The Burden of Grief: Understanding and Processing Trauma in the Body with Jo Tucker - E009
Trauma looks different to everyone. For some trauma, it might be the loss of a job or the death of a loved one, or a Global Pandemic. Processing trauma in the body is part of healing.
On today's episode, I sit down with Jo Tucker, post-traumatic growth guide, Reiki Master, and teacher to unpack how to get started with releasing trauma from our bodies.
Jo joins us today to share insights into how our bodies react both physically and mentally to trauma and grief. She shares powerful hints on how to begin the process of releasing trauma from your physical body.
TODAY'S GUEST: JO TUCKER
> Why re-framing your thoughts is such a powerful exercise and how it can help you (02:56)
> How grief and the loss of my mother led me to find about somatic process and helped me feel safe in life (12:16)
> How somatic exercises helps the healing process (22:10)
> Simple and effective trauma healing exercises you can implement today - the hyperspace (31:37)
> Exercises for the hypo space of it (37:27)
E009: The Burden of Grief: Understanding and Processing Trauma in the Body with Jo Tucker
We’re only just now truly starting to understand what trauma is and how it manifests in the psyche and in our physical bodies. We are also just learning how processing trauma through our bodies is doable. Here’s the thing though. Trauma looks different to everyone. For some, trauma may be the death of the loved one, the loss of a job, or a global pandemic. For others, trauma might mean something worse. Much worse.
Today’s guest is Jo Tucker, and she joins us today to talk about her experience dealing with the death of many loved ones only years apart and how these experiences shaped her 20’s and her 30’s. Jo shares insight into how our bodies react both physically and mentally to trauma and grief, and shares powerful hints on how to begin the process of releasing it from your physical body.
Amy: [00:01:34] Welcome back to this episode of What We're Not Talking About.
Today's guest is someone that has not only helped me greatly, but it's also someone that I consider a friend.
Today's guest is Jo Tucker, and she is a post-traumatic growth guide and Reiki master/teacher who focuses on resolving the unprocessed trauma that dictates cycles of stuck.
Jo has really helped me break free of a lot of limiting beliefs.
And although our time together when we were working one-on-one was short, I have carried along so many of her teachings with me into the ridiculous journey of life that we are all on. So, I just want to take a moment to say welcome and thank you for being a guest on the show.
Jo: [00:02:16] Thanks for having me. That's quite the introduction.
Amy: [00:02:42] I didn't want to tell you what I was saying in advance because I didn't want you to expect something. But it was a warranted introduction because you are amazing. And I also really think that it's important that I say this, your calming presence is the best.
Jo: [00:02:38] This is the feedback, Amy, I get all the time. People often refer to that space as sanctuary space. yeah. And I really appreciate- I'm receiving that. Thank you.
Amy: [00:02:50] You're welcome. That's how I feel like really I'm like - Ooh! - Tingling and really happy. I'm like, what are we talking about again? I don't remember, but I'm really excited to talk to you today, about all the things. We, one-on-one, haven’t got to chat for awhile.
So I'm even more pumped that we get to do this on my new podcast. And you've gone through a lot of growth since we last connected.
My life fell apart and it was rebuilt.
And I think this interview is just going to be amazing. And I would love to start this interview off by highlighting one of the things that you really taught me. I'd like to talk about it and hear your side of the story and why you choose to use these practices with your clients and probably yourself as well.
So, for all of you that do not know, which should be nobody at this point, I am a child of everything. Neglect, divorce, anxiety, so much stuff. And because my nervous system was in constant chaos from all that trauma. I had a really hard time just straight up slowing down. A lot of my survival instincts were primed to predict what was going to happen in advance, so I could avoid ridicule or abuse.
I have one of those overactive minds that can predict 18,000 outcomes of one hello. So, when we were working together, Jo, I was at the very beginning of understanding my father's role in my journey. I keep saying journey because I think it's a funny word to use. But, I'm just going to keep using it.
You taught me to re-frame. So, I was in the process of talking to him about some serious things and I was just always like, “What if he says this? Or what if he says that? Or even if he says this?”
The exercise that you walked me through was so powerful to me in my trauma.
You're like, “but what if he doesn't?” And that simple question seriously changed my life. I don't know what this exercise is called and I'm not doing a great job of explaining it. I'm going to ask you to talk about it a little bit more. I'd love to know why that exercise is so powerful, and if you've experienced that with your other clients as well,
Jo: [00:05:19] Hm. Yeah. I don't know if I know the right name for that exercise either. But what's coming forward is this concept of reframing, but almost like we're introducing the idea of witness consciousness. It's like this aspect of self that maybe when I envisioned that in my energetic body. It's kind of this person that can stand beside me or maybe just float just above me to be kind of that objective voice that can be like, “Is what we think is true, true?”
And this can be a really beautiful opening. I think what's most powerful about it is it allows us to maybe even create some space between our relationships. Particularly when we're thinking about really potent family belonging and systems of belonging that have been constructed, maybe over generations in our family, that actually can be pretty toxic and even cause trauma for many of us.
This allows us to maybe create space between who your father is and who you are. And in that space, then you can start to entertain, “Okay. What's the truth of this relationship? If this isn't true, what could be true.” It allows us to also swim in some possibility that maybe felt we hadn't even thought there was a possibility for things to be different before.
In that space, maybe we can build some safety from the trauma.
We can build some resilience, some identity, that is of ourselves, not of our families. And that is potent because anything becomes possible from that space. Then you start to think I remember that moment early on in my own, if we're going to use the term, journey of when someone suggested to me, “Oh, maybe you're not, but your mother thought you were. Maybe that's not who you are.”
And it was life-changing in the way that you're describing it, because you're like, “Oh my gosh, intellectually, I know that. But how does it feel to really entertain that idea?”
Amy: [00:07:17] Yeah, and I think that’s so important because we can know, through our brain intellectually, so much stuff. But it's so different when you know it on a cellular level where it really is integrated into your whole being. And really, it's funny cause you're explaining this and I'm like, “Oh yeah, that's why I worked so well!”
Because I grew up in a codependent family, so that identity was so enmeshed between the three of us cause I'm also an only child. It was trauma. It was this idea that my father knew what was best and our identity was all intertwined and without one, the other one couldn’t survive. Very toxic, but so powerful. I think a lot of us do live in some elements of codependency, especially people who have mental health struggles, such as anxiety and depression.
At a younger age, I had to depend on my parents even more so for survival. And that just gets super messy once you go into adulthood and try to build a life.
Jo: [00:08:28] I just want to take a moment to say it's more than just survival, too.
Being in a community is how we as humans thrive.
Right? It's really something that we need to be well, not just survive. And so that's why family units can really go awry, if we will.
Amy: [00:08:49] Yeah. And I really enjoy that. You mentioned that because I talk a lot about the difference between surviving with mental health problems versus thriving with mental health problems. Because, biologically, minus the instances where people take their life and that is not exactly what I'm talking about right now, so please bear that in mind for what I'm about to say.
But for me, my auto default was to just move through life and basically do everything that made me feel good at the moment. I didn't really didn't do well with routine, with studying, with eating healthy because I lived in a culture within my family unit that we got what we wanted immediately and that anything that takes patience wasn't worth it.
Which is, as you can imagine, quite detrimental to the healthy development for all of us, not just for me.
Jo: [00:9:51] Yeah. Yeah. And, and it's also important to remember too, as you're saying, that what comes to mind is a lot of the somatic work that I do now. Which, if we're talking about the work that we did together years ago, mindset stuff was really important to me because that was where I was operating most of the time.
Now that there's some safety from trauma there, we've built this witness consciousness.
I can be aware of my patterns. Now I'm moving my work down into the body and, and actually working with the nervous system from that space to start to build the conditions under which we can start to thrive.
And one of the big things that we often talk about is our parents and our family. Yes, those are definitely huge root systems in our bodies. Also, we live in collective trauma. We live in the collective trauma of capitalism and other systems of oppression like racism, sexism, all of that stuff.
That also impacts us. And when you say we need things now and we didn't have patience and we had that, what is that called? Like when you get things right away. I can't remember the name right now, but those. Yeah, shiny object syndrome, but also immediate gratification desires; what social media is built on.
All of those things are also part of a big, deeply rooted capitalism, and capitalism itself, for me, exists as the trauma response as well. Like the need to gather resources, to hoard things, to have things for ourselves, to own land, own property, to be in monogamous relationships. All of these things are also part of that.
Attempt to feel safe in a world that actually is built pretty unsafe for many, many people. If not all of us. I would say all of us actually.
Amy: [00:11:36] Absolutely.
I love the discourse and the conversations around mental health and mental illness and how it's progressing.
Because, as you said, we, for a very long period of time, the majority of practitioners and people in the area of mental health, mindset, personal development, trauma, all that kind of self-help or just emotional wellbeing area focused on the idea in Western medicine. It was psychotherapy, mindset.
And recently, although it's been over the course of 50 years, it's really coming to light now that our bodies are so much more at play in this than we ever realized.
So, is that one of the reasons why you switched? Or what were the reasons that you decided to go into a more somatic area of this industry? And then also why you started to focus on the nervous system health?
Jo: [00:12:41] I think part of that is also my background in energetic medicine and energetic processes. I already had an openness to, “Maybe things shift, not just from a mind perspective, there's something else that feels really juicy and yummy here. What is that? And what is that about?” And underneath the monetized systems of self-help has been a rich and delicious body-based medicine and knowing in the world. Like just being together in community.
That's a way that we somatically work together through our social engagement systems to be safe. And so what we're seeing as you described, there's now this shift towards, Oh, the monetized, I guess-
Amy: [00:13:25] The trending.
Jo: [00:14:27] Yeah, the trending vibe now is to move to more somatic and more body-based movement and problematic in some places. I’m super happy about that.
Because what actually created that shift for me, and I think this is something that has happened between when we were last in a deep relationship together, and it's happened for you too, was really the loss of my mother.
And you know this, but my father passed away quite suddenly when I was 22. For many, many years from when I was about 14 onwards, someone my life died really unexpectedly. That was a really grim trend and ended with my father at 22. That was really hard, but, intellectually, I'd already experienced death a lot.
So, I knew why this happened. He was in a better place, wherever that was. It was fine, and la-di-da, let's go on with our lives. And that worked to a certain extent. but then really what I noticed was that I was just really not able to feel.
I had intellectualized that and understood it from that perspective. But when I looked around my life, I was just numb to everything. Or I was in high anxiety and I was kind of going pendulating between these two states that were really not a great place to be.
And so that's what kind of started this journey of going back to Reiki and meditation, which is something that I was introduced to in high school. Then getting into coaching and the ball started rolling, but it was, again, almost 15 years later when my mum passed away very suddenly within six weeks of diagnosis.
I have these beautiful but morbid bookends in my life now of Joanne in her early twenties, dealing with this. Joanne in her mid-thirties after this journey, as we've been calling it.
I noticed how different that death felt and how different it felt to grieve that and does feel to grieve that as an active process.
But then also noticing, “Oh, I'm feeling frozen again, I'm feeling afraid to dream, afraid to have goals and desires, afraid to put effort into things because anything can happen.” The universe can take everything away in a moment.
And this is one of the ways that the trauma of losing people in my life, suddenly and out of nowhere, left an impact on my life. And with all of the processes that I had, it still wasn't. I couldn't find my safety again, couldn't find that steady, that calmness, and I couldn't find that vibrant joy that I could find before.
So at the time I'd been doing some more reading and feeling into this somatic process. I ended up signing up for a program, a year-long training program, with my good friend and colleague Rachel Maddix, who is brilliant in this area. She ties in not only our somatic bodies, but also the environment and the ecology and the collective soil of where we're living. And uses this beautiful reboot process, that it really works. It doesn't forsake the money either, and it sees everything as holistic, which I think is really important. We can go to the mind because it's safe for so many of us. After all, that's where we operate, and it can take time to move into the body and move into the nervous system.
And it was through experiencing her work together that I was completely blown away, like things that always felt hard, suddenly felt super easy.
Life just took on a different tone, a different hue, a different pace.
And so that's been a couple of years of practice now, and it's again, just another layer of life-changing trauma shit.
And that's why I find myself where I am.
Amy: [00:17:09] Thank you for sharing that. I knew that your mother passed away unexpectedly, but again, so sorry for your loss. Which is so funny for me to say, because whenever someone says that to me about my dad, I'm like, “Yeah. Okay. He died like forever ago. So like, it's fine, but I'm still gonna say it, but yeah.”
Grief is a sneaky thing. Isn't it? It's very sneaky.
Jo: [00:17:31] I've actually written an article about - I forget where it's featured actually, now that I say this - what to say, how to respond when people say, “I'm sorry for your loss” because it's a classic. And as someone who receives that you know, how you're like, “well, how do I say this?”
I used to, when I was in the hurting phase of all of this death, after my father, people will be like, “Oh, I'm so sorry.” And I'll be like, “Oh my God, did you kill him?”
Amy: [00:17:57] Sorry, I shouldn’t laugh.
Jo: [00:17:59] It was so awful. It was.
But again, that was a trauma response.
That was a way to deflect and not have to talk about it. If I didn't feel safe in my feelings and I knew that this was just a rote response to the people that just blurt out at you. Instead of having the honest and earnest conversation around it, I'm going to make you so uncomfortable that you questioned your choices and we don't actually have to have the conversation.
Amy: [00:18:24] It’s so funny that you said that, because I started doing that accidentally, but I went the other way. I was just very open and honest and vulnerable with them, and it scared so many people. Because my father was very, very sick for a very long time physically, but also with mental illnesses that just left him in a horrible, horrible state of being for at least the last 10 years.
So when people tell me like, “Oh, it's so sad, he died so early.” Because again, both very true for me. It was always like, “yeah, I know. But you know, I have always expected my father to die young because he has been so sick for so long and it started even before 10 years ago.”
And I'm just happy that I was able to be here because I recently moved.
It was about a year before he passed that I had moved back to attempt to repair a relationship. I was very obvious and very open with him. I was like, “I'm only here because I want you and me to be good.” So it was so nice.
But when you tell someone that, and you're fully honest, in my experience, it's almost like they want you to just assure them that they can be okay by not being affected by it. If that makes sense.
Jo: [00:19:47] For sure. That's exactly how I felt that this was a common question that they asked to make themselves feel more comfortable with death in my life. And as the budding probably not in my adulthood yet. I was just like, “Oh yeah? Well, fuck you, let's make this really uncomfortable.” And those are, you know, when we look at those from a trauma perspective, they sit in different expressions of that trauma.
There's the aspect where we are like, “No one can meet my needs, so fuck everyone.” I'm in this alone and I'm hyper-individualized. Or there's a desire to really pull people in. And I'm not saying this is what your response was. It could be whatever it is that it felt like for you.
But when we overshare, that can also be a trauma response, trying to bring people into our fold to find that belonging and safety.
Amy: [00:20:38] Absolutely. I mean, I'm a perpetual oversharer, so this is kind of within my M.O, to do that.
I’m sure it’s a trauma response.
But to further add to that part of the conversation is it is a response. I do it almost calculated. Because a lot of my deep dark secrets, before I was open and honest about them, were shared by people who I had led into my life either maliciously or for just sheer entertainment.
As in other words, they'd be like, “Oh, like, did you hear the crazy stuff Amy has done?” And it was sometimes intentional, sometimes not, but it was weaponized against me. And I was like, “Well, how do I take that power away from these people?”
Some of them are my best friends that I still talk to every single day. And it's so interesting that it took me a really long time to understand that I thought I was okay. I thought I was so vulnerable and forthcoming, and all these beautiful traits that, in theory, I would like to be. But in reality, it was a calculated response that, like you said, goes back to trauma.
Jo: [00:21:54] Yeah, you're just trying to reclaim your power over that. And we often in these trauma responses, we can't see the middle way where everyone can be happy, where everyone can be well.
Amy: [00:22:07] Absolutely.
I mean, for me, I made an entire brand out of my oversharing, so I am okay with it.
But for some people that just doesn't work. And I know around my family, when people ask me questions, I am very open and honest with them. And I know like, for instance, my mom, she taught me you don't talk about anything to anyone except the family. Like our close, immediate family.
Jo: [00:22:31] Yeah. Yeah.
Amy: [00:22:32] And, I mean, maybe it's a little bit of rebellion too. Never thought about that. But anyway, back on track. I can talk about my trauma responses all day!
Jo: [00:22:40] Yeah.
Amy: [00:22:41] So back to nervous system health. So for me, I also recently got into somatic work. I started working with a coach for trauma. We did the massive somatic release exercise together cause it was a group program and I had never heard of it before I signed up for this.
I don't know why. Probably because, as you said, you used to be intellectually driven. I've been intellectually driven to gather every piece of information as possible from a mindset perspective, not from an actual implementation in the body perspective.
I don't know how to say it. I did a 15-minute somatic release. Granted, I've done a lot of other work. It changed my life.
In a way that I've struggled with binge eating my entire life and the day after I did that release, it was just gone.
It was crazy. And I don't think that is a common, like super common, experience for a lot of people.
But I do know that there's a lot of similar stories where they have felt, you know, years of emotion that has been pent up or ignored, that's been in muscles and, you know, all areas of the body just release and it's just beautiful.
Jo: [00:24:06] Yeah. Can I share my thoughts on that?
Amy: [00:24:09] Of course. Sorry, I didn't ask a question. I just stopped talking, but yeah.
Jo: [00:24:14] We're sharing. That's what we're doing here. Some of the tenants that I really love about somatic practice are: slow is sexy, your body is beloved, less is more. And those are kind of counter-cultural to the “go outside of your comfort zone, seek and destroy it” kind of attitude that a lot of traditional coaching or even therapy might have.
In terms of right pacing, that's the beauty of it. I don't know what the somatic release exercise you did was, but I imagine that those tenants kind of were present but when we start to move slower than our actual body's inherent capacity to heal, a beautiful blueprint identity that exists underneath kind of this toxicity, I guess you could call it, shows up. And trauma actually can take the wheel and do what's right for us at the right pace and the right time.
Instead of the mind forcing us or pushing us to adapt someone else's steps, someone else's program and process, it comes out from the body. And so in that way, the body then sets the pace.
If your body's ready for a big release of trauma and for that to be done with, then yes, excellent.
If it needs many months instead, excellent, amazing. We're only moving in complete and total hyper - I don't wanna use the word hyper actually that has connotations in my world - but this radical consent with ourselves. That doesn't surprise me, and I'm delighted to hear that.
Amy: [00:25:48] For me, there was always a piece missing. I was like, I've done everything I should on paper, like everything. Why am I still in this? And don't get me wrong. I have made, without the somatic part, I made massive strides. Like massive, massive strides. But it, the healing, not that it's ever complete, but that cycle of it, it felt like it was never-ending because I was looking for the completion within the mind and I needed to look outside of that into different areas.
Jo: [00:26:25] Yeah, exactly. And I'm going back to what you said about you feeling like that response to that question around your mother or, sorry, your father's passing was calculated. What it actually is when we're in a trauma state is instinctual. So the body, when we imagine we're touching a hot stove, it's not the brain that's like, “get your hand off of there!” It's your instinctual body.
And so it bypasses the mental capacity there completely. It's your reptilian brain that is accessed. So for trying to make a change in some of these deep-seated patterns in our lives, the brain is a great ally, but the information is actually stored in the instinctual body.
And so we need to move with them, the instincts there, as opposed to in the brains actually complete and transform those trauma processes.
Amy: [00:27:15] Yeah, absolutely. And I always break this down into such a simple comparison because I have been in the coaching industry for quite some time. Although finally broke free of a part of it, the one thing, the one, for instance, manifestation, you can not achieve what you want to manifest without action.
So for me, I always think in the context of healing trauma and action can mean a million different things. I understand it. But for me, the way that I processed it is, if I sit in my head, that is definitely a part of it. But there needs to be actual physical action for me to integrate that. And it took me, no, it was all in good time. I know all that. But I'm still gonna say this. It just felt like it took too long. And as someone who is very much into that left brain, go, go, go, go, go!
Because it's my personality. When you don't achieve it, it creates this horrible discourse within yourself that's like, “well, you're not good enough. You haven't done it. Like, why is this taking you so long? Like blah, blah, blah, blah. You're doing everything.” And then that in itself can discourage you and then slide you back. So, I mean, depending on what's going on in everyone's head, but, you know, sorry.
If You Don't Feel Safe in Your Body, You Can't Receive Things
Jo: [00:28:14] Something I like to offer to the manifestation conversation, and it's not a pedagogy that I subscribed to, but something that I think is worth mentioning in that we can work our asses off. I've met people that have the manifestation coach and they do the things and they're doing whatever their homework is.
They're doing it all 110%. And in the meantime, your body just isn't capable of feeling safe. So if you feel unsafe in your body and if you're not emotionally and embodied ready to receive these things, then it's gonna be, we really, you might even get it right. You might get the offer and then you back away completely, right?
You back out, something happens that, because the safety wasn't there to actually receive and hold the thing that you worked your ass off to create. And we see that again and again, in entrepreneurship.
Amy: [00:29:43] Yeah, absolutely. The best way to describe it is that your brain is moving, but the physical feels like it's not safe. Or for me, it always felt like it was in fight or flight. It was like, “Okay, I want this, but my body won't calm down for more than 10 seconds to allow it to enter.”
Jo: [00:30:01] Yup. Yup. And these, that roller coaster life of working our asses off and then collapsing and crashing and hiding and like… That's when shame and guilt usually come in and then eventually that shame and guilt push us out of this hiding state back into this hyper-functioning.
And then we just repeat that cycle over and over again.
Amy: [00:30:20] Yeah, I'm shaking my head, like the biggest yes shake that I can because I'm like, mhm, mhm, yup. Yeah, yeah. Just yes. Just, yes, that's all I got to say. But, I can't talk enough about this. I read a few books, obviously, because that's how I start getting into these topics I read. And then I integrate.
And back to manifestation, this is not the point of it, but it's the whole idea is that manifestation can also not fully happen unless you feel it within your body, but if you're in that unsafe place, how are you supposed to allow that awesome, beautiful feeling in? You're not.
Jo: [00:31:07] Yeah, it's hard for sure. Just like it's hard when you're in an intense state of arousal is sometimes how we refer to it. It's hard to do these beautiful meditations that people do because it's not safe to stop the mind. It's not safe to not be in that hypervigilance that you described before of looking to see what's going on, what could happen next?
What are the variety of outcomes of how this could be really dangerous or awful or even good, you know? So that's why a somatic approach is beautiful because it actually meets you where you're at. It asks a question similar to that first question I asked you: “What if you aren't wrong?”
“What if it was perfectly healthy for you to feel unsafe in your relationship with your father, what does that mean?”
“What if your instincts are correct? How does that change? Like the miracle of how we transform?”
Amy: [00:32:02] Yeah. And you have that said to me, in a one-on-one setting.
It’s especially powerful from you, who has such a calming presence.
You're just like, “Oh, what if like.” You're like, this has changed everything and it’s such a powerful question. And it's something that we so overlook because I mean, for me, I was told that my father is also a straight-up narcissist. Or was a straight-up narcissist.
It was his way only. Everything that he said was god. So, to have that belief system challenged in such a simple way that I just was not even taught to challenge at all. It just changes everything. And it helps open up different neural pathways that allow me to venture into territory that maybe I wouldn't even entertain. It's so powerful.
So, I have some questions. For everyone listening, we've been talking about all these exercises for releasing the trauma in your body. What are some simple, yet effective exercises that listeners can try out today that could potentially help them on their nervous system health journey?
I will never say this word again.
About Hyper and Hypo (Fight and Flight) Energy
Jo: [00:33:27] Yeah, it's over. It's done.
So, this is a complex question, but I also know that I can give you some really great things. As we've been talking about this, we've been referencing these words hyper and hypo. This is where fight and flight come in. Fight or flight are those feelings of needing to run, needing to get away, or needing to put your fists up and argue and yell at someone, something that we're seeing a whole lot during this coronavirus situation. Those are what we would put in a category of hyper-space.
So, there are places where you can work hard and you can exercise hard and you can live in a high functioning space and still be able to be present that isn't a trauma response. It's only when it starts to spiral up into where you completely forget and neglect your needs and desires for achieving something else outside of yourself. Where you feel that un-safety, so it feels like high anxiety in the body.
And then the hypo side of this is the freeze response.
It's the collapse that usually happens when we've been in hyper for too long. And some of our bodies have a tendency to go, like mine, into hypo to begin with. Probably because I spent my childhood in hyper, who knows. The good thing about trauma is we all need to know the roots of everything. We just know that it is and “what are we going to do now” becomes the question.
So each of those states of being the hyper and the hypo have different treatment plans. So with a hyper, what we might be looking at is, in the instance of, we live lives. We need to continue living our lives. Some of us have children and jobs and other jobs and other responsibilities that we need to tend to.
And so these tips I'm giving you now are not about what's the long run and what's the deep work but rather how can you meet yourself where you're at and take care of yourself at the moment? Because I find that that's really helpful, and we can start to then really understand and feel our bodies and what they respond to.
Tips For Releasing Hyper (Fight) Energy
So in a hyper perspective, that means we have too much energy running through us. And so the idea might be that we want to actually discharge some of that energy. And so discharging a fight or flight trauma response might look like getting on one of those little mini trampolines and having a good bounce.
When we think about nature, a really great thing that we want to do is act like a gazelle. This is my example that I think everyone here is a gazelle doesn't get attacked by a lion, survive, come back to its pack and be like, “George, did you see that? We need to talk about this for like 10 years.” Instead, they do what Gazelles do, what dogs do, they shake their bodies.
And so a really good vigorous shaking of the body can help release that hyper, energetic presence and activation in our lives. Pushing against a wall is a really great way to do it. Like, really shaking your fists. Getting on the ground and embodying the best toddler you can and throwing a shit fit is a great way to release this energy. Because what happens when we have these responses?
For the most part - well, okay, I don't want to use qualifying words here - but these responses are natural responses. They are natural instincts. And when they cause trouble for us is when we, as a society, decide that it's inappropriate to react in that way. And it is inappropriate for an adult to throw down in the middle of a grocery store, stomping their feet because they want cookies and they can't have them. This is not how we can operate as a society.
But we can come back and we can find ways to do that and express that trauma energy in the “the privacy of our own home” or being witnessed by someone who can hold the space for that.
So, finding ways where we can actually express this trauma energy, that's rattling around in our bodies so that we don't just shove it down and it gets kind of stuck inside of us is important. It causes us to then be in this constant state of unsafety and inability to really act and assess what is safe and what's appropriate and what's real. That's what happens when we get stuck in kind of trauma patterns. So that's for the hyper side of things.
Any questions on that before I move to the hypo?
Amy: [00:37:33] No, I just want to add one thing, because one thing has worked for me and just to add to the temper tantrum. If I'm not feeling quite like actually having a full-fledged tantrum, what I do is I go in my car and I go to a car park during the day when no one's there and I just scream bloody murder. It is one of the most cathartic releases I've ever experienced because I'm hyper for the opposite reasons.
It’s like we've lived the opposite lives.
I was super hypo when I was a kid because I was very sick for a very long time. And then everything has gone the opposite way. And I just find that that's my favorite exercise.
So I've also taken a hundred notes on what you just said because I'm going to do all this stuff. So no questions, but thank you for sharing. And I'd love to hear your hypo.
Jo: [00:38:27] Yeah, because it's different. Like, just to add on to that, ringing a wet towel, very satisfying. And it's hyper-state.
Amy: [00:38:34] What do you mean?
Jo: [00:38:35] Screaming into a pillow.
Like if you wet a towel and you just are trying to ring all the wetness out of it. Oh yeah, baby. That's a good one.
Amy: [00:38:43] Oh, yeah, that-
Jo: [00:38:45] That’s a really good one. Any of these things that, yeah-
Amy: [00:38:50] Sorry.
Tips For Dealing With Hypo (Flight) Energy
Jo: [00:38:52] So with the hypo, we need the opposite and hypo is a space where we're really susceptible to shame. We're really susceptible to guilt. And we also can sometimes feel really hopeless. Like nothing can change. This is just how I am. This is just the way the world is. I'm just going to hide because I'm so overwhelmed and there's nothing to be done.
And so in this space, we don't want to exert ourselves up into the most vigorous exercise routine or dance party that we've ever been in. Instead, we want to do what we call nurturing doable aliveness. What can that look like? It's like if you're hearing the way that my voice has changed, this is a way that we can nurture doable aliveness.
We can speak sweetly. We can be witnessed by someone who will just speak sweetly to us, we can curl up in a ball, we can take a shower or bath, we can go and just turn on music and move our body. Just laying down on the ground is one of my favorite things. Just moving in small ways that feel doable and feel good in the body. This can help us kind of build momentum towards coming back into that window of tolerance where we can actually operate in an optimized place.
Reading a good book, listening to a funny podcast, all of these things that remind us of our humanity. These are love notes that we can give ourselves.
That's how we move out of that hypo expression without using the force of shame and guilt.
Amy: [00:40:31] Beautiful. And I just feel like I didn't want to respond. Because I felt like I was in a little bubble of softness. Your voice is just so beautiful. I'm just going to say this to you over and over again. You're like, “I know.”
Jo: [00:40:46] Can I add one last thing to this? So, the regular practice that we want to get into that helps expand this optimized viewing space, like this window of tolerance, is just making time for connecting to things that feel stable and good in our lives. And so that can look like leaning against a tree. It can look like a guided meditation.
A question that Rachel Maddox has been asking lately that I love is “What's bigger in your mind? Is it in nature? Your body? Your ancestral line? Wherever you can get it from? What is something that feels bigger than the current crisis? More stable, more long-lasting, more permanent?”
Maybe that's like the beautiful rocks at Peggy's Cove. That's one of my favorite places to go. It's the redwoods in California. Maybe it's the feeling of my parents standing behind me. It can be all of these things. Maybe it's my strong legs, you know, all of these things.
If we can attune to that and ask, “How can I welcome some of this stability into my system?”
Can I welcome some of this presence and capacity into my system? How do I want to, what's a safe way to relate to this? Can I take a sip of that through my pinky toe? And just slowing down and really connecting to these beautiful resources that exist. This blueprint that exists inside of you is a way that we can amplify our natural capacity as humans so that we can be with really difficult stuff and still be present.
Amy: [00:42:27] Thank you. That is beautiful. And I have a question because you were saying all these things and you, you mentioned something about, you know, lean against a tree, which in all intents and purposes, assuming you have a tree within a little bit of where you live, that could take maybe 30 seconds out of your day.
Ideally, it would be longer, but even if you just did it for 30 seconds, that's better than doing nothing. One of the biggest things that I have personally experienced just in the last two or three months of starting to build my mental health organization online, through social media, and all the feedback that I've gotten is that they have all these things going on, these amazing yet difficult things.
Some people had to work more during quarantine because they were essential workers.
Some people lost their jobs and were accidentally put into a hyper state by the trauma, but they're really struggling to do something for themselves. And my question to you is, and I know this is quite a hard question to ask, but what do you think those people need to hear to take just 30 seconds of their day and focus on their mental wellbeing?
Jo: [00:44:47] Hmm. That is a hard question. What do you need to hear? I think a conversation around what can be possible, and to be like, “Yeah, that's really hard.” You know, can we not pretend that this isn’t really hard and really scary? And in acknowledging that like, “Whoa. That's a lot, no wonder it feels scary. Like, if I slow down what's going to happen? What am I really gonna feel?”
I think that's the big fear of slowing down or even feeling things in general. It's like, “I don't have time for this shit. I'm already overloaded.” Right? Well, what if it's our natural way of being is to be able to be able to feel this safety and feel this capacity and feel safe in it?
What would that be like? And what if you don't have to do it alone? Like, this is where we're going and the next step feels really impossible and too big. Can we break the step down even further? Can you listen to a funny podcast on your way to work? What are the really doable ways that we can do this so that we're not extending our resources that are already stripped even further.
And I think that's part of what you're doing. Amy.
That's so beautiful. Is that just community, can you just show up in this space for 10 minutes? That can be really, really life-changing. Because we so much want people to get where we know that they need to go and their body has its own timeline. I mean, I'm sure you've been in conversations. I've been in the place where I'm like, I know what you're saying, and I just don't want that.
Amy: [00:45:25] All the time.
Jo: [00:45:28] That's good, and I don't want it. Right? And okay, if that instinct is good, if the instinct to feel overwhelmed by this is right and true, how can we meet you where you're at?
For many of us, that's a hard question to ask because we've never been taught how to understand what we need and want to desire. Okay? So, maybe let's just hang out together. Can we just sit here together in this space? And you'll be surprised at the answers that come forward when we can just give that space, give that permission to take their own path, their own time, your own space.
Your body's a fucking miracle.
I'll tell you that again. And again and again. As soon as there's a little bit of space there, a little bit of being able to be okay and not needing to be so guarded because this person isn't forcing me to do anything, all of these possibilities fly in.
Amy: [00:46:16] And I also love to mention that sometimes that person can be yourself. I meant to mention this earlier, but it completely slipped my mind, and I'd like to share it because I think it's just such a great illustration of this concept. I've been really affected by what's going on in the world, you know?
I'm a human being and life can be quite crazy and you know. I'm a poli-sci, human rights major. Like, I knew all this stuff was happening, but to be able to watch how the generalized world has come to understand the information and how they reacted. It's just been a lot for me.
So, I have a hard time getting work lately, which is again, it's because I don't work for anyone. I work for myself. So, luckily I don't have that pressure, but for me yesterday, I was being a bum.
I went for a hike and then I got bored and I was like, “Oh, I should work. And I was like, no, I'm going to run away from this responsibility again.”
I went for another hike and I came home and it was four or five o'clock at night. And I was like, “You know what, Amy today it's you did what you needed to do today. You were in nature twice and you're just sitting and you're talking with friends. Like you can just chill.” This is just so funny for me, cause I'm also not great with authority.
I kid you not, 15 minutes later, I found myself on the computer working away and I wrote one of the best articles I've ever written, just because I had given myself permission to not do what I thought I should.
Jo: [00:47:58] Should be the operative word there, right?
Amy: [00:48:00] Yes, absolutely. Yeah. Cause we, a lot of us live with all these shoulds and it creates this contrast within us that also allows shame and discouragement to seep on into our-
Jo: [00:48:18] Yeah.
Amy: [00:48:19] Reality, if you will. Should’s can cause trauma. And it's okay. It’s not the case for everyone, because if some people give themselves permission, they'll be like, “okay, cool. I can just sit back and chill and that's awesome.” That's what that person needs. For me, I needed to just know that I didn't need to feel bad if I couldn't do this.And I mean, that is a really fun, hard battle in itself, because then you have to unpack all the other stuff that goes with it.
But thank you for sharing all these beautiful examples.
And I know that the listeners will be able to take so much from this interview. As always, it's just such a treat chatting with you, Jo, on an interview, not on an interview, chatting. So thank you.
Jo: [00:49:08] Thank you so much. Yeah. This, every time we have one of these conversations, it's so nourishing for me too. So thanks for having me on. I'm glad I'm happy to spread the message.
Amy: [00:49:20] Yes, absolutely. And your message is so powerful and it's just wonderful that you're able, that we have you and other people that are able to take this more customized, slow approach to healing because there's not enough in the world. And I know that you've helped me greatly, and I know that you're going to help thousands of others as well.
Jo: [00:49:48] Awe! Thank you.
Amy: [00:49:50] I've been very emotional this week. I'm kind of crying right now.
I don't know what's going on, but before we hang up or disconnect from this beautiful interview, where can the listeners find you online?
Jo: [00:50:08] Yeah, I'd say the most active place that I am is on Instagram. So you can find me @JoTuckercoach. That's me. And you can also check out my website at Jo-Tucker.com and you'll see information there on how it is that I work with people one-on-one. I'm just in the process of opening up my first group program around this kind of teaching and learning.
I'm thinking of it as like summer soul camp. And so you can check that out and see about the next rounds that are going to be coming out, which I'm so excited for. But yeah, that's what, that's where I am.
Amy: [00:50:44] Awesome. And I'll make sure that's all in the show notes, but if you guys are being rebels and you don't want to just be aware that Jo is without any, it's just J O mainly cause I've made that mistake before. So again, thank you so much for being on What We’re Not Talking About and talking about trauma in the body. I would love it if you could leave the audience with just a few words of Jo Tucker wisdom. I like to throw those curveballs.
Jo: [00:51:13] Yeah, woo, pressure. What do I like to say?
Like, you're going to be okay. Everything is okay. You have this beautiful seed of possibility and magic and mystery that is inside of you. That is inherently your you-ness and like, Oh, I just love you so much. And… Yeah, life is beautiful. Let's like really fucking feel it right.
And let's find safety and feeling the big mess of what it is to be human. We need you.