Ep #33 Body, Mind, and Money: Transforming Your Life Through Self-Esteem

by | Jun 13, 2024 | Mindset, Purpose, SCA Podcast

The Somatic Coaching Academy Podcast

Brian
Hi, and welcome to the Somatic Coaching Academy podcast for our episode 33. So excited to be here together today. How are you, Ani?

Ani
I’m good. How How are you, Brian?

Brian
Doing all right. Doing all right. So today, we’re going to talk about the confluence, the combination, the interaction between self-esteem, our health, and our income. And then a little bit about how do we develop more confidence. Might be giving it away a little bit with that title, but Ani, when you think about the combinations of self-esteem and health and self-esteem and income, what organically comes up for you?

Ani
Well, I think it’s hard to have good self-esteem when we feel like crap. When we feel better, when our health is better, I think it’s way easier to have good self-esteem. And of course, I think also, if we don’t feel well, it’s hard to be productive in the way that our society still works, although I think it’s starting to change. Our productivity is very tied in with how much money we make still.

Brian
So there’s some interesting tethers and connections in there. So I’m curious, would you be surprised if you knew that research has shown that for people who have less healthy self-esteem than healthy self-esteem.

Ani
Wait, what?

Brian
For people who have less healthy self-esteem than others who have healthy self-esteem.

Ani
Got you. Okay.

Brian
That over a 40-year-long career, they earn on average between $280,000 and $1.2 million less than people who have healthy self-esteem.

Ani
Yeah, I think that tracks. It’s funny when you add up the numbers over the course of years, all of a sudden, we’re talking about hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars, which is crazy because we think in the moment or in that year, it maybe doesn’t impact us quite as much. But once we start adding those things up, we realize, wow, that’s a lot of money. Yeah.

Brian
And when you start to look at the self-esteem research, because there’s research out there that measure self-esteem and its impact on things like income and health, which is why I think it’s fun to talk about it, because we actually have some data that we’re pulling from to have the conversation conversation, that each one of the research studies talks about self-esteem just a little bit differently. So the study that we’re pulling from to talk about income in particular talks about self-esteem as a relevant assessment of oneself and their own capabilities. So you think about it in job or income or career, in job or career, if someone had a less healthy assessment of their own capabilities, it would generally equate to them earning less money over time. So one of the studies I’m looking at in terms of referencing, it’s like they took 12,600 people, and they measured them or or follow them over a 15-year span of time, measuring not only what their self-esteem assessments were, but also how much money they were making along that period of time. And again, that correlated out to a change in $1.2 million difference over a 40 year career.

Brian
So these little things that the way we judge and assess ourselves on a daily basis, they add up over time. I know that you work with a lot of people, do a lot of coaching with people who are in business for themselves, small business, CEOs, those types of people. So just from having those numbers, think about those numbers and your interactions and coaching people that you have around income, what do you see in that interaction that people are working on around self-esteem and how it affects their income. Can you give us some examples?

Ani
Well, I think one of the biggest things that comes up is people realizing what they have to offer. I mean, that seems maybe such an easy translation, but I see it so often. Self-esteem issues show up as, “I’m not sure what I have to offer”, which means that the person who’s doing the offering, well, first of all, they might not be offering. So they might not be- Step one. Right. So they might not be doing the marketing. They might not be doing the sales. They also might not be doing them strongly. They might not be able to really become clear. It’s everything, Brian. I could give you a whole big list. It’s not being able to become clear on your messaging. It’s not being able to communicate well, not even in terms of telling people what I do, although that’s a question that people often ask. I don’t know how to talk about what I do. But actually, when we don’t have great self-esteem, we can’t be in a conversation and relationship where what we’re actually doing is listening to what somebody else’s problems are.

Brian
Yeah, I love that answer, Ani, and I love it at that point where you’re almost exasperated because it’s everything. It’s like, I can make you a list, but the list is going to be basically everything that person does in their entire life around business, what we’re talking about right now, it’s because our self-esteem, our self-concept feeds Everything.

Ani
As I’m listening to you, though, Brian, I can’t help but just take a little sidetrack here that’s not a sidetrack at all. I don’t know what studies you have to talk or not talk about this, but in general, I find that women have more a difficult time with self-esteem than men do. And of course, there’s the pay gap. But also a lot of the people that we work with are CEOs, business owners, and things like that. And I see it across the board. And We have teenagers. So one thing that’s really struck me recently is listening to how teenagers speak about themselves. And I have been totally like an anecdotal data here, just my own personal experience. But I’ve been listening to how teenagers talk about themselves in front of other people. And I’m way more likely to hear a teenage boy talk about himself in a way that’s positive or affirming than a teenage girl. And just to take a further sidebar that’s not a sidebar, recently with the NCAA sports that have been so cool to watch and the women’s sports really rising up and stuff, I’ve been watching a lot of that and paying attention to some of the commercials and stuff.

Ani
And some of the information is that a lot of girls actually quit sports by middle school. And so I think it’s really interesting to talk about this whole… It’s like a mess, this whole mess in terms of somatics, because these stories live in people’s bodies and can be historically also in women’s bodies that then impact everything and really the unraveling of the embodiment of the stories of lack of self-worth and all that holds – “I don’t have something to offer”. Unraveling that in the body, it not only changes it for the person, it changes life for every person that that person is in community with. And I would, of course, assert that it really sends ripple effects out to all of us and creates tipping points for a lot of change.

Brian
Yeah. Very quickly, we’re getting into the idea that our self-concept is well, it’s our self, but it’s also conditioned. We’re conditioned with certain self concept. Our self esteem is informed by our societal upbringing, our families, our communities, the world. All those things will help feed and change what our level of self esteem is, how we see ourselves in the world. And then that will impact our lives going forward.

Ani
Well, all those stories live in our body. I mean, they’re not stories that live in our head. They’re not stories that come out of our mouths. They’re stories that we buy into. And why do we buy into them? Because they feel real. Why do they feel real? Because they feel like something. We have emotional content. We have sensory content. And it’s that emotion and sensory content that helps to keep all those stories intact because the stories feel real.

Brian
Yeah. And then those feelings when we go to act in the world, whether it’s to ask for a certain amount of money for a program that we’re offering, or whether it’s to ask for a raise, or whether it’s to ask for whatever, those feelings will then influence our capacity to take on greater challenges, potentially, or ask for greater remuneration on what we’re offering.

Ani
Sure. It’s like the stories can either be rocket fuel. I’m sorry, not the stories, the emotions. The emotions can either be rocket fuel in our rockets, or they can be these things that are tagging on, like a tag, like dragging along, that every day we take one step more and one step further. And we’ve got these stories that are just dragging our energy. It can be exhausting to drag those stories around and these emotions that are attached to them. Yeah.

Brian
I love this segue you’re making into the body. This all lives in the body. Of course, here we’re at the Somatic Coaching Academy. So we know that. We talk about that. That’s what we teach our students and our graduates. And that’s the work we do. And so let’s bring in this aspect of health also. So it’s not just that self-esteem, that there’s research to show that lower self-esteem will result in less income over a period of time compared to healthy self-esteem. But there’s also some research to show that lower self-esteem equates to more disease in your life, less health. You’re less healthy when we have lower self-esteem. There’s a lot of research to support that.

Ani
So there’s less health when there’s lower self-esteem? Is that what you’re saying? Yes. So that’s interesting. Also, if you flip that around, I know quite a few people who have chronic illnesses of some kind, especially middle-aged women who are dealing with chronic stuff. And it can be really challenging to continue to put oneself out there over over and over again in a world that doesn’t value folks who have chronic health stuff quite as much, especially in America, where we are. Our culture is so winner-oriented. It’s so winner-oriented. And so a person who has chronic health stuff that they’re… And by the way, Brian, not just chronic health stuff themselves, but how about when there’s chronic health stuff in the family unit? Because that affects people and their self-esteem and all of this stuff and their energy levels just as much. It’s the family as well. A lot of people struggle with that. And then there’s this shame around, I’m not as much of a winner as we compare ourselves to the other people, whatever, and coming to continue to put ourselves out there over and over again. It takes this extra energy that, by the way, my energy is already depleted because I’m dealing with all of this stuff.

Ani
Then I have to take even extra energy to try to I can put myself out there and put on a happy face and be like a winner, even though my energy is already drained. That takes extra energy to do that. It is exhausting. It can be exhausting.

Brian
Yeah, most certainly. We know that that lower self-esteem predicts greater health challenges, difficult with social interactions and social bonding interactions, which can also have been associated with greater health challenges. The less socially bonded we feel to people, the more isolated we feel, creates more health challenges. It’s really there’s a lot of bound up in there. One of the most interesting things I read as I was looking through this research was that there’s actually a specific part of the brain that seems to be associated with self-esteem, which is cool. It’s the hippocampus, the part of our brain that has to do with memory consolidation. That’s what I was thinking. Yeah, memory timing. Also, there’s some adaptive learning that occurs in the hippocampus because you’re using memory to learn and make new choices. There’s a lot of those interactions, emotions. The hippocampus is technically part of the limbic system, so you get a lot of that wiring in there. But it really seems to be what the research shows is that the hippocampus, when we have healthy self-esteem or good self-esteem, we actually have more brain matter in the hippocampus. There’s actually more wiring in hippocampus. Whereas when we have lower self-esteem, we have less matter in hippocampus.

Brian
So the hippocampus is stronger and more well-formulated and working better in people with higher self-esteem. And hippocampus seems to be this area of the brain that when we have a good, robust, and strong hippocampus, it’s associated with less inflammation in the body. That makes a lot of sense. So these procytokinine levels, these high levels of cytokinine, which is associated with inflammation in the body. Also, there’s predictors, like when we have less density in hippocampus, associated with diabetes, other chronic diseases. And so there’s this link in the hippocampus. It’s pretty fascinating how a lot of the way that we see ourselves in the world, our self concept, our self esteem, is really based on how we have seen ourselves in the world.

Ani
That’s what I was thinking, is this comparison, because we hear out there, don’t compare yourselves. But what we teach here, and we know, is that the brain compares. It’s not something that we’re not going to stop doing it. It’s like asking the brain to stop thinking. The way that we think is actually through comparison to a large degree. And so it’s really interesting to hear that and to know that that’s the brain region that the self-esteem is living in.

Brian
It’s like, wow. Yeah, it seems to be associated. I mean, there’s a lot of research still going on, so I don’t think anybody can put the stamp on it and say it is the hippocampus. It’s the brain.

Ani
That makes a lot of sense, though, right? Because, of course, I’m going to Well, I shouldn’t say, of course. So one of the things we could choose to do is compare ourselves to past us when we decide how much self-esteem we’re going to have, basically. For me, sometimes as a middle-aged woman, that’s a trap. It’s a trap for anybody. I’m just thinking, reflecting for myself. There’s times when… I just had a call with a doctor’s office yesterday, and they said, How are you feeling? And I was like, I don’t know. And I’m comparing as I’m trying to think about it. And I’m like, Well, I don’t feel 20 anymore. And I was like, Well, that’s not a good comparison. So what would be a healthy way to compare? But a lot of us compare how we are now and how we should feel about ourselves based on how I felt in the past. And is that really a fair way to judge ourselves so that we can have healthy self-esteem? For me as a 43-year-old to say, I don’t feel like I did when I was 20, that’s not the helper.

Brian
And we do it reflexively, though, right? So we’re doing it all of the time.

Ani
But we can choose to change it when we hear ourselves do it and choose a more helpful comparison. One of my best friends is struggling with a chronic illness, and she’s also a small business owner. And choosing to have good health esteem is a choice, and it’s one to work on and to rewire the nervous system and all of that stuff. And I was just comparing against myself, but also with her, she’s really been working on not comparing herself against other people and how she sees them in order to how to evaluate herself from where she’s at. It’s a slippery slope.

Brian
Yeah. All those things play in, especially if we link together, we talked about in the beginning with self-esteem being a self-evaluation of our capacity or capabilities, rather. If our hippocampus is a part of that that’s constantly happening, and we’re looking back at what our past capabilities have been to current challenges, and if we’re relating, Well, I look at my past capabilities that can’t meet these current challenges, then it’s hard to actually advance and grow your self-esteem. We’re going to talk a little bit about growing self-esteem in just a moment, but I want to loop in with another study here that actually comes back and looks at income again. We talked about the idea, lower self-esteem, making can make less income than people with healthy self-esteem. We talked a little bit about how lower self-esteem predicts poor health outcomes and social bonding and actually substance abuse. There’s a lot of predictors in there that happen when we have lower self-esteem. Talked about the hippocampus being part of the brain that mediates that. There’s another study, it goes back to income that they looked at and they said, Well, how does this actually work? What’s the chicken or the egg here?

Brian
Is it that if you have… What elevates your self-esteem? What grows self-esteem around income and money? Is it that you make more money and then your self-esteem improves? Or does your self-esteem improve and then you make more money? The research bore out this, actually both. It’s a bi-directional relationship with a little bit of an advantage leaning towards making more money first and then raising your self-esteem.

Ani
That makes sense, actually.

Brian
That makes sense. I do want to just say, again, it goes both ways. You can actually earn more money by elevating your self-esteem. When you get more money, your self-esteem tends to go up. But here’s the thing. How do you actually do that if you have low self-esteem? But when I think about the hippocampus, what it tells me is that if first you actually get, if you can prove to yourself that you can get a different result with earning more money, and then that becomes a memory in your hippocampus, now you’re relating to that act which elevates your self-esteem.

Ani
Yeah, that makes sense. Evidence. Evidence, right? Evidence gathering is so important to mindset and how we think about ourselves.

Brian
Yeah. It shows back to everything we do with our work with our clients and what we teach our students. It’s really gathering evidence. And so we hammer on that evidence, evidence, evidence. People are people like, I’m sick with the evidence. I just want to learn something or do something. You have to catalog the evidence because that’s what wraps in what it seems like, what the research is saying, the primary part of your brain that predictively comes back and improves self-esteem and therefore, confidence.

Ani
Sure. I mean, it makes sense not just from this topic, but for any topic that once you have a a memory of the experience, then you can lean in on that and know that I can do that again. I did that. It’s way harder when you haven’t had that result, because until you have a result, you have to have faith or look at other people have done it. I can do it, too. But then once you get the result, then that’s in your brain. Yeah.

Brian
I will say, too, if we had to put a little asterisk in our conversation right here, because I’m sure this has happened with you, with working with clients. It certainly has me, is that someone can actually get a different result and not even recognize that they just got that result. Absolutely. You’ll be like, Wait, you just got the result that you said you wanted to get. The person will say, No, I didn’t. Or, Yeah, but. Yeah, but. It’s like, if we want to talk about any phrase that just is the self-esteem killer, it’s, Yeah, but.

Ani
Totally. It’s a pretty crazy as a professional helping people. It’s a pretty crazy experience. It’s literally like it just happened, and then have somebody look and be like, No, it didn’t. I saw it. It’s right there.

Brian
But that goes a lot back to what we talked about with how we filter reality. We’re actually, a lot of us are walking through, all of us actually, are going through the world on autopilot, filtering from reality, specifically the things to validate our current belief systems, right?

Ani
100%. Yeah. It’s like a scotoma just right there. I’m like, wow. Yeah.

Brian
And so that’s our job as coaches and professionals to point it out for the person to say, wait, pause. That just happened. You just did that. Let’s just pause for a second and let that soak in. And it’s really amazing how people have all kinds of armor around that. And it’s like become teflon to their positive growth.

Ani
Raising our self-esteem is a set point just like anything else. I mean, income is a set point, too. Our health is a set point. We have all these set points we grew up knowing that that’s the best it can get. And it’s actually work that we can do to decide to raise our set points, to have it better in health, wealth, relationships, whatever it was, self-esteem than my parents did. Oh, my God. Have it better than my community growing up did. Have it better than other people around me now. The set point issue is a big thing. Big thing. It’s a big thing. And so people can really just resist it or it can rubber band. It can be like the stretch that thing goes back. So it’s an important journey to continue to dedicate ourselves not only to stretching our set point, but then to maintaining it. Keeping it higher and recognizing ourselves for that growth, which I’m sure strengthens the hippocampus and other regions of our brain. Yeah.

Brian
So can we segue now and just talk a little bit about just a couple of ideas, frameworks from a somatic lens, how do we help people grow their self-esteem, grow their confidence? Can we think about self-esteem and confidence as being synonymous with one another? Well, for right now, sure. Yeah, for right now, we’ll talk about it like that. So how can we help people to develop more confidence? And why is it important to include the body in developing more confidence? Because here we are at the Somatic Coaching Academy talking about this. Why isn’t it good enough just to stand in front of the mirror and say, I’m- I’m good I’m good enough.

Ani
I’m smart enough. And people. And doggone it, people like me. Exactly. Because we don’t believe it when we say those things until we feel it. When we feel it, then it becomes real. I said that already. I’m hearing more and more people talk out there about how mantras don’t work, and it does make my day. I’ll be honest with you.

Brian
It’s not that they don’t work at all, right? No.

Ani
Yeah, go Yeah, I thought they don’t work at all.

Brian
There’s so much physiological defensiveness. There’s so much subconscious defensiveness around changing your little tiny conscious mind’s power to change something. Yeah.

Ani
And just to think that we can just say it and not feel it. It’s just funny to me. Anyway, one of the things we can do is to powercharge our third chakra, Brian.

Brian
That’s it. It’s all about the third chakra, Ani. So you might be like, Wait, chakras, I’m going to turn off the radio now. I’m not going to talk about this stuff.

Ani
I think our community loves to talk about chakras, and most people listening have probably heard about those. We’ll have to talk about them on another episode. But the energy centers that, by the way, aren’t just woo-woo, etheric. They actually correspond with nervous system plexes in our body. So it’s strengthening the nervous system plexes in our solar plexus area.

Brian
Yeah, huge. And All of our chakras are developed as we grow through life. Our first four chakras are developed before the age of seven when we’re primarily subconscious beings and we’re just absorbing the world and learning a lot about ourselves, our place in the world, our concept. That really becomes the developmental foundation of our self-esteem, really before the age of seven. And because that development is baked into our physiology via those neuroplexies that we’ll call chakras, that becomes the foundation of who we are as we go through. Not that they can’t change, but it can only change if you become aware of it and then do something to change it. Yeah.

Ani
And the foundation is really important because some people just look up things to strengthen my third chakra, or listen to third chakra sound healing and things like that. It’s all well and good. And building the foundation, one, two, three, under the third chakra is so awesome and important. One of my favorite things is when we do the muscular layer practice practices in the somatic coach training program, Brian, and people start to experiment. Well, first off, just experiment with the muscular layer practices for themselves in general. And when they start to experiment with some of those foundational muscular layer practices, I just love all the light bulbs that happen with students. And it’s back to what you were saying about people doing things and not really recognizing. People will start to embody or strengthen the body in their foundational areas, their lower body and the sensation in the decreasing muscular tension and stuff in their lower body. And all of a sudden, they’ll go do something that they hadn’t been able to do before, but they won’t even realize or remember, I hadn’t been able to do that. It’ll just be something that they wake up and do one day.

Ani
And it’s like, oh, my gosh, what changed? I’ve been doing the muscular practices. They’re so powerful. We’ve seen so many people change Change behavior that has been chronically challenging for them based on self-esteem issues, whether it’s having an important conversation or getting themselves to be more visible or whatever it is. And just strengthening the body, even without doing a bunch of the mental stuff-

Brian
Yeah, just strengthening the body.

Ani
Can just really change somebody on a dime. And then somebody says something like it was a miracle. Well, actually, it was somatic. Sure. Yeah.

Brian
And I love taking those muscular practices, and then we build on those. And a practice and a process that we’ve done a lot with our private clients, our entrepreneurial clients with CEOs, with our advanced students also with the core residence remodeling process. And that practice is specifically designed. We designed it specifically to build each chakra from the bottom up so that you can really have a sense of safety in the world, so that you can have a sense of freedom of self-expression in the world so that you can feel like you have this really strong identity, which is the third chakra you’re talking about, right? And then we just build it up from there to build from the bottom up. But it really has to happen in the body because that’s where the filter is anyway. So when we’re filtering what we’re talking about, where you can help someone actually get a result, they don’t even notice it, it’s because we’re filtering that out. And that’s our subconscious that’s filtering out. And of course, we know the subconscious is the body. So we start changing the body itself at the body level, it actually changes the filter for people.

Brian
We really need to start this from the bottom up, not the top down in terms of standing in front of the mirror and just reciting the affirmations. That’s a top down method, and it doesn’t leak down very far.

Ani
Well, I think one of the reasons it’s so beneficial, Brian, the bottom up method, especially with self-esteem and confidence, is because, as we like to say, we’re all born with healthy confidence. We’re all born with healthy self-esteem. It is conditioned on top of, I was going to say out of us, but there’s conditioning on top of that that we have forgotten. It’s not something that we have to go find. It’s not something that we have to create. It’s not something we have to go hunt down. We already have it. We need to uncover it. And when we tap into those really basic body skills that really get to the foundation of our energy and our physiological systems, we can tap into that well of confidence that we already have and remember because it’s there.

Brian
Yeah, I love it. And that’s a beautiful segue into the natural laws work that we talk about all the time, right? Is that confidence flows through all things. One of the greatest lessons about growing confidence that I’ve had in my life is just to go watch trees, just to hang out with a tree. They’re full of confidence. They’re not afraid to grow as tall as they’re meant to grow. They aren’t afraid of the wind when it comes. They manage and figure it out what’s happening. They’re not afraid of squirrels crawling on them or having birds nest. Go hang out with trees and just be like a tree. That’s for me, the emblematic sense of confidence in the world.

Ani
You know what I think the emblematic sense of confidence is? Our cat.

Brian
That, too. Cats and trees.

Ani
Lucky the cat just does whatever he wants. He’s taken to now climbing on the counters and hitting stuff off, which I know is typical cat behavior, but he wasn’t doing that for a while. He’ll walk on us while we sleep. He’ll sleep wherever he wants. That’s good self-esteem.

Brian
Yeah, that’s good self-esteem. Be like a cat and a tree if you can. Basically, thinking about wrapping up our conversation today knowing that… So self-esteem is important. I think that’s generally known. We want more self-esteem. We want to have more confidence. Maybe you didn’t know that it’s linked to how much money you can earn or not earn is connected to your self-confidence. Maybe you didn’t really know in a powerful way that your health and your self-esteem is linked together. Maybe you didn’t know that it’s important to get a result to then recall, remember, have evidence in, and then that helps with your self-esteem. Maybe you didn’t know how important it is to start building self-esteem from the bottom up so that you can totally embody it with all levels of your being. Your physical self, because what you feel makes it real, as Ani pointed out, your mental emotional self, your connection to nature and spiritual self. You want to think about it that way? Confidence, we want to be able to let it channel itself through us on all levels.

Ani
And maybe you didn’t know that no matter how much of a problem you’ve had with self-confidence in the past, you can start today and have better self-confidence in the future, no matter what it’s been like in the past, no matter what anybody else tells you. You can be a creator of healthy self-confidence.

Brian
With that note, yes. We’ll do that mic drop right there. Awesome note to end on, Ani. We’ll see you next time. Thanks so much, everybody. Bye-bye.

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