How Do You Nurture Relationships With Ones Closest To You?

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

In the second episode of a two-part series on relationships, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen finish discussing their overview of the mnemonic “RELATING”, which gives powerful and effective shorthand advice for nurturing your relationships with those closest to you.


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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. 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 Warrior's 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 Warrior's Way Podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD 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 Warrior's Way Podcast.

We're back with part two of the podcast on relationships. This is so much fun.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Just to repeat these. R is responsibility, E is empathy, L is listening, A is for appropriate, assertiveness. One thing since you said, "Does this have eternal value?" Which is so important. Such a great question.

Tana Amen: Is this going to matter?

Dr. Daniel Amen: I love also, is this going to cause me short-term pain?

Tana Amen: Or long- I like that too.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Or long term pain? If, yes I have to deal with my son not doing well in school, that's short-term pain. That's going to cause unhappiness, but him dropping out is going to be long-term.

Tana Amen: Yeah, because there are things you are going to do. You don't let everything go. Right? That's also not-

Dr. Daniel Amen: We're talking about assertiveness, which is really important.

Tana Amen: Right. Sometimes creating boundaries is really important in a relationship.

Dr. Daniel Amen: But is it short-term pain? And it could also be for short-term pain for long-term gain.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Right.

Tana Amen: I like that.

Dr. Daniel Amen: It's like, if I exercise, that's-

Tana Amen: Because, boundaries are important to in relationships. Right? Sometimes that's painful to do. People are like, "Oh, you could take what I just said and go, 'Oh, I'm going to let it go for the sake of peace.'" But that actually isn't the right thing to do all the time.

Dr. Daniel Amen: It's definitely not. The N in relating is notice what you like more than what you don't like. Because, that's how you shape behavior. If you only notice what you don't like in a relationship, you're going to get more of what you don't like.

Tana Amen: You're actually really good at that. You're very good at that.

Dr. Daniel Amen: But I had to work on it and it's the reason I collect penguins.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: I got a whole bunch of them this Christmas from my patients. The whole story, if you haven't read it, I have a book called The Most Important Thing in Life, I Learned From a Penguin was how do they train animals? You don't train them by beating them.

Tana Amen: Beating them, right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Or by criticizing them or being yelling at them. You train them by noticing when they do the right thing.

Tana Amen: Praising them, right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Rather than noticing when they do the wrong things. I just heard the trainer for Fat Freddy died recently. Fat Freddy was the penguin in Hawaii at Sea Life Park who taught me about ... I went there with my son when he was seven.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: He was giving me a hard time. The penguin was more compliant than my son. I went to the trainer after the show and I went, "How did you get them to do all these really cool things." She said, "Whenever he does what I ask him to do, I notice him when he does it. I give him a hug and I give him a fish." I realized that even though my son didn't like fish ...

Tana Amen: Raw fish especially.

Dr. Daniel Amen: ... That although Chloe likes raw fish that I wasn't noticing him when he did the right things.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: He tended to do the wrong things.

Tana Amen: The wrong things.

Dr. Daniel Amen: The G in relating, this is new. You're going to like this. It used to be for groups, hanging out with the right people, but I changed it to grace.

Tana Amen: Oh, I like that.

Dr. Daniel Amen: And forgiveness.

Tana Amen: That's a really good one.

Dr. Daniel Amen: I did it because I was praying the Lord's Prayer, and it just came to me in the Lord's Prayer, and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us. Our salvation is dependent on our ability to give grace ...

Tana Amen: Well, our forgiveness is dependent on it.

Dr. Daniel Amen: ... and forgive.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Forgive us our sins. Because, this is how Jesus taught us to pray. As I was working on my new book and looking into the research on grace and forgiveness, it's great. I mean, the research is just so powerful on how it decreases anxiety, decreases depression, helps with sleep, helps decrease headaches, and there's a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University who studied forgiveness for years. I'll tell you a story in a second. He had to use it for himself. He came up with what he called The Reach Model of Forgiveness. The R in reach is recall the hurt. This time, recall it differently without feeling victimized or holding a grudge. Try to actually see it from all sides. E is empathize. Replace negative emotions with positive other-oriented emotions. Put yourself in the shoes of the other person. The movie, The Shack, did a good job of that.

Tana Amen: It was so hard for me to watch.

Dr. Daniel Amen: A is altruistic gift of forgiveness. Recall, empathize, altruistic gift of forgiveness. Think about a time in the past when you wronged someone, and that person forgave you, and notice how much freer you felt. It's a gift. C is commit to forgiveness and make a statement about that to someone else. H is hold on to forgiveness. As opposed to hold onto the hurt, hold on to forgiveness.

Tana Amen: I like that.

Dr. Daniel Amen: In 1996, Dr. Worthington's research was put to the test, the worst test possible. His mother was murdered in a home invasion.

Tana Amen: Oh, dear Lord.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Although the police believed they found the murderer, he was never prosecuted. Despite the awful tragedy, Dr. Worthington said ... now he'd been working on this awhile, so it takes, "I had applied the forgiveness model many times but never to such a big event. As it turned out, I was able to forgive the young man quickly and not hold onto it." Because, who hurts the most?

Tana Amen: It's you. You. We did an entire podcast on forgiveness and I highly recommend you, if you're struggling with this, watch that one on forgiveness. Because, like you said, there's a lot of research on forgiveness. And several ... There's a doctor that deals with severe burns who actually studied forgiveness on his patients and the ones who don't forgive actually don't recover. The ones who are able to forgive, he actually does forgiveness exercises. The ones who are able to forgive, recover differently, their immunity is stronger. He actually tests them. It's really interesting. It's because it hurts you when you don't forgive. If you're not willing to forgive the other person, do it for yourself. It's really interesting. It's really hard sometimes but it's worth working on. Strongly recommend it. I mean, the movie The Shack was really hard for me to watch. Yeah, that's my-

Dr. Daniel Amen: I love the interaction between you and Chloe.

Tana Amen: I know, because you're a terrible person. You just thought that was like justice or something.

Dr. Daniel Amen: Oh, I just thought it was ... I was so proud of her because she did all of the things we're talking about in this podcast.

Tana Amen: She, my daughter ... She's like not ... Sometimes I look at her and I'm like, "Where are you from?" She is-

Dr. Daniel Amen: She's an old soul.

Tana Amen: Yeah. She looked at me because that's my one weakness, my biggest weakness, it would be if somebody hurt my child. I can't stand it when anybody hurts any child. It's just something within me that just, I have zero empathy for people who hurt children. I can empathize with almost any other situation. Or, I don't know about empathize with it but I can deal with it. Those crimes I just have a really hard time with.

We were watching that movie and she looked at me she said, "I know that you would want to kill the person if someone hurt me." She said, "I'm just telling you right now, you can't." I'm like, "Take it back. Take it back right now." She goes, "No, you can't. Because, I wouldn't want you to. That would just ..." She goes, "It would ruin anything good that I did when I was here." She said, "It would just make me so sad if I were ever able to know about it." She goes, "The only thing that would be meaningful to me is that you went on and were able to be happy, and not hold onto that, and not do something like that, and make sense out of it. You were able to make sense out of it." I was so upset with her. I was like ... It was bizarre.

Dr. Daniel Amen: I just had this huge smile on my face because that's love. The person who wants the person left behind to suffer because they miss them so much, that is the epitome of narcissism. It's I'm so important that your life shouldn't be-

Tana Amen: Well and her feeling was my life wouldn't have made sense if you couldn't be happy.

Dr. Daniel Amen: No, I so happy about that. The summary is Eight Simple Strategies to Enhance all of your relationships. The first one is take responsibility. How can I respond in a positive, helpful way? Two is practice empathy. Once a day treat someone else as you would like to be treated in that situation. Three, in conversations listen actively, repeat back what you hear. Listen for the feelings behind the words then reflect back what the person is saying and in your mind what they're feeling. Check it out, see if it's right. Be assertive, say what you mean, stick up for what you believe in a firm and kind way. Spend time with them, even just 20 minutes can make a huge positive difference. One of the things I love is we often will have one of your pumpkin spice cappuccinos in the morning and just sit and talk about our day.

Tana Amen: You're so cute because sometimes ... You almost always call me during the day and you're like, "Did I tell you I love you this morning?" Sometimes I'm like, "No, you actually ran out of the house. We were really busy but you made me my cappuccino. That's love."

Dr. Daniel Amen: That's telling you I love you.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Daniel Amen: I is for inquire into the thoughts that make you suffer in a relationship. Write them down, ask them if they're true. N is notice with you like more than what you don't like. G, give the altruistic gift of grace and forgiveness whenever you can. You're listening to The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. Stay with us.

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