Is Your Communication Style Sabotaging Your Life?

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

Many of us are frustrated when our relationships don’t give us what we want. However, this failure is usually due to a faulty approach in our own methods of communication. In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen pull material from Dr. Amen’s brand-new book, Feel Better Fast and Make It Last, to teach us effective communication strategies such as assertiveness, time management, and personal inquiry.


Read Full Transcript

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 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 Warrior's Way Podcast.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome back. We're talking about attachments, and I'm totally attached to you, and we're talking about relating. We've talked about responsibility, empathy, listening, and the A in relating is assertive.
Tana Amen: I like this one.
Dr. Daniel Amen: This is so important.
Tana Amen: It is, and I like this. It's really interesting. I practice martial arts, and one of the first things that you would think that this wouldn't be an issue, but it is because what they really emphasize in martial arts, believe it or not, is not being aggressive. Not being aggressive and learning to transform your aggression, especially a lot of the men or women who have been assaulted, transforming aggression into assertiveness, because aggression lacks the proper ... So you become over emotional and you're not thinking. But when you can transform that into being assertive instead of aggressive, now you can think properly.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And we ultimately teach other people how to treat us. So if we give in whenever someone gets angry, were not teaching them to be angry in order to get their way. I think that, because I'm also a child psychiatrist, is what do you do when a child has a tantrum?
Tana Amen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Daniel Amen: If you give in to the tantrum, short term, feel better fast, but it clearly doesn't last. What you're doing is creating a monster.
Tana Amen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Daniel Amen: You're creating someone who will have tantrums over and over to get their way. The rule in our house is if you have a tantrum to get your way, what that means automatically-
Tana Amen: No.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... All the time, forever, you're not getting your way.
Tana Amen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Daniel Amen: We're not training people to have behavior that's out of control. Now, if you do really good parenting and they're still out of control, you should scan, because maybe they've had a head injury or they have some sort of toxic exposure, something. That's why I want you to take this relating stuff in the whole context of feel better fast brain, rational mind. But assertiveness is so important.
Tana Amen: You've kind of got assertiveness in the middle, and you've got this passive side on one side of the spectrum, and you've got aggression on the other side. You don't want to be passive and you don't want to be aggressive. Assertiveness is right in the middle.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right, and just know, we teach other people how to treat us by what we accept, by what we allow. Five simple rules, and there's much more of this in the book. Don't give in to the anger of others just because it makes you uncomfortable. Anxious people do this a lot. They're so anxious that they agree in order to avoid tension. Unfortunately, it teaches the other people to bully you. Two, say what you mean and stick up for what you believe. Three, always maintain self control. Being angry, mean, or aggressive is not assertive. And four, probably the most important thing, be firm and kind.
Tana Amen: Right. This is a mantra in our house, and it's not just a mantra with parenting, this is something now that we teach ... That we actually constantly repeat to Chloe, the 15 year old, when she's dealing with issues with friends, when she's dealing with issues with school, when she's dealing with issues ... Any conflict. It's like, she's like, "Well what should I do?" What is the thing you can do that is the most firm and kind thing you can say? Firm and kind. Draw your boundary in a firm and kind way. How can you do it without being mean, but be very firm.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Yeah, and when you're firm, you're honest at the same time.
Tana Amen: Right. It's a mantra.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And then the last thing, be assertive only when it's necessary. If you assert yourself all the time from important issues, you'll be perceived as controlling, which then invites oppositional behavior. Especially for our over focused people.
The T in relating is time, actually, physical time. Don't you think we do better when we have more time together?
Tana Amen: Oh, of course.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And so there's an exercise that I give to my parents, it's called special time. Spend 20 minutes day with your child, do something that they want to do, and during that time, no commands, no questions, no [crosstalk 00:05:16].
Tana Amen: It just occurred to me that I don't have that issue with Chloe. I spend a lot of time with her. But because we're so busy, and when you're traveling and you're doing your book tours and whatever, that we do that 20 minutes of special time. It's just pretty funny. The point being that when we don't have a lot of time together, we try to make the time we have very focused, right? It's try to be present and focus on what you're actually doing and saying, and connect, actually connect.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right. If your relationships are not what you want them to be, and that could be at work, or it could be with your spouse, or it could be with your children, try to have more actual physical time with them. Sometimes that means cutting out things that are not as important to you.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: The I in relating is inquiring. It's really eliminating the ants that steal your happiness, and they're rampant in relationships. He never listens to me. Write that down. It's the little lies we tell ourselves about other people that often put unnecessary wedges between us.
Tana Amen: Right. So you're really inquiring about the truth.
Dr. Daniel Amen: The N is notice what you like more than what you don't like. I mean, it's how you shape behavior. It's how you taught us to close cabinet doors, because Tana never met a cabinet door she wanted to close, and she's so smart she taught our white shepherd to close the [inaudible 00:06:52]. We have a great video of this. It's amazing, you know? How do you train animals? It's positive reinforcement. How do we train our spouse? Usually negative reinforcement, which means it's not going to go well. Notice what you like more than what you don't like.
Tana Amen: Oh my gosh, I've gotten him doing so many things for me in the morning by doing this.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I feed the dog, I feed the cat, I make your coffee-
Tana Amen: Make my coffee, make my breakfast,
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... I make your second cup.
Tana Amen: Make my breakfast.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I make your breakfast.
Tana Amen: It's amazing. It's amazing what you can accomplish with positive reinforcement.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And the G in relating is grace and forgiveness. It's so important.
Tana Amen: We, as a society, are beginning to lack this, and it's kind of sad.
Dr. Daniel Amen: When we come back, I'm going to give you the reach model of forgiveness. Stay with us.
Thank you for listening to The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. Go to iTunes and leave a review and you'll automatically be entered into a drawing to get a free signed copy of The Brain Warrior's Way and The Brain Warrior's Way Cookbook we give away every month.