When nothing seems to work : I bet you it’s your nervous system 

 More than once have a patient started out a session by telling me that everything is going the wrong way, that life sucks and that they are going nowhere with their work in therapy. Just to be on a completely different page about 55 minutes later as we round up for the week. We go through, step by step maybe what is bothering them and interestingly enough, after some back and forths, they even see things from a new perspective. Is it my persuasion skills that are just that good? Or is it that they are in a state when we begin that won’t allow them to actually see things clearly?

I used to have a teacher in yogic philosophy who said to us “friends, stay calm. Do not ever let anyone or anything disturb your sense of calm. The mind that finds the solution to a problem is the same mind that found the problem in the first place. But it can only find the solution when it’s calm and collected.”

There is a reason that we must develop a certain relationship with our psychologist/therapist for the magic to take place. Just like there is a reason that meditation has healing powers on us when practised regularly. It is the same reason that regular physical activity tends to bring us into a lighter mood and that talking with a friend helps us out of our rut. 

Here’s the hint : it’s all in our nerves. 

I have had patients (and God knows people who are not patients but in my life anyway) create havoc over how utterly incapable they (or me!) are but then later, when they are calm, actually repeat the same words back to me that I tried to tell them. 

Have you had days where it feels as if life is just not fair? Days where you are certain the gods are playing a trick on you? 

When it seems as if your therapist/teacher/boss/parent is not serving you at all and they clearly just don’t get it. Of course, in that moment we do not see at all that maybe it’s not them, it’s us. 

Because it is always us. Yes, just like the cliché phrase “it’s not you, it’s me” that everyone is convinced (even the person saying it) is a total lie. Well it’s not. Because it is actually always me. 

How can I be so convinced of that?

Not because of personal experience but simply because of how our brain works. You see, the words of my teacher there were 100% true. 

You created the problem in your head because of what state you were in. Things never are good or bad, they just are. And if you stay in that state, for sure you will not find the solution. 

Because you’re still looking at it from the same perspective. From the same lens, the same position of the room. From the same SELF IMAGE.

It is very hard to change that perspective which is why most people don’t during their whole life. I have had patients telling me, as they come to an insight about themselves “I can’t believe it took me this long to understand this” and I always respond “do you realise that most people never get that insight?”.

The reason it’s important to choose your therapist well is the reason that therapy works in the first place. We soothe our nervous system when we speak to someone we trust. And the reason that everything starts to clear up when we do is actually because we switch our fight/flight/freeze mode to rest and digest. 

Nothing can really work or come back to where it needed to be while we are agitated. 

I’m sure you have run around the house looking for your keys in vain just to have someone else walk in whistling and calm, pointing them out the door. You were not able to see them due to your agitated state. 

It’s the “can’t see the forest for all the trees” scenario.

Now what am I trying to communicate with this?

If you feel as if you keep repeating the same mistakes. If you have the impression that nothing is changing in your life and that frustration is tapping on your door, then it might all be true, these impressions. But none of them will change as long as you are in that state.

What you need to do is to alter the state of your nervous system. 

It’s the reason that diets and exercise routines don’t work for us when we are so stressed over the result we are trying to achieve. If we would actually exercise for the fun of it, we wouldn’t realise it but we would get fit so much faster. If we would eat a healthy diet not because we restrict ourselves in a punishing way but because we take pleasure in it, we would never fail a diet again. Because the way we eat would be our diet. Our daily diet forever. Without going back to “how it normally is” after the 10 days punishment. 

Guess if you are in fight/flight/freeze or rest and digest when you force yourself to train 6 days a week to whip your body into shape? Guess if you are enjoying yourself when you starve and tell yourself that you are being really strong refusing those cookies?

Hi, I’m Charlotte (Yogi Cha). I’m a yoga teacher with a degree in clinical psychology. I’ve always had a deep curiosity toward eastern and western approaches to understanding the mind, and the ming/body union. You’ll find me in the lovely Canggu Bali, nestled amongst coconuts, palm trees and sunshine 🥥🌴🌞