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In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen are once again joined by “When Crises Strikes” author Dr. Jennifer Love for further discussion on how to manage the crises that can invade our lives unexpectedly. In this episode, Dr. Love explains the fifth and final step in managing a crisis, which involves holding on to what matters while letting go of what doesn’t. Knowing exactly when and how to let go can be difficult, but as Dr. Love explains, it’s a crucial step in overcoming life’s traumas.
For more info on Dr. Love’s new book “When Crisis Strikes: 5 Steps to Heal Your Brain, Body, and Life from Chronic Stress”, visit https://www.amazon.com/When-Crisis-Strikes-Chronic-Stress/dp/0806540818
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.
Welcome back. We are having so much fun. I hope you’re enjoying this interview as much as we are. We’re here with Dr. Jennifer Love, one of the amazing psychiatrists at Amen Clinics who has a specialty in addiction medicine, so we need to talk about how this relates to addictions. Her new book, “When Crisis Strikes”, out December 29th. You can pick it up at Target or Barnes and Noble or Amazon. Anywhere great books are sold.
It’s perfect timing.
Summarize, Jennifer, the first four steps, and then let’s talk about step five.
Jennifer Love, MD:
Okay. So we went through the steps, or the fingers. We learned how to get a grip on what the crisis is and how it affects us, pinpoint what you can control and what you can’t and what you can do about what you can’t. Then we talked about giving crisis the middle finger and how to move into action. How do we motivate to make these changes in crisis? Very challenging. We talked about the ring finger, and that is pulling back in a time of reflection. The final step with the pinky we call “hold on and let go,” because that’s what the pinky does, right? So, actually, half of the strength of the hand is in the pinky. Yeah.
So step five is a time to think about, as you’re coming through the crisis, what are the things that you value that you want to hold on to, and what are things you’re going to let go of that don’t serve you?
So holding on to a healthy new habit you’ve picked up or holding on to a new type of more positive rather than negative self-talk, letting go of grudges, letting go of the need to control everything. So it can really be anything, depending upon the crisis. So it’s this process of going through and focusing on what we did in step four, pulling back and doing that evaluation, and then deciding, “Here’s what I’m going to live by, here’s who I am, and here’s what I’m letting go of.”
I love that. So that is such an important point, and it’s not an easy thing for someone like me to do. I know one thing that I started to do, because I’m an action person. I’m an action person, I’m a control person, so I know what I did, I like warrior talk. I fight. I do martial arts. So I came up with this during the pandemic, during the quarantine. I came up with these two lists in my head. Wartime rules and peacetime rules. Right? They change. So it’s like there’s a difference in what we do and what we can focus on, wartime/peacetime. It’s just an analogy. Wartime rules mean we’re fighting this pandemic right now, so that means that it’s not so much that I’m being weak about the peacetime rules. It’s that that’s not going to be my focus right now.
I’m shifting focus. But it made me not feel like I was just giving up all my control. I don’t know if that makes any sense to anybody, but it’s hard to let go of control sometimes.
Mm-hmm (affirmative). We don’t like change. Dr. Amen talks about this all the time. As humans, we are wired not to like change.
And I have a chapter in the book on the science of stress, which is a very gentle science. It’s not too scientific. But we’re wired to not like change, and so people are very upset about the pandemic.
They are upset about riots. They’re upset about the holidays coming up, because these travel advisories coming out, and we can’t go. There’s a lot of change, and it’s hard to feel comfortable with global massive changes when we’re wired for the opposite.
We’re wired that safety comes with consistency, and even if it’s a bad consistent, our brains will choose that oftentimes over a good change.
That’s why it’s so hard to change, right?
Brains are lazy. Your brain does what you’ve taught it to do.
And teaching it new things is hard, but that’s where something so simple, like these five steps, can just make a massive difference, like, “Get a grip. Really step back and assess.”
I really love these steps.
And sometimes you get mad at me when I don’t just react.
I do, but then I’m happy about it. Because he’ll do this thing. It’s like we’ll be in the middle of something really big, and I’m like, “We need to do something.”
And he’s like, “It’s going to be fine.”
And I’m like, “Don’t say that again.” Seriously.
Because you don’t feel heard.
You don’t feel heard.
Yeah, I don’t feel heard, and I feel like we need to do something. But then there’s something about that. It takes me a minute, but that, “It’s all going to be fine,” actually does start to resonate. Not that I’ll tell him that, but it does start to resonate, and it starts to give me peace. So we really do balance each other out. I just can’t tell him that right up front.
Well, I mean, it’s really the difference between a psychiatrist and a neurosurgical ICU nurse.
Yeah. Do something stat. Get it done.
It’s like somebody’s going to die if you don’t something-
Right. Move. Move. Move.
… immediately, so that’s wired into your brain. And, for me, it’s step back, assess what can I do, what can’t I do, and be okay with it, because you know you’re going to die at some point, so it can’t be that bad.
See, and, for me, it’s fight to the end. But it does resonate, so what you’re saying is so true, and it does help to have that yin and yang. It does help.
Well, and it’s worked really well. And, I mean, this year has been filled with so many crises for us. I mean, it started with we realized with our nieces that their parents weren’t good parents, and they were just continuing to damage these kids. And we needed to step in, and they were so thoughtful that they allowed that to happen.
It was an unselfish thing.
But it clearly was a crisis. And then COVID. And then my dad died.
On and on.
So getting back to the fourth finger, to the ring finger, my dad died, which it’s a crisis. He was married to my mother for 70 years, and then my mom’s not okay. And she’s coming off crisis after crisis. She broke her hip last November and then got shingles in January and then she got COVID, too. And then we lost my dad.
It just stacked.
It’s like boom, boom, boom. And then someone I dearly loved, was a great mother, all the sudden thinks her children’s trying to steal her money. And her children all have money. But to just see someone change like that was so hurtful, just made us so unhappy and anxious that it’s like, “Get a grip, step back, and go, ‘What’s really going on?'” which was obviously grief.
Yeah. You know, these steps, as we’re talking through, is first half of the book.
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Oh.
There’s a whole second half that talks about how to use the five steps in all of these situations.
Now we have these sections. So, Daniel, you’ve had so much loss this year, and we have a whole section on loss, and we have a section on chronic illness, and we have a section on trauma and existential crises, the midlife crisis that I know nothing about.
Spiritual crisis. We have all of these, so we show people. Each section has these case examples of how people have used the five steps when they have a family member who’s using substances.
There’s a section on family crisis. So while you, Dr. Amen, are going through, and I remember when your father died, and I just remember how devastating this whole year has been, Tana is going through that by proxy, right? Because she’s your person. And so the family goes through all this together. And so Tana can work the steps.
When you’re just overwhelmed with everything that’s going on, the steps can be worked by anyone in any context. So the whole second half of the book we explain and show actually how that can happen.
And when we come back, what I want you to do is give us a couple of examples from your practice and from the book. The book is called When Crisis Strikes. It’s out December 29th. You can get it at Target or Barnes and Noble or Amazon. Anywhere great books are sold. And Jennifer works in our Costa Mesa Southern California clinic and is just masterful in evaluating and treating our patients. How long have we worked together now?
Isn’t that amazing? She actually trained where Tana had trained at the Loma Linda University, which we love Loma Linda, because it’s really a whole person medical and nursing-
I loved it there.
She also did her residency in Hawaii. I love that part, because that’s where I did my child psychiatry fellowship. Anyways, you’re listening to The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast.
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