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  • Writer's pictureThrive Inc.

Unlocking the Fear Code with Kathlyn Hendricks

We’re delighted to introduce you to today’s guest, evolutionary catalyst and freelance mentor Kathlyn Hendricks. Katie has been a pioneer in the field of body intelligence and conscious loving for 50 years. She is the co-author of 12 books and specializes in translating concepts into directly felt experiences that lead to new choices and creative engagement. Her unique coaching and leadership programs have generated hundreds of body intelligence and relationship coaches in the US and Europe.

Katie is with us today to discuss how fear affects us as humans and how instead of allowing fear to block us from being resourceful, we should work with and befriend fear in order to engage and create something new. She’ll talk about how to shift from fear to flow, and how making this shift will enable us to plug into the present and awaken our creativity.

Join us this week to listen in on our conversation and discover how to better understand your own fear and, as a result, learn how to manage your different fear-reactors whether it’s to fight, flee, freeze or faint. We’ll talk about how to find your essence pace and how, in turn, you can live a calmer, more present and unified life.

If you enjoyed the show, please share the podcast with your family and friends, or post a five-star review on iTunes. Rating and reviewing the show helps spread the word, which means less friction and suffering for everyone, and who doesn’t want that?

Learn More:

  • Why there’s not a huge difference between adrenaline and fear.

  • Why it’s essential to make the shift from fear to presence.

  • What fear melters are and how you can use them in your day-to-day life.

  • What your fear signature is and how to work with it.

  • How learning fear melters can help you to support yourself and others.


Full Transcript:

CrisMarie Campbell: Welcome to The Beauty of Conflict, a podcast about how to deal with conflict at work, at home and everywhere else in your life. Hi, I'm CrisMarie.

Susan Clarke: And I'm Susan. We run a company called Thrive, and we specialize in conflict resolution, communication and building strong, thriving teams and relationships. Conflict shows up in our lives in so many ways. Most people, unfortunately, are not very good at handling conflict. Most people have never been taught the right tools for dealing with conflict, and then it leads to unnecessary friction, arguments, passive aggressive emails, tears, hurtful comments, stuck-ness, all kinds of things we don't want. We're on a mission to change all of that.

CrisMarie Campbell: We've spent the last 20 years teaching our clients how to handle conflict in a whole new way. We're here to show you that conflict doesn't have to be scary and overwhelming. With the right tools, you can turn a moment of conflict into a moment of reinvention. Conflict can pave the way into a beautiful new system at work, a new way of leading your team, a new way of parenting, a new chapter of your marriage where you feel more connected than ever before. Conflict can lead to beautiful things.

Today, we are so excited we have a very special guest, Kathlyn Hendricks, an evolutionary catalyst and freelance mentor who has been a pioneer in the field of body intelligence and conscious loving for 50 years. She describes her purpose, “I feel through to the heart with laser-love and evoke essence through deep play.” How yummy is that?

Susan Clarke: I love that.

CrisMarie Campbell: Dr. Hendricks is a co-author of 12 books, including the best-selling Conscious Loving, At the Speed of Life and Conscious Loving Ever After: How to Create Thriving Relationships at Midlife and Beyond with your husband who is very well-known, Gay Hendricks. So, we're excited about that.

She specializes in translating concepts such as commitment into directly felt experiences that lead to new choices and creative engagement. Her unique coaching and leadership programs have generated hundreds of body intelligence and relationship coaches in the U.S. in Europe.

She is currently joining with her leadership community through the Foundation for Conscious Loving to create one big leap online programs. These online videos are designed to support people in coming home to presence, restoring resourcefulness, and creating caring communities. How wonderful. We're so excited to have you, Kathlyn.

Susan Clarke: Yes.

Kathlyn Hendricks: Oh, I'm delighted to be with you, and please feel free to call me Katie. Everybody does.

CrisMarie Campbell: Okay, that's for sure. Katie and Gay Hendricks. I knew you from so many years ago with Conscious Loving and Gay's book, The Big Leap, is such a well-known book for folks out there, and so I love that you're turning those into more accessible online programs. That's great.

Susan Clarke: And I am thrilled to talk about what you're doing now because that seems so applicable to where we are right now in the world.

CrisMarie Campbell: Tell me if I'm wrong, but really, your current focus is unlocking the fear code, accessing essence power.

Kathlyn Hendricks: Yes, I would say that because fear blocks us from being able to be resourceful, to find new responses, and to collaborate, we have to go through the doorway of fear so that we're not just reacting, but we can actually engage and create something new.

CrisMarie Campbell: What a perfect time for this to be released right now with the Coronavirus and all that we're going through currently. My goodness.

Kathlyn Hendricks: I know, I feel very grateful. I had a series of experiences three years ago starting with falling off of my bike and breaking my hip where I knew that I needed to recreate myself, and in recreating myself, I began to see how pervasive the experience of fear is.

In fact, my experience is that the last three, almost four years now has been really motivated by fear. It has, I think, joined with the tendency of our culture now through speed and through the addiction to adrenaline, adrenaline is so close to fear in the experience in our body.

What people don't understand is that it's not a renewable resource. That adrenaline has a short half-life. You get that first ha, ha, ha of being right, or being the one who can point the blame at somebody else, that we don't realize that when that begins to droop, which it does very quickly, the only thing that will bring it back again is to accelerate the adrenaline.

So, people do more blaming, do more adrenaline, do more fear, and we've gotten, now, I like to tell people to just look at the history of action movies. Back in my day, if a car blew up in a movie, that was a huge, big deal, but now, they're blowing up whole universes.

CrisMarie Campbell: Repeatedly.

Kathlyn Hendricks: Repeatedly, and then more and more, so that it's like falling into a volcano because it's not going away. So, the old world is needing to do is to learn how to shift from fear to presence, and fear to connection because adrenaline prevents us from connecting.

As we know, the antidote to addiction is connection. I saw in so many different ways that really befriending fear rather than trying to control it, or stop it, or try to talk people out of it, that really befriending fear turns fear juice into actual aliveness that we can use by choice.

Susan Clarke: I love that. When we are talking about the work we do, we often talk about this idea of you go into reaction or response, and so many times, people don't want to be reactive. It's like, “No, you actually need to embrace how you are reactive.” It's sort of the same idea because fear is one big, major thing that is often a reactive state, and befriending it makes complete sense. Fear to flow, I think, is how you put it in some of your videos and books, and I love that concept.

Kathlyn Hendricks: I love it that we're relieved, that we're in sync about reactive to responsive, and one of our colleagues, Julie Caldwell, who lives in Boulder, has a whole system that she calls moving from reactive brain to creative brain. I think that the research, the way the brain works, the way that our body brain works is totally in sync with what we're talking about.

That if we're working through adrenaline, we're simply draining ourselves, and then we need more and more outside adrenaline juice to run the system. But as we're shifting, and we're actually turning towards fear, and including fear, and experiencing fear as a body experience, then we can liberate.

I use the analogy sometimes of electrical wires that are loose. They've come undone, and they're loose, and they're flopping all over the street, and that's dangerous to have all of that juice just be sparking all over. But when we connect with fear, and we experience it in our bodies, and we use body intelligence to shift that into energy, then we're able to move into response.

Then when we respond, we can invent all kinds of new things instead of the typical things that people do when they're reacting are very predictable. You just look around the world right now, and you can see all of them happening over and over again.

Susan Clarke: That is so true. We are such a right, wrong universe right now. I do a lot of work with horses, and I think the Equus work that I do with people is helping them. The very same idea. Get back into your body because horses are herd animals like we are. We are meant to be connected, and so often, we lose that connection because we're actually not in our bodies. We don't know what embodiment means because of that adrenaline and the reaction. So, very similar.

Kathlyn Hendricks: That's such a good point because I think really what we're up against that is so invisible right now is that we've been making the body bad for at least 2,000, 3,000 years now. I call it the head body and the body, body because most people think that their head is actually not their body.

Most people living in what I call a head centric world, they're using just really a small part of our intelligence to run things. There's a great David Bohm quote that I really love. He's a well-known physicist, and he said, “The mind makes up the world, and then says, ‘I didn't do that.’”

CrisMarie Campbell: I love that.

Kathlyn Hendricks: Yeah, I love that because if what we're actually talking about is befriending our experience of being animals, and of living in a body, and joining with other animals, and how we can love our bodies rather than trying to control them and making them wrong and bad. I think that's really at the source of the split that's been going on for such a long time.

CrisMarie Campbell: I was thinking, and you must be familiar with focusing, which is how I work with people to actually land in their body and turn towards those sensations, and the something in me that's afraid as developing that kind of presence that I can hold for these reactions that I'm having, and be there and repair them because they're having such a hard time.

Kathlyn Hendricks: Yes, I'm familiar with Gendlin's work from, gosh, back in the ‘70s, ‘80s. What I love is that we have all of these different doorways that take us to the same place, that bring us to presence, that I'm actually locating myself. I'm experiencing my body sensations and my feelings rather than making feelings wrong and bad, and trying to actually control other people's feelings so that I don't have to feel.

CrisMarie Campbell: Exactly. That's what we talk about in our Beauty of Conflict book, is if I could just get you to actually calm down because I'm uncomfortable with actually tolerating my own discomfort in my body.

Kathlyn Hendricks: Yes, if I can open up to including, welcoming, listening to and acting from what I'm actually experiencing, then I and another person or a group, we can join our awareness to create a new field where we can actually create new structures and new games.

The main structure that's going on right now is from what Stephen Karpman described back in the ‘60s the Karpman triangle that we call the hero, the villain, and the victim. If you look anywhere, if you look at what's going on in our politics right now, you'll see the villain, victim, and the hero. What that prevents us from doing is creating new structures.

We just are simply doing what Gay used to call rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic rather than creating new structures where people can thrive and people can connect with each other to really express our creativity. See, my sense is that the only experience that's more powerful and juicier than fear and adrenaline is creativity.

That when we're actually creating, we're plugged in and present, when we're creating, that's so much more satisfying and renewing. Then the adrenaline spark, it can give you that sense of having a double shot of espresso, but then it wears off, and then you have the wear and tear on your body. Creativity doesn't create wear and tear. It actually creates more filling of your reservoir.

CrisMarie Campbell: This so fits because what our Beauty of Conflict, it's really about turning conflict into creativity and the yumminess that comes. But it would be lovely to hear more, Kathlyn or Katie, about how can you help our listeners work? So, the fear comes up. What do they do?

Kathlyn Hendricks: Well, first of all, I want people to know that if they go to they'll find dozens of videos that will show them exactly how to shift from fear into flow, from fear into presence with what I've invented called fear melters.

CrisMarie Campbell: What a great name, fear melters.

Kathlyn Hendricks: I know. I love it because rather than confronting fear or overpowering fear, why not just melt fear? I explored this for several years, and what I have found is that the doing a body move is the most effective way of making the shift because your brain, your mind, is going to just try and talk to you about it and keep you from doing anything. It's like in the Wizard of Oz, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

What I like to have people do, I have a whole video on identifying your fear signature that people can look at. The heart of that is that when you're feeling reactive, let yourself do what you're doing a little bit more because that will let you know whether you're fighting. Just imagine yourself in a boxer stance, and you’ve got your chin out, and you're kind of going, “Oh yeah?” That's fight. People confuse fight for anger.

Also, if you feel yourself sort of drifting away, you're trying to leave the room, or your mind is going elsewhere, that's flee. If you get frozen like an icicle or a startle where your eyes go wide and you hold your breath, that's freeze. If you find that your energy is just draining away, and you're losing your thoughts, you feel confused or foggy, that's actually faint.

My sense is that at least most of our nation, if not the world, is in a huge faint right now. Faint is the closest thing to death. So, when you see animals in the wild, and they've been attacked, like a predator has got them, and they know they're going to die, their whole body goes into faint in a kind of passivity where they're actually not there.

That passivity, I think, is one of the biggest challenges for us right now because people are just so overwhelmed with all of the challenges, and all of the attacks, and the slurs, and the homophobia, and the racism, and the non-reality that's going on, that people have become overwhelmed.

My sense is too that when people make these simple moves in the fear melters, and people can just do them with me, and then they can take a look at the Foundation for Conscious Living and see videos and see lots of videos of people doing fear melters and mini melters that you can do in public.

If you let yourself just imagine that you’re seaweed in the ocean, and just let your body begin to do the fear melter we call ooze. Imagine that that seaweed is your arms and shoulders, and that's just gently circulating and moving. When you do that, the thing about the fear melters is that they give you a moment of presence and locating, “Ah, here I am.”

You can't fight when you're oozing. You might fight again the next moment, but then you have a choice that you can keep building and rewiring your nervous system by using the fear melters. Then what I like to do, which I'll tell you in a moment, is fear melters plus.

So that when you've stepped into presence, you can add something to that that begins to rewire your nervous system. When you're in flee and, “I got to get out of here. Just let me get out of here. I'm going to escape into having a drink, or reading a book, or going through all of my socks in my closet.”

CrisMarie Campbell: I’ve done that.

Kathlyn Hendricks: Yup, I’ve done that too, or finding the best chocolate on the internet. So, the fear melter for flee is what we call sumo. If you imagine or even take your body right now, if you have the space to do that, and put your legs wide like you are a sumo wrestler, and let yourself come down and shift your weight from hip to hip. Feel how you are so located. Here I am. Sumo locates you.

A little mini melter is simply feel your feet. It's a move that you can make even though your mind might be chattering at you that this is stupid or silly. When you do that, you have that, “Ah, here I am.” Now, my favorite is freeze.

That's, in fact, what made me fall off my bike because even though I know fear melters, when my bike started to go over, my body froze, and that was it. Even though I started wiggling, when you're frozen, and people will say to you something like, “Well, just relax.”

CrisMarie Campbell: Like that’s going to help.

Kathlyn Hendricks: Right, like that’s going to help. Makes you want to punch them. When you're frozen, you can wiggle your fingers and toes. So, actually try it out. Let your body freeze and become an icicle, and then realize you can still wiggle your fingers and your toes, and then that wiggling, you can let that percolate and begin to move through your body until everything is wiggling, and that now begins to thaw you out. So that again, you find presence.

Then the faint, the thing that I've discovered just recently about faint is that I feel isolated. I think people feel most alone in faint because you're not reaching out. So, the fear melter for faint is what we call love scoops. I'd like you to imagine a delicious pool of love that's around you. I would like you to reach out into the love with both of your hands and bring some love to you, just like you'd bring water to your face, or love to your belly, or love to your shoulders.

Anywhere that you're feeling that sort of drain, just bring love and letting it wash over you, letting you touch yourself. It's the reaching out, and then bringing the love back to you that makes a huge difference in feeling like, “Oh, I am connected to the world again. I'm here. We're here. I can begin to respond.”

CrisMarie Campbell: Those are yummy. We were doing them, Katie, as you were talking. Hopefully, we were not making too much noise on our mic. When I discharge my nervous system, I often burp, and I was burping because we've been doing one thing after another this morning.

I wanted to ask because the fight response, like today, we had a miscommunication about the time, and I was like, “Oh, my gosh. I made a mistake. I did something wrong.” I go into like red alert. I've got to fix it now. But I imagine that would be a fight response.

Kathlyn Hendricks: Yeah, the fear signature. I can hear your mind working on it. What I have found really useful is to have people simply exaggerate what they're doing. So, exaggerating gestures, exaggerating tone of voice, exaggerating what you're doing with your posture, how you're moving or not moving.

That will give you more information about your fear signature because it's usually not just one of the fears. It's a combo. I say we have combo plates, and my combo play is first, I freeze. I have that, “What?” Then I kind of faint like, “Whoa, what's going on?” Then I fight.

So, it can look like to another person that I have just gone into fight, but as you're really befriending your fear signature, you can find more and more of how in different situations you have more of a ratio of the faint like, “Uh,” because it sounded like you did have some faint there like, “Uh-oh, I've done something wrong.”

Any of the fear melters will work, but they also work really well in combination. I like to have pupil play with, for example, doing oozy sumo. So, letting your body, your lower body, be in sumo and your upper body doing oozing. Combining, so doing wiggling with loves scoops. So, wiggly scoops, and the combination of those then gives you even more and quicker access to presence.

What I love to have people do when you're doing fear melters is then to do fear melters plus, and that allows your body to expand in presence rather than defaulting to the fear response and the reactive response. I'm doing some oozing right now, and then when I'm feeling that sense of presence, I can add a, “Hmm.”

I can even add the, “Hmm,” while I'm doing fear melters because the, “Hmm,” shifts you from your critical brain to your wonder brain, and it's very easy. It's very quick. I like to use that, especially if I'm trying to figure out something different than what I've been doing. So, if I do fear melters and, “Hmm,” I add then in a wonder question. So, “Hmm, I wonder what I could learn from this. Hmm.”

CrisMarie Campbell: I love it.

Susan Clarke: It’s like bringing curiosity into the mix here.

Kathlyn Hendricks: Exactly. Another one is to do fear melters, and then three open connected breaths. Then that grounds you in a sense of, “Oh, I'm fueling myself, and I'm also here in the world, and I can see what's going on.”

Then another one that is a little bit more complicated to learn, but really valuable that people can find on the Foundation site, which is to do fear melters then what we call essence pace. Now, one of the things I think is running the world right now is our addiction to speed. Getting faster, and faster, and faster. I think that one of the biggest gifts of the Coronavirus crisis is the pattern interrupt about speed.

Susan Clarke: I agree with you.

CrisMarie Campbell: That makes so much sense.

Susan Clarke: Yes, it does.

Kathlyn Hendricks: It's this whole sense of, “Wait a minute. Where am I going, and what am I doing on the way to getting there, and what's going to happen when I get there? Is it going to be different than what I'm doing right now?”

So, essence pace, I can describe it to you very simply, which is take yourself out for a walk in your getting your physical distance from people, and let yourself accelerate so that you're speeding up until you're kind of like New York subway.

Then let yourself begin to gradually slow down until you're doing molasses in January, and let yourself move between accelerating and decelerating until you find the pace where you're aware of you and you're also aware of the space around you. It's very simple, but a profound shift because I'm present. I’m presencing myself, but I'm also available for connection.

I'm not turning people into objects, which reminds me the two things that are so important about understanding fear is that when I'm in fear, I can't think. I literally can't think. I'm only reacting out of my survival brain, and when I'm in fear, other people are the enemy. So, it could be my mate, it could be my company, it could be the people in the grocery store.

CrisMarie Campbell: The ones that got the toilet paper before me.

Kathlyn Hendricks: Exactly. Yeah. One of the things I'm appreciating about my community, I live in Ojai, California, is that we have plenty in the grocery stores. People are not hoarding. I think that a lot of that comes out of people really caring for each other.

We had the Thomas fire two years ago that almost burned down our town. We lost lots of homes and so on, and what people did was really turned toward each other, and it gave us an opportunity to actually move through fear to presence.

All of these skills, for example, especially essence pace where we're finding this is a pace where in Zen they talk about hurrying slowly. You find the pace that allows you to accomplish with ease because you are present. You're here and moving in a unified way in the world.

So, there are lots of things that you can build on the fear melters that will make life easier, and more effective, and more connected for you. But the basis of it, what I say to people is when you're in doubt, just do a fear melter stance at the beginning of the day, and it creates a blueprint for you of spaciousness, and presence, and availability that you can then come back to. It gives you a new home base rather than getting up and just dashing off into adrenaline.

CrisMarie Campbell: And Katie, they can get the fear melters on your Foundation site. Can they also get the fear melters plus or whatever you call it?

Kathlyn Hendricks: Absolutely. When you go to Foundation for Conscious Living, on the homepage, there are two big areas that you can click through to. One is unlocking the fear code and accessing essence power. We have some conversations with our community, our restoring resourcefulness faculty, where we talk about some of the major issues with fear.

For example, why you can't talk anybody out of being scared. What do you do when people around you are scared? There are these conversations that I think will be educational for people, and it's good what I call left brain candy that something better to think about.

But then we also have demonstrations of fear melters, how to do the fear melters, fear melters plus, mini melters, like how to do fear melters at the bank. So, there's lots of information. Then there's another big link that you go through to our big leap home, and we have three modules there. One is coming home to yourself.

Another is restoring resourcefulness, and the third is creating care and community. We have videos in each one of those. So, for example, in coming home to yourself, you will see a video of Gay teaching breathing, and a very simple process of breathing that can give you a sense of, “Ah.”

CrisMarie Campbell: Oh, my goodness. You are a fount of information, and it's so applicable right now, Katie. It really is.

Kathlyn Hendricks: I'm so delighted to be able to connect, and be able to help provide those resources, and to be able to join in this larger community that we're all in to support each other.

CrisMarie Campbell: Absolutely, and now more than ever, and of course, virtually is working great.

Kathlyn Hendricks: Virtually is working great, and thank goodness because we can all feel we are in this together, and we can support each other while supporting ourselves. So, for all the givers out there, make sure that you give to yourself first.

CrisMarie Campbell: Perfect.

Susan Clarke: I can see this being perfect in the medical situation where they could do two minutes of oozing. It would be a perfect thing. I think it's a great resource for them.

Kathlyn Hendricks: Yes, and I'm doing my best to get it out as widely as possible.

CrisMarie Campbell: That is great. Thank you so much for being with us today, Katie.

Kathlyn Hendricks: Oh, thank you so much for what you're doing in the world as well.

CrisMarie: If you want to learn more about what we discussed today or how to deal with conflict more effectively, Susan and myself, CrisMarie, are both available for individual one-on-one coaching. We also offer couples coaching, which now, as we live and work 24/7 together, may be more important than ever.

Susan: We continue to do our team facilitation, both live and now virtually. Let's get real, until you've had a tough conversation over Zoom, you may not be building the trust you need on your team.

For the next couple of months, we are offering free virtual trainings to organizations. Our goal is to support you, your team, and your business, both at work and at home during this pandemic.

CrisMarie: Right now, you can find short videos on my, CrisMarie's, LinkedIn and Facebook with tips, tools, and inspiration. To contact us, email that's T-H-R-I-V-E @ T-H-R-I- V-E-I-N-C dot com.

Susan: Okay, stay safe, stay healthy, and remember together we are better and stronger.

CrisMarie: Take care.


CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke

Coaches, Business Consultants, Speakers and Authors of The Beauty of Conflict

CrisMarie and Susan work leaders and teams, couples in business, and professional women.

They help turnaround dysfunctional teams into high performing, cohesive teams who trust each other, deal with differences directly, and have clarity and alignment on their business strategy so they create great results.

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