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Peer Pressure: How to Avoid Getting Burned by the Bully Dragons

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast
The way we treat and are treated by our peers has a profound effect on us. Our bullies can leave us doubting ourselves or questioning our own worth, but is it true that “Hurt people hurt people”? In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Daniel and Tana Amen discuss the ‘Friends / Popular Kids / Mean Girls / Bullies Dragon’ and the effect the internet is having on this generation’s children.
 
For more info on Dr. Daniel Amen’s new book, “Your Brain is Always Listening”, visit https://yourbrainisalwayslistening.com/
 

 

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.

            Welcome back. We are talking about dragons. Today we are talking about friends, popular kids, mean girls, and bullies. Oh boy. I think most of us know something about one of these.

            I mean, we all know about friends. But most of us know something about the popular kids, the mean girls and boys at some point in our lives.

            Even if you were one of the popular kids or mean girls or a bully, it’s hard to keep that position. You have to do a lot to stay there. And it can be pretty painful, pretty challenging.

Daniel Amen, MD:

So I want you to think about your life. How have the other children around you, when you were growing up, impacted what you believe about yourself?

            Your friends, the popular kids, the mean girls, the bullies. Many people have been bullied, and it’s actually worse now than it’s ever been.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Yeah. Because the internet. [crosstalk [00:01:54]

Daniel Amen, MD:

… the internet. Even our niece was shamed on the internet. I mean, really. She’s eight years old, and this craziness is going on. So part of the thoughts you have-

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

We get it all the time.

Daniel Amen, MD:

… voices in your head are from these categories growing up. I just want you to think: What has been the influence, of the other children and the other teenagers when you were growing up, on your development?

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Yeah.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Because they’re often telling you you’re less than they are. And they do that as a way to build themselves up.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

But if you already have certain insecurities; even if you don’t; but if you already have certain insecurities and you already felt a little bit of that; it pushes on a wound from the past. Boy, that can really trigger a lot of pain and a lot of problems that can set you up going forward.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Did you write about it?

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

I did.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Relentless courage of a scared child when you changed schools in high school?

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

I did. It was miserable. It was awful. I did write about it.

Daniel Amen, MD:

So talk about it a little bit.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

School was not fun for me. I was the dorky, skinny, weird, bookworm nerdy kid when I was young. Then all of a sudden; I know this is super unusual and weird and odd; but my middle-school years became really good.

            I worked my way out of that place, became a cheerleader. So seventh, eighth, ninth grade were actually great years for me. I finally made friends. I figured out school, I really liked school. But another thing happened: I developed really young.

            We didn’t have the internet back then. People weren’t doctoring their photos. Every girl you saw didn’t look like they were overdeveloped. It happened really fast and it shocked me, but I had my support system. It was okay. Because I had the support system of girls. I looked older than I was, but it was okay.

            But then we moved. We moved at the end of my 10th-grade year. And it wasn’t okay anymore. I think if I had had a different type of support system, if I had had more confidence, I would have handled it totally differently. But I didn’t have that.

            And so because of my own insecurities from the past, and my own lack of support, I didn’t know how to handle all of these changes happening with me, as well as the girls that were … not just girls, boys … talking about me. And I just crumbled. I went into this shell of myself and I was bullied. I was really bullied.

            You don’t just get bullied because you’re overweight or because you think you aren’t attractive. Girls that are overdeveloped or look a certain way … that for whatever reason you don’t fit in; for any reason; you can get bullied.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Well, and if you’re really pretty; you were, are really pretty; it makes a lot of girls feel very insecure. Like you’re going to take their boyfriend.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Oh, I got labeled as a slut. I mean, I didn’t even know these people. It was pretty crazy.

Daniel Amen, MD:

How did you get labeled as a slut?

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

I don’t know. Some guy I never met said that I slept with him. It was all over school. And I was like, “What?” I didn’t know anybody. It was so crazy.

            So I just literally went into a shell within myself. I became very depressed. I remember walking around school with my books in front of me and not talking to anyone. I hated school.

Daniel Amen, MD:

And the biggest influence for teenagers is actually not their parents. It’s their friends. We all have the idea that, “Oh, everybody else has this perfect life. And our life is terrible.”

            What teenagers don’t understand; actually, what most adults don’t understand; is that most people suffer.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

We aren’t unique.

Daniel Amen, MD:

And most people, the average number of dragons from the past that people have is six. That’s the average.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

And none of our thoughts are unique when we’re in pain. Everyone’s had painful thoughts. But it’s interesting; because if you help your kids develop coping skills; like, we raised Chloe so differently. She’s been bullied at school, but she handles it so differently because she’s got a different level- [crosstalk [00:06:26]

Daniel Amen, MD:

… and she knows that she’s with friends.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

… but she’s got a different level of confidence. How she handles herself is radically different. How she handles situations that happen at school is just so different from how I did. She doesn’t crumble.

            So you can help your kids with this. You can help yourself with this by developing these coping skills; these strategies.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Yeah. Because I remember for me, I was the smallest in my class, and I got teased about that. But it caused me to always look to be a peacekeeper-

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

And you’re funny.

Daniel Amen, MD:

… because I wasn’t going to win a fight. I was not going to win a fight.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

So you de-escalated, right?

Daniel Amen, MD:

So I de-escalated situations.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Were you always class clown?

Daniel Amen, MD:

No. I don’t think people would have labeled me as the class clown.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Because you’re really funny. Oh, but you were a flirt.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Well, in college I actually got voted Most Friendly. What was on the ballot, though, was Biggest Flirt.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Right.

Daniel Amen, MD:

But Gloria Carlson also got voted Biggest Flirt, and she hated that.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

That’s so funny.

Daniel Amen, MD:

So they changed the award to Most Friendly. So yes, I have this curse.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Yeah.

Daniel Amen, MD:

I’m not a flirt.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

You can be.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Yeah, I have that skill. But I’m not, because I’m taken. Under the pain of death, according to you.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

I’ve never said that. I just said, “Till death do us part.”

Daniel Amen, MD:

So how have friends, popular kids, mean girls … and why are people mean?

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Their own insecurities. Well, I really believe this: When people are mean, it really has very little to do with you.  Has very little to do with you. It has to do with them.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Because they’re mean girls now.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Right. It has very little to do-

Daniel Amen, MD:

On the internet.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

But it has- [crosstalk [00:08:30]

Daniel Amen, MD:

I mean, we’ll talk about internet trolls coming up.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Even like some of the reviews that you and I get, or the internet trolls that we get, they’re saying things that they don’t know anything about. So it really has nothing to do with us. It has to do with them.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Well-

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Their own life experience.

Daniel Amen, MD:

And early on. When I went another way than my colleagues and said, “Hey, if you don’t look, you don’t know. You should be looking at the brain. Why don’t we scan the brain?” I was bullied.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

You still are. Sometimes.

Daniel Amen, MD:

But I don’t pay attention to it. And when I don’t pay attention to it, I feel just fine. But when I pay attention to it, I know that that hurt can light a fire, and I can get pretty angry.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Well, and that stuff used to really get to me. But my strategy now is when I see something like that … I had someone actually leave a review and say that basically everything I wrote about my life had to have been a lie because … I don’t even know why, but it [crosstalk [00:09:37] had to be a lie.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Somebody has that much drama?

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Yeah. I was like, my life isn’t even that dramatic, compared to some of the people I know. I mean, I almost didn’t write it because I’m like, “It’s not that big of a deal.” I wasn’t chained to a radiator. I wasn’t whatever. I wasn’t sex trafficked, like some of the people that …

            But, the point being, this person doesn’t know me. And so my strategy is to stop and go, “Okay. It has nothing to do with me. It has to do with that person, that person’s life experience. It has nothing to do with me. It has to do with where that person is coming from. What you think of me is none of my business. And it obviously has nothing to do with me.”

Daniel Amen, MD:

Yeah. Unless they’re hurting you. Then you have to ask for help.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Oh yeah, no; you have to draw boundaries. Drawing boundaries is okay. But if [crosstalk [00:10:24] it’s something you can ignore, ignore it.

Daniel Amen, MD:

… conflict for parents. If they notice their children are being bullied, how much to step in, and when.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Because if you’re not careful, your kids will get bullied more. Right? There’s always this balance. You always want to teach your kids to be able to stand up for themselves.

            If you’re able to coach them; if it’s something that it’s not dangerous, and if you’re able to coach them to be able to do it for themselves.

            If it’s something they can handle by themselves, they should. Because you want to teach them the skill to be able to do that in life.

            If it gets to a point where you can see that they can’t handle it by themselves; you can see that this is out of control; you need to step in. I mean, there’s a point where it’s too much.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Yeah. I mean, that’s why God gave us parents.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Right.

Daniel Amen, MD:

To be our frontal lobes until ours develop. But if you do too much, they don’t develop the skill.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Right, and you can make it worse.

Daniel Amen, MD:

So: What have you learned about friends, popular kids, mean girls, bullies? The big thing for me is hurt people hurt people. It that when people are awful to others, something may be going on in their brain, or in their family.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Right.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Or in their own mind that causes that. It’s not all about you. Behavior is way more complicated than most people think.

            We hope this is helpful. When we come back, we’ll talk about more of the dragons. The they, them, and other dragons. Stay with us.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

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. 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 interested in coming to Amen Clinics, use the code PODCAST10 to get a 10% discount on a full evaluation at amenclinics.com. For more information, give us a call at 855-978-1363.