Intuition, Bias, and Trauma… How to Tell Them Apart with Orla Kirby | #63

Intuition, bias, and triggers – what’s the difference and how can we navigate them?   

Sometimes listening to your gut can be confusing, when your gut is responding to trauma instead of helping you access your intuition. Join me and guest Orla Kirby to chat about this difference and how you can work through the triggering stuff to get to the goodies underneath, just a little bit at a time!   

Some MIND BLOWING revelations about trauma and the brain in this episode: Did you know that all the brain changes from trauma may actually be reversible? I cried a little bit when I heard Orla say this. Listen on to learn about your brain’s memory templates and how to do some minor exposure therapy to expand your comfort zone and get calm enough to hear your intuition.  

Orla Kirby is a therapist specialising in helping people to move themselves away from anxiety and/or OCD so that they can feel more deeply calm, and more easily create the life they want to create. She loves helping people to use their imagination more richly and fluidly, to communicate with themselves more gently and to release negative stored emotion from the past.   

Check out Orla’s amazing intuition meditation for FREE:  

You can also find her on IG @OrlaKirbyTherapy!


[00:00:00] Caitlin Fisher: Hello everybody. Welcome to today’s episode of Rum Like Hell Toward Happy, where we are talking about how to tell intuition from triggers. Because sometimes when we’re trying to trust our gut, that can be complicated by trauma. So with me today, I have Orla Kirby and Orla is a therapist who specializes in helping people move themselves away from anxiety and or OCD obsessive compulsive disorder, so that they can feel more deeply calm and more easily create the life they want to create.

She loves helping people to use their imagination more richly and fluidly, to communicate with themselves more gently and to release negative stored emotion from the past. Raise your hand if you need that. It’s me. I need that. She lives in Radstock in Somerset, uk and works with clients online and also in person in Bristol And Bath.

So we have, we have a British guest today.

[00:01:00] Orla Kirby: Yep.

[00:01:00] Caitlin Fisher: So, Hi Orla. Please say hello. Anything I missed in the intro? Just feel free to. Introduce yourself. Let’s talk about maybe your story, how you got specialized in anxiety and O C D and things like that, and then we’ll take it from there to talk about intuition and triggers.

[00:01:19] Orla Kirby: Yeah. Hi. Hello. I’m Orla! It’s always funny hearing something like read back that you’ve written, right? I’m like, Oh yeah, I went on. Put a lot there .

[00:01:27] Caitlin Fisher: No, no, it’s perfect. It’s perfect. You wrote a great intro.

[00:01:31] Orla Kirby: Oh, thanks. Yeah, it’s lovely hearing you read it. Yeah, I think I was drawn to particularly severe anxiety and O C D… well, it’s interesting, right? Cause I started off working with everything cuz with hypno therapy it’s really quite wide, right? Like at first I was working with people to help them get better at golf, right? And then another day it’d be people who got really angry or like addiction or loads and loads, everything you could possibly want to shift in terms of your mind I worked with.

Right? And I guess it’s just that I particularly enjoyed working with the people where that was their particular journey, right? Where they wanted to move away from severe anxiety. So I kind of mean like people who were having a lot of panic attacks. Avoiding a lot of things to not have panic attacks.

Right, that kind of level where it’s really interfering with your life. Or, and, or OCD because it’s just it’s such a big journey, right? Like it’s lovely working with someone and helping them get, you know, a bit more confident in their job and then they’re happier and that’s lovely, right? But it’s such a big journey, like having someone go from not being able to leave the house.

To then feeling great. It’s just so huge. Yeah. That I just found that really exciting I think. Yeah.

[00:02:32] Caitlin Fisher: Yeah. That makes sense.

[00:02:33] Orla Kirby: And I guess it’s particularly suited to the way that I work, cuz I work a lot with hypnosis and calm, so that’s obviously very helpful if you’re struggling with anxiety. Yeah. .

[00:02:42] Caitlin Fisher: Yeah, for sure. I’ve never tried hypnosis, but I really want to.

[00:02:46] Orla Kirby: Oh, okay. Cool.

[00:02:47] Caitlin Fisher: I think it would help like sort of get to a lot of like, underlying stuff that I pretend is handled.

[00:02:54] Orla Kirby: Yeah.

[00:02:55] Caitlin Fisher: I, yeah, I have a lot of that. So let’s talk about hypnosis for a minute just so I can like nerd out. How do you use hypnosis and how, how does it work?

[00:03:04] Orla Kirby: Sure. Yeah. So it’s kind of in a way the same as meditation, right? So they are the same thing, more or less. Like if you put electrodes in someone’s head and study what their brain is doing when they’re in hypnosis, like deep hypnosis, or when they’re meditating, you will see the brainwaves doing the same thing, right?

So it’s basically the kind of busy, busy thoughts of every day thinking. When you’re kind of like, think, think, think, think that all dies away, right? The Beta waves dies away. . And you start to get alpha waves, which are more the kind of brainwaves associated with like really imaginative thinking and you know, visualizing stuff or really deeply imagining.

And then you get kind of you get theta waves coming in, which are associated with deep thought. And then after that you get really deep delta, which is what you would also get in deep sleep. It’s very similar to what happens when you’re dreaming, is kind of the state you go into when you are really in hypnosis or you are really deep in meditation.

It’s this wonderful state where kind of your whole brain lights up in this really diffuse way and it all joins together. It all focuses on the same thing that in a relaxed way. So it’s not like when you are very focused and it’s kind of a tight focus, it’s like a relaxed focus. So you feel very relaxed and you feel very absorbed in something at the same time, in a way that feels really good.

[00:04:19] Caitlin Fisher: That’s so interesting. I have adhd. And so I have a very hard time with meditation.

[00:04:24] Orla Kirby: Okay.

[00:04:26] Caitlin Fisher: because it’s like, okay, clear your mind. And I’m like, I’m Mm. That sounds fake.

Yeah. So do you, do you come up against that?

[00:04:36] Orla Kirby: Yeah, Yeah. Yeah. So I think I probably also, I’m pretty sure I also have adhd. Right. Like, I don’t have–

[00:04:41] Caitlin Fisher: Welcome to the party

[00:04:42] Orla Kirby: So I used to really want to meditate because you read articles right. About how great it’s for like everything. Right?

[00:04:48] Caitlin Fisher: Right. It’s like, change your life. Like, just, just sit on the floor, be so comfy.

[00:04:53] Orla Kirby: So, so I really want to, since I was a teenager basically, and I read these books, which were like, clear your mind and imagine an egg.

I was like, I mean, okay, but that sounds kind of boring and impossible, right? Like, or just imagine a candle and you’re like, I kind, but for 20 minutes, like really. Yeah. So I guess what I’ve really enjoyed about hypnosis is that the way that it’s taught, well, it depends on the kind of hypnosis, but the kind of hypnosis that I use and that I’ve studied is, it’s very imaginative. So it’s very richly… And there will be kinds of meditation that would be like this too, where you can imagine whole stories and scenes and there’s quite complicated stuff going on for you to imagine and it can change and develop. So you’re not having to imagine the same thing for a whole 20 minutes, right?

You, you to, to be in hypnosis. You can actually access it through a range of different ways. You can go in by deep breathing. You can go in through like eye defocusing. It’s a thing that you do with your eyes where you go into a relaxed focus. You can go in through just imagining something that you find beautiful or amazing or anything, any of those would get you into hypnosis.

If you combine them, then you go like more deeply in, right? So you don’t need to just imagine one thing. That’s kind of quite a key part of it is that that can actually be quite rich and enjoyable. Right. So then it’s easier I think if you’re someone who is quite easily distracted.

[00:06:08] Caitlin Fisher: Yeah. That’s fascinating. I love it. So how does this like, sort of get to like helping people create the life that they want to create? So what, what are they creating in this life? Like, like you said before, it’s, you see like a lot of people who are like very highly anxious, maybe agoraphobic, obsessive compulsive disorder.

So the hypnosis then helps them like not be limited by those, those issues and everything. So in, in the sense of like intuition versus triggers, Like how do you start separating those? Because I would imagine, I, I’m not an an agoraphobic person, but I would imagine that like, maybe I would want to be able to go out and be social and go to the store and feel normal.

Like, I want to want that, but I don’t want that because it’s, it’s too scary out there. So how do you start untangling like the, the mental illness and the anxious aspect of it.

[00:07:15] Orla Kirby: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So it’s very hard, right? If your stress levels are high to distinguish between kind of your own like wisdom and intuition and your triggers, like you’re saying. That’s why I think this is a really excellent thing to talk about, because I think it can be very confusing, you know, because if you’re an anxious person, you might be reading a lot of stuff, like, Oh, tune into your intuition. Like, what is your body telling you? And you’d be like, Well, my body’s telling me to run all the time, right?

[00:07:40] Caitlin Fisher: Yeah. My body says nothing is safe at all. It’s, it’s, it’s terrible.

[00:07:45] Orla Kirby: Doesn’t seem like helpful advice, right? Listen to my body, my body’s telling me to run or like throw things at people. Right? So you know that that can be a bit confusing or sometimes it can, you know, someone can be thinking, well, I don’t know because maybe, and actually, you know, to be honest, with very severe anxiety, this would be some of anyone’s thoughts really.

We could, you know, you can get a bit stuck in ‘Oh no, but it actually is unsafe’ right? Like the thing about my phobia is that actually it is unsafe though, right? Yes. And that’s particularly confusing where it’s about stuff that actually is dangerous, right? Like if you’ve got health anxiety, you’re like, well, people do die of illness.

[00:08:19] Caitlin Fisher: Correct.

[00:08:20] Orla Kirby: Actually, it makes sense to check my body all the time or like, you know, if you are afraid of getting in cars, people do die in road accidents. That’s not untrue. Right. So with a lot of phobias that can, or you know, with OCD, you know, whatever your compulsion is, you can think that, ‘yeah, okay. But there is a reason, like, maybe I’m going a bit over the top, but there is, you know, actually this comes from something that is about safety, right?’

So that, that’s confusing. So basically in a way, and in a way, this is a bit of an annoying answer, but the only answer is to learn how to get really calm, right?

That’s the only way you can really tell what’s my intuition and what is a trigger, right? Because if I’m super, super, like deep level calm and I’m feeling very happy, very calm, very confident most of the time, right? And then I get a bad feeling about a person for example, then I can know, ‘Oh, like that’s, that’s maybe something I want to pay attention to.’

[00:09:19] Caitlin Fisher: Mm-hmm.

[00:09:19] Orla Kirby: Right. Whereas if I’m in fight or flight, like a lot of the time it’s gonna be really hard to tell whether it’s a trigger or not. Right?

[00:09:26] Caitlin Fisher: Yeah. That makes so much sense. So like if you, if you have a baseline where you’re pretty well integrated, you can like handle problems when they arise, like for example, I’m a creative coach, so I work with creative people to work on their passion projects. And there’s so much self-sabotage because there’s so many things that we have been told throughout our whole lives. Like, you can’t make a living with that. Artists don’t make money. You’re not a real artist if you don’t do XYZ things.

So a lot of my clients have beautiful ideas and beautiful passions, and then they give up on them because they just, they’ve been told that so many times and it’s, it’s kind of a trauma to have been like, to have had your passion and your art and your creativity, especially as a child undercut like that.

[00:10:17] Orla Kirby: Mm-hmm.

[00:10:17] Caitlin Fisher: Rather than sort of scaffolding and skill building and learning that it’s okay to try new things and even fail at them. So there’s also this deep seated like fear of failure and what we work on is like permission to be a beginner and permission to rest and permission to not have to reach all of your goals right now.

Yeah. And so as that sort of sense of calm and getting in touch with your intuition, like, oh, maybe today I wanna paint, maybe today I wanna write music. And letting that guide your creative process or letting that guide how you make friends or letting that guide what you wanna do with your life and your career, et cetera.

Then when something prickles and is like, this isn’t right, then, you know that, that’s, that’s an intuition saying like, ‘Hey, this is like a red flag. We don’t love this.’ As opposed to when you’re like really deeply sort of traumatized in this either like anxiety OCD way or like creatively, like maybe you actually have like an abuse situation where someone used your art against you or denied you access to it, or just actively like, broke it. Maybe somebody like ripped up all your canvases. That’s a real like fight or flight issue.

I had a client of mine who she had previously played the hammered dulcimer. And, but there was trauma associated with it, so she was like, I’m gonna like reclaim this instrument. I’m gonna reclaim it. But it just kept coming up for her, like over and over again. She was like, I hate doing this. It just puts me right back to where I was. So she like let it go. And now she does like wire wrapping of stones and loves that cuz there’s no trauma associated with it and she gets to be creative.

So I really, I like your approach a lot. I like this sort of, if you’re, if you have like a baseline calm. Then when like the red, the red alert goes off, you actually know to pay attention to it. Because when you’re doing red alert, red alert, red alert all the time, you can’t tell. You can’t tell.

[00:12:15] Orla Kirby: Yeah. Yeah. No, exactly. Exactly. Yeah, that’s really true. And I really like what you were saying there about perfectionism, Right. And. That we can go slowly at things like, that’s a lovely story in terms of just finding another way for a little while. And that doesn’t mean that that person couldn’t go back to the, like the dulcimer eventually, right?

because there would be a potential to clear that trauma and release the emotion, and then you’re more able to do whatever you want. It frees you up, it gives you more options but someone might not be ready to do that, right. And there can be, you know, there can be diff– it, it, it’s kind of like, well, you move what moves, right?

So what can I, what can I do now that’s gonna be helpful or that’s gonna be creative, or that’s going to move me forward a bit. That feels good, right? It’s okay to, It’s actually okay. To an extent, to listen to, you know, feelings of fear that are from triggers in terms of just pacing yourself, right?

[00:13:07] Caitlin Fisher: Mm-hmm.

[00:13:07] Orla Kirby: like if I get a really strong feeling of like, ‘No, I don’t wanna leave the house today.’ If I’m someone who can’t leave the house, like, it is okay to listen to that to the extent that I’m comfortable. Like you can go at your own pace as well. Do you know like in a way it is an intuition. It’s like a different, you know, but it is also from trauma.

It’s from trigger, but it’s okay to to, to listen to my own fear, to the extent that I want to. You kind of ideally want someone to be like pushing themselves a bit, but not so much. That’s overwhelming, right? It’s probably similar to the work that you do, right? So you are expanding your comfort zone gradually.

There’s no point–. Like if I’m working with someone, they’re terrified of swimming. I’m not gonna do like a little bit of hypnosis and then have them jump in a swimming pool the next week. Right, right. You know, that would be a terrible idea. Cause they’re just gonna have a panic attack in the swimming pool that creates more negative memories.

Right. So it’s more like, okay, that person might do a lot of hypnosis. Imagine going swimming loads and loads and loads, get more comfortable generally with other things in their life. And then go and sit beside a swimming pool , and like watch other people going swimming, but work on feeling really calm while that’s happening, you know?

[00:14:08] Caitlin Fisher: Yes.

[00:14:09] Orla Kirby: And then the next week maybe they’re gonna put just like a couple of toes in, Right. And you’re gonna build up gradually. And then at a certain point, and this is where intuition comes in, right? A certain point in that journey, and you couldn’t say as a therapist when this would be, that person is gonna know, ‘Oh, I can get in the pool now.’

[00:14:23] Caitlin Fisher: Mm-hmm.

[00:14:24] Orla Kirby: You just get a sense of like, ‘Oh, I think that would be, That feels okay.’ Because you can feel the emotion has shifted, right? Yeah. So that’s something that you would know yourself, that a therapist couldn’t tell you from looking at you.

[00:14:36] Caitlin Fisher: Right, it’s not like ‘So you’ve, you’ve completed 12 sessions, so now you’re ready.’

[00:14:41] Orla Kirby: Just there at the swimming pool and you feel like, Oh, do you know what I reckon? I reckon I could give that a go now, right? Yeah. And there’s no telling how quickly, or you know, slowly that’s gonna happen cuz it’s really different for different personalities and different learning styles. So in that way it’s really important to use your intuition in any kind of therapy process or I would probably imagine coaching process too, right?

[00:14:59] Caitlin Fisher: Yes. Yeah. I like to go like… knowing where to like sort of tough love and like push someone versus where to be like ‘cool, no, like we don’t have to talk about that. That’s fine. We can keep that sort of in a container. Put it on a shelf. We’ll do it later.’ Is a really interesting part of coaching that I have appreciated from my own coaches and also that I appreciate that I can give to my clients because sometimes it’ll be like, ‘Well, you know, I, I didn’t work on this thing this week cause like this other thing happened.’ And I’ll be like, ‘I know, I know what you’re doing cuz you’ve done it before.’

[00:15:32] Orla Kirby: Mm-hmm.

[00:15:33] Caitlin Fisher: And they’re like, ‘Yeah, I know I didn’t write because I was scared.’ And I’m like, ‘Okay, so just write like, like write a sentence. Think about your characters, You know, like what, what are– just make a Pinterest board that’s like the aesthetic of your novel.’

Like sometimes writing doesn’t have to be writing, but being able to focus on your project without doing like the thing that is like so scary is a great way to, like you said, like sit next to the pool.

[00:16:04] Orla Kirby: Mm mm-hmm.

[00:16:05] Caitlin Fisher: put a toe in the pool, like maybe just, I don’t know, talk to somebody about your novel or,

[00:16:09] Orla Kirby: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. Slowly. Slowly. Because you can’t force anything. Right? And that’s particularly true with intuition and knowing what your intuition is, is that you’re not gonna know, like the therapist isn’t gonna advance, but you are also not gonna know in advance when you’re gonna get to that stage where you will know. right?

But it’s almost like just having that faith that at a certain point you are gonna be relaxed enough that you will know. You do have your own like inner sense of knowing. You do have your own inner wisdom. It’s just maybe a bit clouded right now by anxiety. But eventually that cloud is gonna lift.

You know, you just, you do your commit to your breathing practice, your meditation practice, your hypnosis practice, and eventually you’ll get to a stage where, ‘I do know now what I want.’ Yeah. Or ‘I do know that this is the right time to do this’ or whatever.

[00:16:51] Caitlin Fisher: That’s so, that’s so interesting. Like I love the parallels between like mental health and like the creative work and everything.

I wanna go back to something that you said that I really liked and I think it’s probably a phrase that you use all the time, but it’s the first time I heard it, which is you move what moves. And that to me says like, you know, if it’ll wiggle, like let’s wiggle it. And if you go to wiggle it and it’s stuck on there tight, like that’s cool. We can, we can save that for later. So can you expand more on that phrase and what it means? Cause I am pretty sure I’m obsessed with it.

[00:17:22] Orla Kirby: Yeah. Yeah. So, and I, to be fair, didn’t invent this, right? This is very common therapy term. Yeah. But I love it too. And it, it’s essentially this idea of there’s always more than one approach. and sometimes in like, I might not be the right kind of therapy or the right kind of therapist or someone like, sometimes it means a whole other approach. However, even within any therapy process, there’s always different things you can work on and there’s always different approaches you can take and you know, like, you know, it can be very much tailored to the person and the particular situation they’re in, right?

So and again here we are relying a certain amount on like a client’s intuition and sense of things. If, if someone, like, sometimes someone doesn’t want to tell me anything about a traumatic thing they’ve been through, right? They don’t wanna do that at all. And that’s fine. I could absolutely work in that way.

Like with hypnotherapy, it’s not like counseling. You don’t have to go through all the details of something. There’s other, there’s other ways in. Right? At some point they might wanna talk about it with me in a different kind of way, but that’s not like he wouldn’t push that, right? Cuz there’s other things we can do. Right?

So. Someone might be, you know, sometimes I’ve worked with people who are like in an abusive relationship and they know that, Right? They’re aware of that, but they’re not ready to change that right now.

[00:18:34] Caitlin Fisher: Mm-hmm.

[00:18:34] Orla Kirby: And actually, that wouldn’t be what we’d push for necessarily, because that’s a huge change.

[00:18:38] Caitlin Fisher: It is.

[00:18:38] Orla Kirby: So maybe it’s better to like get that person feeling a bit better about their job and like, you know, focus on, it’s very open, therapy, right? So the person, in a way, whatever therapy process you’re in, the, the client themselves is leading it, right? In a way hypnotherapy is more led by the therapist than counseling.

But even within hypnotherapy, people set their own challenges, right? And they, they kind of, they, they have options to go this way or to go that way. Where do you want to focus, right? So that’s really important. And again, that’s using intuition. You know, someone has their own sense of like, ‘Oh, that’s too big for me to tackle right now, leaving that person when, I dunno how I would survive financially on my own. and I feel, you know, very, very stuck and very, very trapped is too big. And I’d rather talk about, you know, this thing, this project that I want to do. Or maybe making a few more friends first, or maybe I’m gonna…’ you know, So, you know, that’s an example of where this is too big and I need to focus on other things first and then even that might build the person up and they might thought like, Okay, now I’m ready. Yes, now’s the time. I can leave that, you know?

[00:19:41] Caitlin Fisher: Yes. That mirrors my own experience a lot. I left my abuser in March, 2018. Oh, okay. So I am now like, For almost four and a half years out of that. And yeah, it, I tried to leave him once. That was 2016 and he was, you know, he pulled me back in as, as abuse does.

You know, he apologized. He was like, [Dog bark] Oh, there goes Gwen. . He apologized. He said like, he would change, he wasn’t aware that he was hurting me, et cetera. And I was like, Oh, okay. This could be better. This could be the relationship that it used to be that I want it to be. And then things got worse as they do.

And the isolation, the gas lighting, you know, kind of escalated. And what happened for me was that I Had been going back and forth about getting on antidepressants for my depression and anxiety, and I finally did it, and I finally got on meds. I’m on Lexapro and within three months, like the whole, the fogginess, the like, Constant anxiety about like stepping on, stepping on his toes and walking on eggshells and stuff was gone. And I started standing up for myself more. And I think three months to the day after I started medication, I left. And like when I went in to talk to the psychiatrist about medication, I wasn’t like, I need medication to leave my abusive husband.

It was like, I just wanna feel better. I want, I want to not be so depressed. Yeah. Turns out I, it wasn’t so much depression as it was being traumatized on a daily basis. That’ll, that would do that for you.

[00:21:23] Orla Kirby: Yeah. Yeah. No, absolutely. Right. And, and, and that’s often the way, right? Like, you know, I, you know, sometimes you have, I have a client start with me and they’re like I’ve come because I want to be more confident in my business.

And actually they want to leave their partner. Yeah. Like, you know, or, or someone comes and they, you know you know, they, they want to like the other way around. They might think there’s a problem with their relationship and actually they, they want to do something different with their work. So we’re not always sure, we’re not always that in touch with our intuition, right.

We can be very, very separated from what we actually really want and what’s actually right for us. And just be very, we know there’s something wrong, right? And we know we’re not feeling great, but it’s not necessarily always that clear to us. What is right for us, Really like at all.

So yeah, it is absolutely all about, in terms of your intuition, you want to work on allowing yourself to feel better and doing anything, whatever is easiest for you to do first, to feel a little bit better, and that’s gonna be different things for different people, right? Absolutely. Sometimes it’s gonna be meds for people. Sometimes it’s gonna be just shifting something in your routine or doing some small thing for yourself that you enjoy.

Or sometimes it’s gonna be more time outside. For some people, like, it’s often quite small things at first, right? That you can shift a little bit and even a small, even like one minute or two minutes of something that you enjoy a day. I’m sure this is something you work on in your, you know, creative stuff of people can make like a huge, like an exponential change in your quality of life, right?

So yeah, that’s really important. It’s also worth saying though, that. Your intuition isn’t always right either. Right. So this is where it gets really confusing in that actually our intuition can be quite racist, and our intuition can be like,

[00:23:01] Caitlin Fisher: Oh yeah, bias.

[00:23:02] Orla Kirby: Yeah. It can be very,

[00:23:04] Caitlin Fisher: Yeah. Yes.

[00:23:05] Orla Kirby: So the unconscious mind not always correct about things, not always correct. However, it’s good to know what it’s thinking. Right? Yes. So it’s good to treat it as just, this is more information. This isn’t the ultimate truth or anything cuz no part of me necessarily has the ultimate truth. I’m gonna learn things and I’m maybe gonna shift my perspective and I maybe have beliefs that it could, I could do better from letting go of and so on.

However, it’s good that I don’t just know what the conscious part of me is thinking, right? Yeah. That unconscious is having all of these thoughts and experiences and it’s great if I know what’s going on there too, and I can use that as part of my decision. I might not want to entirely follow through with that.

Right. It, it, my conscious mind is allowed to be involved too . Right. So, but it’s good to know what my intuition is doing and thinking, you know?

[00:23:49] Caitlin Fisher: Yeah, definitely. Yeah, I didn’t. Like, think about bias when I was talking about this because like when I, when I talk about intuition, I’m like, you know, listen, like to yourself about like what your passion is and like things like that.

Like I’m not thinking listen to yourself when you lock the doors in the car, when somebody walks across the street next to you. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But that’s so important because bias can feel like intuition because of how we were raised in like those different phobic….

[00:24:18] Orla Kirby: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I suppose what I’m saying is almost further than that. Bias is intuition. Like I know that seems a bit wild, but, but it, but it is like, and this is where the line gets a bit blurry between like a trigger and a– right. But if I, if I’ve believed something literally since I was three right? That’s not that separate because everything is influenced by beliefs.

So there isn’t some kind of pure intuition that is unaffected by what I believe. Right? Like my unconscious mind is structured by beliefs.

[00:24:46] Caitlin Fisher: Mm-hmm.

[00:24:47] Orla Kirby: you know? So whatever my beliefs are are gonna be there in my intuition. You know? And the only way to shift that is by actually changing the beliefs, which you can do in therapy, but that’s like a longer, slower process.

[00:24:59] Caitlin Fisher: Yes. Yeah. And like bias training and things, I used to use this little app that it would show you like four or six photos or something and you had to like pick the one that looked the most happy. And it would be, you know, like a white woman smiling at a salad and like a black man smiling and like, I don’t know, four, four different things, like four different people.

And the app was essentially to like train yourself to see positive traits where you normally would have a negative bias. Mm. So I think people use it for like eating as well. Like. I am, I’m very anti diet culture. I’m very anti diet. I’m in recovery from eating disorder, so I don’t wanna talk about like healthy food versus unhealthy food.

But at the time I am pretty sure that I had it set up to like teach me healthy food. So it would be like, what looks the best, and it’d be like a salad and then like three sweets. Right. And I’m like supposed to pick the salad to like train myself to love salad. Yeah.

[00:25:58] Orla Kirby: so I’m not gonna like completely say that this sounds like it wouldn’t work, but, but at the same time does sound like it wouldn’t work, right?

For instance, for food or for bias stuff, because like, it’s quite deep, this, this kind of thing , right? Like my, my feelings about, you know, someone who is chinese or my feelings about someone who is gay or my feelings about or whatever that stuff is like early, early programmed in, and I’m not saying we can’t change it and shift it like definitely we can, but it’s more like the kind of things that shift it are something like therapy, like a deep therapy process or maybe certain kinds of coaching, like really deep emotional coaching or something like a big experience that has a real emotional impact on you.

[00:26:39] Caitlin Fisher: Mm-hmm. That makes sense.

[00:26:40] Orla Kirby: So something, Yeah, like something big happens in my life that involves someone or something that’s connected with those things that I have negative beliefs about, I might go, Oh, right. And it might actually be powerful enough to shift something emotionally at a, at a deep level.

But it’s generally, I wouldn’t say that really picking pictures.

[00:26:57] Caitlin Fisher: Yeah. It didn’t, didn’t, it didn’t seem like like a huge breakthrough kind of, kind of thing. Because, you know, you hear about like anti-bias training in police departments and things like that too.

[00:27:10] Orla Kirby: No, I don’t. You know, they’d all need to have therapy, right?

[00:27:12] Caitlin Fisher: Yeah. They need a lot of therapy. They need, they need a lot of therapy and different jobs and like,

[00:27:18] Orla Kirby: well… yeah, yeah

[00:27:21] Caitlin Fisher: my, my opinions about, about cops don’t need, don’t need to derail the whole conversation. So . But yeah. That’s very interesting that like bias, bias and intuition are like occupying the same place.

Because that comes from like deep, very deep beliefs that have been there. Yeah. Since very early. Yeah. Like I don’t, I don’t think that I had, like, I wanna talk about like homophobia for instance.

[00:27:48] Orla Kirby: Yeah.

[00:27:49] Caitlin Fisher: I don’t recall having like, being programmed to be homophobic. I remember like getting to college and being like, Oh, gay people. Interesting. I think gay people should have rights. I am pro-gay. And then it took me years to realize I was bisexual. It just, that was like never a thing in like my family of origin or anything. But like, then again, my oldest brother is like kind of into Nazi shit, so like, He, he clearly got a kernel of something that set him off a very different path.

[00:28:24] Orla Kirby: Yeah.

[00:28:25] Caitlin Fisher: Than me who’s like a leftist who thinks people should be able to have healthcare.

[00:28:31] Orla Kirby: Mm.

[00:28:33] Caitlin Fisher: Must be nice to be in the UK where you have healthcare.

[00:28:36] Orla Kirby: It is lovely. I do appreciate it fully. Although of course you know there are incursions ever growing incursions. Unfortunately it is privatizing itself by the minute.

Oh no. Well that’s no fun.

However. You know, we’re in a much luckier place. Definitely. Yeah, I do really appreciate it.

[00:28:49] Caitlin Fisher: Get all your checkups.

[00:28:51] Orla Kirby: [Laughter] Yeah.

[00:28:54] Caitlin Fisher: But yeah. Yeah. That was, that was a, that was a good little detour down bias lane for me to like remember that that also impacts people.

[00:29:02] Orla Kirby: Yeah. It’s in our NLP training, Right. To make this really clear to people when we’re working with the unconscious mind that it’s not like, because the Undine has so much wisdom, Right. And emotions your body, like they’re very connect. And you know, the unconscious mind runs both, right? Yeah. So it’s kind of like a physical, unconscious, emotional, deep wisdom, right?

And there is wisdom there. There’s so much truth and wisdom. However, it’s important to know that there are biases there too. Right? I mean, it’s also where triggers live. Like triggers also live in the unconscious mind. It’s just that they might come in later, like, I might have an incident happen when I’m 25.

Right? Biases tend to go back earlier, but the, and in a way a bias is a trigger. Like it’s confusing. It depends what you’re calling what, right. . You can see how there’s a bit of a sliding scale here, right?

[00:29:47] Caitlin Fisher: Yeah. Like my, my abuser– You go, you go, you go.

[00:29:51] Orla Kirby: No, no, no.

[00:29:52] Caitlin Fisher: I was gonna say my abuser is from Northern Ireland. So like now when I hear a Northern Irish accent, I’m like, I can’t, I can’t even hear you.

[00:29:58] Orla Kirby: Yeah. And it’s very unconscious, right? You’re not consciously deciding that comes from your unconscious mind. Right? So all of our templates around triggers ,like a trigger is essentially… my, my unconscious mind, like my, my hippocampus has lots of templates stored up.

Right. And so you know, and apologies if you know those already. Right. But just anyone listening who doesn’t know,

[00:30:17] Caitlin Fisher: I don’t.

[00:30:17] Orla Kirby: Oh.

[00:30:17] Caitlin Fisher: So I’m learning.

[00:30:19] Orla Kirby: So, so it’s the shape, like seahorses, this, this part of your brain, Right? Two little seahorse. We’ve got in our brains.

[00:30:23] Caitlin Fisher: I love it. Love, I love my seahorses.

[00:30:24] Orla Kirby: That makes memory in the first place.

It’s kinda cool, isn’t it? And it’s kind of the sort of memories are stored there that like a badger would have, or a fox right. Someone tried to kill me over here. Right? Strong negative emotion, and it’s just like a snapshot of that, right? Mm-hmm. and then found food over here. Hooray. Strong positive emotion, right?

Those are the ones that get the most space. The strong positive, the strong negative, and it’s not like a detailed narrative everywhere. There’s lots of like, Oh, there’s a sunset, and then this thing happened, and then after that… there’s not lots of narrative and kind of continuity. It’s a moment in time, right, with a strong emotion and like a snapshot of what’s happening then. Not much detail, right?

and that’s because the, you know, that sort of the, the creature is needing to then very quickly flick through these, so they don’t want a lot of detail. It’s, it’s purely to be able to select what to do the next time something similar comes up, right? So it’s allowing that creature to survive more easily.

So that’s why, you know, it can be like you say, an accent or you have something really awful happen and someone’s wearing an orange T-shirt and you bump into someone else 10 years later wearing an orange T-shirt and you start, you know, freaking out and you have no idea why. Right? And that’s, that’s what’s happening is, is basically continuously our unconscious mind is accessing these templates and going, ‘What happened last time? What happened last time? What happened last time?’ Right? And if anything at all reminds you of one of a particularly negative template, then you can just flip straight back into that emotion, right? Because you’re trying to protect yourself from bad stuff happening again.

[00:31:52] Caitlin Fisher: So like that’s like complex ptsd sort of.

[00:31:56] Orla Kirby: It is, but it’s also all of us, right? We all have that happening. We all have thousands and thousands of templates. Absolutely they can be changed by therapy though, right? So if you’ve had very high levels of stress or trauma, it’s true that your brain is different. Like your amygdala is much larger and denser.

That’s the kind of fight flight center of your brain. And the hippocampus often has little bumps with complex PTSD or really intense trauma. There are little bumps that actually represent where the trauma’s happened, cuz those templates are so intense, right? So it is different. Your brain is physically different, it’s different shape, right?

However, we do know also now that that is all entirely reversible. So you can get the brain back to exactly how it was before anything happened, which is wonderful. And it takes the, the processing of that trauma, which can be done in different ways? Right? Like in counseling you would talk about it and you would kind of almost go through it again, and then you would get to experience the emotion you didn’t experience at the time, and you release it that way.

[00:32:44] Caitlin Fisher: Mm-hmm.

[00:32:44] Orla Kirby: with hypnotherapy, it tends to be more deliberate. And we kind of go back in, like, you go back to that time on like a timeline, right? And the timeline therapy that I do. And you you go back and you essentially get the person to be a bit connected with the memory, but not fully connected. And then you kind of go upward from there.

So you connect with your higher self. It’s a complex process and that changes the memory so that you release the emotion in a different way. And there’s other ways as well. There’s loads of different ways of releasing emotion, but it takes processing in some way. You basically need to kind of catch up and do the processing you didn’t get to do at the time.

[00:33:14] Caitlin Fisher: Yes. Yeah. I’m familiar with emdr.

[00:33:17] Orla Kirby: Similar. Yeah.

[00:33:20] Caitlin Fisher: Fascinating. I did not know that you could un traumatize a whole brain.

[00:33:26] Orla Kirby: Yeah. Yeah. Isn’t that wonderful?

[00:33:28] Caitlin Fisher: That is, That’s fascinating. I thought that like once traumatized, always traumatized. Sort of like–

[00:33:34] Orla Kirby: No, no. Really not at all. Yeah.

[00:33:38] Caitlin Fisher: That… I’m just so excited. I’m like, I could have a normal brain.

[00:33:41] Orla Kirby: Yeah, absolutely.

[00:33:43] Caitlin Fisher: It’s gonna take a lot of therapy, but that’s ok.

[00:33:47] Orla Kirby: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, absolutely. And like I say, we all carry some level of trauma because it’s not even like how severe was the thing. Like of course loads and knows people have horrific things happen to them or just quite bad things happen to them.

Right, Right. There’s loads of people that are in that situation. Yeah. However, you know, you could be a five year old and something happens that actually is kind of, you know, no one’s done anything really wrong, but you are really upset. Yeah. You know, five year olds, you don’t understand what’s going on. Like, and maybe people forget to explain it to you or you don’t understand the explanation or whatever.

You, if you are really, really upset or really, really angry when you’re five and you don’t get to process that for whatever reason, that is gonna stay with you and, you will still be kind of happier and freer in your life if you’re able to process that and release that, right? Yeah. So it absolutely does work for really severe, awful stuff, yes. And it’s obviously most important to do it if it’s really hampering your life, but actually most of us can benefit from releasing whatever trauma we have gone through.

[00:34:41] Caitlin Fisher: That… I feel so hopeful right now.

[00:34:44] Orla Kirby: Aw. Yeah.

[00:34:46] Caitlin Fisher: Like, Cause I have an incident from like when I was eight, like my dad burned a grilled cheese sandwich and yelled at me about it. And like I have. A heart wrenching poem. I wrote about it like that–

[00:34:56] Orla Kirby: yeah, yeah

[00:34:56] Caitlin Fisher: that moment told me that like, I can’t ask for things, you know? So like there’s like very deep and all I need to do is just be like, Dad, like I didn’t burn the fucking sandwich. You did. Don’t yell at me. Like.

[00:35:09] Orla Kirby: Yeah, yeah. No, exactly right.

But that just shows, right, that trauma isn’t just. You know, it’s not just these, of course, it’s hard to say this without sounding like you’re dismissing anything, right? And of course it’s very, very awful to have had horrific things happen to you, right? Yes. But it’s also important to understand what trauma is, which is just, it’s simply stored emotion, right?

It’s stored negative emotion from the past, which can be something awful happening. Or it can be something quite straightforward or just not ideal happening, and you having an intense emotional response. Yeah. . And, and either way it’s, it’s great to release the emotion and be able to reaccess the memory without then re-experiencing emotion, like strong, negative emotion.

[00:35:49] Caitlin Fisher: That’s fantastic. I’m like, I feel like I’m about to cry because like, I I didn’t know that. Like you could get rid of trauma . Yeah. Yeah. I love it. Yeah. Okay. Right. Not, I don’t, we don’t need to therapize Caitlin . So just. Let’s, let’s bring it back. I’m gonna take a drink of water and a breath.

[00:36:12] Orla Kirby: Yeah, yeah. No, absolutely.

[00:36:16] Caitlin Fisher: I thought I was broken, but I’m not.

[00:36:19] Orla Kirby: Yeah. Yeah. And that’s a one where intuition really comes in, right? Because quite often people say to me before we started therapy, they have a really strong instinct that they can’t get better, right? Yeah. Or a really strong intuition that like, well, maybe a bit better.

Like people often want to manage their anxiety or, you know, be able to deal with their OCD a bit better, like not have their OCD take over their life quite as much, right? That’s kind of someone’s pretty typical aim. So when you say to someone, Kind of like I just said to you, Oh no. Like we can just take that away completely.

People are like, Wow. But also I don’t really believe you , right? So my intuition is telling me I’m, you know, I’m broken or I’m, you know. Because I think it’s great that this idea of trauma is more commonly understood now to an extent. But often we don’t maybe hear enough about the recovery and how that’s possible, right?

[00:37:09] Caitlin Fisher: Yeah.

[00:37:09] Orla Kirby: So people have an idea of being, I like you say, I’m traumatized, I’m broken, Like my brain is different, you know, Or I didn’t get what I needed when I was four, or I didn’t get what I needed from my parents. So that’s just, that’s kind of how I am. Right. You know, or people have metaphors, right? Like I, I had one chap who said, I, it’s like I’ve got a concrete wall that’s like 50 feet high around my mind, so I can see how this would work for other people, but it’s like never gonna work for me, right?

So yeah. That’s interesting. And, and that can feel like intuition when actually that very definitely isn’t like your kind of truest, highest intuition, right?

[00:37:41] Caitlin Fisher: Yeah. So, yeah. That’s interesting. This is really opening up and like shifting a lot of things that I thought I knew to be true, which I love. I love –I love learning new things and changing my mind which is something that a lot of people don’t do. sort of like challenging a worldview here. That’s fantastic. I like, yeah, no, I can just go, like, fix my brain now. Like . I can’t, I can’t wait to fix my brain. I’m so excited to have a brain that is fixed.

That’s delightful. Let’s bring it back to creativity a little bit.

[00:38:13] Orla Kirby: Sure.

[00:38:14] Caitlin Fisher: Do you use like art therapy at all? Like, do you use creative expression in your therapy and have you found that creativity helps people process trauma?

[00:38:24] Orla Kirby: Yeah, yeah, to an extent I do. Right in that umprobably, the main way that I use it is helping people to create their own imagined scenes, right?

So for example, the easiest way to redirect from a really negative thought about the future, which of course is super common if you have anxiety you might have an overwhelming amount of those, is to redirect towards a really positive imagining of the future. . And it’s gonna be easier to do that if you’ve kind of done a little bit of work on that already.

Yeah. Right? So rather than having to come up with it in the moment, you might have three or four of these that you’ve kind of made and you’ve really created them and gone into, you know if it’s a holiday, you’re imagining like, where am I? And what can I see and what can I hear and how am I feeling? Like what can I touch? And also how am I feeling emotionally and like real detail about what are the colors and what can I smell? And, you know, just as much detail. You wanna write a page about this, right? Or speak into a recording device or draw it if that’s more what you do. So that you can really imagine being there.

Like I say, you were gonna make a film of that time. Yeah. And then if you’ve already got that made, you’ve kind of widened and thickened like the neural pathways around that scene in your mind. And then if I am having a worry about the future, I go, Oh, oh, . That’s me Imagining the future negatively there.

I’m gonna redirect. and there’s various processes for redirecting towards this scene, but because you’ve already got the scene made, it’s easier to access it, right? Cuz you’ve made it more accessible.

[00:39:44] Caitlin Fisher: That’s lovely and I love that. And I don’t know how that has not occurred to me because normally when I’m spiraling and thinking like I get some intrusive thoughts, you know, anxious worries about the future, and I’ll just be like, Ah, like I can’t stop imagining the increasing detail of the bad scenario. I just let that movie play until I’m freaked out. Oh, I can just stop this movie. I can just make another movie in my head, where everybody’s fine.

[00:40:10] Orla Kirby: Yeah, that’s quite a lovely thought in itself, right? So yeah. Yeah. And as I say, it works, but the more you can engage with your creativity, the easier that is. And actually this is one of those things that there’s actually studies that show that people who have, you know, particularly very imaginative or very creative, Can struggle more, you know, at least initially in the lives of the depression or anxiety because they’re great at imagining the stuff going wrong.

Right. They can do that in real, like vivid detail. Yeah. However, this can also be kind of like a superpower in the other direction in that you’re also gonna be great at imagining wonderful stuff that you really do want to happen. And I’m not someone for like, people should be positive all the time, right?

Yeah, definitely. No. There’s room for imagining awful things and, and for, for being in touch with the real awful things that are happening, right? Like climate change or, you know, we need to think about things that are really hard and awful sometimes, or what other people are going through that is not great.

Like absolutely. However, if we do that all the time, that too much, then we’re just gonna be like a ball in the corner, right? So, yes. Yeah. Balancing of sort of acknowledging the pain and the bad and the trauma and the hurt, and just anger and sadness. Yes, like we think that anger and sadness are like, I don’t know, to be ignored, To be repressed to like that you’re not a happy person if you’re, if you ever feel anger or sadness.

But I think that anger and sadness are very important human emotions that we should feel fully. Yeah. So they’re really important. Yeah. So I’m not suggesting like continuous redirecting all the time.

[00:41:38] Caitlin Fisher: Right, right. Just good vibes only, I don’t see anything wrong ever.

[00:41:42] Orla Kirby: Yeah. But if you, if you imagine if you are somewhere with OCD where you have a continuous running like program of like negative imagining, negative imagining like all day, every day.

Like no one can really survive like that and feel even reasonably. Okay. Right, Right. So, so then there needs to be quite a bit of redirecting, you know? And that’s often a bit of a quite early step really. And that will help then to work through some of the harder stuff later to just be able to give yourself a bit of a break, right? Where you go in, you imagine something wonderful instead.

[00:42:11] Caitlin Fisher: That sounds relaxing. That sounds nice.

[00:42:13] Orla Kirby: Yeah, it’s lovely. Right? and then the other way that I use it is for people who find it difficult to get into hypnosis in a kind of lying down and breathing. Maybe if they’re getting a lot of intrusive thoughts, or particularly for children as well. If I work with children as sometimes I have them like draw or use coloring or do something with clay like while they’re listening to a hypnosis track, because you can also drift into hypnosis that way. And for some people it’s easier to be, you know, doing something with your hands or doing something creative while you are listening to someone saying relaxing things rather than trying to just lie there.

For some people that’s an easier way in, you know, so that’s another way.

[00:42:45] Caitlin Fisher: That makes sense. I think. I think that would work better for me as well. Mm. Like the adhd, Like if I’m doing something like with my hands that I don’t really need to be like thinking about, Yeah. It’s easier to sort of input thoughts into brain from audio. .

[00:42:59] Orla Kirby: Yeah. Absolutely.

[00:43:01] Caitlin Fisher: Yeah. Fantastic. This was a really interesting and eye opening conversation. I appreciate your time here so much. Can you tell our listeners where to find you around and about the internet.

[00:43:14] Orla Kirby: Yeah, absolutely. So on Instagram, I’m at OrlaKirbyTherapy . And I’m also putting together like a little kind of free way into connecting with your intuition, Right. Which you could find at Right. And just a little audio recording that can take you into a kind of a meditated process for connecting with your kind of felt sense of your intuition.

[00:43:36] Caitlin Fisher: That’s great. I’m gonna go get that right now.

[00:43:39] Orla Kirby: Great.

[00:43:39] Caitlin Fisher: Yeah. Thank you so much. This, this was fantastic.

Yeah, I think this episode’s gonna come out like probably not till October, but I will send you a link when it is live. And again, thank you so much for, for what you do, for what you’ve shared with us today for how you have blown my personal mind. This was absolutely delightful. Thanks for being here.

[00:44:00] Orla Kirby: Oh, thank you so much, Caitlin. It’s been lovely talking to you.

Published by Caitlin

Caitlin writes and coaches about trauma recovery, relationships, motivation and confidence, self-love, queer identity, and social justice. They are the author of The Gaslighting of the Millennial Generation. Find their work at

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