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Spring is in the air, and with it comes the urge to clean and reorganize our environments for the coming year. But it’s not just your bedroom or your closet that benefits from a spring cleaning. Cleaning your mind can be one of the most beneficial ways to set yourself up for success and happiness for the rest of the year. In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen give you practical tips to give your brain a proper spring cleaning.
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 BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to BrainMD.com.
Hey everybody. We are so excited to be with you. And this week, we’re going to talk about spring cleaning for your mind.
Take out the trash.
Take out the trash. And, the number one strategy to take out the trash is sleep, because when you sleep, your brain cleans or washes itself. It actually opens up new, it’s called a glymphatic system, a fluid system that goes to work washing your brain. It also helps to integrate memories and what happened during the day.
And yet we have time change, which robs us of-
Oh, my goodness.
I’m still adjusting.
It’s like mass jet lag.
For no good reason.
It’s sort of like the appendix. It’s a remnant that’s left over from something in the past. It had some function that it doesn’t. But, before we get to spring cleaning your mind, do you want to read angel.Joe?
Yes. Let’s see here. I am so thankful I found this podcast. I really wish I had the ability to go to one of the clinics. I’ve suffered so much with “mental illness”, quote/unquote, for as long as I can remember. Medication after medication after medication. Provider after provider. Suicidal ideation. Different diagnoses. I feel like I have no emotion being on medication. I look forward to listening to the entire series and reading your books, and hopefully finding a way out and finding me. Not sure if it will be possible to come off these medications, or if I can find a good psychiatrist in my area, but now I have hope. I’m so sad. That’s by angel.Joe.
So, angel.Joe, you’ll be a winner of either my book, Your Brain is Always Listening, or Tana’s, The Relentless Courage of the Scared Child. You just have to write us, let us know which one you want. We’ll sign them and send them off to you.
So, spring cleaning for your mind. Where do you think thoughts come from?
Well, I think some of them are kind of random. They’re spontaneous based on your surroundings, and we just allow them to sort of take over.
Well, I was thinking about that today, where thoughts come from. And then I thought about our three girls, and I’m sure they’re written in your genetic code from the traumas-
Oh, for sure.
… And experiences of your ancestral groups. We have talked about the ancestral dragon. So, I was thinking [Brianne [00:03:48], our oldest daughter, when she was little, she was hiding behind my leg whenever somebody would new come around. So, she had fearful thoughts without anything really to be afraid of. There were not significant traumatic experiences. And then her sister, Caitlin, as soon as somebody would come by, she’d wave and say, hi, my name’s Caitlin. And-
She’s still kind of that way.
And Chloe came out-
I’m the leader, I’m the boss. Like, everything. And she’s still that way.
And had 12-word sentences when she was two.
Right? And it’s interesting. So, thoughts come from your genes, from your parents.
Are you saying she got that from me?
I’m a leader on the bus is pretty close. But, thoughts also come from how healthy your brain is.
Because when you don’t sleep, you are more likely to have an ant infestation.
Oh, there’s no question.
I woke up at [4:30] this morning for no good reason, and my brain started to spin on all the things. That just happens. What I do when that happens, I had to keep reminding myself, broom start sweeping them away. Then another one would come in. Broom, sweep it away. Another one would come in. But, it happens though. They start to-
You have to think of spring cleaning, broom-
Taking out the trash.
Sweep it away. Broom, sweep it away. That’s really great strategy. Thoughts all still come from the news you listen to.
Yeah, I know. I stopped.
It comes from the music and the lyrics you listen to. It comes from your mother’s voice, from your father’s voice, even if they’re dead. You still have their voice in your head approving of you or disapproving of you. It comes from the mean girls that you experienced in high school, and that I experienced because I have five sisters. It comes from just teachers and coaches.
And so, what’s really important to understand, is you are not your thoughts. You are not your mind, that you don’t have to own them. And I tell this to my patients over and over and over and over and over and over again. It’s not the thoughts you have that make you suffer. It’s the thoughts you attach to that may make you suffer.
We did this great evaluation of Jessimae Peluso in the clinic yesterday. She’s a comedian and I had done her podcast. And we’d agreed I’d evaluate her and we’d film it. So, it’s going to be public. And, just like you, in the middle of the night. Her mom died in November, and it’s like the demon thoughts attack her. We changed those in [inaudible [00:07:20], and I gave her a little anteater just to remind her not to believe every stupid thing she thinks. And, the thought was basically what I think so many people worry about. It’s no one will love me.
And so, one way you clean your mind, is you write down your negative thoughts. In Your Brain is Always Listening, there’s an exercise on write down a hundred of your worst thoughts, and then challenge them. And the way that we teach you, with five questions from Byron Katie’s work. It’s just so powerful.
Right. I think that’s been one of the most helpful things for me in overcoming my past, is challenging my thoughts.
Yeah. And then, you will spring clean your mind. It will smell right. It will look right. It will give you energy. And, I know during the pandemic, a lot of people, because they just had more time at home, clean. Right? Didn’t we do that for-
Every cabinet, yeah.
And then we did it again.
And then again. When I talk about spring cleaning for your mind, what other things come to mind for you?
I like the challenging your thoughts. I like, for me, using the broom analogy and just sort of sweeping. I think being present. We get so busy and we don’t pay attention. And being present and paying attention, I think also to how we interact with others. So, noticing how we interact with others. I think being aware of intention is really important, because sometimes people don’t say what they mean. There’s something else behind what’s going on with them. I think we react. So, maybe not reacting and paying attention. What’s the intention going on? It’s important. I think this is a really important thing.
If you’ve got kids, you know what I’m talking about. Your kids don’t always say what they mean. They use code all the time. But, they want a reaction from you. They want to know, am I loved, am I this, am I that, whatever. But, they don’t say it that way and they can be pretty triggering. So, stepping back and not reacting, but paying attention to their intentions is important. Because it’s hard. It’s triggering.
We talked about if your mind is messy, that journaling the thoughts, challenging the thoughts is so important. But, part of it comes from the brain that’s struggling.
Coming up soon I’m going to tell you about a happiness study that we did at Amen Clinics. It’s a big deal. We have scanned 500 people, and we have their Oxford happiness questionnaire. And, if your brain’s not healthy, you’re not healthy. So, part when we come back, part of spring cleaning your mind is also spring cleaning your cabinets, in the kitchen.
Yeah. And I think what I was trying to say, and what’s really important right now, especially all you ca do is just turn on the news, which don’t. Don’t do that. But, you know what I’m talking about. Or, look at social media and you see everyone reacting to everyone. And I think what I’m trying to get at with that is, when people say something to you or about you, it’s rarely about you. It’s about them. It’s about what’s going on with them. So, that’s what I’m trying to get at is, step back and realize that a lot of what’s going on around you, or what you’re hearing, is not about you. It’s about what’s going on with another person. If you can step back and be present and ask yourself, oh, I wonder why that person is saying that. I wonder why these people are saying that, it will change how you react.
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