, oh, right, it's this thing I have to do tomorrow and I love throwing things on a to-do list. So I always had the stressful thing to locate the reason for my body stress, not understanding that my body was carrying that stress from decades.

Luke Storey: [00:38:06] This makes me think of the fundamentals of the yogic traditions wherein the physical asana, the physical part of the yoga is just a preparation to attune the nervous system to be able to meditate and all the breathing techniques and all of the things. It made me think of that because I never put this together until you just illuminated it in that way. But it's like the body sending the message over the course of the initial part of the movement that it's safe. So then the mind can actually kind of unfold into that greater sense of awareness. 

Dr. Nicole LePera: [00:38:40] Yes. So that's the part I think that has been missing, that was missing in my training is really even being aware of the impact that the body is having outside of even the nervous system, the food that we're eating. Our gut is connected and sending messages. And most of the neurotransmitters that for a long time we locate it only in our brain actually, lo and behold, it turns out that that they're being produced in our gut. 

So now choices around nutrition or factoring in in terms of our mood and how our brain is functioning and how we're reacting in the world around us, so including our body is so important because it carries so much wisdom. And for so many of us, it carries so much dysregulation or isn't getting the resources and the fuel that it needs to send those signals of safety. 

Because when our needs aren't consistently being met, if we're not eating nutritious food, if we're not resting our body, which a lot of times in this culture isn't the choice that most of us make, because a very real priorities or again, all of this endless seeking of achievement, then our body isn't going to feel safe and isn't going to send those signals to allow our mind to relax, unfold, or even be fully present in what's happening.

Luke Storey: [00:39:48] Epic. I love that. A common request from Life Stylist listeners is a breakdown of my top five non-negotiable supplements. After a couple of decades of research, I'd have to say that vitamin K2 easily makes that list. Nearly every American adult has insufficient levels of vitamin K2. It's simply not available in the modern Western diet. Why does this matter? Well, a K2 deficiency can cause major issues, including coronary artery disease, heart disease, bone spurs, kidney stones and liver stones, plaque in your heart vessels, and even major cardiac events. 

In 1990, the Rotterdam study looked at people from eastern Japan who consumed high amounts of K2. More than 8,400 participants were given 50 micrograms of natural K2 on a daily basis for more than 10 years, and the results were insane. Participants of the study showed a 50% decrease in cardiovascular events and mortality, a 25% decrease in all cause mortality, and finally, a 25% increased rate of living longer and healthier. It's crazy what they found in this study.

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Let's explore a few of the classic dysfunctional family dynamics and the resulting patterns that we face as adults. Going over some of them and, oftentimes I'll read someone's book or study their work and I'm like, "Name the 10 things in your book."You're like, "I wrote that book five years ago. I can't memorize." But some of the ones that you brought up that maybe we could dig into would be denial, chronic negativity. That was a really good one for me to even I never even identified that. But just as someone who's just say, your parents are always complaining and bitching and always seeing the glasses have empty and all that, neglected needs, secrecy and deceit. 

And then one that I threw in there just out of personal experience is emotional incest. And I don't know if that's something you could talk about if you frame it in that way, but the adult having their needs met through someone who's not emotionally capable of doing so.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [00:42:49] Yeah, I think it's underlying whatever dysfunctional habit and pattern that you've just described there is the reality that those early relationships, those early environments do impact us. Everything from the boundaries that we have limits, where we can have space to be a separate individual in our families. 

Or maybe we're growing up with a merger. This idea of groupthink, how we always think and maybe it's we always think negatively or we're always looking waiting for the other shoe to drop. Sometimes it's emotional where those boundaries get blurred and we experience things like emotional incest, where we're needing to show up in a particular way to give our caregiver usually or allow them to feel or have a usually emotional need. Sometimes it's parentification where we're expected at a young age to have a developmental maturity and to almost interact emotionally with a parent as if we're a peer. 

And then the list goes on in terms of honesty. Are things suppressed and denied? As children were energetic creatures, we feel things that are happening. If that's not lining up with the stories of the realities that are being spoken and our emotions are denied, we're told not to feel a certain thing or we're being too dramatic if we feel a certain thing or we're attuned to dysfunction and conflict in our parents or in the home and that's denied or hidden or secrets or supposedly happening behind closed doors, but we're feeling it. And what we're being told is a mismatch. 

All of that leads us to embodying that own dysfunction in our own way. We become someone who maybe suppresses or denies those same emotions that didn't have space in our families. Or maybe we blur our own emotional lines and we become codependent in our relationships with other people if we were personified or had that emotional incest in childhood.
So the takeaway here is whatever way we're showing up in our relationships, especially if there's dysfunctional patterns or places that we're stuck or just not having our needs met, usually that's indication of some adoption that we had to make in childhood. There's some part that we're playing. It might be underneath our even conscious awareness that that's the part that we're playing. Yet it's right, we've created that. We've brought that from our childhood experience. 

So while we never deserved what happened at one time, we can show up in service of becoming conscious of what habit is happening or occurring in our relationship now that we can create change in for later.

Luke Storey: [00:45:16] That's awesome. You're so articulate. I love the way you put things together. It's crazy how, in terms of romantic relationships, how we unconsciously are drawn toward that familiarity of those same patterns. This took me a long, long time to start to suss out. Just getting dysfunctional relationship after another and just going, why did I pick them? Why did they pick me? This makes no sense. So not working.

And then, of course, with some hindsight vision to see like, oh, there was this part of my mom or this part of my dad and probably sometimes the positive attributes too. They just make part of your character that's compatible with someone else's. But in the context of what you're going for here, it's just crazy how to me-- and get your take on this. To me, it seems like the way that consciousness, God, karma, whatever you want to call it, sort of design things, is that when we're harmed early on there's this imprint in us, maybe scientifically neural pathways or something wherein later in life we meet these different characters in the theater of our ongoing experience that match those experiences so perfectly that we have this irresistible, compelling desire to repeat that shit with them because we didn't have the opportunity, for whatever reason, to work it out before. 

And so framing things like this for me has been really instrumental in my finding a deep and authentic forgiveness of myself and for other people who I would have perceived to have harmed me.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [00:47:02] Yeah, absolutely.

Luke Storey: [00:47:03] In those relationships that just got nasty and sticky and both parties walked away hurt or feeling hurt, but it's like, well, why did I get in there in the first place? It's like there was something that drove me against all common sense in many cases and the advice of counsel to right. No, no, wrong, wrong person, wrong. First, I'm like, no, I got to do it. I got to do it and just go in back in the fire, come out, just scorched and go, "Why did I not listen?"

It's like because there was some part of myself maybe that just knew that I had to get in there, that they held the key to another level of healing. I don't think it has to go that way. I think in my relationship now, it's very different. Our healing is more of the unconditional love and transformative nature than it is like based on triggers. So what's your take on that? Do you think it's this cosmic sort of gift/joke that's been played on us that just forces us to work our shit out?

Dr. Nicole LePera: [00:48:01] I think was it Sigmund Freud, I think might have been the first person to speak of what he called the compulsion to repeat. And I think the way he theoretically framed it is we repeat these dynamics, these stuck points, these problems, these issues, however you want to define them, with a deep, often unconscious intention to repeat them, to repair, to get a different outcome.

And whether or not that language resonates, I know that our subconscious is wired to repeat the familiar because it assumes a false safety in that, even the outcome. So picking this particular red flag type of partner that maybe your friends are even yelling from the rafters, not again, stop it. Don't do this. There's something so inherently familiar in that experience. Maybe allowing us to use my example, having that emotional distance in childhood, while I desperately want it all I would profess I want was close connection. It felt safer for someone for me to pick a person who allowed, for whatever reason, their own past childhood conditioning and trauma, who allowed me to exist in that more distant space. 

Because what I'm now contending with being in a much more open, evolving, unconditional based relationship, there is an a discomfort in emotional closeness that I still feel. So to keep feeling comfortable in my familiar self, it made sense for me to pick those really distant people who allowed me to stay distant while friends are yelling, Nicole, this isn't the kind of person that's going to fulfill you, yet there was comfort in that familiarity. And we will continue to stay in that comfortable space until we become even conscious of the role that we're playing and keeping, for me, that space. So while I would say come close, I would have my hand at a distance, preventing that person from coming close to me.

So it wasn't until I became a conscious observer that was able to say I deeply want connection. At the same time, connection feels very unfamiliar and uncomfortable. So in those moments, what I witness myself do is I demand someone come and connect with me, yet I make it difficult. One of my partners calls, I become a prickly pear. I put all my porcupine quills up and like, come close to me, hug me, but I don't make it possible. 

So now I'm a conscious observer of the role I played at keeping this distance, which was tearing me apart and I was blaming everyone else for, and I can become more compassionate and give myself grace, understanding that there was a very little girl who was overwhelmed and who didn't have the safety. 

So there was distance felt safely familiar. And I can extend compassion. And then to speak to your point, some of us can look up at our lineages and gift that same compassion to our parents, to the human who write based on what they've learned and the patterns they've brought from their past experiences might not have, as you said earlier, been perfect or might not have been able to consistently be available for us. For whatever reason, we can still choose the type of relationship we want with that person in adulthood, though, we might be able to extend compassion, understanding and why it was that we had the experience with them that we did.

Luke Storey: [00:51:08] Do you think that as we arrive at deeper levels of healing of those traumatic experiences that we've been through as kids and whatnot, as those things healed, do you think that at a certain point we will be repelled by people that are in the role of reactivating those dynamics for us to heal? In other words, like once we've healed, seems to me that people that are still unhealed in those ways, like there's a mismatch now where they become more obviously-- and no judgment against them, but a red flag for where I am in my own life and development and what I really want. 

It's like you kind of see them from across the room where a couple of years back it might have been like, I have to have them, I have to have them. They're so perfect because of that programming. Whereas now it's like, oh hell no. I find I'm much better able to see that. And now it's more, in the terms of friendships because I'm in a relationship. But do you think that that switches at some point? Am I perceiving something real there?

Dr. Nicole LePera: [00:52:07] Yeah. I think when we heal, the way I'll define that at least is, we are turning back to ourselves in connection to our internal guidance which lives within us, which we get to be the person that shows up in interaction with this new person or this old friend or old relationship, whoever it might be, and drop in and say, how do I feel around this person? Do I feel open and interested and light and easeful and even a bit like, motivate it and when I leave light, elevate it, or do I feel, I want to even avoid time with them? I feel constricted. I don't feel safe when I'm with them. I'm monitoring myself and my thoughts. 

When we drop into our self and use that as guidance, which we becomes a possible when we are healing, as we heal, we spend more time dropped into our self and our sensor. And then to speak to your point, what will happen because we are in observance of when we become stressed, we can see those moments more clearly because we've given ourself a point of contrast.

If all we know is stress and some degree of nervous system activation, we're not going to be able to even see our self. We don't have access to that part of our brain that can be in observation in those moments. So we're just blindly walking to that disregulated person and now we're in this dysregulated conversation and we're not even a conscious participant.

As we heal, we can feel ourself approaching, feeling the energy shift. As we're engaging maybe in now a conversation with this person, if we're dropped in, we might start to get those sensations that I was talking about earlier, and start to feel as clench, as censor, not really feel so great about this interaction. And then in that conscious moment we can gift ourself the choice, the opportunity, I should say, to make a choice to limit our then time, which I think over time does then translate to our sensor is more accurately attuned into what's resonant or aligned for us, and then we can find our way accordingly. And to speak to your point, we tend to divert path when people stress us out more consistently than not.

Luke Storey: [00:54:00] All right. So we actually we're not compelled by those people so much, but rather repelled if we're tuned in enough. That brings up something I've been experiencing lately, and you talk about people pleasing a lot. My friend and former guest Neil Strauss would use the term pathological accommodation. I think that's like when you're like a hard core people pleaser and it's ruining your life. And I'm sure that I've done that. 

But something I'm finding is sometimes I don't feel great around certain people, but they're really great people. There's nothing that I can find in them by picking them apart in terms of what makes them not an energetic match. But I find it difficult at times to extricate myself from a conversation or returning text or turning down invites for people wanting to spend time when I just don't know why I'm just not feeling great when I'm around them.

And it's actually confusing to me because I'm a very accommodating person. I tend to be a people pleaser, conflict avoider, yet at the same time I think due to my own growth, it's becoming nearly impossible to be fake and act like I want to be sitting there talking to someone when I actually don't. And I start to feel extremely cagey inside of my body. And yet, how does one honestly say to someone, and if you're caring, compassionate versus merely what, I really appreciate you as a person and I don't think there's anything wrong with you, but I really just don't feel like talking to you at all. I'm walking away.

It's like, where's the balance of radical honesty with the dose of compassion? And you don't want to hurt someone who's opening their heart and their time and their attention to you, but you're just kind of like, "Oh, get me out of here." It's something I'm really actually struggling with because I'm also finding that as I mature, I'm becoming much more introverted and crowds and many people, much less.
And where I happen to live here in Austin, it's very social and there's many beautiful people. There's a lot of get togethers and there's a lot of people who want to talk and I'm just like, I'm turning into a recluse, because there's very few people that I authentically feel like, wow, I feel fucking awesome around you. I want more of you. There are many that I don't feel that way. So I don't know what that is. I'm just sharing. You're the therapist. Help me. I was kidding. But do you know what I'm saying?

Dr. Nicole LePera: [00:56:23] I'm giggling and appreciating you sharing this, Luke. I'm resonating so much with it. And there was a time when I was living in New York City in particular, very social. I could have had an event planned every night, and I often was there. And I got very good at going through the emotions of being social, of keeping a conversation going, of talking about myself, telling a funny story. I always was able to appear. I was being present and connected and really being fulfilled by the interaction.

What I came to realize is a couple of things is that I was so uncomfortable with silence, with allowing myself to rest in the presence of someone that that feeling, the air, always talking, always feeling like I had to be on was a function of my attempting to perform, of making sure they were having a good time, without even a tuning or checking into how I was experiencing this. 

And that began from even me agreeing to a plan. Things that felt like a good idea on Tuesday or someone seems really excited about something to do on the weekend and I'm here saying, "Yeah, sign me up." In the second it was like as if I wrote that yes, in blood. And the day would come. It would loom in the distance. Thursday I start to feel irritated with this person.

Luke Storey: [00:57:35] Oh, my God.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [00:57:35] Saturday morning I want to run away. I want to turn off my phone because again, I'm feeling the indebtedness, the guilt. So saying all of that to say as I became more conscious about how I was spending my time, the first shift I made acknowledging this tendency to people please, just to say yes before I even meant it. 

I did this shift actually in my late 20s in New York, where I started to say maybe when people would suggest the plan, or maybe when I suggested it out at happy hour on Tuesday when things sound great on a Saturday, I'm suggesting to do something. It would be a maybe let's check in closer to. Then that gave me the opportunity not to have to come up with a complete lie or even tell the truth of why I don't want to come that day, but to have a moment to reassess, say, morning of or night before possibly delivering the no, that was the truth. 

Then I expanded that practice into how I was when I was with people and giving myself the opportunity. So saying no gave me the opportunity to spend more time alone, acknowledging that I'm much more introverted, I need more time myself than I was spending always being active with someone else. When I did choose then to be active with someone else and I would drop in, are you just talking, Nicole, now because there's a silent moment, because you're afraid they're uncomfortable or do you really intentionally want to be sharing what you're sharing? And then that gave me more practice in moments of attuning to how I felt without filling the air, without putting on a performance. 

And then ultimately, there are these moments that I can absolutely relate to where for whatever reason, we're different human beings. There's how many billion of us on this planet? Not everyone is going to feel a vibe for you or in resonance or share interests or whatever it is.

Not everyone's going to be a match and speaking that because it is really difficult, then you throw out your communication and you can explain it very eloquently like you just did. It's not you. There's nothing. You're a beautiful human. I'm a beautiful human. We're just not matching right now. Once it's spoken, then it's up to the receiver to hear that and interpret that how they may. 

And that could be a very hurtful thing. So speaking honest truth, I'm still finding my way of how to have them in real time when it is because I'm getting to that point of consciousness now, I guess what I'm hearing all this to say is where we do have those moments of, wow, this isn't feeling aligned. What do I do? How do I continue to navigate myself in an integrous, honest way in this moment? And how do I do so in a compassionate way for you? 

Because sometimes I do think brutally honest truth can land in a hurtful way. Isn't ever my intention. And how can I honor my truth, honor your truth, and allow us both to feel okay about it? That's a tall order.

Luke Storey: [01:00:22] Yeah, that's great. I'm thinking about as you describe that, leaving aside just being rude to someone and just not being thoughtful about the way you communicate something like that, but some of us as if being inauthentic and being fake and as you're saying, just, oh, just thinking of things to say to fill the air, this kind of thing, it's actually more of a disservice to that person than just finding a way to delicately and consciously communicate what your needs and preferences are. 

It's like we're not doing anyone any favors by because that person is probably sitting there being fake to some degree also. So it's like both of us are on the losing end of that with little opportunity to evolve versus maybe you do share with someone a little more honestly, like, hey, I'm going to go over there. No, I don't want to go to that thing with you and not make up a lie, just I don't really feel like it. 

To actually have permission to do that is demonstrative to that person maybe an even education like, wow, I didn't know you could do that. Like you could actually be caring and thoughtful and have a boundary or speak your truth and live your own fucking life and not be apologetic about it.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:01:35] You're saying something really powerful in there too, which is learning how to just not be apologetic based on what we want. I think we and I at least fall into this idea that I have to defend my desires or have a good reason to not want to be here right now. And a good reason is just I don't feel good right now and I don't want to be right now.

Luke Storey: [01:01:56] So good. Oh, my God.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:01:59] Even the fact that we're over, I think we do spin our wheels, and I know I do. And I would see this very often, too, in terms of how I'm spending my time and my space. And when I see other people choosing to spend in a different way they're working, I'm not. Or I have all of this felt pressure. 

And I've come to realize that so much of it is I'm putting it on myself. I feel the pressure to defend and the gift we can maybe give people to model this is just not what I want right now. That is a huge gift because so many of us have been, for different reasons, taught to have to defend or to have to have valid reasons, and then what's valid or what's not valid. 

And this idea of, well, if I get invited to something and I'm free, meaning I have the time available, then ultimately I need to go when maybe at just during those hours I might not want to do anything. I'm not obligated to anyone. My plan is nothing. That feels really uncomfortable, at least for me. And I think it does for a lot of us with this idea that there has to be a good reason and there's then qualifiers of what makes a reason good and not good. 

And I think to model that attunement to our self, to our wants, to our differences and to following again within reason, not harming people around us and finding the eloquent, concise way to communicate that though, I do think it gifts the service of authenticity that people need and are looking for and might not be there, have the language to do it themselves. 

Yet though, having that moment where someone did just follow what they want might be the most inspiring thing that they revisit to then create those moments for themselves.

Luke Storey: [01:03:34] Totally. That's great. Wow. I don't even know we're going to go so deep on that particular. We could spin off on so many of these little threads. But it brings to mind times where I have had the wherewithal, the courage and kind of the presence of mind to just go, you know what? I'm just going to say the thing and just be really honest with someone in a kind way. 

In many cases, it's actually had a transformative effect on the relationship where I actually begin to enjoy that person's company more now. There's like we hit some other level of intimacy, perhaps in my willingness to be vulnerable and honest. And I actually feel more comfortable around them now. Have you experienced that where you set a new bar of a new standard of how you're relating to someone and you both get more real?

Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:04:20] Yes. Yes. I had actually a very vivid moment of this where a professional and personal relationship. We were building into what began as a business into a more personal and then conversation arose at some point very early on in development of this relationship about a particular business opportunity that for different reasons wasn't necessarily feeling fully aligned. 

But now I'm feeling the pressure of this personal relationship and wanting to perform and be the good little new friend and having all of this like, "Oh wait, I chose to just because this was someone that I did want to cultivate and could see a future connection with, where I to continue to be honest, I did then make the choice just to honestly communicate how I was feeling pulled in different directions and what my thought process was.

And it brought us not only closer and more understanding in that moment. I believe it kind of set that foundation to deepen the relationship. Not only was she so quickly able to understand in terms of the business and my reasoning and there was no personal offense, which was of course my fear. You won't like me, you'll leave me, you won't want to be my professional partner or my personal friend anymore if you hear this truth. 

And in reality it was a deepening of respect and of ability. For now, her and I are several years into a relationship of actually being able to share those harder truths with each other in whatever context that it is.

Luke Storey: [01:05:40] Yeah, the respect word jumped out at me, because in my lack of ability to be authentic, I'm sort of diminishing my own self-respect. If I really honored and respected myself, I would have no problem asking for what I want and declining what I don't want. And so then other people are going to respond to the degree of self respect that I'm demonstrating in any given moment. The moment I step up and I'm like, "No, actually, I'm just going to own that. I have a right to feel the way I feel and I don't want to do that or I do want to do that."

Then that person has the opportunity to kind of meet me there. Maybe that's really one of the mechanisms that has the capacity to change the dynamic in such a profound way. That's super cool.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:06:22] And I think it again, just any time we can make choices in alignment, that changes everything down to the energy of that exchange, whether or not anything objectively, maybe changes in terms of the choices that are made, I think just the energy of a truthful, honest communication can shift the dynamic and open up some space for more honest communication, or it can actually then maybe shift the choices that are kind of being made.

And just something interesting that I like to share because it's came to my attention and as we're talking about acknowledging our self, something I noticed very early on with my partner Lolly in particular, she has a very direct way of expressing needs when she has them. 

I need to spend some time alone right now. I need to go do this right now or this is what I'm interested in. I'm going to go listen to this podcast. So like, see you later. And initially, when she would start doing that in relationship with me, it would bother me. It would downright, if I'm being honest, pissed me off. How dare you just so assertively call me directly. Tell me what you need to be doing right now. 

And it would get under my skin and I would almost feel myself being angry in reaction to this. And until I dove in and really began to explore what it was and what it is and sometimes it's still for me, it's again, that comfort, that confidence that she was a, was so able to identify what she needed in that moment. And then she was went so far as to communicate it and action on it.
And that again, was unfamiliar. So sometimes, again, we have these reactions that are irritation when we see someone else maybe living honestly, making choices assertively, just telling someone what it is, and we might feel be on the other end as I shared, I am of that annoyance.

Maybe someone we really don't like could be some information in there for us to explore. Something we might be reacting so negatively about someone else might be their empowered ability to directly communicate or maybe to speak their truth. And that's something that again, for me, I noticed that my anger came from me lacking that.

Luke Storey: [01:08:27] Have you found that from her modeling that capacity that you've grown in your ability to do that?

Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:08:34] And I'm happy. So that's how I got to that thought which was exactly that. So her, while it incensed me in the beginning on some deep subconscious level, planted a seed of permission. As I got more embodied, more comfortable with acknowledging, even identifying what my needs are, acknowledging them to myself, and then making myself vulnerable to communicate them, that seed was planted by watching her, but it came out in the complete opposite which is why I brought it up.

Luke Storey: [01:09:03] I totally relate to that. It reminds me of one of the ways in which Alyson inspires me is her tolerance for any kind of bullshit shenanigans is very low and she's just like, no, I'm not doing that. She has really good boundaries and it doesn't piss me off in the same way that you're describing because it really has something to do with me. 

It's more of just about her outer experience out there in the world. But yeah, just the ability she has to just say no to shit and set boundaries and just say what she wants, doesn't want them like it's kind of harsh. I'm like, you can do that? She's like, what the fuck else am I going to do? It's just like, of course I'm not doing that. But it's an area that she's really worked on a lot. I've worked on other things that she might find inspiring.
But yeah, it's so empowering to me when I see her do that. An example would be like someone wants to book her to go speak somewhere and she's like, cool, what's the budget? And they're like, oh, well, she's like, yeah, much respect, but I've been doing this for x amount of years, I'm not able to do that. But thank you anyway. And I'm like, you can say no to going to do a talk? I wouldn't even fathom the idea. 

I would I've gone, but it's just one example of that. It's just like something shifted in her mind at a certain point. She's like, "This is where I am and my path and my career and it doesn't feel bad about it. Yeah, I would maybe say that, but I'd be like, "Oh, they probably think I'm materialistic and I'm all about money." I have some narrative around it rather than just honoring the fact that it just doesn't feel aligned right now. And maybe you don't even need to give a reason why as you described earlier. There is no reason other than I don't want to. That's my reason.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:10:41] And ultimately, I think the reality of it is we can't control the receiver. We can't control how someone is going to hear even the most assertive, direct, seemingly from our end, benign, neutral communication is going to be filtered, so to speak to your point, we worry what they'll think of us and they might think something because their mind is doing what my mind does too, which is always trying to make meanings, always trying to understand. 

And if there's not enough information given, and that's why sometimes it is helpful to give an intention or our thinking or a why without over explaining that something different entirely. But sometimes a bit of explanation can help should that person choose then to believe what it is that you're saying is the reason otherwise, and even with a reason, their mind based on their own past history of maybe people who have abandoned them, that's the only filter they might apply.

So ultimately and one of the things I talk about, think about, integrate into my life is learning how to tolerate those moments of misunderstanding, learning how to drop in and really know what my intention is, was, will be, really trying to be as objective as possible in terms of viewing and observing myself, letting in feedback from obviously my close, secure people that I trust in terms of feedback and then relinquishing that.
Then there becomes a point of that which I can't control and I don't know exactly the receiver of every communication that I speak, that I email that people are hearing. And I do know that they're bringing their past into that communication just like I am.

Luke Storey: [01:12:18] Yeah, they're bringing the meaning that they create around it. Something in that whole model that's been difficult for me is to be willing to not be liked and just it's okay if somebody is mad at me or doesn't agree with me. It's like that deeply ingrained people pleaser. And if I've asserted myself to whatever degree I gave a reason or not, it doesn't really matter. 

But there's a certain point at which I'm given the opportunity to surrender my attachment to what they think or feel about who I am and what I'm doing. And that's something I really see in people and really respect in other people. People that are conscientious and kind, yet just have zero tolerance for any bullshit and literally do not care what other people think. Because I say that on social media, I might get trolled. I'm like, oh, I don't care what people think, but I really do. When it comes to having to confront someone or work my way through a challenging dynamic with someone I very much care.

And it's often quite difficult for me to just accept that the other party might not be happy with me and that not everyone in the world thinks I'm amazing. It's like this grandiose, kind of immature need to just have every single person in the world has to think I'm awesome. And if there's two over there that are not in alignment with that, it's just like, then my self-worth is hinged on what they think or feel. 

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Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:15:30] As part of our pre conversation, I was sharing a bit about in the beginning when I first created the account, I did have very much that concern was amplified. What will people think? How will they take this truth? Maybe I should water down this or leave this aspect of it out.

And not only did it kind of take me from my flow state being able to just speak what was on my mind, because I was always in my mind kind of monitoring, it watered down my energy, my connection and that authenticity, that truth myself. And speaking to your point, I still do very much care while I've gotten much more comfortable, confident with just saying what it is for me and allowing then humans out there to develop their own personal responsibility and discernment to sift through and take what works and leave what doesn't.

I've become more free in doing that, though I still know where all of the detractors, as I call them, live. I know exactly where to find them online. And every now and again in a moment of stress or upset of myself, I like to pick up my phone and remind myself of what people don't like about, and it's all there visibly available of the issues that some people have, the misinterpretations, how they hear, how my message is landing. So to speak to your point, I find very difficult personally to not fully, truly care. I have awareness. Now my choice point is how often am I engaging with that.

Do I spend more time in the detractor comments as our brain also will not surely do. We do focus on negativity as a survival shot.The quicker we're able to identify the possible threat, the quicker we could possibly keep ourselves safe from that. Not even judging myself in that moment where it is so tempting to be reminded of all the threatening people who don't like me out there, I can make the choice to gift myself that boundary, that safety and that assurance in myself and my secure circle that I'm living in the alignment that I believe myself to be. I hear you. I struggle.

Luke Storey: [01:17:30] That sort of threat or danger bias is so real. Having done this podcast for a number of years, the feedback that I hear about is overwhelmingly positive. Just people, "Oh my God, has change in my life" just all the good things, right? Every once in a while I get like a crazy ass email. There's someone took the time to, like, find my website, find the contact form, and send me some scathing review of what I'm not doing right or whatnot. 

And I have been much better, just compassionately, just letting it go. And I know now, after learning the hard way to never engage when someone's really in a toxic kind of loop and they want to drag me into it, I'm not interested in that. But still, you want to be conscientious and go, well, is there any truth in what they're saying? Because sometimes it's not totally crazy. Sometimes someone has a logical point.

And so even in considering that, but you're so right that that one email out of 500 is so much louder. It seems like everyone hates me. My show sucks when it's just like one or two people that are like, I don't like the way you do this or that. It's crazy the way the mind works like that.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:18:37] You're saying something too important, which isn't to close ourself off from outside feedback. Again, I very intentionally, I have my core people that I trust. I also will hear and receive all of the different type of feedback from any type of person. If it comes in contact with comments, with emails, with me and my eyes or my team in any way it gets looked at, though I don't have to become differential or outsource my self, my connection. 

It might be a very hard truth that I have to and can allow in, but that doesn't come blindly because someone said that. That will become because I hear it, I maybe feel reactively about and that's not the time, like you're saying, to spiraling into a conversation with ourselves about whether or not there's any truth in this. Calm myself down. Take a couple of days and this happens whether or not it's a stranger on the Internet or my very close loved one telling me an angle of myself or a perspective or an experience of me that's not comfortable for me to hear same process. 

I don't just take it because my loved one said it. I won't just take it because a stranger said it. I will listen. I will take it with me. I will observe maybe very uncomfortably, whether or not I believe it to be true. And then if it does settle on the uncomfortable truth side of things, I will integrate it. If it doesn't, if I can try it on from their perspective and I'm just not seeing it, then I can choose to let it go until maybe it comes back again, recycled from someone else, and then I could try it on again for size at a later time. 

And I think again, that's sometimes where we get confused. We think we either have to close ourself off from feedback. I'm not hearing it. No one else can touch me. That's not really helpful either. Our relationships outside observers can offer us a more objective perspective than we can see with our blinders on our self.

But it also doesn't mean that we just blindly take it on as our truth because someone said it. We need that home base to come back, and that home base can be us seeing for ourselves.

Luke Storey: [01:20:32] Yeah, that's so true, making the emotional regulation primary. Because one of my questions was around relationships and just dealing with conflict and things like that and just open, honest, compassionate communication. And it's so key for me to have a barometer of where I am energetically and emotionally and whether or not I actually have the capacity to take on any criticism or have a difficult conversation.

And sometimes, in fact, this happened two nights ago with Alyson. I walked in the room and she was like, "I've got a problem with something. Da da da da." And I was standing there and oftentimes I would say the vast majority of the time, even if it's unannounced and there's no appointment given for like, "Hey, we need to talk." It's just like, hey, I'm talking. I can still pretty much like matrix that shit. And I can tune in and regulate and be present for what her needs are. But in that moment I couldn't.

And I'm standing there and I'm like, "You can do this, Luke. Just compassionately listen." She has feeling she needs to share. And I stood there and I was just like, "Oh yeah, I just couldn't fucking do it. I just didn't have the emotional regulation. And I just had to say, I love you very much. I'm really sorry, but I'm super activated right now and this is not going to be productive. I just need a few moments. And then I just ran, and I did. I took a few minutes. I don't even know what I did, but I got back in my body and just settled myself down, maybe took 10 minutes and just keeping myself busy, doing something over here and just, okay, shake it off.

And then I was able to come back, sit her, and just really hold space for what she needed to communicate. Such a different experience. Just that one decision to go like this might piss her off even more to say like, I'm not ready for this, but be willing to do that because what would ensue if I didn't do that would likely be me saying something that I'd be apologizing for later and created a bunch of unnecessary drama when all that was probably needed was me just really listening and allowing her the opportunity to share whatever she's feeling with me. That's usually the resolution. But I couldn't do it right then.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:22:44] I appreciate you sharing that example because again, when on the surface, Luke, you could feel like Just listen is so much more of an embodied practice. We have to be in the intentional space, the awareness to be grounded, to be able to listen, not what we're reacting to, what we hear they're saying, or even barely listening, because we're repeating something else that's stuck in our mind.

Luke Storey: [01:23:03] Thinking of the shit we're going to say in rebuttal.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:23:05] Right. To truly listen means to be grounded in presence and to be hearing what they're saying and listening from their perspective, not from your reaction to what you're hearing, which again, takes a, awareness at minimum, and b, resources. 

So there are many moments where similarly when asked from a partner, I need I need to talk to you or do you have a moment for this, for business, for personal or whatever, where the more connected I am, the gift I can give both of us in that moment and the problem itself so that I can come to the table in a solution based collaborative mindset, not just focused on me and how I'm reacting and what works for me oftentimes means hitting that pause, regrouping and coming back to that conversation later and also gifting then my partner, whoever else needs that time and space, that opportunity to-- because I know when we're activated, when I'm activated, when I'm looking for support and someone tells me they can't be available in that moment, especially if I made myself vulnerable and asking for the support, I can feel that abandonment wound being activated again. 

I can be reminded of how unworthy I am and almost take myself back. So reminding myself and giving my partners the opportunity to take the space, knowing that it will serve me later by having more of their presence at a later moment is a gift to the relationship.

Luke Storey: [01:24:25] That's a really good point. Yeah, it's a gift to both of us in that point. There's something you said in there that I think is really important in that, depending on what stage in a relationship you are, I think now, I feel more of a sense of safety that I'm not going to be abandoned if we have a conflict. 

She's not going to drive to the airport and leave, but I still feel the need sometimes. Like in that moment it was just like, I can't hear this right now. I'm going to be too pissed. It wasn't that. It was like, I really love you. What you're saying is important and I want to hear you. I'll be here, but I just need a moment. It's much different than like, I can't deal with this, and I'm running out of the house and slamming the door. 

Totally different reaction on her part and probably why when I did come back in the room, we talked, it was very productive and we worked through it quickly because she had that opportunity to know like, okay, this is annoying because I really want to emote right now and he's telling me I can't. But she had to have a little patience for a few minutes and then all was well.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:25:24] What that comes from, that security that you're describing the ability to be separate, to tolerate space in a connected relationship, and have the confidence that there will be another side or a repair, as we call it, in the field on the other side of that, that is not an experience that very many of us have had. Either the way conflict happened, exploded or imploded or maybe for in my family it was the silent treatment when it wasn't spoken about until then, things are seemingly went back to normal without anything ever having been addressed, why there were screaming, why there was yelling, or why there was no communication. All just swept under the rug. 

So I think very few of us conflict is a natural part of relating to other different humans. It's sharing different perspectives. It's navigating the world. When we have different tendencies, inclinations, desires, conflict will happen. It's what happens on the other side of it. 

And if we didn't have that experience of having reconnection safely modeled where after a break of however long it was, both participants or however many people are involved, come back, rejoin in that safe, calm, grounded space and explore the problem not like hot potato, tossing the blame back and forth, but sitting next to each other on a couch with, okay, here's the issue. Here's your perspective on it. Here's your needs, here's my perspective on it, here's my needs. 

And now we can negotiate a workable way forward for both of us, because again, it's not about one person deferring to the other. It's how do we explore this in a way that collaboratively works. And if we didn't have those moments modeled to us, and if we don't have those moments lived in our experience, we will be, that person who fears that distance like I was to means gone. It means no coming back, or does it mean a solution of the problem.

So what is important when we're taking the space is to remain committed to what happens after both partners come back into safety. Acknowledging again that there might be two different timelines. I might feel more ready depending on how dysregulated I was or wasn't around any particular topic, that my partner might have a different timeline when we're both safe coming back to have a conversation, to try to understand and to seek again a solution that's workable. The more consistently we work through the fear that will probably come the initial moment we have that space and then give ourself the confidence that things can and will be addressed, that's how we develop that security then.

Luke Storey: [01:27:46] I love that. The trust gets built over time, because you see each time that you have that dynamic take place and you are able to reconvene, no one leaves on a good day, at least, no one leaves emotionally, at least. The bond has not being broken. There's just a little disturbance in the forest. 

I find that the more often that happens, then that trust becomes the easier and easier where I'm comfortable with my partner being pissed off and we need to talk. Whereas that used to be terrifying in some cases. And I would just run away or else create more conflict as a result to be right and all that shit.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:28:24] Yeah, absolutely. I used to be addicted to my phone, firing off texts, needing to resolve this, God forbid, in the beginning of the relationship with Lolly needed to take space. Physically, I'd be, "Where you?" Scared. Scared if she's going to come home. I went through all of those different ways. We try and seek the security and that confirmation and for me at least, all very dysfunctional.

Luke Storey: [01:28:47] You're reminding me of, we are waiting for the text. Oh, my God. I forgot about that phenomenon. Brutal.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:28:53] So speaking up, bringing it full circle. All the incremental ways I think that so many of us heal and are not in the space that we once were. For me, I even bring up these moments aloud to myself to remind myself of I was so attached to my phone, I couldn't go to bed without it next to me, whether or not I was worrying that I was going to get a call that my family was sick and dying or talk about being left in that way, not being able to tolerate these moments of conflict, of distance, not being connected at all in my relationships. 

So reminding myself of how far I've come really helps me stay motivated because there's still places to go on my journey. I'm still healing in a lot of ways, though, when I can have this conversation be like, jeez, I used to not even be. Now I can leave my phone for a day. If I lose my phone for all I care at this juncture, outside of work becoming a problem at some point.

I had that security that if I don't talk to my partners, they'll probably wonder where I am. But I don't have to have that worry that the relationship is gone. And I need to remind myself how far I've come because that worry was such a part of who I once was.

Luke Storey: [01:29:56] Oh, yeah, girl. You mentioned something right there. You said partners. And in doing my research on you, you've been open about the fact, at least that at some point you were in a relationship with two women. Did you have a try-- I don't know what you call it, a triad or something. I don't know if it has a name.

And when I found that out, I was just like, my question, I think I even wrote it in my notes. I was like, "How the hell do you do that? How do you manage that?" As someone who tried at different times, I've had all kinds of different relationship configurations and I'm very happy in the configuration I have now, it's just very simple. How did that come to be and I imagine that so much of what we're talking about has to be at play and in practice all the time for that to work for all parties involved.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:30:43] Yeah, absolutely. And it really interestingly maps on to whether it's the workbook, how to meet yourself in this idea of returning, reconnecting, discovering what I want as part of my authentic self, like what makes me happy, what do I need in my life, and also kind of a segue over into the relationship book in terms of returning one of the major premises is of how to be the love we seek means returning to our heart space and learning how to be compassionately connected in our differences with other people. And so saying all that to say, my journey into the relationship that we now define as a throuple, a three person relationship.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:31:26] I knew there had to be a name for it. That's great.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:31:28] It very much, though, embodies all of these topics. And so Jenna, who had joined us, Lolly and I, my previous partner or my current still partner, we had began the journey as a married couple and Jenna joined very early on the team and began working, building the business together. We were living out in Venice at the same time and spending a lot of time living, working. 

Probably about a year ish into our iteration of life work together, a lot of actually conflict was the first thing that started to happen. We had these moments of misunderstanding, of arguments, of issue, and really that hadn't been the case for so long. And it was curious and we were all, I think, noting what's going on here? Why is this working relationship seeming to be so fraught with issues? And so it was becoming a point of conversation, what's going on here?

We have to troubleshoot, why are we fighting all the time, which then in a couple of days turned into Jenna actually sat me down and shared with me that after pulling back her authentic truth, she's coming to realize that for her, part of what is happening she is developed feelings for both Lolly and I and wasn't sure what to make of them had never been in this type of relationship before. Wasn't even sure of how it would be received if she were to share this with us.

So here she is speaking our truth. I remember to this day she's sitting across from me on my bed. It was just her and I because she had had a conversation with Lolly also privately. And I'm hearing essentially that she has these feelings and that what she imagines has been happening is this was all bubbling to the surface. And here's her truth on the table of the bed. 

And it took me a moment and I was like, oh, wow, okay. This is something to hear. What's coming up for you, me and obviously acknowledge that I needed some time and I wanted to explore what I was hearing, how I felt about it, obviously, to explore with Lolly. And long story short, it had come to the awareness after direct honest communications that then the three of us had had, that we were all feeling the same thing.

So very interestingly, when I'm kind of mapping this on to is we had this authentic truth, I think that was breaking up through the surface that so none of us, I should say, were willing to speak it into existence or to acknowledge it. I think energetically that was causing these moments of explosive reactivity that we weren't really fully able to verbalize or make light of. 

And then when we were presented with what it was and we all had the space to acknowledge that we were first curious, not even sure of how this works. I had never had anyone model this type of relationship. We went on YouTube University and we're like does this happen? This isn't really like open. We think we really just core, love each other and whatever. So we then got curious and began to explore and then opened up the door for many future honest conversations that then allowed us to integrate into.

Luke Storey: [01:34:24] The first one must have taken so much courage.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:34:25] To this day, I thank Jenna for her bravery and first acknowledging that to herself. Here's someone who wasn't even sure if I would look at her like she was nuts. She's approaching a married couple. I was like you like us both? What the heck is this? This is not something I've ever heard before.

I thank her really gratefully, deeply to this day for having without the awareness of-- the intention being at that time she was like, this is my passion, the work we're doing together. This is the journey I want to continue putting this life, living this work, I should say, into the world. 

So I would like us to be able to save our business relationship and our working together because this is such a passion of mine that if this is not something of interest to the two of you, then personally, I'm just going to put up some boundaries and I might need to change how much time I'm spending with you and all of that. So it was very much like a here's my intention, here's my heart, here's where things are. I'm open to seeing without any ideas. 

And then very shortly after her and I doing a podcast together, we had those moments on air now where we have this very big elephant where a lot of the examples and very much part of the Cellular Soundboard Podcast is us sharing about our journey, about our healing, about the topics and how they relate to our life. And we are starting to feel a little bit of that lack of authenticity possibly happening when we were starting to monitor what we were saying. And I'm not going to use Jenna as an example of a romantic relationship because no one knows and they knows why.

And then it became I'm getting more noticeable and visible out in public. Now, I started to get worried about-- because authenticity, living in alignment is so important for me. Now I'm playing out these tapes of, oh my gosh, I'm out in public with Jenna being physical and people either know her, I think I'm behind the back. All of this now. 

So long story short, we then decided to go public with it, mainly for our own comfort and safety and being able to speak honestly, again, though, having a very big moment of what the hell is the public going to think of this bomb and of this new relationship version that I know globally, I think more and more people are beginning to speak about different iterations of relationship types, but largely it's a new version. And I had all of the moments of, oh gosh, what will they think? How will it be received? How will it be to be out now in this new iteration?

Luke Storey: [01:36:55] I think it's just awesome. I've tried to attempt that earlier in life in different ways, but was just not mature enough to hold it and dare I say, nor were the people I was attempting to hold it with. But I think what's unique about this is just because of the work that the three of you do and your mission and your brand and your books and all the content, it's such a perfect demonstration of can this work and how does it apply, especially in a situation that's less common. It's cool. 

And good for you two, man, to live your life. It's like fucking do you? That's what I think. And if anyone in the professional sphere or social media can't handle it, it's like, man, next. Do what serves you and makes you happy. I think it's really, really interesting. And I didn't realize that one of your partners was your podcast co-host. I didn't put that together. I haven't followed everyone to get like the coming out moment. I was like, oh, shit. I'm putting the pieces together now, but name your podcast again because we'll put it the show notes.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:38:08] The Self Healer Soundboard.

Luke Storey: [01:38:08] The Self Healer Soundboard.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:38:10] We release episodes every Sunday.

Luke Storey: [01:38:12] Yeah. We'll put a link to that in the show notes. And by the way, folks, listening, the show notes can be found at lukestorey.com/holistic. Yeah.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:38:20] So to speak just to answer your question to about how to do it with two people, ultimately it's like any other relationship. Both of them are unique individuals. They offer different mirrors for me. They bring out different parts of me. I connect with different interests in different ways with both of them. So as challenging as it is, I think the first initial reaction people be like "Oh, one person and all of these triggers with one person, how you deal with two? And that's obviously part of it. 

And then there's also-- I always like to speak to the positive, there's also the beauty of having this type of connection with Lolly in certain ways. We share particular interests with her and I vibe in this one way and I have different experiences with Jenna, things that come naturally to her and I, or we share in terms of our interest or how we want to spend our time. 

So it's actually beautiful for all of us now that I get to go to each of my different partners for the needs and the areas that they're able to connect with me around.

Luke Storey: [01:39:17] Wow, so cool. I can't wait to see where you all go with this. This is fun. God, man, I have so many things I want to talk about with you. And we've covered so much and I'm having such a great time. So thank you. I just love this stuff as you can probably guess. You talk about the wounded inner child and you cite one side of this as being hyper individualistic and struggling to ask for help when you need it. 

And out of so many of the things that you publish out there in the social media world, I'm like, "That's me. That's me." But that one, I was like, "Oh shit." We all have our childhood ones. I definitely have mine. But that one really, really struck me because I didn't even know that that was a thing until I read it and had it articulated for me, because I always thought of it as like, "Yeah, I'm really independent. I don't need anyone." I do my own thing, but I really, really have a hard time asking for help with even small things, let alone big things. So I guess what does that childhood wound mean to you and do we all have that? Does anyone come through childhood unscathed?

Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:40:28] Not so much. So ultimately, when we think of needs in general, how we identify our needs, meet our needs, all of that is, again, a learned experience in those earliest relationships.

So at the simplest level, we are dependent as a human infant, meaning we can't physically keep ourself alive. We can't meet our physical needs for our self and our emotional abilities of our mind are developing in complexity. So again, we need help to meet our needs. So if we really want to distill it down, the first learning is a, do I have a consistent enough caregiver who can be attuned to me, who can know when I'm having a need and what they are, and then b, can they show up consistently enough to help me, to service, to allow me to meet my need by either feeding me when I'm really small young child or helping me understand my emotions as I'm developing. 

So in absence, because our maybe our caregivers were physically not present or maybe they were emotionally not present, or maybe what they were taught or again brought from their own childhood didn't allow them to even be aware of-- there was generations of time, my parents are included, where parenting was taught as sustaining physical life of the child.

There was no talk of anything about an emotional need or what they could even be. So a lot of our past generations were actually directly told by doctors that children are literally to be seen, not heard. Just keep them alive and they'll be fine.

Luke Storey: [01:41:52] God. So true.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:41:52] So if this is the model, then all of us that were raised by that generation of parenting complicated that if we had parents who didn't have resources or that were met, who were being raised in still government structures where there's discrepancies, inequalities, racisms involved, now, all of this is going to contribute to whether or not our parent can be attuned, be aware that we have a need, know what they could be and be available. 

And the large majority of us who didn't have that consistently enough do at some deep level not feel fully comfortable acknowledging that we even have needs. Bringing them or asking for the support of others. And if in childhood separating ourself was the only way we could keep ourselves safe, squashing down our emotional needs, taking care maybe of ourselves physically, because maybe the parent wasn't available or they were depressed or they were tending to some other matters in the home, for whatever reason, we become more and more and more alone individual on our own. 

And again, I think a lot of society might praise some of that behavior. Sometimes it falls along gender lines where some times like men are taught to be that logical achievement base or is no room for emotions. And then we become that hyper individualized person where it becomes really hard for us to even accept we have needs, to acknowledge them for ourselves to then bring them into the relationship.

Luke Storey: [01:43:15] Damn. So true. Nailed it. That's just so good. Oh, man, that's so good. Thank you for eliminating that. 

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What are some of the signs of dysfunctional relationships? I'm guessing there's people listening who are in a position that I've been in many times where you're in a relationship and you're thinking, this is not right, this is not healthy. What are some of the low hanging fruit in terms of someone evaluating specifically a romantic relationship and that this is not serving either party?

Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:45:37] I think safety is the number one. How consistently do you feel safe at ease or on the other end or you always feeling like you're on eggshells, like you can't say or do or show a particular type of emotion. I think that's a great place to begin looking, because what also could be happening is we're carrying that lack of safety from our own self, from our own past. 

So being able to differentiate what is making me unsafe, though. If more consistently than not, you're showing up to this one particular person or this one particular relationship or even relationship space, sometimes group of people that we regularly engage with, and if consistently we're never quite feeling safe in this person's presence or in this particular environment, then that could be something to dig a bit deeper in what isn't necessarily feeling safe. How might I need to create safety? What is the habit, the pattern, the thing that keeps happening that sends me into this lack of safety? That's always going to be the first sign. 

And then we could get clear on what the particular dynamic is that's not serving me or that's not allowing me the space to meet my needs or that's requiring me to walk on eggshells, always hyper vigilant because maybe I have an explosive partner who I do never know what mood they'll be in and if I'll be on the receiving end of some harm. Then those are maybe moments where we could talk about employing some new boundaries, some new limits, and giving ourselves some new space.

Luke Storey: [01:47:03] Wow, that's so good. And thinking about conversely, it's such an obvious sign of a beneficial relationship when there is a sense of safety. I think the primary thing that I feel in my relationship now is just it feels like home. It's just totally safe. Even if there's conflict or turmoil or there's things to work through, there's still an underlying sense of safety.
I don't feel like I'm going to be abandoned or attacked or harmed, it's just human shit that needs to get worked out. I think in my experience, too, going back to what we were talking about earlier with that, re-enacting early traumas and finding those dynamics that are so familiar yet largely destructive, there's such a high in that feeling when it's wrong, but it's familiar, it's really exciting and it's nerve wracking in a positive sense and addictive and just juicy and just crazy. And then when it's safe, it just feels very normal. It feels like home and there's kind--

Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:48:05] Like even.

Luke Storey: [01:48:06] Yeah, there's kind of like an adapting to the lack of drama when it's healthy. Is that something that you've experienced?

Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:48:13] Absolutely. Those emotional highs and lows in addition to a lack of safety, when we feel like we're literally on a roller coaster day in and day out with one particular person and one particular relationship or group dynamic, again, that might be an indicator. 

And I think sometimes we erroneously think safety is boring and we're like, oh, I'm bored. I must not be stimulated. I'm losing interest, for this person when really this is just the lack of familiarity around what peace feels like, around how it is. When I was just on the ceremony circle with Alyson, one of the last things we did was a breathing exercise, a dropping in a consciousness one really, but really attuning to how it feels to be in a calm body that's breathing evenly from the belly that doesn't have muscle tension, that feels open and just safe.

And for so many of us, that isn't what we're feeling. And when we do feel that, we might missassociate it with we're bored. We don't have that stimulation. So another great place to look is if we're always on a particular roller coaster with some other person, while life has ups and downs and emotions flip and change, I think the extremeness that sometimes we think is passion or is just exciting is preferable to that boring flatness. We do have to teach our self how to be safe, and that sometimes means we don't have those highs and lows.

Luke Storey: [01:49:34] And what about the phenomenon of becoming addicted to the neurochemistry of those feelings of that drama? How real is that?

Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:49:42] I believe that's very, very real in the case for many of us. I call it the emotional addiction, where our familiar does map onto our physiology, whether it's the sensations of the dysregulated nervous system. I'm always breathing really quickly. I'm always tense. It just feels normal to me. And when I don't have that experience, I feel different.

Or it maps on to the cortisol and the different neurotransmitters, the different biology that so many of us become familiar with and when we're not having that washing through us at any given time, we feel different than we usually feel. And it gives us then more of a reason to get that stimulation, to pick up the phone, to stir the pot, to jump right on that rollercoaster again, right back where I'm used to feeling, as opposed to learning how to tolerate the discomfort of the newness of the feeling.

Something I used to say to myself early on when I would start to notice myself labeling the new discomfort I was feeling, oh, I'm feeling this like something whatever, I'm feeling different than I usually feel would be how I really--

Luke Storey: [01:50:47] I like that.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:50:47] Instead of shaming it or making it negative, or even really focusing on figuring out exactly what it is, the first language I gave myself and the way to kind of shift myself out of resisting the difference and living into it was kind of cool, just affirming that I do feel different than I normally feel. And that's all just different than I normally feel.

Luke Storey: [01:51:09] That's really good. I needed to hear that right now. As I said, I've been going through quite an initiation and I feel very different and not necessarily in a positive sense, just a real portal that I'm passing through at the moment. 

I like that. I'm going to remember that I just feel different because I will find myself labeling it. Even today, I think I'm depressed because I used to be really probably clinically depressed years ago and I don't have that anxiety more, but depressed where I'm just staring off into space, just apathetic and lost. That's not my MO, but I had a bit of that. And so I was labeling it like, yep, I'm depressed.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:51:46] Our mind will always seek to make sense of it. So the most benign way is I'm different than I normally feel. Okay, mind, you've made sense of it. You don't have to define it positively or negatively or even find the words for it. You could just focus on comfortably being different than how you normally feel right now until that feeling shifts into a new one.

Luke Storey: [01:52:03] Badass. All right. You mentioned the word codependency earlier, and I wonder if you could give us your definition of that and how that plays out in relationships.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:52:12] Codependency is when those limits that I was describing or those boundaries, that real simple point of separation between ourselves and someone else, when that's not there. And when that's not there, we feel often compelled instinctually to control, to behave in a certain way.

Typically, we think it's kind of externally driven to show up to meet someone else's need. But in reality, when we really hammer down without that separation between me and you, me impacting you, keeping you happy, saying whatever it is you want to hear, showing up as you need me is really actually me impacting me. Without that separation, codependency is really simply orchestrating, manipulating life around us as our best attempt to get our deeper needs met, to stay connected to that person.

If I say yes to you when I know you want to hear me say yes, I can avoid that fear right of you leaving me in that moment. So my need for connection is met by me being codependent on you and showing up for you. Again, on the surface, I think a lot of us think it's selfless, do believe and believe the surface level of the action in a sense, well, I'm serving you right now in this moment, not realizing that I'm actually getting my needs met in service of you.

Luke Storey: [01:53:33] Yeah, totally make sense. That's a really great way to define it. What about the element-- and I'm just going to couch this in codependency. I don't know that it necessarily is. Maybe you can help me. When one lacks the ability to have autonomous, independent emotions, emotional state, so I really care about you. We're in an intimate relationship. You're angry. I cannot help but become angry or you're sad and therefore, like, I'm not only having sympathy or empathy, but I'm actually joining you in that feeling, even though I don't own those feelings. They're your experience, but I lack the ability to separate myself from them and just compassionately observe or hold space for that. What's up with that phenomenon? Are you familiar with that?

Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:54:17] Yes.

Luke Storey: [01:54:17] Kind of mirroring or buying into someone else's emotional state, even though it's not valid to where you are and that given moment.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:54:24] And I think a lot of times that occurs when we lack that separation like you're describing. Again, oftentimes when I hear the word empathy used, I believe we are all on an empathetic spectrum. We all are energetic creatures with the ability to sense other changes in energy in our environment, and the ability to assume what empathy is is life from someone else's perspective.

We have the ability to say, okay, I'm not Nicole right now, I'm Luke, and I'm experiencing this moment through how he might be experiencing this moment. That's what empathy is and we all have the ability to do that. What happens for a lot of us is we had to, out of protection, become hypervigilant to someone else's changes and moves because at one point that kept us safe. If we could tell when mom or dad or who ever shifted a bit and might become explosive, we could maybe mitigate that by showing up in a particular way, caring for them in a particular way or doing whatever it is we do that can avoid maybe even removing ourselves from them.

All of that began when I was so attuned to how they were feeling. And then I think we carry that with us and we think we're being empathetic beings when we're able to take on someone else's anger in that moment. But really that's just a byproduct of lacking that separation. 

And it's not actually a helpful space to be. I think a lot of times we think we're being against selfless and serving them by taking on their anger. But really what we're doing in that moment is just we're joining them in dysregulation. Learning how to have separation and keep ourselves space in that separation allows us to actually say centered in our heart, to assume that perspective of someone else, to be able to say, Nicole, I'm not me caught up in my reactions right now. It's not actually about me at all.

I need to shift into my mindset and see the world through Luke and not become his anger because if I'm his anger now, I'm just as disregulated as he is. And the number one thing a person needs when they're angry or any state of dysregulation is a safe, calm support, not someone who's knee deep in anger. And now we're both just screaming and yelling at what we're upset about together. The greatest service we can give is to be that grounded, empathetic person who I can stand next to you and your anger. I can even feel how sad and down you feel in your anger.

But I'm not going to take it on and make it mine. Because when I do, then I'm going to render both of us likely unable to actually support each other right through this, whatever dysregulated emotion that it is. And that all happens when we have that separation. And I struggle, especially when I'm in a good mood or I'm not stressed or I'm even feeling excited about something and one of my partners is not in a good mood, is having a stressful event in their life or is just feeling down for whatever reason. 

It's really difficult. Even again, it's intuitively why shouldn't I just allow myself to be in my good mood? It's really uncomfortable for me to allow myself the ability to energetically remain grounded and calm and maybe even positive and happy when I see a loved one upset.

And that's actually the most grounded place to be, because I can be a safe place for them. I don't have to obviously be shouting my joy in their face in any given moment, but I also don't have to join them in the depths of their despair again nor would it necessarily be beneficial if I did. I, though, still struggle in those moments.

Luke Storey: [01:57:47] That's really good. Yeah. And there's also this bit. There's almost like if you got two people and one has fallen into a lower state of conscious like lower base emotions, and then you have one who, as you indicated, oh, I'm in a really good mood today. Things go my way. I'm excited. You have someone that's in like a higher state. 

It's almost as if-- and correct me if I'm wrong or just give me your take on this, but the person who's in a more elevated state of consciousness kind of forms an attractor field where that person has the opportunity to come up and meet them in what you would call a regulated nervous system where someone's actually just able to maintain their own sovereignty of being in that moment versus if I fall victim to the prey and I sort of get sucked down into the morass of that emotional state in an effort to be compassionate or caring, we're both now disempowered, right? And now we kind of have to both find our way up the barometer again to a space of regulation or a higher emotional or even spiritual state. Do you think that's a valid perspective?

Dr. Nicole LePera: [01:58:53] Absolutely. I think we can offer by staying in our lane and our vibration of safety, of positivity, whatever it is. We can offer a possible hook for that person to energetically attune to, though there's also, I think, the very real lived experience of being in that. And again, I'll speak for myself, being in a low vibrational state and being around people that are not or in a higher vibrational state, it can be annoying to be around them in that state and I might not want to.

And in that moment it might be the best decision is for me to honor the space, not to demand that they be upset along with me, which is my tendency when I'm upset, it's hard for me to see people in a good space and I almost prefer you to join me. 

And if I'm being perfectly honest, I might even passive aggressively attempt to pull you down, so stir the pot. And really understanding for me that distinction, that space, this applies even earlier I was thinking about one of the hardest things for me to do, especially as I'm becoming agitated or dysregulated, is to separate myself from other people.

There's a very codependent part of me that spent a lot of time, while not emotionally connected to my family, always in the physical presence of someone that's very much part of my co-dependent conditioning is quite literally always physically around another human. I grew up in a city, so my house wasn't that big and there was very few places for us to spread to. 

So I was always with someone else. And one of the challenges now is to understand when I'm feeling stressed or agitated and actually the best gift I can give is making the conscious choice to separate myself. And sometimes being the one who made the choice can feel a little less scary being alone now in my feeling. Though, oftentimes it still feels as scary and almost like I'm abandoning right myself. 

But I know at my core, if I stay around people and I'm in a certain degree of agitation, it's only long before I do try and pull them down, before I do project my agitation outwardly and now I'm passive aggressive throwing things in the kitchen, and now I'm trying almost to upset everyone and bring them into my cycle.

So saying all that to say that the gift is knowing ourselves and knowing when it's like, okay, Nicole, I'm agitated. I need a moment. I need to go take a moment. I don't have to have everyone sitting in my misery along with me.

Luke Storey: [02:01:06] That's the misery loves company thing, the crux of that. Yeah, because when you're suffering, there's an inherent envy of people around you who are not, right? It's like, fuck this. If I'm going to feel badly, then you all need to feel badly too.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [02:01:24] And here's why. And I'm going to tell you the exact reason of what you did or didn't do.

Luke Storey: [02:01:28] That's good. I love this stuff. I love picking things apart. I think in a in another life, I probably would have pursued the career that you have and I guess maybe in a arbitrary way I am. All right. I'm going to do my best to wrap it up here in a couple of minutes. I thank you so much for your generosity of time. 

You're just such a wealth of data and perspective. It's like I can't stop, but I'm going to try. It's funny. A lot of the stuff that's on my list, we actually preemptively covered. I'm seeing things here like regulating your nervous system with your partner. And you talk about the principle of eye gazing. We didn't talk about that, but we talked about assisting each other in regulation. 

Oh, I know this is a really good one, actually. The five new love languages. And again, I don't want to put you on the spot. I did text them to myself so I have access to them if you can't recall them. But do you happen to recall or should I look them up for us?

Dr. Nicole LePera: [02:02:25] I can discuss the five love languages.

Luke Storey: [02:02:28] This was very cool because I'm familiar with the OG love languages and that's been a useful model for me to like identify. But these were fucking great and I'm just like, oh, this is good. This is next level.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [02:02:40] I'm so glad. So they really center around the foundation of nervous system safety, understanding that if we want to connect love, be in connection with a partner in my opinion that begins and or the foundation of it begins in our body when we're connected to our self, to our own heart space, that we can then be open to connection in another.

So as opposed to the traditional love languages which are typically defining how we most register love, whether it's in gestures or words of affirmations or the other three of them acts of service. I can remember their two and asking someone else to show up in service of meeting our way of love in that way, which I think can be very beneficial because it exposes for some of us for the first time that there's another person that has different reality, register-- and this again, is groundbreaking for a lot of us. 

We lead the world from our selves. We assume everyone's childhood looked like our childhood until we start to hear other friends or we go over their houses and we look around and say, oh my gosh, your house doesn't look like my house like. And then we learn different. So in relationships at the same, we assume everyone thinks, feels, make sense of the world the way we do. And I think the very important shift is to let another person in, their perspective there once in. Love languages do I think that great however.

Luke Storey: [02:04:00] Before you jump into yours, one thing I found so fascinating about that concept of the love language is that we inherently just assume that our partner has the same love language as us. Like, say it's receiving gifts. If my love language is receiving gifts, you're my girlfriend.
I'm going to constantly buy you gifts and you're going to be not impressed or moved by that. And then I'm going to be hurt because you're not responding. Meanwhile, your love language is words of affirmation or touch or whatever it is. I think that was a really useful part of that. 

And then and just for me, having the awareness that that concept even exists because when I met Alyson, I was like, okay, I got to find out what her love language is, not by asking her, but by observing what she's responsive to. 

And it became immediately clear that touch is by far-- she doesn't have any other languages really. That's the one. Cover that, you're good. And my mine are pretty obvious too. It's like words of affirmation and support. I think just you're awesome. You're doing a great job. Do that for me. I'm good. I don't care. You could buy me a Ferrari and I'd be like, man, gifts, nothing. Same with her. So there is something within that that's really useful. But I think where you're going with it here is just kind of a much deeper more emotional place.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [02:05:18] Yeah. You're speaking something, though, Luke, that's so true, which is both people are often left feeling frustrated if these communications are intentions aren't registering right to the other person. It's not just the person who's not getting the words of affirmation that they need to feel love that's going to not feel loved or feel disconnected or feel hurt, whatever, it's you. 

The person who's very well intentionally affirming them in the way that they think they want, because that's what works for them and possibly feeling rejected time and time again and not feeling reciprocated or connected to. So I think what's so important and why I've evolved this concept of love language is is to really honor both different individuals trying to navigate and connect in a heart based or heart centered way or to love each other.

And in my opinion, that begins and is grounded in nervous system regulation or safety. So new love language is really mean, becoming really intimately connected with my body, with my past trauma, with these different degrees of dysregulation. It means becoming aware of my ego and all of this idea about my identity that's very much grounded in my past experiences. But how my ego is coloring my current experiences, the meaning, the points of reaction, usually the points of conflict that are coming up, dyregulating both of us. 

It means holding that same space for awareness of our partners and of their past, of their history, of their ego, of their things that dysregulate their nervous systems and what they do. And this for some of us, is the difference between identifying if you have a partner who the only way they've been able to cope with uncomfortable feelings is through distracting themselves. So they're always on their phone.
That could be the difference of, oh, the next time you pick up your phone to distract yourself instead of being hurt that you care more about the sports on your phone than what I'm saying to you. I might be able to compassionately hold space and say, oh, this is less than ideal. I'm saying something really important right now. 

However, I can understand that your decision to distract yourself is probably connected to the discomfort that you're now feeling with this deep conversation that we might still need to have. But right now I can shift the feeling, the reaction, and that really is what I believe the new love language entail is nervous system awareness, understanding ourselves, our histories, these moments of reactionary behaviors, maybe even just dynamics like we've been talking about, the person we just show up day in and day out might be that helper who's always fawning because I don't feel safe expressing myself. 

If we know that in our relationships, now we can make space for both people to return back to their authentic self, to live from their heart, and to then be able to receive love in different types of ways, to feel loved solely on the basis of the security of the connection like we were just talking about, having those moments of disconnection of repair afterward where we're both conscious, where we're negotiating problems together, allows us to now feel loved just in by being a participant in the relationship.

We don't have to because the issue I find with the love languages is some of us hang all of our relationship future on that. If you're not showing up and loving me in this one particular way, I don't feel actually loved or connected to you in any other way. And what happens if the way that I'm loved is not easy for you? Or maybe it brings up some deep rooted stuff for you. 

And the example I give very early on with Lolly, I discovered one of my love languages. My mom would love me through active service. She always made sure there was a hot dinner on the plate for my dad when he came home for dinner. For me, every time I got out of my sports, that's how my mom mainly loved me. Very early on in my relationship with Lolly, she was not modeled cooking. 

She did not necessarily cook. Actually around meal times in her home. It was quite chaotic. There was a lot of screaming and yelling, a lot of dysregulation. Lolly was very much hyper independent when it came to meals. She took care of herself. She made sure that she was eating and felt safe and had her needs met and did that again as a reaction from the lack of safety around meals, in particular in her relationship. So I would behold, come home from work long hours, where's my meal?

And so if over time, if that's the only way that I can feel loved, I had a very real lived experience of the discrepancy or the mismatch. What I'm now asking her to do doesn't actually it activates her old trauma in her self. 

So I see often it being an important tool for that awareness, for the ability to understand we're with a different unique human, to begin to have these conversations, allowing both of us to have our experience integrate it into the relationship. However, again, I think it can be something that's overemphasized and might create a similar situation that many of us lived in childhood. I'm being asked to do something I don't want to do or I'm not comfortable doing so that I can be enough for you. There comes back all of that.

Luke Storey: [02:10:15] Totally. That's a really good point because it's like going with that model solely, there is the potential for so much need for adaptation. Like let's say Alyson's love language is touch and mine is totally not, I'm able to adapt into that easily and I think I can give her as much touch as she wants. And even sometimes she's like, I'm good. I'm overkill. Yeah, I'm like, overkill or it's not the right moment. Like if she's stressed, then it's not touch. Then it's like, just listen while I talk.

But it might be just outside of someone's repertoire so much that you're actually going to create undue stress in the relationship, trying to follow that to a T. So I think what you're describing is more into the realm of the conscious relationship where each individual and this is something, Alyson, I love to explore and experience together and also teach to a degree is like where you have each person who's highly value self awareness and their own growth and evolution. And so where in each person is accessing the witness observer of the phenomenon of their personality, their persona, their ego, their thoughts, their past, their patterns, all their shit. 

And you have a working awareness of that. Partner has a working awareness of theirs. And then you both get to play in this game where your two witness observers or higher selves you could say, are actually witnessing the phenomenon of the relationship from over there. It's a totally different thing than still being down in here, like, oh, how can I please this person? They want too much of what I don't have kind of thing, right? 

And I think there's so much room for expansion in that. And I think one of the most fun thing is like how quickly conflict can be resolved when each party has enough self-awareness to see, like to dismantle the triggers and get to the root of it really fast. It's actually really fun. It's just kind of the culmination of everything we've been sharing here today. There's not only the reward of hurting each other less. But there's a reward of the relationship then becoming a vehicle for change and evolution. 

It's like the relationship its own whole entity that's inviting both parties forward into a higher version of themselves. It's so much different than the pattern based trauma bonding stuff we were talking about earlier, where you're just getting your ass beat over and over again until you work your shit out and evolve past the need for that kind of key and lock. Yeah, it's super cool.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [02:12:51] Yeah, the thought that popped into my head is you allow the relationship to see the limitless possibility. And I think so many times we limit ourself and our beliefs about who we are, our identity, we limit our relationships. And it can really become a space where it does become limitless with that awareness. And I think sometimes we think we're risking ourselves or we're risking letting someone else in with this idea that we need to be solely servicing our needs. 

And when we open up the possibility, we allow ourselves to be in that gray area to understand the negotiation that does happen with two different beings trying to navigate life, walking into a future that they can create for themselves. And that might mean giving and taking, in different moments in a relationship. But all of that only does become possible when we're that hovering witness so that we can then consciously stay connected to the choices that also do make sense for us.

Luke Storey: [02:13:51] Yeah. So cool. Oh, man. One of my not so secret weapons for relaxation and quality sleep at the end of the day is something called Organifi Gold. It's a powdered drink mix jam packed with nine superfoods, and I use this stuff to make the most bomb gold and lattes at night using just warm water or raw milk or some ghee or coconut oil. 

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All right, I feel like I could sit you here for nine hours, Nicole. And I'm not going to do that to you. I appreciate your passion, and I know you enjoy sharing about this stuff, too, but I'm going to give you the benefit of living your life here in Austin, Texas, and let you go. But I think there was one thing. Where was it in my notes? Oh, yes. No, there was one question I want to ask you before my patented official last question that I do in every interview.

What role, if any, do you feel that the intentional use of plant medicines and and also more clinical use of psychedelic, psychedelic therapy. What role do you think that has in putting this all together, all of this kind of healing? And I asked that question from someone who put a lot of years in working really hard and being very committed and just having areas in which I was just stuck. 

A lot of the things we're talking about today specifically, I just I could get it. I could read about it, I could write about it, I could go to therapy, I could do the things, but I just couldn't break the patterns. And when I started venturing into that very cautiously, I might add, and with a lot of reservations, I have been able to overcome things that were just immovable.

But that's just my personal experience. So I'm curious what your take on that is. Is it something that's becoming more obviously prevalent and socially acceptable and even academically? And in terms of the medical and therapeutic setting, it's here, kind of starting to emerge.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [02:17:14] I feel very hopeful and grateful, seeing it being integrated into more structured clinical based experiences because I do think for people it can be incredibly impactful whether or not it's having those kind of moments of our subconscious being brought up and resolved or dissolved or integrated and allowing us to actually feel and be different moving forward or just the general. I think part of what I think can be so empowering about whether it's plant based medicine, any sort of retreat type where we're going away, we're leaving our familiar setting. We're being maybe exposed to these intensive or maybe we're using these tools to modify our experience.

And then the question always remains in my mind is what happens next. Great. Some moments I do think of clarity that we're gifted in our plant experiences can be so groundbreaking that it does become an awareness that actually allows us to impact our life or really simply changing things about how we're showing up. 

Though I think for the large majority of us, some of these, even if beliefs shift or change or come to our awareness, it's so ingrained in our habitual way of being that more often than not, it's a couple of days, weeks, maybe even a couple of months before long, and we're back into those old habits. So I'm very hopeful. I believe there will always be a role that plant medicine has for many individuals on their journey.
And then my question always becomes, how do I maintain the gift, this awareness, this consciousness or the change that may be experience has allowed me?

Luke Storey: [02:18:54] Awesome. Well, it's kind of a loaded question because as I was going over your new book, How to Meet Yourself, as we've said as a workbook, as I'm reading through it, I'm like, this is the most awesome integration tool. This should be given at every plant medicine retreat center. 

And I say this from experience because what you're saying is so right. I don't know how I say this without sounding like I've got it all figured out. I'm just going to be honest with my experience. Early in my journey, early in my sobriety, when I first started to wake up and be willing to face myself and all of my demons, I don't know that plant medicine or clinical psychedelic experience would have been as transformative as it was for me in the case of like 22 years of doing the kind of work we're talking about here. 

Then I went and did that, and I'm not saying it has to be that way, but it's been so profound for me because in those experiences I have a framework. I have the principles of the 12 steps. I have all of my years of meditation. I have every spiritual teacher that I've followed, every book I've read, work from people like you, or I'm understanding family dynamics. It's like all of that is in that experience with me. 

So as I'm unraveling the threads of that sweater of my former self, I know what I'm doing but I'm in this hyperspace quantum, no time, no space field wherein like, things can happen really fast and the changes can be actually permanent. And this has been the case, just very honestly has been the case of my experience.

But I can see how, and this is something that's actually confused me a bit. I've met people that have spent a lot of time working with plant medicines and psychedelics and still-- and this is an observation, not a judgment, still lack moral character, and still are messy and just messy and just not art, healthy, integrated, emotionally, mentally. 

And I've been very confused by that. And Alyson's helped me understand this, but because my experience have been so life altering and I have really worked hard at integration where like quitting nicotine, that was one. It was a ceremonial thing. I mean, I saw the whole thing and how disempowering it is. And it was like, I'm not doing this shit anymore and I fucking stopped. 

That was part of my integration knock on wood, two weeks or whatever. We'll see. One day at a time, but I've always been baffled by how someone could have an experience like 5-MeO-DMT or just some of these things are just earth shattering on such a galactic level for me that they've fundamentally changed everything about me and how I operate in the world and the capacity I have for relationships and the career and all the things.

And some person can do that and come out and just be the same person. But I think it's what you're saying. It's like, how do we make that part of our character? How do we take that experience and have a framework where we can actually have a scaffolding of who we are? So I think that's a really important point that you make. And my apologies for overwriting it or just reinforcing it, but I think it's really important for people to know that there's no magic formula or silver bullet to it, even though in those experiences it can be so profound. It really is. 

It is in the integration and having an understanding of our own psychology. So when you're in there, you know what to work with. And then when you come out of it, you have like a concrete plan of action, which is really and I'm not even playing around. I think your book is like a really great integration tool, whether someone's doing plant medicines or not.

But when you have that shift, you need structure. Especially if you've been disintegrated by some profound experience, whether it be with medicines or deep therapy or a breakup, a divorce, the loss of a career. When you become unwhole and disintegrated, we need some sort of guide that helps us put those pieces back together in a way that has a formidable foundation.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [02:23:03] Being you're saying that, I will share that I think another experience. So early in my teenage years, I discovered plant medicine through the form of mushrooms, psilocybin. And so before talking about not having the framework, not having any. So actually, for me, going into that space of integration that happened on one of my particular trips, took me into what we call a bad trip, a nightmare of an experience, and now understanding what kind of consciousness and my inability back then to create safety for myself at all. What I understand was the space I touched was like that childhood.

A feeling that deep overwhelm vastness of our energetic center, if you will, and not having the containment at a time when I needed it completely overwhelmed me. So I began to disconnect, to live my life on my spaceship, to keep myself contained right through all of these very controlling ways of being that I was exhibiting in the world. And then I  popped my first couple trips in and I was disintegrated into nothing.

And instead of feeling empowered and being like, wow, this is what it's all about, I avoided it. I ran so far from plant medicine for so long. So I think going into some of these experiences too, if we don't have the ability to regain safety in our body, some of this language, like you said, the framework, the structure of the hangar to put it all in, then outside, during and after, I should say, it can become problematic. 

And it wasn't until more recently that I've began to reintegrate more microdosing type experiences now because I have confidence security, that place of vastness feels welcoming as opposed to that literal, visceral fear that kept me running from it. 

So I just thought, I want to do that really quickly because again, without the framework, I do think, especially with how prolifically this is being talked about, some of us might be seeking the desperate attempt at plant medicine to help us finally feel better. And we might be ending up with not a very positive experience at all, at downright scary one. And again, it might not necessarily be the plant medicine itself. It might be, again, our underlying psychology of how we're integrating or interacting with it.

Luke Storey: [02:25:16] I really thank you for sharing that in your vulnerability and that early in life I had many very negative experiences with psychedelics and it's just looking back, so sad. I had so much unresolved trauma. And what I consider to be can be used as medicines, now, they were just more drugs for me.

It was like, oh, this is coke, some heroin, take some acid. There was no differentiating the usefulness or the utilitarian value of something like that. And I'm sure for some people heroin has a value too. I mean, it did to me. It had its benefits of just numbing out the experience of being me, but I lumped them all in together and as a result it was very clumsy and very sloppy and really put myself in some very psychologically and sometimes physically dangerous situations. I talk about the wrong set and setting. I mean, just, oh my God, I won't go into the stories, but just horrendous situations that I just blindly and unconsciously went in in that totally open, vulnerable, disintegrated space.

And we've all heard stories about people that trip too much or too far and didn't come back and. It's a very real thing. So I appreciate your sense of responsibility to add that. And I do my best to always do that too, because I don't want to glamorize something as the be all end all. But at the same time, I don't want to minimize the positive impact that it's had on me. 

But I think the reason that it's been so is what I just described, it's not all there is. There's all of this other systems and ways of thinking and belief systems and teachings that can be couched with that experience and ride on the back of the psychedelic to actually get where you were going anyway maybe just a little faster.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [02:27:05] And there's a lot of professionals in structured settings now are offering very legal ways, guidance and support to have these type of journeys too. I think that's another really helpful component. It doesn't just have to be like a scoring it from our friends, like wherever we can hide to do this, we can actually walk into a trained professional and maybe even if we do feel like this is something that you're curious about, if you're listening though, there is fear or maybe you did have a bad experience in your teenage years as well, knowing that we can go in to a structured, controlled, guided, supported experience, I think can continue to increase its utility or any sort of plant medicines utility in terms of being part of many people's healing experiences.

Luke Storey: [02:27:49] Well, it's funny you mention that, because the gentleman that's coming over in a few minutes, Ronin Levy is a founder of a company called Field Trip, and they have these really beautiful centers where and they administer ketamine therapy, and I think they have one in the Netherlands that's working with psilocybin. 

Just really beautiful, thoughtful, well curated space with trained therapists and it's whole intake, a number of different sessions before you even get to the medicine. It's like very structured and complete and I've not done it myself, but a friend did and had a really tremendous experience with it. 

So I love that that's a possibility because there's so much more safety in that because it can get squirrelly out there in the quantum. You don't want to get lost out there, not just to mention even that, but the energetics of if you believe in multi dimensional beings and the existence of good and evil in this plane of duality, you enter into that space, it could get real gnarly if you're not in a protective cocoon. 

So thank you. All right. I do have one last question. It's a three parter. Who have been three teachers or teachings that have influenced your life or your work that you'd like to share with us?

Dr. Nicole LePera: [02:28:55] Three teachers or teachings. Bruce Lipton comes to immediate mind, really exposing me to epigenetics, the power of the environment coming very much through a system that really just focused on genetics. That was hugely transformative for me.
Joe Dispenza I think also comes right up there to mind again, really tuning me into while I always knew the brain was somewhat powerful, really mapping this on to consciousness and the field and this actual real science. I'm still a scientist at heart in many ways. While I've made room for the spiritual and all that is indefinable, I am very enamored with the fact that some of this stuff is being able to be quantified and studied and translate it into the good old numbers that we like.

So he's someone who's been very, very influential. And who else is is someone whose teachings that I have been inspired by? Wim Hof has just randomly popped in. And I'm wondering because I saw that you have a cold plunge out there. And actually, he's one of the individuals, really interestingly, that when I first met Wim Hof, the reason why I'm inspired by him and I'm feeling a little bit of two minds and even sharing him. The reason I'm inspired by him is because he really highlights the power of the mind and the ability to actually change the physiological body.

When I met and read about outliers, that to me seems so superhuman very early on in my journey, as I was very much limiting myself to the potential of my genetics and all of these other reasons. I would roll my eyes at a type of person like him presenting all of these capabilities that he can train his body into, and also his personality being very much out there sharing, not what I was. 

So there was very much a friction when I met his work, though a deep, deep interest. And again, really highlighting all of those three are how powerful our human system is when we have the whole story, how connected we all are, and the incredible amount of change and transformation that we have capable. 

Even though, like I said, there was very much a subconscious part of me that with all of the new information that I've been able to integrate into my own journey initially upon meaning it, and which is why I'm so inspired by you in this show and having these conversations, I felt very resistant. I felt very like, what is this you're saying? Oh, this doesn't apply to me at all. Definitely. And maybe don't stop saying that. So opening myself up more and more to how possible some things are to most of us.

Luke Storey: [02:31:24] That's great. Yeah, I love all three of those. The first two have been on the show, which is really a treat to talk to all of them. But I want to go back to one thing you said about Joe Dispenza. I love that he is doing the research along with these experiences. I've been to a couple of his retreats and I think they stopped doing this for the last one because of COVID or something. 

But the first one, there's this whole section of scientists in the back that are doing EGs on people and drawing people's blood and doing all this stuff, I mean, this this massive team of people just to keep iterating on the effects of the meditations and the breathing techniques and stuff in real time. I thought that was so cool. It's not just like," Oh, I'm going to put out this book and it's going to help people."

I'm going to have these events and actually quantify what we're doing. And then he keeps refining it based on the results that they get. It's crazy. And speaking of plant medicines, I mean, the way Joe's doing it is-- I mean, people are having experiences in his events I've witnessed and they're acting like they're having one of those transformative, transcendent kind of psychedelic experiences. And they're just using breath and intention and techniques that he's teaching.

And man, I've seen some people do some crazy shit in Joe Dispenser events. Even my dad, we took him and he was on 78 at the time or something and he's never done any of that kind of stuff and he has his eye mask on. We do a meditation and then we come out of it is a really deep one. I think like two hours. He takes his eye mask off and I go, "How are you doing, Dad?"

He goes, "Man, that was weird. I was seeing all these colors and shapes and stuff, never done any drugs." And he goes, "And then I realized that I had my eye mask on. I thought, what the hell is going on here?" Because this is an example of that. It's just how much power we actually have within us. And Wim Hof with the ice baths, that was one of the first things that I've been doing it before I realized what I was doing.

But in terms of the nervous system regulation that you talk about, I mean, I jump in that thing when it's hot a few times a day and it's like it's not even for the other health benefits. My goal is always how fast can I be calm? 

That's my game with myself is like, how quickly can I get in and breathe deeply and slowly and totally surrender to the discomfort and have that dominion over my nervous systems desire to react like it's dying. And I swear that practice alone has really helped me a lot with being less reactive and just able to reel myself in when I start to get triggered.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [02:33:52] Yeah, same. I have a cold plunge too, and one of the discomforts I can tolerate at least is actually with my physical body. I have a narration that says, "Get the hell out of here. What are you doing?" Especially around cold. I went to school in upstate New York for college and at that point I swore off cold weather. 

So getting in a cold plunge, and for me it's when my body and over time, what that led to is not moving my body past its limits. My muscles became so tight and constricted before I began to drop in and release them and stretch and incorporate movement into my daily and things like cold plunge. Because ultimately what I had done for so long is just the second I felt any discomfort in my body, I would stop whatever it is that I was doing. 

So those moments for me are not only activating my nervous system, but they're that challenge for that voice that's constantly telling me to get out quickly and teaching myself how to calm my whole experience. So it's been such a foundational part of my whole journey.

Luke Storey: [02:34:47] I'm glad you're doing that too. It gets easier too. That's good news.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [02:34:51] In the Sun of Scottsdale, I too am getting a number of times and I'm like, oh, somebody listen, feel is cool. It was 120°.

Luke Storey: [02:34:57] So much of it is mental because I noticed I was on a kick a couple of weeks ago where I was going and doing it at night right before bed just to test my sleep scores. And I did get way better deep sleep, interestingly enough. 

But in Texas it's the same temperature basically during the night. It's still in the 90s at night. But just the fact that it's dark, it makes it way harder. This is so dumb, it's really hot out still. You wouldn't want to be outside very long are you're going to be sweating even when it's 10:00 at night. But I'm like, no, just seeing the sun. Even on a cloudy day when it's a lot harder. It shows you like how much power the mind has. 

Well, thank you so much for joining me today. Man, this has been awesome. A dream come true. You're one of my dream guest. We made it happen. We allowed it to happen. So thank you so much. And best of luck with your book. I'm thinking we probably timed this recording and when this comes out, what's the release date of your book right now?

Dr. Nicole LePera: [02:35:51] December 6th. I personally can't wait. I'm actually waiting for my physical copy too. I was alerted that at the end of this month. So at the end of October it'll ship out. So I haven't even seen a hard copy yet and I can't wait to get my hands on it.

Luke Storey: [02:36:04] That's funny because earlier when I was reading the PDF, I thought, "Oh, I wonder if she has one in her bag or something because I like to put people's books right here in the video."

Dr. Nicole LePera: [02:36:11] They printed out funny enough Side Story. They printed out a cover for me, so I have a fake cover on a face.

Luke Storey: [02:36:17] So you can just wrap it on another book?

Dr. Nicole LePera: [02:36:17] So just I can hold it up and just look at it and see what it looks like myself, though, the book won't. We had to cut it until the very end in terms of the deadline and all the colors and paper that's not available or whatever I'm told. So it's coming. I don't yet have it. I can't wait to see it.

Luke Storey: [02:36:31] It's also beautifully designed too.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [02:36:32] Yes, the team at Harper I'm so grateful for they really understood the vision and came up with some really beautiful design.

Luke Storey: [02:36:39] Yeah, it's very aesthetically pleasing too. Yeah, because when it comes to something that's kind of crafted as a workbook, it can get dry.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [02:36:47] Yeah. One of the goals and we pushed hard for the full color spectrum and the beautiful layout because it can get dried to bring it, I think, alive to make it visual. I'm such a visual learner in addition. So I think I always gear myself toward how it looks on the page.

Luke Storey: [02:37:02] It looks beautiful. So we're happy to support. Everyone go out and buy it right now. All right. Thanks so much.

Dr. Nicole LePera: [02:37:07] Thank you so much for having me.

Luke Storey: [02:37:11] Well, I don't know about you, but that was an episode I will never forget. I had an incredible time sharing ideas with Nicole and learning from her vast expertise on the human condition. And I highly recommend giving this one a bookmark in case you need to go back to it in a time of need. 

There were just so many powerful tools shared. And if you found this information of value, I encourage you to send it to someone with whom you share a relationship that could use some growth, but maybe don't tell them that's why you're sending it to them. More of a covert operation. But seriously, share the show. 

Now, before I dip, I'll remind you to check out my top 2022 wellness products at lukestorey.com/holidaygiftguide. You'll also find some truly insane exclusive discounts there as well. That's lukesstorey.com/holidaygiftguide. 

And for next week's episode we'll be kicking it old school with some super far out quantum biohacking madness on number 447 where we cover methylene blue frequency, enhanced red light and other next level wizardry with Joss Daniel. 

So keep your ears primed for that one next Tuesday. And until we meet again, listen, stay safe and as sane as is possible as we begin to wrap up what has been one of the most bizarre years, I think, in human history. If we make it through this one, we can make it through anything. See you next week.



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