Mark’s new book about the seven commitments of leadership has just come out. It is called “Staring Down the Wolf: 7 Leadership Commitments That Forge Elite Teams,” and is available now from Amazon and from staringdownthewolf.com. Commander Divine writes about many of the great leaders he met in SpecOps to give examples of the commitments that one has to make to the 7 key principles of Courage, Trust, Respect, Growth, Excellence, Resiliency and Alignment.
Dr. Don Wood (@DrDonWoodPhD) is an expert on physical and emotional trauma. He is the author of You Must Be Out of Your Mind: We All Need A Reboot and his newest book Emotional Concussions. He is also the founder of the Inspired Performance Institute. He talks with Mark today about how to overcome trauma—especially during COVID-19 and the current economic crisis.
- It’s possible to eliminate traumatic responses rather than simply finding ways to cope with them.
- There’s a broad spectrum of trauma that affects us in different ways.
- Unresolved trauma creates inflammation in the body that can be constant and debilitating.
Listen to this episode to get a better understanding of how to overcome trauma to increase your performance.
You’ve probably already heard Mark extolling the virtues of the PowerDot to help with recovery. They now have a version 2.0. The PowerDot is an electrical stimulation device that allows you to increase performance, speed up recovery and overall achieve a deeper mind/body connection. Many stim devices can be clumsy and hard to use, but the PowerDot 2.0 achieves simplicity and is very small so you can take it with you when you travel. It is being used by professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, Tour de France among others. It is also used by Special Operator Forces
Listeners to the podcast, can save by using the code UNBEATABLE at checkout for 20% off the regular price of the PowerDot system.
Dr. Parsley’s sleep remedy was designed to help Navy SEALs to overcome some of the sleep challenges that they have as hard-charging individuals. Doc Parsley believes that proper sleep and recovery is absolutely essential to maintain our ability to perform at a high level. His sleep “cocktail” includes a number of supplements to provide our bodies with chemicals naturally produced by the brain to encourage sleep. Commander Divine is a huge fan and encourages members his tribe to try it out for themselves. Enter “unbeatablemind” at the checkout on www.docparsley.com to get 10% off.
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Hey folks, welcome back to the Unbeatable Mind podcast. This is your host Mark Divine. So stoked to have you join me today. Thank you so much for your time as you know, I do not take it lightly. There is lots of things out there that you could be doing right now. And the fact that you’re listening is pretty awesome. Very darn cool. So I won’t waste your time.
My guest today is Dr Don Wood. Don’s amazing – he’s a trauma expert, founder of the Inspired Performance Institute. He’s helping so many people with his work on basically understanding the importance of trauma and how it plays a role in your decision making. And how your brain develops and that your brain can get wired and can have a few bugs in it. Because of trauma.
And we tend to kind of ignore that – most of us. We think that as adults that we’re just kind of like… we are who we are. But underlying all that is all these glitches and bugs that are put there or grow there basically out of childhood trauma. And they can be eradicated. And he’s got a really powerful method for doing that.
The other thing that’s super cool is he’s the founder of a non-profit called “Child Watch,” and he’s helped locate over 250 missing children over the past 20 years. That’s a topic that’s come up a few times this year just how many kids go missing and are abducted every year. It’s stunning. And I can’t wait to talk to Don about that.
And we really got to figure out how to do something about that. It’s unsat.
So yeah Don, thanks for being here. This is the second time that we’ve done this because the first time the audio was so bad that we had to ditch the podcast. Which was a tragic thing, but hey it’s great to do it again. Two times a charm right?
Dr Wood: Yep I appreciate it, Mark. And I’m sure it was on my end. So I apologize.
Mark: Well now that you’re all Mac’d up with the Apple family of products, we should be fine.
Dr Wood: Exactly.
Mark: Okay so Don… I like to do this with all guests, but give us a sense of who you were when you grew up and since you’re a trauma expert I’m gonna imagine that there was some trauma in your life and that you had to overcome that. And that might have led you down this path.
But don’t let me put words in your mouth. Let’s hear from the horse’s mouth yourself.
Dr Wood: It was actually really the opposite. I had this idyllic childhood…
Mark: (laughing) No kidding. I didn’t think anybody had an idyllic childhood…
Dr Wood: Oh, I didn’t realize it was idyllic when I was in it. I just assumed everybody was living this life. I had parents that never argued, they never raised their voice, they were the calmest people in the world.
So as a child, I was just assuming that everybody was living like that. I would go to my friend’s houses, I would never see the dysfunction there because everybody’s on their best behavior.
So really where I started understanding what trauma was is when I met my wife. So we were 18 and I had a chance to play professional hockey in Sweden. And so we got very close quickly, but that also got me very involved in her family. And I realized – in fact, I was shocked that she was not living the life that I thought she would be living.
She had a very, very disturbed father and was living with a tremendous amount of trauma. A lot of abuse and that’s when I really started to understand it. And like I said – because I didn’t see it very much – and I played hockey so I could protect myself… so I never got bullied, I never had any kind of trauma, no physical or emotional abuse.
So I was just skating through my childhood. But the advantage of that was I knew what the model was. I knew what it was like to live in that peace. And we can all do that, if we can control and get our nervous system to regulate.
And what was happening for me is, my nervous system got regulated every time I came home.
Mark: So tell me about that. Like you were out and you were taking on everyday stress… and then you got home, and what was that experience like? And how do you think that regulated your nervous system?
Dr Wood: Well as a child – again something could happen at school – a teacher said something, or a friend did something or whatever. But I would come home and everything felt so safe. So it was so nurturing in my home, that I would just calm down. Home became that sanctuary for me.
And I didn’t realize it at the time, but now I understand what was actually happening is that my nervous system was calming down. Was going back into regulation. And so I was inadvertently training it to be able to do that.
And when I grew up, I started having more stressful situations, I knew what it was like to get back into balance quickly.
Mark: Okay, so what was happening in the environment to trigger the calming effect? Was it just the feeling of being safe? Or was there something else?
Dr Wood: It was that. And again, I could talk to my parents and they could sense if something was wrong. And it would become “what can we do or do you want to talk about it?”
I just felt safe and I can’t say it was anything specific that they did. It was just a culture and that culture created it.
Mark: The energy field of the home. Like a morphogenic field.
Dr Wood: Exactly.
Mark: That’s interesting. My family environment was the opposite. That’s pretty interesting.
So I guess where I was going with that is later on when you didn’t have that home environment, you didn’t have that morphogenic culture, was it just the memory of it that allowed you to instantly calm down?
Dr Wood: I believe so. I think it was like training – so again, like I said, I got into business and did other things, I would run into a lot of stressful situations. But I learned to be able to handle that stress. So I had become accustomed to being able to balance.
And that was something my wife couldn’t do. And I could never understand why. Why was she constantly feeling this fear? Why was she always living in fear?
And that’s when I really started to understand what trauma had done to her. Trauma was looping for her. It was continuing to loop through her mind, creating this constant fight or flight, sympathetic nervous system responses to everything. And I wouldn’t be doing that.
Mark: Did you study this? Or were you just observing – just a close observer? Like did you go get a degree in psychology or anything like that?
Dr Wood: In the beginning, I was just observing. And then my daughter ended up developing Crohn’s disease when she was 14. And then when she was 16 she told us about some trauma, some abuse that had happened to her when she was between the ages of 6 and 8 from another girl in the neighborhood. That we had no idea of.
And so that’s really what made me go back. I went back to my PhD and clinical counseling in psychology to really start understanding what was going on for both my wife and daughter.
And that’s sort of what led us to this. And what I’ve discovered is we can fix it.
Mark: Right, and so let me go back. So your daughter had this trauma, but she didn’t feel safe to come home and talk about it like you did with your parents when stuff like that happened.
Dr Wood: Yeah, but she had much different trauma. So I was getting bumped and bruised, maybe somebody said something. A teacher was hard on me, or a coach was hard on me, right? I wasn’t getting physically assaulted.
So her abuse and especially sexual abuse is something that is a pandemic in this country. And it’s not talked about.
Mark: It’s not.
Dr Wood: And even for my wife – my wife when I first understood what was going on for her, she swore me to secrecy. I was never allowed to tell anybody what went on in her home. Because it was shame.
Mark: Shame is the lowest form of energy. And I’m saying that as a fact – like it is the lowest energetic state a human being could be in. It’s like one step removed from death or suicide. So that energy of shame from sexual assault tends to get locked inside, because it’s just way too hard to share it with others.
Especially when you’re trying to put on the opposite projection of being squared away, right? That’s probably what happened with your daughter and your wife.
Dr Wood: And my wife if you met her she’s high functioning. She’s a great mom, she’s a great wife. But she was just living in fear – so everything, every day was a constant fear of something gonna happen. Something gonna go wrong.
And it wasn’t making sense to me, because I said, “you’re in a loving home. We’re doing well. Financially, everything’s going well. What’s the problem?”
Mark: Right. Well, let’s make sure that listeners don’t just think that like trauma is from something like physical abuse or sexual assault. Because trauma comes in many shapes and sizes, and it doesn’t really discriminate, right? So give us kind of your view of what trauma really is.
Dr Wood: So I always talk about trauma… the other term I use is an “Emotional Concussion.” Because that’s softer than trauma. What I mean by an emotional concussion it could be a teacher or a coach or a parent that was very critical. And they constantly criticize you.
So maybe they’re thinking that they’re motivating you, but they’re constantly telling you “that’s not good enough. You’re not working hard enough.”
Those are emotional concussions that operate the same way trauma does. And will affect the mind as we grow up.
Mark: Wow. I love that emotional concussion. As a 20-year Navy SEAL, one of the things that I’ve been getting involved with both personally as well as helping other vets, is just this growing evidence that even if like – how do I say that – even if like myself you come through 20 years as a special operator or any operator relatively unscathed, and you’re a high performer – you still have years of micro-trauma and TBI in the brain from every single time you shoot a bullet right your brain is bouncing back and forth receiving micro-trauma.
Every time you blow things up… and back when we blew things up the instructors thought it was cool to have at least the first one be a little too close. Boom. Trauma.
And every time you hit the ground hard on a parachute jump – trauma. Every time you almost die – which is practically every week in the seals – trauma. And that just is cumulative.
And so like it’s really important – especially if you’re a vet or anybody in anything, any field, where you experience that trauma – first responder, police, professional athlete – to get a brain scan and to do the electro stim or the neurofeedback, right? Or the hyperbaric chamber work that’s gonna eliminate that or heal that. So that you don’t deal with the issues later in life which show up as early age onset dementia and Parkinson’s and things like that.
Dr Wood: Yeah and a lot of times they Don’t under they Don’t understand the compression from those bombs that you were around even though you’re not getting maybe hit with the bomb, the compression is concussing the brain. And you are getting TBI from it.
And the problem is that it shows up like a mental health issue. And so they’re treating it with medication. Just what you said – it needs to be treated with hyperbaric oxygen – another therapeutic…
Mark: Right. And you add on top of that the emotional trauma and they get conflated and they actually kind of exacerbate each other, right? Because you don’t have the healthy brain structures to really overcome the emotional or to trigger the parasympathetic nervous system.
Dr Wood: Exactly. The vagus nerve.
Mark: The vagus nerve, everything gets affected. So physical trauma and emotional trauma really just make it 20 times worse.
But emotional trauma in and of itself without physical trauma is also debilitating – this is what we originally started talking about.
Dr Wood: Yeah, and my son had TBI and they kept on trying to tell me that he had major depression. And then they even started trying to put it into schizoid affective disorder, all these different things. And I said “no he’s got TBI.” He had three head injuries as a child – one in elementary school, one in middle school, and one in high school.
And each one you just progressively saw him getting worse he just shut down he didn’t want to do anything he just didn’t want to live life. He just sat around or slept all day.
And we got hyperbaric oxygen chamber. And we put him in that and it woke him up.
Mark: How many – I’m curious about that because I’m looking into that for myself, and for our vets through our courage foundation – but how many sessions does it really take in a hyperbaric chamber to heal?
Dr Wood: It really takes about 40. And so you have to go in it on a continuous basis, because it’s a cumulative kind of a thing. So it’s pushing more oxygen deeper and deeper.
And if you do one or two, it’s nice, but you’re not getting the full effect. You really need to do multiple sessions. And fairly concurrently, so you can’t do one and then…
Mark: What a great business opportunity, we should have hyperbaric therapy centers – do the brain EEG and the stim and the hyperbaric treatment, right down on the street corner, in the shopping mall… that’s what we should do…
Dr Wood: It is the best kept secret in medicine.
Mark: Right. I agree with you.
Mark: So let’s talk about if you don’t have access to hyperbaric – how can the mind repair itself? How do we start people who think that they’re dealing with an emotional grenade or even TBI? What does the mind do to try to repair itself? The brain, I should say.
Dr Wood: Yeah, the body and the brain are designed to heal. The problem we have with TBI is it really takes some intervention. So I think it really takes a lot more like the hyperbaric and things like that. And you really need to get a spect scan or an fMRI to really understand what’s going on.
That’s what happened with my son. Is that once we got a spect scan done, then did a hyperbaric dive and then did another spect scan – you could see the difference. You can see blood flow starting to move into those injured areas.
So that to me is really the solution.
On the emotional side, the program we’ve developed is the issue that’s coming in with trauma – post-traumatic stress, anxiety, panic attacks are all coming in from the storage of memory. This is what I’ve really discovered. The memory keeps looping, and the problem is that your subconscious mind is your survival brain.
And it operates in real time. It’s fully present. It’s confusing the memory with the event… and so the mind keeps calling for an action to solve it. So the purpose of an emotion, a feeling or a sensation is a call for action. Your mind wants you to do something.
The purpose of fear is to escape a threat, and the purpose of anger is to attack a threat. So if you think about something that happened to you five years ago and you feel fear or anger that’s the glitch.
Mark: I see. That’s the error message.
Dr Wood: That’s what it is.
Mark: So how do we clear the error message?
Dr Wood: It’s amazing. We can do it so simply.
So the key is we do a four hour program. And it takes about four hours to get the mind into that restorative state that will actually start updating. And the problem – and I know traditional therapy can help to some degree – the problem is you got an hour. In an hour you really aren’t getting that much done and you’re not getting into that relaxed, restorative mindset.
Mark: Right. And to be fair, a lot of times, we’re just reliving the event. Which is triggering the fear. So you leave the therapy session in fight or flight…
Dr Wood: Worse shape… you go into a beta brainwave state. When you had the trauma you were in a very high alert state – a beta brainwave state. When you sit and you start talking about it you’re in a beta brainwave state. You’re not providing any kind of a counter to it.
What I’m able to do is – once we get to about an hour and a half in – I’ve got the mind now starting to get into that restorative set. Into an alpha brainwave state.
Then when we start to introduce some of those events and experiences – the mind can then reprocess it from beta into alpha. And then it stops calling for the action.
Mark: Interesting. That is cool. So are you having your clients try to disassociate from the memory? Or from the emotion? Maybe be a little bit more descriptive about what you think is happening.
Dr Wood: What I think is actually happening is the mind is actually seeing it in high definition. Very bright and intense, because that’s how it was captured. So your mind is recording everything – your brain’s recording all this activity. And because it’s in that high definition state, anytime somebody talks about it, reminds you of it, your mind is actually looking at that information and responding in real time.
So the way I explain it is, if we’re doing the opposite of what they did to the wizard of oz. They took it from black and white to color. We’re taking it from color to black and white.
So you don’t forget the memory, you don’t eliminate it, you just take all that intensity out of it. And then when the mind recalls the data, it stops calling for the action. Because it doesn’t feel threatened.
Mark: Yeah, interesting. So this is different than traditional coping therapy where we say “when it happens and you get all triggered just go outside, do some deep breathing, take a walk…”
Dr Wood: Yeah. This is not that. And I get that. And that’s the traditional model, we’re going to teach you to live, and manage, and cope with it…
Dr Wood: And what I’m saying is “no, we can eliminate it.” We’re proving that you can actually repair, restore that information, so that the mind stops calling for the action.
Mark: That’s cool. This sounds to me like a much more sophisticated version of what I’ve been trying to teach. And what worked for me.
And I learned this through EMDR coupled with visualization – retrospective visualization – so I call the practice recapitulation. And I have clients basically go back and remember an event. And then to essentially recontextualize it from their adult self’s perspective. Especially childhood events.
And to dim – like you said – dim the light on the energy of the original event. And to create literally a different outcome in their mind’s eye.
So it’s a little bit different it’s like using imagination to create a non-harmful, non-threatening outcome. That the adult self is now experiencing in that time frame of the child self whenever the wound happened.
And it has a similar effect. But I think what you’re doing is much more of a permanent solution, I think.
Dr Wood: It is. Because we’ve now gone back over years of people who’ve gone through the program, and it’s completely healed. So I worked with the Boston marathon bombing survivors, the Vegas shooting victims, people like that…
Rebecca Gregory, she was three feet from the first bomb that went off at the Boston marathon. She suffered for five years with post-traumatic stress.
And after she went through the program, it was gone. And she says “I can’t believe four hours could stop that.” So on the sixth anniversary she went back to the marathon and said “I’m gonna do everything I did that day, six years ago. Walk every step including standing where I was when the bomb went off.”
And she texted me a picture from there saying she’s fine. No stress. In fact, she just had tears of joy. There was no response to that event at all anymore.
Mark: Wow. That’s powerful.
Dr Wood: Yeah. But that’s what I believe is possible. We can heal it, we don’t have to treat it. We don’t have to manage it.
We need to just get the brain to understand there’s no call for an action. What do you need to do about a bomb that went off five years ago?
Nothing. It’s just information about something. It doesn’t mean we’re happy about it, but…
Mark: I see how people like this woman you’re talking about – like, it’s obvious acute trauma – like something bad happens…
That seems to be… when something bad happens people like “man, I can’t handle this. I really need to get some help.”
But then there’s the much more insidious subtle trauma from like the first seven years of your life. Where you don’t remember it. You know what I mean?
Like for me, I don’t really remember a whole lot from my first seven years. A couple powerful moments. But the rest is just kind of a blur.
But I do know – now. All the work I’ve done – as I look back and I’m like “yeah, there was a lot of trauma. A lot of violence, a lot of anger… and that’s trauma.
Dr Wood: That is trauma.
Mark: That’s triggering. Especially with the first three years – first 18 months of a child life there’s absolutely no way to differentiate from the care provider, your mother.
And if the mother is experiencing trauma? Guess what? You’re experiencing trauma…
Dr Wood: Yep. 100%. You’re looking to them for your response to what’s going on.
Mark: Right. And so this is one of the things I’ve been trying to impress upon our tribe, our clients at Unbeatable Mind is that you may be a highly successful CEO even, or you may be worth millions of dollars. And you may even be a top CrossFitter.
But chances are you’re still holding yourself back, because you’re not looking at the emotional trauma or shadow that you’re carrying around. And I learned this through an organization called the Hoffman institute and I went through a seven-day program called the Hoffman process. And they focus on – they call it the negative love syndrome – from early childhood traumatic situations, or early childhood environments.
And it was profound. It had a profound effect on my understanding of all the patterns that arose from that and then you work to essentially eliminate that energy and turn it into a positive. And not be a victim or not blame your parents for whatever’s going on in your life.
Dr Wood: Well even with the best of intentions, our parents can be creating those kinds of emotional concussions.
Mark: That’s right. Because they’re just playing out the same patterns that their parents played out.
Dr Wood: And even sometimes though, with just the words they’re using… when you take a five-year-old or six-year-old child, they don’t have enough life experience to interpret what was just being said.
So as an example, I had a lady come in and she had a very, very bad relationship with her stepfather. She didn’t like him, she didn’t get along with him – yet her brother and sister, who were younger than her, were fine with him. They loved him.
But she just said “I rebelled against him. I fought against him.” Well, what had happened is we came back to an event when she was about six years old that her natural father who she had never met wanted to meet her. And she says “I remember him saying that I was a mistake.”
Mark: Oh ouch.
Dr Wood: Now when we went through that I said is it possible that that’s not maybe what he said, but your mind heard it that way? That maybe it was a mistake that this guy got together with your mother. Or maybe it was a mistake that your mom got pregnant at that time. But that you’re not a mistake.
And as we were going through that and she’s in this very relaxed restorative mindset she says “I feel this rush of energy going through my chest right now.” She says “and what’s coming to my mind is my stepfather braiding my hair when I was younger.” And so she goes “you know what? He really was a good guy, I just couldn’t get along with him.”
Because in her mind, he had called her a mistake. And he probably didn’t mean it, you just say those statements “oh, you were a mistake.” We sometimes talk about a child who was born out of wedlock. “It was a mistake.”
But that’s not what he meant, but that’s what she heard.
My wife had another great example of that when she was very young she was invited to go to a tea party with some of her friends. And she got there and her grandmother had dressed her up really pretty. A nice little dress with her ribbons in her hair. And she felt beautiful.
And she went there, and the mothers who were there to greet her one of the mothers said “oh, this one’s going to be a heartbreaker.” And all the mothers agreed.
And when she’s telling me this story, she’s crying. Because she says “I thought they saw something bad in me.”
Mark: Oh my, yeah.
Dr Wood: Now they didn’t mean what she interpreted they meant.
Mark: Of course not.
Dr Wood: But that was an emotional concussion for her. Those are the things that are affecting us later in life, and you don’t even know it. But as you said we don’t remember a lot of those things, but our mind never forgets…
Dr Wood: Mind never forgets. We call that at Unbeatable Mind, your background of obviousness or BOO, right? And it’s great because sometimes it just goes “boo” and it scares you right?
But background of obviousness is basically any subconscious pattern that you’re just not aware of, that’s running a script in your life. And then informing the overall story and the reactionary conditioning that we have.
So obviously everything that we’ve talked about – trauma is part of your BOO – any kind of emotional shadow. But also language, cultural beliefs, and norms that you just take for granted. If you grow up nowadays on social media with all the memes and you just take it for granted. You think that’s just the way things are. And you don’t realize that it’s actually just a story. That it’s a script that’s being run.
That’s why advertising is so powerful and social media is so powerful to affect culture. So boo. We all got it.
Let me ask you though, what is the power of language as it relates to trauma? Or to lock trauma in?
Dr Wood: It’s amazing and a lot of it again comes down to experience. Your previous experience. I could say a word to you that may not mean something to somebody else, but has a big meaning to you.
So for example if you call a woman “oh honey, don’t do that.” But her father, who was very demeaning to her used to call her “honey” all the time. You’re thinking “did I say something that offensive?”
To her it was, because her mind does a google search. Is constantly doing google searches on experiences, words… all those things. Have we experienced this before? What does this mean? Are we in danger?
And so if that word was offensive to her and then you say it, maybe not meaning… you could even say it to your own wife “oh honey, no, that’s fine.” In an endearing way. And then she’s getting upset with you and you said “what did I just say?”
Mark: That’s classically called transference isn’t it? In the psychology profession?
Dr Wood: Yeah.
Mark: That happens so much. I can’t tell you how much of my mother I transferred on to my wife. What a poor soul my wife is for having to deal with that. To include calling her “Susie” once in a while and she’s like “oh my God, I’m not your mother.”
And I’m like “oh, I’m so sorry.” I need help. (laughing)
Dr Wood: Well even things like and I didn’t understand it at the time – but if I said something to my wife like “no I don’t like that,” she could start to tear up and cry and say “why are you mad at me?”
And I’d say “I’m not mad at you. I didn’t say anything to make you think I was mad at you.” What I didn’t realize as a child she had learned to listen so carefully to the way her father spoke. And if she heard the slightest inflection change in her voice, she knew trouble was coming.
So she could hear it in my voice and then what that would do was then rush in a whole bunch of data about what happened to her as a child. She wasn’t responding with tears to what I said. She thought she was, and I thought she was.
She was responding to the flood of data coming in about being hurt as a child. That’s what was creating the response.
And so I kept thinking I’ve got to say it calmer, I got to say it nicer, I’ve got to choose my words better… there was nothing I could have done, until we got that trauma cleared and updated.
Mark: It’s amazing that we can even navigate life with all this emotional subconscious triggers and conditioning going on isn’t it?
Dr Wood: And that’s why relationships break down. Because if I’ve got things that are getting initiated and activated by something my wife says. And then I say something that activates, hers we stop communicating and connecting. And then it breaks down.
Trauma and Physiology
Mark: How does trauma affect the body in terms of like hormones and inflammation and basic functioning?
Dr Wood: Yeah, I believe that unresolved trauma is creating inflammation in the body. The purpose of the inflammation is a pause. So the reason we have inflammation is the cells go into a cell danger response. So for my daughter the cell danger response showed up in her lower intestinal area. That was Crohn’s.
Mark: What does cell danger response mean?
Dr Wood: So the cells go inflamed. So they develop sort of a hard membrane. They sort of puff out.
Mark: To protect themselves?
Dr Wood: To protect themselves. To stop anything from penetrating the cell.
Dr Wood: So nothing’s getting into the cell, but nothing’s getting out of the cell. It’s a temporary pause until the danger passes.
Mark: I see.
Dr Wood: And toxicity builds up in the cell. But the purpose of it is when the danger is over – when you escape the lion, right? Then it goes back into its normal cell response. So the mitochondria, the ATP in the cell are now released. So now you go back into normal homeostasis.
But for my daughter, the trauma kept looping. So the inflammation stayed active, because the danger hadn’t passed. And that’s what I believe was going on.so then that creates a big change in the body…
Mark: So you’re saying her Crohn’s disease was caused by her emotional trauma?
Dr Wood: I believe so.
Mark: Had nothing to do with epigenetics, or diet…?
Dr Wood: They kept telling us it was diet… “Take out gluten, take out dairy…” all those kinds of things. Once we got the trauma resolved, she hasn’t had a Crohn’s flare up.
Mark: That’s amazing. It makes total sense to me, right? Because you’re eradicating the underlying energy that was causing the inflammation. And it wasn’t something that you’re putting in your body, it was something you’re creating inside your body through your mental structures.
Dr Wood: Yeah. And it stayed active. So, for my wife – she was in a constant fight or flight state, so she was constantly producing cortisol. So she’s got Hashimoto’s. Another autoimmune issue, because her thyroid was overproducing cortisol. And that’s going to lead to all kinds of different problems.
And so for her, her thyroid sort of burnt out. And that’s not meant to be. Your fight or flight response is an emergency management system. You know that from your military days, right? That’s designed to protect you when you’re in a threat. But it’s supposed to turn off when the threat is over.
Only humans keep looping memory and keeping it active…
Mark: Animals don’t do that, because they don’t have the same kind of orientation toward time right?
Dr Wood: Yeah, and they also don’t store memory – they don’t store explicit memory. They have associative memory. We have that too.
So the associative memory is the procedural repetition memory that we learn…
Mark: So I see my dog, he knows I’m the caregiver, and food and a walk are about ready to happen. And maybe some play time.
But he doesn’t like think back like “oh yeah, I remember when Mark took me for a long walk three weeks ago.” (laughing)
Dr Wood: He doesn’t need to know the details of why he loves you. He just knows he’s safe, right? But the details of that is not something that he can recall. He just knows that he’s in a safe environment.
That’s why you can feed your dog the same thing every day, because they don’t remember eating that. It’s a new meal, they’re excited. They’re gonna survive.
Mark: Okay, interesting. So is there anybody that’s not fixable? Are there people who are just too far gone? Or is this something that will work for everyone?
Dr Wood: I believe everybody can heal. People who are schizophrenic I believe have been so severely traumatized that the brain is just so disorganized. It’s very, very hard for… those are the most difficult cases, I believe. Where now you’ve got so much dysfunction going on that can you even get them to that point?
I find the same thing is if they’re heavily medicated. Because we can’t get the mind to start processing. The purpose of the medication is to block processing. And it does a really good job. And really stops.
I had a guy come in and a little different, but he was an alcoholic. But he came in and he was drunk. And I thought “well, I’m going to try taking him through the program anyway.”
And I just couldn’t get through. He just wasn’t able to concentrate and focus and get his mind into that restorative state. So those will definitely affect it.
Mark: Brings up an interesting question. Does the work that you do on trauma, can it help addiction?
Dr Wood: Oh, 100%. We’re getting people out of addiction… I don’t believe addiction is a disease… my model is it’s a code. The associative memory – that procedural memory… we have the two memory systems… the explicit memory that only humans have – all that detail about events and experiences – that’s what creates the pain.
They found a substance to stop the pain temporarily, but because they kept repeating it over and over and over, they built a code. The mind is operating at that point on codes.
And that’s why if you try to stop that code, the mind’s not going to be okay with that, because it says “we’re going to die without that heroin.” It’s a glitch. Because by continually repeating it, you programmed it to believe that the solution to the problem was heroin. And it doesn’t want to give it up
So what we’re doing is we first fix the explicit memory that created the pain. And then it’s a lot easier to start changing the codes.
Mark: What if the memory…? Like for a lot of alcoholics or drug addicts it’s not like one memory – it’s like you grew up in an environment where alcohol was a problem, right? And so then that that just kind of greased the groove. In my early late teen early adulthood alcohol did cause some problems for me. And so I had to deal with that.
But so it’s not one memory, it’s just kind of…
Dr Wood: Again, it can be a multiple kind of an associative thing, but once we start clearing some of that memory… we only work on about three different events. The mind – once it gets this process down, it’s like a new app. It then starts going through all those events and experiences, and starts to update all of it. Once it learns the healing technique, it just processes.
Mark: Oh interesting.
Dr Wood: That’s what’s so beautiful about it. So I had a lady who had really bad sexual abuse as a child, and then we did three different events, and she says “this is going to take us all night, because I have a lot of these.”
I said “we don’t need to do any more. Your mind will process everything else for you.”
And so I ran into her about a month later at a store and she said to me – she came up to me and she said “I’ve got to tell you something.” She said “I felt great that day. There’s no question those events had been updated. I felt fine about them.”
She said “I didn’t believe you when you told me my mind would clear everything else.” She said, “But I was at universal studios on the weekend, riding on an escalator with my daughter and my husband. And I was looking over the railing. My daughter said to me ‘she says mom, look at what you’re doing.’”
And she goes “I never told you I had a fear of heights. We never even discussed it.”
So whatever event created that, the mind processes it. Like I said it’s designed to heal. Especially when you go into that theta brainwave state, when you start dreaming and sleeping, that’s when the mind is processing. So after we do the four hour session you go to sleep at night then your mind continues to process what it just learned during the day.
Mark: Well, now that we have this COVID lock down, are you still doing in person? Or can you can do this training virtually?
Dr Wood: Yeah, mostly it’s on zoom now. I can do it one-on-one, but people aren’t traveling. So it’s almost always done on zoom.
But we’re also doing groups. So we can do even group on a zoom. And it’s pretty fascinating. So it still works.
Mark: That’s cool. We’re getting long in the tooth here. But I do want to ask you for listeners who are like “this sounds great. I would like to try it on my own.” Do you have a tool…? I see something called the one frame memory reprogram. Do you have a way people can begin to reboot without waiting for a four-hour session with you?
Dr Wood: It’s more difficult to do. Mainly because if your mind doesn’t get into that restorative state, you’re really pushing up against the defense that the mind’s gonna have about making change. The mind doesn’t really like to make changes – quick changes are not safe.
That’s why I believe the four hours are so impactful, because we get you into a state where the mind is feeling very relaxed, and feeling very safe. And then it’s open to start making some changes.
Mark: Right. You have a new book. Is it out yet this book?
Dr Wood: I’ve got two.
Mark: The one I was thinking about is “you must be out of your mind.” Is that the new book?
Dr Wood: That’s the first one.
Mark: What’s the second one then?
Dr Wood: The second one is called “emotional concussions.”
Mark: “emotional concussions,” awesome. And that’s the one that’s recently out.
Dr Wood: That’s the recent one, yep
Mark: Oh well, congratulations. “emotional concussions.” I imagine that’s anywhere books are sold.
Dr Wood: Yep, it’s on amazon, it’s on our website.
Mark: And your website is inspiredperformanceinstitute.com?
Dr Wood: Correct. And the reason we call it performance program and not therapy is we start from the premise that there’s nothing wrong with anybody’s mind. Everybody’s mind is just being affected by these events and experiences. And all we need is a reset.
It’s like a computer. We just need to reboot the computer.
Mark: Right do you think that like at a mass level people have been traumatized by COVID and the shutdowns, and the racial riots…?
Dr Wood: Oh sure
Mark: And that we’re going to have massive emotional baggage to deal with in the next few years?
Dr Wood: I think so. I really do. I think it’s going to be a big effect.
Mark: I do too. Yeah.
Dr Wood: Because anytime your survival is threatened, your mind goes into a protective mode. So it’s going to be constantly activated by anything that looks like COVID again.
Mark: Well and also it’s just the cost of the economic shutdown. Vastly, vastly understated and misunderstood. Or not understood by the government. The cost in in terms of emotional distress caused by the economic distress. Survival – fight or flight by millions of people who’ve lost their jobs, lost their businesses…
Suicide’s going to go up. Untreated illnesses are going to inflame and people are going to die. And families are getting wrecked. It’s just horrific. Probably trillions of dollars have been just destroyed.
Dr Wood: Absolutely. And they don’t see it, because they don’t have to worry about it.
Mark: That’s right.
Dr Wood: Their paycheck comes in regardless.
Mark: Paycheck comes in like clockwork, and they just print some more money.
And yeah, what a nightmare. I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better. We’re heading into that fourth turning, dangerous period… happens every 100, 120 years. Last time it happened was world war one, world war two period. Then the time before that was the civil war. And before that was revolutionary war.
So every fourth turning there’s conflict and turmoil. And yeah… so stand by. Everyone buckle down and this emotional stuff. We gotta get a jump on it, I think, because it’s really important.
Dr Wood: Yeah. And the key is to be able to keep your mind present. So we can deal with the lion that’s in front of us, right? But if you’re dealing with a lion in front of you, but you’ve got a whole bunch of memory about all the lions that you got hurt by that’s going to stop your ability to be in your best performance level.
Mark: Right. Hooyah to that. Awesome.
Well, thank you so much for your work. I’m intrigued – I even said this last time – I’m intrigued actually. I would love to spend four hours with you and just see… because I’m a high performer, but I love the name of your thing “inspired performance.” I always think there’s room to grow and overcome.
It’s like layers of an onion. So people usually go the first layer they’re like “I’m healed!” They don’t recognize there’s like 50 layers under that. (laughing)
Dr Wood: And that’s what we’re seeing all the time. So I work with high performing athletes, CEOs… who have another gear.
Mark: That’s right.
Dr Wood: And it just takes them to that next level. And it’s incredible to watch…
Mark: Yeah, that’s cool. All right we’ll follow up on that. That’d be fun.
Dr Wood: Yeah, I’d love to take you through it. I think you’d really love it.
Mark: Yeah, let’s do that. I’m serious. I’ll drop you a note…
All right, awesome. Thanks so much. So everybody listening to check out Dr Don Wood’s book “Emotional Concussions.” Also “You Must Be Out Of Your Mind.” What a great title. Find him at inspiredperformanceinstitute.com and Twitter, he’s at inspiredperfor2, Instagram is @inspiredperformanceinstitute and Facebook @inspiredperformanceinstitute.
Awesome. Don, thank you so much. Really appreciate you and your work. Yeah, we’ll talk soon.
Dr Wood: Sounds great. Thanks.
Mark: All right, folks. That’s it for today. This is the Unbeatable Mind podcast. You know the deal. Stay focused, do the work, and be unbeatable. See you next time.
Join the discussion 2 Comments
Totally great interview! Thanks so much for this one. I’ve continued focusing on learning and healing since the course. And, am still understanding the shame mechanism of being persecuted as a Japanese-American. My US father had done recon for USAF long ago and I was traumatized deliberately through my life by his family and community.
The medical grade hyperbaric oxygen treatment medical grade is rare and expensive to come by for 50 treatments.
Happy to hear how it works.
Thanks for the insight.
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