Season 2 EP#68 Caring for Yourself AND the Collective with Nisha Mody
In this episode of Your Story Medicine, I welcome Nisha Mody, a feminist healing coach, writer, facilitator, librarian, podcaster, and speech-language pathologist living on the home of the Gabrieliño/Tongva peoples, also known as Los Angeles. As the daughter of Indian immigrants, she has experienced the deeply internalized effects of colonization and heteronormative structures. Nisha’s lived experience, clinical experience, fascination with language, collective mindset, and passion for connecting with others combined with her anti-capitalist, anti-racist, and feminist beliefs are central to her work in this space.
Main Topics Discussed:
- Stopping ourselves from treating self care as merely “after-care"
- Setting the right boundaries in order to cultivate healthy relationships with loved ones
- Discovering and embodying your core values
- How the Care Bears perfectly illustrate collective care in action
- Seeing all of our feelings, including negative emotions, as opportunities for growth
What are you celebrating about yourself today?
Nisha: Not attaching my worth to specific outcomes.
How would you describe your medicine?
Nisha: Connecting people with ideas through this warm and delightful ethos that I bring to the table. So much of what I do is to connect people with me, connect with themselves, and connect them to each other. I help them move away from that hashtag-self-care culture and move toward collective care and how we all are serving each other in absolutely beautiful ways.
How has your ancestral lineage led you on your current path?
Nisha: I’m the daughter of South-Asian immigrants from Mumbai, India. My parents grew up in a new, colonized and exploited country, where they had to wait in line for limited rations. That extremely limited approach—that scarcity mindset—toward managing our resources extended into my upbringing. I’ve learned to become aware of that nervous system trauma response that has become ingrained in my parents and channel that into my work in showing up for the good of the collective as opposed to the individual, which is upheld in Western culture.
How are you experiencing intergenerational healing between you and your mother as you embody the very things that you teach your clients?
Nisha: Firstly, I’ve learned to set boundaries with my mother. There was a time when she expected immediate calls back from me, and I had to force myself to say “no” when it was inconvenient. We’d get into arguments over that, but I had to uphold those boundaries to expand my space. I could finally breathe and ask, “What does Nisha even need?” I could finally unmask and uncover what is beneath all this conditioning and all these expectations and feelings of guilt that have built up over the years. I’ve learned to not get so easily triggered as a result since setting those boundaries. I can now truly listen to my body. I can now talk to her about my work as being my way of improving upon what I experienced growing up, by letting her know that I tell my clients that they are enough—a message I never received from my parents even into early adulthood.
How do you communicate to your parents or other loved ones that you are setting boundaries without coming off as ungrateful or unloving?
Nisha: You make boundaries for yourself. It’s not our responsibility how others react to that. Others may not like the choices we make, but as long as those choices honor who we really are, that’s the most important thing. It’s not supposed to be a comfortable process for you nor for your loved ones; but, setting boundaries is part of the process of your life as an ancestor in the making.
How do you set boundaries to be able to say “no” to everything that doesn’t allow you to fill your cup?
Nisha: I always start with establishing my values. How do I value my time? What do I enjoy doing? What is good for me? I also slow down and try to shed that sense of urgency most people live day-to-day with. By getting rid of the things that go against my values and moving toward those that do, I set strong boundaries.
You use “care bear” as a metaphor. Tell us a little more about that.
Nisha: I loved the Care Bears TV show as a child. They’re a beautiful metaphor for our inner worth. They all have unique qualities and strengths, and when they come together to do what they call their “Care Bear Stare”, they hold their hands and “care” shines out from their bellies. They always start from where they’re worth and they’re not afraid to ask for help. They share care in a collective way. They remind us that we’re human beings, not human doings.
What do you do to stay grounded and what have you learned to release?
Nisha: I journal every morning to stay grounded for the rest of the day. I also make sure to reach out to people who are safe for me to talk about whatever is on my mind. I’ve learned to not make negative feelings a problem by listening to them: Our feelings provide information for growth. They’re not obstacles, but opportunities.
If you could envision yourself as a future ancestor, what would they say to you today?
Nisha: You did it, and you’ve always been doing it. Everything that you were striving for was happening at the time you were striving for it. You’ve been planting seeds all this time. Look at the garden you’ve grown with others! Look at how your ancestors planted seeds for you to heal! Nothing was a problem all along.
What has sprouted from these seeds you’ve planted and what does the fruit of your labor look like nowadays? How are you helping to spread the seeds of wisdom to your community?
Nisha: I’ve planted all types of seeds, and not just to offer things to the world, but also for the life I embody in it. Whenever I talk to others about setting boundaries, I reflect on whether I’m sticking to those lessons myself. Whatever I share comes from a place of embodiment. I love trial and error and laughing at my mistakes and being okay with them. I have a program that redefines our relationship with worth and work so that we come from a place of abundance as opposed to scarcity from chasing for worth through work. When I plant seeds, I have no idea what the sprouts are going to look like, and that’s so exciting. That uncertainty used to (and still does) make me anxious, but now it’s a delightfully joyful endeavor and journey.
Conclusion: Our negative feelings cannot be suppressed forever. They will manifest in some way or another. We heal not only when we embrace those feelings and open our heart to learning from them, but also when we sit in our feelings with others without judgment. That is collective care in action.
Action Integration: Become a co-conspirator in collective care by unearthing your core values, embodying them, and spreading that care to everyone you come across.
Learn more about Nisha Mody:
Visit her website: www.nishaland.com
Follow her on Instagram: www.instagram.com/healinghypegirl