Jim Kwik Logo

5 Steps to Clean Up Your Mind with Dr. Caroline Leaf

Dr. Caroline Leaf is a world-renowned cognitive neuroscientist, communication pathologist, and bestselling author with a Masters and Ph.D. in Communication Pathology and a  BSc  Logopaedics from the University of  Cape Town and the University of Pretoria in South Africa, specializing in cognitive and metacognitive neuropsychology.  Since the early  1980s,  she has researched the mind-brain connection, the nature of mental health, and the formation of memory. She was one of the first in her field to study how the brain can change (neuroplasticity) with directed mind input. Dr. Leaf’s YouTube videos, podcasts, and TV episodes have reached millions globally.


This content contains affiliate links. If you use these links to purchase something, we may earn a commission. Thanks.

How do you clean up your mental mess? 

One might say a challenging feat, especially when we are facing a global pandemic and bombarded with headlines that enlist fear, overwhelm, and discord.  

Here to help us explore this topic is an exceptional guest and friend, Dr. Caroline Leaf. Caroline is a bestselling author and world-renowned neuroscientist that has been studying the brain for 38 years. 

While discussing her brand new book, Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess, Caroline enlightens us on how we can move past toxic thoughts, stress, fear, and anxiety to create the peace of mind, productivity, and performance that we desire and deserve. 

Take note, as she empowers us to increase our mind management and understand the science, which leads us to intentionally develop our minds and change our brains.

*** Do you want to stay up to date with every new episode and get my brand new Kwik Brain Accelerator Program? Go to www.KwikBrain.com/podcast to get instant access. ***

"If you directly and intentionally develop your mind...you can actually change your brain."


Subscribe To My Podcast:


  • It seems like we are drawing in stress and anxiety brought on by media and the current state of the pandemic.
  • We’ve moved from looking at people as humans and their whole story to seeing humans as part of a biological system as if, for example, you are your brain and that is not the case.    When you take such a reductionistic approach, you don’t allow the person to fully experience who they are. This is how we get into experiencing mental mess.
  • Mind is prevalent. Mind is always with you. You wake up, go to sleep, eat with, get dressed with, and listen with your mind.
  • There is not enough discussion of the mind, what it is, and how it works.
  • For 38 years, Caroline has done the research to understand what the mind is, if it can be managed or changed, what thought, memory, and emotion are, how they are all connected, and how much control we have.   She was really driven by her initial research when others believed that the brain could not be changed.
  • In the ’80s, Caroline’s research from working with people with head injuries and learning challenges showed that if you directly and intentionally develop your mind, you can actually change your brain because your mind is malleable and trainable.
  • Her work was some of the first neuroplasticity research in her field. Around the mid ‘90s people began to understand that the brain could change, but the language gave more focus to the brain and not the mind.
  • We have to come back to look at the influence that we have as humans over our biology and the inseparable relationship.
  • The mind-brain integration is separate but inseparable.
  • You can go 3 weeks without food, 3 days without water, 3 minutes without oxygen, but you don’t even go 3 seconds without using your mind.
  • So if your mind is always working and changing, that means your brain is always changing, but can you control that process? Yes.
  • Your mind is as malleable as your muscles.
  • You can develop your mind and change your brain as a result.
  • In current times, it is no wonder there is an increase in mental health concerns. People are becoming more anxious, depressed, and stressed. This is a normal response to very adverse circumstances.
  • Yes is it scary, it makes sense that we have major mental chaos, but very few are teaching people how to clean it up.
  • Prescribing a drug for mental illness is not always the solution.  There is tremendous power on the inside of us and that is what Caroline wants to impress upon people with her work.
  • More on this in Dr. Caroline’s book, Cleaning up Your Mental Mess.


  • If you do these five steps, you systematically drive your mind to drive the neuroplasticity of your brain to drive the DNA reactions in every cell of your body.  This is a phenomenal superpower. It’s totally scientific and within the process, you can input whatever techniques you desire to.

Step 1. Gather Awareness

  • We spend ½ to ¾ of our day time traveling in our mind space. We need to force ourselves to think of the “now moment.”
  • The deliberate, intentional discipline of focusing in the now moment creates a stress on the body that is good.
  • The mind will not stay there because it will begin to draw on the past, present, and future to make sense of things.
  • The act of gathering awareness in this way is a clinical approach to being able to acknowledge your current state.
  • Example: I can’t sleep, my heart is fluttering, and I’m feeling very worried are three warning signals that your thoughts are generating.
  • Worry = emotional warning signal.
  • Fluttering heart = physical warning signal.
  • Can’t sleep = behavioral warning signal.
  • The perspective of fear comes from this origin story.
  • The minute you gather awareness all of the networks of protein bonds and chemical bonds loosen. When you don’t gather awareness, the bonds get tighter and it becomes more difficult to loosen them.
  • Gathering this information is helpful and makes it easier to reflect.
  • Step 2. Reflect 
  • Reflection is full of dimension and depth. It’s comprised of deep thought and putting thoughts on trial so to speak. Ask. Answer. Discuss.
  • Start by acknowledging the signal then asking why?
  • Example: Why do I feel like this? Then you answer.
  • Keep asking why to each answer until you arrive at a complete answer.
  • Step 3. Write
  • Capture what you analyzed in the last step.
  • In her book, Dr. Caroline created a specific method for writing in which you put your brain on paper.
  • Step 4. Recheck
  • At this stage, you review what you have written to recognize the patterns. Get order and an antidote for what you’ve analyzed.
  • You do not want to stay in a toxic state for hours, a mistake that most people make.
  • Limit it to 15-45 min.

Step 5. Active Reach

  • Take what you learned from the first four and normalize it. Consciously focus on what you learned.


  • When you do the steps in order, you are forcing your brain to function in the most resilient state that it can. You are increasing blood flow and oxygen to the front of the brain that enables you to have everything your need to solve problems and calm yourself down like cognitive fluency and introspection.
  • Complete the neuro-cycle daily for 21 Days to reconstruct and increase your mind management. Only complete step 5 from day 22-63.
  • If you want to create a behavior change in your life, you can’t just perform a neuro-cycle for one day. You must do it for 63 days to change the habits to impact your behavior.
  • If you use this neuro-cycle, you can improve your “mental mess” by up to 81 percent.
  • The stories and strategies in Dr. Caroline’s book make it much easier to understand and model the method.


  • Take a screenshot of this episode, tag us on social media (@DrCarolineLeaf & @JimKwik), and share your greatest “aha!” moment from this episode with us.
  • Get Caroline’s book, Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess, here.
  • See more talks from Dr. Caroline Leaf, here.


Similar Episodes