Are You Always Getting What You Don’t Want?

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

It’s no secret that visualization can be a powerful tool for motivating and inspiring us to achieve our dreams. Your brain makes happen what it sees, whether that vision is what we want or what we don’t want. Therefore it’s important to pay attention to what we think about, and to spin negative thoughts into empowering, positive ones.


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Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warriors Way Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.

Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. Here we teach you how to win the fight for your brain. To defeat anxiety, depression, memory loss, ADHD, and addictions.

Dr. Daniel Amen: The Brain Warriors Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we've transformed lives for three decades, using brain SPECT imaging to better target treatment, and natural ways to heal the brain. For more information, visit

Tana Amen: The Brain Warriors Way Podcast is also brought to you by Brain MD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceutical products to support the health of your brain and body. For more information, visit Welcome to the Brain Warriors Way Podcast. We are back, and today we're going to talk about getting what you don't want. Are you getting what you don't want? How often have you said something like, "I can't get sick before my trip. I can't oversleep. I'm not going to eat doughnuts tomorrow." Or, "I'm not going to lose my temper with my kids." And then you do exactly the thing that you say you're not going to do. Don't you see people do this all the time?

Dr. Daniel Amen: All the time. The brain doesn't hear the negative.

Tana Amen: It doesn't hear the negative, and what's really interesting is that in order to have a thought, any thought. Like, "I'm not going to eat doughnuts tomorrow." In order to have the thought, "I'm not going to eat doughnuts tomorrow." Your brain first has to see you eating doughnuts tomorrow, right? In order for you to have the thought, "I'm not going to eat doughnuts tomorrow." You first have to create the picture of you eating doughnuts tomorrow. You just created a vision of you eating doughnuts. Then you're trying to constantly not think about that vision you created. That's part of why people don't get what they want.

I'll give you a real life example. Here's one that I had, and I didn't even realize. We work on this all the time, right? But they creep in. These little thoughts, like your ants that you talk about, creep in insidiously. Here I pride myself on trying to be strong, and do all these good things, and be very healthy. And all of a sudden I found myself subconsciously, not even consciously, having this thought, and being anxious about it. "I can't get sick again, because if anything happens to me, I would leave my daughter Chloe without a mother, and then her life would be a mess."

I didn't even realize that thought had sort of crept in, and it was so negative. It was totally in the negative. If you think about that, I first have to visualize myself getting sick. Then I have to visualize me leaving Chloe without a mother, and then I have to visualize her life being a mess. Then I was wondering, "No wonder I was totally anxious."

Dr. Daniel Amen: 'Cause your brain makes happen, what it sees.

Tana Amen: Right, so no doubt it motivated me to try to live healthier, but at the same time I'm creating this massive anxiety.

Dr. Daniel Amen: But then if you're more anxious, then you're going to want to have more wine. You'll do things to try to calm the anxiety that may not be as healthy for you.

Tana Amen: Even more than that, just mentally, we will make happen what we see, right? We will make happen what we see in our head.

Dr. Daniel Amen: You know, there's actually a medical example of this. If a woman believes she's pregnant.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Even though she's not pregnant, her body will actually begin to take on the shape of a pregnant woman.

Tana Amen: What's that called?

Dr. Daniel Amen: I've seen it a number of times.

Tana Amen: Yeah, me too. Yeah.

Dr. Daniel Amen: In my practice, it's called, "Pseudocyesis.

Tana Amen: Yeah, we treated that. It was weird.

Dr. Daniel Amen: I had one woman go to nine months, and she actually started lactating, or producing milk from her breasts. She didn't have periods, her belly was really big. When her husband and family found out that it was a psychological condition, they banished her.

Tana Amen: They got mad, right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: It was crazy, because she wanted to be pregnant so badly, she actually manifested it. Your brain is incredibly powerful.

Tana Amen: It's one of the reasons, your brain is so powerful is one of the reasons that in the Olympics, Olympic athletes use ... They actually have coaches for visualization, guided imagery visualization. They don't allow ... 'Cause your brain is the only place that you can actually practice perfection, right? They don't allow them to practice their techniques mentally with any mistakes. If they make a mistake mentally, they have them rewind, back it up, and keep doing it until they do it perfectly. They don't just re-do, they don't just start the image over again, they literally make them rewind it, go all the way back through the mistake, and then re-do it until it's perfect. You don't ever want to practice visualization with mistakes, that's how important it is.

They have found that doing visualization without any physical training, is almost equally effective to the physical training. Imagine if you're doing the physical training, along with the visualization, you don't then have to overtrain. It's super powerful.

Dr. Daniel Amen: You can do that with your relationships with your children ...

Tana Amen: Anything.

Dr. Daniel Amen: With your spouse, with work.

Tana Amen: Your physical health, right. What I did, so let me give you an example. I turned this around to, my original thought was, "I can't get sick. If anything happens to me, because I'd leave Chloe without a mother, and then her life would be a mess." I mean, total disaster thought, right? I changed it. My new thought, if you change it, always put it in the positive. "I am vibrant, healthy. I'm a warrior. I've raised a strong, competent daughter who is a leader and a warrior also." That's way truer than the first thought.

Dr. Daniel Amen: And the more empowering.

Tana Amen: Right, and now in order to have that thought, I'm only visualizing positive think ... I'm only visualizing the positive, I'm only visualizing what I want to have happen. I don't have to see all those other horrible things in order to get to what I want, I'm actually only seeing the positive. I'm only seeing the powerful. That's an example of how that works. That's why ... Take your thought, do this exercise. Take your negative thought, and you gotta be really careful, 'cause they creep in, just like an ant infestation, like you talk about.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Automatic negative thoughts.

Tana Amen: Right. They creep in insidiously. I didn't even realize the thought had sort of crept back in. Pay attention if you're having these negative thoughts, write them down. Then do a turn around, flip it to its opposite, turn it around to its positive. Then come up with an empowering turn around like what I just did, the example I gave you.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Where are you stressed today? Are you stressed in your relationships, are you stressed in your money, are you stressed in work, or your health? See what thoughts you have. Write them down, as you said. Then visualize you solving the issue in a perfect way. That'll help you so much.

Tana Amen: Yeah.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Stay with us.

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