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How To Shift Your Way Of Thinking To Change Your Mood

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

This week’s series of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast features more content from the popular End of Mental Illness Live Class, in which Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen help you to begin your brain health journey. In this episode, the Amens discuss how you can change the way you feel by becoming conscious of where you bring your attention, and what you can do if you feel stuck in a rut of negative thinking.

To take The End of Mental Illness 6 Week Class and Challenge, visit https://endofmentalillness.com/brainhealthchallenge/

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Daniel Amen, MD:

Welcome to the Brain Warrior’s Way podcast. I’m Dr. Daniel. Amen.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

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.

Daniel Amen, MD:

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. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to brainmd.com.

Dr Daniel Amen:

Hi, this is Dr. Daniel Amen.

Tana Amen:

And, I’m Tana Amen.

Dr Daniel Amen:

We’re so excited you’re with us for this week series. What we’re doing is we’re playing the live class from the end of mental illness.

Tana Amen:

We wanted you to join us on this journey because we had such a good time in our class and the people who joined us had just saw such incredible transformation that we wanted to share the challenge with our tribe. So, we wanted to share this with you and we hope that you will join us in the challenge.

Dr Daniel Amen:

Week five.

Tana Amen:

Wow.

Dr Daniel Amen:

Hey everybody. I am here with my gorgeous wife, Tana, who just told me I told you so.

Tana Amen:

I told you so. My favorite words.

Dr Daniel Amen:

So, we are grateful for all the people that are on from Florida and Detroit and Green Bay Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Atlanta, Chicago, California, Idaho. My goodness. Welcome. We are so happy you are with us. We’re going to talk tonight about killing the ants and mental fitness. We are hoping everyone has pre-ordered The End of Mental Illness. It’s coming out now on less than no two weeks from today.

Tana Amen:

Super exciting.

Dr Daniel Amen:

Two weeks from today. And, part of ending mental illness is learning how to not believe every stupid thing you think.

Tana Amen:

So true.

Dr Daniel Amen:

So, we’ve talked about how we need to get rid of the term mental illness and call these things what they really are. Brain health issues that steal your mind. We talked about bright minds, how to prevent or treat the 11 major risk factors that steal your mind. And, last time you were gone and we all missed you terribly.

Tana Amen:

I know I missed you guys, but I was working with Chloe. That was really fun. I have to admit, it’s always fun for me when I get to be on set with Chloe. So, yeah.

Dr Daniel Amen:

We have a daughter who’s a young star and, but once you optimize the physical functioning of the brain, once you optimize the hardware of your soul, you then have to program it properly. And, so we talk about ants or automatic negative thoughts that steal your happiness.

Tana Amen:

Yeah, it’s really, so this last week I posted something on Instagram and you never know what’s going to hit with people, it’s so weird. But, it was just a saying, “Don’t let your mind bully your body.” Which is essentially killing the ants. And, it sort of resonated with people. And, it’s just so true. We so often allow our minds to bully our bodies, which is a really bad thing to happen. But, what really struck me, because these last few weeks I’ve been fairly tired, running around like crazy and we have sort of an adjustment in our house.

Tana Amen:

And, so it struck me, one of the things that causes people to allow their minds to bully their bodies or the rest of their lives is when something happens that changes your routine. Your sleep pattern is interrupted or you don’t eat on time or it’s not always just your thinking all by itself. Sometimes there are certain things that cause your thinking to shift, right? Maybe you’re tired or your blood sugar is low or, and so you want to really be paying attention to some of those things. And, as we go, maybe we can talk about that.

Dr Daniel Amen:

Well, the ants are more likely to attack when you’re at that time of your menstrual cycle for women.

Tana Amen:

Because, hormones.

Dr Daniel Amen:

And, when you go through-

Tana Amen:

But, by the way, if you’re a man, never say that. You don’t get to say it if you’re a man. At all.

Dr Daniel Amen:

No, no, if you’ve got five sisters, you totally can say it.

Tana Amen:

No, not say it out loud, not out loud.

Dr Daniel Amen:

Not to your wife, at least.

Tana Amen:

No.

Dr Daniel Amen:

But, if you’re a psychiatrist you totally can say it because you want to know the truth that makes people vulnerable.

Tana Amen:

But it is true. It’s true.

Dr Daniel Amen:

It’s totally true.

Tana Amen:

When you’re not at that part of your cycle it’s, “Oh I know that’s true.” But, when you’re at that part of your cycle, you don’t want to hear that from your husband.

Dr Daniel Amen:

Or if your progesterone is low.

Tana Amen:

At all. Oh yeah. No all in the six o’clock news. I know it, so, yeah.

Dr Daniel Amen:

Here are progesterone. Your ants go high when your progesterone level is low. So, if you haven’t slept, if you haven’t eaten.

Tana Amen:

For me, sleep and not exercising, I just am not the same person.

Dr Daniel Amen:

If you’re going through stress.

Dr Daniel Amen:

Somebody from Canada, Arizona, Mexico, we have all of North America. Love that.

Tana Amen:

Does lack of sleep affect most people that same way as extreme as it affects me?

Dr Daniel Amen:

Many people.

Tana Amen:

I just can’t shake it.

Dr Daniel Amen:

More people die from sleep related accidents, from being tired from sleep-related accidents than from alcohol.

Tana Amen:

Yeah, it’s weird.

Dr Daniel Amen:

So, the words you use matter for how you feel, how you act and how you get along with other people. So, today we’re really going to talk about the words you use and getting the language in your head correct. So, these are some simple principles to train your mind. Whenever you have a negative thought, the brain releases chemicals that immediately make you feel bad. Your hands get colder, they start sweating, your breathing becomes erratic, your muscles get tense and you just don’t think right. We actually did a study on negative thoughts versus positive thoughts, and negative thoughts cause your cerebellum temporal lobe and frontal lobes to all drop in activity.

Tana Amen:

Yep. So, it’s interesting today because I’ve been so tired lately and sort of stressed. So, I went outside and I know all this stuff, but when you’re tired and you’re busy, you don’t do it, you forget. And, so I’m, “I know I need to step back and do the things I know even though I don’t feel like doing them cause I’m in a bad mood and I’m tired.” But, I went outside because it was such a beautiful day. Sat in the sun and did my gratitude. The thought, just five minutes. Five minutes of focusing on things you’re grateful for. Just let the sun sort of hit me and focused on gratitude. And, then I went in the oxygen chamber and I came out like a whole different person. An hour later I was just a different person. So, it just really works.

Dr Daniel Amen:

The opposite is also true. Whenever you have positive thoughts, happy thoughts, hopeful thoughts, your brain releases a completely different set of chemicals that make you feel good. Immediately your hands get warmer, drier, your breathing slows down, your muscles become relaxed and you feel happier. Where you bring your attention determines how you feel. It’s worth repeating where you bring your attention, determines how you feel. Thoughts are automatic, they just happen. They’re based on complex chemical reactions, memories, scents, sounds. So, they just happen and they lie. This is the one thing I didn’t know before I went to psychiatry school is that thoughts lie. They lie a lot.

Tana Amen:

We grow up thinking that, “Well, I have a thought, it must be be the truth.”

Dr Daniel Amen:

But, no one teaches you that the thoughts that run around in your head-

Tana Amen:

Are nonsense.

Dr Daniel Amen:

May just be ridiculous.

Tana Amen:

Ridiculous. Sabotaging you. I look back to my adolescence and I’m, “If I could just erase all of that.” But, I didn’t have the tools.

Dr Daniel Amen:

Do you have an example?

Tana Amen:

Oh my gosh, “I’m fat, I’m ugly.” Things that all adolescents think. But, it’s you let it ruin your whole day. “I’m not as good as other people. Why is it so much harder for me?” All of the things that most adolescents think. And, you just let it ruin you.

Dr Daniel Amen:

I understand. More than you know. But, you don’t have to believe every thought you have. You can learn to kill the ants. And, so I wrote this cool little book I’m very proud of called Captain Snout and the Super Power Questions : Don’t Let The Ants Steal Your Happiness. And, we talk about different kinds of ants. We’ll go through each one of them, but here’s the exercise.

Dr Daniel Amen:

Whenever you feel sad or mad or nervous or out of control, write down what you’re thinking and then ask yourself “Is it true?” So, for example, these are all or nothing ants where things are either all good or all bad “I’m the best mother that ever lived” or “I’m the worst mother.”

Tana Amen:

I hear that one all the time, all the time.

Dr Daniel Amen:

All the time. And, the fact is the world is gray. In fact, in college, if there was a question on a test, things are all this way all around.

Tana Amen:

Yep, it’s almost always wrong.

Dr Daniel Amen:

It’s almost always wrong because so few things are either black or white. And, so my patients are getting better at this month, everybody’s been getting better. I’ve been pretty happy about that. Then I’m, “I’m the best doctor that ever lived.” Then I might come up with someone who’s not getting better because not everybody gets better. I’m, “Oh, I’m the worst doctor that ever lived.” Now, thankfully I practice this so I don’t beat myself up. All or nothing. Eliminate those. Just the bad ants, where you focus on what’s wrong rather than what’s right in a situation.

Dr Daniel Amen:

So, if you spoke in front of 2000 people, so you did that and did a masterful job. I was so proud of you.

Tana Amen:

Thank you.

Dr Daniel Amen:

But, if one person fell asleep in the front row, you just go, “Oh well, I was so bored.”

Tana Amen:

Yeah or in my case, the woman that kept giving me dirty looks not, and she was throwing me off and I’m, “Why is that woman giving me dirty looks?” It was everyone else was giving me positive feedback. This woman was just staring at me and I’m, “Oh, this is really creepy.” I’d never had that happen before. I’m getting so upset. So, I stopped looking at her and I just looked at other people, but every once in a while I’d catch her and then afterwards I’m, “Why was that woman so bothered? What was her problem?”

Tana Amen:

She comes up to me with that same look on her face, so intense and so aggravated and she goes, “I need to hire you for my next event.” I’m, “Okay.” It was just her expression of intensity when she had something on her mind. She was unaware that that’s how she looked, but it was making me feel like, she didn’t like me and that wasn’t what she was thinking at all. It’s just she was just super focused. It’s crazy.

Dr Daniel Amen:

Can you imagine if she was your mother?

Tana Amen:

Oh gosh. That was so scary. It scared me. I was, “What is happening right now?” And, what she was doing was just really focusing, so. You don’t know what they’re thinking.

Dr Daniel Amen:

Negative look from someone else may mean nothing more than they’re constipated, you don’t know.

Tana Amen:

Or they just are focused.

Dr Daniel Amen:

I’m glad we can do that.

Tana Amen:

Do you remember that? Do you remember I got came off stage and was, “What did I do wrong? Did I offend that woman?”

Dr Daniel Amen:

Guilt beating ants where you think in words like “should, must, ought or have too.”

Tana Amen:

This is mad.

Dr Daniel Amen:

I also call them “should and shaming.”

Tana Amen:

You should all over yourself.

Dr Daniel Amen:

Dragons where we’ll talk about that coming up over the next year. But-

Tana Amen:

I’m good at this one.

Dr Daniel Amen:

You’re really good at this one.

Tana Amen:

I am. I’m good at shoulding all over.

Dr Daniel Amen:

And, when you grow up Catholic like I did, or you know what? I’ve realized it could be Jewish, it could be Russian, it could be Asian, that the should and shaming ants are just so prevalent in our society. Now, let me be clear. Of course there are things you should and should not do, but trying to motivate behavior with guilt, just doesn’t work.

Dr Daniel Amen:

If I think I should go see my dad, well, I won’t do it because the thought makes me feel bad. But, if I replace should with “I want to” or “it’s my goal to” then I’ll go do it.

Tana Amen:

It changes how you feel.

Dr Daniel Amen:

So, if, when I think about my relationship with my dad, well I want to go see him I love him. He’s one of my best friends or it’s my goal to have a relationship with my dad. And, so then I do it because I don’t feel bad about it and I don’t want you doing things because you should do them. I want you doing things because they fit your goals because it makes your life better.

Dr Daniel Amen:

Like, I should kiss you at night.

Tana Amen:

You should do that.

Dr Daniel Amen:

I should.

Tana Amen:

Yeah.

Dr Daniel Amen:

It fits my goals.

Tana Amen:

But, you still should.

Dr Daniel Amen:

Wow. But, as soon as you go, should, then you don’t want to.

Tana Amen:

Really?

Dr Daniel Amen:

Labeling ants. This is where you label someone else negative.

Tana Amen:

This is when you get on the freeway in Los Angeles.

Dr Daniel Amen:

Turn.

Tana Amen:

Yeah, it’s full of ants.

Dr Daniel Amen:

The problem with labeling and psychiatrists do it all the time. “Will, Oh, you’re bipolar, you’re borderline, you’re antisocial, you’re narcissistic.” The politicians do it. “Oh, you’re a Republican.”

Tana Amen:

I can’t turn on the TV.

Dr Daniel Amen:

“You’re a liberal, you’re left-wing, you’re right-wing, you have no wings.” Whatever. The problem, when you label someone with a negative term or yourself, you can’t deal with them anymore, but you lump them with all of the jerks or brats or idiots or clowns that you’ve ever known and you end up not dealing with them. You deal with all of them, which makes it impossible. And, so labeling doesn’t help. Labeling [crosstalk [00:16:31].

Tana Amen:

Yeah. It’s almost like you dehumanize people when you do that. When I’m on the freeway and I get frustrated and you say something to yourself, hopefully. But, you get so frustrated, but you don’t see that person as a person. It’s just this anonymous sort of faceless person. It’s easier to be mad when you, then all of a sudden you pull up, you see this little old lady driving and it’s, “Aww. They become human again. Right? So, it’s much easier to dehumanize people. I think.

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.

Daniel Amen, MD:

If you’re considering coming to Amen Clinics or trying some of the brain healthy supplements from BrainMD, you can use the code podcast 10 to get a 10% discount on a full evaluation at amenclinics.com or a 10% discount on all supplements at brainmdhealth.com. For more information, give us a call at 855-978-1363.