In my conversation with Dr Jim Karagiannis, we are reminded that navigating uncertain times is something that stroke survivors have done before. If you are a stroke survivor and find yourself feeling uncertain about what the future holds because of coronavirus you will get a lot from this episode.
00:44 Dr. Jim Karagiannis
02:49 The Rider and the Elephant
07:04 Dealing with the Corona Virus situation
13:41 The dangers of uncertainty
19:50 Becoming dependent on healthcare professionals
26:31 Be mindful of suggestions and other people’s agenda
33:18 Adapting to difficult situations
The really interesting thing here is that the brain can’t tell the difference between perceived and real danger. So while we have a dangerous or we have complex vuca environment right now, the story that people are perpetuating in their minds, even when there are learned health professionals giving them information, to reassure them, if they’re running the program in their mind like this is the end. This is the destruction, and they’re buying into the story that’s fed by people who know that may have an agenda to run that fear. They’re going to be in a non-resourceful state.
This is recovery after a stroke. Bill Gasiamis, helping you go from where you are to where you’d rather be.
Dr. Jim Karagiannis
Bill from recoveryafterstroke.com this is Episode 91 and my guest today is Dr. Jim Karagiannis. Jim is a Doctor of Chiropractic and is especially passionate about the areas of mindset and personal growth and this fuels his voracious learning appetite. He has a fascination in the area of neuroscience and is focused on optimizing human potential.
As a certified neurobehavioral modeler, and business and life coach, Jim is focused on empowering all those who work with them to focus on who they need to become, to achieve their outcomes, and to live their ultimate purpose. Now, just before we get started, if you feel like you need some support during these times, ensure you reach out to someone in your area who can help be courageous and just ask. If you would like to reach out to me you can do so by sending an email to [email protected]. Now it’s on with the show. Jim Karagiannis welcome to the podcast.
Thanks, Bill. Glad to be here.
Thanks for being here man. Really important episode we’re going to do today. Things have gone a little bit pear-shaped for the entire planet. Just so you know, try and put a bit of a dampener on all the craziness and all the fear and all the stress that people are going through. And I just love the way that you go about giving perspective and supporting people to shift them from patterns of behavior that they’re perhaps not aware of that are causing them difficulty in the way that they feel.
So when I was going across Facebook and came across your post, The Rider and the Elephant, it resonated with me and I wanted you to share that story. Tell us a little bit about the rider and the elephant and how that relates to you. And then we’ll go into a deeper conversation about today’s topic.
Dr. Jim Karagiannis: The Rider and the Elephant
Okay, so I’ve been aware of an analogy of the rider and elephant, but I had an opportunity to feel and express or to experience it firsthand, so my wife Bettina and I went to Thailand a few years ago. might have been about three or four years ago and we went and visited an ecotourism park for elephants.
It was a beautiful habitat wonderful environment well catered and looked after and the people said hey, listen, would you like to ride an elephant? I’m like, absolutely this would be a wonderful experience opportunity so as we’re getting on the elephant we had to go up a couple of flights of stairs to get the elephant and sit on the seat, now that I’m about to get on the seat. The elephant trainer says, Hey, would you like to sit on its neck?
Because of that, you get a wonderful, fantastic experience. And I went I love adventure I went, you know what, why not? So I got on to the elephant’s neck. And it was such a powerful animal and a powerful beast. As I was sitting in it every step I could feel every step that it was moving on, I could feel it. They told me that the best way for me to be able to get the best experience is while tightening up my knees.
And if I tightened my knees and kind of tightened a little bit more on one side, I could move the animal to one side. If I tightened my knees and squeezed them in another direction, I could move the elephant the other way, and that was the perception that I could control the situation. So it gave me the perception as the rider that I was controlling this elephant, and everything was going fantastically well, enjoying the ride. We would have probably been riding for half an hour or so as we got to the end of the ride.
Within about the last, you know, 3, 4 hundred meters. There was a car backfired and the elephant was startled. And, like I never knew that elephants could move that fast because, in an instant, it just turned around and changed direction It was bolting. And here I was I couldn’t hold on with one hand, I couldn’t hand handle it, all I could do was hold on with my knees, squeezing out of the neck just to hold on Bettina at that time just behind me in the seat holding on. So the elephant just went crazy.
And it only started, I thought, we’re gonna die to be honest, because it was just so far, so rapid, so quick. And no matter what I was saying, I couldn’t get through the elephant, Hey, stop, stop, stop. And it was only when the animal trainer or the elephant trainer could calm down the elephant, that it could slow it down, that then it could hear the demands or that it could take on board the directional changes that I was squeezing I was trying to in the first place.
So that was the experience of it. And there’s a psychologist called Jonathan Haidt, who wrote a book about that analogy and it resonated with me a lot because the elephant and the rider is a bit of a metaphor for life in a lot of ways where the elephant represents the emotions. And the rider represents the logic.
And to me, it gave me a tangible experience and a tangible reference to say that we feel as riders or logically we can control things, but we’re very emotionally driven. And the moment that the emotions are out of control. And you mentioned earlier on about what’s going on at the moment, the emotions run the show.
And the only way that the rider can be heard, is once you calm down the animal, once you calm down and that emotional response. And so I had a practical experience to reinforce just how powerful the emotions are, and the moment that they are out of control. You know, even the voices of logic, which is what we’re hearing at the moment cannot be heard because of the emotional response.
Yeah. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room.
Dealing with the coronavirus situation
Coronavirus, right? So that analogy of the elephant in the rider is exactly what’s happening. Now the coronavirus situation was not much of a situation. And if you don’t follow the news or pay attention it’s not happening until one day, your government in the country that you’re living in says, We’re shutting everything down.
There is no more getting out and about connecting with people being in public in mass gatherings, etc. And all of a sudden, the rider who was going along life just beautifully, and everything was occurring in the way that it always had. All of a sudden is sitting on this beast which has decided to take a different approach to how It’s going to do things from now on.
And all of a sudden people are trying to hold on to this new way of existence and a new way of being and they don’t have any reference point for how to be able to hold on in this situation where things have changed and changed so rapidly. And now they are potentially feeling emotions that they’ve always had but are now being elevated because of a change in a seemingly situation where things are not in their control anymore. They’re also being manipulated by the things that they consume on social media on media, the broad media, television, newspapers, etc.
And there is a sense of this thing spiraling. And the more that people get anxious, the more they impact the people next to them or near them, the more they increase anxiety for those people and then the snowball effect happens. And then we get to a point where unless somebody can come along, and we can stop long enough, and pay attention to how we are being influenced negatively, by the people around us by the things that we consume, and by the environment, which we don’t have much of a control over.
There’s no way of getting out of the stuckness unless you’re able to take a breath stop for a moment and just pay attention to what you can do differently to bring control back to the things that can control to start giving that rise of hope. And then create the snowball effect towards calmness and things leveling out and things being better which then influences the people around us to start going down the same path and then we start getting a whole movement of have a shift again in emotional experiences and calmness starts to take hold again.
We don’t know how long it’s going to take for these stories and this narrative to change from the media, and we don’t know how long it’s going to take to change to the opposite end. So we have to start managing our own emotions. Now tell me a little bit about the challenges that people are facing, how you see them, what are the challenges, and what’s driving those challenges for them. And then in a little while, we’ll talk about how to solve those problems because people are talking about the problem right now. , and they’re not focusing on the solutions.
Yep. Okay. Look a hundred percent I agree with a lot of what you’re saying, and right now, you’re correct, we’re navigating uncharted territory. You know, no one’s in my lifetime. I’ve certainly not seen anything like this, and most people haven’t either. So the military came up with the term many years ago, which I think is quite appropriate here. It’s called Luca, which is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous.
And it reflects that you don’t know what’s going on. And in that process, you can’t make great logical decisions on all amounts of information because you don’t have all the amounts of information that you require. And in the absence of certainty itself, quite often you’ll tag on to whatever information is put out there, whether it’s correct factually, or whether it’s scaremongering.
Some people will look to the person who’s got the growth level of certainty even if they’re on the wrong track. As a way of solidifying themselves. So a really interesting thing that happens neurophysiologically is that what we’ve got right now is a fright-flight fight freeze response where the body’s maximally under threat and danger. So the primitive parts of the brain are sensing that and going, what do I have to do to survive? So right now, what’s happening is, it’s running a software program, in its brain that is geared towards survival and danger.
If you’ve had a stroke, and you’re in recovery, you’ll know what a scary and confusing time it can be, you’re likely to have a lot of questions going through your mind. Like, how long will it take to recover? Will I recover? What things should I avoid? In case I make matters worse, doctors will explain things, but, because you’ve never had a stroke before, you probably don’t know what questions to ask.
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The dangers of uncertainty
The really interesting thing here is that the brain can’t tell the difference between perceived and real danger. So while we have a dangerous or we have complex vuca environment right now, the story that people are perpetuating in their minds, even when there are learned health professionals giving them information, to reassure them, if they’re running the program in their mind like this is the end. This is the destruction, and they’re buying into the story that’s fed by people who know that may have an agenda to run that fear.
They’re going to be in a non-resourceful state. So they’re going to be riding that animal riding that elephant like I was with the emotions totally out of control, and doesn’t matter what they try and do. Even if you’ve got the best resources available. Even if you take the right action steps to do that, they can’t be accessed, they can’t be heard. So to me right now is you know, we’ve got the reality of the situation which is you know, tough enough as it is but overlying that is the story and interpretation and the extra oxygen that it’s being fed by all other outlets, which may might not necessarily be helping the situation.
So, you know, what you just told me reminds me of stroke, my audience is stroke survivors. And they’ve been through this exact thing on a very small scale, personally. And then their life became overwhelmed with discussions and with interest and with people around them that spoke about stroke, what happened to them, spoke about all the problems and spoke about all the challenges and perhaps at some point, they focused on how bad the stroke was and what they were losing and what they were missing out on, etc.
And then all of a sudden, the conversation started to turn about, well, recovery, possibilities, solutions, overcoming challenges, learning new things, etc. It doesn’t seem to me to be a different circumstance here like is it a global issue that we’re all facing but stroke survivors and anyone who’s survived something dramatic with their health and well-being has been here before they have a reference for when, so to speak, the shit hit the fan and then things got better and they started to recover.
And at some point, I believe that they stopped listening to the external voices about all the problems. And they started focusing on how they can help themselves. Now, one of the other things that you spoke about is there’s there are certain steps that we could take to get beyond challenges and challenging times. You spoke about adapting, innovating, embracing the challenges, and adding value to other parts of our world, whether it’s other people, etc.
You spoke about modifying their established, practices and doing something different. And you spoke about and you gave us words like pivot and adapt to the current landscape. And you’re talking about navigating the challenges if somebody is wondering how they can start changing and adapting, like, what do we advise them to do? How do we go down that path?
That’s a great question. Because whether it’s a personal health challenge or crisis, whether it’s something on a global scale, I think the point of power always has to start with the self. Because, you know, we focus on a big theme in a lot of the work we do is navigating certainty in uncertain times. So how do you find certainty? You know, and I get that with your audience. I guess the difference would be that with what’s going on right now, everybody may not have the physical limitations to be able to navigate that whereas a lot of the people that do listen to this have had their physical capacity.
And that in my mind would have been a lot scarier, to be honest. So I think the starting point always has to be a point of power and say, Okay, what can I control what you know, and the primal part of the brain that the elephant that’s running the show has to be quiet and down first. And so if you’re going to have physical challenges, if you’re going to have global uncertainty, it’s quietening down the primitive part of the brain and saying, you know what, I’m safe, I’m walking on the ground, and that’s holding me up and doing whatever it takes to slow down that stress response.
Because whether you’re recovering from a stroke, or they’re recovering from any element, whether you’re trying to navigate and make great decisions, you’re not going to make them if you’re in a stress state, when your brain is options are shut down to only focus on just survival, right this second, they’re not going to be asking different questions or open up to different possibilities.
So to me, the point of power is to slow down what he said earlier, breathe, and get grounded and centered in self. And from that place, the analogy always draws is level of peak state and I was explaining to someone just recently is if you’re going to race a car, and you know when it might be under revving right on track, and over-revving now, if it’s running on, if it’s over-revving, it’s running too hard, the system’s going to crash.
If it’s under revving, it’s not thriving at its optimum potential. But when it’s just right, you know that that’s one thing that’s performing the best. And like the person, the underrevving signifies, they’ve got fear, they’ve got doubt they’ve got uncertainty, they’re not sure what to do. And the over-revving is when they’re running on anger, and, you know, ego and frustration, and that’s not going to be the great point to make great decisions either.
So the point of empowerment we always talk about is to get grounded and try and get back to that central place. And if you’re under revving or over revving don’t make decisions from that place. It’s just get back to core truth and core power and begin that way.
Becoming too dependent on healthcare professionals
Your doctor of chiropractic, you and your wife, Bettina, run a practice, in Melbourne, Australia and you see people come across to you to have their problems solved by you? Because that’s what people do they go to healthcare professionals to fix the problem that they have. And if by any chance, the healthcare professional does fix the problem or make it go away, it kind of makes it possible for the person who’s unwell to go, Oh, well, that’s a great solution.
The solution is, something’s wrong with me, I go to somebody else to fix it and pass the responsibility to you so that you can solve the problem. Now, what some of those people might not realize is they’re coming to you with physical problems that are starting from fear-driven challenges. So they’re in fear, and it manifests in a way that is causing them discomfort in their body somewhere.
And you guys sort them out temporarily, and then they go away, doing the same things that they’ve always done and then they have the same problem. I’ve always had them come back to you. And they missed the point perhaps that they are very much empowered, they have a lot of ability to positively impact the health and well-being of their bodies simply by changing this state and not going into fear. How do you guys speak to your clients about managing stresses and things that are causing them to potentially negatively impact their bodily functions?
Yeah, that’s a great question, because Bettina and I have a background in health and chiropractic. So a lot of our guiding principles are built on the paradigms or the foundational principles of our profession. And one of the ones that we the way we explain it is health is like a triad. There’s a physical, there’s a chemical, there’s an emotional component, and a lot of the time we’ve been conditioned to believe that all the issues are physically based.
So we’ll look at, you know, people who will come in and say, hey, listen, I’m having an issue with my health and the input level is they’re going to look at it from a physical component I set too low, I lifted, I did this and that, and that’s well and good. But what happens is that if they’re neglecting the other two components, that could be just as equally if not more important than that, they could be looking at their chemical components.
So if they’re not hydrated, if they’re not nutrition, looking after themselves, that’s going to create a stress response in the body. And, all the emotional components of life. You know, this is what we’re finding and this is what we are finding any time there is you know, whenever when 911 came around, SARS came around, it drives people into a stress response, and that then overloads, anything else that’s going on.
So quite often, when we’ve consulted with people, they’ll come in with a physical issue or that perceiving in that, but the driver is not a physical factor. Quite often people will go, listen, I’m doing everything physical, I’m doing my stretches, I’m walking, whatever, I get that. But let’s do an order of your emotional loss. Let’s have a look at the order of the nutrition what are you doing here? If two-thirds of the equation is not being addressed, you’re not going to break the cycle. And so we’re locking in a limitation of capacity to only get to a certain point because there are so many other variables we just can’t even address in that scenario. So it’s massive.
My sense of stroke recovery was that the biggest job that I had was to manage the people around me if I was able to manage them, and they weren’t overreacting and responding and being too emotional and all that kind of thing, then I was able to remain calmer and keep everyone calm. So why I say that is because I want to allude to the fact that right now people will be consuming far more media, especially news-type stories around the coronavirus issue.
And you’re not going to be able to influence them to tell you to calm down and not spread fear and anxiety the way that they do. So what you can control is that situation where you’re taking steps to limit that type of information, and not consume news and media, and I don’t normally consume the news and the media in that way.
But this morning, I happened to be watching a television news station in Australia in Melbourne, The Nine News, and my eyes just caught the background and the clothing of the two news presenters the Background made me curious. It was kind of like a deep green color, Aqua type of color. And the image of the virus had changed. They had changed it to black, and they were wearing black clothing.
And I just got curious about that. And I thought I wondered what they were wearing yesterday. I went on to have a look and see what they were wearing yesterday when they made some social media posts on Facebook that they were wearing the male was wearing just a traditional suit with a tie and a white shirt.
The female was wearing a bright outfit, and the background was bright and colorful. And there was no other information that would suggest that if you just saw that image there was something else going on that was dramatic or serious. And it just made me angry that not only are we being bombarded by the constant talk around all of the challenges and all the issues that we’re facing right now. But then they did this sneaky subtle thing to also impact the unconscious mind. And I felt impacted by that. And I know better. So I’m okay about it. But let’s talk a little bit about what happens when the unconscious mind is being influenced and we are not aware of it.
Be mindful of suggestions and other people’s agenda
Yeah. So in terms of it’s a very good point, I’m going to bring it back to you, some of the stroke audience there, which I think is quite relevant. So you can imagine when emotions are at their heightened state, the brain and the senses are most receptive to any message that is received any message and so whether it’s positive or negative.
So It’s essential that in a healing environment and a healthy environment, we’ve got to be careful that we don’t project any of our own personal thoughts, feelings, doubts, or uncertainties onto someone because they’re highly receptive in that state. So anytime you know that we’ve had someone who’s beginning their journey in, recovery, it’s important. And we’re super, super aware that we can’t pollute that space, we can’t pollute that possibility for that person. If someone will outright ask us do you think I’ll ever recover?
We’re gonna say, Listen, you know what, I don’t know. But what I do know is this. I’m gonna work on this and this and this and this. But if I, you know, I’ve heard horrific stories of people who are in recovery, who hear messages while they’re in us, highly vulnerable, receptive state that impacts on the capacity to heal and recover. Someone’s perception of what is possible for you.
And I get frustrated because it’s not my right as a health provider to tell you what is possible for you. I don’t I’m passionate about that. What I’m saying is, I don’t know, I’m going to put it, I’m going to do what I can and give whatever outlet whatever belief system you have, whatever higher power you believe in, I’m going to pass it over to them.
But effectively, what I’m doing is allowing your body and giving you every opportunity to heal and recover and grow without the agenda without limitations that I’m putting on that we’re putting on you. So to me, anything that we say whether we’re, you know, whether we’re working with people when we’re coaching people, I’m super, super, super aware of what I say, and what I say has to be intentional.
Otherwise, it permeates the subconscious mind. It can mess somebody up. And so to me, it’s all about possibility reaffirming all that is possible. by empowering that person to be the captain of their journey, and it’s not about me to tell them what’s possible or not, they’re gonna be the driver. That’s how I look at it anyway.
Yeah. And that’s the thing. It’s, however, you’re gonna consume. That type of media. Unfortunately, these guys layer in things that we’re not aware of, and having an awareness that potentially people are trying to manipulate you so that they can increase their ratings so that they can have some sense of control over you so that you can keep watching and make it about something that it’s not about, which is those types of shows are not really about sharing information so that you can be aware it’s more about keeping you there so that they can sell advertising.
Yeah, it’s about opening up enough loops in your brain to want to know what’s going to happen next. They’ll create enough fear and doubt and uncertainty in you that you don’t go I think I’ve got this You know, or it’s a very subtle and, you know, they use it in marketing all the time in there, but it may get controversial here and but it’s the politicization of healthcare is huge.
And agendas are being run far greater than you or I collectively know but they’re driven because of an outcome and they will want a particular outcome and you influence enough uncertain people. That’s pretty much how you get your agenda or your movement to progress and, you know, there are regulatory restrictions in terms of what I can do inside that table that to say that there are biggest there are bigger there’s the invisible hand that drives health, far greater than you and I can imagine.
Yeah, stroke survivors that I’ve come across will often tell me their doctors said that they weren’t going to walk again, that the doctor said to them, that they were never going to use their arm again, or talk or any of those things. And so many people have just proved them wrong. And the ones who have proved them wrong, who are listening, and the ones who have not yet proved them wrong, but are getting there who are listening, need to take the same approach that they did to those doctors to prove them wrong, and need to take control of what they can control and take responsibility for how they recover and how they feel.
They need to do the same thing in this situation with the way that fear and anxiety have been spread by other people to influence us negatively. It’s about time that you just started paying attention to this external influence and say to yourself, you know what, I don’t believe you. I’m going to continue doing what I’m doing and I’m going to get better. Now that’s not to say that you’re not going to self-isolate because that’s the smart move, especially if you’re recovering from a stroke.
That’s not to say that you’re not going to be more careful in washing your hands, and just paying attention to not be around crowds for a little while, that’s not going to say that you’re not going to do that. But at the same time, take back, give yourself the strength and take back a little bit of the control, and don’t allow other people to influence you negatively so that they aren’t getting their agenda across to you whether they are intending it, or they’re just projecting their fears and their concerns.
Yep, that’s pretty much. That’s pretty much how I view it. Exactly.
So just to wrap up, because I know that you’re short of time, thanks so much for being here. But just to wrap up, tell me a little bit about what the first step is to adapt at this time because people are used to doing the same thing over and over again. And now they have to adapt. And they have to adapt rapidly, pretty much overnight. And it’s okay that they don’t know exactly how to do that yet and how, and that they might not have all the resources to do that yet. What will be the first thing that people need to start doing about adapting?
Adapting to uncertain times and difficult situations
Yeah, great question. So a lot of the time alluding to, I think the first step is to get grounded in self first. And whenever you’re overwhelmed, it’s because you’ve got so much data and information coming at you thinking fast, it could be emotions, it could be everything. So once you slow things down and get all centered, it’s not knowing what the first step is.
And so that first step, like a lot of the times, what I find is people are overwhelmed. They’ve got all these areas options, they’re thinking about step 17. when they should be thinking about step one. And so, to me, I always encourage people to go if you’re overwhelmed, let’s get yourself grounded. Let’s get back to your most resourceful state if you aren’t under (inaudible), just get back to the center.
And from there when you’re clear when you’re as calm as possible. What’s the first thing that you could do? What is a conversation? Does that open something up? I don’t know what it is it’s just taking the control back and setting the intention, the first step. And when you do that first step, whatever that first step is, the second step may then become apparent, in which case you Okay, that’s now that’s the next step. And then once the second step of all of the next steps will open up to you.
But it’s really hard to know all those steps right now. And because right now in the world, no one knows what step 15 is right now. All we got to focus on is what’s step one, and step one with yourself. The way I always explain it is if you can imagine, like a pier, if you can imagine going out to beat you’ve got to set the plank down solid, then you got to sit the next one right next to it. If you’ve missed planks, trying to jump through steps you’re gonna fall through, but if you solidify that path, and just consolidate one step great. I’ve got one step, what’s my next one and just building it before you know it, you’re step 17.
But you’ve consolidated those 16 steps. So that’s, pretty much whatever that first step is. It could be a physical, or it could be an emotional step that will do that. It’d be something that could be getting your breathing back. It could be getting a little bit of information, whatever it is, but do it from the point of power. I think they’re always when we make this decision.
Beautiful, Jim, you’re on Bettina do amazing work if somebody wanted to reach out and just find out a little more about what it is that you guys do where will they go?
Thank you. Well, yeah, look, there’s our background is in healthcare. So it is in chiropractic care practices in Moreland Road, Brunswick West in Victoria, a lot of the work that we do, particularly we’ve applied a lot of what we focus on in healthcare and encouraging healthcare professionals and other teams. We do that through Lux Consulting.
It is our coaching and consulting organization. That’s probably where we share a lot of the principles that we talked about today. And having the advantage of having a health background, we can integrate that to make it more relevant. So thank you for the opportunity to have a chat with you today and I’m grateful for it. It’s it’s helped solidify and reinforce a lot of what I’ve been sort of working on.
Yeah, well done. Thanks, Jim.
Discover how to support your recovery after a stroke. Go to recoveryafterstroke.com