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Responsibility is one of Tana’s favorite words because it’s a word that helped her get through a difficult time in her life. However, many people tend to confuse the word ‘responsibility’ with ‘blame’, which can lead to problems. As Tana and Dr. Daniel Amen share in this episode, the two words have quite different meanings. This concept, taken from Dr. Amen’s upcoming book ‘Your Brain is Always Listening’, explains why those who take on responsibility need to make sure that self-care is always taken into account first before the needs of others.
For more info on Dr. Daniel Amen’s new book, “Your Brain is Always Listening”, visit https://yourbrainisalwayslistening.com/
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.
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Welcome, everyone. We are continuing
on our journey through Your Brain Is Always Listening.
I feel like I’m on a dragon
Yeah, it sort of like Game of
Thrones. Your Brain Is Always Listening coming out March 2nd. You can go to
yourbrainisalwayslistening.com, download a whole bunch of cool free gifts when
you pre-order the book. We’ve given away almost 1,000 packages, so we’re pretty
excited. And we’re going through this journey on helping you identify your
dragons, the big emotional issues that you struggle with, and learning how to
we’ve talked about the abandoned, invisible and insignificant dragon, my
dragon. I’m married to you, so that helps tame it. The inferior or flawed
dragon, the anxious dragon, the wounded dragon, the shouldn’t shaming dragon.
We talked about the special spoiled and entitled dragons, not you. It’s not me.
She admitted it. I was like,
“Wow.” Chloe goes, “Why wouldn’t people want to do things for
me?” I was like, “Well, okay then.” She’s like, “I’m
awesome, and I do things for other people.”
Today we’re going to talk about the
most common dragon, which is responsible dragon, where you feel like you have
to be responsible for other people. Now, of course, you have to be responsible
or you have older parents who need you.
I kind like this dragon though. It
has a dark side, but I like responsibility. It’s my favorite word. So we just
want to focus on the light side of this dragon.
Well, and a lot of doctors and nurses
have this dragon. And the origin story is when you feel liable for the pain or
the situation of others, often because you felt powerless to help someone you
cared about such as a parent or sibling who was sick. This is just rampant
during the pandemic, when hospitals would not allow family members to visit
sick people or dying loved ones. Or you felt insignificant and fixing other
people’s issues helped you feel significant. So this dragon has actually caused
several fights in my marriage because it gets triggered when you perceive
others in need. And it triggers back a time when you couldn’t help and wished
you could. And how you react is you tend to fix, you tend to care take, you
could be codependent.
See, I’m not codependent. I am
responsible. I am not codependent.
You are not. It can cause you to do
too much for others, which-
That’s disabling. You’re enabling,
which causes them to then not be responsible for themselves.
And it can actually cause entitlement
in other people.
Yes, and I don’t like that. It’s a
problem for me.
So now, of course, there is an upside
to this dragon, and you become a helper.
Right, and we should unravel this
just a little bit, because we want to separate blame. We’ve talked about this a
lot because this can get raveled up and tied up with blame. You tend to have to
fix things because you felt like you were to blame for something. But being
responsible and feeling like you want to be empowered to help is different than
doing it because you feel like you are to blame for something. So be clear
very much have this dragon in a different way. So there’s another way that
people have this. The nurse in me, I’ve almost jumped out of the car before,
because I see an accident. I’m the type that will run into the fire or run into
an accident. And you’re like, “That car is leaking gasoline, no.” And
you grab me back. Because the responsible dragon also can be fairly like just,
you have to jump in without thinking.
Well, firefighters and police
… often have this.
Trauma nurses, responsible.
When I sent the dragon quiz, so you
can find out your dragons at knowyourdragons.com, I sent it to the police chief
here in Newport Beach. John and I are friends. And he goes, “Responsible
and judgmental.” He said, “Sort of fits a police officer.”
Exactly. But I remember you saying to
me, “Why do you do that?” I’m like, “Because someone has
to.” Classic response of a dragon.
It’s very important to soothe this
dragon, but also to empower this dragon. But know when you do too much, when
you become a fixer, you decrease the other person’s ability to grow.
Super important. Hand up is great.
Hand out, not so great. So when you’re trying to help people, this comes from
personal experience with my family, which I write about in my book, it’s really
important to, and I learned this because my mother was codependent and thought
she had to fix everyone. She had the responsible dragon, the dark side.
And she had a mother who was
diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Right. A brother who was a heroin
A father who was quadriplegic.
Who was quadriplegic. So she had to
fix everybody. She had to take care of everybody, but she also had this
tendency to want to bring people into our home and help everyone who were
dangerous to a little girl. And so that can be a problem. So because of her, my
responsible dragon is like, “Nope, you’ve got to help yourself. I will
help you help yourself, but I will not fix you.” So a little extreme.
So everybody now knows you’re not
going to fix them.
I’m not going to. I’m not going to be
more invested than you are.
That’s a very important point. And a
lot of therapists, if you do the work, they will really be helpful. But if you
don’t do the work, they are not going to do it for you.
Right. It’s up to you.
Now, there is an upside to this
dragon. All the dragons have an upside. You get to help. You get to be in
charge and have others in your debt. You also get to be part of a community
that you are creating. Good deeds reduce physical pain. Helping others is
altruistic, which actually decreases stress. So doing things to help others
often gives you a sense of meaning and purpose and helps stress.
how do we tame this dragon? Self-care is critical. I say this all the time in
my practice. Have you ever been on an airplane? What’s the first thing they say
on an airplane? If the cabin pressure goes down and the masks come down from
the ceiling, put your mask on first so that you will be breathing to help
others. And in the New Testament, Jesus says, “Love your neighbor as
yourself.” So if you’re not loving and caring for yourself, you will not
be your best in loving and caring for others.
And one thing I would add to this
one, which we already said, but I want to just add as part of taming this
dragon is understand the difference between blame and responsibility. Because
you choose to be responsible and have the ability to respond does not mean you
need to focus on blame. So try to disconnect those two.
Well, quite frankly, I could have had
a blaming dragon. Blame is the worst hallmark.
Right. Self-defeating behavior.
It’s the number one self-defeating
behavior when you blame other people for how your life is turning out. And even
though you were victimized as a child-
I refuse to be a victim.
… you are not a victim.
I will not be a victim. But even
blaming yourself too much can really cause you to just curl up and be
paralyzed. It’s not a good thing.
Well, and self-care is so important
for everyone else around you. I’m working on a book for next year called You
Happier, The Neuroscience of Feeling Good Based on Your Brain Type. And in the
introduction, there is a quote from the video Why Be Happy? by Dennis Prager,
where he actually says happiness is a moral obligation. And he said, “Just
ask anyone who’s been raised by an unhappy parent whether happiness is a moral
obligation. And I guarantee they will say yes, because it’s how you impact
others.” So self-care is so important. Healthy boundaries. We’re huge fan
of Henry Cloud and John Townsend’s book-
Love that book.
… Boundaries. And Boundaries is
actually Love and Logic, the parenting program-
… that you and I both love. It’s
really about setting healthy boundaries. I don’t do things for people who are
disrespectful to me.
And it’s about not rescuing. Notice
we just talked about responsibility. It’s about not rescuing people. It’s about
letting them pay the consequences for their behavior.
. And also, another way to tame this
dragon is to really know, are your relationships balanced? And our friend, I
was just with him last night, John Townsend, has a book called People Fuel,
where he talks about evaluate the people in your life with the seven Cs. And so
the first C is coaches. Who do you have? So hopefully we’re one of your coaches
or mentors. Comrades, so close friends and loved ones. We’re comrades. Casuals,
those are your casual friends. Colleagues, coworkers. Care, people who are
dependent on you. So Chloe and [Alzay [00:11:24] and [Amoly [00:11:25]. Chronics,
well, these are people that just always have an issue and you just know. And
contaminants, people who actually desire to damage you, and you need to move
those people out of your life.
And so you limit the chronics, and
you draw strong boundaries with the contaminants. It’s like, “This is a
hard boundary. You can’t cross this boundary.”
Right. And if you’re not balanced, if
you don’t have coaches or comrades or casuals, those become work for you to do.
The movies that the responsible dragon love are movies of healing like
Awakenings, one of my favorite movies of all time, or Ordinary People, the
doctor, Patch Adams. And the meditations or affirmations to say every day if
you have this dragon. Loving others as myself means taking care of myself so I
can love others. I love helping others, as long as I’m helping them become
competent and independent. It is better to give than receive, as long as giving
does not create unnecessary dependency. I share the load with others, so I
don’t become overburdened and burned out. Half the doctors in our country today
are struggling with burnout. I do what I can and trust others to God’s care.
So that’s the responsible dragon.
Which dragons do you have? Go to knowyourdragons.com. And to pre-order the book
or order the book if you’re listening after March 2nd, go to
yourbrainisalwayslistening, and you can download some incredible free gifts,
including a coupon for a free bottle of Happy Saffron, our favorite. Stay with
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