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Dr Daniel and Tana Amen talk about how relationships naturally change over time and how balancing brain chemistry can help significantly.
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.
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.
The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast is also brought to you by Brain MD, 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 happiness and relationships, and we’ve been talking about does it have eternal value? How do you make your relationships happier? And I just love this topic. So, I think before we dig in, you’ve got a couple of reviews.
I do. Susan in Denver, “Who knew the podcast is full of insightful wisdom for a variety of aspects you might not connect to bring help to relationships. So refreshing to know they’re looking into new ways to diagnose and treat various brain issues. I love it.” Well, thank you so much. So, we’re in the middle of our happiness challenge when we are filming this, and this week we’re really focused on secret neuroscience, secret number seven, which is live your life every day based on clearly defined values, purpose and goals. And the question is, does it fit? Does my behavior today fit the goals I have for my life?
Does my eating fit? Does my sleeping fit? Do the comments I make to my spouse fit? Or the comments I make to my children when I teach parenting? The very first thing I do is I have parents write down what kind of parent do you want to be? And what kind of child do you want to raise? It’s so important.
But that’s important in relationships, too. It’s like, what kind of partner do I want to be? And what kind of partner do I want to have? And in the last episode we talked about, I made a comment, the Byron Katie phrase that I love, “Defense is the first act of war,” that doesn’t mean not to have boundaries. In fact, if you are clear about your boundaries and they’re attached to your values, you don’t really need to fight because if people continuously violate your boundaries, there’s no fighting. It’s just this isn’t working, right? So, defense is the first act of war, I think, actually makes you happier. You’re clear about what you need and want. And you don’t need to because that’s what I think brings unhappiness.
So what about, because people change, what you said just made me think. So, people get married in their twenties or maybe early thirties, later than when my parents got married when they were 18 and 20, and their hormones were healthier. And then stress, starting a business, starting a job, having a baby or two, and the hormones are now all over the place. And one person’s really interested in sex, the other person’s not interested at all in sex, and it can go either way. I’ve seen it with husbands and wives go either way. And then, all of a sudden people are feeling lost, disconnected, and even though they want to be close, one person is pushing the other person away and there’s loneliness and distance and unhappiness. That’s why all seven of these secrets are so important. Right? In secret number two you’ve got to get your brain right. And if your hormones aren’t right, your brain’s not right. Right? So, you just wonder how many people are suffering in their relationships. I mean, what do you say about progesterone?
Oh, I’d be on the evening news without it. And not everyone can take it, I understand that. But just for me, it really, really helps. It’s sort of like your brain’s natural Valium. So, it really makes a difference for me. It takes the edge off and I’ve needed it for about 12 years now. When I went into peri-menopause, I just felt it. I felt that edginess, that prickliness come out at certain times of the month.
It’s a good point because what a lot of people don’t know is about a decade before women go into menopause, about a decade, their progesterone level starts to drop and then they become prickly. They become anxious, they have trouble sleeping and they start drinking more and they start using antidepressants more and they start using sleeping pills more-
But they’re not fixing the actual issue.
But they’re not actually fixing the actual issue. And so, as we talk about developing clear goals in relationships, if you’re rolling your eyes at us and go, “Well, he won’t touch me,” or “She’s shut me out,” getting your hormones checked, getting your brain healthy, we think of hormones like Miracle-Gro for your brain, is just so essential. If you come together and we recommend this and develop the one-page miracle for your relationship, what do we want?
What do you want?
What do we want? And I’ve always been so grateful to you because you’re very affectionate with me. And I know sometimes it’s when you don’t feel like it, but it’s because our relationship is at the top of the list.
And that’s the thing, because especially when you’re going through all these changes with your hormones and it’s crazy, but if you know what you want… because if you want to be divorced, then okay, then behave like that and it’s fine and you’re going to end up probably divorced. If you don’t want to be divorced, if you know you want to have a good relationship, you want to have a close relationship, there are things you do in your relationship because you know it’s going to bring you closer. There are things you do that you do because you want to have a good relationship. You do them because it’s an investment in your relationship. And it’s really important to be clear about what you want.
And not being driven by your impulses.
Or just because you have these random feelings.
Just because you have a thought, it has nothing to do with whether or not it’s true or whether or not it’s helpful. And so, staying purposeful, helpful, and it’s not what other people want. I mean, this is really important when we have people develop their goals based on values and purpose. It’s not my goals for you. I mean, yes, I want everybody to have a healthy brain, but it’s really what do you want and is your behavior going to get you what you want? So, if you want a healthy body, is the ice cream every night, a bowl or two, going to get you what you want? Probably not. And so, then you need to build a new habit. This summer, I think it’s going to start July 15th, we’re going to do an eliminating bad habits challenge, it’s so exciting-
I like that. That’s a good one.
… about that, but it always starts with what do you want and does it fit? I just love that phrase. I remember Jose, the sex addict I saw from the Dr. Phil Show, and he cheated on his wife four times, no, eight times in the four years they’d been together. And I remember what Dr. Phil said, he said, “My dad said if you see a rat, there’s probably 50 more of them behind the wall.” Anyways, this is one of the very first things I got him to say, “Does it fit?” He wanted to be married and he was really clear, “I don’t want my children growing up in a broken home like I grew up in a broken home.” And so we planted does it fit? And two words that go with that, then what? If I do this, then what happens? If I say this, then what happens? And he was able to remain faithful to his wife. I’m just so proud of him. These strategies can help you. So, what else comes to mind when it comes to eternal value in relationships?
Well, I think we’ve talked about saying I’m sorry, which I think is really important. People get so stuck on their pride and not being able to, they have to be right or they can’t admit that they’re wrong about something. And the question is why? Why? Why do people need to be right? Why do they need to stick to something when they know it’s not helpful or it’s not right?
Why do they need to say, “I told you so.”?
Well, that’s a little different, but anyways.
We were playing with that last night, and I went, “Oh, that a narcissist.”
It’s like when you tell someone something’s going to happen and they just don’t listen, it’s like, but I told you that was going to happen. It’s like a parenting thing almost. It’s like-
I told you so could be a habit.
Yeah, it’s a habit. It’s a bad habit. So anyways, yeah, but being able to say I’m sorry, I think, it’s one thing that just ends an argument so fast. It can end an argument so quickly.
Wait, wait, wait, wait, are you saying that the person that says I’m sorry-
Has the power has the power.
Has the power-
Has the power.
… to control?
They hold on and they don’t do it because they think they’re giving up power when in fact they’re the one with the power, because they can end the relationship.
Have you ever been wrong in your life?
Many times, many times.
Yeah, me too.
Yeah, and it’s very freeing to say it. It’s very freeing to go, “All right. I screwed up.”
Would you, those of you listening, are there decisions in your life that you would make differently with the information you have now? And I think everybody will go, “Heck yes.”
Yes and no.
Well, there’s a whole bunch I would’ve made different now, then I wouldn’t maybe be here with you.
It’s just that I like who I am now.
Yes, and I like who I am, most of the time. But of course I would make big decisions differently.
I made bonehead decisions when I was young.
And if you’re mature enough to admit that, then it’s okay to say I’m sorry, because all of us, everybody I know, has made mistakes. And when the person says sorry, and they mean it, you become human. You become more easy to relate to and holding on to having to be right, it’s part of this political divide we live in and it’s toxic.
We can do better. I want you to do better in your relationships. Stay with us.
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