Tana’s Most Important Life Lesson

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

This episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast wraps up our in-depth discussion on Tana Amen’s brand new memoir “The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child”, by reviewing many of the most important lessons and takeaways Tana has learned from her terrifying and traumatic ordeals. Tana and Dr. Daniel Amen go over such topics as self-care, boundaries, and behavior, as well as an insightful and touching little anecdote about pottery.

For more information on Tana’s new book, “The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child”, visit relentless courage.com

For info on Tana Amen’s upcoming free live virtual event, visit tanaamen.com/event

Daniel Amen, MD:            Welcome to the Brain Warrior’s Way podcast. I’m Dr. Daniel Amen.

Tana Amen, BSN …:          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 …:          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 on our last episode of this series. So, I’m super excited that you’ve joined us in the Relentless Courage series. It’s such a personal journey and it’s wonderful to have our tribe join me.

So, we’ve been talking about lessons from the book in this last week, and I think the last lesson that I really want to share with people that I write about in the book is, it’s really about self-care and boundaries.

But before we get too far down that road, I want to just share, I would love for you guys to look this up if you’re not familiar with it, my favorite form of art is kintsugi, K-I-N-T-S-U-G-I. Kintsugi. It’s a Japanese art form where they don’t throw away broken pottery. So, if pottery breaks, if it falls, it breaks, it shatters, they amend it with either platinum or gold. And they have these gold veins and platinum veins in it, and it’s all put back together. And they don’t think that it’s less valuable because of the breaks. They think that it’s more valuable because of the mending, because of those broken pieces. And so it’s in that mending that it becomes this beautiful piece of art.

And when I read that, it actually made me cry because I thought, “Wow. I mean, we spend so much time and energy hiding our shame, hiding our brokenness, hiding the things that we believe that are bad about ourselves or broken about ourselves.” When in fact, I believe God sees that as the beautiful parts of us, that if we give Him the chance to mend that… And it’s like, I believe that if we allow it, that we can all be so much better with God’s golden healing, golden mending, if you will.

Daniel Amen, MD:            Well, I think that’s one of the reasons I love this book so much because it’s really about turning your pain into purpose. And as a human being, you become this masterful piece of art that is really made up of many broken pieces.

And we’ve not told you how to pre-order the book. I mean, we’d love for you to pre-order the book. And if you go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble or anywhere great books are sold, and pre-order it-

Tana Amen, BSN …:          You can also go to relentlesscourage.com.

Daniel Amen, MD:            Well, if you pre-order the book, go to relentlesscourage.com, just put in your order number and you actually have a whole bunch of-

Tana Amen, BSN …:          Almost $500 worth of free gifts.

Daniel Amen, MD:            Free gifts. Tell them about the free gifts.

Tana Amen, BSN …:          So, what I decided what I wanted to help people do after writing this book, it’s like, “How can I help people after writing this book?” It’s really all the things we’ve been talking about with these lessons. Writing my story was so powerful for me. It’s like, “How can you begin to write your story?” Because it helped me start to learn to see my life from an adult perspective instead of a child’s perspective.

So, I began to get this more well-rounded, big picture view of the people in my life, even people that I was struggling with. And that helped me to release a lot of stuff. So, I created a daily journal that you can use to start to journal your story. There’s a four circle exercise to help you with yourself and with other people who you’ve been judging harshly, who you don’t like, who you are struggling with, to begin to see them as a whole person, biological, psychological, social, and spiritual. And we’re going to be doing that at our free event, which we’ll talk about later.

So, you get this exercise to help to put them together in this whole… Like we talked about with my Dad. I began to see his life through those four circles. He’s not just this person who did bad things. He’s this person with biology, psychology, social and spiritual aspects to him that caused his behavior. Behavior’s complicated.

And then you get a course. This is my favorite part of it, is we created a course. It’s not overbearing. It’s not long, but it’s powerful. And so there’s a series of videos that we created that are just really well done that you can share with other people.

And there is the one-page miracle.

Daniel Amen, MD:            So important, one of the most important exercises I ever do to my patients to really define what you want. And then whenever you go to do something, just ask yourself, “Does it fit? Does my behavior fit the goals I have for my life?”

Tana Amen, BSN …:          And the reason why is because we want you to focus on what you want in life, not on what you don’t want. Most people focus on what they don’t want, and that’s what they get. They get what they don’t want because that’s what they’re focused on. So, we want you to focus on what you want.

And this book is about healing. And so that’s why I created this package. And I’m going to match all pre-order sales and I’m going to buy a book and I’m going to donate it to someone in need. So, we’re donating them to women’s shelters, to rehabilitation centers, to different places like that. So, we are donating a lot of books.

I actually had one person, Paul Martinelli, who’s just wonderful, he loved the book so much that he gave me $5,000 to donate books. It’s a huge gift, and we’re just so grateful for that.

Daniel Amen, MD:            And we would also love for you to give it away. We want to create a movement, both Tana and I. We call the podcast the Brain Warrior’s Way because we’re trying to create a revolution in brain health. And part of it is learning how to understand, manage, and overcome the traumas you have experienced. And the relentless courage of a scared child is just such a great example on how to do that.

Tana Amen, BSN …:          One thing I learned when I started practicing martial arts… I mean, this was intentional as well. I had to learn this. But one thing I love about martial arts and I never really realized the difference when I was younger was assertiveness is not the same as aggression. And you never want to be angry or aggressive, especially in any type of a self-defense situation, which would include protecting yourself even verbally, because if you are angry or aggressive, you actually are more likely to make a mistake and you’re going to hurt yourself or someone else.

You need to be clear of thought and you need to be assertive. And that was such a powerful lesson for me because I’m like, “Oh, I got really good at being angry. I went from being a victim as a child to being really good at being angry and keeping people away from me.” But finding that place where you’re assertive is how you make connections.

Daniel Amen, MD:            And how do you think that applies to your work at Loma Linda?

Tana Amen, BSN …:          A lot. When you work in a trauma unit, a neurosurgical ICU level A trauma unit, it applies a lot. I mean, you have to balance families who are in a lot of pain. And so you have to understand that when they lash out at you, that’s different. It’s just because they’re out of control and they’re looking for some control. They need someone to blame and lash out at, and that’s different.

But you’ve got surgeons, and you’ve got all kinds of people yelling at you, and you’ve got people yelling, “Stat!” “Code!” It’s nuts. And so if you don’t learn how to sort of be firm… It’s my job to protect that patient. There are many times you’ve got new residents coming on and most of them are amazing, but occasionally they overlook something, and you’re like, “You know if you say something you’re going to get screamed at,” which has happened to me many times. And you got to figure out how to do that and you got got to stand firm.

Daniel Amen, MD:            So, what are some practical tips for people to develop boundaries in their lives?

Tana Amen, BSN …:          So, there’s a couple of things. Firm and kind. I mean, firm and kind. We say it all the time. Firm and kind. And whenever I’m about to lose it, I remind myself, “Firm and kind. Firm and kind. Firm and kind.”

Daniel Amen, MD:            Does my behavior get me what I want? That’s why the one-page miracle exercise is so important. Know what you want and then match your behavior.

When it comes to boundaries, I have my patients practice in the mirror, “I have to think about that.” So, when someone asks you to do something, rather than just say yes, because you want people to like you, that’ll actually teach people to run over you, go, “I have to think about it.” And that way go back and go, “If I do this, does it fit the goals I have for my life? Do I have time? Do I want to? Does it fit?” And so many of my patients live with “should”. “I should do this.” I call it the “should and shaming dragon”. And I always want you to replace “should” with “I want to. It fits my goals to.”

Tana Amen, BSN …:          Yeah. I think another one is asking questions. So, if you can just stop for a second and ask a question instead of just launching into something, before you launch into the anger that you’re feeling, ask a question really quick, get them engaged. And then it’ll give you a second to buy some time.

Daniel Amen, MD:            You have an example?

Tana Amen, BSN …:          So, rather than coming up and accusing someone, let’s say you’ve got a situation at work or with your kids, where you sort of know what the answer is, but you’re going to give them the benefit of the doubt because you want to avoid a conflict. Sometimes I’ll walk up, let’s just say, with my daughter and it’s like, “Can you explain to me why you did this?” I might already know, but it’s like, “Can you explain to me what happened here or why you did this?” It’ll just buy me that second and get her talking as opposed to me just launching into what I’m frustrated about.

Daniel Amen, MD:            So, I have an example. Early in the pandemic, we were making dinner and there were a lot of dishes. And I sort of took the reign of making sure the kitchen stayed reasonably clean. And people would just leave their stuff in the sink. And they’re all sitting around watching television. And I’m like, “What do you think it would take to get the dishes from the sink into the dish…” And I’m just, “What do you think it would take?” And they responded in a positive way.

But then the dishes just got from the sink to the counter. They didn’t get put in the dishwasher, put away. And so a couple of nights later, I’m like, “What do you think it would take?” But by being firm and kind and persistent, ultimately the dishes got put away, and I didn’t feel like a slave.

Tana Amen, BSN …:          I love that. I have one more, and it’s what helped me a lot. Sometimes when I couldn’t figure out how to draw boundaries for myself, when it seemed fuzzy… My therapist actually taught me this. She’s like, “So, what would you do if it was your daughter in that situation?” Oh, it was crystal clear, crystal clear, if it was not me, because sometimes I think if you’ve been traumatized, boundaries are hard for some of us. Boundaries become fuzzy. If you’ve been traumatized, it takes time to work on learning how to draw boundaries, because sometimes we don’t feel worthy, we don’t really understand what is a healthy boundary. But sometimes if it’s not about you, if you take yourself out of the picture and you look at it from a 30,000 foot view, or it’s someone else that you love that you’re protecting, it suddenly crystallizes it.

So, if you think to yourself, “If this was my daughter or this was my mom or my sister,” or whatever it is, someone that you are protective of, “how would I respond?” If it’s not the same way as you would respond to yourself, then you know you’re a little fuzzy on your boundaries.

Daniel Amen, MD:            And therapy can be so helpful, not where you’re just going and talk about your problems, but you learn skills. And that’s actually what researchers found that works in psychotherapy. It’s learning the skills of daily living to help you be a more effective human.

Tana Amen, BSN …:          Yeah. John Townsend, our friend, he’s done a lot of work on boundaries, and it was so helpful to me. And it’s really just about really learning to respect yourself enough to not let people take advantage of you, but at the same time, not using anger and aggression.

Daniel Amen, MD:            So, if you would, pre-order the book. We would be so grateful. Also, come to our free event, Overcoming Anxiety, Depression, Trauma, And Grief, December 12th, where we’re going to enter people into a drawing to win a free evaluation and scan at Amen Clinics.

Tana Amen, BSN …:          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. And while you’re at it, feel free to give us a review or a five-star rating as that helps others find the podcast.

Daniel Amen, MD:            If you’re considering coming to Amen Clinics or trying some of the brain healthy supplements from Brain MD, you can use the code Podcast 10 to get a 10% discount on a full evaluation at amenclinics.com or a ten percent discount on all supplements at brainmdhealth.com. For more information, give us a call at (855) 978-1363.