I had the amazing opportunity to interview Dr. Caroline Leaf and we had such a powerful discussion on the power of thought, the power of the brain, and the ownership we have of thought. Dr. Leaf is a communication pathologist and cognitive neuroscientist and specializes in cognitive and metacognitive neuropsychology. She was one of the first in her field to study how the brain can change, which is now known as neuroplasticity. She’s absolutely brilliant! This is such a powerful episode. I’m so pumped for you to listen!
In This Episode Allie and Dr. Leaf Discuss:
The Faith / Science Connection
Mind Ownership and Responsibility
Mind Management Plan
Mentioned in this Episode:
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Mom life. We are surrounded with the message that it’s the tired life. The no-time-for-myself life. The hard life. And while it is hard and full of lots of servitude, the idea that motherhood means a joyless life is something I am passionate about putting a stop to. I’m on a mission to help you stop counting down the minutes till bedtime, at least most days. I want you to stop cleaning up after your kid’s childhood and start being present for it. Start enjoying it. I believe in John 10:10 “that we are called to abundant life” and I know mothers are not excluded from that promise. Join me in conversations about simplicity, minimalism and lots of other good stuff that leads to a life of less for the sake of enjoying more in your motherhood. I’m Allie Casazza and this is The Purpose Show.
Hello friends! Today I have such a special conversation to share with you!
I interviewed one of my heroes. A woman that has been my mentor without even knowing that I exist. A woman that I have greatly respected for several years—Dr. Caroline Leaf.
She is a communication pathologist and cognitive neuroscientist. I was a little intimidated for this conversation.
She specializes in cognitive and metacognitive neuropsychology. She studies how the brain works, how thoughts work.
She was one of the first in her field to study how the brain can change, which is now known as neuroplasticity. She is absolutely brilliant. She’s so incredible.
Here’s the thing about this interview: Dr. Leaf talks really, really fast. You can hear her excitement, her passion, and the ammo behind what she’s saying and how she’s feeling as she’s talking. She moves super quickly.
This topic on its own is very overwhelming. So, here’s what I want you to do: I want you to listen to this conversation.
Don’t speed it up. If you have your podcast app set to speed up, turn it back down. You might even want to slow it down.
Take this all in. It is so good. So brilliant. So necessary.
We talk about several things. In my life over the past couple of years, I have really been working through some questions that I’ve had about my Christian faith growing up, the way the brain works, and how I was taught to have this disconnect from myself growing up in the religious school that I went to.
All these questions I was working through led me to Dr. Leaf and her books years ago.
Dr. Leaf is a follower of Jesus. She’s a Christian and she shares my feelings of this distaste for religion, a love for God, and love for Jesus.
I’ve been super drawn to her. Her books have really helped me bridge these gaps and come to God and not religion, religious beliefs, religious rules, and all these things that I was raised in.
We talked a little bit about that, but really this episode is about the power of thought, the power of the brain, and the ownership we have of thought. Don’t let the first couple of things we talk about scare you off if talking about the faith/science connection is not your thing; it’s super brief.
We get into a lot of things about thought. Like the fact that your thoughts take up mental real estate. You can actually see them on the scans.
They look like trees. And all the little trees that you’re creating make up who you are and they’re so important.
This is a very powerful conversation. After the conversation, stick around and I’m going to give you some step-by-step action steps to walk through because this conversation is so overwhelming and I want you guys to feel clear.
Let’s welcome Dr. Leaf. Please enjoy this incredible, brilliant conversation.
ALLIE: Dr. Leaf, thank you so much for taking time and being here with us today! I want to dive in because I have so much to ask you, but first introduce all of your amazing work, who you are, and what you do.
DR. LEAF: Thank you! Thanks so much for having me on the podcast! I really appreciate it!
I’m a cognitive neuroscientist and I do research in the mind/brain connection. I’ve been in this field for 38 years now.
I still do clinical trials. I have practiced clinically for 25 years.
Now I teach and write books. I’m busy with my 18th book at the moment.
I work around the area of understanding neuroscience and, through mind studies, understanding what the mind is and the impact of the mind on the brain and the body.
I’ve done a lot of different degrees, research, practiced clinically, and now I teach around the world helping people understand this mind/brain connection.
ALLIE: I love this. I’m curious; you were doing all of this work while you were raising your kids?
DR. LEAF: Yes. I have four, like you. My youngest is 22, my oldest is 28, so they are in their 20s.
I remember giving birth to my 3rd son. I was finishing my PhD and my waters broke and I remember thinking, “That’s okay, I’m going to finish typing.”
I literally sat at my computer typing the last section of my abstract for my PhD to pre-send to my editor, had a bath (can you believe it? I don’t know why), put on makeup and then went to go and give birth to my son. I distinctly remember that.
All the way through my PhD, my Masters, I had babies; I’ve been raising babies.
I’ve had my kids and I’ve worked my whole life. I remember breastfeeding, handing my baby over to the lady who was helping me with my kids, and then going and giving a lecture.
It’s been part and parcel, and my kids have grown up with that. They’re immersed in it.
My oldest daughter and my second oldest daughter work for me. They actually run my life for me, which is really great. And my husband works for me too.
My youngest two have just finished studying and my youngest one works with certain things. I’ve worked, done my research, studied, and had babies all together.
ALLIE: That’s amazing. It’s really, really, encouraging for me to see another woman doing that.
My husband works with me too. I started the company and he left his job and works with me.
We’re following a similar pattern. Everyone’s together and involved.
My kids know what’s going on in the business. Yesterday I had a webinar and they were like, “Mom, what was your conversion rate?” It’s encouraging to see that you did that because that’s my life too.
I want to talk with you today about ownership—ownership of the mind, ownership over our thoughts. I feel like there’s a lot of misinformation, a lot of confusion over how much control we really do have.
Before we recorded, you and I were chatting about how even in the faith community, from the church, and in Christianity, there’s this big disconnect from the control you have over what happens to you and what happens in you.
Could you start by giving us the basics about thought and the process and we’ll go from there?
DR. LEAF: Absolutely. I’m very glad you’ve raised that because it’s a very relevant topic. There are two topics—the science and faith and then the responsibility aspect. So do you want me to start with the science and faith or the responsibility?
ALLIE: Let’s start with the science and faith because I’ve been learning a lot about that from you and it’s bridging a lot of gaps for me in how I was raised.
DR. LEAF: Well, I think it’s so important because science and faith are the same thing. I don’t draw any distinction between them because they are just two sides of a coin.
Science is the manual of how to understand your brain, your body, the physical side of life and how all that works. Here’s the simple way—the Bible tells the story; science is the manual of how the story works, how we function as humans.
All that knowledge in science is simply understanding what spirituality actually is, what God is. You can’t have one without the other.
And why have there always been these discrepancies? Because people have looked at it through filters and being threatened by each other.
For years, science and spirituality were never separated. It’s quite a modern thing that science and spirituality have been separated, and it hasn’t been to humanity’s advancement.
It’s been a bit of a detriment because we are very spiritual beings and very deep. We appreciate a sunset—that’s spiritual. We love our children and our husbands; you and I are two women talking together—that’s all spiritual stuff.
Science comes from the word, “scientia,” which means, “knowledge.” So, knowledge is basically understanding everything about humanity and life itself. That’s what science is.
Science is understanding knowledge. It’s not math or physics. Very often I’ll get challenged by people of faith who will say, “How can you equate the two?”
And I’ll say, “Do you have a cell phone?”
They will say, “Yes.”
Then I will say, “Then you believe in science because the whole way that phone operates is all scientific principles. It’s all energy. There’s a whole bunch of science involved in it. So if you don’t believe in science, don’t use a cell phone, don’t use the internet, don’t eat, don’t have clothes, anything. You can’t exist without science.”
Science is how we function. That is generally a simple way of understanding that there’s no difference.
They are two sides of the same coin. That’s an important thing to establish up front.
I use the medium of science to understand how we function as humans and my work has been primarily focused on the mind/brain connection or the mind/body connection. It’s called integrated medicine if you want a scientific term. Mind/body research is a very common term.
Essentially, I’m looking at what is mind and what is the influence on the body. If you want the spiritual language, I’m looking at the spirit/body connection. Scientifically, I’m looking at the physical and the nonphysical, and the connection between the two.
Mind is separate from brain, but mind and brain are inseparable. They are useless without each other, but together they become very powerful.
For example, what we see from quantum physics, which is considered the most fundamental and accurate of sciences, is that the mind part falls into the spiritual part, which falls into what we call the nonphysical part in science. And it’s the biggest part.
The spiritual, non-physical, mind stuff is actually 99 percent of who we are. You can’t ignore the 99 percent of who we are.
The brain and the body—the physical tissue of the brain and the body—that’s around about 1 percent of who we are. It doesn’t make one more important than the other because you need the two to operate.
Mind moves through the brain. The brain responds to the mind; the body responds to the mind.
The mind is a driver, and the brain is a responder, but there’s a feedback loop constantly. So if you don’t look after your body through bad eating, no exercise, not sleeping, and all that stuff that we know about, it will feed back into your mind and affect the mind.
It will affect the mental state, etc. If you’re not getting your mind under control, it affects the physical immediately, at quantum speed, which is way faster than the speed of light.
So the way you’re thinking now as you’re listening to me—you’re thinking, you’re hearing what I’m saying, you’re seeing, you and your listeners—that is information that’s coming through as electromagnetic light waves, sound waves, quantum energy. All the sciencey stuff is coming at you and your senses receive it and you start thinking, feeling and choosing.
As you do that you generate an energy through your brain and that creates a response in your brain. Then your brain responds on all these levels—electromagnetic, chemical, quantum and genetic. Your brain does all this stuff.
What’s happening now, at very fast speeds, is you are converting what you’re hearing and seeing into little physical protein structures in your brain that are like little computers. They are holding this information as a vibration.
And the point of all of that is that mind is changing matter. You’re building matter with your mind as you’re listening. And that’s reality.
Whatever you build is what you operate from. Basically, what you build are thoughts. You’re building a bunch of thoughts.
As we are talking, in response to what you’re hearing and seeing, those thoughts are little physical structures that group together and look like little trees. So, thoughts are trees and each little branch is made up of thousands, if not millions, of little tiny computers that are proteins and the information is basically vibrating in those proteins.
That’s a thought. You’ve just built that. And you wouldn’t be able to remember what I said a few seconds ago if you didn’t. You wouldn’t be able to have a conversation, you wouldn’t be able to do anything if you didn’t go through that process.
All humans do it. We do it 24/7. During the day we respond and we build thoughts and then at nighttime we sort through the thoughts that we built during the day.
We are always in this process. We are always changing the structure of our brain, which then changes how our body functions.
ALLIE: One thing that’s coming to mind right now is that there’s a whole world that’s really dubbed “new age,” not “Christian,” where your thoughts, beliefs, manifestation, vibration and all of these things are over there. And then Christianity and the church is way over here. And if you say, “Energy, vibrations, and tuning into your subconscious,” the church is so afraid of that world? Why is that?
DR. LEAF: I say the church is stuck in the middle ages. I teach a lot on Sundays in churches. I’m not a preacher, but a lot of the year on Sundays I’m doing services and I’ll say this exact thing I’m about to say to you.
Basically if you don’t like the word “energy,” don’t use your cell phone. If you don’t like the word “vibrations,” then don’t go to a doctor and get any kind of CT scan or ultrasound, or if you’re a mom and you’re pregnant don’t go for an ultrasound if you don’t believe in energy because that is energy.
It’s science. It’s how it works. It’s the name for how you exist.
I think it’s very unfortunate that we say things like “faith” and “new age.” I don’t think we should say that.
We should talk about humans. Let’s get away from all the labels because then we start judging.
We start looking at differences and there’s a value judgment attached to the differences. And that’s a problem because then people are judging other people.
So, if you have your belief system—that’s fantastic and it’s working for you—you use your language around that belief system.
But don’t go and slam someone else’s belief system because of what you are not understanding. Because you don’t really understand if you haven’t actually spent the time trying to understand what they are talking about.
If you don’t like the word “energy,” then as I said, you actually shouldn’t even eat food because you’re getting energy from food. It’s the same. It creates vibrations in your body.
When you eat food, you are actually creating energetic vibrations inside of your entire digestive tract that is converting that food, which is also energy, into something that your body can absorb. It’s language. It’s syntax. It’s semantics.
ALLIE: It’s like if you’re not using “Christianese” then it’s too weird. It’s like a whole religious way of speaking and that’s what’s accepted. And if you say, “vibration” or “energy,” then you’re outside of that.
And it’s just ridiculous. It doesn’t make any sense.
DR. LEAF: It’s very unfortunate and it’s very limiting. It also blocks your education.
It’s an honor to be able to learn. We are designed to learn. And you need to be open-minded.
If you want to develop your intelligence and grow as a human, you need to be open to different ways of hearing things, different words, and actually dig a little deeper.
If your child’s learning about energy at school, what are you going to say? “It’s not Christian. You don’t need to learn about e=mc2.”? You see, it’s ridiculous.
When you start looking at that and thinking about the basics of your cell phone and food—which everyone can relate to—if you don’t like energy, don’t eat, don’t use your cell phone, don’t use the internet. At the moment we are dealing with Covid and it’s going to be a problem if you’re not going to use the internet. The vibrations in the internet are basically the same vibrations we are talking about in terms of memory formation.
ALLIE: I love that. Thank you for putting it that way. It’s so understandable.
I went to a very religious school and I was taught this disconnect between myself, my mind, my thoughts, and God. I’ve really moved on from that and beyond that.
I’ve read almost all of your books and you have really served me and helped me in that. I’m a fan of God, not religion.
I’ve been really aware of that resistance to the mind/body connection in people. I’m dealing with a lot of moms and I’m seeing the same pattern where people just don’t want to take ownership of their thoughts, of their minds.
Maybe there’s fear wrapped up in there. I’m sure you know more about this than I do, but they’re afraid of, “Well, if I’m in charge of everything, if I can control my mind and my thoughts, then I have nothing and no one else to blame,” or “What does that even look like? It’s overwhelming.”
So, I would love for you to expand on the control we do have, and in an empowering way for people.
DR. LEAF: That’s a fantastic question and I think it’s so relevant in today’s culture. There’s this whole confusion around what does responsibility mean.
What we are seeing happening in the church, and in the world of medicine interestingly enough, is the thing that it’s not due to the brain. We see that in medicine.
So, there’s a very relevant story going on in your life that’s very significant, and that particular story is going to be influencing how you are seeing the situation.
Let’s come back to responsibility. We see from a scientific perspective that everything that you do is going to have an impact.
Quantum physics expands the base. As an observer, you are sitting back there and you see your child doing something, or your husband says something to you, and then you’re triggered and you’re about to react.
There’s information coming in. This information could be irritating, frustrating, good, bad, whatever. It’s coming in. You aren’t out of control.
You’re not a robot. You’re not pre-programmed to respond to that specific incident in a certain way. You are in control of that reaction. If you snap, you’re immediately going to feel physically worse.
We’ve all experienced this. If you snap at your child or you snap at your husband because you’re busy or something like that, you feel horrible because you see the reaction of sadness in their face or it starts an argument. There’s an immediate toxic environment that’s created.
Physically you’ll feel your heart beating faster. You’ll feel your body going into toxic stress, not healthy stress, toxic stress. And that can make you feel physically sick.
If you carry on, maybe getting into an argument or not resolving the issue, walking away from it and making a bunch of assumptions and aren’t dealing with the issue, that’s a choice you’ve made.
You think about it and you don’t feel so good. Your heart feels a little bit sore physically.
You may be queasy. You feel a boost of adrenaline. You feel uncomfortable. There is a physical reaction.
All of us can relate to what I’ve just described. It makes you not happy. There is this lack of peace.
So, in that environment there’s a link between the choice you made and the impact on your body and how you’re feeling mentally. Therefore you have a choice.
You are responsible for the choice because you can snap and get mad, angry, and start a fight, or you can hold your breath, stay calm and say, “Okay, look, I don’t agree with what you’re saying.”
You can handle it in a more effective way and push through till you get a solution that’s effective. If you do that, you will feel differently.
You’ll still feel the body going into stress, but you’re going into positive stress versus toxic stress.
So instead of 1400 physiological responses working against you, you make them work for you. You will still feel the stress response, but it’s not damaging your body. It’s actually making you stronger.
It’s giving you a calmer brain. It’s helping you be more focused so you’ll make the right decision.
I use that to show the responsibility that we have, the impact of mind on body. We’re all experiencing that. I’m sure that we can all think of an incident where something’s happened and it’s made you feel bad.
Think of something that maybe was good and it made you feel amazing. You had a great conversation, you had a breakthrough with something and you felt fantastic.
That’s the mind/body link. You chose that reaction. You’re in control.
This is not only in Scriptures, it’s also in a lot of ancient writings—the concept of “in every day you’ve got life and death choices, and you need to choose life because if you don’t choose life then there is going to be a consequence and that consequence is negative.”
There’s consequences on both sides. And that’s not just Scripture; that is a philosophy. That is a global, universal, from-the-beginning-of-time philosophy that we choose.
I say all that to say that I’m talking about responsibility. When we talk about a choice we are talking about, “I make a choice so therefore I am responsible for the consequence of my choice.”
What we see from the mind/brain research is that you can’t separate heart, mind and body. And that’s why I use that as an example to lead us into this.
Whatever choice you make, there is a physical response in your brain, in your body. If you don’t deal with that little irritation and you keep doing it every day within three weeks (we’ve already been confined for three weeks) you’ve built a physical thought that’s becoming quite established.
You’ve built a long-term memory in 21 days. It takes nine weeks to form a habit—three weeks to form a long-term memory, and another six weeks added to that of practicing that way of thinking until it becomes a habit.
And then that “habit” is in your nonconscious mind. It’s part of you, it’s ingrained and it’s got a lot of energy.
ALLIE: So, is that where you could call it a belief?
DR. LEAF: You could call it a belief. It’s a pattern, a belief, a pattern, a memory; they are all the same thing. It’s cemented, but you can loosen the cement.
So, now you’re in the situation again and your spouse or your child says the same thing or something similar and it’s triggered, it comes up, and you just keep reinforcing.
But you’re not a victim of that. You can control that. You can be aware, “This is my reaction.”
You can stand back and observe your own reactions. You can change that. You can rewire that.
And that’s what I teach in my book, Switch On Your Brain, that you referenced. We’ve also got an app called Switch that takes you through the process of how to become aware of these thoughts and to rewire them in your brain so you are changing your mind to change your brain.
The actual process of doing all of this is very clearly laid out in the app. The app is great because we are adding new programs all the time. It’s ongoing and dynamic, but it teaches you how to literally renew your mind and how to control your thoughts constantly.
Now, come back to your responsibility. I paint this whole picture of how when you choose there’s a consequence and you will feel that mentally and physically. So, that means that we are responsible for what we are experiencing mentally and what we are experiencing physically.
Let’s say, for example, that you have a very strong reaction in your GI system to being under pressure. This is something that’s relatable.
A lot of people when they are under pressure get tremendous cramps, or bloating, or some kind of GI issue. It’s very common because your brain and your gut are totally linked.
There is a direct link between your neuroendocrine system, which is your hormones, your brain, and your gut. And it’s a constant conversation going on.
There’s an inevitable link between what you think and your body reaction. Very often your kids will say, “I’m scared to go to school; my tummy is sore.” That’s talking about this neuroendocrine reaction/nervous system link between the brain and the gut.
So all of this is showing that we see scientifically, we see experientially, we see medically, that you can’t separate the reaction. So therefore, we have a responsibility.
As we control our mind through—as you’ve already mentioned earlier you do breathing and meditation—when you do these kinds of things, you get a level of control. The breathing calms down the autonomic nervous system and the meditation helps us focus.
But those aren’t sustainable. You’ve got to go beyond that into mind management. You’ve got to learn how to manage your mind all the time.
How are you going to manage your day-to-day routine? How are you going to manage when things like Covid, the acute things, that you’re not expecting, blow your routines out the door?
And now you’ve got to deal with a car accident or there is a sickness in the family, things that are out of the norm. Do you have a mind management plan in place for that?
Do you have a mind management plan in place for the traumas of the past? We’ve all experienced different levels of trauma.
You can’t suppress it. These are real things. They’re in your brain. They are creating brain damage.
These are real things. We have to embrace stuff. We have to bring it up and deal with it. That is all linked to responsibility.
My choices affect my physical. My choices affect my mental. I’ve experienced that. I’ve given you some examples. I can control that.
That’s responsibility. That’s not blame the devil or blame your mother for not breastfeeding you long enough. Blame this. Blame that. Blame. Blame. Blame. It’s so easy to blame.
Now we come to faith and the general world being an effectful responsibility. People have said to me, and people may have said it to you (this is a common conversation), “Oh, so now I’m responsible for my cancer. Explain that.” And they’ll be angry.
Then what I would say to that kind of person is that all of us are crazy. All of us are making bad decisions.
We all battle with mental health issues. It’s not something that’s an illness. It’s something that’s a response to being a human and being in life that’s uncontrollable. Therefore, we are all constantly damaging our body.
We are all constantly making ourselves vulnerable, but we can also improve our resilience, our health, our bodies, and our immune systems by recognizing that I do make mistakes and there is a consequence. The acceptance of that.
Therefore, maybe you did put yourself constantly into a situation where you just never dealt with your toxicity, you had a vulnerability genetically, and that’s potentially maybe why the cancer flared up in your body. Plus you could have been exposed to asbestos or you could have been on a medication that caused it.
There’s never just one reason. You may not have known about that medication or you may not have known about the chemical exposure. There’s a multiplicity.
Cancer is a very good example because the research is very established in integrative medicine that there is a strong link between cancer and mind.
95 percent of illnesses are basically lifestyle diseases; only 5 percent are genetic. This means that of any disease, there’s a 5 percent chance of having a genetic component to it, but 95 percent is lifestyle, which is mind.
Lifestyle is all related to how I’m using my mind. And that’s not made to make people feel guilty because guilt, shame, and condemnation will just keep you chained in the toxicity.
What we are seeing in people, and this is the kind of work I do with my clinical trials and it’s in all my books, apps, and everything, is the fact that when you say, “Okay, I make a lot of bad decisions. I know I am. This is a bad behavior.” It’s that embracing and the attempt to change that shifts the way your brain functions.
The recognizing that what you’re doing that is not right—the snapping, the irritation, the being negative, whatever it is, we all have our little things that we do, the worry, anxiety, etc— recognizing that those are affecting how we are functioning physically and saying, “Okay, so I accept that my mind is affecting my body and therefore if I recognize it the recognition shifts the entire way that my brain functions.
What I’ve seen from our clinical trials looking inside the physiology of the body—looking at the blood, the mind, the story, the narrative, the physiology, and the neuroscience—we can see that as soon as you start to focus on accepting, embracing, acknowledging, dealing with that stuff, you are creating a set of optimization in your brain.
Your brain starts changing. You may not even have the solution.
You may not be over your cancer. You may not ever get over your cancer, but you may learn to be peaceful in that sickness.
Then suddenly, your medication works a little better. Suddenly, your life is a little easier, you have remission, whatever. That’s one example.
In other words, the acceptance—the embracing and the processing through—taking that responsibility for, “Yes, my lifestyle choice, my mind management could have made me vulnerable. Therefore, if I shift that and start managing my mind, who knows what will happen.”
Can you see the shift there? It’s a shift in how we handle the situation.
Okay friend, I’ve got a truth bomb for you and I really want you to listen because I’ve been thinking about this a lot.
I’ve been waiting weeks to be able to talk to you about this. I’ve been creating something brand new behind the scenes for you and I really want you to hear me. The lifestyle that you want to live, the person that you want to be, that version of yourself that you really deeply want to become all starts with mindset shifts.
If you only change your external surroundings and you don’t change anything internally, you will always come back to old habits. You’ll always come back to your old normal, your old comfort zone. This is why when you decide that you want to stop yelling, you can’t just put a Post-it on your mirror to remind yourself to choose calm, choose peace because internally you’re still the same version of yourself. You’re still a person that yells.
You haven’t worked on your mindset. You haven’t changed your inner identity to a person who doesn’t respond by yelling anymore. This is why people will decide they want to get healthy and lose weight and they change their external environment. They hire a trainer. They throw out all their junk food. They buy new workout clothes. But after a few weeks at most, they fall off the wagon again, right? They come right back to where they were. They come right back to who they are. You have to change your internal environment.
This is why I am so, so big on mindset. This is also really important to be talking about for women and for motherhood. This is something that I have been working on for you for months and it’s finally ready!
I’m calling it The Mom Mindset Bundle because it is a collection of specially curated video trainings, audio trainings, and a full workbook. And it’s in the form of a brand new course!
This Mom Mindset Bundle is really about inner work. If you desire to identify as that ideal version of yourself…You’re already her. You already have the traits of this intentional, purposeful version of you that you want to be. You already are her. We just need to tweak some things and pull those traits that you already have out and change the inner environment so that you can start to live in your outer environment as that person.
It’s actually really simple!
Do you want to get some serious action steps to radically change your life in ways that so few people are really talking about for us moms? Do you want to increase your confidence in yourself? Do you want to crush the self-sabotage cycle in your life? Do you want to radically shift your limiting beliefs around living and around motherhood?
Do you want to learn to live in a state of ownership, not in victim-to-your-circumstances mode? Do you want to set yourself, your family, and your home on a better, lighter, more purposeful path? Do you want to experience mental shifts, energetic shifts just from playing the videos and the audios in the background, in your car, or while you get ready for the day?
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ALLIE: Okay, so knowing all of this and seeing so clearly the mind/body connection with your thoughts, your mind, and the peace that you do or do not bring into your existence, and all of that affecting the cells of your body, can a person decide, “I’m not going to get sick. I’m not going to get a cold anymore. I’m not gonna get the flu. I am well. I’m choosing to use my mental power that I’ve been given by the Creator to choose wellness and protect myself.” Can you decide that?
And then, because you decided that, you begin to make conscious actions like, “I’m going to drink elderberry syrup. I’m going to eat healthy. I’m going to move my body.” Essentially your mental decision protected you from sickness?
DR. LEAF: We’ve got to be careful. I see where you’re going with this, but just to make it more clear—there’s no guarantee that with getting your mind under control you won’t get exposed to something.
We don’t know what’s in your genetics. We don’t know what you’re exposed to.
The world is filled with chemicals. The world is filled with uncertainty.
As soon as you control your anger, frustration, irritation, worry, anxiety, or anything toxic, as soon as you start getting management of that in your day-to-day routine, as soon as something bad happens you can fall apart or you can not freak out. Those are two different things.
I can fall apart and I can just get consumed by the negativity. I can just stay in the fear of the uncertainty. I can just read and immerse myself in all the toxic. I can panic about everything and I will get so sick.
As soon as your mind starts changing and you’re consciously verbalizing (it’s already happened prior to the verbalization, the conscious awareness, it’s already happened on an unconscious level) that nonconscious level is reflected in your brain.
Before you’ve even expressed your negativity, we can actually see the brain’s energy and that’s the different frequencies of the brain. For example, we’ll get a lot of high beta, which is a wave form that when it flows, it should only flow in little bursts to help you get concentration and attention. When someone goes into a state of panic and what I just described, you’ll get this waterfall of high beta activity and this is one of the frequencies.
When that happens, you don’t have clarity of thought. You create this damaging flood of energy through your brain.
That then creates toxicity in your entire body because it affects your blood chemistry, it affects your neuroendocrine system, your hormones, everything. Your immune system can’t recognize it and it becomes autoimmune, so then it is fighting against itself.
You confuse your T-cells that are helper cells, all the different great stuff in your immune system. You just create confusion in your body and the optimization of your body changes.
So when we take the opposite, when we start getting our mind in control, then it changes. Now, when I say get your mind under control…to say, “I’m never going to get sick again,” that’s unrealistic. That’s making God a genie.
It’s not the right way of doing it. You’ve got to be very careful of saying that because there is a chance someone sneezes all over you and you do catch a cold.
Your body gets old. Your body is not perfect. It is aging all the time. It’s exposed to the elements.
We can optimize function of our body through diet and exercise. I’ve written a book on that, Think And Eat Yourself Smart.
Eating is 85 percent controlled by your mind. The nutrition you get from your food is 85 percent controlled from your mind. The benefit of exercise is 85 percent controlled by your mind.
The point here is that we must be realistic because if you say, “I’m never going to get sick again,” and then you do get sick again, you’re going to blame yourself. You’re going to have guilt and say, “It didn’t work,” and just give up.
So, let’s be realistic and say, “I’m going to get my mind managed so that my body gets stronger so that if I do get exposed to something my body can deal with it.” Can you see it’s a process?
ALLIE: Yes. I wanted to see where you felt those lines were because on the other side there is that thought, “Well, you can manifest anything. You can just decide.” It feels unrealistic and dangerous that you’re putting yourself in this position of God almost.
DR. LEAF: It happens in the faith community and it happens out there in the various different movements of positive psychology, “If I’m just positive…”
25 years ago, positive psychology came out and it was this whole thing of, “I can just do anything if I just get positive thinking.” You can lie to yourself.
The truth is where you’re at now, you’ve got to have cognitive congruence. Which means that, “I would like to not get sick as often. I would like to not be as grumpy, irritable, snappy or whatever, but I’m realistic. This is where I am now and so I’m going to try and improve as opposed to [believing] I will never snap again. I know deep down inside that I’ve got cognitive incongruence because I know that I’ve got a pattern and it’s going to take me at least 63 days of deliberate, 7-15 minutes-a-day to retrain myself not to snap in those situations.”
That’s much more realistic. Then after 63 days there may still be times when you snap in a certain situation, but because you’ve gotten a mind management plan in place, it’s so much easier to catch yourself and get yourself back on the road again. It’s that process.
In the faith movement (and I come up against this a lot) there was this movement of, “Don’t ever declare negative words; just say positive words.” It’s the most ridiculous, stupid thing.
ALLIE: Then I feel like I can’t express, “I’m having an off day.”
DR. LEAF: We see in the brain clinic, and I was actually analyzing this particular zone in one of my subjects yesterday, that for years they had been trained to suppress and not say anything negative. Their brain is a mess.
Their genetics tell us that they are on a 65-year-old level, but they are actually 28. Their body has suffered so much from the stress of suppressing.
Even for people that don’t believe, people know the story of Jesus. I always use this example because it’s such a simple, beautiful way of explaining how we are supposed to embrace, process, and reconceptualize if you want your brain to function properly.
When we taught that subject—and I’ll come back to God now—through the clinical trial of a mind management claim (by the way, we used my Switch app in my most recent clinical trials, so it’s been trialed. It’s been tested through clinical trials, so it’s very, very scientific).
As soon as we gave that person who was suppressed for so many years, who was totally depressed, couldn’t sleep, they were nonfunctional, their relationship was breaking down, they couldn’t express themselves. Within 21 days they could express it.
They were sleeping, the depression had lifted. They were still battling. Nothing had just gone away. But there was progress.
They said, “My relationship is starting to improve. I am actually starting to sleep again. This depression has lifted to the point that I can actually go to work now.” By day 63 the pattern was even better and had been sustained.
Three three months later, still even more improvement. It didn’t mean that they weren’t still getting depressed and weren’t getting feelings of anxiety. You are going to get that the rest of your life.
The difference was it wasn’t a complete flatline of depression where they weren’t functioning. They’d gone back to being able to be functioning in life and managing as these crises came along, and that’s what we want to focus on.
We want to focus on the fact that when you give someone mind management, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be a walk in the park. But what this person did was that they embraced (because that’s what my Switch app teaches you to do.)
Embrace it. Speak it out. “I feel like this.”
Bring in words like, “because”, “understand” and explain it. Don’t just make “I” statements.
Explain. Find out why. When you express it more, the more specific you are, the more you try to understand it, the easier it is to embrace it.
So, to give a model of Jesus in the garden. We have the perfect model of how we are supposed to handle life.
It’s going to be tough. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.
Jesus is in the garden and there is a period of time where there’s an emotion of complete and utter distress. He was even sweating blood.
Your body is in such distress that it’s sweating blood. I believe that absolutely did happen.
All the emotions are experienced. It’s trauma.
Jesus didn’t hide. Jesus embraced, processed. He faced it.
We are taught in the world today to just label, diagnose, and medicate it away or “Scripture it away.” Scripture is used like Prozac, literally, and none of them work.
They’re both going to damage your brain. I’m not saying Scripture damages your brain; I’m saying using Scripture is not going to fix it.
What you have to do is you have to go into the pain. You have to experience the pain.
People are very scared of experiencing pain. They don’t like it. They don’t like discomfort.
But until we become comfortable with the uncomfortable, you’ll never process. Processing comes from being comfortable with the uncomfortable, and that it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
We call this The Treatment Effect. When He gets on the Cross, it gets worse. It goes from bad to worse.
This is a great visual for people to hang onto. But it’s also a demonstration of what it means to be human.
It’s tough. It’s hard. Uncontrollable. Uncertain. It gets worse, but then eventually it gets better.
You’re going to have wounds. And that’s your learning, because in the midst of the worst thing there is always something that we can learn. But we don’t like looking for that.
That’s kind of the process of embracing, processing, reconceptualizing, and accepting. And that’s responsibility.
And that’s not taught enough. It all comes full circle back to taking responsibility.
ALLIE: I’m going to link everyone to your app, your books, and all of these amazing things, but what does all of that look like? What does a mind management plan look like in the day-to-day life?
DR. LEAF: They can get the details of that in the books, but essentially a mind management plan is essentially what you are doing in your day-to-day process. I’ll give you my plan that I do.
It’s in detail in the books, but my overarching plan is when I wake up, I start my mindsets. There are 15 different mindsets. They are in the book Think, Learn, Succeed. A mindset is how you set your mind for the day.
For example, one of them is forgiveness. I know today someone is going to hurt me.
When I wake up in the morning, I prepare myself. I know that.
Someone, some way—either it’s a fan who’s going to make a comment or it’s going to be a family member or someone else—is going to do or say something. So, I’m already going into the day with the mindset of, “I’m going to forgive.”
Another one is possibilities. Yes, you can plan for the day.
We love to plan. We like certainty, but uncertainty is a fact so we have to have a possibility mindset.
And the possibility is, “This is kind of what the day is, but it may not all turn out like that, so I’m open to change. I don’t get thrown when things don’t work out according to my plan.” I prepare myself.
Once you understand the 15 mindsets, honestly, now I can do it in two minutes. It’s literally as I’m waking up, I’m having my coffee. Then while I’m getting ready, I do my brain detox.
I use the Switch app. I am rigorous in working through the five steps. That takes me about seven and a half minutes.
When you learn the process, initially it takes about 35 to 40 minutes to learn it. Once you’ve got down a few cycles, you’ll get the hang of it and then you can listen while you’re getting makeup on, while you’re getting ready.
And then also what I’ve got in my latest book coming out, which I’m finishing now, is how to use it in the moment, which is pretty useful.
So then I’m doing the other thing that I do during the course of the day, which is vital and that’s brain-building. You need to learn. Your brain’s designed to learn.
A huge part of mind management is building your brain. Otherwise if you don’t clean your teeth, the teeth get dirty and eventually your teeth will fall out. If you don’t build your brain, it’s like not cleaning your teeth.
Building your brain is growing using all the matrix of your brain. The nerves that we grow in our brain helps them to clean up your brain and to grow your brain. If your brain doesn’t grow, it becomes toxic.
Take something that you’re interested in. Find an hour in the day, take an article that you’re reading, maybe about Covid, something that you want to teach your kids, or something that you love understanding and don’t just read it but study it. How to study it is a process that you use to build memory and that’s in the book that I mentioned Think, Learn, Succeed.
You could study that for a year and you’ll find tons of information. Lots and lots of other tips in those two products, as well, for mind management.
All this is based on clinical trials and research, so everything has been researched clinically and applied, which is important.
ALLIE: Okay. Amazing. Thank you so much. This was so, so full.
I appreciate you so much. We need to have you back again.
Okay friends. I know that conversation was a lot; it felt overwhelming when I was in it.
I am super familiar with Dr. Leaf, the way she speaks, her writing, and her teaching and this is just the way she talks and delivers her message. It’s so good and so important!
I love how much she fits into a single conversation, but my style is to give you action steps and to help you decompress and break things down into, “Okay, but what do I do right now?” So, I wanted to just follow up this conversation and help you out in this regard.
Here are some things that I want you to do after listening to this conversation. First of all, Dr. Leaf’s app is called The Switch app.
It’s on iPhone and I believe it’s also on Android. Look it up. Go and get it.
It is basically a brain detox program. It’s based off her book Switch On Your Brain, which was mentioned in Allie Reads October 2018 and 2019 because the book is that good and impacted me that much.
I’m currently reading it for the fifth time. I can’t stop. I won’t stop. It is so powerful, so empowering and so seriously, seriously impactful.
You can get that in show notes and by going to alliecasazza.com/podcast. Go and get that book and go and get the app.
Also, Dr. Leaf’s other book, her latest one, Think, Learn, Succeed is also an incredible read. I just finished it a couple of weeks ago and honestly I’m probably going to go through it again when I’m done with Switch On Your Brain because it’s just one of those books that has so much powerhouse information. So, so good.
So, first steps: go and get yourself one or both of those books. Download The Switch App and practice it in the morning.
You can do this while you’re having your coffee, after you get your kids settled or sent off to school, or whatever the situation is in your mornings. You can sit and go through this process, get into the habit and get into the flow of controlling your mind, having ownership over your thoughts, over your brain.
It’s so important. It’s something that we all need to do.
As we heard today, it controls wellness, your attitude, your relationships. This is so serious and so important.
This is one of those conversations where it could be easy to get overwhelmed, walk away and do nothing, but I really don’t want you to do that. I want you to be one of the ones that listen to this conversation and—you know my favorite Maya Angelou quote—“Know better, do better.”
I want you to know. I want you to have your eyes opened, have your mind opened to this new idea. Go and know better and do better. Do something with this information.
Here are some other things that I want to give you to practice:
Dr. Leaf talked about the mind management plan. I’ve heard her mention that several times and one of the things that I did for me was make my own version of this.
Her Switch App is definitely a part of that. I’m not just sending you to go and download the app because I had her on the show.
You guys know I don’t do sponsorships, push people to go and buy a book, listen to another influencer, or buy anything that I don’t actually use myself or actually fully stand behind, right?
Her Switch App is definitely a part of my mornings. I put it on my phone every single morning and look at it, but then I go and I take action on it, usually while I’m in the shower because I have the process memorized and I’ve got the hang of it now.
The other things that I do which is basically my morning ritual came from learning from Dr. Leaf and a couple other people combined with what I felt God was leading me to do—to grow my faith, connect more with Him, heal from religion, heal from some pain that was inflicted on me from being raised in that way at the school I went to, connect with God Himself separate from religion, and from the things that I was taught.
That looked like meditation, stillness, basically just being still, sitting in a quiet space, putting in noise-canceling headphones if I need to, and just being still for at least 10 minutes, preferably more like 20.
Listening to guided meditations is so, so good for you, both if you’re a beginner and you need help with meditating or if you just prefer it. At this point, I really prefer it.
I do have about 15-30 minutes a day of just stillness with no sound. I won’t lie to you and say that I do it every day, but most days I have some amount of that stillness. No noise, nothing. Just being perfectly still and being in a quiet, meditative state.
But, I love guided meditations and I listen to them every single day, usually in the morning. If I can’t, I will find a way to fit it in later. That is part of my mind management plan for me personally.
Then reading. Reading the Bible, reading a book, reading a poem, reading something that’s going to lift me up and center me for the day.
Focus. I choose my intent for the day, as Dr. Leaf talked about. Choosing your mindset.
For me, I focus on choosing my intent for the day. Is there a mantra, a verse, an idea or something that I want to focus on for the day?
I’m setting the intent. What is my state of being? What am I going to think about? How am I being proactive about my day?
We talk all the time here on The Purpose Show about moving from a place of being reactive to a place of being proactive. So, what does that look like for me today?
What do I have on my calendar? Oh my gosh, it’s really busy. I can see that I’m going to need to choose peace, so today I’m choosing peace.
I choose to walk into this day in a state of peace and the amount of things on my calendar does not have to control whether or not I have peace. I can choose peace.
I’m going to make sure I fit in a 20-minute power nap. I’m going to make sure I have turned my phone off and be really fully present for cooking later and having dinner with my family. I’m going to balance out this busy day with that and choose peace.
I give that intent to God. I invite Him into it. I ask for guidance. I pray. I read. I meditate. I do my Switch App. I do my brain detox process.
I’m doing all of these things. I’m controlling my mind. I am taking full ownership of what I have ownership over.
Because as we talked about in this interview, we don’t have control over everything, right? But we do have control over our thoughts, over our minds, our mindset, how we think, and what we decide our intent is for the day. The outer circumstances don’t need to control you because that’s going back to a reactive state.
That’s a little bit of what the action steps in all of Dr. Leaf’s teachings have looked like for me.
I realize this is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea and it’s not meant to be. So if something upset you about this or you really didn’t like this episode, that is your right, girl. That is totally fine.
I’m here because this is my show and because I have a responsibility, as I view it, to share what has helped me be free, what has helped me live well. What has helped me step into joy and abundance is that I believe God designed us all to live this joyful, abundant life.
There are things in our circumstances that might come up that derail you from that, but you can control you. You can control how you respond. You can control your mind, your thoughts, and let that be empowering for you.
Go and create your own mind management plan. Re-listen to this episode if you need to and go and get yourself some of Dr. Leaf’s books. I highly recommend them.
You can go to alliecasazza.com/podcast and go to the show notes from this episode to get all of that.
I love you so much! You’re so supported. You’re so in the right place. Thank you so much for listening!
This was an episode of The Purpose Show. Did you know there is an exclusive community created solely for the purpose of continuing discussions surrounding The Purpose Show episodes? And to get you to actually take action and make positive changes on the things that you learn here? Go be a part of it. To join go to facebook.com/groups/purposefulmamas.
Thank you so much for tuning in. If you are ready to uplevel and really take action on the things I talk about on my show, and get step-by-step help from me, head to alliecasazza.com. There are free downloads, courses, classes, and ways to learn more about what the next step might look like for you and to focus on whatever you might need help with in whatever season you are in right now.
I am always rooting for you, friend! See ya next time!