Brain Fact Friday: Using Neuroscience to Build a Stronger 2.0 Version of You.

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“It doesn’t matter how hard we work, or how many hours we put in, if OUR Paradigm (or mental program that has exclusive control over our habitual behavior) does not change, the results will ultimately remain the same, year after year.” Bob Proctor, from the Paradigm Shift Seminar.

Welcome back to The Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast, where we cover the science-based evidence behind social and emotional learning (for schools) and emotional intelligence training (in the workplace) with tools, ideas and strategies that we can all use for immediate results.

I’m Andrea Samadi, and for this week’s Brain Fact Friday, I want to revisit how exactly we change our identity, to build a stronger, more resilient, 2.0 version of ourselves, by reviewing our self-image and self-belief that we covered on EPISODE #199[i] that had over 1300 downloads, showing me that you are just as interested in this topic as I am.

In this episode we will discuss:

✔ What is PRAXIS (the application of a theory) and how can we use this idea?

✔ What is our self-image vs our self-esteem?

✔ How is our self-image/identity formed?

✔ How do we identify gaps or areas we can improve?

✔ How can we change our self-image/identity?

✔ Can our confidence levels be seen by others?

✔ Can we predict a person’s self-esteem levels (or what they think of themselves) by looking at their brain?

✔ 4 Steps to create a 2.0 version of YOU!

What is PRAXIS and How Can We Use it For Improved Results?

This weekend I was thinking about life, and how we just get one shot to make it a meaningful one. I’m sure I’m not alone with this line of thinking, especially these days, when it comes to acknowledging how fragile life really is. Earlier this month, I lost another mentor—Mark Low, who was my neighbor in Toronto, who was the one who handed me “the” book that would change my life forever. You can read the story I’ve told often in the show notes[ii] but for this episode, after thinking about how precious life is, and all the lessons I’ve learned from the many mentors along the way, there was one profound lesson that stood out to me, that I want to tie into this episode that I’ll dedicate it, to my neighbor, Mark Low.

When I first went to work in the motivational speaking industry, back in the late 1990s, I was hired by my neighbor, Mark, to help with administrative tasks, that eventually moved into sales, leading me to travel to each of the seminars and learn from all the speakers and connections made over the years and I talk about everyone I’ve learned from often on this podcast. In those early days, I would receive a paycheck from Mark’s company, that was called The Praxis Group. I remember looking at my check one day, and asking Mark “Hey, what does Praxis mean?” and he looked over at me from the desk on the other side of the room (we worked out of his parent’s basement back then, with our desks facing a wall that was covered in charts with our upcoming seminars, and he replied, “Andrea, it’s when you integrate your beliefs with your behaviors.” That’s was it. He just stopped for a minute and watched my face looking confused, and he added that “people really change when this happens and that they become an entirely new person” with this concept of Praxis. I looked up the definition that Miriam Webster[iii] gives today and it says that Praxis is the “practical application of a theory” or the “practice of an art, science or skill.” If you look up “becoming a better version of you” these days, the topic is still of high interest.

I remember thinking “that’s incredible”, as I love everything about change, growth, or skill-building but looking back now, I’m sure it took me over 22 years to get the full understanding of the meaning of Praxis and how exactly we integrate our beliefs with our behavior to attain this sought-after change which happens when we repeat the new habits of what we want, over and over again. I had to dig a bit, but I did find an old photo of our offices in those early days, before Bob Proctor Seminars took off and became The Proctor Gallagher Institute, with an official office. But in these early days, Mark Low worked at the desk to the left of me, and while it’s funny to see all of the old technology we used to use, or how we manually kept track of the seminar attendees with wall charts, there is much more behind the work that was done in those early days and it had to do with Praxis, which was why people paid the money that they did to attend these seminars. Seminar attendees were all looking to create a new version of themselves, by changing their old beliefs, and then integrating their new beliefs (that they had learned) with their current life. They were paying for this concept of Praxis---whether it was around changing their beliefs about their ability to earn money, (there were many seminars on that topic) or improve their relationships, or creativity, or productivity, there was a change of thinking required that would lead to a paradigm shift, and then to permanent change, which I’m sure is what we all want in life. We are either improving and moving forward, to this new version of ourselves, or we are not.

PHOTO of Andrea working with Mark Low, selling Bob Proctor’s Seminars in Toronto, December, 2000.

So What Does Praxis (or Integrating our Beliefs and Our Behavior) Have to do with Our Self-Image?

The Mountain State Centers for Independent Living has a definition of self-image that I can relate to. It says that

“Self-image is how you perceive yourself. It is a number of self-impressions that have built up over time… These self-images can be very positive, giving a person confidence in their thoughts and actions, or negative, making a person doubtful of their capabilities and ideas.”[iv]

Our self-image is what we see when we look in the mirror, but like the definition we just read explains, what we see can be either be positive, giving us confidence, or negative, making us doubtful of our capabilities and ideas.” Our self-image is something that’s built up over time and I would say that it exists in the non-conscious part of our mind. See the image in the show notes that I took from my notes from the Winner’s Image Seminar, that eventually went into my first book, The Secret for Teens Revealed. This way of looking at our mind originated from the late Dr. Thurman Fleet, the Founder of Concept Therapy, and is a good way to think of where our “self-image” exists in our mind.

REMEMBER:

    We can have a self-image that controls our ability to earn money, where we either see ourselves as a strong income earner, or not. We can have a self-image that controls our weight and health, where we see ourselves as healthy, or not. We can have a self-image that controls our grades in school, where we see ourselves as a good student, or not.

If we look at the image in the show notes of our self-image in our mind, it’s easy to see how what we think about ourselves, (our self-image) controls our results in life.

To change our paradigms, or old way of thinking, we need to do the work to overcome the old self-image that controls our results with a NEW self-image that with time, will override the old, outdated version of ourselves. Our NEW 2.0 self-image that’s based on the new actions we must take, will eventually cause us to create new conditions and circumstances, setting us up for a whole new life. Who wouldn’t want to choose this new path, over the old version of you? It just takes WORK and THE WILL to do it.

When We Believe in Ourselves, We Will Do That Work Required for Our New Results.

Our self-image also has a lot to do with our self-esteem “which is the overall sense of respect for ourselves and involves how favorably (or unfavorably) we feel about ourselves.”[v] Obviously when we are earning more money than less, we will feel more confident, or if we are a student achieving excellent grades, this boosts our confidence levels.

It’s these strong confidence levels that we will need to override our doubts, fears and uncertainties that will come our way, allowing us to achieve PRAXIS, and the change that Mark Low mentioned comes along with creating a NEW identity. You become a winner, or a good income earner or an excellent student. You Become a New Version of YOU!

Can Our Confidence Levels Achieved by This Thing Called Praxis Be Seen by Others?

When I look at the photo of myself that I found back in December, 2000, (I was 29 years old) I can remember sitting in that chair like it was yesterday. I know that I felt confident with myself, (my self-esteem) enough to quit my teaching position, and try something entirely new, but there was something missing with my equation. While I had a strong self-esteem (what I thought of myself) I had a weak self-image, as I worried about what other people thought of me. I think this is an age/experience concept, that shifts with time. But what goes on inside our minds, shows on the outside (with our behaviors and end results) like we can see with the diagram I drew out, so I do think that we can see someone’s confidence levels, or lack of confidence. It’s almost like this cybernetic mechanism that keeps us stuck from moving forward with whatever it is we are working on. When we are stuck, or unable to move forward, there’s something blocking our results at the non-conscious level. And we can, with some introspection, figure out what it is.

While writing this episode, I was talking to one of my close friends from high school she said to me “do you ever look back at pictures and think, wow, I wish I knew then, what I know now?”

She got that right for sure. I wish I knew this quote 22 years ago, from America’s leading psychiatrist and brain health expert, Dr. Daniel Amen, who reminds us--

“When you’re 18, you think everybody is judging you, and you care deeply about what they think of you. When you reach 40, you no longer care what anybody thinks about you. At 60, you realize nobody has been thinking about you at all because most people only think about themselves.” (Dr. Daniel Amen).

Try This Activity Yourself.

Find a photograph of you from a long time ago, and see what you see. It’s really easy to see it in others, and more difficult when it comes to self-reflection. What do you see when you look at older photos of yourself? Do you remember how you felt in the photo? How is your self-esteem equation (what you think of yourself) vs your self-image (how you see yourself based on what you think others think of you), leading to your level of confidence?

You can learn a lot about yourself, and what you can improve from this level of self-awareness.

Once We See Our Gaps, How Do We Build Up Our Confidence?

Once we see our confidence equation, if you were like me, and noticed that for whatever reason, you had an area of your equation that you could change (either your self-esteem levels, or self-image) then this week’s brain fact Friday is for you. On this episode, we will create a plan to fix our gaps, and override the older version of YOU.

The Brain and Self-Esteem

Before we create this plan, for this week’s Brain Fact Friday, I want to revisit a part of our brain that researchers at Dartmouth College have identified as a region of the human brain that seems to predict a person’s self-esteem levels, or what they think of themselves (where our identity begins that leads us to our self-belief). We did cover this on EPISODE #199 but I want to look at this part of the brain from a different angle and how it relates to PRAXIS, or integrating our NEW beliefs with our NEW behaviors, for NEW results, and increased confidence levels that we will need to build this 2.0 version of ourselves.

This part of the brain that researchers discovered can predict a person’s self-esteem levels is called “the frontostriatal pathway, and the stronger and more active it is in the brain, the more self-esteem someone has.”[vi] The lead researcher of this study, Robert Chavez found that self-esteem lies in this pathway as shown in the image in the show notes and that “this pathway connects the medial PFC that deals with self-knowledge to the ventral striatum that deals with feelings of motivation and reward.” He called this pathway “the road” and that “a person with a strong road was more likely to have higher long-term self-esteem.” He also reminded us “how repeated behaviors (like meditation) can alter brain traits,” and we’ve talked about why repetition, or doing things over and over again can strengthen these neural pathways that lead to “stronger roads” and “higher levels of self-esteem.”

How Do We Build a New and More Confident YOU?

Or How Can We Integrate Our Beliefs with Our Behaviors?

This comes with time, experience and like we learned from Dr. John Dunlosky’s research from EPISODE #37[vii], from repeating the same thing, over and over again to strengthen those neural pathways, leading to “stronger roads” in the brain.

This weekend, as I was thinking about Mark Low and his business name, PRAXIS, and all the people he helped over the years, I went back to those early days when I watched many people “switch on” something with their thinking, and make significant changes in their lives as they changed their self-image, overriding their old paradigms, and created this NEW 2.0 version of themselves. I’m always on the look-out for those who do the work to make this change as many people get stuck in the process along the way, which is why I wanted to cover this on this week’s Brain Fact Friday, to bring clarity to how we can all accomplish this change.

So How Do We Create A NEW Self-Image and Override Our Old Paradigms?

Now this is the part that I think took me over 22 years to really understand. I think this part is clear, that over time, or doing things a certain way, we can override our paradigms, creating a new self-image, leading us to new results and “stronger roads” in our brain, leading us to higher levels of self-esteem. That makes sense, right?

When I asked Mark what Praxis meant and he said “it means integrating our beliefs with our behaviors” I don’t think I really understood how “Praxis” happens, like how do we make this change? How do we integrate our beliefs with our behaviors? It doesn’t just happen one day….it happens over time, after doing the same thing over and over again. One day, we look up from whatever it is we are doing, and notice that this change is now permanent. Like my high school friend reminded me, “don’t you wish we knew what we know now, back in those days?” I wish I was more confident in my abilities, and didn’t worry what others thought about me. I hope this awareness can help others to shorten their curve to changing old beliefs and habits, and create a NEW 2.0 version of themselves.

I saw it when I interviewed Ryan O’Neill, with EPISODE #203[viii] on “Making Your Vision a Reality” because he changed in front of my eyes into an entirely different person. A NEW 2.0 version of himself. When I began working with Ryan, around 10 years ago, he mentioned that he never imagined where his life would be today, starring on Television shows around the globe for his work as a Paranormal Researcher.

I thought about the hard work Ryan put in, to change his self-image, leading to new results, and I thought it was almost like taking a glass of water, and putting one drop of food coloring into it, likening the food color to the repetition of daily activity that’s required for this change. To make a long-lasting color change on the water, we have to keep adding new drops of color to the water, every day. We can’t just add a drop or two, and expect the color change to last. It will fade away, unless the drops are repeated. Exactly like the way we must repeat our daily actions, grinding away our old self-image, and building a new one in its place. It’s a process, but this new self-image, leads us to new results, and this new version of you. This is all possible with a vision, hard work and persistence.

How to Achieve PRAXIS and Integrate Your Beliefs with Your Behavior?

I’ve included a ROADMAP for you to use in the show notes for the next steps, but it doesn’t matter what you use. This is just a vision to help you to plan out where you are and where you are going.

    WHERE ARE YOU NOW?

Start with the Self-Esteem Equation and Look for Your Gaps.

Strong Self-Esteem (what you think of yourself) + Strong Self-Image (how you perceive yourself based on how you think others see you) =

Strong Confidence Levels.

    Where is your self-esteem (your overall sense of self-respect)? Does this are need work? Where is your self-image (how you see yourself based on how others perceive you)? Are you like me, and just need to let go of what others think of you? Once you can see the gaps, you know where to begin. Write out the OLD identity you want to override (where you are now) and replace it with your NEW identity or vision.
    WHERE ARE YOU GOING?

What is the NEW Self-Image you would like to create? (ie, good student, lose weight, leader in educational neuroscience?). Write out your NEW identity in as much detail as possible.

    DO THE WORK: What do you need to do to achieve this goal? Find someone who has achieved what you want to do, and ask how to begin. Create an action plan, and don’t stop until you get to where you want to go.

    INTEGRATE YOUR WINS: As you make incremental wins along the way, you must integrate these into your life. Celebrate each win, every step of the way, since the brain is a “prediction machine”[ix] (Andrew Huberman) and if you have too many losses in a row, the brain will begin to predict more losses.

REVIEW:

To review this week’s Brain Fact Friday, did you know that researchers found a part of the brain that predicts a person’s self-esteem levels called “the frontostriatal pathway, and the stronger and more active it is in the brain, the more self-esteem someone has?”[x]

Did you know that we can change our self-image (how we perceive ourselves) by repeatedly taking action towards something that we want, (like Ryan O’Neill did in the Paranormal Industry) and this action will override our old self-image, watering down the paradigms that once controlled us (like we explained with the glass of water changing color with each drop of food coloring added), and giving us heightened confidence levels, and new results?

Like Mark said to me 22 years ago, “It’s called Praxis or integrating our beliefs with our behavior” and when this happens, it creates an entirely new person. It just takes WORK and the WILL to make this change.

I hope you enjoyed this episode that took me back 22 years ago, as I thought of where my journey began, in those early days of working in the motivational speaking industry. This episode is for you Mark, and for all those people who you worked with, including myself, helping us to change into this NEW 2.0 version of ourselves, that we could barely imagine without your vision, and I hope that it impacts listeners, the same way it did for me, all those years ago.

See you next week.

RESOURCES:

My Roadmap 2022 https://www.achieveit360.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/My-Roadmap-2022.jpg

REFERENCES:

[i]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #199 “The Neuroscience Behind our Self-Belief and Our Identity” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/brain-fact-friday-on-the-neuroscience-behind-self-belief-and-our-identity/

[ii] How a Book Can Change Your Life by Andrea Samadi https://www.proctorgallagherinstitute.com/43977/how-a-book-can-change-your-life?fbclid=IwAR0RHhcy0WXImsUkzyuMgfWwNPvQjXn2-36hiSBmKKEfZFI-MXtl_2U53Y0

[iii] Praxis definition https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/praxis

[iv] What is Self-Image and How Do We Improve it? Dec 22, 2018 by Courtney Ackerman, MA. https://positivepsychology.com/self-image/

[v] IBID

[vi] There is Where Self-Esteem Lives in the Brain by Anna Almendrala Published June 16, 2014 https://www.huffpost.com/entry/self-esteem-brain_n_5500501

[vii] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #37 with Dr. John Dunlosky on “Improving Student Success” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/kent-states-dr-john-dunlosky-on-improving-student-success-some-principles-from-cognitive-science/

[viii] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #203 on “Ryan O’Neill, Making your Vision a Reality” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/case-study-with-paranormal-researcher-ryan-o-neill-on-making-your-vision-a-reality/

[ix] LIVE EVENT Huberman Lab Q & A from Seattle, WA (32 min) https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/live-event-q-a-dr-andrew-huberman-question-answer/id1545953110?i=1000576342167

[x] There is Where Self-Esteem Lives in the Brain by Anna Almendrala Published June 16, 2014 https://www.huffpost.com/entry/self-esteem-brain_n_5500501

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