Self Development with Neuroscience expert Andrea Samadi

In the modern world everyone is trying to make more and more bucks. Very few people knows the idea that money alone cannot buy you happiness, yes, it is obviously important to make a living, but it is more important to work on self development which has become a myth. Because of the language hurdles it often becomes difficult for me to let people know what exactly going on inside of me.

In simple words, we all have only one chance to live in this beautiful world. So it is where we have to do whatever we want, but because life will never give us a chance again.

Today I am having Andrea, who is a researcher and author of two self development books called: ” Level Up: A Brain-Based Strategy to Skyrocket Student Success and Achievement ” and ” The Secret for Teens Revealed: How Parents, Teachers, and Teenagers Can Inspire Leadership and Transform Lives “. She is mentored with top neuroscience instructor in the world, Mark Robert Waldman and John Assaraf. Let’s ask her some questions and learn more.

How important is the placebo effect and how can it affect our behavior?

It’s very important. The placebo effect or thinking something (like a pill or a treatment) is “real” when it really isn’t, works by the patient “thinking” they have received medical treatment when they have not. The mere thinking of the treatment has been documented to have some effect on the patient. This is why visualization or using your imagination works so well. Your brain can’t determine the difference between what is real and what is imagined, so the mere thought of the treatment causes a positive physical response. What this means is that we can use this skill of visualization or our imagination to make our brains fire the exact same way as if we were experiencing what we are thinking or imagining. That’s powerful!

When you can understand and successfully use this dynamic skill and then put it into frequent practice, it will become easier for you to access and use. With time, visualization can be one of the tools you reach for to speed up the results in your life, whether sports, academics, your personal life or business.

Visualizing your goals is a skill that athletes have historically used for refined success in their sport. It is also a commonly practiced strategy with business people who are regular goal achievers. Imagine that with daily practice, you also can have access to this skill. When you visualize something, “you are literally creating a neural network or pattern with your brain that corresponds to what it is that you want to achieve.” [i]

Jack Nicklaus on Visualization

Jack Nicklaus, a retired, American, professional golfer, has used this strategy with much success. He explains “people have used this technique to do amazing things. The tool cost nothing to use. You need only your mind to make it work. But you need one other thing. You need the willingness to use the tool every day without fail… each morning read your visualization, close your eyes, and bring it to life on the movie screen in your head.” [ii]

Actor Jim Carrey’s Story

Oprah tells the story of how Jim Carrey used to go up on Mulholland Drive and park. She explains that “he would visualize his goals and dreams in the acting field and become an incredible teacher for many others around the world. He actually wrote himself a check for $10,000,000 for acting services rendered and gave himself three years to attain this goal. He dated this check for Thanksgiving, 1995. Just before Thanksgiving of 1995, he found out that he was going to make $10,000,000 for the movie Dumb and Dumber.” [iii]

[i] John Assaraf and Murray Smith, “The Answer” Atria Paperback, New York. 2008 Page 110

[ii] Jack Nicklaus “GW My Best Shot” (3:04) Published July 23, 2014

[iii] What Oprah Learned from Jim Carrey YouTube (3:49) “Oprah’s Lifeclass” Published October 13, 2011.

How can self-esteem be increased in someone with poor self-esteem?

The key to increasing your self-esteem is to build up your image of yourself, creating neural pathways in your brain with your desired self-image and by weakening the old negative self-image. You can do this a few different ways but some of the most effective ways are:

  1. Daily guided meditation focusing on building new neural pathways in the brain.
  2. Affirmations that you write yourself to create new neural pathways.
  3. Stop caring about what other people think! Start loving yourself for who you are.
  4. Stop comparing yourself to others!

Strong Self-Esteem (what you think of yourself) + Strong Self-Image (how you think others see you) = Confidence that Builds Competence —-Creating Extra Energy to Overcome Obstacles and Reach Your Highest Levels of Achievement.

Your self-esteem is a building block of a few ingredients that must work together to give you the confidence you will need to overcome the obstacles on your way to achieving your goals and live a happy, fulfilled life. Your self-image will be the key in all that you move toward in your future. You have to believe and trust in yourself and your abilities in order for others to believe in you. Once you have mastered this skill, you will be well on your way to accomplishing any task you desire.

What comes to mind when you think about yourself? Are you thinking, “I am a beautiful person with infinite intelligence?” Or are you thinking about and focusing your attention on negative thoughts or your shortcomings? Your self-esteem begins with the thoughts you are thinking in your mind. Remember from the previous question, that your brain cannot determine the difference between what is real or imagined, so you might as well feed it with positive thoughts that build resilience.

Let’s take a closer look at just how important your thoughts are to your self-esteem and results in everyday life. We all have flaws; no one is perfect. However, it is easy to understand why we as a society expect ourselves to be perfect, especially when we compare ourselves to others. This is never a good idea as everyone has different talents, skills, and experiences. Remember it’s not a lack of knowledge or skill that holds us back, it’s our mindset (our mental toughness and strength), our ability to keep our mind free of emotional blocks, and release deeply ingrained habits to be able to experience true success and happiness in our lives. This all begins with our self-esteem.

Your self-image (what you think of yourself) will determine the path that you will take in life, as it will be up to you to prove your worth in life and help you to become self-motivated. Having a strong self-image is crucial to ensure that nothing will knock you off course with your goals, however, everyone will experience self-doubt. When you are stretching yourself and doing new things that you have never done before, it’s inevitable that you will experience doubts and fears.  You must have strategies in place to help you to move past these blocks, and mentors to guide you along the way, as most people will give up when adversity hits.

Building Your Self-Esteem by Improving Your Courage

Brené Brown defines the original meaning of courage as “To share all of yourself. Share your whole story with your whole heart” [i] even if we must share our vulnerabilities, fears and weaknesses. Remember that everyone has doubts, fears and insecurities. Those who can move forward despite them, are the ones will win. Being courageous also means to be vulnerable enough to share your weaknesses with others. This will allow you to ask for help when you need it.

Without courage you will never move up or forward in life. You must see that there is more to life than the pain you feel in the absence of your goals. Don’t give up here. You must face this pain, and move on toward an exciting, fulfilling life and accept the risk of failure. There will be no innovation without failure.

[i] Dr. Brené Brown: The Two Most Dangerous Words in Your Vocabulary | Super Soul Sunday | OWN (4:06) Published on March 17, 2013. https://www.

Is it possible for someone to die or have poor health because of their mindset?

We do know that a positive mindset is beneficial to your health, so the opposite must be true. We have all known someone who dwells on the negative side of a situation, and life just never goes smooth for these people.

How can our understanding of modern neuroscience help to reduce our stress?

Modern neuroscience has come a long way in the past ten years, opening our eyes to what happens to the body when it becomes stressed. There three levels of stress response, and not all levels are problematic. There’s the positive stress that we feel when we have to stand up and speak in front of a crowd that can be overcome with practice and experience. Then there is tolerable stress that occurs with life’s challenges and problems that can be overcome by learning strategies or talking to others. The stress that we must worry about is toxic stress, which activates the stress responses in our body for prolonged periods of time and causes damage, especially if there is an absence of relationships and support.

I’m sure it wouldn’t shock you to know the damage that stress does to us, but did you know that:

  • Chronic stress and depression cause measurable brain shrinkage?
  • That teaching, and nursing are tied for daily stress?
  • That forty-six percent of teachers report high daily stress, which compromises their health, sleep, quality of life, and teaching performance.

Examples of life stresses are; the death of a loved one, divorce, loss of a job, increase in financial obligations, getting married, moving to a new home, chronic illness or injury, emotional problems (depression, anxiety, anger, grief, guilt, low self-esteem).

Society is finally seeing what negative stress does to the body, what that does to the psyche, and the conditions it is producing in our lives and we are looking for solutions.

Some healthy strategies we all know to combat stress are exercise and meditation, but let’s brainstorm some other ideas to build a healthier brain.

  • Zone out: Let yourself do nothing for a while and just let your mind wander. Research shows that “creative incubation” happens during mind-wandering. You are more likely to problem-solve successfully if you let your mind wander and then come back to the challenge. Dr. Sriny Pillay writes about the power of the unfocused mind in his most recent book “Tinker, Dabble, Doodle, Try” where you sharpen your ability to think and get things done using your ability to make your mind wander. Flashes of insight and solutions to problems often show up at this time, but we must be willing to allow these breaks.
  • Unplug: from technology-silence is good for the brain.
  • Mental imagery: like imagining thoughts or experiences that make you happy.
  • Belly Breathing: Take some deep breaths and exhale for three seconds. Repeat three times.

Who is your target market for your products? 

We provide support for school leadership (educators, administrators, teachers, coaches, counselors) and the workplace with a proven approach for implementing social and emotional learning competencies backed by the most current neuroscience research.

How can we increase self-awareness to improve ourselves as we learn more about how we react to our life and environment?

Getting to know ourselves is probably the most important thing to learn in our lifetime. We must take the time to get to explore our true inner self and gain some understanding of who we are, what values drive us, and how we work best. We can speed up our results, stop wasting energy and improve our relationships with this understanding.

Awareness, from a neuroscientific perspective, appears to be the most useful tool in human development, but there are many levels of awareness.  There’s the perceptual awareness that all brains have: the ability to respond to changes in the environment and the body.  Then there’s our conscious awareness which is composed of all of our thoughts about ourselves, the world, and what we “think” we want to do.  There is a deeper level of awareness, what we now call mindfulness, where you become aware of your thoughts and feelings.  You become aware that “you” are not your thoughts and feelings.  When you can turn your attention to the nature of awareness itself, your entire belief system and the functioning of key areas in your brain, you can make significant changes. With awareness, people can begin to change their behaviors more quickly.  They can deepen their relationships with others, and interrupt negative thinking. Awareness allows you to tap into the inner wisdom of your brain: your intuition.   

Connecting Self-Awareness and Our Brain for Improved Results

When we wake up, the oldest part of our brain begins to drive us towards our goals that have rewards attached to them. Our routines are formed over time and are created out of habit. We can set ourselves up for a day of success with some careful planning, or failure if we leave our lives up to chance. Research shows that “if you remain in bed for a few extra seconds to become aware of your body and mental state, your brain will function much better for the rest of the day.” You will be able to do more, with less stress. We recommend that you create a morning ritual that will set you up for success. Instead of jumping out of bed, and rushing to begin your day, try these steps for your morning ritual.

Daily Morning Routine Suggestions:

  1. Wake up, stretch and focus on how you feel. If you can focus on the positive and pleasurable parts of your day, it will help your brain move towards taking action throughout the day, rather than focusing on your worries.
  2. Work on starting the day with a positive mindset.
  3. Visualize your day and overcoming any obstacles that you might face, and this technique has been proven to increase your physical and mental energy to help you reach your goals with efficiency and ease.
  4. Yawn! This is the fastest way to lower mental stress. The Library of Congress has documentation that “yawning was an exercise used by elementary school teachers in the 1890s” [i] and there is evidence that yawning before a test can improve your grade point average in school.  

[i] Library of Congress documentation of the value of yawning (along with early photographic evidence of its use in the classroom):

What is the science telling us about the benefits of forgiveness?

The ability to forgive or show forgiveness helps to reduce stress, decrease feelings of anger and depression and points one to much healthier state of mind. People who forgive usually have feelings of peace, compassion, hope and above all have a higher level of self-confidence.  Forgiveness is not always about making the person who hurt you feel better. Forgiveness doesn’t decrease or vindicate the wrong, it is meant to bring you, the forgiver peace so you can continue on with your life and not harbor unhealthy feelings.

Do you have any message for our readers? How can they connect with you if they want your professional help?

A message I have that I think is the most important is to continue on your path of learning. Seek new knowledge that can help you to grow, improve and help you to solve problems. As you learn new information, you gain new insights and skills taking you to a higher plane of awareness. Become more self-aware and look for people who can push you towards higher levels. Never be afraid to ask for help, seek out your mentors and when you have discovered what you are really good at, it’s time for you to give it away to others. People can learn more about my work at or find me on social media. They can find my books on Amazon and courses on Udemy

[1] John Assaraf and Murray Smith, “The Answer” Atria Paperback, New York. 2008 Page 110

[1] Jack Nicklaus “GW My Best Shot” (3:04) Published July 23, 2014

[1] What Oprah Learned from Jim Carrey YouTube (3:49) “Oprah’s Lifeclass” Published October 13, 2011.

[1] Dr. Brené Brown: The Two Most Dangerous Words in Your Vocabulary | Super Soul Sunday | OWN (4:06) Published on March 17, 2013. https://www.

[1] Library of Congress documentation of the value of yawning (along with early photographic evidence of its use in the classroom):

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