Should You Model Your Behavior After Other People? with Alize’ Castellanos

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

When striving to make improvements in our lives, we tend to look to others for inspiration. But is this a good thing or a bad thing? In the third episode of a series with Change Your Brain, Change Your Grades co-author Alize Castellanos, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen reveal how modelling behavior from other people can have either positive or negative influence on your life. Alize helps to explain how role models have changed her life.

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Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
Dr. Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging, to personalize treatment to your brain.
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Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome back. We're talking about Change Your Brain, Change Your Grades, with co-author, Alizé Castellanos. We are so happy that you are in our lives, and that you helped me with this book, and this is so joyful for me, because I realized when I wrote the first version of it, it was 1982, and the internet had not been invented, and that's sort of-
Tana Amen: Before using computers for homework.
Alize’ Castellanos: No. No.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... a big deal.
Alize’ Castellanos: [crosstalk 00:01:16].
Dr. Daniel Amen: When I was a young psychiatrist, I think the first thing I learned is my patients who were successful, because I was an army-trained psychiatrist, I mean I'd seen generals, and congressmen, and people from the White House, because I'd trained at Walter Reid, which was a really cool place, and the people who are successful versus those who weren't had this one little phrase. The one's who weren't would say, "It's not my fault."
Tana Amen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Alize’ Castellanos: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Daniel Amen: And they blamed-
Tana Amen: So true.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... other people for how their life turned out, and-
Tana Amen: So true.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... in one of my earliest books called The Sabotage Factor, I've wrote about all the ways we mess ourselves up from getting what we want, and number one is blaming other people for how your life turns out. Now, you could blame all sorts of people for how your life has turned out-
Tana Amen: Well, especially because kids are actually victims. You know, until you are able to take responsibility, that's what frustrates me is that I get frustrated when children are hurt, because they don't have a choice, and I actually, that makes me super angry.
Dr. Daniel Amen: But staying in that-
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... victim place-
Tana Amen: And that's why we want to help empower you with.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... is the kiss of death-
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... because, whenever you say it's someone else's fault, you're a victim and you can't change anything, and one of the things that I love about you is even though clearly you were a victim-
Tana Amen: Right. And you couldn't change it.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... the behavior of-
Alize’ Castellanos: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Tana Amen: You couldn't change foster care.
Alize’ Castellanos: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... of your mum and dad, and the system, you still did well in school.
Tana Amen: You, you-
Dr. Daniel Amen: You still took the things you could do-
Tana Amen: Yes.
Alize’ Castellanos: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... and you excelled.
Tana Amen: Focus on what you can do, not on what you can't.
Alize’ Castellanos: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Definitely, definitely because dwelling in that place it just does you no good, and when you look at it, it's like, I don't want to live that way, that kind of victim mentality. Like I know that Tana, she does not like victims, she's, we know this-
Tana Amen: You're adored.
Alize’ Castellanos: Tana does not like it, and Tana has had the opportunities in her life to be a victim, but she's chosen the exact opposite, she's always chosen the exact opposite, and I guess like at this time, like now, of course I definitely take that example, but before I kind of still had that mentality of like, I assume responsibility for myself, like if nobody else is going to step up to bat for me then I'm going to assume responsibility for my success. The difference between me and somebody else who'd be in a similar situation and go south, is that I see the pattern, and I see that I don't want to do that, when I was in this place, do I like the way I'm living right now? No. So what am I going to do to get myself out of this situation? And I've kind of had that mentality where it's like I'm on a mission to do better, to be better than that. And so yeah.
Tana Amen: And it wasn't easy.
Alize’ Castellanos: No.
Tana Amen: I mean there were times where you were sad-
Alize’ Castellanos: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Tana Amen: You were depressed, you were scared-
Alize’ Castellanos: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Tana Amen: ... but you still focused on what you could do-
Alize’ Castellanos: Yeah.
Tana Amen: ... and how to make it better.
Alize’ Castellanos: Mm-hmm (affirmative). And that's all you can do.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And learning to reach out is so important.
Alize’ Castellanos: That was a hard one for a while.
Tana Amen: Yeah.
Alize’ Castellanos: That was definitely a hard one for a while. Yes. But-
Dr. Daniel Amen: Then-
Tana Amen: And now you have us.
Dr. Daniel Amen: But then you figure out who you trust, who you can trust. You said something earlier that I just wanted to comment, it's like you didn't know why they were doing this, and I treat a number of young stars, and trust is such a huge issue-
Alize’ Castellanos: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... and a long time ago, I came to believe that everyone really is out for themselves, but it's more, the more sophisticated they are, the harder it is to tell. You just need to make sure your goals are aligned, right?
Alize’ Castellanos: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Daniel Amen: So if people are out for themselves, I total... When I went to your graduation, and you were the graduation speaker, that made me so happy. Right.
Alize’ Castellanos: Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So helping you has made me happy. Now I'm doing it, I think, for the right reasons, because I don't want you or your sister to repeat the insane pattern of the past, but I get something out of that, right? I mean I get joy. I get happiness. I get purpose. I get motivation, and I don't feel bad about that at all. Right? You just want to make sure your goals are aligned with the other person. Like you know, one of my young stars said, "My manager controls me." And I looked at him and I'm like, "Absolutely, just like a jockey would control a triple-crown winning horse, that without being controlled, you'd never win the race."
Alize’ Castellanos: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right? So it's getting your mind around, "Does my friends, does my team, do we have the same goal?"
Alize’ Castellanos: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Daniel Amen: And if we do, well that's the reason you're in it.
Alize’ Castellanos: Mm-hmm (affirmative). And one thing about that, the friends, are my friends, do we have the same goals? It's like how you expect to live a different life if your friends are still living that life.
Tana Amen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Alize’ Castellanos: Like how do you expect to be successful and to break the pattern if your friends are still in that place?
Tana Amen: People are contagious.
Alize’ Castellanos: People are so contagious, and I've learned a valuable lesson about this, and Daniel has taught me this, we talk about it a lot, how surround yourself with people you want to be like, and that's just the question. It's like aligning your goals, and finding your people, and surrounding yourself with that support, and those kinds of people, and now I feel like I have friends that are completely supportive, and they all want, they all are wanting, they're kind of going the same way.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And that was hard because you were the new kid.
Alize’ Castellanos: Yes.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right?
Alize’ Castellanos: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Daniel Amen: Then the new kid-
Alize’ Castellanos: It's easy to gravitate.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... often finds they often gravitate toward troubled lonely kids-
Alize’ Castellanos: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... because they're the ones that want to soak up new friends because they're lonely.
Alize’ Castellanos: Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right? But they may not be the best influence for you. You become like the people you hang out with, so whoever you want to be like, you find those.
Tana Amen: [inaudible 00:07:37] you know, one of the things when we were talking about reaching out, and you were saying it was really hard, and whatever, now one thing I've noticed is you even reach out, you've got some teachers you're really close to, and so speaking about this book, it's really important, and that one of those teachers at your eighth grade promotion, and you were the speaker, and we were so proud of you, but you introduced us to a teacher who's been really influential in your success.
Alize’ Castellanos: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Tana Amen: And because you have learned to kill some of those ants, because you have learned to reach out and trust some of these teachers, that's been a really important part of your journey-
Alize’ Castellanos: One hundred percent, yes.
Tana Amen: ... So knowing which teachers to reach out to might be important, but it is important to reach out to them, because they can be very helpful, and instrumental. I remember I had several teachers that were instrumental in my journey, and so it's a really important thing to do, and to know.
Alize’ Castellanos: Definitely.
Tana Amen: And it's a skill.
Alize’ Castellanos: Yes.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So you've had many mentors over the years-
Tana Amen: Yes.
Alize’ Castellanos: Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... and we actually got to scan one of them, and Tony Robbins came to the clinic.
Tana Amen: Yeah, I was so excited.
Dr. Daniel Amen: That was really-
Tana Amen: Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... fun, but they have played really important roles for you. What advice would you give to the people listening and to Alizé, about developing mentor relationships?
Tana Amen: So it's interesting, because I came from a hard background too, and definitely not money, so yeah, the opposite of money, so I was pretty poor growing up, so one thing I learned was that when I didn't have access to people like that, that one thing I learned early on was that I didn't have to know them for them to be my mentors, okay? I just followed them. I copied people. I don't know why-
Alize’ Castellanos: You told me about that, yeah.
Tana Amen: ... I just started copying people, and following people, and eventually when I had an opportunity to meet people, because eventually when you make and effort, like you did with your teacher, when you make that effort, people will want to help you, people have, good people have an innate desire to help people, right? That teacher wanted to help you, so eventually that will happen, but it starts with you, it's got to... that's responsibility, the ability to respond, right? So for me I started off by just copying people, and eventually I would just ask for help, and I would find that person who was, I'd model myself after the people I thought that I wanted to be most like, and I'd model their lives, and eventually I'd find the people who were willing to help. So just because you don't have access, don't feel sorry for yourself, just copy someone, just, you know, watch them, model them, until you do, and you'll find those people.
Dr. Daniel Amen: But what do you do with the internet age, when you don't know if what people are posting is real? So there's a lot of talk in the mental health community that one of the reasons why depression has gone up so much is people really post these fake lives.
Alize’ Castellanos: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Tana Amen: Well, of course they do.
Alize’ Castellanos: Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And by comparison, your life sucks.
Alize’ Castellanos: Mm-hmm (affirmative). [inaudible 00:10:31].
Dr. Daniel Amen: And then you have low self esteem.
Alize’ Castellanos: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Tana Amen: Of course they do. So it's your responsibility to know that, number one. No one's going to post how sucky their life is, you just have to know that. No one's posting-
Dr. Daniel Amen: And there are a lot of people that do that.
Tana Amen: Yeah, but generally they're not-
Dr. Daniel Amen: They're cutter groups online.
Tana Amen: Generally, they're not though.
Alize’ Castellanos: Yeah. Yeah, there is.
Tana Amen: Most people who are someone worth following is they're people who have overcome, and if they've overcome, that means they're telling you the challenge they have, they're telling you how they overcame it, they're telling you how they got to where they're going. It's not all roses and sunshine.
Alize’ Castellanos: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Daniel Amen: So I think you look at the people in your life, the real ones, and you go, who do I want to be like?
Tana Amen: Right. And you model it.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right?
Tana Amen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Daniel Amen: And if you want to go to prison, hang out with prisoners.
Tana Amen: Exactly.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And if you want to go-
Tana Amen: It's not that hard.
Alize’ Castellanos: Yeah.
Tana Amen: It's not that hard. Even eating in restaurants, I wouldn't know what to do, like I didn't know etiquette, so I just started watching people. I mean that's in a sense is just finding someone to model.
Alize’ Castellanos: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Tana Amen: I would just watch what fork they used, how they'd use their napkin. You can do this, you just have to find the right people to model.
Dr. Daniel Amen: You actually learned really well.
When we come back we're going to have Alizé talk about some of the really practical tips that have got her these amazing grades and awards-
Tana Amen: Yep.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... that you can use whether it's in school, or work, or anytime that you learn. We all should be lifelong learners. We're giving away a copy of Change Your Brain, Change Your Grades. You can go to Leave us a comment or review, a question, and in the subject line write, "Change Your Brain, Change Your Grades raffle," and we're going to raffle off one a day.
Stay with us.
Tana Amen: If you're enjoying the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast, please don't forget to subscribe so you'll always know when there's a new episode, and while you're at it, feel free to give us a review, or five-star rating, as that helps others find the podcast.
Dr. Daniel Amen: If you're considering coming to Amen Clinics, or trying some of the brain-healthy supplements from BrainMD, you can use the code podcast10 to get a 10% discount on a full evaluation at, or a 10% discount on all supplements at For more information, give us a call at 855-978-1363.