Conscious Parenting and the Impact of Stress on Behavior
with Dr. Nima Rahmany, DC, CCWP
We all want four things in our lives that contribute to our happiness: less stress, connection to others, purpose, and meaningful relationships. Many things get in the way of achieving these things for our kids with ADHD and/or autism (and ourselves), including a frequently triggered nervous system and dysregulation, the way our own past traumas have shaped the way we parent, our expectations of our kids, and wanting to protect our kids from the negative events in our own childhood.
On this episode of the Parenting ADHD Podcast, I’m talking with Dr. Nima Rahmany, a chiropractor and educator specializing in helping individuals and professionals get to the ROOT CAUSE of their physical and emotional challenges, from stressed, depressed, and anxious to living Powerfully Aligned and on Purpose. We discuss connection, trauma, triggers, regulation, and the autonomic nervous system and the way these are all interconnected and are clues on how to integrate mind-body tools to go deep with our kids and truly help them build regulation and connection from the bottom up. This all culminates in recognizing behavior as adaptive instead of abnormal, which puts parents in the best position to truly improve behavior and help our kids achieve success and happiness.
Resources in this EpisodeNOTE: Some of the resources below may be affiliate links, meaning I receive a commission (at no cost to you) if you use that link to make a purchase.
- Dr. Nima’s Trigger Proof Facebook Group
- The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children, by Dr. Shefali Tsabary
- PAP 096: What the Nervous System Tells Us About Understanding & Improving Behavior, with Mona Delahooke, PhD
- Dr. Nima’s Overview Meditation
- Byron Katie’s The Work
- Free Trigger Proof Training (regularly $97): Link: www.drnima.com/vw1, promo code triggerproof
NIMA RAHMANY, DC, CCWPDr. Nima Rahmany, DC, CCWP is both a Chiropractor and an educator, specializing in helping individuals and professionals get to the ROOT CAUSE of their physical and emotional challenges, from stressed, depressed, and anxious to living Powerfully Aligned and on Purpose. After building a successful Chiropractic practice in Maple Ridge, BC, Dr. Nima sold his clinic in June 2016 to pursue his passion for teaching and coaching professionals who are stressed, depressed, and anxious to transform and have their best year ever— in both a private and corporate setting.
Thanks for joining me!If you enjoyed this episode, please use the social media buttons to share it. Have something to say, or a question to ask? Leave a comment below. I promise to answer every single one. **Also, please leave an honest review for The Parenting ADHD Podcast on iTunes. Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and appreciated! That’s what helps me reach and help more families like yours.
Dr. Nima (00:03): If you take on parenting as a spiritual practice, rather than your kid's performance, as a measure of your own validation, then you've now started to shift a conversation. You've now reframed the context and now you can take on their challenges as an opportunity to heal. And when you do that, all of a sudden your children start to love themselves more. The greatest gift you can give a child is self-loving parents.
Intro (00:38): Welcome to the Parenting ADHD Podcast, where I share insights and strategies on raising kids with ADHD, straight from the trenches. I'm your host, Penny Williams. I'm a parenting coach, author, ADHD-aholic and Mindset Mama, honored to guide you on the journey of raising your atypical kid. Let's get started.
Penny Williams (01:10): I am super thrilled to be talking to you, Dr. Nima Rahmany. And we're going to discuss triggers and behavior and let that lead us through more discussion on polyvagal theory and regulation and trauma that our kids and even ourselves as parents are experiencing fairly regularly in our lives as parents of special needs kids. Thanks so much for being here, Dr. Nima. Will you start by introducing yourself? Let us know who you are and what you do.
Dr. Nima (01:45): It's great to be here, Penny. I'm a chiropractor. I was like, what the heck am I doing talking about this stuff? And it's very relevant because as a practicing chiropractor for the last 20 years, helping people, children, families I noticed that stress related disorders are what bring people in. So I just kept getting curious more and more curious as I got to know my patients more and just kept going upstream with them, with why they were here.
Dr. Nima (02:16): "Okay. So what is stressing you out?" Usually it's relational breakdowns, family dynamics. Work-Related things, it's the usual stuff. And, if we just keep going upstream with our stress related problems, we end up having the conversation of, "well, who am I and what am I here to do? And what makes my heart sing? And am I doing what I love, am I where I want to be with who I want to be doing what I want to be doing?" And so those as you just keep going, you'll notice in your life, if you just keep going upstream with these questions, every stress that you're going through right now, every challenge that you're faced with, if you go upstream with the problem, the solution, the inner guidance comes through you from where you go upstream of who you are and why you're here.
Dr. Nima (03:14): So I just kept giving myself permission to teach my patients how to keep going upstream with those questions. And it started off with a workshop that I started creating 10 years ago in my office called life skills for a stressful world. It was a Saturday morning, a little teaching opportunity I had for my patients who were coming in with stress related problems. And then we would get to know each other and empower them with their own choices and stress related tools, tools to be able to navigate and become more resilient and adaptable and increase your capacity to be able to take on more, to be able to not fall apart. When you're met with adversity, those are the most important factors in your health, in my patients' health and their outcomes. And so I thought, "you know what? It's a lot more fun teaching this than it is being here on Monday morning, just dealing with the end stages of the stress related problem."
Dr. Nima (04:12): So fast forward 10 years, and that three hour, Saturday morning workshop has now become a three day live event where I teach the cognitive and somatic methodologies to clearing past trauma, to connecting with your inner voice, to healing your relationships, to emotionally regulating, and to connecting deeper with intimacy. I realized that's really what we all want. So when you go upstream, those are the main things we want. We want to connect purpose. We want to heal our relationships. We want to be able to emotionally regulate with stress, and we want to be able to have deeper intimacy. Those are the most important skills that we're never really taught in school. And if I just teach my clients that then they can navigate through life a lot better, heal their relationships, and then their bodies become more resilient. And so now I lead a global community of self healers, teaching them the skills to take their triggers and turn them into deeper self love, and conflicts and relationships and turn them into family dynamics and turn them into deeper intimacy. And I stand for healed families. So when you do this, you break the cycles of intergenerational trauma and you heal family dynamics. And so ADHD parents, special needs, and all of that stuff is all included in this. And I've had some very interesting observations in this domain with kids with special needs.
Penny Williams (05:42): Yeah, it's such great work. It's so necessary. And our population as parents of kids with special needs, you know, studies show that we have a lot more stress than your average parents. So we're already dealing with that adversity.
Dr. Nima (06:01): Yes it's tough enough having kids who don't have special needs, every child is special, but when you have a child with developmental dysfunction and disability it becomes more added weight on you. That's not easy.
Penny Williams (06:19): For sure. Can we start by defining what you mean when you talk about trauma? Because I think most people immediately think of abuse, physical or mental abuse, or being a victim of a crime. These big trauma. What I've learned over the years and parenting my son is that we all experience these little traumas throughout our lives. And that's not to take away the weight of the big traumas that do happen to people. I think it's really important to see that we all have that impacting how we function.
Dr. Nima (07:02): Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. Big trauma is the obvious ones that we all know about physical, emotional abuse, neglect, that kind of thing becomes very traumatic for us. And, it gets stored into our bodies even long before we had cognition even long before we have language. So to do cognitive behavioral type of therapies on traumas that happened before we even had language is what I discovered in my whole journey is not a waste of time, but you're not getting to the heart of the matter. What about others traumas? Small T? It has so many different colors. For example, when you're a child with a parent that is not really emotionally developed and mature because of their own traumas, what happens is when we have trauma, we become an arrested development at the age of when the trauma happens. You meet some people, right?
Dr. Nima (08:04): I was in the lineup for a bank the other day, and this guy starts striking up a conversation with me and my wife. He was a man in his forties or fifties. After he was done, my wife and I looked in and we're like, yeah, he's probably felt like he was probably like 12 or 13 years old, just an emotional maturity level. And that often comes from a trauma that happened at that age. I know it sounds like I'm judging him, I've seen countless number of cases. So I can almost predict now, just by when you talk to somebody and when I'm coaching somebody when they get triggered and what happens is you revert back to those ages where you had that trauma, for example, if your mom and dad let's say they were a hot mess or mom or dad was a hot mess.
Dr. Nima (09:01): And they had alcohol issues and they had narcissistic behavior because of their own traumas. Then you had to step up and parent your own parents, then being a parental child, you didn't have your emotional needs met. That's a form of trauma. Not getting your emotional needs met, not getting your physical needs met as a trauma, like skipping meals. There was an ex girlfriend that would tell me stories about how there were sometimes like a week where there was no food in the household and that's not getting your physical needs met. Your parents getting divorced is a form of trauma for a child, a young nervous system who has no idea I'm being bullied, physical injuries, the obvious physical or emotional abuse. Even if you were the child of a physically or emotionally sick parent, that parent wasn't resourced and able to meet your emotional needs.
Dr. Nima (10:01): So that becomes traumatic for a child because they have to abandon themselves in order to survive. I have to let go of my own needs and take care of others and become hypervigilant and taking care of my mother or father. And so that becomes a form of trauma growing up, these children experienced adult life, very unrewarding, unfulfilling. Even if you have all the things, even if you have all the things to be grateful for, you have husband, wife, kids, great job... You still feel this lack of fulfillment because of the emotional quality, you didn't have that part of your needs met. When you had experiences as well, Penny, if you had fear being used as a motivator, growing up, you don't do this. And your father's going to come home. And, like all of a sudden fear is used as a motivator or used to control.
Dr. Nima (11:00): That's a form of trauma. If you had chronic ruptures in the home that weren't repaired, a five year old, a six year old feels that they're going to be left behind. That's traumatic to a child when you don't repair the rupture. Being told, "stop crying. That didn't happen. Move on, just quiet. Don't cry." That's also a trauma where your feelings are not validated or taught how to process them. So trauma has very many different colors. We've all experienced it. And we don't know that we have until we get into relationships and these triggers come up and those are our old traumas. And then anything unresolved gets expressed into the children. So we then we have unresolved traumas. We start to have kids, they're exposed to all of the things that we've been repressing, which is a bit of a mind screw if you really look at it.
Dr. Nima (11:59): But that's really the design of children. They're here to teach us just as much as we're here to teach them. I have a baby on the way, my wife is due in October. Knowing that I'm going in to this, realizing that that child is there to teach me and bring up all of my unresolved wounding and triggers from my past as an opportunity for me to go in and resolve them and to heal them. And that's why I created the overview method, which is a tool to go and resolve and heal resentment and trauma.
Penny Williams (12:32): Yeah. Wow. Congratulations. By the way, I would love to have had the knowledge that I have now when my kids were young, even because now they're almost 18 and 21, and now I'm learning about trauma, all the ways that I screwed them up.
Dr. Nima (12:48): Right?
Penny Williams (12:53): Absolutely. Yes. And that's inevitable, we all make mistakes, we're all human.
Dr. Nima (12:58): And we're all gonna do it. We're all gonna do it. And you did the best that you could Penny.
Penny Williams (13:03): Yeah. Yeah. I wanted to touch on something you've talked about with the trauma and how we see it later in relationships. I think for our kids who don't quite fit, are differently wired, they have these neurological struggles with things like school, especially where they're trying to fit into this neuro-typical expectation that they just can't, it's physically impossible for them. And that's very traumatic. When they're going day after day, and they're hearing, "you're not trying hard enough" when they really are trying their absolute best, when they're seeing that they don't fit, that's traumatic. And then we see it in behavior. We seen it in their emotional dysregulation, even physical and sensory dysregulation. It just kind of pours out of them, especially when they get home and this is their safe place. And we often just see it as behavior. And what do we do to fix this bad attitude or to get our kids to focus on homework when really the root is that being at school, that experience, right now could be traumatic for them. I would love your thoughts about that.
Dr. Nima (14:25): Well, first and foremost, what I want you to start off saying is that every child is inspired to learn. What's most meaningful to them? Okay. It's just whether they like eagles, whether they like robots, whatever it is, they love it. And the concept of ADHD and the labels that they put. I'm not a fan of the labels. Now this is going to upset a few parents here. I really want to explain my position. The labels for all of these diagnoses and disorders are not actually real. They are manmade, used as an insurance code so that doctors could get paid. And so the problem has happened is that we've now medicalized adaptive behavior. Let me say that again. We've now medicalized behavior as abnormal and wrong, whereas it's just adaptive to trauma.
Dr. Nima (15:34): Okay. There's a big problem of that. You labeling a kid constantly telling them, well, they don't fit in this square peg in a round hole. Doesn't fit in with us. It's abnormal. And now the messages that that child is getting day in and day out is that they are defective.
Penny Williams (15:53): Yes, totally.
Dr. Nima (15:54): And it just furthers their own shame. And then their behavior gets worse. And then they go, "Oh, look, it's because of the thing. It's because of the disorder." And it breaks my heart to hear that. What if we just started off and especially with the whole school system, it's a system, it's like anything else, it's systemic. It's a matrix that we're in that was created long, long before you and I were born and we're born into it. And we're assuming that that system is right.
Dr. Nima (16:26): But the truth of the matter is if that system wasn't there, the child is inspired to learn what's most meaningful to them. And there are certain things that we are all really good at. We have excess in and we have deficiency and we all have that. It just so happens that people who are on the spectrum have more extremes. If they're deficient in one, they will have more of an extreme of sufficiency in another. So I believe there's usually a balance. So if their kid is maybe socially not very centered and balanced, then they have like an extreme ability in math or computing. You know what I mean? Instead of labeling them, it's wiser for us to just allow them, assist them, create a system around them, rather than buy into this whole school system and everything that it should be a certain way that we have educators around them that actually get them to express their creativity, express their their inspirations of what to learn instead of labeling them and putting them on pills and then telling them that they don't fit in and they don't belong and they're not enough, that's more trauma.
Dr. Nima (17:48): The system itself becomes a perpetuation of all their traumas. And so I've never liked that they label ADHD on a child that can't concentrate in chemistry or math, but can sit in front of a fricking computer screen and like be a hundred percent focused and dedicated to hockey or a hundred percent focused and dedicated to video games like 100%. That's not attention deficit. That's just a label that you've put on so that you can explain your failure in the system to not be able to connect with them properly. But when you allow that child to express their inspirations, you realize they're actually geniuses and that's the place for us to begin. That's where we begin. And to understand that my thoughts on this is that when you see your child not fitting in, when you see them going through all of that, this becomes an invitation.
Dr. Nima (18:51): Parents come to me, "My kid has this problem." I realized that this is an opportunity for parents to become conscious parents. If you've ever read Dr. Shefali Tsabary's Work, I have a training called how to connect to a disconnected child. I've been teaching it for a while and then Dr. Shefali pops up and I'm like, wow, this is exactly what we're talking to. Have you heard of her?
Penny Williams (19:17): I have not.
Dr. Nima (19:18): Okay. She wrote a book called "The Conscious Parent." You got to look her up. But what she says is that the role of children are not to be fixed or you're not the teacher, that they're here to teach you just as much as you're here to teach them and to become a conscious parent is to take whatever they're challenged by and use that instead of trying to fix them, which will upset a lot of parents.
Dr. Nima (19:41): When I say this, the parent gets diagnosis with something and the parent, all of a sudden is ridden with guilt. All of a sudden is like, "Oh my God." And the mom guilt shows up and it's like, "Oh my God, I'm a bad mom." And so the guilt and shame of that is so unbearable that here's the pattern that I noticed. Moms will go from doctor to doctor, keep going, taking the kid to the doctor, to fix the kid, not knowing that the kid wants to be loved for who they are. They don't want to be labeled. They don't want to be fixed. They want to be seen, heard and understood. And when a mom, or a father is so traumatized by their own guilt and shame that they don't know how to manage their own emotions about it, they end up over parenting and trying to fix, which then causes the child to then feel again, not enough, that nothing they're doing is enough and it perpetuates this.
Dr. Nima (20:39): And so what if the parents said, "wait, this kid's having problems fitting in. And the kid is not landing properly." And, they're just not doing their work and they're not paying attention. And they're having all of these problems. And the teacher is having an issue with it. What if the parent, instead of trying to fix the kid right away, was to pause and to go inside and do their own healing work surrounding this event and seeing where they themselves were, why this is showing up for them. This is coming up for a reason. There's a mirror in that child. There's a repression in this child's behavior. It's an expression of something going on inside. Now. Please understand parents. When I bring this up, they immediately get triggered and say, "are you saying this is my fault?"
Dr. Nima (21:33): I'm not saying this is your fault. This isn't your fault because you're completely unconscious of this. It's an invitation, instead of diagnosing and labeling and trying to fix the child, which doesn't actually help. It actually lowers their self worth and self esteem. It's wiser for me as a parent to look in and go, okay, this kid's getting bullied. This kid's getting excluded. What is this bringing up for me? Well, I'm not enough. Okay. Well, where does that come from? Oh, you'll notice. Here's a weird like Twilight zone thing is when I asked the parent, I say, so how old is this kid? And they'll say, well, he's nine years old. I'm like, okay, what's this bringing up for you? Well, this is bringing up that I'm not enough. And I was getting excluded and bullied. I'm like, okay.
Dr. Nima (22:28): So let's go back. How old were you when this happened? And they're like, I was nine. I'm like, yeah, your child is bringing up a mirror for you to heal those abandoned parts of yourself. Your child is acting out your abandoned parts as an invitation for you to go and heal with your inner child. And when you do, something magical happens, you see and hear and understand your abandoned, younger parts. You reparent those younger parts and something magical happens, that energy and dynamic between you and the kid and the kid in their own life immediately starts to shift their health issues. Start to shift their behavioral issues, start to shift because you now see them there. They feel seen by you rather than judged and felt like unworthy. They feel seen and heard, which is probably one of the most regulating things you can do to a human being. It's the rarest experience for a human being to feel seen and heard. And they definitely don't feel it at school because of the system and their own interests. And so your job as a conscious parent is to take whatever's coming up for them and use it as an opportunity to reparent yourself while you're parenting.
Penny Williams (24:01): Such an interesting thought.
Dr. Nima (24:05): It works. That's the best way you can help your kid.
Penny Williams (24:09): Yeah. I had a big light bulb moment when you were saying reflect back. Because I have really tried to protect my kids from my experiences at school and the things that I was bullied for in school. It's just natural. Yeah. But I didn't realize that it was me trying to work out my own stuff. That's then really protecting
Dr. Nima (24:40): Sorry to interrupt. This is my message for all parents, you know? Oh, parents with so and so I'm like, look, your kids don't want to be f'ing fixed. They want to be loved for who they are. They don't want to be fixed. The more you try to fix them, the more you try to compensate for your own guilt and your own wounds, your own unhealed wounds, by trying to fix them, you are pushing them further, further and further into their not feeling seen and heard. It's an invitation. You got to reframe parenting. You're not there to fix them. They are there. Their number one job is to mirror and reflect back to you all of your unloved parts about yourself, and that's called conscious parenting.
Penny Williams (25:24): Yeah. And this is a theme for me in my work, on the podcast, our kids aren't changeable. We're the ones who have to change. We are the ones. And I talk about this all the time. I was that fix it, mom. I was ashamed and guilty and I just wanted to take away his struggle and his pain. And so it was from a place of good intention.
Dr. Nima (25:50): You're a great mom, right?
Penny Williams (25:51): Yeah. But I was completely damaging everybody else. The whole household was just so heavy because all we thought about and talked about was this diagnosis,
Dr. Nima (26:03): Right. It became the identity, which is why I said that I want to throw away these diagnoses. They are harmful. They're useful in some way, but they become this hook, this identity that we hook ourselves in not knowing that it was a manmade thing so that doctors could get paid by insurance. Can you believe that we're labeling our children based on an insurance kind of structure, right? It's mind boggling,
Penny Williams (26:34): You know, it's helpful in other ways. For instance, at school, in order to get services, accommodations, you need these diagnoses, but I think it's up to the parents to step back from that. I'm all about person first language. I don't have an ADHD child. I have a child who has ADHD, who is on the autism spectrum because that doesn't define who he is. And it doesn't let me know everything about him. That's just one piece. And that's the mindset that we really have to have as parents. But you know, in a lot of ways, we need that label to unlock doors sometimes
Dr. Nima (27:20): To get compensation. Yes. To get money, to get support. Yes, to get... this is the thing, this is the system in order to get the system to support, we need to label the child so that they get that support from the system. So there's on one hand, you're getting some financial support and maybe some therapy or some special attention. On the other hand, this child is now locked into an invisible kind of prison that this is their reality. So this is the way that I feel. If that's the use of that, then of course, you know, struggling parents who are just trying to make ends meet. Yes, of course. That's useful. My position on it is very clear is that it's like insurance. I mean, patients of mine would come in and like I stopped taking insurance cases because they got locked into an identity of a code, of a diagnosis.
Dr. Nima (28:22): And the only way they were getting paid is if they had that diagnosis. So when they were coming to see me, is it really useful what I'm doing? Is it really going to heal them? Does it promote healing? If they stopped getting support? If that diagnosis is not there. So I started started seeing these patterns with insurance and support and money. It's about money. If it's about money and support, then I'm more likely to just say, look, I want what's best for the wellbeing of my child, rather than labeling them as something. And here's the other part of this attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. I have a child with that. If you understood what happens in the nervous system, your child doesn't have ADHD.
Dr. Nima (29:16): Your child's nervous system is locked into a sympathetic fight or flight state, and doesn't feel safe in his body. And based on that, when any human being who's locked into a sympathetic state, I can't, I'm hyperactive. I can't sit still. I can't focus and concentrate on anything, right. Just on my regulation of the nervous system, but that's not who I am. That can be if I learn how to shift the regulation in my nervous system. But to label me, keeps me locked into that. And that promotes the idea that, Nima, your choices don't matter. And so you can have tremendous transformation. If you just start off by throwing away that label, this is my opinion. And it can be controversial. It might trigger some people. And that's fine. My certainty about it exceeds anyone else's doubts — that it's more helpful to just start to understand from a nervous system level what's going on and realize that all of these disorders, if I was locked into a dorsal vagal shutdown, then I'm feeling lethargic.
Dr. Nima (30:27): I'm feeling a lack of energy. I'm feeling like hopeless. I'm feeling like shut down. I feel like my nervous system is shot. I feel numb. I feel dissociated. If I go to a doctor and they want to label me they're going to probably label me as clinically depressed. But then if I get that label, then I'm like, Oh, I have this label. Now what? Hi, I'm depressed. I have depression. I have bipolar. Rather than saying I'm locked into a dorsal vagal in my nervous system and there are things I can do to move myself up the ladder to ventral vagal, where I feel connection, where I feel a sense of safety. That's why we're not stationary. Everything is dynamic. Give me one week and you'll notice me. Sometimes I am ventral vagal, which is connection, safe, joy, compassion, playfulness.
Dr. Nima (31:24): Then other times, depending on the day, you'll see me in sympathetic response, in fight or flight. Like when people want to diagnose and label people. When you go into fight or flight, I want to say no, F you, screw you. I want to defend those because I feel like the health and the nervous system of people who are labeled are being attacked. So I want to go on defensive. So I'm going to go into a sympathetic response in that moment, but my nervous system isn't stationary. It's constantly moving. So if in an entire day, I'm dealing with person after person coming in, attacking me. Guess what? My nervous system is going to go into dorsal vagal. And the next morning, I probably am not going to want to wake up. Do I label myself as clinically depressed? Or do I say that my nervous system is in this state?
Dr. Nima (32:12): We are unfortunately labeling states of the nervous system as disorders. They're not disorders. They are adaptive, normal, healthy, protective parts of our day. The system's designed to protect us from a threat or perceived threat. So what the question you want to be asking is, what am I being threatened by? Ooh, a child who is going through a challenge. That's threatening to me. Well, that's job to work on that for myself, so that I can show up for that child regulated and not download all of my anxious energy onto that child. Because there's a neurobiology of interpersonal relationships. If I'm standing next to you in a room and I'm anxious as all hell, you're going to be able to feel that off of me, a child can feel that from you. And when the child feels your anxiety, I'm not blaming you, but the child feels your anxiety.
Dr. Nima (33:11): They don't feel safe. They don't feel seen. They don't feel heard. They're not safe. Their nervous system goes into activation. Are they going to be able to sit and listen? And then they go to school every day when they're constantly repeatedly told that they're not enough or they're wrong, or they're getting it wrong because of the system. And the way that they're teaching is not teaching them anything that's inspiring to them, of their choosing. They're told what they should be reading and writing and all of that stuff. So it's the whole system. It's the whole cycle. And then I'm all about removing you from the matrix and teaching you from the get go, what your nervous system is, what it's there to do. It's there to protect you. It's there to keep you safe. It's got a whole bunch of unresolved trauma stuck in it that didn't even start with you.
Dr. Nima (33:59): It started from your parents and their parents and their parents. And it's not even your fault, but this cycle of intergenerational trauma that keeps coming again and again. And how does it all end? Well, the person that puts their hand up and says, I'm going to now go and resolve the wounding from my younger parts. I'm going to take a stand and heal the inter generational trauma. That didn't start with me. It didn't start with my parents, but for the sake of my kids, so that I can teach them how to regulate myself. I'm going to do the healing work for me and become a conscious parent so that I can teach them by example, how to deal with adversity.
Penny Williams (34:39): Yes. And we all bring our own challenges and struggles into our kids' lives. Certainly, I mean, if I'm always activated with a lot of anxiety, that's what my kids are feeling and seeing as the natural response to that particular thing. And so it's definitely self perpetuating. And what you're talking about is difficult work that we have to do for ourselves. But you do the difficult work and you get to a much more beautiful place, a much more fulfilling space of parenting.
Dr. Nima (35:20): Yeah. Parenting where first and foremost, you've healed your attachment wounds. Your parenting becomes a spiritual practice for you. That's really what this is the whole the message that I would love to send is that if you take on parenting as a spiritual practice, rather than your kid's performance, as a measure of your own validation, then you've now started to shift a conversation. You've now had to reframe the context, and now you can take on their challenges as an opportunity to heal you. And when you do that, all of a sudden your children start to love themselves more. The greatest gift you can give a child is a self loving parent. Because a self loving parent doesn't make all of the children's challenges about them. And we're modeling that awareness and confidence that we want our kids to have.
Dr. Nima (36:29): Our kids are sponges. People say this all the time and I don't think people realize the true depth of that statement. They feel what we're feeling. They see everything we do and say. They are reflecting that, they are learning that in almost every moment. One of the clients that I'm working with has a teenager who's just having a hell of a time. And she's suicidal. She hates herself, all this stuff. Can you help my daughter? I'm like, does your daughter want my help? Has she been following my content and is inspired to work with me? She said, no. And I said, well, then I don't want to work with her because this is only for people who are taking on the healing themselves.
Dr. Nima (37:23): This is what really got her to take it on. I said, you want to help your daughter? She doesn't love herself. Right? You want to help her while you have to show her how to love herself by example. And she was like, yeah, I absolutely don't love myself. I'm like, yeah, and your daughter can feel that. She's 17 and asks her mom, Are you trying to get me to love myself when you don't even love your own self? It's like, Whoa. So it's really the ultimate accountability and it's not comfortable. And it's the most difficult job. And my hats go off to moms. My hats go off to parents. It's the most difficult job in the world. And if you take it on as a responsibility of your own spiritual practice, you're becoming a conscious parent rather than an unconscious parent that is trying to protect them from your own wounding where you can't really protect them from pain.
Dr. Nima (38:17): That's where you are, where you are today is because of the pain that you've gone through. And it's the most difficult thing, watching your child make choices or do things that are going to walk them into pain. And this was a big challenge with me and my parents, because I was the black sheep. I wanted to go my own way, make my own choices. And my parents could see three steps down the road that that was going to lead me to pain. And I did it anyway, whether it was leaving my practice, whether it was choosing to marry a certain person and I would do them all over again, because the pain that I went through got me to understand everything that I'm sharing with you right now. I wouldn't be here if I just went exactly based on what they told me to do to protect myself.
Dr. Nima (39:02): And so, that's the tight rope walk of parenting is at what point do you let go and let them go through their own discomfort? And my suggestion is to have the tools, the support necessary to be able to take whatever challenge that the kid is coming up with and to be able to go inside and heal those wounds from within you so that you can show up empathetically rather than compensatory, prickly. I don't need to notice that as a word, as a compensation. It's like, I'm just trying to protect you from my own wounds unconsciously. Not because you're a bad mom, but because you're doing it, it's unconscious. So this is showing up empathetic.
Penny Williams (39:49): Yeah. Yeah. I was watching one of your videos this morning and you said, "my mess became my message." I mean, that's a descriptor of me, right? My mess in parenting led me to the work that I do. And it's a beautiful thing, right? Like when we finally really step back and accept and then move forward from that space, we're thinking so much more clearly. When we're in that fix it mode, it's almost an automatic, we're on autopilot. We're not even really thinking consciously. We're not accepting, for sure, because we're fighting against it. We're trying to change it. And you talked a little bit about some of the parts of the polyvagal system when you were talking about activation and fight or flight and so forth. And I'm going to link up another conversation that we've had on the podcast here that went more in depth into the polyvagal theory. So people can learn a little more about that if they want to as well. It's very complex, but it's monumentally valuable for parents who are dealing with challenging behavior.
Dr. Nima (41:12): Yeah. If you learn how to master that, if you just learn and understand there's three versions of you, this the ventral vagal, there's the sympathetic. And then down the ladder, the dorsal vagal, if you're able to self assess and learn the mastery of becoming trigger proof and knowing to self assess and move yourself up the ladder, what happens is the people around you, your family, your partner, your clients, even your kids, you can look at their faces and know exactly what part is activated and you'll know exactly what to do.
Penny Williams (41:51): Yeah. It really is a guide, knowing the autonomic nervous system in that way, it guides you on what you need to do. It's amazing. And I've just discovered it in the last six months or so. I've just started studying it and learning it. And it's my big aha of the decade. Really. Like it's just mind blowing how effective that knowledge can be.
Dr. Nima (42:16): We have to become experts in our own nervous systems. And it's not just for doctors. This is for us to just really get and understand that a stressed system follows behavioral patterns that are very predictable. And if we just learn how to regulate those dysregulated parts, we then change the behavior. You can't change the behavior, you can't change the thoughts without first addressing the state that you're in. You're in a dorsal vagal state sympathetic, or ventral vagal, depending on where you're at in your nervous system activation. And each of those states have their associated behaviors and their associated thoughts. Let me give you an example. So a lot of times we try to do cognitive work to try to heal thought process. I've got to get rid of these beliefs, these horrible limiting beliefs. Well, your beliefs are all dependent on your state.
Dr. Nima (43:17): It's not the other way around. This is the big thing. The big revelation is that my thoughts are all dependent on my state. So if I'm in a dorsal vagal state, I'm in shutdown mode and I'm going through an airport lineup, the thoughts that I'm going to start having are I'm going to start looking around, oh that guy's more fit than me. I'm just fat. And I'm just unattractive. I'm always going to be that way. And it's just hopeless. I've tried so many times to lose this last 10 pounds, and I can't, I'm just such a failure. And look at those two, that relationship, they look happy and I'm not, I'm doomed. I'm going to live forever missing out on life. And I don't really feel seen and supported in my relationship.
Dr. Nima (44:08): And my career isn't really going well. Right. And I'm hopeless. And so those are the thoughts that are going to come out when I'm in dorsal vagal. Now if I'm in the same lineup, and then I'm in my sympathetic response, what's going to happen is my thoughts start to sound like this: Would you f'ing hurry up, like, come on. Do you really need to have that many baggage? Oh my God, just take your time, sweetheart. Come on, God, I can't stand these people like boom, right there. That's my thoughts when I'm in sympathetic, I'm sure you can relate. But if I'm in ventral vagal, my thoughts will be like, Oh my gosh, I'm so grateful to be going on this trip. I can't wait to go to this restaurant. I'm going to call so-and-so friends. Ah, I've got this book. I am I've done really well. It's been such a great year considering, and I'm really proud of my own achievements. Now. That's my thoughts, depending on my state. So to try to change thoughts without addressing the state first, you're going backwards and you're wasting your time.
Penny Williams (45:19): Yeah, those were great examples.
Dr. Nima (45:21): That's the fundamentals of what I teach with my clients. And my students in my workshops is how to access healing from a nervous system level, shifting the state. And then the top, it's like a bottom up approach first and then the top down. And then we deal with the cognitive, the cognitive stuff's important, changing your thoughts, beliefs, whatever. But as soon as I changed my state, 80% of my issue is taken care of. My thoughts automatically will start to shift. Then, all of a sudden, I shift the state, you do the work. I do my overview meditation that I teach people how to do. All of a sudden you've finished 15, 20 minutes. And you're like, you know what? That, person's not such an asshole. Anyway. You know, I really do love my kids. It's actually, you know what?
Dr. Nima (46:13): I am really enjoying the challenge of everything that I've learned with this child with all this spectrum issues and learning disabilities. I can't believe everything I've learned. I'm so grateful that this kid has these challenges because of who I've gotten to become as a result of that. Now you'll get to that level. And I'm sure you've had moments where you feel that way and think that way, but that's because of your state. So the goal is, instead of trying to change your thoughts, you must first address the body. And this is the big gap in psychotherapy that they've missed. And they're starting to realize it now, that the somatics are where we begin. And I had that wrong for about 15 years until I figured it out. And now I teach everything the opposite way. And then the cognitive stuff just kind of falls into place on its own.
Penny Williams (47:10): Yeah, yeah. It really is such powerful stuff. It truly is life changing to be able to look at it from that perspective first and then, like you said, and the other things fall into place. And it can be a challenge. I mean, we're not sugar coating here. There's work that goes into this for sure. But it's so worth it. It's going to pay off exponentially.
Dr. Nima (47:37): It's not easy, but here's what I always say to people. I say, it's not easy. It's very difficult. It's a lot of work. However, the alternative is unbearable.
Penny Williams (47:50): Yeah. Living in a state of helplessness and hopelessness and activation all the time. It was just no way to live. None of us want that. Yeah. And we don't want that for our kids either. And all of those can be translated to our kids as well. I just had Dr. Mona Delahooke on the podcast in the last episode, talking about polyvagal. And she has been a psychotherapist for, I think, 20 plus years. And now she has a new book that weaves in polyvagal theory, looking at the nervous system first. The book is really written for therapists. And she talks about, this is the missing piece. This was the gap that we have to fill and we have to do it now. It's amazing. I'm so happy that it's happening. Any closing thoughts, anything you wanted to mention that we haven't discussed?
Dr. Nima (48:48): Yeah. It starts with you, it starts with you. Nobody is going to come here to rescue you. You are the hero of your journey. It's wise to position yourself as the hero and seek out guides to help you rather than to find a hero to save you.
Penny Williams (49:08): Yeah, absolutely. It totally starts with us. And that circles right back around beautifully to the parents who are the audience for this, it's about us changing. It's not about changing or fixing our kids. Thank you so much for sharing some of your time and wisdom and passion with this audience. I truly appreciate that. And I know everyone listening appreciates that as well. I want to let everyone know you can get the show notes with links to any resources that we have mentioned as well as to Dr. Nima's website, social media, et cetera.
Dr. Nima (49:45): Yeah. Sorry. The Facebook group that I have, trigger proof, the link should be there. That's the best place to begin. Just jump in and just watch the trainings. I usually do training at least once or twice, a few times a week. Trying to get in each day but it's just been super busy and I have a free kind of training, how to become trigger proof, becoming trigger proof. It is a 90 minute training.
Penny Williams (50:17): Yep. It will all be there in the show notes at parentingadhdandautism.com/097.
Penny Williams (50:28): And I thank you again, Dr. Nima. And I will see everyone next time.
Outro (50:35): Thanks for joining me on the Parenting ADHD Podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and share, and don't forget to check out my online courses, parent coaching and mama retreats at parentingadhdandautism.com.
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