Ep 202: Anxiety Explained + Normalized with Dr. Caroline Leaf

Dr. Leaf is a communication pathologist, a cognitive neuroscientist, and a best-selling author. Since the early 1980s she has been researching the mind/brain connection. And today she’s back for a conversation almost completely about anxiety. Let’s dive in!

 

 

 

In This Episode Allie and Dr. Leaf Discuss:

  • Where anxiety comes from 

  • Why anxiety is normal and good 

  • Where the thought of anxiety as a mental illness comes from 

  • The fall out from the thought that anxiety is a mental illness 

  • How to manage anxiety 

  • The neurocycle 

  • The difference between mind and brain 

  • How mind affects your body 

  • Mom guilt when your child feels anxious 

  • Dr. Leaf’s new book, Cleaning Your Mental Mess

Mentioned in this Episode:

Instagram

Courses (Use the code PURPOSESHOW for 10% off!)

The Purpose Show Facebook Community

Episode 152: Your Brain, Your Responsibility with Dr. Caroline Leaf

Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess by Dr. Caroline Leaf

Dr. Caroline Leaf’s Instagram

Switch On Your Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf

Eat and Think Yourself Smart by Dr. Caroline Leaf

 

Mom life. We’re surrounded by the message that it’s the tired life. The no-time-for-myself life. The hard life. We’re supposed to get through it. Survive. Cling on by the last little thread. And at the same time, Carpe Diem—enjoy every moment because it’s going to go by so fast. The typical mom culture that sends us all kinds of mixed, typically negative messages. We shouldn’t take care of ourselves; it’s selfish. The more ragged you run yourself, the bigger your badge of honor. But also, ditch your mom bod and work out. Don’t yell. Make more money. Show up. Be better, but not at the expense of time with your kids. I am putting a hard stop to all of this. While being a mom, running a business, and whatever else you might have going on is hard, it is a lot and there’s lots of giving of yourself, the idea that motherhood means living a joyless, nonstop-hustle-with-zero-balance kind of life, where you give and give and give and never take, needs to stop. 

I’m on a mission to help you stop counting down the minutes till bedtime (at least most days). Stop the mom guilt and shame game. Stop cleaning up after your kids’ childhood and start being present for it. I want to help you thrive in work, home and life. I believe in John 10:10 that we are called to living an abundant life and I know moms are not excluded from that promise. Join me in conversations about simplicity, some business and life hacks, spirituality 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.


Friends, today is such a happy day! I am having one of my favorite human beings I have ever met back on the show for a new conversation focused almost completely on anxiety. 

If you follow me on Instagram you may know that anxiety is something that I have struggled with pretty much my whole adult life. And lately it’s been rearing its ugly head again. 

It will come up and I’ll really work through it and deal with it. It doesn’t really go away but it lessens and gets to where it’s not really a problem; it doesn’t really stop my life. But then it will flare up again. I’ve noticed that it’s connected to all kinds of different things for me, but it is something that I deal with. 

I was really, really looking forward to talking with this amazing woman, Dr. Caroline Leaf about anxiety because it has been flaring up for me lately. I’ve been really diving into understanding the cause of it, getting to the root, and really wanting to pluck that out and just handle this the best way I possibly can. And as always, Dr. Leaf brings such wisdom to everything and this conversation about anxiety is no exception. 

If you are unfamiliar with Dr. Leaf, she has been on my show before. It’s an incredible listen. If you want to go listen to that episode, it’s all about the power of your thoughts from a neuroscientist’s perspective. It’s incredibly fascinating and helpful. One of our most downloaded episodes ever.

Dr. Leaf is a communication pathologist and a cognitive neuroscientist. Since the early 1980s she has been researching the mind/brain connection. She is obsessed with that and just locked in. That is her specialty, the mind/brain connection. Your mind is not your brain and your brain is not your mind. They’re separate. 

She’s also a best-selling author. She’s written so many books, most of which I’ve read. One of her best selling books, and one of my favorite books of all time, is Switch On Your Brain. It completely changed my life. That was why I had her on the first time. She is just really an incredible human being. 

She’s also conducting clinical trials using her five step program that she developed herself while she was in private practice. Basically this process, which she talks about in this episode, demonstrates the effectiveness of mind directed techniques that help relieve mental ill health problems, like anxiety, depression, intrusive thoughts, negativity, and things like that.

She’s just fricking brilliant and so kind and generous with her time, her wisdom, and her expertise. She really just does not hold back. When you talk to her you can feel she is really showing all the way up. She is so invested in helping people. She really loses herself in her passion and in what she’s saying and just carries on in this entire conversation about all of her wisdom.

She is about to drop so many truth bombs on us all. She’s about to help you so much. If you’re somebody who has a mind, you need to listen to this. Even if you don’t struggle with anxiety. And if you know someone who struggles with anxiety, please pass this on. 

Dr. Leaf is a fast talker. She gets a lot of information into a short amount of time. If you need to slow down your app, you can feel free to do so. 

I love you guys. Thank you for being here with me. Please enjoy this listen. And if you do, take a screenshot, post it to social media, tag myself and Dr. Leaf. 

It would really help other people learn about who she is and the amazing work she’s doing. It would increase my podcast downloads, which helps me tremendously as a professional podcaster. It will also get more people to read Dr. Leaf’s books and have help with their brains, their minds, anxiety and depression, and things that people just really need help with. 

So do some good today. Share this episode for us. I love you. Please enjoy this incredible conversation. 

ALLIE: Thank you so much for being here with me, Dr. Leaf. I’m so excited to talk to you again!

  1. LEAF: Oh, thank you. I’m so excited to talk to you again. It’s lovely. We had a great conversation last time.

ALLIE: We’re going to focus a little bit more on anxiety and maybe even depression today. Can you start by explaining where anxiety even comes from? Is it normal? What is the cause? Give us some foundation when it comes to anxiety. 

DR LEAF: I love how you just get straight into the meat of it. That’s the way to do it. 

I have great news for everyone listening. The approach that I bring to the table, which is very scientific and backed up by 150 years of research in the field, is that anxiety is completely normal. And the way to manage anxiety is to embrace it. 

Anxiety never exists on its own. Anxiety generally tends to go with depression, frustration, despair, and all those other emotions. It’s kind of an umbrella term for all the things that you feel when you’re battling with something. Even panic attacks can fall under that as anxiety progresses. 

Anxiety, basically, is a response to adverse circumstances. It’s not an illness, which is the message that we’ve been given. It’s not a neuropsychiatric brain disease. It doesn’t have a neurobiological basis. 

For those viewers that are listening, I’m holding up a brain (not a real one) in a skull. Our brain and our mind are separate. Anxiety is not hiding somewhere in your brain as a neurobiological deficit or some kind of chemical problem. It is actually a warning signal or a symptom of an underlying cause. 

It’s totally normal. If you’re human (which you are), if you’re alive (which you are), if you are experiencing a mental mess, of which anxiety is just one of the parts of being a mental mess, it’s completely normal.

And I cannot stress that enough. I cannot stress enough that it’s not an illness. I also cannot stress enough that you’re going to have anxiety up and down throughout the rest of your life. That’s completely normal and it’s okay. 

The best way to manage anxiety is to be okay with it. We can obviously talk about the steps, how to process and to find the cause of anxiety and that kind of thing, but the key is understanding that this is a normal response and that we need to embrace it. 

We have a seriously weird, unscientific philosophy in the West that looks at anxiety, depression, toxic thinking, and all those scary things as scary things. As bad for you. As symptoms that you’ve got to suppress. Symptoms of a disease that you need to control through medication or through trying to condition them out of you. And that has created such a problem. 

This philosophy started growing around 40 years ago and has now become a dominant framework for mental health. And it’s been a very negative framework because it’s actually caused a reversal of trends in people living longer. 

So, with this philosophy of anxiety being an illness, depression being an illness and this uncontrollable thing you’ve got to live with the rest of your life. That it’s terrible, it’s a disease symptom and you’ve got to suppress it. That philosophy has created a vulnerability to disease that has increased people’s chances of dying younger by 8 to 25 years, which is crazy because we have advanced technologically and medically. 

We’ve gone forward that way but we’ve gone backwards with how we manage the mind. So people are dying 8 to 25 years younger than they should have. This is pre COVID. COVID has knocked off another year. People are more anxious than ever. 

But every society through the generations of mankind since the beginning has battled with their minds. Anxiety is nothing new. It’s been with us since ancient times. It’s been with us since the beginning because every generation has got some issues to deal with as a society. And then as an individual, there are always issues to deal with. 

Obviously some people experienced more than others—if you grew up in a war-torn country versus someone who’s not grown up in a not a war torn country. Those are the two sides of the continuum.

But as I said, the good news is that anxiety is a symptom or a warning signal of an underlying cause. And what’s super important is that we embrace it, process it, and reconceptualize it. You can learn to manage anxiety. 

As I showed in my research, you can actually learn to manage it. You can get an 81% of control over it. You can learn to become so efficient that you can get 81% improvement in managing anxiety, which is quite powerful.

ALLIE: Where did all these beliefs about anxiety being an illness come from? Even hearing you say that it’s normal, that it’s just a part of everybody and we need to embrace it, I understand.

But it is still, even for me, so hard to wrap my mind around that because the message is, “Oh, no, I have anxiety, so I can’t do this.” 

And everyone else is saying, “Yes, we understand you have anxiety and you have to get that fixed before you can be normal. Medicate it. Suppress it. These are bad symptoms that need to be really eradicated.” 

What is the solution then if it’s not that? How do you live with this? How do you embrace anxiety? Especially when it brings so much panic and it feels like the world is ending, you’re dying, something terrible is going to happen, and your heart’s beating out of your chest. How do you embrace that?

  1. LEAF: These are excellent questions. I want to begin at the beginning. Where did it come from? And then how you embrace that and deal with it. 

Before I even start, I want to validate what you’re experiencing. I want to validate everyone’s experience, because one of the things we are not doing in our current era is validating what you’ve just described. 

Anxiety is not an “it.” You’re not having “it.” You are having a response because there’s stuff going on in your life. By treating anxiety as though it’s a cancer, as though it were diabetes (in what we would call a biomedical model), you’re not doing any justice to what you are going through.

In fact, you’re invalidating it. Not you, but the medical approach. This medical approach that started about 40 years ago.  

If I say to you, “Allie, you’re battling with anxiety. Tell me what it feels like. What are the emotions you experience? What are the behaviors? What are your behaviors like? What are the specifics? Let’s get specific. What do you feel in your body? What’s your perspective? What are the patterns? Let’s reflect on those. Let’s write this down. 

I’ve just outlined the neurocycle, which is the process of how we would embrace, process, and reconceptualize. It’s the system. 

So over 38 years, I have studied mind. What is it? What’s thought? What are memories? What is anxiety? What are emotions? What is the brain? What’s the relationship? And do we have any form of agency? Do we have any level of control? 

Is the mind malleable? Is the brain changeable. Can we do anything about it? Or do we have to just sit with apples falling on our heads and live like life is too much? Like life is just a bunch of apples falling on your head and every now and then there’s a bit of respite? 

We don’t have to live like that. We can live standing back and looking at the apples, which do exist. We can look at the rotten apples and the good apples. But instead of them falling on your head, you can pick them. So that’s kind of the analogy operating. 

First, we validate. And it’s much more validating for me to spend time discussing and hearing your story. Not trying to fix you because no one can fix you. Only you can fix you. 

You also would tell me a bunch of stuff that’s happened. And then I would say to you, “Okay, all those events and circumstances, you had absolutely no control over those because that’s just life happening. 

“The only thing you do have control over, where your autonomy and your agency is, is how you respond. How will you respond? What are you going to do with it? 

“The traumas that have happened in your past, those have happened, they are reality. But if they are causing you to have these anxiety attacks then they are controlling you. So, how can we reconceptualize and look at them differently so that you can shift that toxic energy of them controlling you to you controlling them?” 

It’s actually a very simple process, but it does take time. We can address the “how to” in a moment. 

Where does this philosophy that anxiety is a disease versus anxiety is a symptom of an underlying cause come from then? There’s a whole story. 

It comes from about 40 years ago with the introduction of psychotropic medications when they started discovering, by accident, that certain drugs seem to calm people down. A whole industry began and they started using it as a way of helping people to control their emotions. 

The problem, however, is that those psychotropic drugs don’t fix anything even though they have been theorized to fix the chemical imbalance. Anyone who calls himself a doctor or a scientist doesn’t say that because it’s been debunked so many times. A paper came out recently from a top Ivy league university saying, “We’ve got to stop telling people they are chemically imbalanced. It never was. It will never be.” 

But that’s what’s being sold to the public. The average person who doesn’t read science is going to get that message. That’s why I wrote this book, Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess. All the stuff I’m saying is in the beginning part of the book, so if you don’t take everything in now you can read it in the book. 

At the same time we started learning more about the brain. We became very neuroproductionistic. Everything became brain, brain, brain. Your brain made you do it. Your brain. 

And yes, the discoveries of the brain were phenomenal. I mean I did some of the first neuroplasticity research in my field back in the late eighties and early nineties. I’ve been in neuroscience for my whole career. But I come at it from a mind/brain angle as opposed to brain, brain, brain, and brain producing mind.

So, it began then. At the same time people started being seen as these mechanistic things like avatars where if something’s broken then part of the symptom of brokenness is cancer or diabetes or anxiety. Anxiety got lumped in the same category but it’s not even remotely the same thing. 

With cancer and diabetes we’ve actually got the ability to physically see them in the body and treat them. But we don’t have that with anxiety because the mind’s a different construct. And we’ll talk about what that is in a moment. 

At the same time the industrialized food movement began. We changed how we ate, which has damaged the brain and the body. 

And we advanced with technology tremendously, which is fantastic, but mismanagement of technologies led to us being data catchers. We can access so much knowledge but we don’t think deeply about it so we’ve changed how we think. 

We’ve changed our lifestyles. People don’t move as much and people don’t sleep as much. 

So, you put all of that together—You ignore the person’s story. You’re eating badly. You’re not moving. You’re on technology all the time. 

In addition to that, the philosophy also went around to there’s a “quick fix.” If you get sick or get a symptom, then you get a diagnosis and get a pill. 

The self-help industry hasn’t contributed much positively. I mean it’s done a lot of good, but it’s also said, “Okay, well, here’s your little technique and if you do this thing, this external thing, and you put this in your body, you’ll be fine. And if you’re not, well, you’re doing it wrong somehow.” 

It led to a lot of blame and shame. 

So you put all of that in the pot and you land where we are today with a message that we’ve been given that’s not working. It’s created a huge problem. We hear mental ill health is on the rise. Mental ill health is not on the rise. Mental ill health has always been an issue. 

It’s not 1 in 4 with depression. It’s 100% of people have battled with different levels of depression. It’s not 1 in 6 have anxiety or 1 in 5 have anxiety. It’s 100% of people have anxiety. Even our kids do, but It’s on a continuum. 

So sometimes it’s really bad at a -10. Sometimes it’s not so bad, it’s only at a -4. Sometimes it’s not there at all. You’re at a 0, or a 1, or a 2. That’s just the continuum of life. 

We’ve taken something very normal over these past 40 years and turned it into some very scary medical thing that we feel like we have no control over and that we can only get help with if we go to a doctor. 

I’ve been in the field for 38 years, nearly four decades, and I’ve trained thousands of physicians. Physicians have no training in mind. They are trained in biology and they are brilliant at that. Many of my friends are medical doctors and I’ve worked with them in my teams and my clinical trials. But they’re not trained in mind. They come to people like myself for the question, what is mind? 

Yet, who do you go to if you’re feeling depressed? The doctor. 95% of prescriptions for antidepressants come from your primary care physician. In all consideration, they are just trying to help. And what they’ve been taught is that depression is a disease. This is a symptom. This is the treatment. That’s their training.

But it’s not working. So now, instead of an increase in mental health what we have is an increase in the mismanagement of mental health. And that has led to this very scary statistic that we went into the COVID era with called Deaths Of Despair, where people are dying 8 to 25 years younger than they should from preventable lifestyle diseases and disorders, which is frightening because they’re preventable. 

We have to look at the question why did this happen in the first place? Why is there an increased vulnerability to disease in this day and age of 75% to 98% when we are so advanced? 

For all those reasons I said, that’s why. For the fact that you ignore mind. You can’t ignore mind. Mind is 99% of you. You can’t ignore a person’s story. You can’t treat mind. Mind drives everything. 

You can go three weeks without food. You can go three days without water. You can go three minutes without oxygen. But you don’t even go three seconds without using your mind. Your mind is your primal force. Your primary source. 

It is not your brain. It is driving everything. You wake up with your mind. You do this podcast with your mind. You listen to the podcast with your mind. You eat with your mind. You talk to your kids and husband with your mind. Your mind goes to bed with you at night. 

If you don’t manage your mind and your mind is a mess, your life is a mess. You can read all the self-help books, you can listen to all the great podcasts, but if you don’t manage your mind and transform through mind management what you’re hearing and seeing into realities in your life, your mind’s a mess.

So, my underlying argument to this whole thing is that you have to manage something like anxiety, which is basically a mind response. It’s a response that you are having in response to what you’re going through. If you don’t manage it, it will get the better of you, which is what you described at the beginning of your question where anxiety spirals out of control into panic attacks.

So, how do we get that under control?

I’ve said a lot so I don’t know if you want to unpack anything in what I just said before we dive into the ‘how to’ or go into a little bit more detail. Whatever you’d like. 

ALLIE: So much of what you said makes so much sense. You can feel the truth in it. It’s amazing how everything really is connected. Even the way you eat. I know that you have a book on Eating For Your Brain

When I went to the doctor, because that’s what I was told I had to do, for anxiety…

  1. LEAF: Sorry, I don’t mean to interrupt you, but you don’t have to feel any guilt for going to the doctor. Because that’s the messaging that you have in this current era. 

I’ve watched this trajectory through my career, but I didn’t grow up in an era where if you felt anxiety you went to the doctor. If you felt anxiety you found out why. That’s changed. We’ve got to bring that back again. 

Sorry. I didn’t want to interrupt you but I think it’s just a valid point to underline.

ALLIE: Absolutely. 

But when I was at the doctor I was asked what was going on. I was asked how I was feeling. And so I explained everything. And the answer was, “Here, take this pill the next time you feel like that.” 

Which to be honest, gave me so much peace of mind that I even had the option. But I was kind of like, “Oh, I thought maybe we would talk about how these are obviously triggers from unresolved traumatic experiences that have occurred and that now every time I’m in this basic everyday situation I am brought back to a moment and my brain won’t stop. I thought we would get control of it that way.” 

But, no. The suppression can bring so much peace when you are panicking, but that’s not how I want to live long-term. 

  1. LEAF: Exactly. You hit the nail on the head. You’ve explained that perfectly. In the moment of panic we want a bit of peace and calmness so that we can actually control the situation, but there’s no sustainability in that. 

And in fact, there’s this awful backlash effect because those meds are basically anesthetics, just different versions, so all they’re doing is numbing. They’re not fixing. They shouldn’t even be called antidepressants or antianxiety. It’s a misnomer. 

I know that there are a lot of scientists that are fighting against taking that name away and just calling them psychotropic drugs because they are not anti anything. Antibiotic implies there’s a bacteria and we’re going to get rid of it. Anti the bacteria. They’ve played on that and say, “Okay, if you take this it will get rid of your depression.” 

Yes, you will maybe feel less depressed in the moment because your brain’s been numbed, but at what price? So you may have a bit of momentary relief around that label, but we all know that that label stigmatizes you.  

You just go and sit down at dinner and you tell someone, “I’ve got a neuropsychiatric brain disease.” Or, “I’ve been clinically diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.” 

People will look at you like you are a little crazy and think, “Oh, can I leave that person with my kids? Do we want them in our office? Do we actually want them at the dinner table?”

But if you said, “Oh my gosh, I had such a panic attack today and this, this, and this happened and I think it’s got something to do with this trigger from my childhood.” 

Everyone at the table would say, “Oh gosh! I get that. I’m so sorry. You know, that happened to me too.” 

Can you see the difference? The one has no stigma. The one is complete community and sharing. The one is embracing. That’s embracing, sharing, processing, and taking the symptom of the anxiety, the warning signal of anxiety, paying attention to it like it’s a smoke signal or your alarm going off in the morning to wake you up, and unpacking it to get down to the root of the issue. (I have great props that I could show you in a minute and we can unpack them in kind of a scientific way).

That scenario has got agency, autonomy, or empowerment. You’re starting to move in the direction of what you actually expected from the doctor. You expected them to be able to help you unpack the questions: Is there a trigger? Is there a cause? What is it? How do I find it? What do I do about it? What’s the antidote? 

That’s what I’m going to show you how to do. That’s what the neurocycle does. This is the concept that I’ve developed over 38 years of clinical practice and heavy brain research. Everything I say is absolutely scientifically backed up, even though it’s very simple to apply, which is really important. 

If you say you’ve got clinical depression or you’ve got a neuropsychiatric brain disease, you’re not going to get the same response from the people at the table. You’re not going to feel satisfied. You’re going to feel isolated. You’re going to feel stigmatized. You’re going to feel different. You’re going to feel hopeless. 

That sense of hopelessness can cascade. It’s very cumulative and it can then transfer into other areas. Do you want me to explain the concepts?

ALLIE: Yes. Especially for people like myself where anxiety turns into panic. Explain how to do this when you’re in a social situation. Because we are out living. We aren’t always sitting on our beds where we can tap through the points (EFT). 

  1. LEAF: Exactly. What do you do in the moment? I totally get it. And this is why I developed the concept of the neurocycle, because it starts with mind. Mind is the primary source and we’ve got to manage our minds. 

The neurocycle is a five-step scientific process for how you can use your mind to manage your mind when you’re in that social situation and you feel a panic attack coming on because you’ve been triggered by X, Y, or Z, and anxiety is mounting.

The neurocycle is there for any of those day-to-day things, whether it’s extreme or not. You get in an argument, your kids are driving you crazy and you’ve got to get on a podcast, or one of your business colleagues has just done something insanely stupid and you’ve got to handle that plus you’ve got to look happy. Those moment by moment things. 

There’s also the big stuff like when you see that there’s a pattern your my life. You keep getting anxious in these situations. What’s the pattern? What’s going on? How do you find the root cause? 

You can use the neurocycle for that. The patterns are from the more established stuff that comes, generally, from a trauma or toxic habits. Even our toxic habits come from traumas. Those are established so they need a bit more time to unpack. 

That’s when you’d use the neurocycle daily over cycles of three weeks. You do 63 days, so three cycles of three. I’ll explain all that. That’s the big picture. 

So the answer is: anxiety is normal. It’s a normal response. It’s a warning signal or a response to adverse circumstances. Embrace it. It’s telling you something. It’s a helpful messenger. 

Don’t see it as scary. As soon as you see it as helpful 1,400 neurophysiological responses in your brain and your body will now start working for you instead of against you. That is powerful. 

So, here I am in a social situation and I’m triggered. I’m getting anxious because something in that environment triggered me and activated me. The word trigger is overused. I prefer the word activators. Something has activated this response, this memory. It’s come up from your non-conscious mind and it’s making you feel anxious. 

Something continues in the environment that increases the level of anxiety and anxiety progresses into panic. Panic progresses into panic attack. So the more anxiety is unmanaged or grows, it eventually becomes panic and then panic attack. That’s kind of the sequence. 

In that particular situation, what do you do? The first thing that you do In the book, and this is a sort of “in the moment thing” but it could span over the course of an evening, I have a panic attack guide, A Neurocycle Guide For Panic Attacks. 

I also have an app called The Neurocycle App (it goes with the book) that you can get on iTunes and Google Play. In that I actually walk you through a guided neurocycle for panic attacks. So there’s a lot of things that I’ve got accessible for you.

The more you do it, the more you train your mind, the more you do the neurocycle, the more you rewire your brain and the more proactive you become. The first time you do it, it’s hard. But by the fourth or fifth time, when you’re in that next situation, you’ll be able to get the panic attack under control very quickly. It’s just a matter of time. 

In our quick fix society we all want five steps for magically healing our panic attacks in the next two seconds. That’s not going to happen. You have to go through a process. The only way to change the mind and brain is through time. Even though you can use the neurocycle in the moment to manage the moment, you’re going to have to do the work to identify why you have that pattern.

So use it in two ways—I’m going to get myself under control in the moment, but then I’m going to do the 63 day work to find out why I do it in the first place. So the now and the long term. 

The mindset that you come into the neurocycle with, this process of the “how-to” of managing these things, is one of acceptance. It’s one of embracing. I chose the word “embracing” for many reasons. You embrace those that you love. You don’t embrace people that you don’t love. 

Embrace means that you are comfortable bringing that into your zone. You embrace people into your home. You embrace people into your life. You embrace someone that you love. That’s the concept. 

I’m telling you to love your anxiety. I’m telling you to embrace your anxiety. The minute that you do that, within milliseconds, you have made 1,400 neurophysiological responses work for you and not against you. You’ve stopped brain damage in that instant. You’ve started getting control. You shifted the power balance. 

Now you’re still feeling anxious, but you’ve shifted the power balance because of the embracing process. In the midst of that panic and that anxiety starting to mount because of the activator, you are saying, “It’s okay. Allie, it’s okay. Caroline, it’s okay. People have done this a million times. The guilt, the shame, whatever it is, it’s okay.” 

Own it. Embrace it because then you are controlling it versus it controlling you. You shift away from the apples falling on your head to standing back and picking the apples. So, if you imagine a big apple tree, you’re either under the apple tree with all the apples falling on your head or you’re standing back and you’re picking the apples.

The mindset you come in with of embracing is one of acceptance. Embrace. Celebrate. Even through your tears, celebrate this anxiety because there’s a reason behind it and if you look at the anxiety you’re going to find the cause. 

Just by me saying this now I bet you feel calmer. Just by me saying this I’ve actually increased a wave in your brain called the Theta Wave, which is a healing wave. I’ve just decreased a neurochemical chaos in your brain. There’s a million different things that I’ll give you in the book to help you get this under control, but I’ve literally changed your neurophysiology just by saying those words. 

Think of it this way—you go to therapy once or twice a week, maybe coaching or counseling. What do you do with yourself the other 24/7? You live with yourself. 

You wake up with your mind. You got to bed with your mind. We have to manage our minds. Your mind is working with you whether you like it or not. It’s either working under your control or working out of your control. And that’s why I talk about cleaning up the mental mess. 

Before I dive into the five steps I just quickly want to explain what mind is and what brain is, because in this era of everything being about the brain we’ve mixed those words up. People think mind and brain are the same thing, but they’re not. 

Here’s your brain (I’m holding up a brain in a skull). That’s not who you are. 

This is what you control (Here’s a model of a body). 

There’s the brain and there’s the body. 

The brain is not your mind. The mind is actually an energy force around your brain and your body and moving through your brain and your body. If you are dead your brain and body disintegrate. So what is the energy force keeping your brain alive? 

Your aliveness is your mind. If you want a psychological definition of aliveness or mind, it is how you think and feel and choose—those three words. You’re always thinking. When you think you are always feeling. You cannot think without feeling. You are always feeling when you’re thinking. 

And when you think and feel, you’re always choosing. You’re doing this all the time in these very fast, little rapid cycles. Think, feel, choose. Think, feel, choose. 

In fact, you’re doing it at the moment at 400 billion actions per second. As you’re listening to me you’re converting what I am saying through think, feel, choose into little protein structures in your brain that look like trees. You are literally building trees in your brain right now as I’m talking, which is neuroplasticity. You are literally changing your brain as we are speaking. 

And as a tree has got roots and trunk or stem and branches, so your thoughts that you are building have the same thing. So I’m now teaching you about anxiety and how to manage anxiety. That’s how we start. That’s the name of the thought: How to manage anxiety. 

What is anxiety? That’s the name of the thought so that’s the concept. Thought is a concept, but as you can see trees have lots of branches and roots and thought has lots of branches and roots. Those are the memories. So as a tree is made of branches, a thought is made of memories. 

You have your root memories and the root memories are what I’m saying and the conversation we’re having back and forth. It’s the information. It’s the source. It’s the origin story. 

The tree trunk and the branches and the leaves are your interpretation of what I’m saying. So every listener and viewer is interpreting the same data differently. 

This is how you interpret the data. These are your behaviors and your emotions and the data capturing of how you view this. This tree collectively—root, stem, and branches—produces what you say and what you do. 

Based on that, let’s look at a toxic issue. You went to the doctor to find out why you have this pattern of anxiety and panic attacks, and you asked the right questions. You saw your panic attack and mounting anxiety into panic attacks as a symptom of something. You automatically knew the right thing. 

Automatically knowing that is your wise mind. Every single one of us has a messy mind and a wise mind. In science, we call that the wide full of nature of the brain and body. 

We don’t have any proteins, structures, or organs. There’s nothing in our lungs, heart, brain, skin, or colon. There’s nothing in here for toxicity. In fact, anything toxic, like a virus or anything that enters the brain and body, our immune system sends out to fight against it because it threatens your survival. 

Toxic thought also threatens your survival. It’s a protein structure. Any toxic experience is built in the brain as a toxic thought, not a healthy thought. With a healthy thought, the proteins fold correctly, the chemicals are correct and all that stuff. Whereas with a toxic thought they fold incorrectly and it’s all imbalanced. 

So the same way that your brain and body would react for example to the COVID virus, which is topical so I’m using that example, is how it would react to toxic trauma of sorts that you’ve gone through, a toxic reaction, irritation or anything. Obviously a trauma would be a heavier, bigger, darker tree than an irritation but they still have the same kind of structure. 

And this is a threat to your survival, so immediately we are drawn to this to fix it. Instinctively we know that this shouldn’t be there. We know there’s a better way. We know that. That’s why I said in the beginning that you did a great thing, which is that you recognized it and you went to the doctor.

So anyone who’s gone to the doctor for help, who has gone to someone for help, well done! You’ve embraced it. You’ve actually used your gut wired full of optimism bias to actually find that out. So this mind optimism bias thing and wired for love thing is in the brain and body and mind. 

And as I said, mind is not brain. Mind is this gravitational field around the body that moves through the body. So your thinking, feeling and choosing, on a scientific level, are gravitational fields and waves of energy. This is quantum physics. It’s physics. It’s the work that Einstein did. It’s the photoelectric effect. 

All of that is mind because when someone’s dead, they don’t have it. When someone’s alive, that’s what’s inside. That’s what we see inside the blood, the hormones, the brain, and the electrical firing. It’s coming from mind, giving that energy force into the brain and the body.

And you control that. And it’s always going. But if you don’t control it, it’s a mess. So something like whatever caused your panic attack is causing a turbulence inside the mind, the gravitational. So instead of it being nice and wavy, it’s now like this. Maybe it’s like this at first and then it mounts, and then eventually it’s this, and that’s the panic attack. 

Your brain will get the same kind of wavy formation because this thing creates that. This creates this in your brain. This increases blood and oxygen and balances chemicals. This reduces blood and oxygen and creates neurochemical chaos and also effects the DNA and increases vulnerability to disease by 75% to 98%. Which is why if you don’t manage this, you can do all the exercise and diet you want but you’re going to lose 80% of the effect of the good diet, exercise, and meditation if your mind’s not right.

ALLIE: Your thoughts can make you sick or make you well. 

  1. LEAF: Exactly. They affect your metabolism. 

We had an acute trauma in our family just recently and I was wearing a glucose monitor because I was monitoring it to test for research purposes. I’m always doing clinical trials and I was the subject in this particular trial. 

We had this terrible, terrible situation that happened in our family, in our extended family. And as I happened to look down at my glucose monitor, it had shot to 240. That’s heart attack level. Normally I’m around 86 to 94. 

As soon as I saw that I knew I had to get my mind under control so my brain could get under control so my metabolism could get under control so I could drop my glucose and cortisol. Otherwise I’m at risk for everything. Not only at risk medically, but mentally I will have chaos. 

I’m not going to be able to make any good decisions. I’ll be impulsive. And in that situation, boy, did I have to make the right decisions. So, I neurocycled. I did the system that I’ve developed over 38 years. 

I dropped my glucose levels back down to 94 within minutes. As the situation went on for about 12 hours, my glucose went up and down but it never went back up to 240. It peaked at certain points, but each time I managed to drop it. What I’m saying is there is a direct metabolic effect, direct inflammation and it is immediate. 

With that level of glucose I had immediate inflammation in my brain because immediately my immune factors (B-lymphocytes, T-lymphocytes, macrophages from my immune system) would have gone to this experience. There’s the trauma. There’s my interpretation. That happens instantly. In the instant you grow this thing. And as the hours were going by this thing was being added to.

So I had to start fixing the thing because otherwise I would have completely wrecked my ability to process and manage the situation. Besides if I kept that trauma, which we do, we keep our trauma, that sits in your body unmanaged and becomes the secondary trauma. That then impacts long-term and would lead to anxiety. 

So we’re over the trauma now, we are on the other side, but if I haven’t processed it, anything could be an activator. I could be in a situation and just a thought, a smell, a sound, would activate and this whole thing would come back. That means I haven’t got rid of it. That’s why we have to be proactive in managing these things. 

I had to do the work over 63 days, which is nine weeks, which is more or less where I am now. And only now am I kind of free from being activated from that. So now the traumatic experience isn’t causing me that feeling of wanting to die and panic, it’s now back under control. 

But I did the work. I did the moment by moment work. And I did the work over time to make sure that this became this. It doesn’t make the situation we went through any less, but I’ve made it work for me. I’ve reconceptualized it. 

Do you see these lighter leaves amongst darker? The lighter leaves would be the experience. It’s not a nice experience, but I’ve reconceptualized it and I’ve made it work for me. I’ve transferred the toxic energy to the healthy energy. And now I can talk about it as a lesson. I can stay in mental peace. 

And yes, it’ll still make me cry, but I’m not chained to it. I’m not controlled by it. I’m not breaking from it. I was breaking from it in that moment. 

That’s what people do when they don’t deal with trauma. They break from it. And that trauma can be so extreme that it breaks you completely. Or it can be a trauma that does what you’ve explained, it mounts. And mounting anxiety turns into the panic attack. But all of that can be managed.

It’s not an illness. I wasn’t clinically ill. I was a human in a situation that was adverse and I was having a normal response. 

Let’s say that I didn’t manage it. Let’s say I was feeling lousy still now. If I didn’t know what I know and I got sucked into the system, by now I would have probably been diagnosed with clinical anxiety and given medication. If I was unaware of the system. 

And it wouldn’t be my fault because that’s the system. I needed help. I would have needed help. But I didn’t, because I know this.

That’s why I’m so passionate about teaching this to people. Why I put this in this book and the system and make it available in however way I can. Because we need this knowledge. We don’t need to be drugged. 

We are changing our society. We are changing our children. This is the first generation of kids that is growing up drugged. We have a medicated generation that is making for very sick adults. We are shortening the lifespan of our children. Our children are going into their future with 20, 30 years already chopped off their life because of their medications. And this is something we have to change. 

I know you reach a lot of moms. I know I’m probably stimulating a million questions like, “What about ADHD medication?” 

There are a million questions that I know are coming up and we should address those. But first and foremost, if you can understand it for yourself and you can start managing it for yourself, you can manage it for your kids.

And we do have tools for kids. I am writing a book, Neurocycling For Kids, for tots and older ones. In my app I do have a guide, a neurocycle guide for children, How To Help Your Children Manage Anxiety. I would recommend people get the app on iTunes and Google play and the book. 

And this is not expensive. You go to therapy and you’re paying up to $200 an hour, sometimes more. You’re investing a few dollars and I’m giving you hardcore science. That’s how passionate I am about this. I could go and do this the expensive way. I don’t because I’m doing it to get this to the masses, because I don’t want people being messed up. 

If individuals are messed up, the world is messed up. We can change that. We can revert. We can change that process. 

So if you’ve got this mess, it creates a disturbance, a turbulence in this forest. Imagine this forest and there’s this big black clump of trees, which is this traumatic experience, which has been suppressed and undealt with, which you wanted to find out about from your doctor. That’s creating turbulence in the energy fields, which means turbulence through your brain. 

And this thing is creating its own level of turbulence and even your DNA is being affected. I saw that in my research. If you think of the DNA strand, that letter, and you pull out a chromosome it looks like an X. And at the end of the chromosome you get something called telomeres, which are like fingernails for argument’s sake for this particular analogy.

And a telomere is a proxy for how we are managing our mental mess. How we are managing our mind or emotions. And they are very important because the shorter they become and the weaker they become, the older your body gets and the more vulnerable you are to disease. So you don’t want short telomeres. 

How do you keep them healthy? B managing your mind. Diet and exercise play a huge role. You can have a great diet and great exercise, but if you’re going with the wrong mind management you lose the benefits.

Case in point: This morning my husband and I were at the gym. They know me there and they were talking in general about how they just want to go to the gym to get it over and done with. I wanted to say (but I didn’t) that basically she just lost 80% of her benefit of that workout because of her attitude of “I just want to get it over.” 

You can do a workout, but if your attitude is wrong you’ve lost up to 80% of the benefits. I mean, that’s phenomenal. That’s why I say that when you shift your mind you get up to 81% more control over these things. 

I want to put that into the hands of moms. I’ve got four kids. They’re all adults now, 22 through 29, and they’ve been doing this since day one. Over the years, as a scientist, I’ve constantly researched and improved the system. 

Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess has the most updated version with all the science and everything in it. I’ve been teaching them the updated version. I myself learned the updated version. I’m constantly learning and developing. And that’s what I presented to people. 

But with the telomeres it is utterly fascinating. We had subjects at the beginning of our clinical trial that came in saying, “I have a clinical anxiety. I’m a mess. I can’t cope. I’m falling apart. I’m having panic attacks. I can’t work.” 

I’ve had others that were saying, “I’m so depressed. I can’t function. I can’t get out of bed. My relationships are offline. I want to check out (suicidal).” 

The experimental group where they got the neurocycle, they got it in the app version. They did it every day for 15 to 45 minutes. I’m not even talking about a long time, but they worked on finding out why they were so depressed. What was the underlying cause? 

They were consistently going through the five steps of the neurocycle daily and by 21 days (that’s just a third of the way through the study) they had gone from saying, “I am depressed. I am anxiety. That’s me. That’s my identity. I can’t cope in life.” To saying, “Oh, I’m experiencing depression because of ____, and I’m now starting to see how to manage it. I’m starting to see how I could use this for me and not against me.”

By day 63, it was impacting their behavior. They were saying, “Okay, I have depression. These are the reasons, I can see these reasons. I need to do some more cycles. But for now I know this is my activator, and this is what I do.” 

And that was sustained at six months. They’ve gone from, “I am depression,” to, “I am not depression. I know why I feel depressed.” 

They embraced that process and reconceptualized. 

With those subjects, we saw their telomeres that were short and weak at the beginning of the study become long and strong by the end of the study. To give you something to understand that by, telomere length tell us about our biological age because it tells us about the health of our cells. How old your cells are will tell you how old your brain is, your heart, et cetera. It’s the health of your cells. 

One subject was in their mid thirties and they had a body of a 65/75 year old sickly person. If you are in your thirties, but your body, your cell health (your body’s made of cells) is 35/40 years older than you are, you are obviously vulnerable to disease. 

By the end of the study, their biological and chronological age matched up. Their telomeres had lengthened. And that’s just in nine weeks. 

This is real, this impact, because mind moves through brain and brain responds. That’s why I do the science that I do. To show people that this is not some woo-woo self-help thing. This is hardcore reality. 

We’re humans. We’ve got to level the playing field. Only 3% of leaders are talking about mental health. You are one of those leaders. You’re leading people, people follow you. You are one of the only 3% that are actually talking about your mental health. What about the other 97%? 

We have to get people talking because if the leaders aren’t, the people they lead won’t. You are doing such a great service to the world by talking about things like this because that then gives permission to everyone following you. And literally, we’ve got to give ourselves permission to say, “It’s okay to feel anxious.” 

Because the minute I recognize the anxiety building to panic attack and I say, “Okay, this is okay. I’m panicking, but it’s okay.” I shift from a toxic state to a healthy state. 

The scene has moved from the non-conscious to the conscious. As soon as you are consciously aware of something and you accept it, it’s now weakened. So all the little branches can start weakening and they can start falling off. 

But if you get scared of it and think of it as a disease, it gets stronger and stronger. Something that’s stronger in your non-conscious controls you. 

Up here, I control this. So now I’m picking the apples, the apples aren’t hitting me on the head, and I’m starting to now go through the process. 

ALLIE: I love it so much! And thank you so much for saying the words you’re saying about anxiety—that it is normal and that everybody has it. 

I feel like I’m seeing a lot of shame, not just in having anxiety but, in mothers whose children are experiencing anxiety. It goes right on the mom. Like we’ve done something wrong because my child has an illness, a mental illness. 

Getting back to the basics and understanding that it is not a mental illness. It is normal. Literally everybody has anxiety in them. It’s just a matter of what’s bringing it out or activating it or not. Understanding that is so freeing. 

My daughter, Bella, just turned 12. Just the other day she randomly started to get super anxious on the way to ballet. She loves ballet and there’s never been an issue. She started and I said, “What’s going on? What are you feeling?” 

She started to describe it to me and I said, “Oh my gosh, this is anxiety.” 

The guilt that I started to feel immediately washed over me. I was freaking out. What has she gone through that would cause her to have this? I’m not wanting her to go down the path that I’ve been on. I had to stop myself and calm down and we just talked through it. We did some EFT, calmed down, and ended up letting ballet go that day because it’s not what she needed.

But it was interesting because of all the guilt and shame wrapped up in this, not just as a person that has it, but as a person whose children may have it because they’re also people and it’s normal that they will have it.

  1. LEAF: That’s it. We need to do the normalizing. We need to recognize that what Bella is going through isn’t different than our generation. I’m older than you. Each of us has our own experiences which create anxiety. I can’t fully understand yours nor can you fully understand Bella’s. 

That’s the first thing to understand. It’s very normal for every generation to experience certain things that are very taxing. And the older generations tend to think, “Oh, well, we didn’t go through that.” 

But you went through your own thing and your mother said, “Oh, we didn’t go through that.” 

So that’s the first thing that we need to recognize is that you’re a human in life. Every generation has its own unique challenges and our kids are experiencing theirs. That’s the first thing. 

Second thing and I’m so glad you brought up the shame/guilt thing. I’ve got four kids. I battled so much as a young mom. Even now as a mature mom with mature adult kids. 

By the way, mothering never stops. The older they get, the more mothering you do because it’s different as you get older. It’s just different. 

But if your child’s battling, you look at yourself. I’ve said it just recently. One of my kids was battling something and I thought, “What did I do?” There’s that shame and guilt. 

What I used to do was go down that rabbit hole that you just described and you feel so bad. And by the way, you handled it beautifully what you did with Bella that day. You did some EFT and now you can teach her the neurocycle. Kids love it. They get it quicker than adults. 

What you need to do with that is take that shame and guilt, which is energy. Energy is never lost. These things are energy. So, here your child tells you what they’re feeling and you notice the anxiety, you notice the signal. That’s your origin story. 

And then she tells you that there’s something at ballet or whatever. And I’m sure when you discussed more maybe there was some bullying, someone teased, or the teacher was hard, something was going on. There was a reason for that which then produced this whole thing and the signal of her getting anxiety going there.

Your response to that and thinking, “Oh, what have I done? I’m the mother. I must protect her. She shouldn’t be feeling that” is toxic energy. 

We have this crazy perception as mothers. And let me speak to you as a mature mother. I still have it, but I’m getting it under control. You can’t fix your kids. You’re not responsible for their emotions and what they’re going through. But we are responsible to teach them how we manage our own emotions as a model and help them to manage their own. 

With that in mind we can remove the guilt. And when I say “remove” you can never lose it. Energy is never lost. Energy is transferred. You take the guilt, which is very, very high energy, and you turn it into this kind of tree where you say, “Okay, I don’t want her to go through this. Is there something I’ve done?” and you actually go and do a neuro cycle and you actually get awareness of every bit of that guilt and shame. 

You get awareness of, “How am I feeling emotionally? How am I feeling physically? How am I feeling? What are my behavioral signals?”

So an awareness of emotional signals, physical signals, behavioral signals, and also perspective. 

If I ask you four questions: What were your emotions? Shame and guilt. What were your physical sensations? Wave of nausea. What was your perspective? Oh, I suck as a mother or something like that. What have I done to cause this? It’s my fault. 

Now we are picking apples. The apples are not hitting you. You are standing back. 

Now the fourth thing—behaviors. What did you say? What did you do? 

Allie, what were your behavioral signals in that moment with Bella? What did you do?

ALLIE: I was quiet. I was quiet and asking in my own head, “What do I do?”

  1. LEAF: You were afraid to speak. Excellent. No problem. No guilt. No shame. No condemnation. 

Look at how we did that together. You can do this on your own. The wise mind is the copilot and the messy mind is the pilot. The messy Caroline is the pilot and the wise Caroline is the copilot. 

So like I’ve asked you those questions, you can ask yourself those questions. All of us have the wide full of design. That optimism bias that I spoke about. That survival instinct. That means that we know what to do. And you know, deep down inside that you aren’t guilty, that it’s not your fault. But because you’re so consumed with mothering and with her pain (we absorb our kid’s pain) you don’t see the wood for the trees. Literally. 

You have to stand back and observe and say, “Okay. Obviously something is going on.” 

You got to that point, but you can get to it in a more peaceful way by standing back. Copilot mind is saying, “Okay. Yes, Allie, you’re feeling those things, but is it realistic? Are you really responsible?” 

You don’t just bash yourself. You say, “It’s okay. It’s fine to feel guilt. It’s totally normal. You’re a mom. Moms feel guilt. But let’s make it work for us.” 

That person saying all that is the wise Allie. That person who’s responding and saying, “Oh, I’m guilty,” and all that stuff that we just described, that’s the messy mind Allie. Both are acceptable. Both are fine.  

We rely on this wisdom to say, “Okay, well we’ve gathered those answers. Now, let’s reflect. Why do you feel that? Why do you feel that warning signal?” Then write that down. 

I teach you about metacogs. Metacogs are a way of structuring information. Instead of writing linear, you’re writing patterns and words on branches and the branches are linking in categories. I’ve developed it over 38 years. It kind of looks like a concept map, but it’s way, way, way more intense than a concept map. But it is guaranteed. 

Kids love it. It is a phenomenal way of learning and building your brain. And I teach you how to do that version in here too. But for unpacking and working stuff out, it is absolutely phenomenal. 

It pulls the two sides of the brain together, increases your introspection, your wisdom, and your insight. And you dig into that (copilot mind). You dig into that what you know you should do (wise mind). You dig into what you know you should do very quickly.

And it’s messy. That’s the point of the third step. Just throw it all out, vomit it all on paper. 

Then the fourth step is, go back and look at what you’ve written. You will be astounded. 

Every time I do this for myself, I’m still astounded. When I used to do this with my patients and my kids, we would look back and see, “Oh my goodness.” 

I mean I had patients that had such trauma that they had multiple personalities. And the only way I got them to reconnect was using these five steps. And in the metacog as they started writing, they were telling me a story about something. And there were five different views, but they didn’t know they had swapped.

So they could visually see they were going through the recheck. The fourth step is the recheck. Let’s look at what you’ve written. Let’s make sense of what you’ve written. Let’s find the activators, the patterns, the antidotes. Let’s reconceptualize this. And we basically got the personalities to reconnect. 

And basically, that was a coping mechanism to deal with such severe trauma. It’s not an illness. It was simply coping. It was so bad that that person split in order to be able to just cope with the situation. 

It is very painful to go back and look at the trauma. It gets worse before it gets better. And we’re in a society today that says as soon as you’re feeling bad, get a drug. 

ALLIE: Yeah. You want to avoid the bad feelings at all costs

  1. LEAF: Exactly. And get some self-help technique too. You know it gets worse before it gets better. I talk a lot about that. I talk about how to manage it. I’m just giving you the big picture here. 

The fifth step would be then—what’s my active reach? I’m going to make a decision to say, “Okay. Let’s do some tapping. Let’s miss ballet today. Let’s sit and chat?” And that was your little action that you did. 

Now, if that’s a pattern and you see this happening more than one time, you can sit down with her and daily you could spend 5 or 10 minutes doing these five steps to find out what’s actually going on. It could be that a whole lot of stuff has been revealed, which is great because then you’re teaching her how to analyze, how to embrace, process, and reconceptualize. 

It’s helping you too. As a mom, you’re also satisfying that guilt because now you’ve taken the guilt and you’re helping her to help herself. So it’s very powerful. 

I’ve done this with my kids throughout. If I say the word neurocycle, they’ll say, “Ugg!,” but they use it. They automatically do the five steps. I’ll say, “Go do your neurocycle guys,” if there’s something going on. 

I’ve got married kids. They do neurocycles for their relationship, to improve their relationship. My husband and I do it. The other day my one daughter texted me and she just had something happen and she said, “Mom, I’ve just did two neurocycles to calm myself down.” 

That’s what you want. It’s basically getting your mind under control. Your mind is always with you. We have our wise mind that knows what to do and we have our crazy mind that is experimenting all the time. Sometimes we mess up; sometimes we get it right. 

If they are traumas, and that’s not an experiment, that is being a victim. You’ve experienced something, but we very often suppress it because it’s too painful. And very often we suppress it for a period of time because we can’t deal with it in that moment. 

Like a child that is very young, they don’t know how to express a sexual assault, so they suppress it. But as a parent, we can be trained to be more observant and we have become much better scientifically at noticing the symptoms of a child who has been sexually abused and has suppressed it because they don’t have the words to explain it and the only thing they can understand is “I’m bad” and “shame.” 

That tends to come out and explode between the ages of 18 and 22, 23/24 in relationships as independence is growing and autonomy.

But we can be more proactive. We can teach our kids from very young how to process through this. Even then you’re not going to guarantee that you’re going to fix everything and you have a perfect 22 year old, but at least you’ve ingrained the process. Life is all about embracing their pain and processing it and getting through it. 

ALLIE: Yeah. You’re giving them lessons that they can learn from the messages their body’s giving them, instead of having to endure until the next time it hits them.

  1. LEAF: You’re giving them skills. You’re training them. And that’s what mind is. Mind is always with you. You either let it do its own thing and react or you use your wise mind to self regulate it. That’s mind management. The tool, that system is the neurocycle. That’s all in the book. 

The second half of the book is so practical. The first half talks about all this mental health stuff we’ve spoken about. I talk about what mind is, what brain is, what thoughts are, and there are images, my clinical trials, and all that stuff. It’s really simply written.

I’ve got images of inside the brain of the patient I told you was extremely depressed at the beginning. I show you heat maps inside the brain. Blue means extreme depression, the gray means stabilized. That’s day 21 and day 63. This means that they’re nonfunctional, literally suicidal, et cetera. 

And here they are thinking, “I’m not depression. I know why I’m depressed and I know what to do.” That’s the telomeres lengthening and all that stuff I told you. The first part gives you all that understanding of this is what it means for you. The science facts.

The second half is what are the five steps? What is the neurocycle? How does it work? I unpack it with stories, science, and then examples. How did you detox trauma? Big T-trauma. Small T-trauma. Acute trauma. 

How to detox toxic patterns. Exactly what you wanted the doctor to help you with. There is this pattern in my life. What is the activator?  

So if you do this process over 63 days, I can guarantee you will find the cause of the panic attack and you will be able to manage it. Over time you’ll get that under control because you would have deconstructed and reconstructed. I show you how to do that. 

Then I also have neurocycle life hacks, those in the moment things that I spoke about. You have an argument and you’ve got five minutes to get yourself together before you go on a podcast or something. Or you read a post on Instagram and you get imposter syndrome. Or you catch yourself people pleasing. 

Or ruminating about what you think someone did. We are so good at making assumptions and narratives about what someone said and did, or what we think they said and did, but 70% of the time we miss it and then we get caught up ruminating. I explain how to stop that. Those in the moment things. 

Then I also explain how to use the neurocycle for brain building. Like you clean your teeth every day, you should brain build. It’s the five steps to grow information in your brain. It builds brain resilience. 

For kids it’s super easy because they are at school. They’ve got to learn these school subjects so you can use it for that. But for adults, we should do it daily too.

In fact, with my patients I would do brain building before I did any other work with them. It’s the same five steps, but you are growing stuff in your brain. And if you don’t grow stuff in your brain, which is this deep thinking, learning desire that we have in mind and our brain, we actually build up toxic waste, which will also increase anxiety. A great anti-anxiety tool is brain building. 

Then I have things for if you want to build a good habit, five steps to building a good habit. Remember habits form over 63 days not 21. And in terms of habit formation, it’s like diets and exercise and all that basic stuff, but you’re also mind driven. That’s the how-to overview. 

ALLIE: Everybody needs this book now! 

Thank you so much for everything you just poured out onto us. I appreciate you and your wisdom and expertise so much. I’m going to link to the book and your Instagram. Dr. Leaf is amazing to follow on Instagram if you’re not already.

Thank you for your time. Thank you so much. 

  1. LEAF: It’s my pleasure. Thank you so much. I appreciate that.

Thanks so much for hanging out with me! In case you didn’t know, there’s actually an exclusive community that’s been created solely for the purpose of continuing discussions around The Purpose Show episodes. It’s designed to get you to actually take action and make the positive changes that we talk about here. I want you to go and be a part of it. To do that, go to alliecasazza.com/facebookgroup

Thank you so much for tuning in! If you’d like to learn more about me, how I can help you, how you can implement all these things and more into your life to make it simpler, better, and more abundant, head to alliecasazza.com. There are free downloads, online courses, programs, and other resources to help you create the life you really want. 

I am always rooting for you, friend! See you next time! I’m Allie Casazza and this is The Purpose Show.

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