We had the honor of sitting down with The Holistic Psychologist, Dr. Nicole LePera of Philadelphia, who is building a huge online community which she calls the #selfhealers.
Dr. Nicole advocates that we have the power to self heal through a multitude of modalities including nutrition, mindfulness and mind reprogramming. Taking a different approach to psychology, she is hoping to pave the way psychologists work with clients and focus on treating the body and mind as a whole.
Her passion for psychology started young but she realized through her own struggles with anxiety that the typical psychology sessions weren’t enough to truly heal. She experienced her own health crisis that caused her to question whether anxiety was just a symptom of mental struggles or if there was a physical component as well?
Through her own experiences, she was able to come to the conclusion that humans cannot just rely on one way to heal. If we take a holistic approach of healing the body, the mind will heal as well. Lifestyle changes are necessary in order to find mind, body balance, health and happiness.
We discussed the importance of mindfulness (as y’all know is a TCC favorite!) and how it is a huge first inherent step in healing or creating change.
Nicole explains that practicing mindfulness is key because it is what leads us to become aware of patterns and habits. These habitual patterns, whether they be physical or looping thought patterns, are programs that we are running, much like a computer does.
With the use of mindfulness, we have the choice to choose a new program. Pretty nifty, huh?
The cool and also challenging fact is that we are programmed through our past experiences, typically from childhood. Past traumas, societal beliefs, the way our parents operated (their programs and patterns), and how they raised us all contribute to our programming.
These programs typically originated because we had to cope with a certain scenario in life (whether it be a bully at school, parent’s divorce, overwhelmingly loving mother, etc.). We grew up doing everything we learned as children but now as adults, we are subconsciously running off of our childhood programs.
A thought pattern or program can look like this: a bully picked on you as a child in elementary school and told you no one liked you or wanted to be friends with you. So today, you have a looping subconscious thought pattern that no one really wants to be around you, which in turn causes you to be fearful of being seen or putting yourself out there. To top it off, you might not even consciously remember that specific memory, but it’s lodged in your subconscious. Trippy huh?
Don’t worry!! Here’s the good news. We can reprogram our thoughts and literally teach ourselves a new way of being! This is essentially what reprogramming looks like. Programs are laid down by experiences - it’s a culmination of the way that we have thought, felt or behaved in the past but luckily they can be shifted through our conscious awareness.
So let’s dive in to how we make the magic happen!
Reprogramming Your Brain
The first step is to notice when you react emotionally. Can you think of something that makes you feel anger or uneasiness? Once you know what that problem is, you can take these moments and start to tell yourself something different. Mantras (which are a repeated phrase) can be hugely helpful in starting to rewrite a program.
Meditation and visualization are other techniques that help you rewrite the script of your life. The reason meditation is so powerful is because we are able to reduce the distraction of life and be with our own thoughts. Yes, scary! But very powerful in terms of becoming more aware of where where we are at.
Dr. Nicole even explains the science behind manifesting. Yes, that’s right, we have science to back up the “woo-woo” now! Quantum physicists explain that we are all made up of energy. We all emit certain energies and our emotions (or emotional reactions) are what dictate what kind of energy we emit.
Let’s take the scenario of you wanting to rewrite the program that no one likes you. You’d start with a mantra or thought like “people like me” and you tap into the feeling of what a likeable person would feel like in the world. You really have to see it!
This is powerful because we are beings that are made of energy and our brain does not know the difference between what is real and what is imagined. Truth! So in this time of visualizing and feeling what that looks like in our mind, over time and with practice we become that type of person. Things start to shift in our body and we are almost tricking ourselves into becoming the person that we are imagining.
We start to practice being different in the world and behaving differently. You are actually creating a different pattern when you do that. You are rewiring neural networks and connections in the brain which originally fired a different way. This is called neuroplasticity - which means we have the ability to change our brains.
- Your Physical Health
The mental part of healing is just part of the equation. Our physical health is just as important for a healthy and happy mind. Dr. Nicole explains that our gut health plays a massive role in our mental health, largely due to the gut-brain connection.
Recently, we’ve come to find out that neurotransmitters (the messengers of the brain and body that make us feel certain ways) are actually created in the gut. Yup- you heard that right. Eating that big mac could be directly linked to the frequency and duration of your anxiety.
The food that we eat affects the way that not only our gut functions, but also the way our brains functions. Brain fog, nervousness, wired but tired are all symptoms of our gut being out of balance. So lay off the cheese fries!
She explains that if inflammation, blood sugar, and gut balance are not regulated, we can be struggling with a body imbalance that actually affects us psychologically.
These are things she explains in a super easy to understand and visually intriguing way on her fast growing Instagram account: @the.holistic.psychologist
What can you expect from a session with Dr. Nicole?
In a typical session, Dr. Nicole will first address nutrition, which your typical psychologist likely would not even think to ask what your diet looks like. As more science emerges on how much our nutrition plays a role in not only our physical states but mental as well, it would only be logical that psychologists would be just as interested in what you are putting in your mouth as well as what happened to you as a child.
Dr. Nicole is definitely at the forefront of this new wave.
Nutrition and awareness are the first aspects of your life addressed in a session with Dr. Nicole and soon after that, she explains that meditation and breathwork typically need to be integrated into daily routines.
Usually it’s some activity in the nervous system that is causing us to feel uneasy or feel stressed, which is why breathwork can be hugely impactful in regulating that system.
Breathwork can get us into the parasympathetic state, or our rest, digest and repair system which allows us to deal with the stressors of life in a much healthier manner.
It’s about consistent, habitual behaviors and is not just a one and done fix. There is not cure all to create meaningful changes in life, but someone like Dr. Nicole can set you up with a strategic plan. At the end of the day, it all really comes down to you, the individual, creating these behaviors on a consistent basis.
A very interesting point that she made is that a lot of what we call depression and anxiety is actually our body being out of balance. We used to believe that mental illness meant our brains were broken, so we could either talk about it or medicate, but that is drastically changing.
The science that has been emerging now shows us that we are not stuck with the genes that were given to us. Our lifestyle choices actually effects whether and how our genes express themselves. This is huge!
This is the physiology effect of our psychology struggles.
The Sunny Side
The big takeaway is that you have the choice! We’re not controlled by our minds. We have control of our minds and with that control, you can dictate the choices that you make each and every day.
You have the power to create new habits, new thought patterns, and ultimately a new life.
Start small and work your way up. Even with a practice like mindfulness, just start to pay attention to how you are talking to yourself.
Remember, all of this is in our control and there are choices that we can make that are attainable. We have the power to change the way our life looks as well as the way we feel about ourselves. Whether you're stuck in your job, relationship, or health, there is so much you can do to shift and change that!
Be empowered to know that you are in control of your mind and body and have the power to create any changes you wish to see manifest in your life.
If you want to reach out to Dr. Nicole for a session either in person or via Skype, you can find her here: https://yourholisticpsychologist.com/ and follow her on Instagram for daily knowledge bombs to inspire you self heal and create your best life @the.holistic.psychologist