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2020 was a difficult year for most everyone, Dr. Daniel and Tana Amen included. Perhaps the most difficult part for Daniel was losing his father. But through a concept called “post-traumatic growth”, he made sure his grief was meaningful and ultimately productive. In this episode of the podcast, the Amens tell you how you can use your hardest moments to shape you into a stronger and happier person.
Daniel G 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.
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.
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Welcome back. We are in the beginning of the new year, 2021. Wow. Thank God. We’re off to a new start, right? Fresh start. We’re talking about the hardest moments of 2020. We want to hear from you. What have been your most challenging moments and what did you do about it? How did you turn it around? Or if you haven’t and you’re still struggling, we want to hear that too. So, we’re talking about that, but just a quick little preview. This is my launch week for Relentless Courage of a Scared Child. We’re going to be giving you a sneak peek. The first chapter in audio is going to be the last episode we release this week, so everybody gets to hear the first chapter.
And the beginning of the book is wonderful. It’s funny. It’s irreverent. It’s powerful.
So, I hope you will share it with someone.
I like it a lot. It’s one of my favorite stories in the book, for sure.
So, the hardest moments of 2020 … makes me cry. I lost my dad.
And so many people.
It was May 5th. Just the anxiety, the uncertainty, the unknown, the loss. I had to close our New York clinic for a couple of weeks. We had one of our young employees on a ventilator. So, when people go, “Oh, it’s just like the flu.”
And she was 30 years old.
No, it’s not like the flu.
For some people, it is, and for others, it’s not.
I mean, for some people they don’t even know they have it, but for the wrong people and not always who you think. Not always people who are obese or diabetic or hypertensive. She was a relatively healthy young woman and ended up on a ventilator, so that was really hard not knowing if I’d get a message in the middle of the night that she’d passed away.
So, I mean, thank God she’s back to work, but that was really hard. But one of the things that got me through … when this happened, I knew it was going to be historically bad. I asked myself this one question. “Are you going to be proud of yourself and how you act? As a leader of Amen Clinics and my own family, are you going to be proud when this is over?” So, all the decisions I made weren’t just based on the fear and the anxiety of the moment. They were based on, “How am I going to come out of this thing?”
Yeah. I think the hardest part for me, the actual virus itself. I’m a nurse. Yes, I was nervous about it. But I’m like, I dealt with necrotizing fasciitis and all these crazy flesh-eating bacterias and MRSA and whatever in the hospital. And I thought, “Okay, it’s just another one we have to deal with and figure out how to do it.” So, I didn’t feel as freaked out by that. I got really triggered by all the social and political uprising and upheaval because it triggered me and I didn’t expect that. So, it was unexpected because it made me feel very unsafe like my childhood did. I never felt safe early in my childhood and, all of a sudden, I had that very unsafe feeling again. So, the unexpected, the unknown, the uncertainty.
So, you and I were a little mismatched in that because the virus really had you kind of freaked out and that had me freaked out. But I think a couple of things that really helped me get through, one, knowing that I had to hold it together because of the kids that I had to be the example because your kids don’t do what you say. They do what you do. So, that was one. I didn’t have a choice because I wanted to be a good example. And the other one is you because rather than just going, “That’s so ridiculous. Why are you acting this way?” Which I think is what so many people do when they’re mismatched. You would do things that would really let me know, even though you didn’t agree with me always, you’d see me and let me know you saw me. So little things like, just really helping me prepare, helping me even if it’s not something that you totally agreed with.
And that really settled me. When I said, “I want to go look for property somewhere out of state,” you were like, “Okay, as soon as things settle down, we can travel. We’ll do that.” And I know you did not actually mean it, but you said it and you helped me. You settled me down, you know what I mean? So, “I want a big piece of property with dogs” and you’re like, “Yeah, okay honey.” And you’re just going to help me get through it.
Other hard moments is reacting to people where their anxiety really took over and how to help them. I dealt with so many patients who had this mismatched anxiety. One would just say the virus was nonsense. The other one that-
They’re ready to leave that person-
Wouldn’t go out of their house and is wiping down all the bags and so on.
So, there’s the, “Well, how do you help people see the other person and not blow up relationships?” I also discovered who I could go to war with.
Right. I’d go to war with you.
I was an infantry medic and war was a real thing for me. And I was also an army psychiatrist. It’s sort of knowing who you can trust under stress. It was really important.
I’d go to war with you.
Yeah, no, I’ll go to war with you too, because you’re a badass.
I’m prepared. I’m a little overprepared, but still.
But if you don’t have people you’d go to war with, how can you create a new group? Ultimately, brain warriors are leaders. That’s why we do this podcast. We want to arm you, prepare you-
That’s how you avoid a fight.
And make you aware to help win the fight of your life. So many people during the pandemic actually gave themselves permission to hurt themselves, to just retire from being brain warriors, right? Drank too much, smoked a lot of pot.
Let their minds just go wild.
Ate the wrong food, didn’t discipline your mind, lost your sense of purpose. And we really want as we go into 2021 guide you to get back on the right path. I mean, with that level of stress, we clearly understand why you’d sort of fall off the wagon. Understand that, but be curious about it. “Okay. It was a reaction to a lot of stress.” Not furious. Don’t attack yourself and then let’s start doing the right things. And I think that’s just so important. So, I know all of you’ve had hard times. This has been a hard time, but I still love the piece from CS Lewis that he wrote in 1848 when it came to the atomic bomb because people were already freaked out about the atomic bomb like they’re freaked out about COVID-19 and he’s like, “Well, why are you upset just because the scientists have found yet another way for you to have a terrible, painful death when death was a certainty all along and Oh, by the way, most of us are going to die in frightening ways?”
Thank you for that. On that note.
So, why was 2020 terrible for you? But more importantly, what did you learn?
What did you learn?
What did you learn and how can 2021 be better because of the stress you went through? That’s something we’ve talked a lot about before on this program called post-traumatic growth. What is it you can learn? How are your relationships better, your deepest sense of meaning and purpose? What can you give to the world based on what you learned?
Right. And just as a gift, not only is my new book coming out this week, and so as the final episode of this week, we are releasing chapter one in audio, so please share it with someone. But if you take a screenshot of this, The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child.
So, hold it there for like 10 seconds so they can do that.
So, if you can take a screenshot and you tag 10 friends and you share it. I have to put some kind of a time limit on this. If you share it sometime in January, I will send you a copy, a signed copy. So, tag 10 friends, take a screenshot, send it to me, and I will send you a signed copy in January.
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