Stress and the stories we tell…

Yesterday I sent an email about Health Aisle Advice and how some products have misleading labels – and they are believable because they tell a good story.

They’re also believable because they are taking advantage of our stress response.

For example:

You (proverbial you) may experience indigestion. It’s stressful (painful), so you turn to the internet and look up your symptoms.

Dear internet… “What to do for indigestion”

Have you ever made this mistake?

It’s massive crap shoot of advertising, stock answers that say nothing, or a huge list of terrifying conditions all beginning with “pain in the abdomen” and lead to death in one way or another.

And through this process… you’re learning, building a story of what is happening inside your gut at that moment.

Our mind is like a sponge, we’re absorbing everything, even when we’re skeptical.

It’s human to seek comfort, to at least have some answer to what’s going on.

Please read the following aloud.

Yes out loud.

If you’ve not done this exercise before, and you read it aloud, you might’ve missed the second the in the second line. Your brain knew it didn’t make sense, so it threw out the information (the extra the).

You did not consciously register what your actually “saw”. Your brain disregards information that doesn’t make the kind of sense you’ve trained it to recognize by your experience.

Take a look at the elephant.

How many legs do you see?

The second trick of the sense of sight is filling in of information that isn’t actually present.

Our super fast brain compares incoming information to previously encountered data and completes pictures faster than we can consciously recognize we are doing it. We “see” the completed picture our brain put together for us.

It makes me wonder about all that we see and don’t see out in the world because we’ve trained our brain what is acceptable.

It’s often the same with what we believe

When a product says “take this for digestive cramps” we take what we do know, then fill in the blanks on what we don’t know.

If we don’t have accurate pre-existing knowledge about how the gut works we simply do not have the information we need to cross reference what we’re reading with facts. So we’re stuck in this in-between space.

We can stop believing just about as readily as we can stop thinking.

Turns out, food allergies to wheat & dairy can actually cause intense cramping in the intestines. So if the problem is cramping and we happen to find an intervention to stop the cramping (perhaps wild yam), but we keep eating wheat, we will constantly be causing inflammation (and cramping) in the intestines.

Turns out, eating probiotics doesn’t help with a yeast infection. Why? Because it’s physiologically impossible for those healthy bacteria to get there. Bacteria does not pass through the gut lining into your bloodstream and then into your fancy parts.

Turns out, the milk in the turmeric latte could be causing more inflammation than anything else you ate that day.

Understanding the basics of anatomy and physiology would be enough to filter out these mis-gnomers.

So why doesn’t everybody study anatomy and physiology?

A few reasons I think:

  1. We think it’s going to eat up all our time.
  2. We think we need to be brainy smurf to understand science
  3. We want an authority figure to tell us what’s “going on in there”

Last week we wrapped up 319 answers to the question “what’s your biggest barrier to learning A&P”.

The number one answer is “I don’t have time”.

What I think might really be happening, for some of us, is our stress response is telling us a story of what it means to learn A&P.

We’re imagining what it’s like based on our previous experience of finding the material to be dry, boring, and overly complicated.

Or the thought of it stresses us out

I asked students in Physiology with Heart to share their experience of the stress response.

Lynn shared,

And then Thea pointed out this withdrawal can also be part of “how this culture views people who think for themselves…”

I mean, what if it was more normal to learn A&P, simply because it’s the instruction manual for the human body?

There are consequences, (social consequences, health consequences) when, as a culture we don’t think we should understand what’s going on inside our bodies.

That we need to leave it to the man in the white coat.

That we need to leave it to the products that show up in the health aisle, or the pharmacy, or the catalog, or wherever…

Will we stand for that? Will YOU stand for that?

I’m not blaming anyone. Not you, not doctors… we are all part of a system.

I just want to acknowledge that we can change the story we tell ourselves.

Clearly you’re here, reading this, and you’re on a learning path.

And that’s why, as an instructor, I ask you to identify your learning barriers. We need to look at them and ask the next, more important set of questions:

  • Where does that come from?
  • What is this barrier preventing me from achieving?
  • What would it look like on the other side?

Every breakthrough has barriers – it’s our job as healers to identify and nurture these breakthroughs.

If you’ve ever felt like anatomy and physiology was too challenging, or too time consuming, I want to show you that it’s within your reach.

I take my job seriously, and it’s more than just encouragement

My job is to encourage you but it’s also my job to design a curriculum that works. It’s my job to listen to students and adapt the curriculum so that it becomes more effective with each run.

It’s my job to ask you to think about how your life would be different if you completed 8 weekly lessons this winter.

To ask you to think about how by March 2020 you would have a completely different understanding of the human body.

Which is why I’m inviting you to join this course this week – and why we’re adding bonuses and guest workshops to make it even more exciting.

Here’s a link to the course, Online Anatomy & Physiology at Heartstone Online. Enroll this week to get all the earlybird bonuses.

Join 1,138 students in the course that begins January 1st.

Enroll this week for the bonuses, even the ones we haven’t announced yet.

Enroll to add this learning resource to your personal knowledge box, something you can reference when you have questions, or when you need to learn about a particular aspect of the human body.

Tonight we’re recording the first guest lesson that will be added to the course. A workshop by my friend Dr. Charis Lindrooth, Stress and the Brain. Sign-up here.

Tomorrow I’ll be back in your inbox with a story about how I discovered herbal medicine, and the doors it opened for me.

Thanks for playing, Tammi Sweet

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Tammi Sweet

I'm a researcher, educator, guest lecturer, and co-founder of Heartstone Center for Earth Essentials in Van Etten, NY.