How To Turn Life’s Defeats Into Victory

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

Turning your life around is often an uphill battle, where the defeats seem to always outnumber the victories. It’s important to remember, however, that losing the battle isn’t the same as losing the war, and that next breakthrough may be just around the corner. Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen share a personal story of family struggle, and how even the darkest days ultimately yielded light at the end of the tunnel.


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Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. I'm Doctor 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.

Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we 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 buy 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.

Daniel Amen: Welcome back. We're so excited that you're with us. We're gonna talk today about, what do you do when you feel like you're losing the war? In the Brain Warrior's Way, our goal with this podcast is to help you be arm prepared and aware, because everywhere you go it just seems there's negative news, there's gadgets that addict your attention, there's bad food. We want you to be arm prepared and aware, but bad things happen to good people.

Tana Amen: Right. It's an honor for us to be with you on this journey. There's a reason we chose the framework, ... We use the metaphor of a warrior, because we know that it's a war and I look at all of my own Facebook messages and some of you send me these amazing testimonials of overcoming and changing your lives, but a lot of you send me messages of you're losing battle after battle and it's not a perception, it's actually real. Bad car accidents and then maybe losing your home and it's like one thing after another. Pretty tragic.

My own sister recently, who I've been helping personally, lost her kids last year. It was just one thing after another and it was a war. That was a war. She was losing every battle for a while. Now we've got it turned around. What happens when you're losing those battles? It's more important than ever to think like a warrior and train like a warrior. Let's talk about what that actually means from practical standpoint.

Daniel Amen: The first part mindset. And it's-

Tana Amen: And that's hard. Okay. I'm not gonna underestimate, I'm not gonna minimize it, we can't minimize that. When you are beaten down and losing and bloody, and you're like, on the ground and thinking life's not worth it anymore, that's not an easy thing to do. We're gonna use some real life examples of how we actually did this. Because it's really hard to have a good mindset if your vitamin D is really low. If you aren't sleeping. If you just had a massive trauma.

Daniel Amen: And if you don't know what you want.

Tana Amen: Or if you're going through trauma.

Daniel Amen: When I first started doing our brain imaging work, so I'm a double board certified psychiatrist. I got, you know, that took me a long time to do and I feel in love with imaging and then all of a sudden people called me a quack, called me a charlatan, and I was taking advantage of mentally ill people by wanting to scan their brain. I

had no clue about the torrent of vitriol and hatred coming at me, because now that I realize how scientific revolutions start, is if you're a revolutionary, the first rule of the status quo is kill the revolutionaries. I have no clue how to deal with that, except that I was passionate about it. I saw the difference it made in peoples lives.

Tana Amen: So you gotta have a why.

Daniel Amen: The first question when you feel like you're losing the war is, why are you in it? What is your goal? What is your deepest sense of meaning and purpose?

Tana Amen: The harder that the war is that you're in, the more bloody the war, the more important the why, and the more you have to have it really planted, like, it's got to be front and center written down where you can see it and you're focused. It's hard to focus.

Daniel Amen: And what you did and how you helped Tamara. It's like this is the difference between whether or not you'll ever get your kids back. So this is the difference.

Tana Amen: Oh, I literally had at one point, it was the difference between life and death. It was that bad. When she came, this is why I want to use this as an example, because it was personal, so I know how hard it is for some of you. I didn't ever know where to start. I was overwhelmed, because she was a mess. She was a mess. She showed up and she was so emotionally overwhelmed and in so much trauma, that I couldn't get through to her. Then we ran her blood work and her blood work was such a mess, that I didn't know where to start.

This is where you have to have a team, right? By myself, I was like, oh my God, I don't even know where to start. Then physcologically, we had our hands full because she had some issues we had to take care of with mental wellness and health. So, there was the biology, the phycology, the social and spiritual part. She had lost her home and now she lost her kids. You can imagine where she was with that. It was overwhelming. If you think that we're saying some of this like, in passing,-

Daniel Amen: How would you know?

Tana Amen: ... like we don't know. Oh, my God.

Daniel Amen: How would you know?

Tana Amen: Yeah, we know. It was literally, there were days where I'm like, I can't do this, but because I have an amazing partner and I reached out literally, I reached out to my friends at the church, I would ball and cry, and ask them to pray for me, because I didn't want to do it. I was literally overwhelmed. I'm like, I am one of the strongest people I know and I don't think I can do this. I reached out to everyone I know to go through that. Oh my gosh.

Daniel Amen: So, social support is critical.

Tana Amen: Critical.

Daniel Amen: That's the social circle we keep talking about. Then spiritual is why? What's the purpose? What's the point? How does this fit in your overall life plan.

Tana Amen: Because not doing it means my nieces, ... I perpetuate a cycle of trauma and illness, you know, my sister will probably kill herself.

Daniel Amen: Tamara involved in her why, the support system you and me involved in our why. And then learning how not to believe every stupid thing you think, it's a psychological circle.

Tana Amen: One of the things I did to help my sister, actually to help me and my sister, ... It was a joke. It was a joke in our house, she actually kept to these. I had giant sticky notes. I also have to not underestimate my team at work. My team at work was very patient with me, because I was not very patient at the time. There were times where I was-

Daniel Amen: You? Not you.

Tana Amen: ... Yeah. No. I was pretty frustrate and I was fragile and it was hard. My team put up with me a lot, so it was really good. I had a really good team. What I would do, I had these giant post-it notes, like huge post-it notes, you know, the size of a window. I would literally, systematically write out everything we had to do, biological, psychological, social, spiritual and then also my to-do list. I had them posted around my house and then I would go through these little lessons with my sister.

When finally we get so frustrated with her, because I couldn't break through, one day, I like, snapped and yelled at her and wrote out on this sticky note, "Shut up and put your big girl panties on. This is not about you." Daniel's like, "You are so mean." I'm like, "I can't get her to get up and do anything." And I bought her a big giant pair of big girl panties. I mean like, huge panties, like training panties, like when you're potty training-

Daniel Amen: You should post those. We have a picture of them.

Tana Amen: It was hilarious. I got her potty-training panties. I'm like, "These are your big girl panties, I need you to put them on. This isn't about you, it's about getting your kids back."

Daniel Amen: Now, I don't recommend doing that at home. It's like, don't do that at home.

Tana Amen: I'm not a psychiatrist, obviously. I had these big post-it notes, because I was overwhelmed. Day one. We're getting her blood tested. Day two. We're gonna figure out how to get you to sleep, because she wasn't sleeping. I mean like, day three, it was that microscopic, how we had to break it down. There were days where it was hour to hour. We know the war. Trust me.

Daniel Amen: Which is I was thinking about people who are going through grief.

Tana Amen: Right. She was going through grief, loss of home, loss of family, she was going through all of it.

Daniel Amen: It becomes hour by hour.

Tana Amen: Hour to hour. When my aunt lost her-

Daniel Amen: Airway breathing, circulation.

Tana Amen: When my 20 year-old cousin died in a military accident, he was in the Navy and he died. It was awful. I can remember my aunt not getting out of bed. For three months, she wouldn't get out of bed. When she finally did, she looked at me with the worst look I've ever seen on anyone's face and she said, "I just don't know if I can take my next breath." I will never forget that. It was a mother's grief is horrific and that's literally, it was breath to breath, it wasn't hour to hour. It's hard. This is where the warrior-

Daniel Amen: We know how hard, but in that moment, you never want to be tragedy or grief, to be your reason to hurt yourself. You still wanna do the right thing. Not drink to mask the pain or eat terrible food, or veg out and made it worse.

Tana Amen: Which Tamara did at one point and made it worse. She made her situation much worse.

Daniel Amen: But, as we talked about when we first decided to help her. It's not just going to get better, so you have to understand that getting well is never a straight line up, it's often a jagged line that goes up and down. When you relapse, really try to understand what happened.

Tana Amen: Now, she's over six months completely sober, she's got total clarity, she's amazing, she's doing really well, got her kids back. But it wasn't perfect and because she's my sister, I got very judgemental at that point. I got really angry, because we had done so much to help her, she was doing well, and then she fell. I'm the queen of telling people, it's falling, not failure, and when it's patience, it's really easy for me to do that. When it's my own sister, it was really hard. Shame on me. Right?

I needed to take my own advice and step back and go, "Wait, I'm doing exactly what I tell people not to do." I had to recognize my own faults. It was you that went, "What are you talking about? This is exactly what we said was gonna happen." Your support system becomes most critical at those points. Right?

Daniel Amen: Your support system needs a support system.

Tana Amen: Back to the ... right. Your support system is your support system. Back to the steps. Make sure that you're not just dealing with the actual trauma, the actual tragedy. Make sure that you are addressing things like your blood. Her vitamin D was nine. Okay? Her vitamin D was 9. Fish oil, her Omega 3 fatty acid level, what was it? It was like stupidly low.

Daniel Amen: Two.

Tana Amen: No, the ratio was-

Daniel Amen: Oh, it was like forty.

Tana Amen: Right, forty to, right. It was really high. Nutritionally, she was a disaster. She wasn't sleeping at night, so that she was literally getting less than one hour of sleep a night. That was making her a basket-case.

Daniel Amen: That'll make anybody a little crazy.

Tana Amen: She wasn't making good decisions. Right. Wasn't making good decisions. Systematically in the Brain Warrior's Way, we give you a plan to follow and there's a reason. It's not because, oh, this sounds like a good plan, it's because we know if you aren't addressing those things, you're not gonna be able to get through the war. When warriors go to war, they have a plan, they have to follow, it's systematic, there's a reason they do it. It's a survival plan, right? You were in the Army, you know. You don't follow the plan, people die. That's why we came up with the plan the way it is, because we've done this for so long, with so many people. Follow the plan. Follow the steps. When you can't do it on your own, just follow the steps.

Daniel Amen: I love that. We have a testimonial from Kathryn, from the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. Thank you so much.

"This approach really works. I first learned about Doctor Amen almost 10 years ago and subscribed to his advice and expertise ever since. In joining up with his wife Tana for his latest book, her perspectives are added to make even more powerful recommendation.-

Tana Amen: Thank you.

Daniel Amen: "In 2008, I began suffering from what I'm pretty sure was physical brain damage due to ongoing hypoglycemia, low blood sugar, acute stress, and even the medications prescribed by doctors. For over a year, I had fainting spells and could not memorize my own family's phone numbers, my address, or even remember a two digit number.

I felt I was on the path to pancreatic cancer and dementia. It was terrifying. I read everything I could by Doctor Amen and applied what I learned diligently and the regimen regrew what must have been holes in my brain. I only wish I could have documented my progress using spect imaging. Fortunately, other important aspects of the body also respond to the Brain Warrior advice, improving my skin, muscle tone, and cardiovascular health. Thank you Doctor Amen and Tana."

Tana Amen: That's awesome.

Daniel Amen: Kathryn, you are the reason we do this. Thank you for listening. We're gonna continue to be here for you to help you be arm prepared and aware to win the most important fight of your life.

Tana Amen: I wanna just end with this, is that the Brain Warrior's Way, we work on mastery. If you need these steps, they are literally listed out step-wise, mastery, mindset, assessment, sustenance, training, essence, responsibility, and we tell you step-by-step what to do. If you are in a war, all you have to do is get your support system to help you, but go through those steps systematically.

Daniel Amen: Right. Pick up a copy of the book, give it away to someone you love,-

Tana Amen: And if you can't afford it, we hear it a lot-

Daniel Amen: ... get the cookbook, it's Tana's favorite cookbook, it's our favorite cookbook. And if you can't afford it,-

Tana Amen: The library.

Daniel Amen: ... go to the library. We will always be here for you. Thanks so much.

Tana Amen: Thank you for listening to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. We have a special gift for you. It's an opportunity to win an evaluation at the Amen Clinics. All you have to do is subscribe to this podcast, leave a review, and rate us on iTunes.

Daniel Amen: To learn more about Amen Clinics and the work we do, go to You can also learn about our nutraceutical products at Thanks for listening.