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Daniel Amen, MD:
Welcome to the Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast. I’m Dr. Daniel
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Yeah. Because the internet. [crosstalk [00:01:54]
… 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-
We get it all the time.
… 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?
Because they’re often telling you you’re less than they
are. And they do that as a way to build themselves up.
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.
Did you write about it?
Relentless courage of a scared child when you changed
schools in high school?
I did. It was miserable. It was awful. I did write about
So talk about it a little bit.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Oh, I got labeled as a slut. I mean, I didn’t even know
these people. It was pretty crazy.
How did you get labeled as a slut?
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
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.”
teenagers don’t understand; actually, what most adults don’t understand; is
that most people suffer.
We aren’t unique.
And most people, the average number of dragons from the
past that people have is six. That’s the average.
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]
… and she knows that she’s with friends.
… 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.
can help your kids with this. You can help yourself with this by developing
these coping skills; these strategies.
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
And you’re funny.
… because I wasn’t going to win a fight. I was not going
to win a fight.
So you de-escalated, right?
So I de-escalated situations.
Were you always class clown?
No. I don’t think people would have labeled me as the
Because you’re really funny. Oh, but you were a flirt.
Well, in college I actually got voted Most Friendly. What
was on the ballot, though, was Biggest Flirt.
But Gloria Carlson also got voted Biggest Flirt, and she
That’s so funny.
So they changed the award to Most Friendly. So yes, I have
I’m not a flirt.
You can be.
Yeah, I have that skill. But I’m not, because I’m taken.
Under the pain of death, according to you.
I’ve never said that. I just said, “Till death do us
So how have friends, popular kids, mean girls … and why
are people mean?
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
Because they’re mean girls now.
Right. It has very little to do-
On the internet.
But it has- [crosstalk [00:08:30]
I mean, we’ll talk about internet trolls coming up.
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.
Their own life experience.
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.
You still are. Sometimes.
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.
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.
Somebody has that much drama?
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
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.”
Yeah. Unless they’re hurting you. Then you have to ask for
Oh yeah, no; you have to draw boundaries. Drawing
boundaries is okay. But if [crosstalk [00:10:24] it’s something you can ignore,
… conflict for parents. If they notice their children
are being bullied, how much to step in, and when.
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.
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.
something they can handle by themselves, they should. Because you want to teach
them the skill to be able to do that in life.
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.
Yeah. I mean, that’s why God gave us parents.
To be our frontal lobes until ours develop. But if you do
too much, they don’t develop the skill.
Right, and you can make it worse.
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.
Or in their own mind that causes that. It’s not all about
you. Behavior is way more complicated than most people think.
this is helpful. When we come back, we’ll talk about more of the dragons. The
they, them, and other dragons. Stay with us.
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