Episode 69 Unlocking Emotional Intelligence: Navigating Uncertainty and Healing Trauma with Dr. Julia DiGangi

On: Mar 12, 2024

Welcome to another insightful episode of The Scrumptious Woman! In this episode, I had the pleasure of conversing with Dr. Julia Di Gangi, an expert in emotional intelligence and trauma treatment. We delved into the fascinating realm of human emotions, trauma, and the intricate workings of the nervous system. Here’s a brief summary and some key takeaways from our enlightening discussion:

Summary:

Dr. Julia Di Gangi shed light on the profound impact of uncertainty and emotional pain on the human psyche, drawing from her extensive experience working with trauma and neurodivergent individuals. She emphasised the importance of acknowledging and embracing uncertainty rather than avoiding it, as avoidance can perpetuate old patterns of behaviour. Moreover, she highlighted the connection between trauma and confusion, emphasising that trauma often stems from experiences of helplessness and confusion.

Key Takeaways:

Embracing Uncertainty: Rather than resisting uncertainty, it’s essential to develop emotional intelligence and embrace the discomfort it brings.
Trauma and Confusion: Trauma often arises from experiences of confusion and helplessness, which can leave a lasting impact on individuals.
Somatic Leadership: Being attuned to bodily sensations and allowing emotional energy to flow through the nervous system is crucial for healing and transformation.
Releasing Emotional Constipation: Avoiding or suppressing emotions can lead to emotional constipation, hindering personal growth and well-being. Allowing emotions to flow freely facilitates healing and transformation.

Resources Links:

Connect with Dr. Julia Di Gangi:
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Transcription:

The Scrumptious Woman EP69

[00:00:00] Juliette Karaman: Welcome to the scrumptious woman. And I have with me, Dr. Julia DiGangi, who is a neuropsychologist and has written the most incredible book, Energy Rising. And what I love about it is that you are really trying to help coaches and everyone else as well, but really to get that, to understand how we can rewire patterns and how we can get into emotions.

[00:00:26] Juliette Karaman: So welcome.

[00:00:28] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Thank you so much for having me Juliette. It’s really a pleasure to be here with you. I love some of the work that you’re doing and I’m excited to talk about Energy Rising and emotions.

[00:00:38] Juliette Karaman: Emotions and energy rising. Absolutely. I I’ve really seen you the last probably two, three years and I think I even joined one or two of your workshops and I just love the way that you simplify everything.

[00:00:54] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Thank you so much for saying that. Yeah, I actually somebody asked me the other day, they were talking to me about energy rising, and they just said, was it really difficult to take all of these scientific, because I’ve published a lot in the scientific literature, and take these very kind of complex, abstract scientific concepts and simplify them?

[00:01:10] Dr Julia Di Gangi: And I thought, that’s a really interesting question. I never really Yeah. I never really thought about that. And then when I did think about it, I was like, No, I actually think that the way I come to understand these concepts is through the simplicity. And the thing about emotions, if we really understand what they’re doing to our nervous systems, is they’re actually not that complex.

[00:01:32] Dr Julia Di Gangi: And I think this is a big kind of breakthrough moment for a lot of people. Emotions are the most primitive, universal, and native language of every single human being on the planet. And so I think what happens is a lot of times we overthink about our emotions. And in that overthinking, we get all spun around the axle.

[00:01:53] Dr Julia Di Gangi: We get confused, we get agitated, we get disoriented. And so I think there’s this, and I know that a lot of your work focuses on this incredibly powerful but simple homecoming when we’re ready to be with the feelings that are already inside of our body.

[00:02:08] Juliette Karaman: I love that and really the simplicity of it, that those emotions trigger responses in our nervous system, in our body that either have it go tight or expand.

[00:02:21] Juliette Karaman: It’s that’s easier. And this is, I love how you break this down in your book and I have a 15 page notes that I took. You sent me the book a while ago, so I read it and I was taking notes and I was like, Oh my God, yes, that explains it so well. Would you mind breaking it just down for listeners to grasp it

[00:02:43] Dr Julia Di Gangi: immediately?

[00:02:44] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Totally. So when I talk about energy, I actually don’t talk about energy metaphorically or even metaphysically. I really, so I’m a neuropsychologist by training, which means I’m a clinical psychologist with specialized expertise in the brain. And I’m really talking about The neuroelectrical energy of emotions, right?

[00:03:04] Dr Julia Di Gangi: So emotions are quite literally neuroelectrical impulses in our brain communicating through our nervous system that are guiding our behavior. Great. We don’t even have to make it that academic or complex. I think a phenomenal way to think about emotions is emotions are the Google Maps of your life.

[00:03:23] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Okay, so they’re this incredibly powerful, sacred, neurobiological guidance system. And so we’re all driving through our lives or we’re like on the road of life and our emotions are like At the next intersection, please turn right and immediately leave this relationship. At the next junction, immediately turn right and please stop having this conversation.

[00:03:47] Dr Julia Di Gangi: And instead of listening to that incredibly powerful signal, again this neuroelectrical Messenger. What a lot of us are, if we do that occasionally, if we do it hundreds of times, there, that’s no problem. But I think a lot of us get into so much pain in our lives because we are ignoring this neuroelectrical guidance system over and over and over.

[00:04:11] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Now you well know that all we are is energy. Okay. I think there’s two very powerful energy systems that comprise the human biology. One is our emotional energy body, and the other is our behavioral energy. I actually think a tremendous amount of pain, dysfunction, problems, stress, you name it, comes when we are consistently, the energy in our emotional body is consistently trying to move us in one direction.

[00:04:40] Dr Julia Di Gangi: And then the energy in our behavioral body, in other words, what we’re actually doing in our life, Is moving in the exact opposite direction. Exactly, right? So it’s this idea of, just to give an example of I want to speak up. I want to be seen. I want to show myself. So that’s the energy of the emotion.

[00:04:56] Dr Julia Di Gangi: But then what do I do? I keep my mouth shut. I avoid the conversations. I don’t, so in those moments, what we’re really showing ourselves if we’re, if we really break it down is that the dangerous person in our life is

[00:05:11] Juliette Karaman: us. Yes. And isn’t that beautiful? It’s so interesting because I actually teach on visibility as well and and in Scrumptious Visibility we talk about this, but we also talk about where do we, this is the basis of what you’re talking about, where do we not believe ourselves, or where do we say things that we actually then don’t?

[00:05:30] Juliette Karaman: Do. And I know you go into this in the book as well. So we’re actually What do you think,

[00:05:35] Dr Julia Di Gangi: what do you think is the toughest thing about visibility?

[00:05:38] Juliette Karaman: I think there’s a lot of patterns that have been so ingrained in us and that it’s like pushing a boulder uphill. And unless we can get, clear that out and then create a new neural pathway, that it’s safe. But yeah, a lot of people feel unsafe and I’ve noticed this, there’s unsafety in the body.

[00:05:58] Juliette Karaman: It’s lodged in the body and then it’s just very difficult to do anything.

[00:06:04] Dr Julia Di Gangi: To to persevere through that resistance, that feeling can be so intense, right? And so like coming into this, a new relationship and that’s actually, and I’d love to hear what you think about this, but the premise of energy rising and really the premise of energy rising.

[00:06:19] Dr Julia Di Gangi: And I think even bigger than that in my life is this idea that this resistance that we feel that a lot of times does, if we’re honest, feel like pain. So it feels like fear. It feels like stress. It feels like rejection. It feels like inadequacy. What I’ve come to understand is. Everything we want in our lifetime is on the other side of these feelings that we keep refusing to feel.

[00:06:45] Dr Julia Di Gangi: And the thing that really helps me, because it does feel terrible sometimes, is, the nervous system quite literally evolved across 150 million years of evolution, and its very function is to feel feelings. And so one of the things I think is so transformative is really understanding the difference.

[00:07:06] Dr Julia Di Gangi: between danger and dislike. Completely. So just because I don’t like something and even if something can feel bad inside of my body, it doesn’t actually mean it’s dangerous. So having intelligent conversations about, especially in communities of with other people, I think is very powerful for discerning.

[00:07:27] Dr Julia Di Gangi: what might feel bad, but is actually a very empowering thing that we should do.

[00:07:32] Juliette Karaman: Oh, completely. And I love yeah, somatic work and just all this work that people are doing with trauma, like remembering, and then people are dissociating our work. I’ve worked with a lot of people that dissociate and just getting them to remember that, to look around the room, you’re here.

[00:07:48] Juliette Karaman: And then the communication and what I often do with them to duplicate something to go through it. And then. Yeah, that initial fear based contraction is completely gone and that’s how we obviously then rewire everything.

[00:08:05] Dr Julia Di Gangi: You mean recreate the initial kind of like situation where the traumatic resistance To

[00:08:10] Juliette Karaman: feel it, not recreate it completely, but to duplicate what you’re feeling now, the memory of the feeling now, right?

[00:08:16] Juliette Karaman: Because we only remember what we last remembered.

[00:08:21] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Absolutely. One of the I can tell a story here. Does that work? Yeah, absolutely.

[00:08:25] Juliette Karaman: Do it.

[00:08:26] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Because I, I think there is this growing intelligence on the planet about, we’ve all heard like the brain body or the mind body connection, like people have been talking about that.

[00:08:34] Dr Julia Di Gangi: That’s like the whole idea of yoga, right? But I think there’s this growing appreciation of like the human being is the whole, it’s the whole energy ball, right? It’s the physiology, it’s the spirituality, it’s the mental health, it’s the physical health. So I think this work around like removing.

[00:08:55] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Removing pain from our body does require us to feel it. It’s like the birthing of something. One thing that I think people, especially if coaches are listening, would be interested to hear is the way, the most evidence based modalities for trauma. And there’s many roads to Rome, but some of the ones that have most studied in the scientific literature are these, I know people have heard of EMDR, but there’s also these two that actually have a stronger evidence base.

[00:09:18] Dr Julia Di Gangi: One is called prolonged exposure and the other is called cognitive processing therapy, CPT. Not a lot of people have heard of CBT. So I have done a lot of work with combat veterans. I don’t know, most formative, a lot of work around trauma. I’m most fundamentally. Trauma and brain expert. So I’ve treated all kinds of trauma, military and civilian.

[00:09:39] Dr Julia Di Gangi: So many years ago this veteran came to see me and he said, I’m not doing well. He’s got PTSD. I’m treating, that’s with PTSD. And I said, so tell me what’s going on. And he says and I tell this story in Energy Rising as well, but he basically says, So I don’t drive. His trauma happened in the context of a convo.

[00:09:59] Dr Julia Di Gangi: I don’t drive. I don’t go to restaurants. I don’t go to movies. I don’t, I’m having trouble working. So a big symptom of PTSD is irritability. So he’s getting into a lot of altercations at work. And then most devastatingly, he was estranged from his family. He couldn’t he couldn’t really tolerate being around his family.

[00:10:14] Dr Julia Di Gangi: So I said in a word, It sounds like you’re avoiding, and he was like, yes, I’m trying to avoid everything to avoid these feelings. The problem with this is that the whole idea of trauma is stored in the body. Okay, so the idea, one of the things that and I think it’s wonderful that so many people are paying more attention to trauma, but the pain of trauma is not what it did to us.

[00:10:39] Dr Julia Di Gangi: It’s what it does to us, right? It’s this idea that back then, yeah. And now I can’t trust people for perpetuity. I can’t have intimacy for perpetuity, right? So trauma

[00:10:50] Juliette Karaman: That’s a beautiful, really, distinction because a lot of people say, something happened to me as well, traumatic, and I don’t feel it.

[00:10:56] Juliette Karaman: I’m like, ah, that’s it. Because it doesn’t continue to affect you the same way it does to others.

[00:11:02] Dr Julia Di Gangi: It also, I’m weaving a lot of threads here, so hopefully I’m making this organized, but when you look at the literature, overwhelmingly, if you look at the epidemiological literature, overwhelmingly, most people experience what we technically classify as trauma.

[00:11:16] Dr Julia Di Gangi: And overwhelmingly, most people do not, for example, get PTSD. Yeah. To your point, trauma is the injury. It’s like you’re walking down the street and you fall down and you hurt your knee. Plenty of people will hurt their knee and their knee will naturally recover. So the human nervous system is very resilient.

[00:11:35] Dr Julia Di Gangi: When we hit pain in our life. A lot of us don’t like the pain and then can naturally recover. What happens to your point exactly, when we think about traumatic pathology, it’s because there was something went wrong with the brain’s ability to naturally recover. So I think that’s an important Sorry. Yeah.

[00:11:53] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Okay. Good. Good. Going back to the story about the veteran is that so he comes to me, he’s it’s just not working. So I say the most evidence based frontline treatments for PTSD to tell us to do the exact opposite. Of what you’ve been doing, right? This is very counterintuitive.

[00:12:10] Dr Julia Di Gangi: So now instead of avoiding anything that could potentially remind us of the trauma, we go right into the belly of it. We speak about the trauma, we speak about it in detail, what this protocol asks people to do. And again, this is, this is a highly, you train a lot on this protocol. So there’s a lot of training that goes into this, but people record themselves talking about the trauma.

[00:12:31] Dr Julia Di Gangi: And listen to it over and over. So now in a very important piece of this study is this combat veteran had been back from the war for many years. Okay. So to your point, the trauma was living over and over. The trauma never dies, right? When it’s held in our nervous system in this way.

[00:12:49] Dr Julia Di Gangi: So he does this protocol for about 12 weeks. And then he comes into my office on, let’s say, week 12, and he wiggles, his cell phone in front of my face, and it’s I can’t do this anymore. I

[00:13:00] Juliette Karaman: read this, I’m like,

[00:13:01] Dr Julia Di Gangi: yes! I’m like, sit down sit down and tell me what’s going on. And he was like, every time I listen to this recording, I fall asleep.

[00:13:12] Dr Julia Di Gangi: It is dull as shit. And the piece that I think is so powerful, I get chills every time I tell that story, is that The thing that had tormented him because it was still that energy was still very much alive in his neural memory systems and his cells and his, in his brain. When you tell the story in an intelligent way, with the necessary support that you need, we are really removing these traumatic toxins from the body.

[00:13:39] Juliette Karaman: That’s it, right? The traumatic toxins, the charge, I say like the charge. To not want to feel it, the charge to, want to numb out and do anything, but feel it. Yes, exactly. Yeah, it’s like being the flip side of, on the same coin, but the flip side of both. But, there’s still electrical charge there, and it’s still like Vibrating, and it’s embedded.

[00:14:02] Juliette Karaman: So I love that story where he just got so bored by it. It’s okay, I’ve moved on from

[00:14:07] Dr Julia Di Gangi: that. It’s the idea of energetic neutrality, right? And people who’ve, any of us who’ve experienced trauma, we’re never going to say our traumas weren’t traumatic. It’s that will always be, by definition, what a trauma is.

[00:14:21] Dr Julia Di Gangi: It’s a horrific event. And there’s all this helplessness when we’re being traumatized. But that does not mean that we’re helpless for the rest of our lives.

[00:14:31] Juliette Karaman: Completely. Yeah. Completely. Such a big thing. And I read a little bit that you also, the book is amazing, right? So I think anyone should read that and we’ll come back to that.

[00:14:44] Juliette Karaman: But I just, since we’re talking about PTSD and I saw that you did a lot of help. in other countries as well. And, and I’m just like wondering, how do we treat war trauma? What’s happening now in the Middle East and other, in Africa? Yeah. How can we bring this comprehension to all the people that are suffering now?

[00:15:09] Dr Julia Di Gangi: It’s such a powerful. Question I think about this all the time. So prior to becoming a neuropsychologist, as you alluded, I did a lot of international development, international humanitarian aid work. So I’ve always really been called to healing on a global scale social justice. I think, if there was a, if there was a magic wand, of course we all would have waved that thing a billion times over.

[00:15:31] Dr Julia Di Gangi: One of my favorite quotes, I have three favorite quotes on the entire planet. One of them is from Mother Teresa, and she says, If only we would sweep our own doorstep, the entire world would be clean.

[00:15:44] Juliette Karaman: Ah, isn’t that true?

[00:15:46] Dr Julia Di Gangi: And here’s the thing, okay? And again, like this is why I am absolute fire for neurobiology, for neuropsychology, for neuroscience.

[00:15:54] Dr Julia Di Gangi: So I, I have a very I had a very political career, so I’ve worked at the White House, I’ve worked on many US presidential campaigns. I, like I said, I did this global international human rights movement. So I think a lot of people thought it was strange, like, how do you go from. Being a political operative or, doing international humanitarian assistance to studying neurobiology, like those seem like opposites.

[00:16:19] Dr Julia Di Gangi: I really believe that the brain, the nervous system, is the great redeemer, the great clarifier. When we look at dysfunction on the planet, We what can one person do about global dysfunction? There’s nothing that I as a single individual can do to perfectly end all global trauma. But what happens is all of this is, all of this external chaos, external pain.

[00:16:46] Dr Julia Di Gangi: It starts somewhere and where it starts is inside of our own nervous system, our own unmetabolized feelings of shame, of rage, of despair, of futility. So this idea if I really am a million miles away from a conflict, is there nothing I can do? No, of course. So first of all, of course, we can donate to organizations and give our effort.

[00:17:07] Dr Julia Di Gangi: But I think another important piece of this that I don’t think is talked about enough is where does rage show up in my own life? Completely. Where am I destructive in my own home? Where am I shaming on social media? Where am I rejecting of others or myselves? Because when this, when I talk about this stuff being an energy, this is, again, fine, make it meta, make it metaphorical.

[00:17:32] Dr Julia Di Gangi: It’s also, Neurobiological, and what we, what neuroscience tells us about emotion, and this is a very important piece, Emotions are an energy of contagion. Catch each other’s emotions like you can catch a cold. And what’s very interesting is the Supreme Court in the United States even agrees with this. The Supreme Court rules you can have free speech, but you cannot scream fire.

[00:17:58] Dr Julia Di Gangi: In the middle of a crowded movie theater. Why not? Fire. There’s no fire. Because my words will incite panic. People, if I’m using really panicked language, people’s physiology, because we are herd animals, we co regulate, we, we transact emotional energy, people will catch that panic.

[00:18:18] Dr Julia Di Gangi: So if we’re serious about radical leadership, and I think a lot of us women are, Yeah. We need to think about the powerful and true regulation of our own nervous systems in our own homes. Cheers.

[00:18:32] Juliette Karaman: That’s where we start. That’s

[00:18:33] Dr Julia Di Gangi: where we start.

[00:18:35] Juliette Karaman: Yeah. Yeah, and that’s really I love where you said, where are we looking at social media and perhaps, tearing people down or not being as, I wouldn’t even say kind, but as forgiving and recognizing hey, they might’ve had a shit day or I don’t agree with it, but I don’t have to like vomit all over her or him or whatever.

[00:18:55] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Or make it mean anything.

[00:18:57] Juliette Karaman: What’s, yeah, what’s it enticing in me? What’s happening inside of me? Why am I getting activated? What’s going on, right? And that’s just the beauty of this work, where we just constantly shine the light back on ourselves. It’s oh my god, what’s happening here? Why am I getting activated?

[00:19:13] Dr Julia Di Gangi: It’s the biggest, it’s the biggest question, I think, on the planet. And here’s the thing, I do a lot of work with couples, so I treat a lot of couples. In couples therapy, we say, for example, the couple has The exact same fight for 50 years, okay? And we all laugh, right? Because, and one of the things about a joke is, there’s always some truth in it, right?

[00:19:35] Dr Julia Di Gangi: So it’s like we, any of us who are married or have been in love, we like, we get it. The issue here is we would rather I think the most powerful thing on the planet is to face ourselves. We would rather spend our entire lives arguing with our partners or judging people on social media.

[00:19:53] Dr Julia Di Gangi: In other words, outsourcing what I’m calling our emotional pain. Reality changes. The moment I come into a new relationship with my emotions, again, this is not just metaphorical or sounding very poetic. This is neurobiological. This is the most important, one of the most important premises of my work.

[00:20:14] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Meaning, and this is a big reason I wrote Energy Rising, meaning rises, meaning, the very meaning of our lives. Rises on the energy of emotion. So take the most powerful questions in your life. Are you a good person? I don’t know. How do you feel about it? Have you done enough in your life? Do you have enough money?

[00:20:35] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Do you have enough time? Were you a good parent? Do you run a successful business? All of these questions are fundamentally mediated by emotion. How do I feel about it? So when I come into a new relationship with my own emotional energy, reality changes because reality is constructed by emotional, or we call them affective, emotional circuits in the brain.

[00:21:01] Dr Julia Di Gangi: So what this means then is if you really get into it, and I think this is such a, part of what I try to do for people is not just make it clear, but also make it, people have leverage. Like, how do I actually change? We spend a lot of time on our situations. You shouldn’t talk to me like this.

[00:21:19] Dr Julia Di Gangi: They shouldn’t do this on social media. He shouldn’t, but she did, but you did, but they didn’t. Right? So all these specific situations. Shoulda, coulda, woulda. Exactly. But at the situational level, there’s almost always no power there. So what we need to do, and it is counterintuitive at first, is we need to leave situation And return to emotion.

[00:21:43] Juliette Karaman: Completely. Yeah. It’s so easy to criticize the situation instead of just saying, Oh, the way that person writes on social media has me feel inferior. Let’s look at myself a little bit. Wow, where did that stem from? And is it even true? And then asking yourself all those questions and feeling them and then it’s Oh, okay, you come out of that mind spin.

[00:22:07] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Yes. And I think then it’s how? And I think this is why I think the podcast that you do and so many other people do is amazing. It’s like to give people both the awareness, the tools, and also the okayness. This, we all know it intellectually, but like to really watch people sit with their own feelings of inadequacy.

[00:22:29] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Because I think it’s easy to look at people who look on social media like they have it all together, but we’re all out there still getting triggered. We’re all out there feeling like we’re not enough, or there’s not enough time, or we screw it’s like, how do we sit with this persistent energy in a way that, that doesn’t derail us?

[00:22:48] Juliette Karaman: Completely. And it’s the derailing of it that is what gets us activated, gets us screwed up, and really gets us into a place of powerlessness. Yes. Where there’s actually such power in feeling it. And I have to laugh at the at having called my company, my brand, Feel Fully You. Little did I know that it’s like how much feeling I had to learn how to do when I, when I started this brand.

[00:23:15] Juliette Karaman: And I was like, yeah, feel, feel fully and then feel fully you. And I was like, and every time the universe is like laughs at you, cause they’re little slaps, like you wanted to feel everything. Here you go, darling.

[00:23:27] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Not that one. Can we return that package, please? And I’d like to request another one.

[00:23:33] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Yeah, I think, too, it’s what I think is really interesting, and I think this really aligns with your work as well, is this idea that, I use this term emotional power so even energy rising. It’s called the neuroscience of leading with emotional power. But one of, I really think there’s two levers to power.

[00:23:51] Dr Julia Di Gangi: One, one lever I call strength. So this is I think these kind of more masculine, like in terms of a masculine energy, this kind of forward leaning, my own elbow grease, I’m going to get it done, my own productivity. And this is amazing. We all have this, right? But this other lever is the lever of surrender.

[00:24:10] Dr Julia Di Gangi: This took me a long time to really understand in both my professional work and then in my personal life, I actually think. The highest form of power is true acceptance. Now, at the behavioral level, and this is where people can get confused, at the behavioral level, acceptance can look like defeat.

[00:24:32] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Acceptance can look like numbing. Acceptance can look like dissociation, like I’m okay, like I’m helpless, right? But the emote, the sort of the integration of that, the emotion with the behavior is so transformative. Now say whatever you will about the 12 step programs, and I know people have a lot of different feelings, but most of my doctoral research was on the relationship between substance abuse and trauma.

[00:24:57] Dr Julia Di Gangi: So we studied a lot of we studied a lot of 12 steps. And. I was pretty agnostic going into it, but I would just listen to people who actually went through the programs and the amount of wisdom that is in those programs. I can’t believe a human being came up with it. But the point is, it’s very interesting that step one of the twelve steps is to admit our powerlessness.

[00:25:18] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Is the reason I should admit my powerlessness because I’m no good, helpless, totally beleaguered, bedraggled, like No, what we’re really saying in these is like, how do I truly discern my powerlessness over the things I truly have no power over versus when I actually need to use my lever of strength and momentum and my own productivity and the discernment between what I actually have power over and what I don’t is one of the, I think the most, I keep saying it again, powerful questions of our life.

[00:25:53] Dr Julia Di Gangi: It’s,

[00:25:54] Juliette Karaman: I remember doing 12 Steps and just that first question triggered the hell out of me in the beginning. What do you mean that I’m powerless? I’ll show you! Yeah. I know, it’s oh, hello, what’s happening here? And then you look at it, it’s If an earthquake happens tomorrow, right under my nose, what can I do about it?

[00:26:14] Juliette Karaman: And I just started, I started looking at things so differently and I was like, oh yeah, those are the things that I am powerless over. It’s but how? a past drama or how someone reacts or how someone talks to me. I can’t change that, but I can change how I respond to it.

[00:26:35] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Absolutely. What tends to happen too, and again, this is if I had one word to describe all of my work, I would use the term Opposite, or I would use the term counterintuitive.

[00:26:46] Dr Julia Di Gangi: So the brain really functions like a pattern detector. I think this is a very useful way for people to think about the brain. So our brain is moving us through our life, going apple, fill in the blank. So the future is always unknown. So when the blank comes, my brain’s going to predict it’s going to be an apple.

[00:27:01] Dr Julia Di Gangi: It could have been A banana. It could have been a cell phone, but like the brain predicts Apple. Okay, fine. So what we have to understand here is like how to work with these pattern detection abilities of our brain. So is this is the way that I’m describing this making sense? I love it. So what tends to happen, and I think this is such a counterintuitive piece, but when people really, sometimes I’ll say depending on my mood, it either tickles me or frustrates me.

[00:27:27] Dr Julia Di Gangi: We pay more attention on how to operate our cell phones and chat GPT. Then we pay to the intelligent management, the intelligent handling of the most powerful machine we’ll ever own, which is our own brain and our own nervous system. Okay? So when you understand, all right, the machinery of my brain is like a pattern detection machine.

[00:27:47] Dr Julia Di Gangi: What tends to happen for a lot of us is we think that certainty is what we need to be safe. In other words, I’m not going to accept the things I don’t want. I’m going to make them somehow certain. I’m not going to accept the unknown. I’m going to work hard to convert what is unknown to what is known.

[00:28:06] Dr Julia Di Gangi: The problem with this is the best definition I can give you for anxiety is a disturbed relationship with certainty. In other words, the more we aggressively seek certainty, We try to, and we do this through what I call the overs, overworking, overthinking, overscheduling over communicating.

[00:28:27] Dr Julia Di Gangi: So the only reason we’re doing that is to try to get certainty, to try to get control, to try to get answers to questions we don’t feel like we have. The more I pathologically do that actually. The more unstable I become, the more anxious I become. So when we really want to change our experience of stress, anxiety, fear in our lives, because all of those emotions are controlled by the same regions in the brain, I have to start coming in.

[00:28:55] Dr Julia Di Gangi: To a new relationship with, I don’t know. It’s a new relationship with uncertainty. It’s a new relationship with the universe. And even more practically, it’s a new relationship with the future. The future is by definition, the energy of, I don’t know. So my life contracts or expands based on my willingness to surrender.

[00:29:20] Dr Julia Di Gangi: And have a different kind of relationship with the energy of I don’t know. Now you can, the brain that’s the pattern detector will say, In other words, the brain has an allergy to the uncertain. This is just how it goes. So I think a great study to talk about here is, Researchers, we study, we call it uncertainty tolerance.

[00:29:40] Dr Julia Di Gangi: In neuroscience, it’s a big construct that we study. So people have different, Nervous system, like just how people have different heights and different weights and different eye color. People have different neural systems that govern their relationship with certainty. These researchers took people and they put them in a lab and they said, we’re going to hook you up to this machine and this machine is going to shock you.

[00:30:02] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Now we had one of these machines that shocked. This was not our study, but we have these electrical shock machines in our lab. So they had people, the machines, and they hurt. Exactly how it sounds. You’re about to be electrocuted. So the machine’s going to count down 2, 1, and you’re definitely going to be shocked.

[00:30:19] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Or, the machine’s going to count down 5, and you may Or may not be shocked. In other words, it’s uncertain. People statistically prefer to be in the condition where they’re absolutely going to get shocked.

[00:30:35] Juliette Karaman: I know, isn’t it

[00:30:36] Dr Julia Di Gangi: crazy? I think it’s saying something really powerful and I think people will say humans are so irrational.

[00:30:42] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Humans aren’t the brain is the most exquisite machine on the planet. What that’s telling you is that there are situations in our life where the pain of uncertainty The emotional load of uncertainty is quite literally more painful than physical pain. So we have to have reverence, but we also have to have awareness for how our brains are instinctively going to meet certainty or uncertainty if we really want to change.

[00:31:10] Juliette Karaman: Completely. And I’ve seen so much of this. I used to work with neurodivergent kids. Two of my kids are very dyslexic. So it’s okay, let me study this and let’s see if I can help them. And then worked with youngsters in boarding schools. And the one thing I’ve That they hated was uncertainty.

[00:31:27] Juliette Karaman: Yeah, we’d rather just anything. We’d rather just get detention and everything, but at least we know what’s going to happen. I’m like, yeah, the only thing that we know is that every, that change is constant. I know. I know. Oh my God. One, my, my one son still, he’s. He’s 24 now and he’s in the process of finding a new job and it’s all very uncertain.

[00:31:48] Juliette Karaman: Moved from the UK to Lebanon, now maybe Dubai and it’s and I just know that he’s gripping and every time it’s hey babes. It’s okay. It’s okay to feel.

[00:31:59] Dr Julia Di Gangi: It is okay, but I think we need people like you and other people who are saying it’s okay. Because the brain’s going to reflexively contract in, in this energy of uncertainty.

[00:32:09] Dr Julia Di Gangi: So we need leaders. Emotionally intelligent leaders who are saying there’s another way, right? That yeah, it is a little bit destabilizing and it’s still okay that it’s destabilizing. In other words, the work of my work isn’t to say I’m going to make bad feelings feel good. That’s like trying to say I’m going to make the night look like the day.

[00:32:34] Dr Julia Di Gangi: It just is. The work is to say the night is okay. Again, it’s this, it’s a powerful distinction between danger and dislike. But, the piece that. I think is really healing when you really sit with it is the brain is a pattern detector. Eh. The, I would suggest to you, and as someone who’s worked with so much trauma, I’ve worked with every intense human emotion possible.

[00:32:57] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Rage, despair, despondency. You name it. There is something uniquely difficult. I believe that each emotion has its own message and its own kind of frequency. There is something unique. about the energy of confusion, because it’s the only emotional state in which it works against the fundamental design of the brain.

[00:33:22] Dr Julia Di Gangi: In other words, if you make me angry, and you make me angry, and you make me angry, I know how to be angry. Or you make me feel rejected and you make me feel rejected and you make me feel fill in the blank. I know how to feel rejected. Confusion is the only emotional state that fundamentally works against the fundamental design of the brain.

[00:33:39] Dr Julia Di Gangi: So the brain says, I know how to be mad. I know how to be defeated. I know how to be happy. I know how to be rejected. I know how to feel unworthy, but I don’t know what to do about, I don’t know what to do. And that’s terrifying. Unless we understand how to meet the energy of uncertainty, we’ll just keep reverting back to old patterns.

[00:33:57] Dr Julia Di Gangi: And I know you do a lot of work with trauma. One of the pieces I think, so I think it’s amazing to watch what’s happened with, so I come from a legacy of psychologists. My father is a psychologist. So it’s really like in my blood. I grew up, reading his textbooks. And so I’ve really watched the.

[00:34:15] Dr Julia Di Gangi: the conversation on trauma for 40 years, right? So I think it’s been incredible what’s happened in part because of technology, in part because of the pandemic, really hastened and added more depth to the conversation around trauma. But the piece that I think is still missing. It’s almost never talked about, is in order for something to be traumatizing, it has to have been confusing.

[00:34:41] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Of

[00:34:41] Juliette Karaman: course. We couldn’t see that in our little book, Rain Under Sands, right?

[00:34:47] Dr Julia Di Gangi: This idea that trauma is about helplessness, there’s always this sense of, I don’t, I’m how could that have happened? If I understood it, it was not traumatic.

[00:34:59] Juliette Karaman: Yeah. And that’s the beauty of it. If we do work with people that have had trauma and then the charge is gone, then they just look at it as yeah, it’s something that happened to me and it doesn’t define me anymore.

[00:35:12] Juliette Karaman: It’s, I’ve learned from it and I can help others or whatever, however they use that energy then to to move forward.

[00:35:20] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Or even accepting because I think for most of us who’ve had trauma, it’s never going to make perfect sense. But we really come into this understanding of I’m never going to know, and I’ve come into a new relationship with, I don’t get it.

[00:35:34] Dr Julia Di Gangi: I’m not trying to make something that by definition was so horrific it could never make sense in my life, right? So I think it’s this horrible things happen, horrible things have happened to me, and I’m asking myself a different set of questions now.

[00:35:46] Juliette Karaman: And I love this because oftentimes people will come to me I’ve had some pretty big grief in my life.

[00:35:54] Juliette Karaman: So somehow I attract the people that also have big grief. So I’ve had some beautiful clients that have had their children commit suicide and then they come to me and they’re like, why did this happen? And why? And it’s like the constant why and the really the confusion and the just is there any hope for me?

[00:36:11] Juliette Karaman: Why should I even go on living? And you, I really understand that. But then once you can just get out of that confusion and out of that story of like, why did it happen to us or to them? Then there’s a little bit of breath and there’s a little bit of space that we can start looking at other things again.

[00:36:30] Juliette Karaman: I think you described that so beautifully in your book as well.

[00:36:34] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Thank you. Yeah. I think these are the most, I think some of the most existential and frankly challenging questions that we are faced with as human beings. It’s the perennial question, like, why do people suffer? I have been doing this work again, depending on how you want to look at it for 20 years or 40 years.

[00:36:50] Dr Julia Di Gangi: I still don’t have a good answer to that question. And what we’re learning right now, which I think is really exciting and really hopeful for, trauma treatment is, there’s a lot of fascinating stuff now on intergenerational transmission of trauma, this idea that trauma changes expression of genes, trauma changes sex cells.

[00:37:12] Dr Julia Di Gangi: So even then the father’s sperm or the mother’s egg can be changed based on how the mother. So in other words, it’s this idea of intergenerational transmission of trauma isn’t just psychological and the behavioral is what I want to say. It’s also genetic. It’s also, so all these energies are being transacted.

[00:37:28] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Overwhelmingly, I, when I work with people who’ve experienced pain, they’ve been raised by people who’ve had pain and those people have been raised by people. So it’s like, What came first, the chicken or the egg? Which again, of course, would never be to excuse it, but in order to stop a problem, we have got to understand what are the right questions to be asking.

[00:37:49] Juliette Karaman: Absolutely. And that is so fascinating that it actually shows that the cells are mutating and that it carries on in, in generations and generations. To cap this all, what? are the questions that you would say, what are two or four questions that you can give our listeners? Okay, these are some things to start looking at.

[00:38:13] Juliette Karaman: These are the questions that you can start asking yourself. I know that’s really difficult to try.

[00:38:18] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Yeah, no, I think it’s a great question. So I would say like the first one is, especially if we’re trying to, if we have, if we’re called into work, that’s really helping other people with their emotions, which let’s be honest, what Whether you’re like running a 40, 000 person company or running a classroom or you’re running your household with two little kids It’s like we’re all in human emotions is just what connects us as humans.

[00:38:41] Dr Julia Di Gangi: So this idea of like Where do I really struggle? Where do I really struggle to face my own feelings? And it’s like you were saying, I liked how you were saying at the beginning of our conversation it can be this sort of like energy, like two sides of a coin, where some things I feel really pulled to and some things I feel really repulsed by.

[00:39:03] Dr Julia Di Gangi: I will literally reorganize my closet for the 17th time rather than have to think about that. Or rather than have to be still in my own body, or rather than hold boundaries, or rather than, one of the things I think is really surprising for people, and again, counterintuitive, but once you see it, you’re like, Oh, yeah.

[00:39:23] Dr Julia Di Gangi: The things that we want most in this lifetime, and this is why, by the way, I’m on, if I had a million lifetimes to live, I would live it on this altar of human pain and human power. When I talk to people about emotional pain, I am speaking about emotional power. So the things that we want the most in our lifetime, rest, play.

[00:39:44] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Intimacy. Confidence. These things hurt. They do! If it was easy to rest, everyone on the planet would already be resting. If it felt good to always be intimate, we would all be, and I don’t mean sexually, I just mean connected, we would all if it felt good to be courageous, Everyone would be courageous.

[00:40:07] Dr Julia Di Gangi: The reason we don’t have these things is because our life is stopping at the feelings we keep refusing to feel. I would sit with myself and say, I know there’s probably a thousand questions in this one question. It’s like, where am I failing? We’re not, I think failing is definitely not the right vibe here.

[00:40:25] Dr Julia Di Gangi: But where am I resisting? Where am I chronically avoiding feeling feelings? And you mentioned grief. I grief and confusion are like two of the top Emotions that’s very difficult for the human nervous system to digest. So I might rather stay in a life that feels fundamentally bad to me because I can’t bear the grief of leaving.

[00:40:52] Dr Julia Di Gangi: I can’t bear the grief of even if I know a relationship isn’t totally right for me, I’m still connected to it in all sorts of ways. And I don’t even mean the relationship is like level 10 traumatizing. We all have been in relationships where we love someone and it’s just not right. But we can’t bear, we can’t bear the pain

[00:41:13] Juliette Karaman: of leaving over.

[00:41:14] Juliette Karaman: Yeah. And it’s the same with jobs with relationships with friends brings us on to boundaries of course, all of us saying yes, while it’s actually yeah, no.

[00:41:25] Dr Julia Di Gangi: And then I, so that’s the first question. And the second question is like, what does trust? This is a question I’ve been sitting with a ton lately.

[00:41:34] Dr Julia Di Gangi: I just ran a program at the turn of the new year called Intention. I did a whole series on this. This, what does trust really feel like in the body? So I have little kids and I’m sure I’m, I used to do this to my father. I’m sure, maybe your kids did this, but our kids, or at least my kids, don’t pull this shit with their mother.

[00:41:55] Dr Julia Di Gangi: So my little one will walk up the stairs, and my husband will be at the bottom of the stairs, and she’ll go my husband will have his back to her, and she’ll go, Daddy, catch! And by the grace of God, my husband happens to turn around while my daughter is a projectile in the air.

[00:42:12] Dr Julia Di Gangi: And my husband catches her.

[00:42:15] Juliette Karaman: I know, it’s such, can you imagine the amount of trust she has in

[00:42:18] Dr Julia Di Gangi: her? Like that, it’s so ready. It’s so ready. It’s so ready, it’s in action. So again, to go back to this very resistant relationship that the brain has with the energy of, I don’t know, the energy of confusion, the energy of uncertainty, it’s If I really want to expand beyond that, I’ve got to respect the parameters of my nervous system.

[00:42:39] Dr Julia Di Gangi: And part of doing that is asking myself, when I really trust something, not know it, because I think knowing is a different frequency in the body, when I really trust. What does my body feel like and what does it do?

[00:42:53] Juliette Karaman: So true. And really that also brings up another, why I say feelings. You have feeling emotions and feeling body sensations.

[00:43:02] Juliette Karaman: So it’s really becoming aware of what are those sensations. Is it heat? Is it temperature? Is it the way it’s moving? Is it static? Is it, is it contracting? And when I first teach people about this, they’re like, I don’t know. I’ve never thought about them. It’s great. But let’s give you some vocabulary for it.

[00:43:24] Juliette Karaman: And then you can just It’s oh, there’s expansiveness in my chest and my hip feels tight and it’s a bit of cool and there’s tingling around the edges. And it’s really bringing it down to those basics. Just those base, that basic language, that basic vocabulary, that,

[00:43:44] Dr Julia Di Gangi: and even that is, I think it’s such healing work because in those moments almost anything is tolerable.

[00:43:52] Dr Julia Di Gangi: You know what it’s like to your point? It’s okay, like my throat is tingling or I have pain around my hip. It’s can I be like in just in this moment? Can I allow, and almost a hundred percent of the time, the answer is yes. When I do trauma work with people, a lot of times people will have resistance and also could talk to me about the resistance and they’ll say I, my head’s going to explode.

[00:44:13] Dr Julia Di Gangi: And I’m like, hey, do you do heads literally explode? They’re like, no, I might pass out. Okay I’ve been doing this now for many years. I have not had a single person pass out. But even if you but also I’m in on the experiment too. I don’t know the future. You’re right.

[00:44:26] Dr Julia Di Gangi: You could pass out. Do you think if you passed out that would be okay? In other words. I could get you some water. I could call 911. And they say, yeah, okay I might throw up. Okay. I got a garbage can. Have you ever thrown up before? Yes. Okay. Sometimes with sexual trauma, people will say I might urinate on myself.

[00:44:42] Dr Julia Di Gangi: And I’ve been doing it for many years. I’ve had maybe I can count on one hand the number of times people have urinated. Number one, I said, you got an extra pair of underpants at home. Can you do lawn? Yes. And then what tends to happen is the body needed to release anyway. So after, after the, if I have to throw up or whatever, it brings like, when we allow our bodies to be where our bodies are trying to communicate to us through our nervous system, through sensation, it’s like, why is the mind constantly getting in our own way?

[00:45:12] Dr Julia Di Gangi: That’s another question people should sit with. Why

[00:45:15] Juliette Karaman: is the mind constantly getting in the way? And I know when I do energy work and, this trauma work with people as well they’ll start yawning and burping and they’ll see me because I burp a lot when I take people through things, I’ll burp, I’ll release wind from vomited but I’m like, listen, this is just my body releasing this.

[00:45:34] Juliette Karaman: And it’s. And that’s it. I’m just warning you, this might happen, and they’re like, okay, but if I tell them what’s going to happen to me, they’re completely cool with them, then maybe that happening to them too. Talk

[00:45:47] Dr Julia Di Gangi: about somatic leadership. I think what you’re demonstrating is somatic leadership it’s okay to be with our bodies like this.

[00:45:54] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Oh, yeah. Just look at how there’s so much contriveness around appearance and body shape. Just give me a break already, right?

[00:46:05] Juliette Karaman: I love it here in Britain. It’s yeah, it’s oh my God, your husband can never hear you pass wind. I’m like, Jesus Christ. What? So we have to go to the loo and then actually fart?

[00:46:15] Juliette Karaman: Come on. Funny body functions.

[00:46:17] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Yeah, I want to just maybe we’ll just end here. I want to, I didn’t think I was going to say this in this podcast, but I wanted to say why I called Energy Rising. So I thought more about the naming of the book than about my own children, but maybe that’s because I gestated my book longer than my kids.

[00:46:32] Dr Julia Di Gangi: But the body, the nervous system, the brain is brilliantly designed and it knows how to get rid of waste. When you eat something. The body, without much work, thought, anything, passes it. When you take in oxygen, you release waste in the form of carbon dioxide. Every 27 days, your skin cells just go, the waste of the old ones just go.

[00:46:57] Dr Julia Di Gangi: When there’s a foreign invader in your immune system knows how to get rid of waste. Okay, there is something singular about feelings we don’t want to feel. So what happens is the nervous system, which again is literally designed to move emotional energy, we will have a feeling that we don’t like to feel, and we will say no, and we will shove it down, and then something, no, we will shove it down, and no, we will shove it down, and we shove it down, and we shove it down, and we shove it down, and we do that.

[00:47:25] Dr Julia Di Gangi: For a lifetime, for 30 years, 40 years, 50 years, 80 years, what ends up happening is we become emotionally constipated. We become emotionally stuck. There’s so much junk in the plumbing that somebody cuts us off at a stop sign, or somebody says something we don’t like on social media, and we’re mad five ways till next Sunday, right?

[00:47:49] Dr Julia Di Gangi: The idea of energy rising is this idea of neurobiologically, metaphorically, however you want to think about it, allowing energy, even energy that feels intense, to move through the nervous system and be released. And in that release, we are transformed.

[00:48:07] Juliette Karaman: I love it. What a simple way to explain. the incredible title of your book and for really people to understand.

[00:48:16] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Thank you so much.

[00:48:17] Juliette Karaman: This has been a pleasure. I love how we meandered everywhere a little bit. Please let let our listeners know how can they contact you? What do you do? Besides the book. You run courses, you do speaking events. Tell us a

[00:48:33] Dr Julia Di Gangi: little bit. I do. Yes. So I’m delighted to connect with anyone who wants to talk about anything emotion.

[00:48:38] Dr Julia Di Gangi: I could talk about it until the cows come home. So you can find me on social media. So I’m on Instagram at Dr. Julia DeGangi. I’m on LinkedIn at Dr. Julia DeGangi and Facebook. I’m just Julia DeGangi. You can connect with me on my website, which is drdrjuliadiganji. com. And yeah, I do a lot of I do a lot of coaching.

[00:49:00] Dr Julia Di Gangi: So one on one coaching. I do a lot of coaching around teaching actually coaches about how to work powerfully with the nervous system. I think it’s so incredible that there’s so many healers out there. So people are interested in understanding more about the neuroscience of healing. I do a lot of courses.

[00:49:15] Dr Julia Di Gangi: And we’re doing some retreats in 2024, which is exciting to say. And then I do a lot of speaking events as well.

[00:49:21] Juliette Karaman: I love it. All of this will go into the show notes. So please do give Julia a a listen, a follow. I’ve been, leading this, but I’ve been glued to the glued to your words. And actually, I haven’t been leading much because all I need to do is just guide you a little bit, but

[00:49:39] Dr Julia Di Gangi: you are, I was guided by your energy.

[00:49:42] Dr Julia Di Gangi: You were a brilliant host. And I love your work and I’m so glad that we got to meet like this.

[00:49:46] Juliette Karaman: Thank you so much.

[00:49:49] Dr Julia Di Gangi: Thank you, Juliet.

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