How to Do the Work | Nicole LePera

Summary of: How to Do the Work: Recognize Your Patterns, Heal from Your Past, and Create Your Self
By: Nicole LePera


Embark on a transformative journey towards self-awareness, healing, and empowerment through the pages of ‘How to Do the Work’ by Dr. Nicole LePera. This book delves deep into holistic psychology, exploring the interconnected nature of the body, mind, and soul, and their role in healing. Enriched with personal experiences, the book gives readers the tools to identify and overcome their own trauma, recognize patterns in their lives, and effectively reparent themselves, cultivating strong emotional and mental boundaries, and ultimately fostering healthier relationships. LePera’s practical wisdom, engaging insights, and the supportive ‘SelfHealers’ community are guiding lights for healing, self-discovery, and growth.

From Burnout to Holistic Healing

Dr. Nicole LePera’s journey from clinical psychology to holistic healing, and her realization that physical, emotional, and spiritual health are interconnected.

Dr. Nicole LePera had it all – a successful psychology practice, a loving partner, and a great home in Philadelphia. However, she was dissatisfied with her life, feeling detached from herself and the people she loved, waking up exhausted, and experiencing persistent brain fog and gut problems. She hit rock bottom during a holiday, where instead of finding peace and quiet, she realized how burnt out she had become. This led to an awakening, and she knew something in her life had to change.

As a clinical psychologist, Dr. LePera had been missing something in her practice of mainstream psychology. She realized that to truly heal herself, she needed to take a more holistic approach – one that allowed her to heal her body, mind, and soul simultaneously. She started with physical well-being, working out every day and eating well, while embracing regular sessions of breathwork and meditation. Though it was a hard journey at first, her body began to crave it. Dr. LePera also dealt with her childhood trauma, learning to process negative emotions from her past and starting to heal her inner child.

The results of her journey were remarkable, and she began documenting and sharing it on Instagram as a “holistic psychologist.” Her content resonated with thousands of people who felt the same need, and today, over three million people follow her work and identify as SelfHealers. It turns out that physical, emotional, and spiritual health are intimately connected, and Dr. LePera’s journey is a testament to that truth.

Mind and Body Connection

The mind-body connection has been around for over 400 years, and yet, people still go to separate doctors for psychological and physical ailments. The truth is that our mental and physical health are connected. Recent research has shown that gut health is linked to mental well-being and epigenetics suggests that while genetics play a role in our predisposition to certain illnesses, our environment can have a significant impact on whether those illnesses manifest. Holistic psychology encourages people to take an active role in their own health and healing through self-care practices that consider both mental and physical health.

Becoming Aware

Our thoughts can be deceiving, and we need to cultivate awareness of ourselves and our world to break free from familiar habits and thought patterns. We can start small by taking a minute to really pay attention to our surroundings in our day-to-day lives.

Jessica, like most of us, was on autopilot. She was about to marry her longtime boyfriend and had conflicting thoughts about the decision. At times, she thought he was a wonderful guy, while at other times, she found him to be a jerk and unbearable. She simply believed whatever her thoughts were telling her and lived on a rollercoaster of emotions.

In truth, we all have thousands of thoughts racing around our heads every day from the moment we wake up, but we hardly stop to examine them and why we think them. Without knowing it, our subconscious minds run our show, and we find ourselves trapped in familiar habits and thought patterns that lead to mental resistance every time we try to change.

Living on autopilot is not comfortable, and it makes us feel powerless to change. We need to be aware of our thoughts and cultivate awareness of ourselves and our world. From simply taking a minute of our day to pay attention and appreciate our surroundings and senses, we can disrupt our autopilot experience. It might feel uncomfortable initially, but with practice, it yields enormous benefits. We can start to have thoughts instead of feeling like we are our thoughts.

Cultivating awareness is not an overnight process, but starting small like Jessica did with the discipline of yoga can make all the difference. The practice enabled her to make time for herself, examine her thought patterns, become less reactive, and identify the deep grief and fears that were fueling her ambivalence towards her relationship.

In conclusion, we need to remember that our thoughts are not always true, and they do not constitute who we are. Becoming aware of our thoughts and breaking free from familiar habits and thought patterns is essential to live a life that’s more present, fulfilling, and intentional.

Childhood Trauma and its Consequences

The author shares her experience of dissociation due to childhood trauma and emphasizes the importance of identifying and healing it. She talks about how children model their coping strategies based on their parents’ behavior and how trauma can lead to alienation from one’s authentic self. The author encourages the readers to confront their primal wound and create new coping strategies for healing.

Disarming Our Survival Systems

Animals’ fight, flight, or freeze response plays a vital role in survival. Similarly, humans have these responses, but people who have experienced trauma tend to perceive threats everywhere. Thus, one must learn to disarm one’s survival systems. Chronic stress floods the brain with cortisol, leading to increased perception of threats in the environment, making it harder to connect with others and think clearly. However, controlling breathing, doing physical exercise, eating nutritious whole foods, and getting enough sleep can help reduce stress levels. Moreover, exercise, especially yoga, simultaneously engages mind and body, can reduce inflammation and support gut health.

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