The Overwhelmed Missionary & the Role the Body Plays with Dr. Margaret Nagib (Encore Episode)

May 2, 2024

 

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Do you ever feel overwhelmed in life, relationships, or ministry? In this encore episode, clinical psychologist Dr. Margaret Nagib, looks at the role our body plays in overwhelm.

We talk about common physical symptoms missionaries experience when they are in overwhelm, and Margaret looks at the ways God speaks to us through not only our spirit and soul, but also our body.

What is good stress versus bad stress? How can we learn to crucify our flesh without crucifying our bodies? What can happen when we get our WHOLE self aligned with God’s purpose for us?

 

Resources

 

 

Ways to Connect With Margaret Nagib

 

Last Week’s Episode

A Guide to Spiritual Warfare for Missionaries with Dean Sherman

 

Transcript From the Episode

Welcome to Modern Day Missionaries, a podcast by Modern Day Missions created for missionaries by missionaries. I’m your host, Stephanie Gutierrez. Do you ever feel overwhelmed in life, relationships, ministry, you name it? Well, in this encore episode, clinical psychologist, Dr. Margaret Nagib looks at the role our body plays in overwhelm. 

We talk about common physical symptoms, missionaries experience when they’re in overwhelm. And Margaret looks at the ways God speaks to us, through not only our spirit and our soul, but also our body. What can happen when we get our whole selves aligned with God’s purpose for us?

[00:00:37] Stephanie: Well, welcome to this episode of the Modern Day Missionaries podcast. Today we are welcoming Dr. Margaret Nagbi. So happy to have you with us today, Margaret.

[00:00:46] Margaret: Thank you, Stephanie. It’s great to be with you.

[00:00:49] Stephanie: Yes. And a little bit about you, I’ll share with everybody. You are a clinical psychologist who’s been practicing for more than three decades, and you’re passionate about partnering with the Holy Spirit to restore wholeness through a deeper relationship with God, helping individuals, communities, and organizations reclaim their identity, purpose, and passion.

I love the way that you describe yourself. That is powerful.

[00:01:12] Margaret: Thank you. Thank you. It’s a fun job.

[00:01:15] Stephanie: I love it that you say it’s fun and I know it’s meaningful too, like it is. This is not easy work what you do, and you work with a lot of people in ministry. I know I, I met you through a friend of ours who’s a pastor and sees you as a client, and he’s like, you have got to meet Margaret. So I’m really looking forward to our conversation today. And in addition to that, you’re also the author of several books. The most recent is Souls Like Stars: Renew Your Mind, Heal Your Heart, and Unveil Your Shine. So I hope people pick that up today.

And our topic for today, I really am excited about because it’s talking about overwhelm, that overwhelm and how we experience it in our bodies, the physical symptoms that come about. And so, talking about overwhelm what our bodies are trying to tell us how we can learn to listen. Let’s be real. Not all of us are are very good at that. 

But before, I would love to just take a second to ask you a few quick fun questions to give everybody a chance to meet the person behind the profession. Are you ready, Margaret?

[00:02:15] Margaret: I’m ready. 

[00:02:16] Stephanie: All right, let’s, okay. It’s gonna be painless, I promise. We’re good. Favorite breakfast food will start easy. 

[00:02:22] Margaret: Oh. That’s it. Oh, you know what it is? It’s sun butter, sun butter and jelly. Not peanut butter and jelly. Sun butter and jelly and coffee.

[00:02:31] Stephanie: Is that the butter that’s made out of sunflower seeds? 

[00:02:34] Margaret: That’s what I had this morning.

[00:02:34] Stephanie: I had that once. That was pretty good. So you’re like, protein powered up and ready to go.

[00:02:39] Margaret: Makes me happy. Yeah. Mm-hmm.

[00:02:42] Stephanie: Okay, next one. Favorite holiday. 

[00:02:44] Margaret: Ah, The first thing that comes to mind is Thanksgiving, so I’m gonna go with that. Thanksgiving.

[00:02:49] Stephanie: Mm. Love Thanksgiving. Okay. You’re moving to another country. What is one thing that must come with you? 

[00:02:58] Margaret: This is gonna sound so lame, but my laptop, I’m attached to my laptop. I bring my laptop with me everywhere, even if I’m not working. So I don’t know. I have some fear of not being with my laptop. So I bring my laptop everywhere. 

[00:03:11] Stephanie: Everybody. Sure. You’re not the only person who would have that answer. It’s not lame, it’s practical right there.

[00:03:16] Margaret: I travel light. People are always amazed at how little I travel with, because I like to be unencumbered, so just the necessities when I travel. Mm-hmm.

[00:03:26] Stephanie: Nice. Okay. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

[00:03:32] Margaret: Geez. You know, I love food. So you’re gonna try to make me pick one meal

[00:03:38] Stephanie: I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean for this to be a mean question. 

[00:03:41] Margaret: This is hard. Well, coffee has to be involved. Chocolate has to be involved. So you know, back in Spain when I could have bread and chocolate and it was okay, like that was breakfast. Like, if I could only pick one meal and that meal would nourish me forever, it would be bread, chocolate, and coffee. Yeah.

[00:03:58] Stephanie: the essentials of life right there. What is one book you’re reading right now? 

[00:04:04] Margaret: So many books. Well, I’m reading a book called Waymaker by Ann Voskamp. 

[00:04:11] Stephanie: she’s amazing. I have not read that one yet.

[00:04:13] Margaret: I’m actually listening to the audio. You gotta listen to the audio. She’s, it’s a whole other experience when you listen to the audio, so very, very, very deep stuff with Waymaker. Mm-hmm.

[00:04:24] Stephanie: Adding that to my list. Thank you. Bonus right there. Okay, and as a child, last question. As a child, what did you wanna be when you grew up? 

[00:04:33] Margaret: So I loved ice skating. loved singing. And I loved anything like drama, so I decided the ice capades would’ve been my perfect job when I was little. So I had a season. I had a season where I thought the Icecapades was where it was at. Yeah. Did not pursue any of those dreams, ice skating, singing, drama. But it was what I did for fun when I was younger.

[00:04:56] Stephanie: Oh, I love that. The ice capades. I could, I can picture it. I could, I could see

[00:05:01] Margaret: Do they have those anymore? I don’t even know.

[00:05:04] Stephanie: I don’t know, but I remember them being around when I was a kid. Now you’re making me curious. I, it’s probably the first thing I’m gonna Google when we’re done talking today. Well, and now you have grown up and instead of Icecapades, you’re a clinical psychologist, so hey, it’s almost the same thing, right?

[00:05:16] Margaret: All those lead to psychology. I don’t know how that happens, but we’re maybe in another season of my life. I’ll go back to something else, but yeah, I absolutely, I actually knew from a really young age that I loved people and I loved, I was, I was the quiet, shy girl who loved to watch and wonder why people did what they did. 

So it actually was in there too. It was, it’s more my personality, actually. God wired me for it, I think from the beginning. So yeah, it’s six. 

[00:05:43] Stephanie: Oh, and now you’re working with so many people in ministry, which. We had mentioned earlier, and that’s significant because for those of us who are in ministry, which is probably the majority of the people who are listening we know what it takes to counsel people like us. And so you are awesome. Let me just say thank you on behalf of everyone listening right now.

[00:06:03] Margaret: I love it. I love working with pastors and leaders. I absolutely love it. Mm-hmm.

[00:06:08] Stephanie: well, and it’s, I think everybody in life has difficult things that they go through, but there are, it’s a unique set that I think people, especially in, in missions go through and I know we had wanted to talk about today, we mentioned it earlier about the physical symptoms that occur in our body that really are just so often a way of our bodies alerting ourselves to the fact that something needs attention.

Not just physically, sometimes physically, but also emotionally, mentally, spiritually. So what are some of those common physical symptoms that you see in ministry clients? 

[00:06:42] Margaret: Yeah, so God started sending me more consistently people in ministry in like 2014. It kind of started and it just kept building. And so I got the privilege of noticing a pattern. There was a pattern actually with the people that I was seeing in ministry, at least at that time, and people were coming to me and they were shutting down physically.

So they were either feeling things like chronic fatigue and just the inability, you know, high, I mean, we’re talking about high functioning pastors and leaders and missionaries, right? And for the first time in their lives, they’re just, their bodies are not cooperating with them. And then kind of along with that was, you know, maybe what they would’ve come to me and called anxious symptoms, like their heart racing, you know, anything from something mild to having, you know, some form of a panic attack.

And so the, the theme that I was finding was that, you know, in this busy, fast-paced world, And coupled with a, a ministry where you’re giving and giving and giving and you’re, and, and you see yourself as the giver, not the receiver people were, were disconnected from their needs. They were really disconnected from some emotions.

Maybe they had put aside some of their desires and needs for the sake of the greater good or their, their ministry, but their body was trying to send them the message that this isn’t working. This isn’t working. And so it took that, helping them connect, you know, they’re coming to me thinking, what’s wrong with me?

And I’m going, oh, your body, you, you, you’re stuck in overwhelm. You’re stuck in fight or flight. You’ve probably been this way for a while and now the body is screaming at you. So this is actually a, a good thing because it’s, it’s alerting you to something you weren’t aware of. 

[00:08:29] Stephanie: Wow. And how interesting that you noticed a pattern in those things. Similar things happening over and over again, and I love what’s happening nowadays in the conversation. Stations in ministry and psychology where we’re actually saying, Hey, it’s good to pay attention to our bodies. Because I think back to a long period, I think in church history that really has only changed recently where.

We thought of the body almost as evil sometimes. And there are people who still do, you know, they reference Corinthians 9 27 where we say, I, you know, I beat my body. I make it my slave so I won’t be disqualified for the prize. And there’s this thought like, we crucify our bodies so that we can accomplish a spiritual work.

How do you see some of that shifting in terms of the interpretation or the way we see the body nowadays? 

[00:09:17] Margaret: Well, it, it, I think it’s a wonderful thing to wanna push through and to recognize the things that you’re talking about. I don’t think that’s necessarily bad, but you couple that with a culture where we don’t have any of our usual places of. Rest or sale or we just don’t have that anymore. You know, people are going from thing to thing to thing.

Their schedules are just filled. And so, you know, back in the day when we grow, grew our own food and cut our own vegetables and made our own dinner, believe it or not, that slowed us down and it gave us these very normal, mundane, meditative activities that helped us wind down. Very few people have that anymore.

And now you have to cultivate it. You have to create it, and it’s gonna feel like a sacrifice. It’s gonna feel like, but how about this? And how about that? And so we’ve all given that up. To do more, but we still live in this very real body, and the body and the mind can only absorb and take so much. So we’re being forced to lie down in green pastures.

I mean, literally that’s what I was seeing with these pastors. Like God was like, the body was like more wise and saying, I’m forcing you to lock out in green pastures cuz you cannot go at this speed. You cannot, it’s not what we’re designed for.

[00:10:37] Stephanie: I appreciate what you’re saying there because you’re recognizing that in ministry there’s a push. Because I’ve heard some people say, well, you know, pastors or people in ministry just need to slow down and have kind of this quiet, peaceful life, and yet there are professions in life, ministry being one of them.

It’s not a slow profession, it’s a push. It’s hard, but you’re saying push and pause. So we push hard and then we pause hard. That I think respects the calling and the reality of the profession, and yet still acknowledges that we are not the superhuman people. We sometimes think we are.

[00:11:20] Margaret: Absolutely. 

And you, and at some point you have to ask the question. And you know, once someone’s more regulated and we’re at that place where they’re feeling more like themselves again, you know, then I have to ask them the question, Hey, where is this push coming from? Is it coming from God? So what’s driving the push all the time?

And that’s kind of, that’s the next level. Once we do that body work, now we do the soul work, the mind will and emotions work to get at, okay, what created this to begin with? Usually there’s some soul piece there that needs to be.

[00:11:53] Stephanie: what is driving the push? What a good question. Okay, so I’m putting myself in the position of somebody listening right now, which is not hard since this is also my life. Going all right, so I’m starting with looking at my physical symptoms. So somebody who’s listening is going, okay, I’ve got this symptom in my body.

Where do I start?

[00:12:13] Margaret: Mm-hmm. So, whatever you wanna call it, overwhelm, stress. Most people call it stress, but when you ask people, well, what’s overwhelming or what they point to things, you know, well, I’m doing this and I’m doing that and my finance is in this. But stress is actually not those things. Stress is a physiological response.

It’s a physiological response to a perceived threat. So the two key words there are perceived and physiological. So it’s automatic. Your brain has this, it’s called neuroception. It’s kind of like the scanner in your brain that’s always on, looking for threats. And then it will turn on your nervous system to help you if you perceive a threat.

So, and the brain doesn’t really distinguish between a bear chasing you and a push in ministry. It doesn’t. It just says, You need help. Okay, let’s mobilize all the energy in your body to help you take care of this thing that’s important to you. So if you can slow down and recognize this is, this is a physiological response in, in, in, to something I’m perceiving as a threat, but also to something that’s important to me.

So I can either let that stress work for me or it’s gonna work against me. When it’s working for me, I’m slowing down. I’m like, okay, something’s important here. My body’s trying to mobilize to help me with that, what’s important and now how do I take that energy in a productive way and use it to take care of what’s important to me?

You know, we’ve all done that when I was in grad school and I stayed up all night. Well, that was stress mobilizing to help me accomplish my goal. And that was a good thing, right? But when, when, when we are chronically living in stress, And now we become accustomed to stress and we think stress is normal.

That’s when the body starts to break down. That’s when our mind starts to break down. And I don’t think it’s, it’s, it’s what God really wants for us at the end of the day.

[00:14:12] Stephanie: Yeah. And for people who come in to see you, what are some of the underlying sources of those physical pains? 

In a, and maybe in a more specific way, or maybe a better question is, When they start asking themselves the question about the push that you mentioned a second ago, where’s this push coming from?

What are some of the things that they’re discovering? 

[00:14:40] Margaret: Well, it can be lots of different things. It, it usually has a, it usually has a lot to do with someone, how someone’s wired their personality. Different personalities can have a different push, right. Many pastors are very much achievement-oriented. They’re doers. I mean, it’s why we, it’s why the church can be so amazing cuz you put a doer as a leader, you know, or as a minister, you know, a missionary, they’re gonna go out there where there is nothing and create something and they’re really good at it.

And so sometimes in my doing, I forget, I forget that this isn’t my identity. And so I feel like I have to keep doing, it never ends, you know? And I get joy from my doing. And a doer gets joy from their doing. They really do. But when you start to notice your body breakdown and you start to notice that little voice that says, well, I can’t stop now.

Now it’s kind of too far. And somehow some way my, my sense of who I am and my worth becomes connected to that. 

[00:15:42] Stephanie: And what are some of the ways that you’ve seen people be able to work through those feelings and connect with themselves in a better way? 

[00:15:49] Margaret: Well, it does take, starting with the body first. So someone comes to me and stress and overwhelm or maybe chronic stress, or now it’s, now it’s turned into something bigger, like a panic attack. We have to start with the body, so, And you know, for some of the people I’ve worked with, they’ve had to go into sabbatical.

Like literally they had to lie down and rest because they had gotten so far the other way. So it needed to start with, I have to get back to taking care of myself and I have to learn to regulate my nervous system again and not be almost addicted to the cortisol and the adrenaline that comes with the push.

You get a high for the push. I mean, let’s face it, right. And so before I know it, my body begins to rely on it. It’s like caffeine. It’s like you become dependent on caffeine. Well, we can become dependent on the hormones connected to the push cortisol, adrenaline, you know, dopamine, norepinephrine, and then our body thinks this is normal.

So I have to start with the body. You have to slow down. We have to get your body regulated. And then, and then let’s look at what causes to begin with, you know? And then that’s when I, I bring him to Father God. And I don’t actually try to answer that. I have PR pretty good ideas cuz I’m a psychologist and I’m discerning.

But I will at that point then really encourage them to say, Father God, what do you want me to know about the push? 

[00:17:12] Stephanie: Mm. So just, just flat out putting it before the Lord. Father, what do you want me to know about the push? Because there are things that the Holy Spirit can reveal to our hearts that nobody else could. 

[00:17:25] Margaret: And because the Lord is compassionate and there’s never shame attached, you know, so I’ve gone too far with the push. Shame has now gotten attached to it. And the Lord never comes in with shame. So if I just go to someone’s own voice, we have to, we have to kind of weed through some other things.

But if I bring ’em straight to the Lord, you know, then it’s, it’s when they hear it from God, it’s so much more powerful and it’s, it’s healing. It’s so healing when they hear it from the Lord.

[00:17:54] Stephanie: Yeah. And so you’re saying one of the biggest things that you see the Lord communicating to people. And wanting to help them get right is, is their sense of identity and who they are.

[00:18:04] Margaret: Well, and he cares about your needs. So at some point when you’re going down the push road, you have forgotten about your own needs and, and and you’ve decided that your needs don’t really matter. Right? And God never, ever, never. Minimizes our needs for the sake of another. That’s a human way. You know, that’s our, our dichotomy or our sense of like, it can’t be both.

And there’s no desire that God put in your heart that he puts an opposite desire. He just doesn’t do that. But when we go too far down that road, we’re actually believing a lie that they’re in. You can’t have one without the, you can’t have both. And then God comes in and they don’t even know. They’ve so forgotten that need.

And God goes, oh, I wanna meet this need for you. He doesn’t even answer the push question right away. He just says, oh, this need is going unmet, and yes, I’ve allowed this to happen to you, but it’s because I wanna meet this need for you. 

[00:18:55] Stephanie: Oh, that is beautiful.

[00:18:57] Margaret: People are disarmed because they didn’t know what they didn’t know. 

You know, so I had life where I was, I, I couldn’t articulate it, but I felt like something was missing in my spiritual life. It was probably like, you know, going into another layer of spiritual transformation, cuz it always starts with something’s missing. Something’s missing, and I’m not really a doer, but I went into doing mode.

Well, maybe I’m not praying enough, maybe I’m not reading my Bible enough. Maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe, you know, and then when God finally like, you know, the cl the, the channels were clear enough that he could say something that I could hear it. He said, I have more for you. If you want more, here it is. Versus if you want more, it’s, it’s on you.

You somehow to how somehow have to go get it. And I think that can be the push, right? It’s like we want more for our ministries, we want more for the people we serve. And so we think we gotta go do it. We gotta go do it. And God’s like, oh, if you want more, I’m the giver of more. Let me give you more partner with me in the more, instead of thinking you have to go try to make it happen.

[00:19:58] Stephanie: Wow. And, and that’s beautiful because that is letting God interpret our desires rather than us trying to fulfill them. Because like you were just saying, if we have the desires inside of us, I mean, probably the majority of the people who are on the mission field right now have a desire to bless people.

I would probably think all they have this desire to meet people’s needs and to help them, and it’s a God given desire. But what you’re saying is that desire in our human hands, It can get polluted by the enemy where we think that we are the end all in fulfilling that desire, whereas in God’s hands, he partners with us.

And I love the, that verse in the Message where it says, walk with me and live freely and live lightly. And the unforced rhythms of grace. I forget which, which verse it is, but I mean, that’s just God. He’s like, let’s do this together. Quit trying to burn yourself out by yourself.

[00:20:49] Margaret: What you’re describing is what alignment feels like. And then we get out of alignment a little bit and then we start to see things happen in our body. We start to maybe feel things in our, in our mind and in our emotions. You know, maybe we’re overthinking things or we’re ruminating about things.

We’re not feeling peace. We’re not sleeping at night cuz we’re a little anxious. Right, and then we’re, we’re out of alignment. So our body oftentimes knows before we know that we’re out of alignment and it’s just trying to help us. You have a pain in your body, you’re out of alignment. Something’s not right in here, you’re out of alignment.

Let’s get back to alignment. But oftentimes we’re so in it, you know, we need maybe the help of a counselor, but then also. The help of the Lord to show us where it’s all. Cuz we’re such complicated beings, you know, and God has a way to like pierce through bone marrow, flesh, blood, you know, go straight to straight to the issue.

And what I love about people in ministry is, you know, it’s all they want the best. They want to be in alignment, and so then they’re grateful. They’re grateful for the anxiety, they’re grateful for the physical symptom. They’re grateful for the thing that woke them up to show them that, oh, there’s a better way.

There’s a better way.

[00:22:02] Stephanie: And so what a beautiful place to start. Right there is with gratitude for everyone who is listening right now, who’s experiencing a physical symptom that’s kind of bringing them to the end of themselves. Or is maybe just waking them up and saying, something’s not right. I gotta do something. It’s pausing and being grateful for that signal that you mentioned that’s causing them to consider taking a next step. 

[00:22:28] Margaret: Absolutely.

[00:22:29] Stephanie: Yeah. 

[00:22:30] Margaret: Part of my job when they come to me and I hear their story is to, is I think body, soul, spirit, and I’m cataloging, okay, they’re telling me they’re trouble with sleeping. That’s body, or they have this physical thing, body, okay. They’re telling me they have this challenge at stress at work.

You know, they’re, they’re telling me all these things and then, you know, the fun part for me is partnering with the Holy Spirit too. Okay, God. This feels like a spiritual issue, but did it start in the body? Or this looks like a psychological issue, but did it start here? You know, so part of it is, is sitting with someone who understands these three things and the Lord and then, and then coming to that place where it’s like, oh, you have back pain, but this is actually because of a deficiency in vitamin D.

You know, or you’re struggling spiritually. But this is actually, you know, so. However it is, whatever it is, or you’re having a physical problem, and it started with, you know, the enemy coming against you in this place. There was this door open of vulnerability because of your past, and the, the enemy just took advantage of that.

So once we know that, it just breaks it down for people and they’re like, oh, I have a body, I have needs, I have a soul. It has needs. I have a spirit. It has needs. This is not about my character, this is not sin. But we all have vulnerabilities, we have physical vulnerabilities. We have psychological and we have spiritual vulnerabilities, and that’s where these things get out of alignment.

And so what I find with the Lord is that he never, he doesn’t see it as sin, but when we’re at a place of helping people, and I can feel this as a psychologist, I’m not even technically, you know, minister, but because I’m the one that people come to, it’s like, wow. Gosh, my vulnerable, I shouldn’t have vulnerabilities.

You know, and I see this a lot with people in ministry. It’s like it somehow gets translated to a sin or a character defect and God’s like, no, it’s just vulnerabilities. But if you’re not aware of them, we can start to break down. And it’s the number one thing I see the enemy try to use against believers.

[00:24:36] Stephanie: What does your heart long for missionaries to know? 

[00:24:42] Margaret: I think the reason why I love working with, anyone in ministry is because of how alone I see them because of vulnerability. I think we still have this idea that. That we kind of have to figure it out on our own. And, and you know, when you, when you reach a certain place of, you’re the shepherd who shepherds you. 

And so I see this across the board. I think it’s just a common thing where we don’t know as ministers who to go to, who, who, who can we hang out with and just let our hair down and not have to be the pastor, the missionary, So I, I would love for them to know that it’s okay to value their emotional health and whatever they need to do.

That if they need to, to, to talk to a counselor because that’s what feels most safe and appropriate given their role in ministry. Then go talk to a counselor. But that they’re, that they’re not alone and that their emotional health is too valuable and that you can’t do it alone. You really, especially missionaries, you know, you can’t do it alone.

And so God will provide for your needs. Ask him, you know, have a conversation. What are the needs right now for my body, Lord? My mind. My spirit? And then instead of, and then ask him, how do you want to meet those needs? Put it back on him. How do you wanna meet those needs? And let him show you. And he will, but we’re not alone.

We need each other. We really need to value our emotional health more than ever. We need to value learning about our nervous system and our bodies and regulating them more than ever because our world is just too fast. There’s not the natural, like I said earlier, there’s not the natural places of rest. 

And so for your body, go after learning about your nervous system and learning to regulate yourself from the inside out.

[00:26:21] Stephanie: And where could people go to begin learning about that in, in a way that would just make sense to the average person?

[00:26:28] Margaret: The beauty of it is there’s a lot out there right now. At one point I was like, God, this is so interesting. For the first time in my life as a helper, there’s coaches, there’s apps, there’s like all this stuff. And I’m like, at first I was a little like, Hey, wait a minute, God, are you pushing me out of a job?

Because now it feels like everyone and their mother, you know, is an armchair therapist. And then God told me, oh no, I’m doing something and I need everyone. I’m on emotional health right now because of where the world’s at and where we’re going next. And so I’m making it accessible. So there’s so many ways to have access.

There’s some really great people on YouTube. That just devote themselves to somatic work and nervous system. You know, if you wanna go hardcore, Peter Levine is one of the giants in the world of nervous system and helping us understand our body and our mind connection. You could start by reading some of his books, but really just, just do a really good Google search on the nervous system and how to regulate your nervous system.

There’s so much good information out there right now.

[00:27:31] Stephanie: I think you’re right. I think it’s, it can feel, speaking of overwhelm, it can feel almost a little overwhelming in terms of information that’s out there.

[00:27:38] Margaret: that’s why I said you still gotta go to God. I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve needed something and I’m like in a bookstore and I, the book is highlighted to me and I’m like, I feel like I should buy this book. And then you buy it and you’re like, God, you totally use this book. You know, so as long as you’re oriented towards him, you’re saying, God, I’m open.

I don’t even know what I need sometimes. What do you wanna do about it? He will guide you. He will absolutely guide you. He’ll probably guide you to this podcast, right? So, There’s a lot of resources about the nervous system or just meet with a counselor. Meet with a counselor and have them. I have, I have quite a few clients that came to me recently cuz they’re understanding the importance of this and they’re like, I don’t really have any real crisis, Margaret, but I, I’m learning about this nervous system thing and I’m recognizing I really need this.

So can we spend a few sessions where you just teach me how to do this? Sure, let’s do it. So yeah, there’s lots of ways. then for your soul you know, you, you really wanna go after this thought, feeling, behavior. You know, at the end of the day, our soul is just made up of our thoughts, feelings, our behavior, and wholeness is when we have integrity between what we think, feel, and do. 

So, Go after educating yourself and getting more aware of your thoughts, how that affects your emotions, and then how it affects your behavior so that you really can hold every thought captive. You really can be transformed by the renewing of your mind 

This affects everything else what I think. Affects how I feel affects what I do, and then what I do affects how I think and how I feel and what I do. So go after that and then spiritually just keep bringing it back to God. God, what do you think about this? God, what do you wanna do for me in this? And be really vulnerable?

Here’s my vulnerability. I’m almost, I’m almost embarrassed to say, God, that this is where my mind is going. This is where my heart is going. This is what I’m thinking. 

[00:29:27] Stephanie: Your holistic response there because it is, we can’t separate our thoughts from our spirit. They, they, they tie into each other the things that we read scripture, when we read scripture, it goes in through our mind and it’s digested in our spirit, but it enters through our minds. You can’t really cut them apart.

So, like you said, just starting so simply, so basically, we first and foremost are spirits. So it is, it’s going to God like you said and saying. Lord, I don’t know what’s up right now, but I feel off. Some people are so unaware of their body. Let’s be real. I’ve been there before where I will suddenly realize that I’ve been in pain in a specific part of my body for months, and I had no idea.

Cuz I just, I float through life sometimes not paying attention. And so for some of those people, it’s even just stopping and going, Lord, show me. Is there something going on right now that I should be paying attention to? Whether it’s in my body, whether it’s my mind and emotions. Whether it’s something spiritual, cuz he will be faithful to reveal it to us through a book, like you said, through scripture, through our private time through other people.

But man, we gotta open ourselves up to him.

[00:30:36] Margaret: So for someone in your situation where you were so disconnected from your body, your homework would be throughout the day. I want you to just stop, take a breath, check in, see what you’re feeling, see if there’s any areas of tension and tightness. That’s probably a signal that your nervous system is amped up.

You’re stuck in kind of like go mode. And so I want you to connect with that part of your body, breathe through it, and learn to bring yourself back to calm and maybe release any of that fight or flight energy that’s, you know, not getting used up so that your body can come back to rest. I think we all need, in this day and age, we all need to learn how to check in with our bodies several times throughout the day.

Know what freeze feels like. For you, what flight feels like for you, what dysregulation feels like for you, and how to bring yourself back to your, we call it window of tolerance in psychology. 

[00:31:29] Stephanie: Absolutely, and it’s wild what it’ll reveal to you. I mean, speaking of vulnerability, I’ll just even say I, I. Noticed for me when I was first asked that question that I often don’t breathe, just hold my breath. I don’t know why. Or shallow breathe. And it really, it’s funny how when you start paying attention to it, then your second question is, when is it happening?

And so, okay, when am I holding my breath? When am I not breathing? And all of a sudden you notice, back to what you said earlier, there are patterns. Okay. I’m not, I am holding my breath or I’m tense in this. Some people it’s their neck. Some people it’s. They grind their teeth or clench their jaw, when is it happening?

And all of a sudden, when you notice when it’s happening, it’s very revelatory. Like, whoa, okay, now that I notice when this is happening, Lord, show me something about that.

[00:32:21] Margaret: Right? Yeah. Your body’s perceiving a threat and it’s protecting you in that moment. You’re in survival mode. sometimes the push is survival mode and we need to learn of rest instead of just always doing it of survival mode. So all of that, the, the, the nervous system’s, like a thermostat, you set it to 70, 70 is good, peace, calm, right?

When it gets cold, it kicks on. And then when it, when it, you know, when it got you back to 70, it kicks off. That’s what the nervous system done. It’s, it’s keeps you at a good place, good temperature, and then something happens, it kicks on and then the thread is over and it kicks off. But in our day and age, most people are stuck on, it’s like that fan is still running. 

And it’s not stopping. It just keeps running. Well, what happens to a piece of machinery like your furnace? If your furnace keeps running and never shuts off, it’s gonna wear out. It’s gonna wear out much faster. It’s not designed to do that. It’s designed to go on and off and on and off. And it’s the same thing with your nervous system.

So most people in ministry that come to me, it’s because they’re stuck in the on position, and that’s why. You know, they’re disconnected because they’re just, when you’re in survival mode, it’s not about noticing your body, right? It’s about taking care of in front of you. It’s not about noticing your body.

It’s not about, you know, we have a shortness of breath because we’re amped up and we’re ready to go. And so the breath is the, the secret weapon. The breath is like one of the number one ways to bring your nervous system back to calm. 

[00:33:53] Stephanie: Yeah. And what is a great way for people to breathe if they’re like, what is the breath? What does that mean?

[00:33:57] Margaret: Yeah. And there’s a lot of breaths out there, like into one nostril. Like, I mean, I, I, I love it. And, and, and there’s nuance to it and it’s kinda like when you start geeking out on this stuff and you wanna go deeper, but when you’re just beginning this process, like, just stop. Sit down, notice your body, work on relaxing your body.

So you get out of anana analysis and just into body sense your feet on the ground. Sense your body against the chair, put on your heart that sends a message to your nervous system that you’re safe. And then just, you know, nice belly breaths. You know those are those deeper, more relaxing and filling breaths that send a message to your nervous system.

So just do that few times. I like to breathe and then hold it and feel the pressure and then release it. Cuz when you feel the pressure and you release it, you actually helps you feel your body relaxing. So I just do that at times until my body, you get really good at it, you’ll get really good at it and then you’ll crave it. 

Yeah. It’s like, oh man, it good to be at rest.

[00:34:59] Stephanie: Yeah. Well, and when you haven’t been breathing, all of a sudden when you let the air in, your body’s like, thank you so much for giving me what I need to survive. So, and, And for people who are listening and they’re just still feeling totally clueless about what their body is doing.

Cause I do find this a lot in ministry people. Well, two things I’d say one, and you’ve probably seen this, is you don’t know sometimes until you stop. So just plan a time to stop, like a crash day, and then you’ll figure out all the things and on your crash day ask. Other people who know you well, who are safe people, what you do when you’re stressed out, or when you’re crashing, or when you’re dysregulated.

And if you don’t know what your body’s doing so often they’ll know what your body’s doing. They’re like, oh, when? When you’re stressed out, I’ve noticed that you know, you clench your teeth or you squint your eyes. They’ll be able to give us little, little ideas of what it is that we’re doing so that we can start paying attention to them and so that we can start noticing.

So ask a safe person and they’ll be able to tell you how you, how you get dysregulated. 

So Margaret, as we wrap this up today, do you have any final words or any things that you’d like to leave our listeners with that they can put into practice right now in life? 

[00:36:19] Margaret: Yeah, I mean, I would just say your body is a gift. Your body is a gift. It’s all been redeemed, you know, so we don’t have to worry so much about the, the body working against us. It’s more about loving your body and partnering with your body. cUz your body will take up the charge. Whatever you’re not doing, the body will try to make up the difference.

And so when you have a symptom and you get really frustrated with your body, it’s actually your body going, oh sweetheart, you weren’t dealing with your anxiety. And so I’ve been holding it and holding it and holding it and I can hold, hold it for so far right until I start to break down. And when your mind is racing, you know, it’s because it’s trying so hard.

Once again, you’ve kind of been in survival mode and your mind’s just trying so hard to answer the question to answer. So your mind is always working for you. Your body’s always working for you. It’s just coming, coming back into alignment. So do that exercise I said about sitting with the Lord. He’ll show you where to start.

Ask him how he wants to handle it, and then just remember, you’re not alone in this. Value your emotional health. And if, if God prompts you to reach out to someone, reach out. Then what I see happen is this beautiful parallel process where whatever you’re dealing with as the minister, guess what your people are dealing with, and the Lord wants to start with you so that then the same comfort you have received, you will give.

Right? That’s a promise in scripture. Same comfort I have received, you will comfort others with. And so oftentimes it’s God’s bringing the whole community to the next level. And yeah, he’s allowing you to lead by starting with you first. So there’s never any shame in it. It’s just from glory to glory. It’s always from glory to glory. 

[00:37:57] Stephanie: Absolutely. And what great perspective reminding ourselves that when we take care of ourselves, we’re setting the. Example for the people we serve. And beyond setting an example we are becoming healthier people, which will lead them to become healthier people. So for our families, for everybody surrounding us.

Margaret, thank you so much for coming on and sharing that today. I. I feel like people are definitely gonna be listening and paying a lot more attention to their bodies and questions are gonna be coming up. So if you’ve got any questions, people can send questions to care at Modern Day dot org. We’ll try and connect you with sources if you’re looking for counselors or wanting to reach out.

We’ll also post resources that Margaret mentioned today, including her books on how to get ahold of her. And thank you again, Margaret, for coming on. We really appreciate it. 

[00:38:38] Margaret: So delightful. You’re just so delightful. Thank you so much.

[00:38:41] Stephanie: Oh, thank you. And we’ll see everyone else on our next episode of the podcast.