Sara, LMFT, SEP - Exploring misophonia with therapy insights

S6 E10 - 10/14/2022
In this episode, Adeel speaks with Sarah Bidler, a licensed marriage and family therapist who has misophonia. They discuss Sarah's personal experiences with misophonia, starting from noticing irritations with her mother's gum chewing during childhood. She delves into how these triggers evolved and became apparent in various situations, such as car rides with her strict clarinet teacher and family dinners. Sarah talks about the nervous system's role in misophonia, particularly how feeling trapped or stressed can amplify sensitivity to triggers. They explore coping strategies for misophonia, focusing on communicating safety to the nervous system through techniques like deep breathing and using ear devices. The importance of self-acceptance, setting boundaries, and self-care outside moments of triggering is emphasized for overall well-being. They touch on the potential benefits of family systems work in understanding and addressing misophonia within family dynamics.


Adeel [0:01]: Welcome to the Misophonia Podcast. This is Season 6, Episode 10. My name's Adeel Ahmad, and I have Misophonia. This week I'm talking to Sarah Beidler, a licensed marriage and family therapist and somatic experiencing practitioner who also has misophonia and is the parent of a child with misophonia. Sarah has been one of the people instrumental in shaping my thinking of misophonia and its roots and potential treatments, so I'm excited to have her on. This is a long episode, but really worth every minute we get into her history growing up with misophonia being an HSP a highly sensitive person her current focus on the nervous system and its relationship with misophonia we get into family systems and unresolved past experiences her many theories and coping methods she uses with her clients in her practice And we talk about how misos are just great people to be around, her thoughts on why misophonia seems to be more prevalent and just a lot more. So I hope you're taking notes. As always, let me know what you think. You can reach out by email at or hit me up on Instagram or Facebook at Misophonia Podcast. And by the way, I listen to this podcast. If you can leave a quick rating, it helps us rise up in the algorithms and reach more listeners and misophones. Thanks for the incredible ongoing support of our Patreon supporters. If you think you can contribute financially, you can read all about the different tiers and swag at slash misophonia podcast. All right. Now, without further ado, here's my conversation with Sarah. Sarah, welcome to the podcast. Good to have you here.

Sara [1:45]: Yeah. Thanks for having me.

Adeel [1:46]: Obviously, we've met a couple of times, but maybe my usual first question is around where are you located?

Sara [1:53]: So I am in a suburb of Minneapolis and I was born and raised in Iowa.

Adeel [1:59]: Oh, no. Okay. I didn't know that. Cool. And then I'm sure people will know after reading the description of this episode, but do you want to tell people you do?

Sara [2:06]: Yeah. So I have a private practice and I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist. And then I went on to do four years of training and become a somatic experiencing practitioner. And that's focused on primarily working with unresolved trauma, but also just an overall nervous system perspective and a really great way to release stress from the body. And so that approach. influences a lot of how I work with clients, whether they have misophonia or they're coming to me for something else.

Adeel [2:39]: Gotcha. And, and you have misophonia yourself too, right? That's the other dimension here. And for, yeah, I was put in contact with Sarah. Obviously she's local, but also presents at the Misophonia Association Convention. I think the time of this recording there, it's coming up in a couple of weeks. So for folks who are going there, we'll probably might be in your session. But yeah, so I guess there's so many different ways we can go because you've opened my eyes to a lot of, especially on the kind of the small T trauma, the nervous system aspect of misophonia. Do you want to maybe, this maybe I think might make sense to maybe go just go chronological before you became a therapist and everything. Do you want to talk about early life for you and when you started to notice these symptoms?

Sara [3:23]: Yeah, sure. Yeah. So it was around the age of 12, I'd say. And it started with my mom's gum chewing. And it was largely, so we grew up in a small town and I got really into playing clarinet and then picked up guitar and piano. And there was a piano teacher in town, but we had to drive an hour for my clarinet and guitar lessons. It's just those long car rides every week. And she just was a gum chewer and popped it and things like that. And I just started to notice that more and more. And I look back at that now, maybe not go too much into the theory right now. I conceptualize misophonia. But one of the top pieces I see in terms of how we're processing the sound is the state of the nervous system. And one of the things that puts it in that kind of what I would call defensive state is a sense of being trapped. So I was stuck here in this car and then also rushing from school to these lessons, usually feeling like I probably didn't practice enough. And I had a very strict clarinet teacher actually went and He was at the university. And so, yeah, there was just a lot kind of stressing me out. And then I have a little theory about gum. Why gum is so problematic is that there's no end in sight with it. You really don't like, I don't, it did become like food and chewing and just dinner time and stuff, but. I feel like at least with food, you can kind of see, okay, there's a few bites left. You do not know when that's going to end. And I think that makes it trickier.

Adeel [5:05]: Yeah. That's an interesting perspective. Cause yeah, some people like me would just keep chewing until like hours later. Sometimes as a kid, not having any sense of time. But it's interesting. Yeah, I was going to ask because obviously car rides comes up in a lot of interviews. You know, what takes a car ride from just being transported from point A to point B to being feeling trapped? And you start to get into that was like you're you're a lot of stuff, extracurricular stuff going on. You had you had to really do that strict. teacher since that seems like a funny thing to say but the strict clarinet teacher so probably just stressed out on multiple levels and i was also going to ask if maybe because we'll get into your train a lot of musical training i'm wondering if that sensitivity to music maybe somehow affected what you were listening to or noticing as well maybe on top of that as well i don't know yeah i guess i haven't really considered that aspect but i when you

Sara [5:57]: Look at hearing sound in context. I think the key pieces of context that make it difficult in a vehicle is Proximity just physically we're closer to people there aren't options for escape really unless we're missing. Would you please not? Break. Yeah, we are actually doing something dangerous. We typically tend to be maybe rushing we're going through a transition and which just does rev up the nervous system. No offense, mom, but she's not the greatest driver. So perhaps I was picking up on that. Yeah, there was just a lot of things, I would say, on a more unconscious level, for sure, making my nervous system feel unsafe. We need to be on edge here. We need to be tense and hypervigilant. And I was probably, honestly, trying to do homework on those rides. And there was just so much going on. Yeah.

Adeel [6:50]: Yeah, so there's, okay, yeah, there's a lot of stuff going on. Strict, strict clarinet teacher, number one.

Sara [6:54]: Yeah, I'm telling you, he was very strict. I passed out one time in a lesson. He kept making me play, and I died. Oh, my God, wow.

Adeel [7:01]: So there's that, there's the, oh, yeah, I didn't consider that the whole year, going back to the kind of the... almost a lizard brain like you you're in a dangerous vehicle doing it you're doing something that's i think in decades from now we'll look back as some barbaric thing that we used to like sit in these metal cages and just go at high speeds towards towards some destination around other metal objects anyway yeah this is a lot of factors how did your mom react then

Sara [7:27]: So I... Or how did you react for it? I did not. I tried to just hide it for the most part because I... Partly because I felt like, what is wrong with me? This is... I'm embarrassed that I'm even struggling with the fact that she's chewing gum. Yeah. And then I didn't want to hurt her feelings. And then so it did eventually show up at the dinner table and my mom was really big on family dinner. So even though I had a lot of... extracurriculars and I would be gone quite a bit, but she somehow made it work with five kids that we would have family dinners. So then it was, I sat by her at the table, my dad sat at the other end, but I started noticing both are chewing. And so then I'd try to like eat quickly. I got to go do homework. For some reason I need to leave. And at some point they caught onto it and they were like, why are you guys leaving the dinner table so quickly? And I finally said, okay, I'm going to just tell them. I was like, I really don't like the sound of chewing. And I think it was my dad who just like jokingly said, Oh, do you need some therapy or something? And I was like, Yeah, please, I do. And they just left kind of laughed it off. And they know that story now. And they're like, we're sorry, we didn't know. But yeah, it was really intense for me. And I did want help.

Adeel [8:40]: But and at this point, you were in high school.

Sara [8:44]: Yeah, this was probably when I named it. Yeah, I was probably I was in high school. And then I had my best friend, my freshman and sophomore year of high school. She was also a clarinet player and we were in a lot of activities together. She was a gum chewer and open mouth.

Adeel [9:01]: Yeah.

Sara [9:02]: Again, small town, we would usually, we're going to go to the mall or something. It was 30 to 60 minutes drive one way. And I started to notice, oh gosh, when we ride together and then she choose them in the car. And I'm just like. crawling out of my skin. So I finally got the courage to tell her one day I got in and I was like, please don't let her be chewing gum. Please don't let her be chewing gum. And sure enough, she was. And I was like, if you wouldn't mind, I just spitting out your gum. I really don't like the sound of gum chewing. And she shamed me in response. She was like, what are you going to do if you have a job interview someday and the person's chewing gum, you're going to ask them to spit it out. And I was just like, oh, that was the end of that. I never asked again. And that kind of shut me down for quite a while.

Adeel [9:52]: Never asked anybody again or specifically?

Sara [9:54]: No, I didn't bring it up to her again. And yeah, it was years before that. I would have said anything to a friend or someone else. Yeah.

Adeel [10:05]: Yeah. Gotcha. Okay. Are you still friends with this, with this person?

Sara [10:08]: No, we have little like reunions or gets together, get togethers. But I do look back and I see more dynamics in that relationship where certainly we had several things in common, but I didn't, feel like I could fully be myself with her. She was very high achieving and I would say judgmental on a kind of passive aggressive way.

Adeel [10:32]: Yeah.

Sara [10:33]: Okay. It was more than me. It's funny that I don't share this part of myself with her or whatever.

Adeel [10:38]: Yeah. And what about your siblings?

Sara [10:40]: Yeah. So it's interesting. So I'm one out of five kids. I'm second. My sister, she's number three. She started to then be triggered by chewing sounds probably within a year of me naming it to her. So her and I were, we were close and we had typical sibling relationship where we would get in fights or be competitive or whatever, but she knew everything about me. And then she started to be triggered. And then for several years, she jokingly was like, You caused this for me. You made me think about it. And it was awful for her for quite a few years, too, in certain work situations as an adult. She's now in a much better place with it as well.

Adeel [11:22]: When you said you named it, does that mean you had the term misophonia?

Sara [11:26]: No, I didn't. I just told her. I was like, I can't stand mom and dad's chewing. Or I can't stand when people chew gum with their mouth open.

Adeel [11:33]: Did she have a similar experience, like the same clarinet teacher or the same rides with your mom?

Sara [11:39]: Yeah, it was the gum chewing primarily for her. We both eventually, as adults, just said to our mom, hey, there is a name for this, and please don't chew gum around us.

Adeel [11:49]: And what about your other three siblings?

Sara [11:53]: None of them. So we're the only two girls, and my older brother's adopted. But interestingly enough, my youngest brother, he's 12 years younger than me, and I was like a second mom to him. He was my live baby doll. and i got up at night and would i'd be like so happy to get up and feed him in the middle of the night and stuff as a 12 year old and when so i was married for i'm fast forwarding a little bit but married for 16 years and my ex-husband now ex-husband he was very much a trigger person for me and earlier in our relationship and he was kind of trying to wrap his head around misophonia He was like, it's so, like, mind-boggling to me. Like, I clearly tell, see, you, this is a real thing. And you're triggered by my chewing and different people. But he's like, your youngest brother chews so nasty. And you never even have a reaction or even, do you even notice it? I was like, no, never noticed that he chews. Yeah, and still this day, my youngest brother has never triggered me. And again, going back to we hear sounds in context, and whether it's the nesting effect or just like my kind of motherly instinct towards him or whatever, it was just always time with him was very special, and there was a special bond there. And my other siblings haven't really triggered me either, possibly anyone in a car and rushing and all that.

Adeel [13:17]: Yeah, yeah.

Sara [13:18]: Trigger me, but... Interesting.

Adeel [13:21]: And your... It sounds though, your family is... You know how this obviously... I'm sure you've seen your work. A wedge can be created between you and your triggers, especially if they're family members, like your mom. But it sounds like you're...

Sara [13:33]: not particularly distant or you still close seems like like it hasn't really affected the relationship too much or maybe not i don't maybe no it definitely affected it but i would say more closer now than ever and at one point i was actually triggered by a certain consonant in her speaking and i remember i must have brought it up but i just remember her like responding to that at some point, she was hurt by that. I guess there's something wrong with the way I talk. And it just felt terrible. So I would say in my young adulthood or whatever, like it was, I wouldn't necessarily like not invite her to visit me or do things, but I would anticipate, what am I going to do? She ends up chewing gum. And it was years of, yeah, getting that courage up as a young adult to say, I'll just be much nicer to be around her, more present or whatever, if you don't do that. But interestingly enough, she has had some changes happen in her life the last, I don't know, three or so years. And she is living her best life right now. And she's so happy. And that has really shifted. She has continued to be the person, I would say, most consistently likely to trigger me. And I have my theories on why that is so common that moms are the main trigger person. But when, and when she shift till she's just so at peace in her body, it can tell and happy and content. I'm not, this last time she was here, after she left, I thought, well, I never even braced or anything for any chewing. It never even crossed my mind. And like, I was hosting a party and she was serving the food and she was around the food all day at this party. Yeah. I noticed that in a couple of my clients. They're like, when my mom, so some of the teenagers have actually been able to, they're like, actually, when my mom's in a good mood, I'm not triggered by her.

Adeel [15:28]: So, and yeah, and I have no problem with jumping around because you always have some very interesting theories, but I was going to, because going back to our previous conversations we had, do you think there's something generational? Is that maybe where you're getting at, where maybe part of your misophonia may have been caused by your mom being stressed and that somehow passing forward? Is that where you were going to go?

Sara [15:50]: Yeah, so I'm glad you asked that question because I want to be, I need to be clear that this whole like, correlation, not causation. So I don't think her stress caused my misophonia or that I'll probably get into trauma later that trauma causes misophonia. But when we have misophonia, we have that brain difference and then we're tense in the body. It's that it gets projected, easily projected onto the oral facial activity of others and patterns. Does that make sense? So it's like when we think about it from a the motor basis research and the mirror neuron stuff. And if I have a whole like 18 minute free video on my website, someone really wants to hear in depth my thoughts. But it's with that mirror neuron stuff, when that's being activated by what another person's doing, You are getting messaging yourself as if it's happening to you to a degree. And of course, those that we are most emotionally intertwined with, we're going to be picking up their stuff more. Like if my mom was emotional or sad or whatever, I'm going to. Right. Right. it takes a lot more intention and development and whatever to be differentiated from your mother or your primary caregiver.

Adeel [17:30]: Oh, wow. Yeah, I didn't think about that whole intertwining, especially as a younger child, not being able to differentiate yourself from that person. Because obviously at some point you were the same. bag of cells and and then you eventually separate yeah just interesting because when you mentioned that your mom's living your best life and some of your clients parents live their best life i'm just curious kind of how you might think about that or helping you not

Sara [17:56]: pick up triggers is it because you see them more relaxed and then you suddenly you feel like your nervous system has calmed down yeah so it's really the so the state of the nervous system i see as the biggest piece of context for how we're processing sounds and so the nervous system has the two branches which I will simplify as the gas pedal and the brake pedal. And we want to be able to just smoothly move back and forth between those and stay in what's called the window of tolerance or window of presence. So it's not that one's good or one's bad, but we, our nervous systems can get, whether it's because of trauma or we're a highly sensitive person or whatever, be operating in a way that it's really slamming on the gas pedal or putting it on. really easily going that pathway or getting stuck in it. So I, that's another piece of context, I guess, going back to my childhood and just who I am as a person. I do see myself as being in that category as a highly sensitive person or an HSP. And I have a good article on my website kind of describing those types of people. So I do, I am just overall more sensitive, spicy food, can't handle some types of barbecue. I would like, I, blacked out a few times at the eye doctor i think with the rapid light when they're shifting the things back and forth or we had a tour as a kid of a water plant or i don't remember like a water processing whatever and the chemicals the smell i like i had to leave and i was a colicky kid i our baby i'm curious how much of that was just it's just sensory wise and i've got stitched Seam remover, I don't wear, have any tags. I prefer not to wear jeans or have my hair down on my neck, that kind of stuff. So there's all these layers, and that's why I think we have to be really careful with misophonia is that we want to maybe, oh, here's what's causing it, or here's the one thing, or I think it's just very complex. And then we also... can't see misophonia as everything about that person is some what's the word aspect of misophonia oh they act this way so that's me that's just that's one layer so i see okay i've got the brain differences that come with misophonia then i also got the highly sensitive nervous system going on and yeah so then what happens is my if i'm if i'm picking up on my mom's stress as a highly sensitive person and that's putting me in a tense state Yet as a kid, I'm not able to name that. I go, oh, I'm noticing my mom's stress and my body's tightening. And then, so in Somatic Experiencing, what I'm trained in, they talk about how when there's so many different things going on, stressors, that the subconscious organizes. It has a tendency to just organize around. a single thing. This is the thing to get stopped so I can feel more in control. Instead of, oh, we moved, my pet died. I don't feel like I belong at school. Mom doesn't seem happy. All these things, it becomes a fixation on controlling food or maybe certain OCD behaviors. Or for us with misophonia, like the sound is why I feel tense, which a sound is actually, it's hard. I think it starts more like we're tense for other reasons than we have that pathway in the brain and it gets projected onto what the other person's doing. So my youngest son, he's nine. His older brother is three and a half years older. They're the same size, which creates an interesting dynamic. So the older one, to assert his status, we'll put him down in other ways. You don't say that word, right? That's not how you say that. That's how he has a tendency to criticize his younger brother. And one of the first times I saw Misofonia showing up for a youngest is I called him to the dinner table, and on the way, his older brother corrected him it's just the tone and stuff and it just he had it we sit down and we start eating and then he looks at his brother and goes i hate how i can hear the sound of you chewing so he was mad and fired up just about this wearing down of and then it the brain his brain like mine goes towards those chewing sounds i gotta get stopped in a way it's i need a boundary from you I need space from you. I don't feel safe. Yeah. Anyway.

Adeel [22:27]: How did you feel when you heard your youngest say that? Were you like, oh, God.

Sara [22:32]: Yep. That and also a light bulb. Part of how I've come to.

Adeel [22:36]: I can start charging my youngest kid. No, I'm just kidding.

Sara [22:41]: No, but it was like I had started to form this theory that I see this not just on my own, participating in the conventions and hearing what other people have to say and talking with other therapists and stuff. And then when I started to put myself out there as someone who has this and wants to help other people. you really start to see themes. And so I'd start to have this, you're like, huh, if you're relaxed in the body, if you're feeling safe, essentially the nervous system is going, we're safe. We can loosen the muscles. We can slow down the heart rate. We can slow down the breathing. When you're in that, what I call gas pedals or brake pedals, sorry, state, you're truly are, you're orienting more towards signs of safety. You're noticing eye contact or smiles or the breeze or, Whatever. And when we're in a defensive state, it is like the brain is scanning and orienting towards where's the threat? Where's the threat? Where's the tiger? Okay. And then we have the success of mirroring that happens with not just oral facial stuff, but in particular, that area. And so we're just, we're in that state and really picking up on. Yeah, what that person's doing with their mouth.

Adeel [23:53]: So do you have any, and this is getting into speculation, but do you have any ideas on, I think it makes total sense that, yeah, the brain is designed to look for threats. At that point, it's doing what it always should be doing, is scanning for threats. Do you have any idea as to why it miscalculates at some point? and then starts to assign it to the wrong thing. To get to that, it does so many things right. I'm just curious, well, why does it miscalculate there? Because it seems like part of our brain is able to rationally say, this is not a threat, but then this one part gets miscalculated and then obviously has all the consequences.

Sara [24:27]: Well, in somatic experiencing, they call that they talk about how when the body feels out of control or overwhelmed, the brain unconsciously organizes around a single thing. So instead of being about my parents are fighting or puberty, and I feel insecure, school stress or peer stuff, it becomes this singular focus. And so for some people, that's all okay, if I just wash my hands enough, then I can feel more in control, get a little bit of essentially like we have when we're feeling overwhelmed and we're feeling like like this world, this is scary. I feel out of control. So we're grasping for some way to have some more control. And then that thing that we grasp onto ends up becoming a problem for us. It's an it's a coping strategy. or a temporary fit. Like someone might, there might thing they might grasp onto is I just need to be perfectly fit. If I can just have this type of body or whatever, then I'll feel like I have some control and I can feel okay about myself or whatever. And then, but anything in excess or it's going to become a problem in some other way. So some people, they go towards maybe more controlling food or yeah, doing things in twos or whatever it is for us. I got to get this chewing stopped or this trigger thing stopped. And if I can get that stopped, I can feel a little more sense of agency or control.

Adeel [26:00]: Would you say, and I've heard that there are These are not the same, but do you would say there's some overlap between things like misophonia, OCD, and like addictive personalities? Because it sounds like you could apply similar language to all these, but I think they're pretty different though. Or at least they're considered different enough?

Sara [26:17]: Yeah. So that's a really big question. It's a great question. But it really comes down to do you see things more? So there's the medical model, which is whatever symptoms we're seeing. Okay, this is a disorder. This is where I come from systems theory. And we look at more people don't exist in silos. And so if we're just like... Prior to family therapy, we're just working with individuals. What we found is, okay, we can help this individual develop some coping strategies or self-talk or whatever, and then we put them back in their system that has some dysfunctional patterns or unhealthy boundaries. Done's a stick. I have more of the perspective of these things like... Yes. Okay. Let me back up and use this metaphor. Okay. Okay. The best one I've come up with as of late is comparing misophonia to high blood pressure. So high blood pressure can run in families. Okay. We can have a genetic disposition towards that, but you can also have high blood pressure and it doesn't run in your family. Okay. There's misophonia. We see it runs in families. Sometimes though, we don't know who, was there someone else that in a past generation? We don't know. And then with high blood pressure, we can use medication to try to get more at a healthier range and in check. Like with misophonia, we can use ear devices, possibly medication to make it more tolerable, manageable. But okay, now going back to high blood pressure, it's usually not just a standalone thing. Like there's different things that the high blood pressure is often a symptom of some other issues. It could be caused by smoking or body not getting what it needs diet wise or exercise wise or an undiagnosed condition such as sleep apnea or just that big umbrella that we call stress that category so when we in terms of high blood pressure yeah okay go ahead and use the medication whatever but if we just keep smoking let's say and that's the thing that has our blood pressure going up now it's just we're going to probably develop some other issues so we've got to address like what is underneath it And same with misophonia. Again, we have brain differences. It's real. I'm not saying when I hear chewing and I'm just making it up that I'm bothered by that. Physiologically, there are changes happening in the body, just like with high blood pressure. But if we're not looking at what's fueling it and we're just using headphones or avoiding, then most likely, let's say we get everybody to stop chewing gum. Awesome. But if you haven't addressed what's putting your body in a persistent defensive state, then you're going to form some other trigger, most likely, or your current trigger that you're not able to completely control will get harder to be around. Does that help at all? That's how I'm... And I can see that with OCD and other things, too. I see those a little more as a... manifestation of some deeper, maybe shame that a lot of times it comes down to shame. I think in therapy, when people show up to therapy and they've got, they're coming for X, Y, Z reason symptom. But as we really unpack it, this, if there's a deep health belief that I'm not enough, I'm not lovable. That is so stressful on the nervous system. And we're so wired to, we have to belong. That's how we survived. Most of humankind was in a tribe. And so those deep health beliefs, which easily get formed going about childhood, yeah, have to be addressed. We're going to be limited in how far we get with even addressing alcoholism or whatever it is. Again, there can be a genetic predisposition, but we've got to look at what is it for that individual person that's causing them to drink excessively.

Adeel [30:22]: Yeah, no, that's going back to, yeah, absolutely. That's actually got me thinking because, yeah, that's a good way of showing, I think, how dysphonia is different from OCD, is different from alcoholism. Like the symptom, if we consider those as symptoms, are very different. But yeah, they can all tie back to a similar. The root causes are more similar than the symptoms. It could be things like, it's often things like shame or not feeling wanted or not belonging.

Sara [30:48]: Yeah, or not being your authentic self.

Adeel [30:50]: Yeah, or not being authentic. And it's not necessarily, and I also want to say, because this comes up sometimes when I mention this to people, especially parents, it's not necessarily that something is happening on purpose. It could be the type of person you are, maybe your HSP. I think, and now I'm starting to get into it.

Sara [31:06]: Yeah, it's tricky. I am not, this is not parent shaming or blaming. I've worked with so many families and just so many lovely parents and wonderful people. And here, they just want the best for their child. And really, but we have to understanding that child. And sometimes I do think it's not that everybody with misophonia is highly sensitive. But if we have both of those going on, then... We're going to see it in a more extreme way. And it's so interesting with some of those kids. As we unpack this stuff, I've won. She was like, I don't think I'll ever be enough for my mom. I first helped. Wow. Able to like articulate that at the young, she's in her early teens. And I said, what was one of your first experiences feeling like that? And she was like, I was younger. I was like five and I walked out into the street. I didn't notice the car coming. My mom screamed at me and her mom screaming at her. She internalized that as I'm bad. My mom's screaming at me. She realizes now on a cognitive level, like her mom was just trying to protect her and was scared and was out of a place of love. But in her body, the way that lit her body up, her mom yelling at her and that got associated right with, oh, I'm connected it narratively, whatever. I'm bad. My mom is really upset with me. She thinks I'm bad or something. Now, did the mom do anything wrong in the moment? No. So again, We just have to go back and then we have to work with the body to what I call update the coding, essentially. So this is where the somatic work comes in. If you want me to jump into that.

Adeel [32:47]: Yeah, exactly. Because I think this will be because my next question was going to be something about I think we've talked about in the past. And I think I've read about some of the books that I've read are things being memory being obviously in the brain, but also the body holding memory. There's some famous books about that. But yeah, I'd love to hear about all this stuff. Yeah, please.

Sara [33:05]: Yeah, I break it down thing in three levels of the brain. The upper is the thinking rational part, the cortex brain is the limbic and the feeling what we call the feeling brain. And then lower is that reptilian more survival brain. And when, when trauma happens and trauma means just any time something happened too quick, too fast that it put the nervous system over its threshold. Okay. Through that person out of their window of tolerance, which AKA on the side happens much more easily to a highly sensitive person. And also the younger we are, the more easily we're put out of that threshold. So then if the body goes into that free state, and then doesn't get an experience eventually of defending itself. Like there was no experience of getting to flee or fight or do something to set a boundary and then discharge that activation. It just stays zooming around the nervous system and essentially nervous systems. There was just a tiger here. We didn't do anything about it. So we got to just always be on edge for anything that resembles that tiger or that possibly coming back. So how we resolve that, is not just, we can't just do that through cognitive means. Okay, you were in a car accident. That's over. Anytime you see a car that looks like the one that hit you or whatever, just don't freak out. That's over. Any person who's been in that situation knows if they were traumatized in it, physiologically, their body just lights up if they didn't do their trauma healing with that. So there's just not even cognition involved. The body just automatically goes into that fight-flight state or arousal state. So then we do... We work with sensations in the body. Okay, so as you think about that experience, what happens in the body? And then we hold space for that, what's happening sensation-wise. But we're also bringing in resourcing or what needed to happen that didn't get to happen. And we're, through imagination, giving the body a different outcome and experience of that. So it doesn't, nervous system doesn't know a difference between what we're imagining, what's really happening. So we can use imagination to, okay, let's imagine as that car is coming towards you, we freeze frame and really slow it down and then notice now what would the body like to do? Or how would you like to be able to brace or whatever it is, or everything turns into pillows and marshmallows. And then, okay, as you imagine that happening, what do you notice in the body? Oh, the This area of tension starts to lighten up. Oh, a deeper breath comes in. Yeah, notice that. Really stay with that experience. Or they might notice, I have an urge to push or to run or whatever. So we have ways that we give the body an experience of that and a safe. We're not actually hurting anybody or punching anybody. And we're really staying embodied as we do that. And then it's noticing this discharge of the activation. So then they'll notice, oh, there's a tingling that went down my arms or tears are a discharge, sighing, deeper breath, trembling, all of that. So we all are born with this innate process to discharge stress from the body and to discharge trauma when we end up in a freeze state. But we fail to do that as humans a lot of times because as soon as we get some access to our thinking part of our brain, we jump on to doing something else or judging ourself or analyzing it instead of just staying with what's happening in the body and letting it complete.

Adeel [36:41]: Yeah, you said something really interesting there about this therapy, this process that I hadn't considered before. Maybe I just didn't finish reading these books enough. But you said something about how this imagination, it sounds like you're walking through, you're creating a scene and walking through it, grabbing the scene and whatnot. And, you know, initially I'm thinking your brain must know that it's... not real not what actually happened but what you said was about like the body doesn't know that's really interesting so you're i'd never considered that before yeah if you the problem is in the body you're almost really tricking your body into kind of releasing this or rewriting the memory is that kind of like yeah you're essentially asking like what needed to happen that didn't happen you felt really alone in that situation and so then we imagine like a competent protector showing up

Sara [37:30]: And then what's it like as you notice your grandmother being there or whatever? It can even be you notice that favorite superhero of yours being there. So, yeah, as an example, to explain that a little more, the nervous system not knowing the difference is it goes both ways. So you probably have had anticipatory anxiety about something. I have no idea what you're talking about. Maybe anticipating someone's going to be cheering you up or whatever. So with that, think about as you are imagining, oh my gosh, this is going to happen. You're feeling anxious, okay? If you're feeling anxious, there's things happening in your physiology, right? You might notice like, oh, my throat is closing up or my chest feels heavy or I'm sweating or whatever. So what I just on a side note, there's a lot of anticipatory anxiety a lot of times happening with misophonia. So that might be the thing actually just putting the nervous system in a defensive state. We really want to get that in check and go, okay, my forecaster planner part, There's a time and place for it. Is there some things I want to do to prepare for this? Whatever setting, maybe have some ear pieces or some, I can talk about coping strategies in a little bit, but something cold that I can hold certain mantras I'm going to use, whatever. And then once we've planned what we can plan, we got to come back to present moment. Assuming present moment right now is I'm trying to go to sleep. Things are safe. I'm just in my bedroom or whatever.

Adeel [39:01]: Yeah. Definitely want to get into coping strategies and all that stuff. Yeah. One thing I was curious about is, okay. Yeah. So when this discharge happens, if it happens, is it like one and done? Is it like, okay, you discharge, you can leave and you're like much better. Or is it, you have to consider multiple, do you have to look for multiple memories or do you have to hit the same memory multiple times?

Sara [39:20]: I love it. Okay. So it depends of course, but how we know if, you know, if we're done or not is, When we think about that experience, do you get activated? Do you get all does your nervous system get all revved up? Okay, so that's how we know if So let's say I have a client, a couple of clients working with that were in car accidents. And so we're reworking, we take a little piece of it each time and they start to notice over time. Oh, now when I see a car or scene resembling that, I don't go into this. I don't get all activated like I used to. Kind of stay present and go, okay, what's my way around this? Sorry for that person, but I'm, it's not like I'm back in that. There's a saying like what's hysterical is historical. So if kind of the body's response to something happening seems a little over the top or like a lot bigger than other people, it's probably something, some unresolved trauma. So that piece too, we don't always have to know what was the traumatic experience. Perhaps it was childbirth. You don't have any like cognitive memory of. cord being wrapped around your neck or whatever might have happened but the body has memory and then it shows up wherever it's showing up like maybe now when you go for medical procedures for just a simple shot or something and your body gets all worked up well then let's just work with that let's work with wherever it's showing up so

Adeel [40:59]: Yeah, what's hysterical is historical. That's fascinating. I kind of want to make a t-shirt. But anyway, one last question about that, and then we can either go back to chronological or get into coping strategies, or maybe they'll loop back together at some point. But I wanted to, something that popped into my head when you were talking about the body not knowing the difference, and you can just rewrite the story. What do you say if somebody said something to me when they were telling me about their kid being, potentially having... misophonia and they're like yeah i just don't want to tell them to just snap out of it so why couldn't you does it why does it have to take a long time if somebody listening to this might be like okay well if it's just your body can you just tell your body just snap out of it i'm just curious

Sara [41:42]: Wow. Okay. Okay.

Adeel [41:44]: I'm just thinking devil's advocate, whatever, because obviously I know it could take a while, but you can see how somebody might listen to this and think that.

Sara [41:51]: No, I have a couple. Okay. A couple of things. First, I want to, I missed a couple of pieces when I'm saying like rewriting the story. Marty Glenn, Dr. Marty Glenn talked about this in Hermes phony convention last year. I loved it. She said what we need for like healing or just to be our healthiest selves is one sense of safety. Two, to have who we are, what we're experiencing, be known or be present. And then three, having that witnessed by someone. Okay, so I'm like forgetting the piece, right? Because I'm just assuming when I'm talking about this trauma healing that this person's in therapy doing this work. And so they, a trauma therapist knows step one is we got to make sure this person feels resourced and safe in this space. Okay, we're just doing that kind of discovering like, what are the things that, you know, helping them feel safe, noticing the chair, supporting them. Maybe noticing things in the room that are nice to look at. For my clients, something cold to hold if they want or a weighted blanket might have a nice smell. Whatever.

Adeel [43:00]: You're literally saying stuff like the chair is not going to fall apart.

Sara [43:04]: I'm saying just for a moment before we get started here, notice where there's contact with the couch or the chair. Yeah. And notice how just being a little more conscious of the support that's available for your body and just letting yourself take that in a little more. So that just even what speaks to the nervous system is most sensory stuff and social connection. So as we let it really be, we'd be conscious of where there's support, where there's images in the room or, you know. quiet or the nice white noise machine all that is like helping nervous system know we're resourced we're safe you got to build that relationship with that therapist and really feel like they've got me They're not going to let me go off the deep end as I go back into this experience. And so trauma therapists know we've got to do this in a titrated way, how we can re-traumatize a person. So sometimes the question of one done, usually there's layers to it. We take off a layer and another layer. We keep exploring it from different angles, getting more and more to what was maybe the center or the peak of that trauma experience. Or if it's small T trauma, adding up, taking these small T moments. So anyway, I want to make sure I'm not suggesting to people that they take whatever trauma experience that maybe they're aware of and like just on their own, try to rewrite it. Now we can use some of these skills with smaller stuff. Okay. Just got home from school. And before I hop on my phone or turn on the TV or something. I'm going to just pause for a moment and notice what it's like in my body. And then notice the chair supporting me or the bed underneath me or do some nice stretching. Or maybe I feel an urge just to push against this wall a little bit. Someone said something really mean to me today. And I want to just give my body a sense of pushing that back, not mine. So there's ways we can use some of that stuff just for kind of day-to-day stress discharge and regulation. So I teach my clients that. Yeah, the bigger trauma is we got to do that with a competent witness and support. So then the snapping out, going back to, okay, I'm being triggered. I'm in a trigger setting. I can look at that from two. We address that at two levels. One is those kind of short-term coping strategies when we're being triggered. I tell my clients to ask yourself, what are my options? Okay. Is it an option to put on some background noise? Is it an option to stretch the body, make it bigger instead of making it tighter? Is it an option to take a break? Can I tell myself five more minutes? You can do this. All of that kind of stuff for helping in the moment. And then once we're out of that moment, it's good to get in the habit of discharging that. Now, some people, when they're back in their bedroom or they're out of that triggering space, it's gone. They're right back to, I'm okay. Other people, it keeps playing in their head, okay? And so the body's needing something more to let it know that's done. We can go back over to rest and digest. So the question you're asking is really complex, Adeel, because sometimes the triggering, I would say, is old coding, okay? And that's more likely with an adult. Like this association's been made with this person chewing and whatever maybe was the initial thing that was putting that person in a state of, unease or tension is gone and so that's where i think the reconditioning work really has a role but often more so with like kids there's some function that the misophonia is serving it can be tricky to figure it out but as i really get curious with the person about that there's a lot we can learn from it's like a window into the subconscious so maybe it's yeah right maybe it's telling trying to tell something positive but to us it looks like a ridiculous and yeah it's giving feedback it's giving feedback that like i Either like I don't feel safe or I am stressed or I'm needing. It could even be I'm needing more sleep. Oh, it's showing up like you're not getting the sleep you need and your body's trying to get your attention however it can. And we don't change our habits. unless we're uncomfortable. We don't just say, yeah, I'm going to go to the gym like three or four times a week because that's fun. No, it's not. But we do it because we become uncomfortable in some way in the body. And then we decide, fine, or I'll go. Yeah, I'll go do my trauma work. That sounds fun. No, but it's causing you so much discomfort. However, it's showing up in your life that you decide to go do that tough work, which often leads to working on addressing shame. And that's hard work. stuff nobody wants to shame thrives on it's like i can't let anybody know this everybody knows they'll realize i'm not enough yeah and so instead we're doing our perfectionism or people pleasing or whatever it is that's again symptom stuff that you know yeah and that gets uncomfortable enough we got to do something so

Adeel [48:29]: Yeah. When you're, I have a few things I'm trying to juggle in my head because I don't want to even, I don't even take the time right now. It's just so interesting. But do you, when, okay, when you're going back to rewrite, when you're going back through memories, are you often finding that people are remembering or finding memories that they had forgotten about of incidents that happened in the past? Or is it known stuff and it's just a matter of processing it?

Sara [48:56]: No, I don't. I guess I don't see that a lot. Yeah, it can. It's, I don't, this isn't really maybe answering your question, but when we start to really unpack like where these beliefs showed up that I'm not enough or I'm broken in some way or something, there's so much around middle school age. You got 60 year old, whatever, however old adults I'm working with. And so much we're back in middle school. and experiences of peers. And of course you're going through all these body changes. People are developing at different rates. And so some people are still wanting to play dolls or cars. Others are like already dating or something. And it's just a time where things because it just doesn't get integrated in a healthy way in the body. So we got to go back and rework some of those things often. So that can be surprising to people that they're like, Oh my gosh, that it's that middle school things to hang it. You don't see me here. And then just to throw a whole nother layer to this is we know trauma can come from past generations. Someone can be carrying trauma from a past generation and we've been able to the research show as far back as three generations.

Adeel [50:14]: So how does that come forward?

Sara [50:16]: It's through the epigenetics. So we, that's, this is pushing my, I have an understanding of this, but I haven't taught on it, I guess, to be able to articulate really well. But it's like the DNA, if I'm understanding, it's a little more like the ingredients in a recipe. And then the epigenetics is like how it gets combined and how it's cooked or whatever. So it's, it's a layer over top of the gene code that is either turning on or off parts of the gene code. This, whatever got turned on because past generation there was war or traumatic death or whatever it was can still be being carried in the gene code or yeah, how it's showing up in another future generation. So that, that probably sounds a little like daunting. Oh my gosh, where do we end with this? But I hope at the same time, It addresses maybe some of the parent shame that parents listening to this might be having that. Yeah.

Adeel [51:16]: Some people are predisposed.

Sara [51:18]: Nobody gets through childhood without trauma or throughout life without some. So I have to be careful about how I bring up and ask about trauma. But for me, the learning I've done around wherever I'm like. I don't have any judge. If your kid, there was some trauma that they fell or they, something happened when they're in utero that was super stressful for you or whatever. We're all trying to do our best and we're all learning more and more every year about more of the physiology and the impact of trauma and what does trauma mean and all that. A lot of that we didn't, is more recent that we're understanding this.

Adeel [51:51]: Gotcha. Yeah, that's super interesting. Oh, one other thing you mentioned was going back to the process of, I forget, I think you mentioned three things, but the last one being, yeah, the first one being making sure that the client feels safe and resourced. Honestly, I forget what the second one was, but the third one was something about needing to be witnessed. What is the significance of that? And then maybe you can remind me what the number two was.

Sara [52:16]: Yeah, they're all interconnected. The number two was your true self. You know, Marty Glenn said in her presentation, I'm OK just the way I am so that I'm fully being me here with you. The good and the bad or whatever. I might have decided like these certain parts aren't OK or whatever, and I'm allowing them to be known. And yeah, letting that be witnessed. So I don't I guess I don't know. a lot in terms of what what's actually happening with that but i think we are social creatures there's got to be a piece of it's okay i'm being myself and this person is caring about me and is it a validation thing you know yeah i think there's yeah some level like Yeah, I can be myself and be accepted by someone that I respect or I think is a good person. And this is where like group therapy can be really powerful or just like meeting other people with misophonia. I mean, when I do groups, I'm like, yes, it's nice to share stories wherever or even when I connect the parents, really what I'm wanting them to get out of it. And they, I think, do the biggest benefit is they're like, well, that parents seems pretty awesome. Like that other teen miso. They seem like someone I'd like or a cool person. So it starts to undo some of this, just judgment towards ourselves and shame and stuff. Okay. They have misophonia. They don't seem all that bad. They actually seem pretty awesome. And this is the main benefit I get from my job is now I'd say 90% of my client base is people with misophonia. I, they're just the best people. I love people with misophonia. I have to agree with that.

Adeel [54:02]: I'm getting older. I'm like, I can, especially coming out of COVID, I'm like, okay, social distance. Now I get to choose who I want to focus on. I really just, I like all my misophonia friends that I've met through the podcast or the convention. I don't really, this might seem mean, but outside of my own house and family, but it also just seems like not self-aware, not particularly interesting or sensitive. Like these are the kinds of people.

Sara [54:25]: Yeah, and I don't know if I think it could be a chicken or egg thing, but I do think having misophonia is like a training we undergo to be very conscious of how what we're doing might affect someone else and to be much more considerate and... aware of ourselves. But then I have to remind people, especially the younger mesos, that these other people, they haven't gone through the training that you have to be. It'd be similar to me saying to you, I want you to be conscious of every time you blink today. That takes some practice. So we've had all this training to be really conscious of these other things that people are just doing on autopilot. Yeah. But no, I agree. It really does. usually mean someone who's sensitive and compassionate. I must always see on the intakes when I ask, what's your strengths? Well, people say I'm really caring or I'm the therapist kind of for my friends or I'm doing things for people.

Adeel [55:22]: I feel like, yeah, that kind of the... And then that becomes another thing that, yeah, that we have to then usually...

Sara [55:34]: work on is where's that line between compassion and codependency? Because when you are taking it on as your job to regulate the emotions, let's say, of your friends or your parents or whatever, that is a setup for failure. You can't continue that. And so It's draining you. It's what we call maybe like borrowed functioning. But then the friends or whoever it is that you've been doing that awesome for, they start to kind of, not maybe consciously, but get entitled to it. What do you mean you don't have time to talk to me? I'm going through something really stressful. what do you mean you have to sleep you guys step out of it i need you yeah so boundaries are a big thing and that's a big thing i have to work with clients is your rights to say no and that you don't even have to offer an explanation no is a sentence but it's hard often if I practice, I say, I'm going to ask you something. You say no to me. Like I'll say after the session, when you take my garbage out and have them say no, and it's playful, but notice what happens in your body as you say no. And usually it's sensations that feel scary. Oh, I don't like that. But that feels when I say no and we have to rework that. Yeah.

Adeel [56:44]: Okay. You mentioned some other things like holding cold water. Can you talk about some of them?

Sara [56:48]: Yeah. The coping strategies stuff again, like the more impact that, work is going to be that if we're carrying shame or trauma or those things that are reducing our capacity to tolerate stress or whatever that's going to give us way more bang for the buck yep it takes time development there's not usually a quick super efficient way but while we're doing that work okay of our therapy or addressing whatever it is that's really stressing out our nervous system we want to have these coping strategies. And I compare this, I call it resourcing the body and miso moments. I compare it here in Minnesota when it's a really cold day in the winter, like negative 20 or whatever. And you got to go outside because you got to go to the store or shovel your driveway, whatever. Probably not snowing if it's that cold. But you're going to resource your body by putting on a coat and mittens and hat and boots. And it doesn't change the temperature outside. but it makes it a little more tolerable and you can last a little longer. So that's what we're doing with these things is, yeah, making it a little more tolerable. And in general, these coping strategies, these are things that communicate safety to the nervous system. So we're trying to counter what is revving up the nervous system. I'm stuck in this classroom and I'm by this classmate that I know is judging me, whatever, or just I'm stuck by this gum chew. And so what can we do to resource the body? Number one, I'd say our quote is ear devices. So we can wear some headphones or headphones. have background music on or something. Medication for some people, that's a real big, like an anti-anxiety medication. Maybe one of the things that kind of brings down that fight flight response. I encourage people to do, try to go bigger in the body, not small. So like expanding out the arms and shoulders or stretching in some way, or if that feels too noticeable in a classroom, like just even with the neck, leaning it towards the shoulder one way and then another. A lot of these things are stimulating the vagus nerve, which is a whole other topic. But just it is actually, it's not just, yeah, do deep breathing. There's ways of breathing that stimulate that vagus nerve, which is actually the brake pedal on the nervous system. Cold stimulates it. So I encourage people, you can be drinking ice water, but you can also just have cold water and you can keep your hand on it when you can. Or you might subtly bring it to your face or something. Or I have maybe seen like those rice packs or mine has corn in it and you can put it in the freezer and all. my clients hold that during a session or when I'm presenting at the Miss Pony convention and I'm excited to present, but I know it's going to get a little like activating to my nervous system. So I'll have that on my lap, something cold.

Adeel [59:28]: And that stimulates the vagus nerve, which is the brake pedal. Yes, exactly.

Sara [59:32]: Yeah. Things like I have this like massage roller that my sister happened to give me for a stocking stuffer and like just rolling that on my forearm or thigh that could be something while you're in a car or watching a movie or whatever that's giving a message of safety to the nervous system yeah because i've seen you i think do this presentation at the previous convention where you do i think about that something yeah something putting pressure on or squeezing your arm or something like that or yeah so it's usually the five senses and touch for me touch is the quickest way to communicate safety to my body now there can be touch that's activating goes the other way so you gotta figure out like what kind of yeah touch is calming to my body but usually more of the deep pressure or some sort of kind of massage type touch okay and then also if you're going to tense parts of the body then do it consciously okay so if you're tensing the hands and toes that's my body's habit i'm going to do it and i'm going to really keep my focus on what it's like in the hands and my feet as i tense them only for a little bit and then continuing to notice what it's like in the hands and feet as i loosen them and it's that it's being real conscious of your defensive response you're doing okay i'm like doing this thing to defend myself and the easing up that can be releasing some of that activation take breaks of course when you take a break if you go to the bathroom or something try to do like some wiggling or pushing or cold water over your hands another one is pressing palms into each other into the legs again breathing. One option is asking the person to stop. They may or may not. So I want us to have options. And if we're just using, let's say that's the only one we use is we tell our parents, stop doing that. Stop that. It's just, we need more options than that. But yeah, So Quiet, the nonprofit organization, they have that business card. And I have some clients that use that when they go to the live theater show and someone's chewing gum behind them. They just hand them that. It says, you're not doing anything wrong. I just really appreciate it. If you're not, Yeah. If there's a pet in the room, pets can really speak safety to the nervous system. Getting fresh air, opening the window in the car. I'm big on wearing comfortable clothing.

Adeel [61:44]: Not jumping out of the car, just opening the window to get some air.

Sara [61:48]: Yeah. But even in the wintertime, if you're cold climate, use it. Yeah.

Adeel [61:53]: Oh, yay. Yeah. Maybe that's why we have it. Interesting.

Sara [61:56]: Yeah. It can be a real resource, where we live here in Minnesota, to just be able to step outside for a little bit.

Adeel [62:03]: I could use all the reasons I can get to experience the cold. So that's a good one.

Sara [62:08]: That's right.

Adeel [62:10]: I will stick around here a little longer.

Sara [62:12]: Yeah. Those are the main ones. I mean, sometimes sucking on a mint or sour candy, that's questionable if we're not letting our other family members have these things in the classroom or something. And then avoiding negative thoughts. So last one, oftentimes when we're triggered, it's going right to the amygdala and putting us in a fight flight state. Like there's not access to thought in that. It's more like touching a hot pan. But after we've been triggered, how we're thinking can turn up or turn down the intensity. So if we're thinking, oh, that person's just disgusting or they're so rude, that's going to stress the nervous system out more. You're by a rude and considerate person. That's not safe on some level, right? So we need to be best we can this person's not trying to hurt me like how can we connect with their humanity a little more see that maybe they're anxious and they're chewing that gum because They're trying to regulate their own system in some way or whatever. Just the like, it'll pass like five more minutes or this is temporary, all that.

Adeel [63:16]: Yeah, I tried to use that too. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But again, it depends on, I'm also a believer in whole systems thing. Like it depends on what's the type of stress that I'm otherwise experiencing. for like all these it seems like a lot of these coping mechanisms play with each other so if you can work on as many of them as possible you have the best chance to get through

Sara [63:39]: yeah and again like the more that we're just like if we're we've done our work to really like accept ourselves set boundaries where we need to set them in our relationships really take care of our body wherever like it for me that that was the biggest thing that shifted my thinking around misophonia is once i checked all those big boxes for myself and a lot of that happened because i am a therapist and i'm trying to learn things to be a better therapist or do my own work or whatever, and not a single one working on healthy self-talk or boundaries or whatever. It was kind of like getting all those boxes checked. And then it was like, bam. For a while, I was like, I don't even have this anymore. So it does still show up for me at times, but it is drastically different.

Adeel [64:29]: than how i spent several decades of just in really uncomfortable activated state of my body so much of the time so you yeah so i guess yeah not coming back to you knowing all these coping mechanisms for you right now miss funny is still there but you've noticed like a drastic reduction in symptoms yeah

Sara [64:51]: Yeah. And some of the last big one was my divorce. And I don't want to say too much just out of respect for people involved, but that was not a healthy relationship. I did not divorce because of misophonia, but I didn't have a lot of triggers there. just assumed this is just how it is for me anytime I spend a lot of time with a person. And then I went on to a person who's been my best friend the last three years. We spent a lot of time together, especially during COVID. We were in each other's bubble. And I started to realize, wow, this person's not becoming a trigger person for me. And that had always happened with each roommate. First it was my parents, then it was some friends of roommates. And so I got really curious about that. And started to see how, oh, I just feel very safe with this person. And I do, I found for myself, I do much better with people who have a calm nervous system. If someone is a little more of the hyperactive, just they wiggle a lot. They're very loud in their speech or animated or whatever. There's nothing wrong with that. But for me being a highly sensitive person, that is a lot that I'm trying to process.

Adeel [66:02]: Yeah, yeah.

Sara [66:02]: And so... If it's someone I'm going to spend a lot of time with, let's say, it just tends to go better. If this is a pretty chill person and this best friend I'm talking about is just a very calming voice. But there were times where I'm like... oh i started to notice his chewing and so then i get curious about oh yeah today's the day they said schools are shut down again like i'm stressed like how am i going to manage my business and i have my kids home and all this and so i'm stressed and then that's where my brain goes here's the thing here's the threat we want to be able to identify the threat and so i just talked to myself sweetly and this friend who knew about the misophonia which really helps i could say oh My brain's going there. Can we turn on some music or can we change the subject? Something lighthearted. Let's not talk about COVID. And so I'm able to catch it before it really becomes that fast pathway with that person.

Adeel [66:59]: Did you yourself also do the whole going back and reprocessing memories as well?

Sara [67:04]: I didn't. And so I'm curious about that. And I want to do some of that actually with Marvin when I can fit that in my schedule and everything. But One thing that's very interesting to me is my, who's now my ex-husband during the time we were married was very highly, really easily triggered by his chewing and some other things. And then we had a period of time where we didn't really see each other much, I guess, going through the. separation or early part of the divorce and largely because of COVID. And then now the kids are back in sports. And so we're at their football game or whatever it is. And we have very healthy co-parenting relationship and really great as friends, I guess I would say, but he'll be eating or doing, I don't want to name the other triggers. It nothing. I have no reaction to it. And I'm just like, okay. And that could be like, That tends to be more outside, which is a greater sense of freedom and not trap. But also, it's just I have my freedom now. And yeah, so there's a lot of pieces to that. That was the big shift for me. And I know some of why it's in the background for me, too, is I have my own home now. I have a lot more agency and I work from home. And I so some of this takes time. I tell my younger clients and Marcia Johnson says this to keep going with your schooling or whatever it is you need to do so that you can have your own office or you can work from home or you can afford your own home, whatever it is that really. provides more serenity and so that's been a big shift for me too yeah absolutely yeah money and all status doesn't make you happy per se but it can give you the freedom to feel safer or is a more sensitive person i do think we just need more of a boundary at times it's harder to be in a tighter space or where there's a lot more sound or happening or something Yeah, not always an option, and it is a privilege for sure. But I also don't want to have people think, oh, I do all this work or whatever, and I should be able to live in an apartment. It's okay if you're struggling with that. That's not easy for a lot of us. Instead of, I should be able to do this. Okay, what are my options? Or how can I support my body more? So I'm really trying to work with my clients now. Instead of resisting the body and judging it, why do I have a hard time in this restaurant or whatever? Can we just do more acceptance? Yeah, that environment's not very friendly for my body. Can we go to this other place or try this other thing? We can't always control that or whatever, but like... Let's stop judging ourselves at a minimum if we're having a hard time in our apartment or whatever, this loud restaurant or something.

Adeel [69:50]: Unfortunately, we live in a society that's very much about trying to be self-resilient and pick yourself up by the bootstraps and just get a step out of it, quote unquote.

Sara [70:00]: Yeah, stop being so sensitive. When I've really shifted my finger on that too, it can be a really beautiful thing to be a sensitive person. We need sensitive people in this world, but the world doesn't always cooperate with us, so we've got to do what we can to do it.

Adeel [70:14]: So it sounds like you're obviously super busy with work and family stuff. But what do you tell your friends? Or what do they think about your Miss Phonia? I'm sure you self-select so that you're probably not hanging out with a lot of friends.

Sara [70:28]: Yeah, there still are times where in a setting someone might be doing something and I'm having that battle to say something or not. But by and large, yeah, anybody that I spend time with significant amount of time with or want a long-term relationship with, I'm going to tell them, like, I'm going to have that conversation and ideally outside of a moment of triggering. And this is one of the other benefits of doing this work is it just naturally comes up. People are like, Oh, what kind of work do you do? Yeah. And then I say it. And so I've really gotten a lot of practice at talking about it. So I, my neighbors the dentist i'm gonna give blood regularly and so you're making all this kind of small talk and then people are like oh my gosh i know my sister has that struggle or i did whatever and so yeah and then just doing this work i feel so i feel like i'm the norm now those of us with me spotty i'm like oh no we all have it but yeah but i do see it is I think increasing in prevalency and my theory on that is we're leaving the body behind more and more with the way we're doing life. And just, yes, cognitively we can maybe go at the speed of Instagram or whatever, how quickly we're taking in information, but the body's slower and we need to acknowledge that and support it. allow for time to let things settle and listen to it. Oh, after I watch TV for this many hours, I don't feel so good in my body. It's not that TV's bad, but let's listen to what your body's saying. That's too much for me.

Adeel [72:03]: Yeah, that's actually really a point that entered my mind as we were talking. earlier about i forget how to phrase it but basically the idea that it's always the cliche to blame stuff on like life getting faster or whatever but uh but uh but you there's an interesting way you said something about how again now like we're we have to be independent sooner or we were talking about something about that back in the day we the family systems were a little bit different i think we lived multiple generations would live together it was more of a sense of safety and families were bigger i think and it seemed like now it's like a smaller families be like obviously like things are moving faster there's less time to process what's happening there's more dangers coming from quote-unquote dangers coming from different directions i wonder if we are going to find it actually more prevalent not just because of awareness but because it's having an effect on our nervous system exactly yeah exactly i had

Sara [72:57]: One really eye-opening case, this boy that I work with people across the country, so I feel pretty okay. Like, it's pretty hard to identify who I'm talking about. But eight, nine-year-old boy in Espona, and family happens to live, like, in a Berbian and drier climate. There's not much of a backyard, like, outdoor safety. And they went on this week, I don't know, cabin or something. And he was outside most of the time building forts and in the mud, whatever. Just a whole week. There was no triggering. This kid was triggered by a lot by his siblings. And he's out there playing with his siblings. And I just thought, oh, this is maybe a little stereotypical or I don't know if you'd say sexist or whatever. They said boys need to be raised on a farm. I think there's a piece of also... we're maybe a little more just not moving as much, sitting at computers or on devices, whatever. And movement is one of those things that allows us just to discharge that day-to-day stress. And maybe not like the big trauma, that's not going to get discharged just through going for a run, but there's just, yeah.

Adeel [74:05]: It's a spectrum.

Sara [74:07]: Yeah. Oh, and then on that note, I do one of the things that, That I think has had an impact for me. When I talk about checking those boxes over time, I did take a class on mindfulness and eight week Jon Kabat-Zinn class. And out of that, I started to do a body scan daily. And so this is in the middle of my day. I listened to this same recording. And it just talks me through, notice what it's like on your feet. And now see if you can notice each toe. Notice the ankles. Notice what it's like in the lower legs. And it's a 12 to 13 minute recording. Just really helping me be conscious and connected to my body. And I didn't like it at first, but I've been doing it every day, almost every day for probably 10 years now. And I just know I'm such a doer. I will just go all day. And so this is my way to be intentional about just stop and have that moment of recharging and acknowledging my body. I may not be relaxed by the end of it, but I at least said to my body, hey, I hear you. I see you. And it really likes that.

Adeel [75:08]: Maybe you, maybe at least you're like going back to something we said earlier, maybe your body is registering it more than your mind kind of thing. And so it's the recording you're listening to. Cause yeah, I remember you mentioned this at talks. And so I literally put it like a, I set up a calendar for me to body standard, but then I didn't know what to do. So I was like, Oh, if I was supposed to think about, I was going to ask you. So it sounds like.

Sara [75:31]: Yeah. So this one that I listened to, unfortunately is not available to download anymore. But I've put some on my website because I tried to go through and listen. the reason i do the same one is i like her voice she doesn't make mouth sounds yeah yeah so you gotta kind of take some time to find one that's at that length a lot of people you want to start at three minutes like it it can be hard to be to slow down in that way it can actually be activating i know it was for me at first what are we doing we're just stopping and doing nothing and just noticing our body i don't want to notice all that tension i don't want to notice whatever there is to notice But over time, it's going into that closet that we've been shoving everything in. We're just slowly taking time being with whatever's there. And yeah, and it becomes less daunting each time. And it's nice to open that closet. So I have a client. Most of my clients don't get on board with this practice. Oh, really? Okay. And, but I would, she was real good. She's like, okay, I'm going to do this. See, it's helpful. We're going to do it. But she didn't like it for a long time. She's like, I don't know if I'm doing this right, but I'm just doing it. And then at some point she goes, I still don't know if I'm doing this right, but my body craves it now. I want that time to just stop and be. Yeah. And I get that. I'm that way too. My kids kind of knew when they were younger. Mom's doing her body scan. Do not interrupt. I need this moment to just be.

Adeel [77:02]: So is it, I mean, wouldn't it be similar to like guided meditation from a, like a headspace kind of app or is this a little bit?

Sara [77:08]: Yeah, it would, it is, it is a form of meditation. I initially tried just doing like breathing meditation, those kinds of things. And there's times where I like that, but this was a better fit for me. And then I also, from the misophonia standpoint, um, this is how I'm conceptualizing it is that mirror neuron thing where we're getting right pulled into the chewing person's body or whatever coughing or whatever they're doing or like experiencing to some degree what they're experiencing that this body scan thing doing it repetitively you're building body memory around connecting really deeply with your own body so at the end of the body scan Like I really have a sense of my whole container. There's my feet and my legs and my arms and everything. And with repetition and building that body memory, I can drop into that space much easier. Okay. I just do a quick drop down through my system. Oh, there I am. There's my body. So I kind of see that as. similar to learning to swim or some sport I tell my clients like I can tell you you could watch a YouTube video on how to play soccer and then show up with good shoes and a good attitude but if you haven't been doing drills and creating all that body memory or like with music piano right it's doing it over and over again so then in that moment of stress or in that moment of triggering you you your body just knows where to go right you have that pathway that you muscle memory kind of yeah the psychological muscle memory or something like that yeah yeah it is it's muscle memory so we really have to there's a place and yes we need those in the moment strategies and i know i wish i could give people that magic answer here's what you do when triggering is happening and it's largely what are you doing outside of those moments of triggering that's going to have an impact Are you doing your work wherever there's healing needed or accepting yourself? And are you taking care of your body so that in that moment now you're setting yourself up for a lot more success?

Adeel [79:18]: Gotcha. Okay. Yeah. No, that's great. And we might want, yeah, maybe we'll start to wind down. Obviously it's getting, that's a good note to end on. I'm sure there's plenty of different directions we can go, but I think I want to process what we've already talked about. somewhat yeah okay yeah are there any other i don't know any other last words or theories or things on your list that we may have forgotten

Sara [79:40]: One other thing to plug is just family systems work and the value of that.

Adeel [79:45]: Internal family systems, right?

Sara [79:47]: Oh, no. Systems just in general. Okay. Is instead of like where we go, okay, here's my kid with mesophoria. Get this. Or here's my kid with maybe an eating disorder or whatever it is. That we really work. We bring in that piece of the relationships and how we're interacting with each other. And are we allowing for... individual differences and people to be their true selves or to yeah sometimes it's real specific like I've had clients where they're transgender or they feel like they're not Yeah, the gender they were born with or they're gay or lesbian, but that's not accepted in the family. This maybe gets into some tough territory, but we've got to work with that stuff, the part that's in the soup with all this. But also just more generally family systems where parents maybe are struggling, what can I do to support my kid that is struggling so much with this? Anything a parent does to regulate their own nervous system and prioritize self-care and... have agency over their nervous system is going to be helpful. So I know it can feel like a hopeless place for a lot of parents with their children struggling with us. And so that would be my suggestion. It's like really... doing whatever you can to regulate stress yourself and your nervous system. And then, yeah, wherever we can work on, there's every family has stuff they can work on in terms of communication and boundaries and all of that. There's no family that's got it all together. And one more little piece of deal is like with a highly sensitive nervous system. I just kind of say it. One of the benefits of that is it doesn't really allow us to sweep anything under the rug. Where other families might be able to, yeah, we're going to look the other way on these dynamics happening in our family. They can do that maybe more temporarily. But the highly sensitive person is the canary in the minefield that's going, oh, something's not quite right here. Something's off. And they're not able to name it usually, but it's alerting us to something. And so we can really... see if it work with a family therapist to be curious about that stuff and then be our healthiest family system and healthiest selves yeah yeah no that's that sounds great i guess in a nutshell i'd say make misophonia your feedback tool and your end really so there's a lot of information you can get from it yeah

Adeel [82:14]: That's a great, that's a great note to end on. Yeah. Trying to make misophonia your friend, but not really, but yeah, it's yeah. It's like we said earlier, it's, it could in many cases be learning you of something. It's like a, it's like a, it's like a hitting it. You're putting your hand on the stove is a learning that pain is learning you to something. Misophonia is learning you to something deeper.

Sara [82:36]: Yeah. And we can think about this with an article that I've been using on fibromyalgia and Talking about the pain from that, it's your body's way of telling you about what really matters or way of communicating with you or way of guiding you home. These kind of ways of thinking about it and reframing it instead of resisting it. How do I get rid of this? What is misophonia trying to tell me when it's really showing up in a big way here? Yeah.

Adeel [83:00]: That sounds great.

Sara [83:01]: Thank you for giving me a place to share all these thoughts. And of course, every month I have new insights or things that come from clients. So it's just really cool to see. and learn from each different clients and their puzzle pieces and stuff. I'm really grateful to be able to share, yeah, what I've found with themes and stuff.

Adeel [83:21]: Yeah, no, I love it. It's great to have, yeah, great to finally have you on here on the show. And yeah, I mean, like you, I love to listen to these conversations or do these conversations and release them to the world. Cause yeah, you get to see patterns, but then also some interesting differences and And then trying to merge or just like connect the two is fascinating. Yeah.

Sara [83:41]: Yeah. And again, like it's complex. Misophonia is complex.

Adeel [83:45]: That's the thing.

Sara [83:45]: Don't take anything I said is what causes it or family system issues cause it. No, but it is. Yeah. We got to like really unpack it and all these different components of it.

Adeel [83:56]: And yeah, it's not just being annoyed at sound. Yeah. It touches a lot of things. Yeah. Yeah, thanks again, Sarah.

Sara [84:07]: Yeah, thank you for having me.

Adeel [84:09]: So many things in this episode to learn from and apply. If you liked this episode, don't forget to leave a quick review or just hit the five stars wherever you listen to this podcast. You can hit me up by email at or go to the website, It's usually easiest if just to send a message on Instagram or Facebook at Misophonia Podcast. On Twitter, we're at Misophonia Show. Support the show by visiting slash Misophonia Podcast. The music is always by Moby. And until next week, wishing you peace and quiet.

Unknown Speaker [85:07]: you