118: Learning the language of your body to reach your goals with Nancy Wehnert

Today Nancy Wehnert is joining me to discuss the language of our body.

Have you ever felt that you think you know enough now on how to reach your goals but it’s still not happening?

It could be your primitive responses to certain triggers and situations. These responses are unconscious and locked-in.

When you start to understand that your body has its own ideas of what is safe to do and what is not safe, you open yourself up to a whole world of possibility.

Today we are sharing about what the language of our body is, how it effects your behaviour in relationship to money and why it’s important to learn about.


You can listen to the episode above or read the unedited transcript below.


learning the language of your body with Nancy Wehnert


Meaghan Smith, Nancy Wehnert


Meaghan Smith  00:20

Hello, and welcome to the Money Mindful podcast. I am your host Meaghan Jean Smith. I'm a money mindset and life coach for women, I help entrepreneurial women create their money and life goals. So today, we are going to be talking about the language of our bodies. What? Okay, so listen up, have you ever felt that you think you know about creating your goals, about how to reach them, but it's still just not quite happening? It could actually be your primitive response to certain triggers and situations. So these responses in our body are unconscious, and they're locked in. So when you start understanding that your body has its own idea of what is safe to do, and what is not safe, you open yourself up to a whole world of possibility.


Meaghan Smith  01:22

So this work is some of the deepest I have done in regards to healing old money stories. And it really tackles our limitations to reach our goals from a whole different angle. So my intention for today's episode is for you to go from having no idea about what the heck I'm talking about, in regards to our body and our nervous system, to having a basic understanding about what it is, how it affects our behaviour in relationship to money, and why it's so important to learn about. So I'm super excited to introduce to you my guest today, we've got Nancy Wehnert on the show. Nancy is actually a colleague of mine, she's a certified life coach with an MBA, she has run a successful industrial company for 15 years. And then she completely changed course and became a life coach. And her mission is to help people reconnect with their authentic selves and help them to help themselves overcome the fear of making big decisions and doing hard things, which I totally love. And today, she's on the show to share with you about how to begin to understand how your body may be holding you back, and how you can start to become aware of your own responses and what you can do to move forward. So this is really awesome stuff to talk about. And I am so excited to welcome Nancy on the show. Nancy, welcome.


Nancy Wehnert  03:12

Thank you. Hi, Meaghan. Thanks for having me. This is great.


Meaghan Smith  03:19

This deviates a little bit off what I normally talk about on the show, but the work that I have learnt from you is so relevant to being able to move forward with our goals. And I wanted you on the show, I want you to tell my audience all the things. So maybe do we want to start with, do you want to introduce yourself?


Nancy Wehnert  03:46

Yeah, sure, I can give a little introduction. So I was born in Australia, to Canadian parents. And we went back and forth a couple of times. So growing up, it was difficult for me, like I felt I didn't belong anywhere, because I wasn't really Australian. And when I went back to Canada, I wasn't really Canadian. So I just kind of was floating around. So I kind of grew up as a bit of a shy and timid nervous person. And that always showed up in, you know, the way that I was showing up. Fast forward a few years. And as you said, I had a business in the industrial sector for about 15 years. And eventually I just wanted to change and to do something for myself. So I found coaching, and I walked away from the business. And this is where it got interesting for me because I was really struggling to gain momentum in life and in the business and with where I wanted to go. And I had all these tools and I had so much knowledge, but I still wasn't moving forward a lot until I discovered the nervous system and this work. And I discovered that I was pretty much stuck in survival for most of my life. And when you're in survival, you can't create. So I wasn't taking the action I needed. Decision making was really difficult for me. And I wasn't really enjoying my life. So as soon as I discovered this, I just dived  straight in, I studied it, I learnt everything I could. And now I'm in a place where decisions aren't based on fear, and living isn't based on fear. There's more abundance, I'm enjoying, I'm creating. So that's what I'm doing now, is helping my clients do the same, so they can kind of move out of that survival and into the creation of their life.


Meaghan Smith  05:54

Okay, so let's talk about this. What do you mean by being in survival mode? Like, how does relate to our nervous system? How does that show up in our life? Like, what does that mean?


Nancy Wehnert  06:08

Yes, so with our nervous system, the nervous system is like about 500 million years old, give or take, and one of its primary requirements or functions is to help us survive. So when we are just enjoying our life, we're in a state of just creation and connection. But if there's a threat, our nervous system will alert us, and then we go into one of those states you've probably heard about, like fight, flight or freeze. And with society today, we have so many stressors around us. So we are constantly being threatened by maybe too many bills, or, you know, kids aren't behaving, or we've got financial goals that we're trying to achieve, and it just seems out of reach. So all of these threats are taken into our body and our nervous system perceives that as a survival threat. So we're often living in that survival state of fight, flight and freeze. So our body is kind of trapped in that state.


Meaghan Smith  07:22

Yeah, okay. So let's flesh this out a bit. Okay, so if we get into this state, because the way that you described it, if we can get into it, just from getting a bill, or from the way that our kids behave, which I totally relate to, how does that manifest for us, like in our body? What might that feel like? So for my listener, how could they identify, how do they know if they're in this fight or flight or freeze mode? Can we talk it out a bit? Like, what is the nervous system? How does it work?


Nancy Wehnert  08:06

Yes. So this is where we get into the language of the body, and it's something that we don't really pay too much attention to. But we probably all know what stress is like, you know, that anxiety, and perhaps sweaty armpits, or headaches or whatever it manifests as in the body. And so paying attention to your nervous system response is about listening to that language. So often we're told to just move forward or ignore it or just breathe it out, rather than listening to it and seeing it as an important message from the body. And acknowledging it and seeing what it's trying to tell us.


Meaghan Smith  08:51

Can you talk about, because the way that you described it to me when you talked about the gazelle on the field, that really resonated for me, I really understood what you meant. Can you give that example about the way that our body moves through different states of being?


Nancy Wehnert  09:10

Yeah, sure. Yeah. And that's what most people connect with. And it really makes sense. So if you imagine that gazelle is out on the plains, and it's just happily eating its grass, and it's in a state, we call it the ventral state. So it's in a state of calm, it's connected to its environment. It's connected to the herd and its body is in a state of growth and creation. So this is when our digestive system works at the best, our reproductive system works at its best. Our cells are able to restore, heal, and create and that is that high state that we're in.


Nancy Wehnert  09:53

When a cheetah comes along or something that threatens them - so you see the gazelle, we've seen it in those shows, the gazelle takes off. And so it turns to a system of mobilisation, which is the sympathetic nervous system kicking in, that's the fight or flight one. So the gazelle usually will just take off, so it is in flight. And the body at that stage, shuts down the digestive system, the reproductive system, the creation and healing, because in that moment, it's so important just to survive. And so all of the blood rushes to those to those big organs in the body, and the gazelle is able to just take off. So that goes from ventral to the sympathetic.


Nancy Wehnert  10:48

Now, if the gazelle gets caught, and we've probably all seen this, and it happens the same with a cat, when it catches a mouse. So the gazelle is there, and it plays dead. And so that is the dorsal state, where it's just collapsed, it's frozen, it sort of numbs out. And then hopefully, the cheetah will be like, 'Oh, well, it's dead.' And it might let go, and we've all probably seen that too, where you know, the cheetah looks away, the gazelle gets up, runs off, and off it goes. So it's just been through those states. It went through the ventral where it's connected and healing, then it goes to sympathetic where it's in flight, then it goes to dorsal where it's in freeze.


Nancy Wehnert  11:40

And we can often, if we start to pay attention, notice that we're often in one of those survival states. Because of the culture and the environment that we live in today, there's so much pressure on us to do all the things we need to do. And one thing that we don't pay attention to as well, is that to complete that cycle, you've probably seen when the gazelle runs off, it kind of shakes itself off. And that's a physiological cycle that completes and then the gazelle goes back to eating the grass. And it might happen all again.


Nancy Wehnert  12:18

So one of the important things to notice is that the animals in the wild are routinely threatened, but they're rarely traumatised. And as humans, we usually don't get to complete the cycle. And that's where we start to have trauma building up in our life, and we start to condition ourselves around this. And that's how we end up with our weird habits and you know, odd ways of being, and triggers that affect us. So, when you start understanding that this process is happening with your body, the awareness of that helps you firstly, acknowledge where you're at, but then also know that there is this ventral state that you can get back to. So just knowing all of that, and having that awareness, can make a big difference in how you approach life.


Meaghan Smith  13:25

Oh, my gosh, yes. And I'm going to relate this to an example of money. And when I say financial trauma - I mean trauma, we'll talk about this in a minute, let's just park that word trauma for a sec, because I want to dive into that a bit more - Sometimes I've had clients who have come to me with financial trauma, and that sounds so dramatic, when you say financial trauma, I'm not talking about being in dire straits. Like, these are corporate women, they're earning plenty of money.


Meaghan Smith  13:59

But because of things that happened when they were younger, like for example, how they were brought up, or the experience of how they learnt about money from their parents, for instance, it's like they're in that sympathetic state that you talked about, that fight or flight, they're in that constant survival mode with money, not wanting to invest money, or not wanting to let money go. Because, and you tell me if I'm on the right track, because I think I'm on the right track here, but it's like it's unconscious, you know, they don't even need to be in that fight or flight mode, but it's like they've never had the chance to process it, like shake it off, like you said the gazelle does.


Meaghan Smith  14:46

And so they're still living that experience,  even though they've got plenty of money now, they're not in a state of being in survival and not having enough money. But when bills come in and things like that, it's still triggering for them in the sense that 'Oh, there's not enough,' even though they earn plenty of money. When I learned about this work from you, it fired off so many connections for me about how people show up in terms of the thought work, like when people are coming from that place all the time of being in survival mode around money, like, even when you have plenty of money, we can still be in a survival mode around money. What are your thoughts about this, Nancy?


Nancy Wehnert  15:35

Totally, Yes, totally.  And money is such an interesting thing because really, when you look at it, money today represents survival, like we need the money to survive. So it's so triggering for our nervous system. Because we can't just go out and pick the berries or find something to eat, we need money to survive. So it's highly triggering. And it can be like a transgenerational thing as well. So as you said, some of your clients have learnt their lesson from their childhood, how important money is to survive, and they have a conditioning that builds around that belief, that there's not enough, and we need to have as much as we can. And that, as we said, gets locked in. And it's never fully processed or addressed. So it means that they're going to have this mindset that, yeah, I need to get more money. And they've got that conditioning and the belief. It's also because their nervous system and their body is stuck in that survival state and hasn't had a chance to even experience what abundance might feel like. So it's not an option.


Meaghan Smith  16:54

Yeah, and that's that ventral state that you talked about. We need, what's the word, a glossary to go along with this podcast.


Nancy Wehnert  17:04

We do.


Meaghan Smith  17:07

So that ventral state that you talked about, being calm and in growth mode and creation mode, that to me is like being in abundance, and that's where I get my clients to, to teach them how to access that place. And I relate to it as in the sympathetic state. When we're in fight and flight that's when we're in that survival scarcity mode, where there's not enough and we have to survive, but we can have shifts, we can have transformation in the mindset and in the body. And now I've learned through some of the work that I've done with you, that you can make the shift in the body and that's enough, or you can actually make the shift in your head and that's enough too, but if the body hasn't made this shift, then that's like the missing piece, the missing link, when we find we're not shifting out of something, even though we understand intellectually.


Nancy Wehnert  18:12

Yeah, totally. Yeah. And that's what I have called it, it's like the missing piece to what's holding you back. So we can create a new story and have a great new mindset. But if we're pasting it on the top of an unsettled nervous system, it's never going to really stick. So we've got to address that area of the body as well.


Meaghan Smith  18:40

So I'm wondering, can you give an example of what it looks like, how you address it?


Nancy Wehnert  18:48

Yeah. So we talked about the language of the body, and most of us know a written language. So the words we speak, we write them, and we hear them, and we read them. And we're also aware of our feelings. So we're often aware like I'm happy, or I'm sad, or I'm angry. The language of the body is something we don't often pay attention to. We might, like my heart's racing, or I'm sweaty, or there's some tension. And so what I do in my work is really pay attention to the sensations that come up when you're triggered. So sit with a trigger and just see what comes up. And the way I like to think of it is, this is the message that your body is giving you about this situation. And it's so important for us to listen to it because we often don't address it.


Nancy Wehnert  19:47

So if you're trying to do something new or do something hard or achieve a goal, then if your body is freaking out, and it's in survival and you don't listen to it and address it, it's going to be very hard to move forward. And that's why goals seem so hard sometimes, because the body is holding us back. So that is really listening to those sensations and letting the body process it all the way through and honouring the message. Because, as I say, the nervous system response is always appropriate to the situation. Because your nervous system is there to try and protect you. And so it's important that we listen to that, and then nurture it, and get it to a place where it can be more in the ventral state. So yeah, so I work with really paying attention and having the client pay attention to the sensations that they're noticing in their body. And seeing what comes from that.


Meaghan Smith  20:57

Yeah, such powerful work, because, well, as you know, I've done sessions with you, and paid attention to some of those sensations in my body. And it's really, I'm sort of reluctant to use the word magical, but it's magical. It's so amazing when you just let your body talk, like, listen to the language of your body and let it be heard. And I find sometimes, when I've done a session with you, I do that gazelle shake-off, you know, it's like, ooh, shakin' it off. I mean, not literally, but it feels like that's what occurs, and my mind doesn't have to fully be up to date with everything that's going on, I can just let my body do its thing, which I find so different and not an area that I'm used to operating in. Because with coaching, you work with clients on their feelings, how they feel and how they feel in their body. But you're still connected with the thoughts around why you feel like that.


Meaghan Smith  22:09

But this work, I think just takes it to a different level. But anyway, before I go off track, I wanted to address with you this word trauma. Because for me whenever I used to hear the word trauma, I thought of like somebody's head gaping open with a massive gash in it or something like a major injury, or, you know, someone's had some serious psychological horrible stuff happen in their childhood. But trauma actually doesn't necessarily mean - you know, I feel like I've been processing my own trauma, but it's certainly not like that. Like, can you talk about how you describe trauma? Because I remember you saying it once and I can't remember what you said, but it made a lot more sense to me in terms of like, lessening the dramatic effect of trauma.


Nancy Wehnert  23:05

Yeah, trauma is such a scary word for us, like you said, we think it's going to be some major thing or a catastrophe or a disaster. But trauma can be caused by even the smallest of things like just falling off your bike, or if you had to go to the doctor, when you're small, had to be held down, that can result in a trauma. Something that happened at school, where something that was threatening, that you weren't supported through. So trauma is not the actual event that happens. Trauma is when you're left alone, with the hurt that you feel about the event. So it can happen for so many reasons, and for so many things. So if you're not supported through it, that can result in trauma. And when you think about incidents that you may have had as a child, we're often told, you know, 'Sit still, be quiet, don't cry, behave, be brave.'


Meaghan Smith  24:10

And you know, get over it.


Nancy Wehnert  24:10

And get over it. Yeah. And we're not allowed to process what's happened. We're not allowed to sit with it. We're not allowed to acknowledge how our body's feeling. And that's when things become a trauma. And then around that, we start to get conditioned beliefs because like, 'Oh, well, I can't behave like this. And if I cry, I'm weak.' And all of this conditioning starts happening. And the trauma then, because we never process it, triggers will come up in our life, the same sort of situation, they'll trigger us and we just keep repeating, you know, staying stuck in that trauma. So for me, I think we all have trauma. Even the smallest of things.


Nancy Wehnert  25:01

For example, one for me, which I never even considered or thought about, when I was at school, at primary school, I was in grade one. And the teachers, I guess, must have decided to put me up to grade two. And nobody told me about it. And I was sitting happily, I remember the day, sitting happily, just in grade one, colouring, I was like, I know what I'm doing, I'm on top of this, I can write the words. And then the horrible grade two teacher came and she grabbed me by the wrist and pulled me into, and I was normally very compliant child, she pulled me kicking and screaming into the grade two room, and sat me down. And I looked around, I didn't know any of the words, I couldn't write, I just was in a completely new environment, I didn't know any of the people. And it never occurred to me until recently, what a trauma that was for me.


Nancy Wehnert  25:57

Now, from that I can track back all my conditioning. I got a real reluctance to try anything new that I didn't know about, because I felt so stupid in that class. And so I have that resistance to like, 'Hey, let's try this,' like, 'No, if I don't know how to do it, I'm gonna feel like I did back then,' and I avoid it. But my parents thought it was the right thing, because I'd been complaining about, I don't know, stomachache, or something. And I don't know how they deciphered that. But then they put me up and I stopped complaining. And from their point of view, that was the solution. But probably I didn't complain after that. And so, you know, there was not a lot of complaining in my life, I just sort of put up with things. And so just from these little things that seem almost insignificant, it can result in trauma that impacts us for our life, until we start addressing it.


Meaghan Smith  27:00

Oh, 100%. And I see it in my children now, when my youngest daughter has a tantrum. And, you know, my first reaction is I just want to say 'Cut it out, like stop that, get over it,  what are you doing? Like, this is ridiculous.' But from learning this work, one of the things that I've been doing is just sitting with her and letting her just rage, like letting her get it out. But then what happens afterwards is the emotional letdown, like the crying and she needs comforting and wants a hug. And because now I let her do that, like I give her that space to just cry and let it out, I mean, it seems like it's going on forever, but actually, when you look at the clock, it's like oh, I've been in here for eight minutes with my kid. But I can see it, it's like she gets that shake-off, it's like something happens. She's allowed, she has the actual space and safety to experience the emotions, process them in her body. And then it's just, oh, move on. I can see her literally like flip from just being crying and in my arms one second, to the next second laughing and out, you know, off with her sister playing again, as if nothing happened. And it takes me back to that example that you told me about, how the gazelle, they constantly have threats, you know, that, what's the word I'm trying to say, that come up in their life that that but they're not in this constant state of trauma.


Nancy Wehnert  28:46

Exactly. Yes. And that's such a beautiful gift that you're giving to her, because you're allowing her to process all that and providing a safe environment for her to do that in. And we talked about the ventral state. Our body naturally tends to want to be there. So the body actually is very self healing. And it can find its pathway back to ventral. We all have pathways in us that take us back to ventral and so what you're allowing there is for her to come back to that state of safety and process it all the way through.


Meaghan Smith  29:31

Yeah, so good. So good. So, Nancy, what I didn't mention is - okay, so the reason why I have Nancy on the show is that Nancy is actually running a workshop for my clients. I have hired Nancy to do a workshop for my clients, which is super exciting. That's coming up this week and - yeah, where was I going with this? Oh, yeah. So unfortunately, you as the listener, unless you're my client, you will not get to be a part of this workshop. But that's what you get when you're when you're my client. But how can people find out more about this, Nancy? Like if somebody wanted to learn more about the nervous system and the way that you've talked about it today, are there any books or resources, or where can people go if they want to learn more about it?


Nancy Wehnert  30:33

Yeah, so Peter Levine is the one that I guess is probably the best one to go to. He's got a couple of books, called Waking the Tiger, and Trauma Through a Child's Eyes. So he talks a lot about trauma and how to process it, how to work with it, what's happening in the system. He's like the father of this kind of work. And I also recommend Deb Dana, she talks about polyvagal theory. And that goes more into describing the autonomic nervous system, which is those three states that we talked about, the ventral, the sympathetic, and the dorsal. And she goes into that. So I would recommend anything by her.


Meaghan Smith  31:21

Okay. And, of course, if someone's listening and their eyes just glazed over when you said, the autonomic system or they're thinking, what the heck? Can you just help me? How do people find you, Nancy, tell us how to work with you. How do we find you? Tell us all the things.


Nancy Wehnert  31:41

Yeah, so I'm on Instagram and Facebook, you can find me, Nancy Wehnert. I don't think there's many Nancy Wehnerts in the world, so I should come right up. And also at nancywehnert.com. And that would be the best way to have a look and get in touch that way.


Meaghan Smith  32:02

Amazing. And look, before we finish up, I usually ask my guests if they've got a tip or a mindset, or a belief or something that they do around money that they would be happy to share with my audience, do you have anything like that, that you would be willing to share?


Nancy Wehnert  32:20

For me, it's about practising the feeling of abundance. So noticing that my nervous system is in fear when money comes up. And for so many of us, just the fear of not having enough. So, soothing my nervous system and understanding that it might be in a state of lack, and then telling the new story of abundance. Because when we're in abundance, that's when our thinking brain can switch on that state of ventral. And that's when we can make the decisions we need to, we can accomplish our goals, you know, financial goals, and make the right decisions for us. So practising that abundance, because many of us haven't even felt what that feels like, we don't even know, we're always in lack. It's so important to have a taste of what abundance feels like in the body.


Meaghan Smith  33:15

Oh, my gosh, yes, yes. 100%. Oh, Nancy, thank you so much for joining us on the show today, I am so thrilled that you were able to come on the show too, because of course, I want you to work with my clients and teach them all the things, but in our conversation, I'm really grateful that you agreed to come on the podcast as well and share this information with my listeners, because I think it's really incredible work. And yeah, I'm glad they're getting an introduction to who you are. And yeah, if you're listening, and you're thinking, Oh, my gosh, I wish I was coming to that workshop, I'll just let you know that it's going to be uploaded into my client portal. So if you're a client of mine in the future, you're going to be able to watch it, which is a beautiful thing. Thank you, Nancy. Thanks again. Thank you so much.


Nancy Wehnert  34:10

Thank you, Meaghan, thanks for having me.


Meaghan Smith  34:14

So I help entrepreneurial women create their money and life goals. And if this is you, if you want to create those impossible money and life goals that you have, I can help you with that. When you work with me, I guarantee you will learn the exact pathway to creating your goals so they are as good as done. Seriously, creating your goals can be easier than you think. And there are four main areas that can get in the way of achieving your money goals. And they are: you haven't got the mindset that is in alignment with the goals that you want. Or you have some icky stuff around money or not having a clear relationship with it, or you don't have a pathway to stay on track and complete your goals. Or maybe you have doubt or lacking confidence in some area to do with creating your goals. So, we address all of these obstacles in my coaching programme so you can achieve your goal.


Meaghan Smith  35:24

I am currently taking on new clients, it's March right now when this episode comes out, I have spots open. And I have spots available for you to book a consultation and meet with me and you can tell me all about your goals, what you want to work on, we'll find out on the call whether you're a good fit, I'll help you make a decision on the call whether you want to work together or not from a really neutral space. And then yeah, you get to learn all about how you can go about reaching these results that you want to create. So if this is you and you're super keen to work on really actually going for what you want in your life, and creating those money and life goals, now's the time to book a consult. I'd love to meet you and work with you. You can go ahead and book an appointment on my website until I speak with you again next week, have an amazing week. Bye bye.

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