In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen wrap up their discussion on the impact of words, and then reach into the mailbag to answer some listeners’ questions, which tackle such subjects as getting over grief, and how to help children make the necessary transitions as they depart for college.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to The Brain Warrior's Way podcast, I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: 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.
Dr. Daniel Amen: 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: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is also brought to you by brainMD, where we produce the highest quality [nutra-suitables 00:00:42] to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to brainmd.com.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome back. The words you use, matter. When I was a very young psychiatrist, I wrote a book called The Sabotage Factor, which is all the ways we mess ourselves up from getting what we want. The number one, the most important way people sabotage themselves is they use blaming words. They blame other people for how their life is turning out. When you do that, it completely disempowers you, you become a victim, you can't change anything, and the world is a terrible place to live. When we stop blaming and take responsibility, it doesn't mean it's our fault, it means it's our ability to respond, your world will get so much better.
Now, of course, you have to have a brain that works right, hardware and software;get your brain right, and then the strategies with words, they're really programming your brain to get you what you want.
Tana Amen: If you think about it, every action, whether it's good or bad, starts with the words you tell yourself to do. I had a conversation with my sister who's recovering from addiction, and I said to her, I go, "I'm so confused about this. I'm so confused about how is there not a point right before you took the first... before you... The very first time you did drugs, was there not a moment that you said, 'This is not a good idea.' What made you say, 'This is a good idea. I'm going to become an addict.' Like, 'This is a good idea'"?
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, she didn't think she was going to become an addict.
Tana Amen: In my mind, that's what it would feel like and-
Dr. Daniel Amen: Because you are anxious. But that is appropriate because there's a difference between healthy anxiety and toxic anxiety.
Tana Amen: But you've just made my point. My point is, my language, because of whatever it is that my background was said, "these are the words I say to myself." Basically it's because I had an uncle who was a heroin addict who overdosed twice and my other uncle was murdered. So-
Dr. Daniel Amen: Nobody in my family was an addict. When I first got offered marijuana, when I was in 10th grade, I'm like, "Are you nuts? That stuff could hurt you. I like me. Why would I alter me?" I was worried about losing control.
Tana Amen: Right. But my sister, when I said that to her, she goes, "What are you talking about? I never thought that. All I thought was, what can I try next?" I'm like... so do you see the problem? Her words: what can I try next? My words were: Oh, my God. That stuff is scary as hell. There you go.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And we now live in a society that has basically told all of us that-
Tana Amen: Drugs are fine.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... ecstasy and... we were at a movie premiere, which was phenomenal – we'll talk about Quiet Explosions [00:03:52] coming up – and this doctor came up to me and talked about-
Tana Amen: And MD.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... the temple of psychedelics that... and I'm like-
Tana Amen: He's trying to get psychedelics classed as legal.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, and they're using ketamine for depression, marijuana is legal in 31-
Tana Amen: I'm completely not a fan. But I'm not a fan of marijuana being legal. But that's not what this episode is about.
Dr. Daniel Amen: But it's the words you use that matter that then determine your behavior, which then can help you stay married, blow your marriage apart, help you be employed, help you make an amazing difference in the world, or ruin your life. So, get your brain right. What we're talking about with, the words you use matter, is it needs to be programmed to help you rather than hurt you.
Tana Amen: So we're going to read some questions. We're actually going to discuss the questions you send in. Our challenge to you today is, think about questions you want answered and post them at brainwarriorsway.com. Oh, no, brainwarriorswaypodcast.com. If you post your questions, once a week we read the... your questions and your answers. This one is: How long does it take to get over grief? By [Queenie Deanie 00:05:12].
"Excellent episode. I appreciate the conversational format with Dr. Amen and Tana. They share amazing perspectives, stories, analogies and insight to the subject of grief. I was thrilled that pet bereavement was mentioned and acknowledged. Thank you both for your amazing selfless contribution to brain health and overall wellbeing of others. There are so many other things you could be doing for yourselves, yet you continually choose to serve others. Thank you. How long does it take to get over grief?"
Dr. Daniel Amen: It depends. One rule of thumb I heard is, it takes about half the time of the relationship to be completely over it. So if you're married for 50 years-
Tana Amen: Oh, ouch.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... unless you really are keeping yourself healthy, it could take a while. Now, completely healing, may take a while, but a lot of people don't understand this concept that, when... grief is so stressful and so hurtful that the time to start healing from grief is right when it happens.
Tana Amen: The moment it happens.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right. If you break your leg, when's the time to start healing from it?
Tana Amen: Right then.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It's right then. Whether you need surgery or you need the bone set you need to do that-
Tana Amen: Yeah, why do people think they need to wait?
Dr. Daniel Amen: Because there is this notion that-
Tana Amen: It's good for you to suffer?
Dr. Daniel Amen: It's good for me.... not good. Good's the wrong word. It's necessary for me to suffer. Or that's how I respect the person or the animal that I lost. That's just a lie.
Tana Amen: Yeah. I don't understand that.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It doesn't honor the person for you to get depressed. It doesn't honor the person for you to do bad things-
Tana Amen: Because you're more likely to get sick.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... that you're more likely to do... now, I don't want you not feeling what you feel and not talking about-
Tana Amen: Right. Or numbing yourself with substances.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... what you feel. In Feel Better Fast and Make It Last, there's a whole section on grief because it's just such a common things we have seen over the years. I really like for people to journal during their grief. To write out the thoughts that are going through their head. Write out what happened. Write out the positive things about the person that you just miss desperately, and write out the negative things that you don't miss at all, just to get a balance of what is real, what is true.
Tana Amen: Yeah, we have this tendency to put people on a pedestal after the fact.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And idealize them. My grandmother did that. She was mean as a snake to my grandfather, I was not happy. I just remember, I was... because I loved my Grandfather, and I'm like, "Why do you talk to him like that?" It irritates me. And then she idealized him after he died. He was an awesome human being, but damn it, why didn't you treat him like he was an awesome human being?
Tana Amen: Yeah, that's funny. It takes... it really is different for everybody and probably part of it depends on how healthy you are going into the grief.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, that's absolutely right. And doing brain healthy things during grief, like exercising and eating well and working on your sleep can be so important.
Tana Amen: Yeah, interesting. So, grief. Let's see, the next question... need my glasses. This is by Teenagers, by RS 2000.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Talking about the words you use.
Tana Amen: "Thank you for the rich information you provide every day. I honestly wake up brain thirsty," I like that: brain thirsty, "to hear and learn more every day. I hope the information you share will help me be a better mom. I would like for you to address the struggles we have with our young adult children going to college and how to help guard them from the bad influences out there such as drinking, smoking, dueling et cetera. Thank you so much."
Dr. Daniel Amen: All right. So I have a thought. Don't let your child go away to college until he or she is mature enough to do that, until you're actually sort of confident that they're going to make a good decision. We have... if I was an evil ruler... and you're going to hear this concept a lot coming up over the next year, it's in my new book The End Of Mental Illness. I'm working on the script for the next public television special. If I was an evil ruler, I would take ADHD, impulsive children who-
Tana Amen: Kids without forethought.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... struggle with learning disabilities, and I would send them across the country to go to a college that has no supervision for the kids. If I was an evil ruler, and I wanted to increase the incidents of mental illness, I would send kids away-
Tana Amen: And just to add to that, we'd... and we would put a lot more pressure on them than need be for them to perform and go to these high level ivy league... anyway, I don't want to get into that. Let's see, pay for them to get into schools they shouldn't be going to to begin with. But that's a whole another discussion. I want to add to that. One of the things that the program Love and Logic was really helpful for me, in teaching me, with my daughter – and I'm glad I learned this at a very early age – is that, this is a discussion... this idea of, how do I help my kids when they go off to college, my young adult children? It has to start when they're very, very young.
That teaching them the responsibility for their health, for the outcome of their life, for... just being responsible in general for... like how they interact in society. By the time they're young adults, it's often too late. I love that I learned that because in Love and Logic he says, "Someone asked the question: when should I start." He said, "When your child can throw peas from their high chair." That was really the point. And he says, "Because by the time they are going to the mall with their friends and spending most of their time with friends after school, you have lost your ability to have the most influence on them." At that point, their friends begin to have more influence. You want as much influence when they're really little-
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right. But what if... because she probably has a teenager, and maybe has not done all of these things that we've done... because, still, I'm not sending Chloe to Florida for college.
Tana Amen: Well, Chloe doesn't want to go to Florida.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I know she doesn't.
Tana Amen: She wants to stay as close to home as possible.
Dr. Daniel Amen: But I wouldn't do it as a parent just because I... people don't get this idea, your brain is not finished developing until you're 25 for girls, and more like 28 for boys. So they need to be supervised until you're confident they can appropriately supervise themselves. I'll probably get hate mail, but I believe this: mental illnesses, serious mental illness like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia often happen during the first or second year of college. It's the stress of being away, not having the support and supervision that is involved in triggering mental illness and the terrible food. They call it the freshman 15 for a reason.
Tana Amen: And there's another topic which we'll talk about another time but, the red zone. September and October are the red zone in colleges. That is the most dangerous time for young women going to college because they've never been away from home, they don't know how to take care of themselves, and it is the number one time that girls get raped or abducted.
There's a whole bunch of stuff that goes into that. But, again, this is... I'm glad you addressed that for the person who wrote the question, but there's a lot of people listened. If you've got young kids, or young adolescents, you need to start now teaching them responsibility. The number one thing you can do is don't rescue them from consequences. That's what I learned. I didn't rescue Chloe from consequences. If she left homework at home, it stayed at home. I didn't take it to school.
Dr. Daniel Amen: If she didn't bring her lunch-
Tana Amen: It takes thirty days for kids to starve to death. She would be fine until she got home. If it was cold and she forgot a sweater, she had to sit in the classroom. That was the most important thing I did. It was hard. I wanted to help her. I didn't want to do that. As a parent, we are hardwired to protect our kids. But that isn't protecting them because the world isn't that kind, right? So, I wasn't protecting her by doing that. And what happened was, that child literally did those things one time, never did it again because she didn't like it. That's how she learned to be responsible.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I sent an email to one of my patients yesterday. It said, "Every time you protect your son from the dad," and the dad's completely appropriate, he's just firm, "Every time you protect your son from the dad, you decrease your son's ability to be strong and manage the situation."
Tana Amen: Yeah, it's emasculating.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So we think we're doing it because we love them. And what we're doing is we're actually making them incompetent.
Tana Amen: In fact Chloe... several people have thought I was a little hard on Chloe from the standpoint that I have made her fight her own battles early on. She's going into... she does acting and she does these things. She's going to Hollywood, that's like the lion's den. So even situations where she's had to deal with her agent or her manager, I won't deal with all of it.
If it's something she can't do, I will. But I make her actually stand up and use her voice and I will use those words. I'm like, "Sweetheart, if you want changes, use your voice." And I've been saying that to her since she was four. And I'll tell her, "Use your words." But it's like, "Use your voice. You've got a strong voice, you need to use it if you want to outcome that you want, stand up and make it happen because it's important."
Dr. Daniel Amen: So what's the one thing you learned from this episode? We would love for you to post it on any of your social media sites and #brainwarriorswaypodcast. Leave a review. Ask a question. We're going to start including a time each week when we answer questions. You can do that at brainwarriorswaypodcast.com. Thanks so much.
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